I have never seen Heaven. I can’t tell you from experience what it is like. The best I can do is tell you what limited information the Bible has. Well, limited in the details I mean. That is why I, like so many other people, are very intrigued by stories of people who have claimed to have been there and come back. Today, there are no lack of books being published by those who say they have seen heaven. I remember I Saw Heaven. It was published in the 90s I think. It was my first exposure to this genre. Recently, many similar books have made it big: Ninety-Minutes in Heaven, The Boy Who Came Back From Heaven, and Twenty-Three Minutes in Hell (this one about a guy who spent some time in hell, obviously). All of these have topped best-seller lists everywhere. Christians eat these up as it seems to confirm for them the reality of their faith. Not only this, but they hand them out to unbelieving friends hoping that it can be the “I told you so” proof of their faith.

The latest book to top the lists (indeed the New York Times best seller list) is called Heaven is for Real: A Little Boy’s Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back, by Todd Burpo. It was published in 2010 by Thomas Nelson. It is just over 150 pages. I read it this afternoon.

Summary

Colton Burpo, the three-year-old son of Todd (the author) and Sonja Burpo, spent time in heaven and came back to talk about it. Colton’s experience was not the traditional NDE (near death experience) since he never actually died. The first half of the book is the story of the events leading up to Colton’s visit to heaven. His dad, Todd, a Wesleyan minister, gives the nail biting story (especially for those of us who have young kids) of dealing with his son’s stomach ache that was misdiagnosed as the flu. After many days of pain, trips to the doctor’s office, and multiple hospitals, they finally find out that Colton has a ruptured appendix that has been poisoning his body for days. At the edge of death, the doctors rush him into surgery while the parents are on their knees before God.

Colton survived. The medical reports give no indication that his heart ever stopped. While it was a very close call, the surgery was a success.

Over the next months, even years, Colton began, to the surprise of the parents, to explain what happened to him while in surgery. The rest of the book is filled with account after account of Colton telling his bewildered parents about his time with Christ in heaven. Things that Colton should not have known and had never been taught came to the surface as this three-year-old boy processed his faith as confirmed through his time with God.

Main Events

Let me give you a quick low-down on the parts of the story about heaven that stood out to me most.

  • He sat in Jesus’ lap
  • He met his sister who died in his mother’s womb (whom his parents had never told him about)
  • He saw John the Baptist
  • There is a coming battle with Satan (he is a futurist!)
  • There are thousands of colors we have never seen
  • He met his great granddad (who told him things about his father that his father had never told him)
  • He saw Jesus’ “marks” on his hands and feet
  • All the people had wings of various sizes (including Colton) and flew around (except Jesus who moved up and down as if on an escalator)
  • Jesus had the most beautiful eyes, a beard, a white gown, a purple sash, and a crown
  • All the people had a light above their head (halo?)
  • Jesus sits on a throne at the right hand of God and Gabriel is on the left
  • He sat by God the Holy Spirit (who he could not describe) and explained to his dad that God is a Trinity
  • It never gets dark in heaven because God the Father and God the Son are the lights
  • There were all kinds of animals everywhere
  • Nobody is old in heaven and no one wears glasses
  • Jesus “shoots” power down from heaven to his father while he is preaching (like I hope he is doing for me while I am blogging!)
  • The gates to heaven were made of gold and pearls
  • He was actually only there for three minutes (timelessness in heaven?)

heaven-hitchcock

 A great book on the topic by Mark Hitchcock

Evaluation

I have often said that left unchecked, experience is the most powerful and compelling source for theology. You can argue with logic, facts, evidence, and the like, but it is almost impossible to argue against subjective experience. However, if our experience comes in direct contradiction with correctly interpreted Scripture, Scripture should always win. That is what we mean by sola Scriptura. The Scriptures are our final and only infallible source of authority. It is the “norm that norm which is not normed.” However, this does not discount experience. Neither does it say that God does not use experience to confirm his truth to his people. We need to tread very carefully with these types of things, opting neither for outright acceptance or complete dismissal.

The Father of Colton and Writer of the Book, Todd Burpo

This was not my experience nor the experience of my son. I am sure that if I had the experience myself or if it was my son’s, I would have a much harder time dismissing many of these things (which is not my purpose). However, one thing that stood out to me immediately was the composure of the boy’s father, Todd. As I said before, he is a Wesleyan minister. I was immediately impressed by his theological astute evaluation of many things. Not all, but many. For example, he struggled with the idea that his son said that this all happened in three minutes. He toys with the thought that heaven may be timeless, but he also seems to understand the implication of God alone existing in a timeless eternity.

