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Heaven Is For Real

February 8, 2011

Michael Patton at Parchment and Pen reviews Todd Burpo’s telling of his son’s vision of heaven, called Heaven is For Real: A Little Boy’s Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back.  Patton mentions other books from this genre from the past two decades like I Saw Heaven by Lawrence E. Tooley, Ninety-Minutes in Heaven by Don Piper and Cecil Murray, The Boy Who Came Back From Heaven by Kevin Malarkey, and Twenty-Three Minutes in Hell by Bill Wiese.

Here’s an excerpt from the review:

First, we must distinguish between the “intermediate state of existence” and the New Earth (both of which we often call “heaven”). The intermediate state of existence is the place people go between death and the resurrection. Christians go to a place called “Paradise”(Luke23:43). It is not entirely improper to call it “heaven”; we don’t want to confuse this place with the New Earth that will be our eternal abode and only appears after judgment. There is not much that the Bible tells us about the intermediate state. We know that we will be with Christ (2 Cor. 5:6Luke 23:43) and it will be better than being on earth (2 Cor. 5:8). The New Earth does not appear until Revelation 20:1-3. The intermediate state is where Colton would have gone, not the New Earth. However, like with so many of these “I saw heaven” experiences, people describe what seems to be the New Earth which, for lack of a better way to put it, has not been built yet. The streets of gold, gates made out of perils, and the like, which Colton describes, are attributes, literal or not, of a place that is not yet in existence.

As well, the description of people with wings is very odd. While I am not denying that people could have wings in the intermediate state, this is no where hinted at in Scripture. This along with people not looking old, while notnecessarily problematic, these descriptions do raise some theological eyebrows. After all, were not Samuel, Elijah and Moses all recognizable (1 Sam. 28:15; Matt. 17:1-9). Did not the witch of Endor recognize Samuel? And upon being asked what he looked like didn’t she say, “An old man wearing a robe is coming up” (1 Sam. 28:14, emphasis mine).

There were just many things like this that fit better with common folk theology than with biblical testimony. But who am I to say that some folk theology could not be true?

Click here for Tim Challies review of Heaven is for Real.

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From → Christian Living

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