Reformed Baptist Fellowship

Heaven Is For Real

In Reformed Baptist Fellowship on September 6, 2011 at 2:32 pm

You must have heard of this book by now, Heaven Is For Real: A Little Boy’s Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back.  The book is about a 4 year old boy, Colton Burpo, who almost died, and went to Heaven.  He then comes back and tells us all about it through his dad, the pastor!  The book is a best seller,  currently number one on the New York Times Nonfiction Paperback list.  I find that fact much more incredible than anything written in the book.

I watched his story last night on “Dateline” while flicking mindlessly through channels.  I knew this thing was big, but I was surprised how “mindless” it really was.  Today, I did a little follow up, on-line research.  One stop took me to a link to Denver television, Fox 31.  Their on-line poll asked if you believe this young boy has been to heaven.  I voted – the only way to see the results — and as usual I was in the minority.  92% (over 300,000) said they believed the young boy had been there while only 8% of respondents expressed skepticism.  I figure many of the skeptics had different reasons for their doubt than mine.

The “Dateline” account framed the story with a very interesting false dilemma. “Do you believe Heaven is real?”  If you do — guess what — this kids been there and he’ll tell you all about it.  If you don’t believe Heaven is real – then I guess you’d have to think he didn’t go there after all.

It would appear from all this young man says from his trip and the things he saw, that the Wesleyan’s have it more doctrinally correct than any other denomination.  Is it just a coincidence that this young man’s (he is now 12) father is a Wesleyan pastor?

Once again, as with the “Left Behind” series, Christianity hits the best seller list with a gross misrepresentation of what the Scriptures teach.  Evangelical Christians buy the book in an excited frenzy of belief in the extra-Biblical.  Non-Christians who are curious buy the book and this serves to show them what Christians really think (or maybe how little “think” we have).

I haven’t read the book.  I don’t plan to read the book.  I expect I’ll never read the book.  Some would say that makes me a terrible judge to know whether or not the book is correct.  All I can say is, “Here I stand – once again — gladly taking my place among the minority.”

Steve Marquedant
Sovereign Grace Reformed Baptist Church
Ontario, California
  1. Thanks pastor Steve.

    Good to be reminded of the certain and sure footing of Scripture. Scripture only, plus nothing!

    Here is a 3 min interview with the boy. He says (1) God is a big person with the world in his hand, (2) Jesus has blue eyes and a huge smile, and (3) people in heaven already possess their resurrected bodies.

  2. Sorry, I have no idea how I added the actual video. I’ve always wondered how to do that, and now that I’ve done it, I’m clueless how it happened.

    Mike W

  3. Mike, I am glad you did get the videos in there, because I too am clueless how to do it, but the videos are first hand accounts of what is being passed off as “truth” in this book. We live in a day where the Bible just isn’t enough for many people — so they seek after signs, wonders, fables, etc.

  4. The lure of extra-biblical revelation is irresistible for most people. This is one reason why cults gain so much traction – depraved people want to learn about God from every source other than the Bible, because all other sources tell fallen man what he wants to hear – namely, the things that will please his flesh.

    The fall of the human race was brought about by the lure of wanting revelation outside of that which God had given. Satan said to Eve “you shall be as gods, KNOWING…… He offered her knowledge outside that which God had given in His revelation, and she went for it – and people have been going for it ever since.

    What this little boy offers is more of the same – more satanic deception, more revelation that is outside the revelation which God has given in the Bible. The Bible contains the totality of the revelation that God has given, and nothing is to be added to it – not visions, not dreams, and not near-death experiences, even from little boys coached by their dad.

  5. Joh 16:2 They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the hour cometh, that whosoever killeth you shall think that he offereth service unto God.

    300,000 and counting

  6. People who do not believe the testimony of Scripture will believe the testimony of a three year old child. This is shameful.

  7. Someone gave my Mom a copy of this book and she asked me to read it for her and give her my thoughts on it. I wish I could have had some other way to obey the 5th Commandment! There is so much bad in this book that I have a hard time deciding what is the worst part but perhaps it is the complete and total lack of sin in it. If there is anything in this book about humanity’s sin nature and the grace of God then I confess that I didn’t see it at all. The overwhelming impression that I got was that God loves everybody-except maybe really bad people like Hitler or somebody- and that in the long run pretty much everyone will wind up in Heaven regardless of how they lived or who or what they believed in. Sorry if this sounds judgemental but it sounds like typical ” Don’t worry,be happy!” nonsense that is such a plague on the Western church in these days.

  8. God can “actually fit the entire world into his hands,” and Jesus had “sea-blue eyes and a smile that lit up the heavens.” This sounds as contrived as can be. I have a hard time believing that Fox 31 pole. Not only this, but we know that God’s method of revelation is through his Son and Scripture.