As well, most of the events were well reflected upon and compared to the Scriptures. For example, as bizarre as it sounds to say that people’s heads shine (as in having a halo), he does reference many times where people “shine” with a heavenly glow in the Bible.

His more than expected critical evaluation and reflection on what his son described endeared me to the testimony of his son. I don’t know how to take much of what his son said about heaven, but I really appreciate that his father, many times, does not seem to know how to take it as well. That is a mark of authenticity.

Colton

I suppose that this is what intrigued me most about this book and the testimony. I have read other books where people claim to have seen heaven and their description is easily written off due to its reflection of common cultural folklore. However, his son was not even four-years-old.

Right now, my son Zach is about the same age as Colton was when these events took place. I cannot imagine him saying the things that Colton said, even after countless hours of trying to teach him about our faith. It is hard enough to get Zach to refrain from saying Chuck-e-Cheese, not God, made him! Those of you who have three-year-old children can relate, I am sure.

This seems to be the position of both the father and the mother. The question that comes up repeatedly is “How does he know this?” How did he know who John the Baptist was? How did he know about his sister who died? How could he talk about “Pop,” his great-granddad, and identify him in a photo? How did he know about the Trinity?

These are all questions that leave me scratching my head.

Jesus

I found it rather humorous and fascinating when the parents, upon discovery that Colton saw Jesus, were obsessed (my word, not theirs) with finding out what Jesus looked like. For years they pointed to modern pictures of Jesus saying, “How about this one?” only to be shot down by Colton’s critique. After a couple of years, they came across a young girl named Akiane who also claimed to have a vision of Christ and heaven. She was an artist and painted a picture of Jesus. Upon showing this to Colton, he said, “That is it! That is Jesus.” So, this is what Jesus really looks like according to Colton and Akiane Kramarik:

What do you think?

The Events

Putting my theological cap on for a moment, let me say a few words.

While there is nothing that is described by Colton that is impossible or that outright contradicts Scripture, there are many things that don’t square with what I suppose to be true about heaven.

First, we must distinguish between the “intermediate state of existence” and the New Earth (both of which we often call “heaven”). The intermediate state of existence is the place people go between death and the resurrection. Christians go to a place called “Paradise”(Luke23:43). It is not entirely improper to call it “heaven”; we don’t want to confuse this place with the New Earth that will be our eternal abode and only appears after judgment. There is not much that the Bible tells us about the intermediate state. We know that we will be with Christ (2 Cor. 5:6; Luke 23:43) and it will be better than being on earth (2 Cor. 5:8). The New Earth does not appear until Revelation 20:1-3. The intermediate state is where Colton would have gone, not the New Earth. However, like with so many of these “I saw heaven” experiences, people describe what seems to be the New Earth which, for lack of a better way to put it, has not been built yet. The streets of gold, gates made out of pearls, and the like, which Colton describes, are attributes, literal or not, of a place that is not yet in existence.

As well, the description of people with wings is very odd. While I am not denying that people could have wings in the intermediate state, this is no where hinted at in Scripture. This, along with people not looking old, while not necessarily problematic, does raise some theological eyebrows. After all, were not Samuel, Elijah and Moses all recognizable (1 Sam. 28:15; Matt. 17:1-9). Did not the witch of Endor recognize Samuel? And upon being asked what he looked like, didn’t she say, “An old man wearing a robe is coming up” (1 Sam. 28:14, emphasis mine).

There were just many things like this that fit better with common folk theology than with biblical testimony. But who am I to say that some folk theology could not be true?

Are They Lying?

This question always has to be asked, doesn’t it? After all, these types of things can get a person rich really quick. I don’t think that either the father or the son is lying. This does not mean that what is being said accurately reflects what we can expect the intermediate state to be like, nor does it dismiss all alternative explanations. It just means that I believe there is no compelling reason for me to say that this story is a fabrication.

Near-Death-Experiences and the Christian Faith

You must understand, there are tens of thousands of “I saw heaven” claims out there. The most famous of which is Emanuel Swedenborg’s (1688-1772), father of the cult Swedenborgianism or The New Church. He claimed to have been given permission to freely visit heaven and hell for 28 years. His testimony is filled with unorthodox beliefs, not the least of which was a denial of the Trinity.

