Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Heaven is for Real, an Astounding Tale of a Boy's Trip to Heaven and Back: Is it Biblical?

Heaven is for Real: A Little Boy's Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back I recently read Heaven is for Real: A Little Boy's Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back, because I was given a copy by a family member. The book, written by Todd Burpo—a pastor in Nebraska—tells the story of his son Colton’s experience during surgery following a ruptured appendix. Although the surgery was completely normal—Colton never flat-lined and the operative report showed nothing unusual—Colton, who was four at the time, claimed months after surgery that he had gone out of his body and taken a trip to heaven for “three minutes” while on the operating table. The book reveals the details he shared about his heavenly visit.

Although encouraged to see how God spared the Burpo’s little boy's life and provided for their medical bills, thumbing through the book, I was immediately alarmed by what I was reading.

I am so thankful we are grounded in a biblical church, and that I know my Bible well enough to know that his tale is not in line with what the Bible teaches. At the same time, I am deeply disturbed that so many people are reading this book (it is a New York Times #1 bestseller) and coming away thinking it's an accurate, theologically sound picture of heaven. Far from it.

I am also deeply troubled that Colton's own father is a pastor and never once refutes Colton's claims with Scripture. He backs them up with Scripture when they conveniently seem to support Colton's stories, but he never tells readers who may have limited theological or biblical understanding that the Bible presents a different picture from his son on certain topics, such as his son’s report that all people except Jesus fly with wings and that the angel Gabriel sits on a throne to the left of God the Father. People are being misled by this book and are basing their views of heaven on what Colton says and the new information he presents.

For Colton's story of his trip to heaven to be true, it must agree with what Scripture teaches about heaven. If it doesn't, either the Bible is wrong, or Colton's story is wrong. Since no one else seems to be doing it, let me provide the Scriptural evidence to disprove some of Colton's most troublesome, Scripturally inaccurate claims.

1) Colton claims people have wings in heaven.

Page 72: Todd Burpo writes,
“So what did the kids look like? What do people look like in heaven?"
“Everybody’s got wings,” Colton said.
Wings, hugh? “Did you have wings?” I asked.
“Yeah, but mine weren’t very big.” He looked a little glum when he said this.
“Okay…did you walk places or did you fly?”
“We flew. Well, all except for Jesus. He was the only one in heaven who didn’t have wings. Jesus just went up and down like an elevator.”
If you look up references to wings in the Bible, you will find passages conveying biblical truths using bird metaphors. Isaiah 40:31 talks about how those who “hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles;” Jesus says in Luke 13:34 that he longed to gather his people to him like a “hen gathers her chicks under her wings.” Birds were created with wings. Man was created in God’s image (Genesis 1), without wings.

In 1 Corinthians 15:35-58, Paul writes about the resurrection body. He says, “All flesh is not the same: Men have one kind of flesh, animals have another, birds another and fish another.” God created us in His image (Genesis 1), as men and women, with a human body, not as a bird with wings. Paul also writes, “And just as we have borne the likeness of the earthly man, so shall we bear the likeness of the man from heaven” (1 Cor. 15: 49).

Our bodies will be resurrected, like Christ’s. Therefore, if Jesus does not have wings, we will not have wings. Also, in the description of heaven, Revelation 21:24 says, “The nations will walk by its light.” Notice the word “walk”—not fly.

Further, in the account of Jesus’ transfiguration in Matthew chapter 17, when the disciples saw Moses and Elijah, they recognized them. “Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus. Peter said to Jesus, ‘Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you wish, I will put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah” (Matthew 17:4). No mention of them having wings.

Jesus' resurrected body did not include a set of wings, and we are told we will be like Him.

2) Colton claims people have lights over their heads in heaven.

Page 73:
“Everyone kind of looks like angels in heaven, Dad.”
“What do you mean?”
“All the people have a light above their head.”
Todd Burpo goes on to cite what he claims to be Scriptural evidence of lights over one’s head, using the examples of the angel appearing to Mary Magdalene at Jesus’ tomb (that his appearance was like lightning), Stephen’s face as “bright as an angel’s” during his stoning, and John writing in Revelation about a mighty angel with a “rainbow over his head,” and that the angel’s face “shone like the sun.”

It seems that what Colton was trying to describe was a halo, which the Bible does not say exists, but is depicted in virtually all children’s Bible stories, Renaissance art, and other drawings that a four-year old would most likely have been exposed to—even though his dad (who is a pastor) says he was not exposed to pictures like this.

The description given in the book of Revelation of those in heaven is that they are wearing “fine linen, white and clean.” (Revelation 21:14). No mention of lights above heads. Either it’s new and extrabiblical, or it’s a made-up story from an imaginative kid.

3) Colton claims Jesus has a rainbow horse and that he got to pet him. (page 63).

When the Bible talks about Jesus with a horse, the horse mentioned is always white. (Revelation 19:11, 14).

4) Colton's depiction of God's throne.
This is Colton's account:

Page 100:
"Well, what did God’s throne look like?” [asks his dad]
Colton: “It was big, Dad…really, really big, because God is the biggest one there is…And do you know that Jesus sits right next to God?...Jesus’ chair is right next to his Dad’s!”
Todd Burpo:
“It was another one of those moments when I thought, He had to have seen this…'Well, who sits on the other side of God’s throne?’”
Colton: “Oh, that’s easy Dad. That’s where the angel Gabriel is. He’s really nice.”
Todd writes, “Gabriel. That makes sense,” and then cites Luke chapter 1, when Gabriel foretells John the Baptist’s birth and says, 'I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God…'
“So I’d had my glimpse into God’s throne room, but Colton’s descriptions had me wondering: if God the Father was seated on his throne with Jesus on his right and Gabriel on his left, where was Colton?”…
“Where did you sit, Colton?” I asked.
Colton: “They brought in a little chair for me, he said smiling. “I sat by God the Holy Spirit.”
“What does God look like?” I said. “God the Holy Spirit?”
Colton furrowed his brow, “Hmm, that’s kind of a hard one…he’s kind of blue.”
He then goes on to claim that’s where he met his Dad’s grandpa, sitting by the Holy Spirit.

So that’s what Colton says about the throne room of heaven. This is what the Bible says:

First, though, let's not forget all the Scriptures that tell us that God the Father is invisible. ("The Son is the image of the invisible God."--Col. 1:15; Jesus: "No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known"--John 1:18).


So how could Colton have possibly seen God the Father, and can he--the God of the Universe--possibly be contained to a "really big throne"?

If that's not enough, let's look at a biblical description of heaven's throne room:
Revelation chapter 4:
“After this I looked, and there before me was a door standing open in heaven…At once I was in the Spirit, and there before me was a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it. And the one who sat there had the appearance of jasper and carnelian. A rainbow, resembling an emerald, encircled the throne. Surrounding the throne were 24 other thrones, and seated on them were 24 elders. They were dressed in white and had crowns of gold on their heads. From the throne came flashes of lightning, rumbles and peals of thunder. Before the throne, seven lamps were blazing. These are the seven spirits of God. Also before the throne there was what looked like a sea of glass, clear as crystal. In the center, around the throne, were four living creatures, and they were covered with eyes, in front and back. The first living creature was like a lion, the second was like an ox, the third had a face like a man, the fourth was like a flying eagle. Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under his wings. Day and night they never stop saying: ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.’ Whenever the living creatures give glory, honor and thanks to him who sits on the throne and who lives for ever and ever, the 24 elders fall down before him who sits on the throne, and worship him who lives for ever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne and say: ‘You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.” (Revelation 4: 1-11).
There is also another account of the Lord seated on his throne in Isaiah 6:1-4, which corresponds with the Revelation account.
Neither of these accounts resemble Colton’s account to any degree.

5) Colton claims to have seen Satan in heaven, which was revealed three years after his supposed “trip” to heaven, ironically after watching the battle scene in The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe.

