The release of the new movie, based on the popular book, Heaven is for Real, has generated a lot of debate about heaven, God, and near-death experiences. I have not seen the movie, but I recently read the book. I found Heaven is for Real, by Todd Burpo, to be very fascinating and a great read. Aside from the intriguing plot-line, there are many details in the book which make the story seem rather convincing.
If you have not read the book or seen the movie, the overall plot is about a young boy, Colton Burpo, who almost dies in the hospital. While going through this traumatic experience, he claims to have visited heaven and to have seen and talked to many people, including deceased relatives that he had never met. The most fascinating parts of the book, in my opinion, come when he gives details about the people he met that there seems to be no way for him to have known. Take a look at this interview with the Burpo family from 2011, which encompasses many of these details:
Some of the details shared by Todd Burpo in the book, if they are in fact true, are difficult to argue against or comprehend apart from a true near-death experience.
On the other hand, many argue that people who claim to have had near death experiences perhaps are having some sort of hallucination or dream, but actually are not experiencing heaven. After hearing many of the arguments for and against near-death experiences, I decided to do a little online research for myself. A few of the valid arguments against these experiences that I have found are:
– It seems as if people’s near-death experiences are associated with their particular religion. Read the article and research here.
– Based on Jesus’ words in Matthew 7:13-14 (“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”), one would be inclined to think that there would be just as many, if not many more, near-death experiences associated with visions of hell.
– Because so many people have claimed to have had near-death experiences, if they were true, shouldn’t all of their stories match up exactly?
David Platt strongly addresses many other arguments against near-death experiences in this video:
So what is your opinion? Do you think the events in the book, Heaven is for Real, could be true?
I know one thing for certain. God’s Word must be the only tool that we use as a factual guide to find out what Heaven is like. Nothing, no matter how convincing or interesting, can ever trump God’s Word as being authoritative or truthful, about any subject. For something to be in the realm of possibility, it cannot contradict Scripture.
That being said, at the very least, we can use the book and the movie as great reminders that Heaven is for real and that anyone who repents and trusts Jesus as his or her Savior will get to enjoy it and enjoy being with God, in all His glory and splendor.