    P.S., is the Rich Barcellos who commented earlier *the* Richard Barcellos? If so, that’s pretty cool, man.

  9. I believe that the Bible is the word of God. And as Christians we need to be aware of
    false doctrine as scripture tells us. However, many people come to accept Jesus as their
    Lord and Savior from testimony of others. 2,000 years ago many gentiles came to Christ
    without knowing Jewish laws or the prophets. They were born again.

    There are many things that occurred 2,000 years ago that happened with the apostles–wonderful events–that are either mentioned briefly in scripture or have documented in
    other sources. For instance, when Peter when to the tomb and saw the burial cloth of
    Christ he was amazed. The burial cloth, or what is known as the Shroud of Turin, was
    probably hidden because the Jewish authorities would have destroyed it. Yet there are
    other documentations stating it was transported by Thadddaeus, one of the “Seventy”
    (Luke 10:1), whom Thaddaeus had a relationship with Joseph of Arimathea, to give
    to King Abgar of Edessa for safe keeping. King Abgar was known to have an illness, perhaps a cancer, but once Thaddaeus showed the Shroud to Abgar he was immediately

    The point I’m trying to make is that there is probably so many wonderful and beautiful events that were not in scripture. Jesus loves us and has mercy for us, and healing and miraculous events continue today. Where does it state in scripture that Christ is not
    involved in our lives today? What we need to ask is love and mercy involved with a
    supernatural event? What motives does that this pastor and son have? To make money
    off a book? Well, he’s got a lot to account for. But to give testimony for others, perhaps
    non believers, well I would say he needs to open his mouth and give testimony to the truth.

    I work in the health care system and hear of many people–honest people–experience dying
    and returning. Most state they don’t want to return because on the other side it was so
    beatiful and peaceful. It’s easy to become self-righteous Christians and say yes to this
    and no to that, and act like we have all the answers. Paul tells us not to be self-righteous.
    He also says that we can know all knowledge, but if we don’t know love, we are nothing
    but a clanging bell. God answered this pastors prayers to save his child that was dying of
    sepsis. What is so satanic about this.

  10. Harry,
    I’m sure you’re likely to receive some loving rebukes in coming days for your response. What must be understood above all is the absolute sufficiency and authority of scripture. If one is to believe anything contradictory to what God has revealed in scripture, then the door is wide open for any doctrine to enter the Church. Yes, replies on this posting ARE judgmental. We are called to judge. It’s called wise discernment and we as believers are resposible for rightly dividing the Word. Yes, love people, but hate the deception and expose it. That’s real love.

  11. Harry says:
    “Paul tells us not to be self-righteous. He also says that we can know all knowledge, but if we don’t know love, we are nothing but a clanging bell.”
    Biblical truth and biblical love go hand in hand. Why is it automatically “self-righteous” to question this story? Why is it that to hold this testimony up to the light of Scripture is to “act like we have all the answers”? I would suggest that to accept the claims of this boy and his father (no matter how heart-warming they are, and no matter how much “good” is allegedly the result) is to act like you have all the answers. And there are no “old people” in heaven, just “young adults”? How American! How modern! Heaven has the demographics of the singles’ bar and the gym. Do you not see how this trivializes the whole concept of the realm of Glory? How insipid it sounds?
    How far this is from Paul’s “…I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.”

  12. It is any wonder that many modern-day Christians accept this book with glad hearts? After all, it would seem difficult enough to get Reformed Christians to emphatically say that extra-biblical revelation has ceased with the closing of the canon.

    Sadly, many of God’s people happily accept this “fresh revelation” while all but abandoning the Bible: the “more sure word of prophecy.”

    Sola Scriptura!

    Jason Boothe
    Horizons Baptist Church
    Piketon, Ohio

  13. This boy and his father are recieving much attention and that can go to one’s head. How easy to bask in the limelight by falsehoods. Sadly, he is not the first to claim this experience. Twenty some years ago another man (can’t recall his name) wrote a book about his experience but didn’t discribe God or Jesus. He also stated that God told him Jesus would return before he did finally die. Well, he’s gone and we are still waiting. People want to know what is on the other side of death and are eager to believe what will comfort them. How easy to believe this boy when his farther who is a pastor believes it is true. Sad. I myself will trust in the Scriptures alone when my time comes. Trusting I will be with Jesus. The rest I will find out when I get there.

  14. “I assure you that whoever does not receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it (Mark 10:15).

    One wonders how tainted 3 yr. old Colton Burpo is as compared to an adult.

    Read the book.

    Yes, deviations from scripture can lead to gnosticism; self-righteousness can lead to cults
    (Smith. . . Russell?)

    Either the Burpos are sincere or a bunch of liars–including their congregation, family and
    friends that prayed for Colton when he ruptured his appendix and developed a peritonitis.
    (I assumed that they prayed to Jesus for healing.) ((Are they sincerely wrong?))