Page 132:

Colton's mom: “Well, I guess that’s one thing you didn’t like about heaven—no swords up there.”
“There are too swords in heaven!” he said.”
“Um…okay. Why do they need swords in heaven?”
“Mom, Satan’s not in hell yet,” Colton said, almost scolding. “The angels carry swords so they can keep Satan out of heaven!”…
Dad: "Hey, Colton…” “Did you see Satan?”
“Yeah, I did,” he said solemnly.
The rest of the page goes on to describe how Colton shut down and never did want to talk about seeing Satan.

He also claimed that he saw the coming great battle known as Armaggedon—that, “in heaven, the women and the children got to stand back and watch” the future battle while the men fight.

Refuting these claims is a bit more involved, as doing so requires a comprehensive biblical theology about heaven, evil, Satan, and his eternal doom. But let me begin with Isaiah 14: 12, which says,
“How you have fallen from heaven, O morning star,…You have been cast down to the earth…”
Some scholars believe this refers to Satan. Scholars also believe that Ezekiel 28 offers information about the fall of Satan, through allegory with the king of Tyre.

Jesus said in Luke 10:18 that He saw “Satan fall like lightning from heaven.”

Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 12 about a time when he was caught up to the third heaven.
 “Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know--God knows. And I know that this man—either in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows—was caught up to paradise. He heard inexpressible things, things that man is not permitted to tell.” (2 Corinthians 12:2-4).
Paul refuses to speak of them but says they were wondrous. Would angels walking around on patrol to keep evil out be your version of paradise?

That is also certainly not the vision of heaven portrayed in John’s vision, recorded in the book of Revelation:

“And there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.
Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say:
‘Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ. For the accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down….Therefore rejoice, you heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has gone down to you! He is filled with fury, because he knows his time is short.’ When the dragon saw that he had been hurled to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child…Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to make war against the rest of her offspring—those who obey God’s commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus.” (Revelation 12:7-17).
Numerous passages present that Satan lost his place in heaven and was “hurled down” to the earth, along with his fallen angels. While he may be “roaming throughout the earth” (Job 1:7), Scripture also says that until he is bound for eternity, Satan maintains access to God. In the words of my pastor, Jack Olsen:
“Rev. 12:10 says he accuses the brethren before our God day and night. There is some debate about where to place this passage chronologically, but I believe this describes a yet future casting of Satan out of heaven for good. He was cast out of his original position in heaven (Ezek. 28:16), but still has limited access to accuse the brethren before God (also Job 1:6).”
For a clear picture of the eternal heaven, we can look at Revelation chapter 21:
“There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (Rev. 21:4).
“Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.” (Revelation 21: 27).
“Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city. Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.” (Rev. 22:14, 15).
In conclusion, I fully agree that heaven is for real. But since there are so many elements of his story that contradict Scripture, Colton didn't take a real trip to heaven. Besides, his operative report (included in the book) shows he never left his body. This isn't being passed off as a "vision," or a possibly fictitious story from a then four-year old. (Besides, kids have great imaginations and have a hard time distinguishing fantasy from reality). It's being passed along as fact. That's where the problem lies. If you want a true peek at heaven, check out the Bible.

“This is what the Lord Almighty says: Do not listen to what the prophets are prophesying to you; they will fill you with false hopes. They speak visions from their own minds, not from the mouth of the Lord.” (Jeremiah 23:16).
Have you read the book? What do you think about it all?

Other reviews I recommend:
http://www.challies.com/book-reviews/heaven-is-for-real
http://responsivereiding.com/2011/03/18/heaven-is-for-real-a-review/
http://thebereanlibrary.com/archives/1802

75 comments:

  1. I think daddy helped four year old fabricate an elaborate story because he knew he'd make money. My son will be four in August and he could never say any of this stuff without us already "suggesting" it to him.

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    1. AnonymousJuly 22, 2013

      You should check out this site http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3IoOu9ZH3Sw which was also mentioned in the book, that shows that a little girl could grow in knowing God without ever hearing about him due to that her family were atheists. Of course the truth is in the Bible, but I believe God loves us enough to reveal himself in most unpredictable ways.

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  2. I'd never heard of the book till I read this post. I don't know if Colton went to heaven or not, but, as a parent, I don't think I would have made such a big deal about it all. I tend to agree with Katy-Anne, that this might have been a springboard for something not meant to be. I have a 5 yr old daughter and she comes out with some interesting stuff, but nothing like this. It does sound a little coached...

    Denise in Saskatchewan, Canada

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  3. Glad you wrote about this! I just heard about this book from a gal who is still young in the faith and she was excited about it. I didn't know what to think because I hadn't read it or even heard of it. Thanks for your Biblical perspective with Scripture to back it up. I passed on the blog post to my friend.

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  4. Thanks for the post. Interesting.

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  5. I haven't read the book but I was interested. Now I will skip it.

    Thanks for the heads up!

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  6. Thanks for posting this! I hadn't read the book, but was disturbed when I read a summary of it in our local Bible book store catalog. In Revelation 22:18, God gives a very serious warning/consequence to those who "add" or "take away" from HIS book of prophesy (as you so rightly stated, the One that contains the true account of what Heaven is like.) It is sad that so many people will turn to the words of a four-year old rather than the inspired word of God! Thanks again the warning about this book!

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  7. I haven't read the book, but did hear an interview with the author on our local Christian radio station. Though the interviewer seemed totally into it and convinced, I too was alarmed that this was being presented as fact. It does sound very coached/contrived and NOT biblical! I so hate for such "Christian" books to be so popular these days!

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  8. I read the book. My primary conclusion agrees with your final thoughts, Cheryl. Let God's love letter to us - His Word - draw us close to Him and cause us to long for eternity with Him. Anyone else's experiences are hallow, at best, compared to the magnificent promises God has already revealed to us and secured for us through His Son.

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  9. Thank you, thank you for writing this. A friend (pastor's wife) gave me the book because my husband died recently. I am thankful that I have actually READ Revelation and knew from the get go that the things in this book didn't match scripture. I was comforted in the fact that God's Word had been buried in my heart and that I knew right away this book was fiction.

    A much better book to read is "Storm Warning" by Billy Graham. Very good book and scripturally sound. But don't read this book unless you have actually read REVELATION! And if you read anything that you wonder about, verify it with SCRIPTURE!

    Thank you again for standing up and writing the truth. I loved the comment above about how the bible teaches not to "add" or "take away" from HIS book of prophesy! Amen! :)

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  10. The dead giveaway was when this little boy said on camera with a straight face, as if quoting a line, "and Jesus had a smile that lit up the heavens". What kind of kid would even refer to anything as "the heavens" except by the coaching of dad, who is a pastor?

    Then there's also the fact that the "proofs" of this kid's story all come from the parents. For example, the notion of the kid seeing his older sister and mentioning this to his mother, right, well mommy's makin some booku bux right now too ya'll.

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  11. I read the book and I believe that God can work any way He chooses and if He chooses to take a child and comfort him in a time of need by letting him visit heaven, He can. This family wanted to share this unique experience with the rest of the world, it doesn't make them liars. Im not saying that certain scripture is wrong but maybe shouldn't be taken that literally. God hasn't told us everything about heaven, there will be many suprises I'm sure. All I'm saying is don't be so close-minded. Just because the Bible doesn't say it doesn't mean its not possible in God's kingdom. Birds have wings...haven't you also seen them walk before?

