Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Book Review: Heaven is for Real


Heaven Is for Real is the true story of the four-year old son of a small town Nebraska pastor who during emergency surgery slips from consciousness and enters heaven. He survives and begins talking about being able to look down and see the doctor operating and his dad praying in the waiting room. The family didn't know what to believe but soon the evidence was clear.

Colton said he met his miscarried sister, whom no one had told him about, and his great grandfather who died 30 years before Colton was born, then shared impossible-to-know details about each. He describes the horse that only Jesus could ride, about how "reaaally big" God and his chair are, and how the Holy Spirit "shoots down power" from heaven to help us.

Told by the father, but often in Colton's own words, the disarmingly simple message is heaven is a real place, Jesus really loves children, and be ready, there is a coming last battle.  (


Any one can appreciate an easy read and that is exactly what this book is.  But it was almost too easy.  I never found myself questioning much or stopping to reread passages for additional clarification.  I was even able to go back and forth between the tv and the book never feeling lost or that I didn't comprehend any of the text.

The Burpos present this story as being true - real events that happened to real people.  I certainly am not in the position to argue otherwise, but I couldn't help questioning whether or not a four year old boy's testimony about heaven should be considered accurate or authentic.  The Burpos assumed their son went to heaven based on information he provided that they felt he had no way of knowing.  For example, his meeting with Pop, his great grandfather whom he never met.  Also, his meeting with his sister whom he never knew because his mother never told him of her miscarriage.  I admit that these circumstances would send shivers down my spine as well and I would want answers, but again, I still wonder how much the little boy actually knew or what may have been embellished by the parents.  It's no secret that children can have overactive imaginations and maybe exploiting this was an easy way to make some cash. Just throwing that possibility out there...  The author, Todd Burpo, referenced Doubting Thomas from the scripture explaining that "someone who refuses to believe something without physical evidence or direct personal experience is without faith."  I may be doubtful, but I would not say I'm without faith.

My faith is that there is a heaven.  Is heaven made up of rainbows and gold like Colton Burpo claimed?  Will everyone in heaven be young and in their prime?  Will I meet loved ones whom I've never met before?  I don't know.  And maybe my belief is that we're not supposed to know.

I read this book because it piqued my curiosity, as it did many peoples'.  Reviewers suggested it would "encourage those who doubt and thrill those who believe."  It did neither for me.  It simply left my beliefs unchanged which is completely fine with me.  I don't think I would recommend this book mainly because on a literary level it is a weak and dull read.  Several people have recommended 90 Minutes in Heaven by Don Piper and I am really interested in how these two stories compare.  If Don Piper is a better writer I may come out of that book with an entirely different opinion on near death experiences. 


Kylie said...

the best part of "90 minutes..." is the first few chapters. Honestly after that, it is a bore. I wouldn't expect it necessarily to change your whole outlook, but it is interesting. There is website that asserts that 90 minutes happened, but that pokes holes in his interpretation of the events, which is itself is interesting. Also, recently read Rob Lowe's "Stories I only tell my Friends" ... GREAT read.

Score said...

I think I saw a talk show with that kid. If you want another good religious book, check out the Purpose-Driven Life. I don't think it's about heaven, but my dad really loved that book.

Sarah said...

My parents have been watching the show I Survived and they recently saw an episode about near death experiences. All of the people had similar experiences-- they hovered over their bodies, saw doctors working on them, saw loved ones crying and totally wanted to go to the light.