Christianity is known for jumping on the latest bandwagon, for following the latest fad, for embracing the latest trend. And the last ten years has been no different in the publishing realm. The best-selling evangelical book in the past decade has been developed from the mind’s eye of a four-year-old boy named Colton.
The book Heaven is for Real is written by Todd Burpo who tells the story of Colton who says that he visited heaven when he was under anesthesia for an appendectomy at age 4. In the book, he states he got a halo, real wings, sat on Jesus’ lap while the angels sang to him, saw Mary, and met an Avatarish-blue Holy Spirit.
This is not the only “I went to heaven but now I am back” book that has sold million upon millions. The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven is written by Kevin Malarkey (no, I did not make up that name) whose six-year-old son Alex was paralyzed by an automobile accident. During the immediate aftermath and the rehabilitation, Alex tells of his story of making multiple trips to heaven and back while constantly seeing the devil.
No, it does not stop there. Don Piper wrote a book called 90 Minutes in Heaven, Bill Wise wrote 23 Minutes in Hell, and Mary C. Neal wrote To Heaven and Back and they have all sold like hotcakes to the Christian and moralistic communities that have little to no discernment. People love these books because they inspire, encourage, and scratch their itching eyes all while leading them further away from the true God of the Bible.
Reject these books, do not read these books, do not believe these books, and simply be discerning of these books. I will give you three main reasons of why you can do this:
They Contradict the Bible
The Bible gives us no suggestion at all that God will work in this way. God’s Word states “And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment…” (Hebrews 9:27). Yes, there were rare exceptions in the Bible like Lazarus was raised from the dead by a miraculous act of our Lord for a specific purpose at a specific time. Paul, who was taken to heaven for a specific purpose, only spent four verses on this amazing journey in 2 Corinthians 12 only to state that it is not profitable and in the end would only boast of his weakness.
It seems that the plethora of authors penning these travels to heaven and back are definitely in it for a profit and their books are more than just four sentences long. And they are definitely not boasting of their own weakness but of their own “out-of-body experiences.”
So either the Bible is right in stating that once someone dies they will immediately be judged or these authors who all have contradictory views of heaven and hell (from each other and the Bible) are right. Your choice…
They Contradict Logic
If God was truly going to do His revelatory work through a person concerning heaven, would He really do it through a four-year-old? Or with a person with poor New Age theology? And if these accounts of heaven are really true, why aren’t these texts included in the back of our Bible? If they are truly revelations from God, then they should be on the level of Scripture? (Ask the same question as you stay away from books like Jesus Calling by Sarah Young)
These books are not like Randy Alcorn’s great book Heaven which is an exegetical or textual study of the Bible. All of these books are outside of what the Bible teaches about heaven and have absolutely no Biblical basis whatsoever.
They Are Not Sufficient
Lastly, is the Bible not sufficient for the Christian? The seeking of outside spiritual experiences such as speaking in tongues, contemplative prayer, listening to God’s audible voice, and extra revelations of God devalues God’s Word and its sufficiency, completeness, inerrancy, infallibility, and inspiration. Our hope is not in the words of a four-year-old or someone who thinks they went to hell but in Jesus Christ our God who has graciously revealed Himself to us in the Bible.
It is dishonoring to God if you choose to believe what the Bible says only when you receive some kind of outside confirmation. And it is dishonoring to God and demonstrates the lack of strength of your faith in the Author and Perfecter of our faith. We do not need tales of heaven or claims of one who went there and came back, but we simply believe that what God says in His Word is true.
Jesus called Himself the “bread of life” in John 6 and He states that “he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst.” Jesus is the Word and His Word will never fail and His Word is sufficient. Stand upon the Rock of His Word and let go of the strings.