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  12. I agree with the "Anonymous" person who posted before me. I read the book, and I can't dismiss the story as fiction. Paul said, We know in part and we prophecy in part . . . Now we see but a poor reflection, as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. The boy didn't say Gabriel had a throne, he just said he was on the other side of the Father. After all, the scripture does say that Gabriel stands "in the presence of God." The Lord could have given the little one a "veiled view" of the whole throne scene John wrote about. The boy didn't say that Satan was in heaven. Could not he have been given a glimpse of the evil one as angels do battle with him in heavenly places? (Daniel 10:13; Eph. 6:12) Scriptures do include descriptions of Angels with swords. (Joshua 5:13,14) Jesus knew this little boy was "into" swords, and could have given him a simple understanding of how angels do battle with the evil one, as he was being comforted in the Lord's presence. There are many things God has in store for us that are way beyond what we can even think or imagine. But I think we should be very careful before we accuse a pastor and his wife of fabricating a story in order to make money, even if they were having financial struggles. If you don't know the whole story and haven't walked in their shoes, or heard credible first-hand witness against them, are you authorized by Scripture to bring such an accusation? Jesus praised the father that He has "hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children." Bottom line, does the testimony glorify Christ? Are unbelievers urged to have Jesus in their heart before they die? Does it remind us that our citizenship is not of this world, and that there is a WONDERFUL future ahead for those who belong to our precious Jesus? By the way, I know there will be so many surprises waiting for us. God has given us a glimpse, but not the full picture. If He owns the cattle on a thousand hills on earth, I wonder how many different horses He might own in heaven?? With God all things are possible.

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  13. First of all, thanks everyone for the comments. We have several anonymous commenters, so to the anonymous who recently lost her husband, please know my thoughts and prayers are with you.

    To the anonymous commenters who posted before me, you will find plenty of places on the Internet where people feel this book is theologically sound. Sure, it presents Jesus and heaven, and you could say it's not that dangerous. But it is when people are creating a view of heaven from the new details provided within his story. If it is a new extrabiblical prophetic vision, Scripture tells us in other places it will not contradict current Scripture.

    The purpose of my post is to create a place where the theological accuracy of his account is called into question, to argue--from Scripture--that it is not theologically sound.

    I am not focusing on where the Bible is silent on what Colton claims. As I did in my post, I share what Colton said; then I look at what the Bible says about the same topic.

    Where the accounts contradict, one anonymous comment stated, "Im not saying that certain scripture is wrong but maybe shouldn't be taken that literally." I find it ironic that you are willing to take the boy's story more literally than the Bible.

    No, I am not accusing his parents of being liars. But I think they owe people a responsibility to be upfront that this was Colton's story, and it may have been a dream. That everyone has wings in heaven and flies, not walks, is a contradiction from what Scripture presents.

    If you reread my post, I am not bringing accusations against his parents, or calling into question their motives. I am simply defending the Word of God and its authority in our lives.

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  14. This is my defence of the hypothesis that Colton had a real experience that was something like that described of the book.

    1 - The Bible shows us that we will look similar in heaven, but that doesn't necessarily rule out us having wings. I think that we can have wings and still maintain the same "image". Also, the word peripateo (Rev 21:24) can mean to literally walk and it can also mean to progress. From the context, I would say that it probably means to literally walk, but I wouldn't rule it out.

    The second problem with the Rev 21:24 argument is that having wings does not rid you of your legs, nor does it rid you of your ability to walk.

    2 - It's very possible that he made up the halos. Or, it's possible that he thought that people had halos because they had very bright faces. I think the most likely possibility (given that he really did have an experience) is that he unconsciously filled this in with a false idea. This psychological theory has quite a lot of evidence - several experiments demonstrate that we will often fill in real experiences with fake ones. I especially find this likely given that he was so young and also that it was a bit after his experience that he discussed this. Regardless, I concede this point.

    3 - I think it's possible that he also imagined this or filled it in psychologically, but I also would like to note that this does not conflict with the Bible at all. The Greek word luekos means bright, brilliant, light or dazzling. If we assume for a second that he really did have a heavenly experience, it's very hard to conclude that the horse that he saw was in fact not dazzling with several colors or that it appeared that way with many other colors in heaven.

    4 - No contradictions here that I see. Should we assume that Gabriel sits on his left and the holy spirit is blue? Not necessarily - it's possible that he made it up.

    5 - No contradictions with the battle that I can see. I think the satan part is incompatible with scripture/Jesus' character. Perhaps during his experience he felt some sort of demonic being and interpreted it as satan? I don't know.

    So, in conclusion, I don't think that we should conclude arbitrarily that he didn't have a vision of heaven or experience it in some way. I don't think we should take his entire story literally without question and the scripture definitely comes first. But I think you exaggerate the contradictions way too much.

    There's also the possibility that he made it all up alone or with an older friend who thought it would be funny. There's also the possibility that he was coached by his parents. Given the detailed timeline in the back of the book, the fact that they live in a small town where a fraud would easily be exposed and the very detailed account, I find it hard to accept any of those theories. Unfortunately, I don't think there's enough evidence to present it to a skeptic because they will obviously favor one of those three interpretations over the interpretation that he really did have a spiritual experience. I wonder if anyone has interviewed friends and relatives for verification of the story O_o, that would make the story more credible to me.

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    1. AnonymousJuly 22, 2013

      Adding to the point nr. 2 - in the Bible, when Moses was in presence of God for 40 days writing down the Commandments, it was said :" When Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the covenant law in his hands, he was not aware that his face was radiant because he had spoken with the Lord." Exodus34:29

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  15. I loved the book. It was good and made me think more about Jesus. I'm glad for the one thing Colton said - that Jesus really really really loves the children.

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    1. I loved the book. I have read it twice now. I thought it was very close to the bible and to the scriptures. The book made my faith stronger. People don't be so critical. All we really need to know is Jesus died for our SINS.

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  16. Hi everyone,
    There are several comments about Colton's view of God's throne room and why people don't see a problem with his description. I'd really like to address this, because there are MAJOR problems with it.
    First, let's look again at what he said:
    "Well, what did God’s throne look like?” [asks his dad]
    Colton: “It was big, Dad…really, really big, because God is the biggest one there is…And do you know that Jesus sits right next to God?...Jesus’ chair is right next to his Dad’s!”...
    “So I’d had my glimpse into God’s throne room, but Colton’s descriptions had me wondering: if God the Father was seated on his throne with Jesus on his right and Gabriel on his left, where was Colton?”…

    I edited my post to add this:

    "First, though, let's not forget all the Scriptures that tell us that God the Father is invisible. ("The Son is the image of the invisible God."--Col. 1:15; Jesus: "No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known"--John 1:18)

    So how could Colton have possibly seen God the Father, and can he--the God of the Universe--possibly be contained to a "really big throne"?

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  17. AS someone who knows the Burpo family personally, and no, I do not attend their church, I know the integrity of this man and his faith. I also have a mother who "died" and experienced heaven and spoke with Jesus. There is much we do not know about heaven and much that is to be revealed when we get there. One thing I do know is that people are coming to Christ through the testimony of this family and that is their greatest desire.

    And can the God of the universe be contained in our boxed thinking? Is it possible He IS greater than our understanding of scripture? And is it possible that He WOULD use a child to speak through because they have such pure faith? I do believe there is something in scripture about that.... And yes, I too have seen birds have wings, and walk! :)

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  18. I've read the book. We cannot judge. My biblical reference? Matthew 7(NKJV) Jesus' words.
    "Judge not,that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. And why do you look at the speck in your brother's eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me remove the speck from your eye'; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye. Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pears before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces. Ask, and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him! There fore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets. Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it. Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. YOU WILL KNOW THEM BY THEIR FRUITS. Do men gather grapes from thorn bushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown in to the fire. Therefore, by their fruits you will know them. Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ' Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name? And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlesness!' Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall for it was founded on the rock. But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand; and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall." And so it was, when Jesus had ended these sayings, that the people were astonished at His teaching, for He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes. (Con't)

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    1. If we can't judge then you can't judge that we can't judge. The scripture doesn't say we cannot judge. It says not to judge hypocritically. In other words, make sure you're right with God before you try to point out someone else's faults. But scripture teaches that we should judge.

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  19. (Con't from above)

    My thoughts? Matthew 18: 1-7 (you can continue, it's really good)
    "At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, "Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?" Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, and said, "Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me. But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe to the world because of offenses! For offenses must come, but woe to that man by whom the offense comes!

