I think what grips most people when they read Heaven is for Real is that a little boy speaks about what he otherwise couldn’t have known.
And if THAT is true, the rest of his story must be true, right?
No doubt, the book taps the nerve of our day that makes experience the basis of truth. Believers unacquainted with God’s Word will have little reason to doubt the story of a four-year old boy who went to heaven and returned to earth to share his story.
Interestingly, very little of the book is actually about the subtitle: A Little Boy’s Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back. For example, the first half of the book is mostly back story about what led up to Colton’s appendix procedure. The subtitle for this section could have been, A Little Boy’s Story of His Trip to the Hospital and Back.
As far as heaven goes, should we view this book as affirmation that heaven is real?
For one thing, the book’s account is undermined by its inattention to biblical detail. For example:
- The book says everybody in heaven has wings but Jesus, but that contradicts Philippians 3:21 that says our bodies will be like Jesus’. Plus, angels have wings, and saints are never portrayed as having them (Isaiah 6:2). Except in the movies.
- The little boy, Colton, said: “Jesus told me if you don’t go to heaven, you don’t get a new body.” This flatly contradicts Scripture, which says that both the redeemed and the condemned will experience bodily resurrection (Daniel 12:2; Revelation 20:5, 12). Plus, Jesus described in His parable the rich man in Hades as having a body (Luke 16:24).
If this book’s story is real, Jesus needs to get His stories straight.
As an aside, I’m not sure why unborn babies appear in heaven as children but those who died at an old age appear middle-aged.
In 2 Corinthians 12:4, Paul writes that he “was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which a man is not permitted to speak.” That last part seems relevant: “not permitted to speak.”
Forget the sloppy theology for a moment. Forget the logical inconsistencies. Let’s pretend it happened all exactly as the book says it did.
Nowhere does God’s Word allow us to base our understanding of heaven—or to base our hope and confidence that heaven is real—on anything (including our own experiences) except the truth found in the Bible. Heaven is real because the Word of God says it is.
I hope the popularity of Heaven is for Real will entice readers to look in the Bible for truth about heaven.