Heaven is for Real...(A Movie Critique)
The movie "Heaven is for Real." It's based on the book by the same name and written by an evangelical pastor about his three year old son, Colton. The pastor and his wife believe Colton had an "out-of-body" experience.
Based on what Colton said he saw during an emergency appendectomy, the parents determined that Colton must have gone to heaven because he was able to tell them things he shouldn't have known.
We don't know if this child really went to heaven or not, but we do have scripture to guide us, unemotionally, to discern whether or not we should embrace this as a "first hand account."
The Bible is our sole reliable source of information on heaven. Paul of Tarsus went to heaven and this is what he said about his experience:
"I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago - whether in the body I do not know, or out of the body I do not know, God knows - such a man was caught up to the third heaven. And I know how such a man - whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, God knows - was caught up into Paradise, and heard inexpressible words, which a man is not permitted to speak." 2Cor. 12:2-4
Paul was forbidden to repeat whatever it was he saw and heard.
And because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to buffet me - to keep me from exalting myself! 1Cor 12:7
His experience was so over-powering that the Lord gave Paul a "thorn in the flesh" to keep him from bragging about what he saw. Actually, the Bible says we can't even imagine what it can be like.
1Cor. 2:9 "...THINGS WHICH EYE HAS NOT SEEN AND EAR HAS NOT HEARD, AND which HAVE NOT ENTERED THE HEART OF MAN, ALL THAT GOD HAS PREPARED FOR THOSE WHO LOVE HIM."
John, Isaiah and the writer of Ecclesiastes also went to heaven. That's a heady group of men. Should we add Colton to that list?
The film's promotional ads say the film would be "potentially helpful for people sitting on the fence." If they are suggesting that God will use the film to evangelize, we would argue that we have scripture to prove otherwise.
The Bible has an account of two men who died, and one went to hell. Referred to as the story of "The Rich Man and Lazarus," the Bible records an actual event, not a parable.
One of the men was in Hades, in terrible pain, and asked if Abraham, whom he could see with the other man in Paradise, could return to earth to warn his family.
"And he said, 'Then I beg you, Father, that you send him to my father's house - for I have five brothers - that he may warn them, lest they also come to this place of torment.' But Abraham said, 'They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.'"
"But he said, 'No, Father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent! But he said to him,
'If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone rises from the dead.'" Luke 16:27-31
This is clearly teaching that someone coming back from the dead will not transform people. Rather, the Word of God is what transforms people.
Sonja, Colton and Todd Burpo, author of "Heaven is for Real."
Another thing to note, there is nothing that the boy says he saw that is not already known by Satan and his demonic angels. We must include the possibility that what he unfortunately saw was a dark-side vision.
"Let no one keep defrauding you of your prize by delighting in self-abasement and the worship of the angels, taking his stand on visions he has seen, inflated without cause by his fleshly mind," Col. 2:18
Some of the things Colton said he saw were that everyone, including people, had wings. However, other than figurative references to God, the only literal references to wings are the cherubim and seraphim.
In heaven we won't need wings to fly! We'll move at the speed of thought. (The way my mind works, I'll have to get used to that or I'll be all over the place!)
And on those occasions where angels interacted with people on the earth, the angels looked like people and had no wings. In fact, some people on earth have actually talked to angels without realizing it.
"Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it." Heb 13:2
The resurrected Jesus had
The Bible tells us that when we die and go to heaven, we'll have a body just like Jesus' body, flesh and bone. No one who saw the resurrected Jesus mentioned Him having grown a set of wings.
"For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory," Phil 3:20-21
We must ask, does God want us to know more about heaven than we already know through scriptures? Does God want us to know more about heaven through Colton? Not according to this verse.....
"I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God shall add to him the plagues which are written in this book;" Rev 22:!8
But the movie hopefully is entertaining. And it's causing a lot of people to think about the afterlife in these latter days! That in itself is huge!
Bill Perkins is the founder and Executive Director of Compass International, Inc.
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