    About Colton and what happened to him? I believe God knows and is allowing the story to be told. I will not judge, who am I to do so? Who are any of us?

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  20. I was glad to finally find a review of this book that used the Bible to measure some of what was reported by Colton, who supposedly visited heaven. The article makes excellent points. God's word is sufficient and gives us all we need to know. If God had wanted us to know anything else, it would be in the Bible. We do not need an unsupported account like this one; and Christians should reject any tale that has points contradictory to scripture, as this book does. Thanks for writing this.

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  21. Hi Anonymous,
    Numerous places tell us in Scripture to test everything against Scripture, to measure it and see if it matches with Scripture to test its accuracy. The Bereans were praised because "they examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true." (Acts 17:11).

    There is a HUGE difference between comparing what someone says or teaches to what the Bible says and teaches and judging someone. I used to be a journalist, and yes, I am taking a closer look at his story, and comparing it to Biblical accounts. If both were true, they would seem to match. In many places, though, Colton's claims do not match what the Bible explicitly teaches. So yes, that raises a red flag for me.

    The Bible also states in numerous New Testament books, that in the last days, numerous false teachers will come, preaching things that are not of God. It will be more important than ever to "judge" teaching against the Word of God and not blindly accept what is said because we are told "not to judge." We are also told to "speak the truth in love."

    We must be wise and seek to grow in knowledge and discernment every day.

    "And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ--to the glory and praise of God." (Phi. 1:10).

    Marcia...thanks! :)

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  22. Cheryl,

    You are right on and should never take personally the "don't judge comments" in issues that matter to God, especially from anonymous posters.....

    Here is another thorough review from an elder, author and a man that blogs at many reputable conferences. He also reads and reviews MANY books each year.

    http://www.challies.com/book-reviews/heaven-is-for-real

    We need more Scripture-knowing-and-loving Bereans, not more tolerant individuals ready to accept any book/belief that shows up in Christian bookstores on on the bestseller list.

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  23. Jesus said he would be a stumbling block. I see that here. Where there is dissention and argument God is NOT involved. (I'm the one who posted the scriptures)I post as anon because I do not like my identity known online.
    This isn't love, this is condemnation and judgement. You don't have to answer to me, you have to answer to God and God alone...we all do. Goodbye.

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  24. Those of you who say scripture is sufficient have no understanding of what you are saying. First of all you assume your particular view of scripture is right and everone else is wrong, while they think the same thing about you.

    There is one true view of scripture, but there is not a man or woman on earth who knows it completely. At best we know it only partially. You assume that john was shown the actual throne of God and not a vision of heaven given to him with a purpose. Ezekiel and jobs view of heaven are different than johns, yet were they mislead or lying? This is the problem with nearly all christians today. You think you know it all when in truth, you know nothing. You are not as studied as you think you are, and more importantly you don't think about what you study. You are blind people patting yourselves on the back for your amazing vision.

    Scripture is and never was intended to be singularly sufficient.

    God is sufficient, the Holy Spirit is sufficient, experiencing God according to scripture is sufficient. But we are not here to worhip a textbook. If you think all christianity is, is learning the facts of some text you are simply spiritually dead and have not learned anything from the texts you are reading. Its called being a pharisee, and these are those whom Jesus condemned the most.

    You fail to understand that no one has seen God at any time, but there are representations of God people have been shbown. Like the vision of the emrald throne in revelation, and many others.

    Its one thing to memorize scripture, its another to actually understand it with depth and spiritual understanding.

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  25. Cheryl,

    I really appreciate your post on this and how much time/effort it probably took you. I will link to you in my own blog post on this subject if that's ok.

    Suzi
    http://edgeoftheplanetadventures.blogspot.com/2011/04/yes-as-matter-of-fact-heaven-is-for.html

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  26. I understand the skepticism associated with this book; it is radical, it is challenging, and it very well may be true. I have read the book. I find it engaging and actually like it. Would I recommend it? Not to a new believer. This book has the potential to be a substitute for people's belief in God's Word. If you remember, the Left Behind series did exactly that. The difference is one over fiction vs. experience (left behind is fiction, heaven is for real is experience). Many comment posters on this site and the BearenLibrary site claim that the experience is false because it does not line up with Scripture, or the dad made it all up and coerced his son into the story.

    1. The dad never claims this to be equal with Scripture nor a substitute for it. So, why argue that point at all. He's not asking for this book to be added into the canon.

    2. We should be careful with arguing away experience. Example: we had a severe drought in Arkansas last year. No rain for almost two months, with 100 degree heat most of those days, and yet my kids played in the water in the streets. The argument would be no way, it's lies, it could not happen. The experience has been argued away because it does not "fit" the evidence. But, what if I told you we live beside a fire hydrant and the line had to be serviced by opening the valve. It flooded the whole street and the kids had a great time. So, be careful about arguing away experience immediately, especially when the Scripture that is being used to argue it away is allegory anyway.

    3. That leads to biblical interpretation. How do you handle the inconsistencies of the Gospels? Example, number of angels at the empty tomb and the various people the angels appeared to. Will you argue that Mary Magdelene's experience of seeing Jesus at the tomb as told in the Gospel of John is false because the Gospel of Luke does not record it that way?

    4. How can we interpret what John said in Revelation as fact when John wasn't even quite sure what he was looking at? He described what he saw as best as he could. If Colton indeed saw what he says, is he perhaps describing it as best as he can? Ah, but what about the colored horse? That leads to...

    5. If the dad is a con man, (and I read from a commenter that the dad selectively took Scripture to match up with the son's witness to make it all plausible) then why would he undermine his entire book by using a rainbow horse instead of a white horse? This, to me, actually makes the story more true. A good con will not undermine itself. So, I'm forced to take the experience in the book as true.

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  27. here's the rest of the rambling

    6. More on interpretation...we adult believers have packaged God's Word and Him into neat little boxes based on preference and presupposition. So, what happens when something comes along that does not "fit" into my box? I love our foreign missionaries. Many have told me that they have had to leave their God boxes in the United States because He does things for the growth of the Gospel that would not be possible if God operated in the boxes we put Him in. I find it more appealing that God revealed Himself to this child and not to me because that kid has no expectations, no preferences, no presuppositions. I think the Lord knows that many of us would write off a vision or experience to indigestion because it does not fit our God box.

    7. Be open minded. If something does not line up with my interpretation of Scripture, I should not immediately write it off. What if my interpretation is wrong to begin with? For example, it has been stated that how can Colton see the invisible God? What will you do with your interpration of Scripture when it conflicts with another Scripture? Will you revisit your interpretation or will you poorly interpret another passage to justify your position? What did John see when he wrote in Revelation 4 "...a throne was standing in heaven, and One sitting on the throne."? What did he see? Use your argument, God's invisible so John didn't see Him. Now we just took our God box and interpreted a passage poorly. God is invisible to the physical world, but not the spiritual world. Notice the beginning of verse 2 "...I was in the spirit". Well, no wonder he saw God (who is spiritual), he was in the spirit. So who did Isaiah see?

    Please be careful to discount events when, possibly, our presuppositions may cloud our judgement of those events.

    Finally, if the dad is a con, then why is he concerned more with what the experience did to change him than to promote the experience? He is more diligent to pray, to help even more those who facing death, to minister even more to the children. Con men that I have known live the con and promote it to promote themselves. He is more concerned with how God used the experience to change him. That's how I see it for what it's worth.

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  28. Thanks, Suzi. Sure that's fine!

