“Heaven is for Real” Reviewed
“Heaven is for Real” Reviewed
by Steve Eastman, Faith Issues
How many of us give mental assent and even a measure of faith to important Bible doctrines but don’t expect supernatural confirmation to impinge on our everyday life?
Todd Burpo is a Wesleyan pastor. His denomination has a good grasp of the fundamentals of the faith, but is not known for prophetic utterances, visions or out of body experiences. Todd’s world was shaken when a misdiagnosed burst appendix took his three year-old son to death’s door, but it was shaken further when his recovered son off-handedly started sharing about his “three minute” trip to heaven.
Two things need to be made clear. First, the apparent out-of-body experience of Todd’s son, Colton, had nothing to do with new age mysticism. And second, although Colton hovered at the point of death, doctors have no record that he actually flat-lined. In fact, Colton would tell you that he never actually died.
Let’s turn our attention, for the moment, to Todd’s world. He’s the pastor of Crossroads Wesleyan Church in Imperial, Nebraska, a community of less than two thousand people. Todd is also a high school wrestling coach and volunteer fire-fighter. And he’s owner of a garage door repair and installation service. Todd is married to Sonja. She used to be a teacher, but is currently an office manager for a real estate company and administrator for Todd’s company. Todd and Sonja like to play softball and are the parents of three living children. They’re "salt of the earth" people, who would describe themselves as ordinary.
There are numerous reasons why Colton’s trip to heaven has to be more than just a three year-old's imagination, and they all center on information he had no earthly way of knowing.
The first shocker was when Colton described the room in the hospital where his dad was having a heated conversation with God while he was in surgery. The boy revealed that his mother was on the cell phone at the time.
The second shocker was when Colton told about meeting his sister, who looked a lot like his living sister, but was slightly shorter and with different hair color. He had never previously heard about his mother’s miscarriage nearly a year before his own birth.
The third shocker was when Colton casually mentioned meeting Todd’s maternal grandfather in heaven. He did not recognize the 61 year-old man in a photo taken shortly before his death, but immediately identified “Pop” the first time he saw a picture of him taken at age 29.
There’s one other thing you need to know. Colton consistently found something wrong with every picture of Jesus he came across. They just didn’t match the Jesus he met in heaven. But all that changed one day after CNN did a story about another child who had an experience similar to Colton’s. It turns out the girl was an artist. When Colton saw her depiction of Jesus, he said she got it right.
Heaven is for Real reminds us that Jesus really loves children and that their faith simplicity is a model for us grownups.
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