Today, studies of near-death experiences are on the rise and becoming more accepted. The International Association of Near-Death Studies (IANDS) has gathered over 900 accounts with 280 of these just coming last year! These are very nice when they parallel with what you already believe. The problem is that these experiences are not only being testified to by Christians, but Muslims, atheists, Hindus, and those of every faith. Each account has its own unique testimony that fits well within their religious idealism. Muslim’s see virgins. Mormon are comforted by Joseph Smith. Catholics are aided by Mary. Even atheists are found being drawn by a bright light down a long tunnel.

I don’t dismiss these types of things outright. I think they are fascinating. But neither do I hold on to them too tightly. Though I will continue to read about and reflect on people’s “I saw heaven” testimonies, I will never hang my hat on them. Neither should you.

In the book, it is told that a baby sitter heard Colton’s testimony. She was a Christian who was wavering in her faith, riddled with doubt. As the story goes, her faith was confirmed by Colton’s experience. This is the type of stuff that scares me. When our faith is built on this type of tabloid theology, true or not, we can expect to have a tabloid faith. We do not need stories about people who have come back from the great beyond to confirm our faith and we certainly don’t need these as the foundation of our faith. So, from an apologetics standpoint (defending the faith), please don’t hand this type of book out to your unbelieving friends.

Conclusion

Heaven is for Real is a very well written page turner. I look to the Burpo family and sigh in relief that Colton was delivered from death. As a father of four, that testimony itself was encouraging and worth the price of the book. I would also like to thank Todd for being open and honest about his battle with God in the emergency room. That is as real as it gets.

I recommend this book for its ability to cause you to think, wonder, and process. While I don’t think it has much, if any, apologetic value, the truth is that we do believe in an afterlife. Perhaps Colton did catch a glimpse of heaven just as Paul did.

2 Cor. 12:2-5
I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows. 3 And I know that this man was caught up into paradise—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows— 4 and he heard things that cannot be told, which man may not utter. 5 On behalf of this man I will boast, but on my own behalf I will not boast, except of my weaknesses.


C Michael Patton
C Michael Patton

C. Michael Patton is the primary contributor to the Parchment and Pen/Credo House Blog. He has been in ministry for nearly twenty years as a pastor, author, speaker, and blogger. Th.M. Dallas Theological Seminary (2001), president of Credo House Ministries and Credo Courses, author of Now that I'm a Christian (Crossway, 2014) Increase My Faith (Credo House, 2011), and The Theology Program (Reclaiming the Mind Ministries, 2001-2006), host of Theology Unplugged, and primary blogger here at Parchment and Pen. But, most importantly, husband to a beautiful wife and father to four awesome children. Michael is available for speaking engagements. Find him everywhere: Find him everywhere

    141 replies to "Book Review: Heaven is for Real"

    • lois

      CHERYLA

      FIRST OF ALL, THE BIBLE WAS WRITTEN BY MAN. I REALLY BELIEVE THAT GOOD PEOPLE GET TO GO TO HEAVEN. I KNOW THAT MY GRANDSON IS THERE. MY FRIEND ASKED HER PRIEST ABOUT THE BOOK AND HIS ANSWER WAS THAT EVERYONE HAS DIFFERENT FAITHS AND WE ARE ALL GODS CHILDREN BUT THE BOOK HEAVENS FOR REAL SAYS THAT ONLY THOSE WHO BELIEVE IN JESUS WILL BE WELCOME IN HEAVEN. THAT JUST DOESN’T MAKE ANY SINCE TO ME. ALL I KNOW IS THAT I BELIEVE IN GOD AND HEAVEN AND YES I WILL SEE MY 17 YEARS OLD BEAUTIFUL GRANDSON THERE. THAT MAKES SINCE TO ME. MY FAMILY HAS A SUPPORT GROUP THAT WE GO TO AND THAT IS EXACTLY HOW ALL OF THEM FEEL BUT THANKS FOR SHARING YOUR FEELING WITH ME.

    • Ron

      MaryKay,

      and it is all scriptural

      No.

      This reinforces the unbiblical notion that our hope as Christians is “going to heaven” when we die. The apostolic message is that our hope, our only hope, is the resurrection–a superficial reading of the Lazarus parable notwithstanding.