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  29. Hi rabbi812,
    Thanks for leaving your comments. A couple things I would say in response--
    I think we're in different camps on our views of Scripture. I'm not sure which Scriptures you say I'm using to debate this book that are allegory.
    Next, about Gospel "inconsistencies"--I would say each account offers additional information, or from a different perspective, (or perhaps a different timeline--i.e. maybe Mary went to the empty tomb more than once that morning) without changing the essential truth of what happened. Here is an article with more info for those who would like to read more about this: http://www.probe.org/site/c.fdKEIMNsEoG/b.4225535/k.1274/The_Historical_Reliability_of_the_Gospels.htm

    How do I handle difficult passages? Well, we interpret Scripture with Scripture; study, consult trusted scholars, pastors, etc. I agree we never want to take a passage out of context.

    You asked: "it has been stated that how can Colton see the invisible God?...What did John see when he wrote in Revelation 4 "...a throne was standing in heaven, and One sitting on the throne."? What did he see? Use your argument, God's invisible so John didn't see Him. Now we just took our God box and interpreted a passage poorly. God is invisible to the physical world, but not the spiritual world."

    In response, I would say Scripture teaches that God the Father is invisible, but Christ is the representation of Him whom we see. So with that, the one sitting on the throne in Rev. 4 that you mention would be Christ the King, the "image of the invisible God." (Colossians 1:15). (see also John 6:46, and John 14:8 and following, where the disciples ask Jesus to show them the Father and Jesus says that if they have seen him--Jesus--they have seen the Father, since they are one).

    Let's just pretend you're a journalist (which I was) or a police officer. You take Colton's report of heaven and the Bible's report of heaven. If Colton's experience was true, you would expect the accounts would complement each other, not contradict each other. I'm just saying, I see contradictions. I have gone through the biblical account to show you (and others) where those are. As in my former reporting days, I'm reporting. You're free to decide.

    I will say, though, I find it interesting that all Colton's details come not from him first sharing, but from his dad asking direct questions. Child investigators know how dangerous it is to ask leading questions to children; innocent people have been put behind bars based on children's "testimony" on leading questions (perhaps you've seen the 20/20 experiments on how easily kids can come up with elaborate, fabricated tales). Somehow, though, because this story involves heaven, it seems a majority of people are willing to give him a pass. I agree it's great he loves Jesus and thinks about heaven, but again, the question I'm posing is--is his story true, as measured by what the Bible says about heaven?

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  30. Randy Alcorn just posted about this very topic today. More food for thought.

    http://www.epm.org/blog/2011/May/9/heaven-real-90-minutes-heaven-and-other-books-abou

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  31. AnonymousMay 19, 2011

    There are those who say Hitler didn't kill any Jews. Why should I doubt them. I wasn't there.
    The Bible says 'don't judge'. Who I am.

    You may say the above statements are a bit silly and foolish. And you are right . they are very silly. But not as silly as some reasons given for believing this book. By the way, I beleive Hitler did killl jews what was it 6m

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  32. Dinah DutterJuly 01, 2011

    Wonderful post! Thank you. This has been on my mind a lot lately that just because something is "Christian" doesn't mean we should accept it. We must have discernment.

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  33. AnonymousJuly 09, 2011

    Jesus, when he was on earth, said that he was God- which he was and ever shall be. But, He also told parables to make us able to imagine heaven. There is no part in the Bible that actually says straight out that we will not have wings. Therefore, it could be true. If God is invisible, we wouldn't know Him- because for God to be invisible, He'd have to be invisible spiritually, mentally, emotionally and physically. And then we would cease to exist, because God is the alpha omega- beginning and end (along with everything in between). Therefore, the little boy may have seen God. Or he may have sensed God's presence. We could interpret this book in one of two ways- literal or literalist. If you take it literally, you take the set of ideas you have and take something at what it says, word for word. If it doesn't fit your expectations, it is not true. However, a reality is the truth, inside or outside one's knowledge or belief. One can believe something completely and have it not be true. A literalist is one who looks at things in a more abstract way and see things in ways outside of beliefs. They tend to have looser beliefs and a better knowledge of the Bible because they can decide that something that is not exactly what it is word for word. They are more accepting of new ideas, because they can see it connect together into ideas they already have. No one can truly know what heaven is like- for it is outside our understanding. Only God and those with Him do know what the truth is- so we cannot tell for sure. True faith is the conviction of things hoped for, not seen. Therefore, you can have faith that the Bible alone tells us of God's kingdom. However, some of these things still work out- for example, Satan not being in Hell yet. In heaven, there is no time- because if God is in every second (every single second of the day has that second and every other second in it for God) then there is no past or future- there is only present. Everything is subject to interpretation- so if you interpret it as false, then to you see only the false. However, if you look at it as true, you only see the truth. If it is truly false to you, look at it and think this is true, this is true, ect. and then read it. If the false jumps out at you, it will seem false. But, if you really wanted to know, you could email him and ask- and ask about the pieces that don't seem to fit. Isn't that an obvious thing to do, because if it can't fit, then he can't make it. And you seem to be pretty astute- so you could see if he was stretching it. Please post more after doing so!

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  34. AnonymousJuly 13, 2011

    I agree with the writer that the book is not true to the Scriptures and that indeed needs to be our guide. Be careful about saying Satan is not in heaven. Read Job 1. He may not live there but he has access for sure.

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  35. Hi Anonymous, I don't believe I wrote that Satan is not in heaven. I agree he has access. Here is what I wrote about that in the post:
    "Scripture also says that until he is bound for eternity, Satan maintains access to God. In the words of my pastor, Jack Olsen:
    'Rev. 12:10 says he accuses the brethren before our God day and night. There is some debate about where to place this passage chronologically, but I believe this describes a yet future casting of Satan out of heaven for good. He was cast out of his original position in heaven (Ezek. 28:16), but still has limited access to accuse the brethren before God (also Job 1:6).'"

    Just wanted to clarify that...

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  36. To reword the old saying, "The trouble's in the details." My biggest issue (but by far not the only one) with the book is on page 136 when Colton declares, "Pop has a new body." That is followed by a "thus saith the Lord" kind of statement when Jesus says that "unless you go to heaven, you don't get a new body." I wonder how many readers will notice these two sentences or think through to their implications? I am really troubled by them.

    On page 135, Todd told Colton that "Pop" is buried in Ulysees Kansas, next to Grandma Kay. It was right after this when Colton said that Pop has a new body. The doctrine of the resurrection does not teach that we get a replacement body and leave the old one behind, as Colton's statement implies, but the one that was sown into the ground in corruption will be the same on raised incorruptible. We cannot be considered resurrected if our original bodies, however humble their state by then may be, are left in the ground.

    "Well," someone might say, "don't be so exacting. Colton is a toddler, he could have simply mistaken Pop's appearance." That is the problem, his age. Why would the Head of the Church let such a young person take back information to earth for all to receive since his age would bring his statements into question? Even Samuel the child prophet did not hear the voice of the Lord until he was old enough to have responsibilities. He was certainly no toddler when the Lord first began to speak to him. The church is severely handicapped by this age factor in determining the validity of this spiritual experience. For how are we to obey the commandments to "test everything carefully" (1 Thess. 5:12) and "not to believe every spirit, but try the spirits to see if they are of God." (1 John 4:1) if we have to keep accounting for his tender age of 3?

    Colton's passing statement on Pop's new body is a direct assault on the doctrine of the resurrection. As Paul so laboriously explains in 1 Corinthians 15, it is precisely upon this one issue that our faith stands or falls.

    Second, Jesus (the Living Word of God) would never have contradicted the written word of God on the matter of who gets new bodies. We are told in Daniel 12:2, John 5:28-29 and Revelation 20:5-15, that all men will be raised into their immortal bodies to be judged for heaven or hell, not only those who go to heaven.

    After Colton said this, Todd wrote, "Hang on," I thought, "new information ahead." As a summa cum laude graduate of Oklahoma Wesleyan University and now ordained pastor, Todd Burpo must have taken systematic theology and passed with flying colors. Why then would he allow this kind of "new information" to go uncontested? Why, more, would he allow it to be published without comment or correction or warning to the reader? He must have read Jude 3 which tells us the faith has been delivered once for all to the saints. And that the faith was delivered by the apostles of the Lord. There is no more "new information" coming from the Head of the Body of Christ.

