Monday, December 23, 2013

“Heaven is for Real” by Todd Burpo - book review

My amazon review of “Heaven is for Real” by Todd Burpo

I really found this hokey. First, as a confessional Baptist with a love of Christ and the Scriptures, I'm not doubting the existence of heaven (or even near-death experiences, for that matter, which I find frequently to fascinating and illuminating) but this particular work just came across as stale, contrived and somewhat goofy. I mean it's a sweet story, but page after page you have to bite your lip at the sheer maudlin corniness of the narrative and the cringe-worthy theology (pg. 100. Young Colton describing what he thinks he saw, “And do you know that Jesus sits right next to God?... Jesus' chair is right next to his Dad's”, followed by the remark from his father, “that blew me away. There's no way a four-year old knows that.”) Well, maybe if your a father who doesn't shepherd your children or read the Bible to them. But this type of narrative is what punctuates the book sadly. Odd and debatable descriptions of what little Burpo saw in heaven followed by the Dad's remarks of surprise or breaking into tears, etc, etc. This one could really be a painful chore to read. Again, I love a good NDE account, but this one didn't even qualify.

Plus here's the other thing. As a Reformed Baptist I hold strongly to the view of Scriptural inerrancy and the perfect, completion of God's word. But if you think about it, if the Burpo boy's accounts are true, then technically, everything about heaven that he saw and described should, technically, be just as binding as anything else that the Bible says about heaven, so in a goofy way it takes the same level as Scripture and Christians should respect this as a valid description of what to expect of the heavenly realms that we are bound for, and this just doesn't seem right to me (plus consider that the Apostle Paul never really talked about or saw fit to describe heaven himself, as he himself was caught up to third heaven – 2 Cor. 12:2. Maybe there was a reason for that?) Or, maybe, just maybe, Burbo's father was just using a little bit of creative license here in describing some of the things his son dreamed about during surgery. I find that a little more likely, and that works for creative fiction, but there is a caution as well involved in that Burpo should heed the caution of Scripture in what appears to be largely a creative outlet in adding to God's Word (Rev. 22:18-19)

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