    • lois

      JUST A QUICK COMMENT “WHERE DO ALL THE JEWS GO” LIKE NOWHERE, I THINK NOT. THAT’S WHAT MAKES ME SO MAD. SO THINK ABOUT THAT.

    • cherylu

      Hi again Lois,

      No one can convince you that what any of us are saying is true. And if you are right, you have nothing to lose. But if we are right, you personally have a lot to lose.

      Please don’t just toss it all aside.

    • lois

      CHERYLA

      I THINK THE SAME THING THAT YOU ARE SAYING APPLIES TO EVERYONE. DON’T YOU THINK IF MAYBE YOU ARE WRONG YOU ALSO HAVE A LOT TO LOSE. EVERYONE HAS THEIR OWN BELIEFS BUT I REALLY KNOW THAT GOD LOVES ALL OF HIS CHILDREN. HOW CAN ANYONE SAY THAT IS NOT TRUE. ALL THE SIGNS THAT WE GET ARE FROM MY GRANDSON IN HEAVEN. AND THEY ARE SOOOOO REAL. SO WHAT YOU ARE SAYING I AM NOT GETTING SIGNS FROM HEAVEN. THEN WHERE DO THEY COME FROM???

    • cherylu

      Lois,

      I am not hear to argue with you, just to state my belief and concern.

      PS Why do you keep writing in all caps?

    • lois

      SORRY MISPELLED GRANDSON AND HIS NAME IS BOBBY

    • cherylu

      Lois,

      I do want to tell you I am sorry about the death of your Bobby. I can’t imagine how hard that would be. I have four grand kids that I love dearly.

    • lois

      WHY DOES IT MATTER IF I USE CAPS OR not just trying to get my point across.

      • Glen S

        When writing an entire post in all caps, one is shouting at the audience. It is rude and unbecoming. A single word in all caps serves as an emphasis when italics is not available.

    • lois

      cheryla

      thank you about being sorry about bobby. we just believe in different things. maybe we will meet in heaven and have a good laugh. ok?

    • Hotly Spiced

      I believe the story completely. We should never be so sure of ourselves as to dismiss or try to explain away events that could only be described as supernatural occurances or miracles.

      • Glen S

        HS: It is not a matter of being sure of one’s self. It is a matter of being sure of the scripture. In order for a revelation to be accurately accounted as God given, it must agree completely with God’s revealed Word to us. None on these NDE writings can do this. Not only do they not agree with the Word of God, they don’t even agree with each other.

    • Melissa

      I read the book as inspirational as it was, I’m a little skeptical. I believe in our holy spirit, God and Jesus but I also know about having a near death experience at the age of 9. I was the first child to ever survive a rear fusobacterial infection that invaded my blood stream, causing septic shock and multi-organ failure. My parent’s were told to prepare for the worse, it was fatal but by the grace of god I’m living proof of a miracle. The doctors were baffled by my recovery. Anyways, I had so many people looking toward me for spiritual answers. I was so young and eager to please, I would tell people what I thought they wanted to hear. So another words, innocence isn’t always truthful. I’m 28 yrs old today and blessed with the holy spirit.. I have vivid dreams about our judgement day and heaven. I just pray people believe because it’s very much real.

    • Alan Weck

      If you believe this strory, I have a bridge for sale.

    • lois

      way to go alan

    • TEXIZZ

      I plan to read the book with an open mind. I will return to comment in the future.

    • […] three hours at age three. These are the major points of Colton’s story about heaven (quoted in a review by C Michael Patton of Heaven is for Real: A Little Boy’s Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven […]

    • cherylu

      I just read an interesting review of this book found here: http://www.thebereancall.org/node/9165

      What really struck me in this review is the statement made by the girl that pained the portrait of Jesus as she claims to have seen Him in heaven. The same portrait that Colton said looks like Jesus as he saw Him in heaven.

      Here is her quote from the linked article: “Jesus shared with us: ‘I am the way, the truth and the light. No one comes to my Father, but through me.’ I feel that he invited us to participate in the divinity. Each of us is one of kind [sic] original path to the way of truth and light, and without our individual love and effort we cannot understand and reach God”

      If this quote is correct and she is indeed interpreting what “Jesus” told her correctly, this is certainly not the Jesus of the Bible that she saw. Which tends to suggest to me that it probably wasn’t really Jesus that Colton saw either.