    Whatever "heaven" Colton visited, it was not the heaven of the bible.

    Stan

    (Hope this doesn't go in twice. Sorry if it does)

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  37. Rachel MillerJuly 20, 2011

    Hey Cheryl,

    I too read this book. It was very entertaining and helped paint a more vivid picture of what heaven will be like from what I know from the Bible. Thank you for your "report" on it. I agree that Colton's description is not Biblically accurate and children do have active imaginations. It is a good book if you have a strong Biblical picture of heaven already...helps paint it a little more vividly in a sense. It reminded me that heaven is my home and gave me back an anticipation I had lost to be excited to leave this earth. Glad I have a sister in Christ who is so grounded in the Word to remind us all of what is real!

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  38. Read the BIBLE and throw this book in the trashJuly 30, 2011

    FALSE-PROPHETS --- The Bible warns of false teachings and non-sense like this to avoid.

    There is ONLY one way to heaven, by accepting Jesus Christ as their savior and not by reading some fictitious emotionalism that is all untrue.

    I have heard others talk of this book, well if you believe this then I would be very worried about my own salvation.

    RED-FLAGS abound about this 'book'...

    The only use this book would be to me would be using it for starting my BBQ grill. It is a very SAD day when people who say they are saved believe this. ANYONE can say they are a Christian, when you say follower of Christ the tune changes.

    So many Churches today are swept up in Emotionalism and false teachings. If you DO NOT know the BIBLE then you will be mislead.

    Lastly, --- FALSE PROPHETS --- the Bible warns over and over about non-sense like this.

    *** In the bookstore it belongs in the 'Save Mother Earth' and 'Being a Good Person' Garbage books...

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  39. The Book is a FRAUDJuly 31, 2011

    I think the same people who believe scams like this book are the same people who voted for Obama...

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  40. It's amazing to me how many people think God is incapable of moving beyond Scripture.

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  41. Ken writes… Okay – I just finished reading the whole list of posts on this. I am a believer and follower of Jesus Christ. I am a Christian based on his work on the cross and my asking Jesus to come into my life to be my Savior and Lord. This work was done at the age of 7, some 40+ years ago. After these many years, Jesus is well reflected as the one who said “Where are your accusers… Neither do I condemn you, go and sin no more.” At the same time, I share the concern of the slippery slope that slowly causes us to believe a lie and there is value to discerning truth from lies.

    With that background, I actually presumed when I clicked the link to this site that I would hear the complaints expressed by non-believers. You have given me a new awareness of a group called Bereans who seem to place a degree of importance on “testing and trying” that takes that important practice to a level beyond my previous awareness. How would this fervent level of testing and trying, this predisposition to finding fault for Godly preservation, not justify the actions of the Pharisees who heard a human man blaspheme that he was God and profane the Sabbath by breaking their laws – laws that they truly thought were of God. It was my fear of becoming a present day Pharisee myself, that helped me to see the importance of grace and love extended to others. It is this struggle to correctly grasp the truths of God and concern of elevating some truth beyond God’s intention that caused Paul to use the words to “work out your faith in fear and trembling”.

    For those that have not read the book, ‘Heaven is for real’, it is worthy of your time. In my case, it provided me a revitalized vision of what heaven may be like and reminded me of God’s love for us and especially his love for the children. If Paul, wasn’t concerned about people being brought to belief in Christ through false teachers and if God can use such messengers to bring true believers to him, this book does not qualify as a slippery slope to be worried about. May God be glorified in our lives as well as he is glorified through “Heaven is for real”.

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  42. I read this book and found it inspiring and not in conflict with Scripture. I consider myself a mainstream Evangelical Christian but if you feel led to cast doubt on my walk with the Lord, go ahead. I have two questions for the skeptics:

    1. How did Colton know specifically what his parents were doing in the hospital while he was under anesthesia?

    2. How did Colton know about the child his mother had miscarried? He hadn't been told.

    If his answers to those questions are credible then why isn't the rest of his testimony?

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  43. The armageddon battle didn't ring true to me either. I seem to remember reading there would be no male or female in heaven (and no giving of men and women in marriage), all would be just alike with a body like to that of Jesus. That would seem to contradict the women and children standing back and watching the battle thing.

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  44. Revelation 21:5 "And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new." Jesus is still masculine in Heaven.

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  45. WHILE I AM NOT THE JUDGE OF WHO HAS BEEN TO HEAVEN OR HELL.I EMPHATICALLY BELIEVE EVERY NEAR DEATH EXPERIENCE OE SUPPOSED "AFTER DEATH" EXPERIENCE MUST BE EVALUATED IN LIGHT OF GOD'S WORD. WHERE THE EXPERIENCE CONTRADICTS THE REVEALED WORD OF GOD,THE WORD MUST BE ACCEPTED OVER THE EXPERIENCE. FOR THE CHRISTIAN THERE IS SIMPLY NO OTHER OPTION,WE DARE NOT START BASING OUR BELIEFS ON PEOPLE'S MEMORIES OF THEIR EXPERIENCE'S

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  46. I'm scared that our church has come to this. We have been so overly-sensitized that if you throw up any red flags, you are a close-minded bigot. As far as judging is concerned: John 7:24, "Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment." We are given license to judge, when led by the Spirit.

    I want someone to show Scriptural proof that it is okay to go beyond the Bible. If you have "experiences" that don't contradict, fantastic! But let's hold ourselves to the standards God Himself places. If even one hair of your vision goes against Scripture, throw it all out. It could be that the kid actually believes it, but do we really use his innocence as a cover? Even a stance that, "I don't believe all of it, but if you're strong, it's okay" is horrible logic. If you know it's partially unbiblical, you still endorse it? We need to fall in love with God's Word. It is God-breathed, and profitable for us. Even Paul exulted the fact that he was challenged by holding his words to Scripture. He was used in a minor way concerning the NT, I might remind you. God is praised when we cling tight to His Word, and are jealous to make sure it not be twisted. Even if I were wrong, you should really examine how you react to someone "close-minded". I mind His Word, and that's that. You call it close-minded, it's actually God-centered, and I have room for nothing else.

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  47. It's interesting to compare (contrast!) the different accounts of those who claim to have been to heaven... Colton claims that no one is old in heaven, and that everyone appears to be in their 20's or 30's. Yet, Don Piper in his book says that everyone appears at the same age at which they died! So which is it? Or did they go to different heavens?

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  48. Colton talks about seeing dead people in heaven but the Bible says that "The living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten. Also their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is now perished; neither have they any more a portion for ever in any thing that is done under the sun." "There is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest." Ecclesiastes 9:5, 6, 10. "The dead praise not the Lord." Psalms 115:17.

    For help on this topic look at this Bible Study Guide
    http://www.amazingfacts.org/FreeStuff/BibleStudies/StudyGuides/tabid/105/ctl/ViewMedia/mid/453/IID/2-10/LNG/en/SC/R/Default.aspx?7=Are-The-Dead-Really-Dead?

    and Watch this Video
    http://vod01.netdna.com/vod/cdn1.amazingfacts/events/nr/nr10.wmv

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  49. Thank you for your review of this book and especially for your careful, respectful replies to those who disagree with you.

    Another worrisome thing is that the only artwork that supposedly looked liked the real “Jesus,” based on Colton’s experience, was the one painted by the young lady named Akiane.

    Though this is not a popular stance, I should say that Akiane is spiritually deceived, and that she has a view of God and Christ that is more inclusive than what is presented in the Bible. In other words, after perusing her writings and artwork, one can see more of a New Age Christ and spirituality at work in her. This leads to the idea that the road to heaven is not the only one, narrow way that goes through faith in the work of the genuine Jesus Christ on the cross. I’m referring to the faith in His exclusive blood-bought salvation of sinners by His death on the cross and His resurrection. The New Age would have us accept the many faiths in this world as all leading to the same place, heaven, enlightenment or Nirvana, or simply oneness with God.

