Is Heaven for Real? (Updated)

heaven-is-for-real***There have been several on FB who have commented and private messaged me that are leaning into 2 Cor. 12:2-4, where Paul was caught up into heaven as well.  I’d encourage you to remember that what Paul saw was so vivid he said he didn’t know whether he went there bodily or not, but as he states there were things that were so unlawful to utter, he gave no details. He covered the whole incident in just three verses (2 Corinthians 12:2-4).  If Paul was forbidden to talk about it, I don’t see much justification for someone else to have that freedom.  In the end, it’s better left unsaid. 

In the Scriptures, the three biblical writers who saw heaven and described their visions each gave comparatively few details, but they agree perfectly (Isaiah 6:1-4; Ezekiel 1 and 10; Revelation 4-6). Of the accounts, it is clear they are in contradiction to Burpo’s version of heaven. The accuracy and details Burpo gives are vastly different. An important thing to remember is in the biblical accounts the authors are all solely fixated on God’s glory.  To quote another theologian: “They are overwhelmed, chagrined, petrified, and put to silence by the sheer majesty of God’s holiness. Notably missing from all the biblical accounts are the frivolous features and juvenile attractions that seem to dominate every account of heaven currently on the bestseller lists.”  This is ultimately, why it sits wrong with me.  For me Scripture always trumps experience.  We can certainly learn from experience, but it must not be the primary means through which truth is validated, especially when it doesn’t sit as a complement to the authority of Scripture.***

(Original Post)

Recently, I finished Todd Burpo’s book, Heaven is for Real.  Over the past few weeks, I have had several questions directed at me regarding my thoughts towards whether or not Burpo’s four year old son, Colton, was telling the truth? There have been several great blog posts by other authors and theologians addressing the book and they share some similar concerns that I have had. I know many from the church family of ORBC have read the book or have seen the movie. I hope these links are a resource to you as you discern and engage in conversation with many of your friends and families who might see the movie or read the book. This is a great opportunity to speak to the sufficiency of Scripture over human experience.

As followers of Christ, we should always be mindful to read everything through the lens of Scripture. In the end, I don’t find myself believing that Colton’s account actually happened. I believe that he truly believe’s his account, but truth be told, his journey stands in complete contradiction to scripture. According to Proverbs 30:4, the writer asks, “Who has ascended to heaven and come down?” Answer: “No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man.”  All of the accounts of heaven in Scripture are visions, not journeys taken by dead people. And even visions of heaven are very, very rare to say the least. Scripture should always be our final means of interpretation, not human experience. As believers in God’s word, we should never turn our backs on clear biblical teaching to seek an alternative view in mystical experiences that don’t mirror God’s word at all.  In the end, I’d encourage you to read the book and see the movie. This past weekend, the movie did over 28 million in sales. Let’s not let a great opportunity slip by and not engage people in or be prepared to speak to the truths of Scripture.

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