    • Ed Kratz

      Cheryl. What part do u have a prob with? Peter does say that we participate in the divine nature. She sounds Eastern. Is she?

    • cherylu

      Michael,

      Maybe I took what she said wrong. Here is a web page of hers where this quote came from:

      http://akiane.com/blog/?p=87

      These are other statements from that same blog entry:

      “I have read and studied Bible as well as different ancient writings. However, I discovered that I needed to develop my own understanding about the truths…”

      “I do not wish to join or form any organized religious or philosophical institutions. I choose to be free, and only when I’m free can I enjoy my life’s spiritual journey…”

      “All of us in our family have different interpretations of spirituality pursuing our own path to truth and that keeps us closer together and teaches us to be more accepting of other cultures and beliefs.”

      From this blog of hers it is obvious that she believes in reincarnation: http://akiane.com/blog/?p=39

      In this blog: http://akiane.com/blog/?p=93 she speaks of Hindu enlightenment in a positive way.

      Her “Jesus” doesn’t sound like the true one…

    • Patrick

      Maybe the real question is “what is Heaven”? I view, from my relationship with Christ, that Heaven is being with God. And Hell is being “not in the presence of God”.
      Yes they will be physical places but the real prize is being with Him.

      I truly believe “in” God and especially believe God. He states the path is narrow…meaning there is only one way to a eternal relationship with Him. That is to believe he Sent Jesus as the ultimate sacrifice for our wrong doings….As God cannot be in the presence of sin, a sacrifice was needed.

      Cheryl, I can completely appreciate your point of view. I am not all knowing but I can tell you this: God is real. The Bible is the inspired word of God…written by God…and he uses man for many things. Case in Point: maybe he is using your grandson to communicate with you. I believe that is completely plausible. Throughought the Bible, God uses many people to do great things.

    • Patrick

      and by great I mean, Moses inspired the Egyptians to free the slaves, Noah built an arc and saved all the animals and yet it had never rained prior, Joseph saw visions of a famine and saved a nation….and your grandson could be reaching out to you because God and your grandson love you that much…enough to constantly call on you to believe in God and Jesus.

      Cheryl, I love and care about your soul so much, I would really challenge you to do what I did. It takes work. The best way to affirm something you believe in, is to challenge it..suspend judgement for a while. Research your view and the opposing view, be objective and develop obajectives for both sides. Lay them side by side and determine which is more plausible. Only two things will come: either you will re-affirm your belief and never waiver again from it…or you will change your belief and never waiver from it. It is a great exercise.

    • cherylu

      Patrick,

      Cheryl here. Are you maybe referring to someone else in your last two comments?

    • Patrick

      Apologize Cheryl, I was referring my comments to Lois…and you threads with Lois.

    • cherylu

      Thanks Patrick. I thought that must be the case. If you were talking to me, you had totally lost me!

    • lois

      again, i believe that everyone has a right to their opinion but again i will say that we are all gods children. one of my best friends told her priest about the book and my plight about going to heaven. he said for her to tell her friend, (meaning me) yes i will absolutely go to heaven even thought i do not believe that jesus was the son of god. and yes i know there is a god the priest said that all of his fellow priests and bishops feel the same way. from what i gather all of the people that post don’t see the other side.

      • Glen S

        If this conversation did indeed take place, none of it is Biblical. Jesus stated authoritatively, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.” John 14:6-7

        So if the priest told you what you indicated, he does not abide in the Truth or the Truth in him. For Jesus also says, “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” (Jesus is speaking of himself here.) Matthew 7:13-14

    • Patrick

      Lois. Thanks for sharing. I see what you refer to as “the other side”. Why is it when Christian’s state an opinion we are considered closed minded…cannot see the other side??? Could we not say the same about your opinions? (rhetorical) Not trying to be confrontational. As I see it, we both have different views, thus we can agree to disagree 🙂 That is what makes mankind great…we have choice and can agree to disagree. I hope we can agree on this: just because your view doesn’t align with mine and vice versa, does not mean I am closed minded any more than you are closed minded…we just differ on our view of a specific subject:) Christians may have strong convictions about their view…but thats okay isn’t it? I mean it is nice to know people in this world can still be convicted by something….Personally, there are a lot of people in this world I am glad had strong convictions ….Lincoln, MLK, FDR, Amelia Earhart..to name a few

