Meanderings of a Minister


Heaven Is For Real…the Book and Movie Aren’t

Heaven if for Real

Judging from the numbers, and the testimonies I hear from many people I know, many Christians are going to see the movie, Heaven Is For Real.  I suspect this is because they may have also been one of the 7 million copies the book sold.  Let me say upfront that I am not against reading Christian books.  I own about 4000 of them in my library.  I will also say that I am not an expert on “near death” experiences.  When someone has one of these experiences, I want to measure their experience against God’s revealed Word.  If the vision or experience aligns with God’s Word, then I am willing to give them the benefit of the doubt.  If not, then I am forced to go with God’s Word and realize that they are either mistaken, deluded, or attempting to delude others.

Now, as to the book and movie, Heaven Is For Real…

First, the synopsis of the book is that a four year old son of a Wesleyan minister has a near fatal illness in 2003 and supposedly got to visit Heaven.  The book is a series of conversations between the father and his son about what the son experienced during this visit.  Before we even look at comparing the accounts of heaven with what the Bible has to say, we are left with asking if there is even a Biblical precedent for a person getting to go to Heaven and come back.  One might be able to attempt to make a case for this when Jesus, on the mount of transfiguration, encountered Moses and Elijah.  Surely that means that someone (Moses and Elijah) could go to Heaven and come back.  This is very different than a person living here going there and coming back as it is someone living there and coming back here for a specific purpose.  This could also be argued for Samuel’s return when the witch at Endor summoned him at Saul’s request.  I am not willing to let this part of the argument derail us from greater consideration of that described, so I am willing to say that it does not appear Biblical, but I wouldn’t die for the stand.

Next, we have to consider the descriptions of Heaven that the little boy gives, the book reports, people pay for when purchasing the book or tickets to the movie.  For instance, the boy says that he was given a set of wings and a halo, but did not like them because they were too small.  In other words, upon dying (or coming close to it), the little boy became an angel.  This is the stuff of cartoons that a four year old might watch, but it not part of the Bible.  Angels are a created order of beings that existed long before man was created.  People do not become angels.  They are what they are and we are what we are.  Angels are also mighty, terrifying creatures.  When angels show up, people freak out (unless they are prevented from realizing it is an angel).  A little boy given a set of wings that even he said were too small would hardly produce this effect.  People do not become angels, so the story is not Biblical.

In addition, the boy complained about his wings and halo because they were too small.  What is a halo?  The halo was the impressionistic artistic expression of the glory of God being upon someone and was usually depicted by the issuance of light from someone’s head.  This was not meant to be understood as a literal, golden halo, but that is what the boy said he was given.  And on top of that, when he was given it, he was not pleased because it was not big enough.

A halo that is not big enough to make the boy happy means that Heaven is a place where God wants to do nice things for people, but either does not know what to do, or how to do it to their satisfaction.  Another way of saying this is that, in Heaven, God exists to serve the people there and, since He did not do well enough, the boy was not happy.  Does this match up with the Biblical description of Heaven?  Does this match Isaiah’s vision in Isaiah 6 with all of Heaven focused on God and His Glory filling the place?  Does it match Ezekiel’s vision of the living creatures and all of Heaven worshiping God?  Does it match Paul’s vision of the third Heaven which was given to humble him?  Hardly!  Does it match John’s vision of Heaven in the Revelation with all of Heaven focused on God?  Nope!

With even just these few examples, it should be clear to see that the book, Heaven Is Not For Real, may be an entertaining book that challenges us to think more deeply about Heaven, but we should not promote it to our friends as truth, but maybe as a means of engaging them in conversations that take them to the Bible for answers.  I am not saying don’t go see the movie, but simply to examine the movie using the Bible as the authority.

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