A friend shared an article about the book and movie “Heaven Is for Real”. You can read it here: http://www.christiantoday.com/article/heaven.is.for.real.critics.are.pharisees.says.todd.burpo/37192.htm
The father says, essentially, that no one can or should question his son’s experience. This is an old story I have heard time and time again. Our pastor’s wife was leading a Bible study I attended. Someone shared an experience where she believed Jesus touched her on the shoulder while she was in the shower. The pastor’s wife wisely said, “We all have our experiences, but they are not as important as reading, believing, and obeying the Word of God.”
A pastor friend said he has read the book Heaven Is for Real and had these comments. Pastor George McVey has a blog and books on spiritual warfare as well as historical and speculative fiction. http://askpastorgeorge.wordpress.com/
“I have read the book and I have read scripture. I don’t discount the boy’s account. What I have a problem with is how the father has turned this into the cornerstone of a ministry that seems to be making him money hand over fist.
“The concerns people have are these:
“1. The boy never actually died. Does that mean he didn’t go to heaven or have a vision of heaven? No.
“2. There are a few things the boy says that seems to go against the Biblical account of heaven. For instance, both the boy’s miscarried sister and great grandfather had wings. No where does scripture say we will have wings.
“3. the father says we ‘have to take this account as real’ because his four year old son was ‘too innocent to lie about it’. I’ve raised three children and 4-year-old kids make up stuff all the time.
“Those are the biggest concerns. My own is, of course, how this has become the book people reference when talking about heaven now, not scripture.
“ Now on the other side I can understand the father’s attitude to him he see’s these people as attacking his son’s integrity. And we all know how parents get when their children are called liars.
“That and the fact that if it was a vision or a real trip, why isn’t this pastor pushing the fact that entry into heaven comes through relationship with the one whose lap his son sat on in heaven, instead of focusing on all the beautiful benefits of heaven? This would have been a great tool for preaching salvation. Instead they use it to say, not, ‘Hey, Jesus is real’ or not ‘Salvation is real’ but ‘Heaven is real’.“
Here is a blog that takes a much more critical view but still expresses necessary truth about people who think Hollywood respects Christianity.
My favorite line is this one: “Towards the end of the movie, just before preaching, Pastor Burpo uses a piece of paper with notes about his son’s visions to cover up the pages of the Bible. That scene moved me. I laughed at its apparent self-awareness that Todd has determined not preach the Bible anymore.”
Another friend recommended a book called The Beautiful Side of Evil by Johanna Michaelsen. It seems to be out of print, but is the autobiography of a former spiritist healer who learned the truth about the verse that says Satan can appear as an angel of light. He can, and does, heal people. He can, and does, give visions. He will, and wants to, distract us from the true God and the true source of goodness.
We need to be Bereans. Keep studying and examining issues according to the Scriptures. Do not be afraid that others are going to call us Pharisees, as Burpo does in the article he wrote. Keep questioning advice that puts the Scriptures in a secondary position. Scriptures go at the top. Always!