    The New Age would have us believe that our problem is not really sin, per se, but the concept that we have forgotten our own divinity, that there is a spark of divinity in each of us and god wants us to see that we are really united with him/her/it becuse he/she/it loves us.

    No. Rather, all sinners who get to heaven, get there by having their sins washed away by the blood of Jesus. Those saved sinners are saved by placing their faith in the Person and work of the genuine Jesus Christ, as carefully exhibited in the Bible. That genuine Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life.

    There are other (false) gospels and many so-called Christs. There is only one who can save. Now, I am not saying that all who like Burpo’s book or like Akiane’s art are all automatically going to hell. No. But I have to ask why Jesus (when we have almost nothing in the Bible about his physical form) would indirectly endorse the artistic rendition of “Jesus” by a New Age artist.

    Some people, who are not grounded in Scripture could read the Burpo book and then really get into Akiane and her beliefs, since now we know that she painted an “accurate” painting of Jesus. Since we have two witnesses, Colton and Akiane, about the likeness of Christ, shouldn’t we also drink deeply of the many other revelations and insights Akiane has had?

    No. Give me the Bible! Give me Jesus!

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  50. Thanks, anonymous. I haven't looked into Akiane much, but I agree with what you wrote. My pastor likes to say that if it's popular with the masses, it's probably not true to Christ and the Gospels (since that's a pretty unpopular message with culture today).

    To answer the questions of a former anonymous poster...You wrote:
    "1. How did Colton know specifically what his parents were doing in the hospital while he was under anesthesia?"
    Here's what I would say in response:
    First, I worked as a journalist before having children. My job was to ask questions, and like you, I asked these same ones. Here's what I think:
    1) Colton's dad admits that at the time of Colton's surgery, he was very sleep-deprived and extremely emotional (and the days following). Is it not possible (even very likely), that as an emotional person, he said something like, "Colton, you know we were so worried. I really thought you were going to go to heaven with Jesus. I prayed and prayed."
    (Maybe he even told Colton once that he was in a room praying and Mom was calling the relatives to pray. In his foggy sleep-deprived state, he probably forgot he said that. But it stuck with Colton...)
    Option 2: So for Colton to guess that his dad, who is a pastor, was praying somewhere in the hospital is not a far stretch. Plus, if Colton sees his mom talk on the phone a lot, it is not a stretch for him to guess that Mommy was talking on the phone. Just knowing your parents and their typical behaviors will give you a pretty good guess of what they may have been doing.
    That's my explanation of that one.

    Your 2nd question:

    "2. How did Colton know about the child his mother had miscarried? He hadn't been told."

    Actually, his older sister HAD been told (and the Burpos admit this in the book). Is it not possible (and again very likely) that in the private moments between brother and sister, Colton asked (or the sister told him) why Mommy's so sad and his sister told him that Mommy lost their baby sister/brother, but "shh, don't tell. It's supposed to be a secret."

    I think there are definitely very natural explanations to these questions.

    Isaac, I would say to your comments to please be very careful to draw a theology on the afterlife based on two Old Testament verses. The whole of Scripture presents very clear testimony about eternal life, heaven, and hell. Although the Old Testament believers did not have the whole revelation that we have from the New Testament, they still had an understanding of life beyond this. David, for example, wrote that he will go to his son who died; and Job wrote that he knows his Redeemer lives and he shall see Him someday.
    My pastor said that if we draw our theology and base our doctrines of belief exclusively from the Old Testament, we will be quite off in our beliefs. Hope that helps.

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  51. Having read the Burpos' book, I seem to have already covered all the points of contention concerning scripture that have been discussed thus far here. Having watched several interviews of the Burpo family as well, I believe i have a good insight into their character. If they are lying, they should move to Hollywood and start accepting Academy Awards, for no actors could be more convincing. The commenter who suggested judging them by their fruits, according to scripture, made an excellent point. The Burpos' witness has rejuvenated my joy in the Lord and the hope of my future life with Him both here and in heaven and helps me repent for His joy.
    As a believer in Christ for many years, I know that biblical prophecy of the future is easily misinterpreted and i doubt any of us understand it completely. I suggest it is dangerous to be hardbound in that which may be easily misconstrued.
    In John Ch. 9 Jesus mixed clay with His saliva and anointed a blind man's eyes so that he might see (and others too by way of the miracle) but the Pharisees rejected the miracle and the blind man whom Jesus touched and, by inference, Jesus as well.
    Colton's testimony is Heaven Is for Real. We all have testimonies. Colton says Jesus touched him and Colton proclaims the Good News that Christ is real, alive and loves us and notes by reference to the markers on His hands and feet the resurrection and its power. Colton said that apart from Christ we cannot attain heaven. And that those who believe/trust in Christ Jesus have a place waiting for them in the Father's house with Him. Where is there false witness in that? COLTON said, "Heaven is for real and you're gonna like it!" I BELEIVE HIM.
    "AND JESUS SAID TO THEM, HAVE YOU NEVER READ, 'Out of the mouths of babes and nursing infants You have perfected praise?'" Mt. 21:16
    If this comment is posted more than once, i apologize. Mike - Oct 9, 2011

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  52. It would be one thing if Colton's dad had written "This is Colton's experience as he told me. I personally believe that this all happened and this is really how heaven is. You take it how you want, but this is our opinion."

    Instead he says it is all factual and biblical, and that's how heaven is. Period.

    That is why I do not recommend this book. I see parts of it that are not biblical in my opinion, all very well covered in the comments above by other posters.

    I think it's great that other Christians are speaking out and questioning the statements of this pastor and his book. As long as things do not get personal, a healthy debate about what is and is not a biblical is a good thing.

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  53. Dear Moms in Need of Mercy,
    I just came across your blog today, after looking around for opinions on the book. Saw a very small advertisement in the local Christian bookstore about it and had "alarm bells" going off. You answers are well stated and thorough.

    Unless I missed it...just wanted to add, that even those who have received Christ, who are firm in faith (see Colossians 1-2, for example) can be deceived and their minds taken captive. Thus, with gratefulness, we see that God warns us about this. And, thankfully, he provided the way to keep ourselves rooted in truth...by continually humbling ourselves before the cross, remembering that it is His blood that covers our sin and everything else against us (colossians 2), in order to allow us to make good, sound judgments about truth and lies. If we aren't abiding in Him, we simply can't understand or discern.

    And, just wanted to throw out there...even "Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light" (2 cor 11:14). "He is a liar and the father of lies" (John 8:44), and his goal is deception. He goes after the apple of God's eye: His beloved children. And, like Colossians tells us, even they can be deceived.

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  54. Christians do not receive their resurrection bodies until the rapture. The dead in Christ receive their resurrection bodies at this time also. So everyone in heaven right now does not have a resurrection body (about the wing argument).

    Also, the New Jerusalem and eternal state with the pearly gates is not what heaven is now. The New Jerusalem and the new heavens and earth occur after the millenium after the battle of gog and magog. So, I am thinking, that the descriptions of heaven now do not necessarily have to fit the descriptions of the New Jerusalem. So, there could possibly be tears in heaven now.

    Please correct me if I am wrong.

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  55. As a person who has a degree in history of religion and also a hesitant Christian, I was appalled when I read this book. It was sappy and predictable, almost from page one. Wings? Sashes? Right hand of the throne? Give me a break! I could accept "Pop" recognizing Colton, even Colton meeting his little sister. But all of this literal plagerism of Biblical content was almost laughable. I wasted my money on this book. Shame on you Paster Burpo! You are indeed a small man. You give religion a bad name.

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  56. Thank you for your stand on this book as I feel there are parts that border on blaphemy ie. the Holy Spirit supposing to be blue! Some argue that this was a little innocent boy but my bible tells me we are all "born in sin and shapen in iniquity". I believe this book is the work of Satan to undermine not only the family but authority as ordained of God as well. The real fault lies with the boys father in not instructing his son properly according to the scriptures.

