I don’t actually spend enough time thinking about heaven you know. The everyday, the now, the ordinary seems to consume me. A friend shared with me that she found herself thinking about it more recently because her kids were of an age that meant they asked lots of questions about ‘heaven’.
Whatever you believe we all want to affirm a belief in an afterlife. For me it is heaven. But for some it is heaven coated in cotton candy and childish tales. And you know what – believing in the experiences of a 4 year old who claims to have been to heaven seems to have pulled at the heart strings of many. Todd Burpo’s book Heaven is For Real made the New York Bestseller list in 2011.
As friends and acquaintances reach for this book and read it, I feel a tight knot in my stomach. The alarm bells ring. And a growing anxiety creeps in.
But mostly I ask them what they think about the book. I am polite. Gentle in my probing. I hope they ask me what I think. But more often than not they don’t. “No, I have not read it” I reply. So I obviously don’t have any grounds to comment. Or do I?
I know the Bible does not tell me to wait until a 4 year old dies, goes to heaven, returns and tells his experiences to his pastor Dad, who then writes them down 6-7 year later and turns them into a bestseller, so that I can find out about heaven.
I know that Isaiah 65:17-25 and Revelation 21: 1-4 gives me a great starting point if I am serious about understanding more about heaven.
I know and trust the scholarship and theology of others who have read and reviewed Burpo’s book. Tim Challies does it in his review of Heaven is for Real.
I know that I don’t have time to read things that are unhelpful.
So even if you, as a dear believing friend want to give me a copy I will be taking Challies’ advice: Reject this book. Do not read it. Do not believe it. And do not feel guilty doing so.