    • Patrick

      Lois, People become strong in their convictions when they forge them in the fire (test them). If you see my prior post (the one I meant to write to you but hit Cheryl) I believe it would be great for yout to test your theory. It will either re-affirm your belief or change it. That is why many Christians appear so convicted…they tested their faith about Jesus and it made it strong. I say this because I truly care about what you are saying. I would like to ask you this: Are you “betting” your entire existence after death on a “feeling you have about God’s children” and what a Priest said to your friend? I would hope as important of a decision as this, you would do your due diligence beyond those reference points above….just saying, it seems like an important enough topic to research some more….I have. And I can say from my extensive research, there is more evidence in the World that Jesus existed, miracle worker and all, then there is about “we all go no matter what”

    • Matthew Wiley

      I haven’t read this book yet. :/ One of my closest friends, Jeff, an elder at my church, recommended it. But I’m not sure about it yet… maybe I’ll check it out.
      What I do know is that I’ve had my own experiences, not near-death experiences, but miracles in my life, that I can’t explain away rationally or logically, but only supernaturally. Not dreams or visions necessarily (well, some dreams that really spoke to me, but then those are only dreams), but concrete experiences, that happen in my life and not just in my head…
      Those experiences tell me basically that God is real, and that He’s revealed Himself through Jesus Christ, and that He loves me and understands me and I can trust Him and He won’t give up on me, even though I’m a broken, messed-up, imperfect human being.
      Reading the Bible, I find it says the same things, and parallels with those experiences…

    • Matthew Wiley

      But then again, the Bible says other things too.
      Sometimes I feel frightened and confused by what I read, jut as I’m encouraged and comforted sometimes.
      Sometimes I admit that God seems like a Dr Jekyll/Mr Hyde kind of figure, as I read. I’ve wrestled immensely with questions, with doubts, about God and everything, with trust issues, throughout the last few years, and also with my sins and my failures, questioning whether God could really love me or I could really love Him… so I pray, and pray, and keep going, thanking Him for the good things, asking for His help…
      There are so many different perspectives and things that people say about the Bible, ways of interpreting the less than clear parts, that it gets overwhelming sometimes.
      Everyone has an opinion, including me.
      But then I want the truth, many of us really do. But then, at the same time, we want to believe that the truth is something good, rather than bad. That the gospel, or the good news, really is good…

    • Matthew Wiley

      I struggle with other things too. Obsessive compulsive tendencies, a mental/physical ‘unevenness’, where I feel ‘unsymmetrical’ that I can’t explain easily, among other things… and it gets overwhelming sometimes.
      And of course, my relationships with others…
      Life can be overwhelming sometimes, for all of us.
      Just rambling, sorry :p
      What I’m trying to say is that when it comes down to it, faith is a matter of the heart as well as the head.
      Stories like these, experiences, speak to us of something… hope, I guess you could say. People need hope.
      And I’m sure the Devil knows that, and plays off of it. So some of these stories we hear about, and experiences that we hear about, are not from God, I’m sure, including some of our own, even some of mine.
      But then again, if someone’s story or experience, or our own, clearly matches with what we read in the Bible, then I think we should give it a chance, the benefit of the doubt, that maybe, just maybe, it really is from God.

    • Matthew Wiley

      Also, when it comes down to it, we ultimately believe or don’t believe in Jesus not because of what we read in the Bible, though that’s certainly a part of it, but because we believe that He has personally reached out to us, and then we respond, in whatever way He enables us to. This can come through reading the Bible, or hearing a sermon, or through the love of another person, or having something amazing happen to us. Think of Abraham, called the father of the faith. He followed God because God personally reached out to him and got his attention. There was no Bible then, but he still responded.
      Does that mean we don’t need the Bible, because Abraham didn’t? No way, we do need it, because that’s what God has given to us today as a spiritual framework to lead us and guide in our relationship with Him.
      But still, the Bible itself is not God. He speaks through it, in a unique way. Everything in the Bible is trustworthy, if I’m believing correctly, even if it isn’t always…

    • Matthew Wiley

      …understandable. This would make it unlike anything else in the whole world, because everything else needs to be taken with a grain of salt, including Heaven Is For Real.
      But still, the Bible is not God Himself. So knowing the text of the Bible inside and out is not the key to existence.
      But getting to know the Person the Bible is talking about is.
      I think that’s part of all of this. People want to make sense of things, want to see things more clearly, want to understand things better. I know I do.
      Theologians try to figure it all out, scholars have all kinds of theories, people write millions of books that say millions of different things, some of them very encouraging, some very discouraging, some have a mixture of both, and everyone has their opinion…
      But really, how much do we really understand? How much can we really see?
      Like the apostle Paul said, we see through a glass darkly…
      ‘Faith is the substance of things hope for, the conviction of things not seen.’

