A few years ago I had a lot of students asking about the book Heaven Is For Real. With the upcoming theatrical release I thought it might be good for LBC members to have a few resources to guide our thinking and to pass on to others. Here are some thoughts I shared with our students at a Q&A session:
Q – What do you think about the book Heaven is for Real?
A – Heaven is For Real, is the story of Colton Burpo, son of Todd Burpo, a pastor in Imperial Nebraska. In the months that followed an emergency appendectomy three year old Colton told a story detailing what He believes is a trip to heaven and back.
I must admit to a good deal of skepticism toward modern books in the “heaven tourism” genre; and there are plenty of them! Just a sampling includes titles like: I Saw Heaven, The Boy Who Came Back From Heaven, Glimpses of Heaven, Waking up in Heaven, Ninety-Minutes in Heaven, and, don’t forget, Twenty-Three Minutes in Hell. Each book makes various claims but in the end the only truly authoritative book on heaven is by the God who created it.
One of my concerns is that I seem to be hearing a lot of enthusiastic comments like “this is a great proof for unbelievers” and “now we know for sure!” Even the promotion for the book states, “Heaven Is for Real will forever change the way you think of eternity, offering the chance to see, and believe, like a child”. But, Christians don’t need a boy and his vision to be confident in what the Bible has already declared. We HAVE a book that tells us about heaven, we ALREADY knew it was real. Why are we making best sellers of extra-biblical “revelation” instead of turning to the Scriptures for the information God desires us to have? Especially when most of the books listed above include some significant differences from the Biblical account.
Resources we CAN recommend:
The doctrine of heaven is glorious! A thorough understanding can have terrific spiritual benefit and lead to blessings like increased peace, hope and joy! If you want to spend some time studying what the Scripture says, here are some resources that may be of help to you that I CAN recommend: Randy Alcorn’s Heaven; and John MacArthur’s The Glory of Heaven or, head to the church library and check out a good basic theology book or topical reference for your own study!
More information on Heaven Is For Real – Links to a few recommended reviews that give a little more detail:
- Pastor David Platt has a concise and pointed video review here: http://thegospelcoalition.org/mobile/article/justintaylor/david-platt-on-why-you-should-not-believe-heaven-is-for-real
- Tim Challies (Challies.org) is one of our go to book reviewers and he has some good insights to offer: http://www.challies.com/book-reviews/heaven-is-for-real?utm_content=buffer2f5cb&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer
- Randy Alcorn is the director of Eternal Perspective Ministries and the author of the book simply titled “Heaven”. Here’s his take: http://www.epm.org/blog/2011/May/9/heaven-real-90-minutes-heaven-and-other-books-abou
- Answers in Genesis posted a thoughtful review by pastor and author John MacArthur: http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/am/v9/n2/visits-to-heaven