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  57. Apart from the biblical discrepancies you raised, here are the two I noticed: Colton (or Colton's father) claims Jesus wore a purple sash, but the Bible says the Son of Man is girt about the paps with a GOLDEN cord. Major biblical contradiction alert!!! Also, Colton allegedly met his sister, a miscarried baby, who claimed that she had no name because nobody had named her. This contradicts scripture because in Revelation we are told each of the saints will receive a new name from God himself when entering heaven. Don't the people reading this thing READ THEIR BIBLES?

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  58. I am a pastor. I have been thoroughly trained in Greek and Hebrew, Bible interpretation, prophecy, theology and false religions as well. This is an excellent blog. A very objective look at claims made by this family in light of Biblical revelation.

    Many of the replies on this article in favor of the claims made, attempt to justify their defense with straw man arguments from Scripture. I am very impressed with this article and encouraged by all who act as Bereans (Acts 17:11).

    Furthermore, any pastor that believes you can loose your salvation(Wesleyan Theology), when your salvation is anchored in the life and works of Christ, is found wanting of spiritual discernment and skills of Biblical interpretation. As a pastor and apologist I consider the source and if the tree is questionable so is the fruit.

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  59. AnonymousMay 12, 2012

    Thank you for this assessment of "Heaven is For Real". I just finished it. I asked Jesus to be my Savior when I was a child, but only just recently started digging into my Bible the last couple of years,so I'm not quite caught up on scripture like some of you. BUT, when the boy mentioned halos and wings, an alarm immediately went off in my head and the doubt set in. A year ago I had listened to David Jeremiah's study on Angels and based on scripture. Now I realize I shouldn't just believe Dr. Jeremiah's interpratation either, but his study on Angels is quite opposite of the whole 'halo' idea.

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  60. AnonymousMay 14, 2012

    I missing something here!
    I see a lot of nitpicking but I don't see what the BIG false teaching is being perpetrated on us by this book.
    Is it the sash versus the gold cord around the waist that will damn someone to hell. Or is it buying into the notion that people in heaven have halos that will do us in?
    I read the book twice and none of the "inconsistencies" that have been addressed here are what stuck with me.
    What I got out of the book is reinforcement of a number of fundamental Christian beliefs. It helped me think of these things on a personal level. Like how Jesus wants us to have a personal relationship with Him and his Father. That the only way to the Father is thru Him.
    No wonder Jesus "really loves children". They don't rationalize everything. They just believe.

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  61. Anonymous--the BIG problem is that this is not being sold (in record numbers) as a nice little, fictional devotional story to encourage one's Christian faith. It is being sold as ABSOLUTE TRUTH.
    And because of the inconsistencies with Scripture, that is a BIG problem in my eyes (and plenty of others).

    Of course Jesus loves children! But the apostle Paul encourages us to GROW UP in our faith and not continue to need just "milk" like babies. We are to study and grow in theology and doctrine.

    I agree it's great Colton wants people to know how much Jesus loves them. But he and his father, a pastor, are selling this story as an extra-biblical reference as to what Heaven is going to be like. And that's why so many people are taking issue with this.

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  62. AnonymousMay 24, 2012

    Pastor T,

    A person can lose their salvation. (Jude 1:5, Rom 8:13) I question a pastor who claims that you cant.

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  63. Anonymous,
    Jesus, the great Shepherd, doesn't lose his sheep. If someone falls away from the faith, they were not a true believer. I asked my pastor for his comments.
    "The security of the believer is well grounded in the scriptures - a great verse is Romans 8:30 - They are written in the aorist tense, which is the tense of completed action in past time; also John 10:28-29, John 5:24, John 6:38-40, Eph. 1:13-14, 1 John 5:11-13."
    Phil 1:6 tells us that "He who began a good work in you will carry it through to completion."
    This gives me great assurance.

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  64. http://www.momlovesbooks.com/?p=1425 This is my review of it and it draws attention to a couple other points. Not as detailed doctrinally as this reviewer has handled it, but from a psychology stand point.
    I will mention again, I am not AGAINST the Burpos... I do believe however, that Todd Burpo found a creative solution to his financial (medical bill) difficulties while using his son's fanciful tale (definitely coached and encouraged, sorry, as a parent I could see it SO clearly!)
    I hope enough people reviewing this HONESTLY will stop the sales of this book and the spread of the lies (because once someone's read this fluff, they'll probably pass it on to someone else, and then the lie goes viral.. and with a cute little boy on the cover, how could you refuse?!?!? *sigh*)
    Blessings.

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  65. I totally believe that Bible and what it teaches. I also totally believe none of the people commenting here have ever gone through a close brush with death. You should try it out like I did. I have been in utter turmoil for over six years about this. I know what I saw and what I heard inside my head, not with my ears. I am a member of the Church of Christ, a deacon and taught Bible class over twenty years, yet I cannot explain what happened to me.
    I don’t care if any of you ever believe me or not. He has blue eyes and he is real as it gets.

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  66. FYI, here is my take on Mr. Burpo's book. He takes way too many liberties with scripture. First, it is extremely difficult, even for adults, to put into words what they have experienced in one of these episodes. Imagine what a child would think about it all. And then, add in an adult interpeting what the child is telling him. What you will get is a slanted view of things that is consistant with the view already held by the adult. "He hears what he wants to hear."

    Mr. Burpo goes too far in the book. However, I also totally understand exactly what his family has gone through as well. Colton talking about all this is part of his coping with what happened. Later in life this will come roaring back to him, so vivid that he might need some serious medical help to deal with it.

    A little kindness toward these people would be in order. What they went through was as real as it gets, including whatever and whoever Colton met while on his wild ride. Until you experience something like this yourself it is so very hard to grasp and accept.

    The scriptures will save your soul. They are are that is needed and stand alone. There is no new revelation coming. But be advised that the New Testament teaches that God is the God of the living, Abraham, Issac and Jacob. Don't be surprised when people are pulled by away from death (or sent back by Christ) and tell about the amazing things they saw. What do you expect? Do you really believe in life after death or not? Don't become so focused on all the words and loose sight of the message they tell. Death is only a door way to the living God.

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  67. In response to your May 14th post.

    "I agree it's great Colton wants people to know how much Jesus loves them. But he and his father, a pastor, are selling this story as an extra-biblical reference as to what Heaven is going to be like. And that's why so many people are taking issue with this......"

    I agree with just about all of the statement and logic presented in this posting. It's one thing to tell people what happened and a totally different issue when it is handed out like the Gospel of Christ. Selling it for profit sticks in my craw.

    This cannot be a substitute for the Bible. When it is, then I start bowing up.

    I also, know what happened to me. I would never, ever preach or teach it in my church. I reserve my comments for media like the internet, it's part of my coping mechanism.

    I tried to reply directly to the post but it wouldn't let me do it.

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  68. To the April 24th "pastor"

    Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. 1 Corinthians 10:11-13

    I guess Paul doesn't know what he is talking about, huh? I have seen people walk away from salvation. Being a "pastor" it surprises me that you have not. Also, your use of the word "pastor" is not what you think it is, unless you are an elder, bishop, or over-seer in the church. If you preach from the pulpit that makes you an preacher or teacher. An elder or "pastor" must have more than one to be scriptural.

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  69. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  70. Phrophets did not go away with the old testament. Prophesying is still for today..Ephesians 4:11-12 says and he himself gave some to be apostles some prophets some evangelists and some pastors and teachers for the equipping of the saints for the work of the ministry for the edifying of the body of Christ till we all come together in the unity of faith. I also submit to you With God all things are possible and he is also capable of using children. I believe coltons experience. We haven't experienced what he has so no one has the right to accuse the family of lying. When all of you critisizers get to heaven let me know how it turns out

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