    • Matthew Wiley

      Ah, all of my late night rambling. :p
      To wrap this up, something I read recently (speaking of books) really spoke to me.
      Something about how faith is, really when it comes down to it, a commitment of the will. That you don’t give up.
      God wants us to wrestle with Him, I think, like Jacob did.
      He wants us to keep moving forward, like Jesus kept moving forward when He carried the cross.
      He wants us to trust even when don’t understand, that there is a Home we can come to, and it’s Him.
      If this book, Heaven Is For Real, helps someone in that, then it’s worthwhile, if it doesn’t… then let’s keep going anyway, and not give up. 🙂
      I think that’s it. It’s getting late. Thanks for listening, whoever is listening. Grace and peace to you. 🙂 – Matt

    • Alanna Trinidad

      I just read “Heaven is for Real”. I really empathised with Todd- my car was stolen in Feb, my boyfriend was robbed at gunpoint and his car was stolen in March and my mother passed away in April. I had that moment Todd had in the the Emergency Room. I was so mad at God. This book really touched me and strengthened my faith.

      It also comforts me to know that my mother will be waiting in Heaven.

    • Julie

      The author has some information wrong. Christians no longer go to Paradise. Jesus ascended, making a way to heaven for all believers who die, so since Jesus rose, we all go to heaven. Paradise was only for those Christians who died before Jesus arose.
      I believe this book. I’m mostly touched by a true view of how Jesus looks in man form! Amazing. Non believers need to stop trying to explain faith away & just accept that some people have it & it’s real. If you don’t believe in gravity & jump off a bridge, you’re still affected by that law & you fall. If you don’t believe in Jesus as Lord and you die, you will still be affected by His laws & you will fall short. If non believers are right, at least we Christians will have lived good lives. BUT, if we’re right, you will go to hell. Err on the side of TRUTH!

    • Tina

      i just want to say to lois, Jesus was not just a good man. He was either crazy, a liar & blasphemer, or Christ the savior. He claimed to be God’s son, our savior. So either you believe that or He’s a liar/lunatic. And to everyone else, I believe in Romans it warns believers not to judge who goes to heaven or not, he speaks of a sort of second chance for the Jews because they were his children first and we wouldn’t know Him if it wasn’t for them. So, just keep your judgments to yourselves.

      • Glen S

        Tina,
        The second chance for God’s Chosen People comes after the Rapture of the Church. During the Church Age, anyone who dies without Jesus, will spend eternity outside the presence of God.

    • lois

      this is for tina
      i really don’t understand what you are telling me. could you clearify it.
      thanks
      lois

    • Tara Quiocho

      I read this book about a month ago and it was a very good book! I honestly loved it! It gave me a different perspective about heaven and the Lord! Like, I always knew that Jesus and heaven was real, but never thought about it like this book made me think about. Colby is a very special kid to expierience what he did. I would love to expierience that! 🙂 I used to always be afraid to die, and now I just really cant wait!

    • Tina

      Lois, u said u believe Jesus was a great man. U can’t believe that, he told us he’s the son of God, our savior. So either he was telling the truth or he was lying or crazy. If u believe he was lying, how can he have been a good man? If he wasn’t the Lord, he misled thousands of people, and caused them to worship him. If he isn’t the Lord, he would’ve been an idol or an antichrist.

    • Debra

      I am a nurse. While in nursing school, I had to take child psychology. One of our projects was to interview a child between the ages of 3-5 years old. The purpose of the assignment was to show how children of that age are schizophrenic in thought. Indeed my interview with the child revealed schizophrenic thought patterns. One example, I asked the child where their dreams occurred, and the child told me under the bed and in her closet. I think a combination of the thought patterns, the medications, the anesthesia, the absorption of all this child has heard throughout his life may have played some role…just saying. I believe that maybe we all have our own personal heavens.

