A Four Year Old’s Trip Heaven?
Heaven Is for Real is the true story of the four-year old son of a small town Nebraska pastor who during emergency surgery slips from consciousness and enters heaven. He survives and begins talking about being able to look down and see the doctor operating and his dad praying in the waiting room. The family didn't know what to believe but soon the evidence was clear.
Colton said he met his miscarried sister, whom no one had told him about, and his great grandfather who died 30 years before Colton was born, then shared impossible-to-know details about each. He describes the horse that only Jesus could ride, about how "reaaally big" God and his chair are, and how the Holy Spirit "shoots down power" from heaven to help us.
Told by the father, but often in Colton's own words, the disarmingly simple message is heaven is a real place, Jesus really loves children, and be ready, there is a coming last battle.
The above description is from the Heaven is for Real Website which exists to promote a book by the same title. In my misspent years in Word of Faith Pentecostalism, my understanding of heaven was shaped by those who had claimed to have visited, such as Roberts Liardon in his book I Saw Heaven. His book reads like a child’s visit to Disneyland, with magical creatures (". . . it seemed as if they were talking among themselves"), water fights with Jesus in the River of Life ("He dunked me! I got back up and splashed Him, and we had a water fight"), and our own personal mansions filled with gadgets too advanced for earth ("I sat down on a black velvet couch - it was alive - and comfort just reached up and cuddled me"). Todd Burpo’s description is much the same, and since this is a New York Times #1 Bes Seller many are buying what this kid and his parents are selling.
Ann Childress, member of Christ Presbyterian Church (PCA) in New Braunfels, TX, (also my home church), has written a brief, but insightful, book review. In it she not only provides the review, but she also reminds us of the problems posed by the types of claims . . .
Extra-biblical revelations and prophecies are problems because they deny both the completeness and the sufficiency of Scripture. It is only “all Scripture” that has the claim of being “inspired by God,” God-breathed (2 Tim 3:16). With the coming of Jesus and His apostles, the day of God speaking “to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways” ceased (Heb 1:1-2, 2:2-4). While we acknowledge the Holy Spirit’s ongoing illumination of Scriptural truth, we deny new, extra-Biblical revelations and prophecies. Because our Bible is the inspired Word of God, the church has received it as such, and it has come to us sufficient and complete. . . .
. . . Of utmost importance is the fact that Colton’s extra-biblical revelations of heaven do not match the Bible exactly by any means (although his father gives many Scriptures trying to make them parallel). Colton’s revelations not only add many things about heaven that the Bible never reveals, but at one or (perhaps) two points contradict Scripture. Keep in mind that while some of these are silly, that does not lessen the offense against the sufficiency and completeness of Scripture. Colton’s revelations include (but are not limited to):
- Jesus has a rainbow colored horse. (His father notes that there are horses and rainbows in the Bible, so this must be true.)
- Before Christ’s Second Coming and the bodily resurrection, people have physical bodies in heaven. (If this is the correct understanding of Colton’s revelation, this is a contradiction of revelation. Indeed, Jesus is in heaven in His resurrected body, but before His body was resurrected, He yielded up His spirit and His spirit went to heaven as His body was laid in the tomb, Matt. 27:50, Luke 22:43. When we die, our spirits go to heaven, but our physical bodies are buried awaiting Christ’s Second Coming, at that moment our bodies will be resurrected and glorified, 1 Cor. 15:20-26, 35-49; Rev. 6:9-10.)
- All people in heaven are either in their late twenties or early thirties (as his father notes, just like Jesus when he died) or they are children. Everyone (except Jesus) has wings of differing sizes, halos, and sashes of differing colors.
- It is Gabriel who is sitting on the throne to God’s left.
- Colton saw God on His really big throne and God is really big. (In heaven, we will behold God, but God is spirit. How did Colton see God? Interestingly, while his pastor father presses him about Jesus’ appearance for years, he never mentions pressing or even asking him about God’s appearance. This is either another contradiction of Scripture or it comes perilously close.)
- Colton watched the Holy Spirit shooting down power to his father when his father was preaching at church. (And this occurred during the three minutes of Colton’s visit to heaven when his father was at the hospital?)
- “The angels carry swords so they can keep Satan out of heaven.” (What of Christ Jesus’ defeat of Satan? What about God’s allowance of Satan’s approach to His throne in Job? Is the only reason we’ll have no reason to fear Satan and his hordes in heaven attributed to angels?)
- Jesus wouldn’t let Colton have a sword in heaven as he would “be too dangerous.” (Assumedly, this would only be true if people had physical bodies in heaven.)
You can read the entire the review here.