    • Cindy

      Lois,

      I think you want to know more about what Tina said about the second chance for Jews that Apostle Paul talked about in Romans in NT in the Bible. Check out David Pawson, a great British pastor and Bible teacher in his 80s now. He talked about the second chance for the Jews very clearly in his teachings about the book of Romans in his book, “Unlocking the Bible”, as well as some of his sermons. You can go to the following website, http://christfaithmedia.co.uk/Pawson/index.html to listen to free streaming of this great teaching by him on the Bible, especially the book of Romans. You can also go to the website that Anchor Recordings made particularly for David Pawson. There are some free downloads there but most of the materials (books, DVDs, tapes, etc.) requires payment.

      http://www.davidpawson.com/anchor/anchor.nsf/(WebItemsForSearching-davidpawson)?SearchView&Query=Israel&Start=1&Count=20&SearchMax=250&SearchWV=FALS

      Seek, and you will find…

      Blessings,

      Cindy

    • thisguy

      This is interesting. I’ve heard of this book, skimmed through it. No one has had a NDE like this one, they’ve all varied, but no one actually met Jesus, it’s usually an angel or a dead family member, or they are outside their body just looking around. Jesus is proclaimed white with green eyes, which we all know he was dark skinned, but maybe he took a form more pleasing to the boy, who knows.

      A kid wouldn’t make this up, but it’s possible he had a near death experience and saw “heaven” but the parents put words into his mouth to make him believe he saw something he didn’t, like his dead sister, etc. There is no way this kid was dead for 3 minutes and all this stuff happened. Even God with all his power couldn’t do this, he can’t break the laws of physics which he set in place, which is obviously a dead give away that most of this is made up.

    • Jonathan

      I apologize for not having time to read all the comments, and I’m sorry if I make an observation that has already been made here. My biggest hang up is when Paul says that the things he heard things that cannot be told or uttered. If Paul wasn’t allowed to saw what he heard, why would a 4 year old have divine permission to tell others what he experienced? It doesn’t seem likely that God would deny the manifestations of revelations he made known to Paul while giving modern man the go ahead to tell others what heaven is like.

    • Colin

      Good review. I’m considering buying this book, and I appreciate your well thought out analysis.

      One note though, in the comments about Samuel and the witch of Endor. Personally, I don’t believe that was really Samuel who the witch summoned, but rather a demon spirit impersonating him. And as for Moses and Elijah at the transfiguration, they were recognizable, but I’m not certain they were described in terms of being aged or not, but somehow the Apostles knew who they were. I’m not sure though, as I said, so thank you for the reference, I will have a new thing to consider as I study that passage next time.
      Blessings!

    • Gary McCall

      I think it is interesting that the picture of what Jesus looked like for both of these children is nearly identical to that of Bruce Marcino’s portrayal of Jesus which has been seen on every television set in America: http://www.pastornet.net.au/goodviews/

    • Chris de Vidal

      Re: New Earth, streets of gold, pearly gates, etc. If it were possible for John to see these things, couldn’t it also be possible for Colton to see them?

      Note: I haven’t read the book, nor do I know the family. Just trying to be realistic.

    • Conchita

      This book is well written! I do recommend it for a light and easy read. I do NOT recommend it to increase, enhance, or affirm your faith. This “true story” is CLEARLY embellished in many ways. It seems the author(s) are defensive all the way through – such as there is NO WAY that a four-year old boy could have known that his parents were praying in rooms when their son was on the operating table, or that his mom was talking on her cell phone. Also – as the 4-year old son of a pastor, the book goes above and beyond to depict an ignorant child who would not know what the red “blood-like” marks on Jesus’ hands and feet are – yet would know with out a doubt the real value of three-minutes time? My son is six and he still thinks a one-hour car ride is four hours, or 20 minutes, or whatever. I just don’t buy it, Todd Burpo. On a positive note, the Burpos seem like a nice family, and maybe even believe their own story (though it’s clearly written from a story-teller’s point…

    • carol drake

      In all my 67 years I have nevr been moved when looking upon a picture of Jesus as when I first did so of Akiane’s painting. It was as though His eyes were looking into my very soul & brought me to tears, I have gone to the sight several times & am still moved every time even when I think upon His picture. There was always something missing in all other paintings.

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