    Testimony can bring people to Christ. Once in Christ it will lead to the map, the Bible.

  15. Having seen the interview, I believe we are being conned. Keith McCleod

  16. Harry,

    The point is — 11 year old Colton Burpo probably sincerely believes what 3 year old Colton Burpo allegedly “saw”. Do you think that is healthy.

    Also — what he saw flies in the face of many realities of Heaven and simply perpetuations evangelical stereotypes that are not found in the Scriptures.

    Also — what do you (since you work in the health care field) do with all these stories of “bliss, light, etc.) that those who hold to false relgions recount. If these “near death experiences” which are experienced by practically every belief system and adherents of every religion are true — we must come to the conclusion that experience trumps Scripture — and universalism is correct — and not Jesus as the ONLY way, truth and life is correct.

    That’s how much is at stake in this whole issue. The sincerity of an 11 year old “celebrity” is not really the issue.

    History does not bode well for this situation. Almost every evangelical who has “gone to Heaven” ends up writing a sequel in which they get to see a vision of Hell and write that in a book. Let’s hope that is not this young fellows next journalistic venture.

  17. So who decides who is true to the faith … ….? Let God be the Judge. Jesus is our
    Savior, not our religion.

  18. Well Harry, I guess the 3 year old kid that sat on Jesus’ lap and watched his parents on earth while he was in heaven gets to decide. I guess the kid that says God is “so big he can hold the hold world in His hand” gets to decide. He and his parents seem pretty convinced that they are right — which necessarily means I am wrong, because I do not believe their account to be biblically accurate — but they are the ones on TV getting all the publicity. And the false dictomy keeps being raised, “IF you believe in Heaven — guess what — this kids been there!”

    In all seriousness — I am assuming you read the book. What do you think of “the fact” that all the young 20 something folks in heaven “had wings” and some had bigger wings than others. Doesn’t “that fact” stike you as rather odd???

    Also, the book was written, according to the father/pastor, because he had many people come to his house with “a word from the Lord” telling him this was a story that God ssays needs to be written. Amazing, Paul can’t write about the third heaven, but a 3 year old boy can?

    This is what happens when we forsake the plain, clear final revelation that God has given to His church. We end up with a hodge-podge of men’s ideas — mixed in with the current false ideology of the moment — which in our day happens to be new age thinking.

    Are they sincere??? Maybe. Probably. Are they wrong — yes.

    BTW — sorry for the jumbled grammar in my post above yours. The lesson i learned there is not to type, talk to your wife and hit the send button before re-reading what was written. LOL.

    Harry, thank you for your input in this thread. I disagree with it, but I do appreciate it.

  19. I have a good friend who works at Lifeway Bookstore. He related a story not too long ago about a woman coming into the store and asking for “that book, you know – the one about heaven.” My friend directed her to the Bible section of the store. Sadly, she was rather upset by his comment.

  20. What is really sad is that LifeWay (Southern Baptist Convention) promotes such books:

  21. Say it ain’t so Steve C.; say it ain’t so.

  22. Steve Marquedant,

    Peace, and may God be with you and your family.

    Thank you for your website.

    In Christ,


  23. Steve C. – I mentioned that same thing to my friend. Of course, they (Lifeway) carry Joel Osteen & Rick Warren so shouldn’t be suprised.

  24. Edie P. I agree this is somewhat typical of LifeWay and the SBC.

  25. My good friend George Higginbotham read “Heaven Is for Real” and has written a winsome critique in a booklet suitable for sharing with others. He is committed to the sufficiency of Scripture and warns about the dangers of supposedly extra-biblical revelations. A friend who read his booklet was grateful for it and changed his mind about the Burpo book. I recommend it to you.

    You can contact him for copies at his email or home address:

    P. O. Box 418
    Pottsboro, Tx 75076

    –D. Scott Meadows, Pastor

    Calvary Baptist Church (Reformed)
    Exeter, New Hampshire USA

  26. My thoughts on this book: Cha-Ching!

  27. Today, the book is number 2 of the best selling books on CBD’s website. They have marked it down to half price. For all you out there just DYING to read this book — it seems like NOW is your chance.


  28. You didn’t read the book.

    Why was that?

    How do you know that there is so much wrong about it without even taking the time to absorb what was presented before passing judgement?

    Too busy? Too scared to even expose yourself to ideas that might contradict your own?

    Applying your own standard, I have immediately written you off as a closed minded fool because you will not take the time to examine something before you write it off.

    End loop.

    Patrick Mcenroe

  29. Certainly not too busy to read a good book. Too scared. Yep. That’s it.

  30. The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.

  31. Patrick said, “Applying your own standard, I have immediately written you off as a closed minded fool because you will not take the time to examine something before you write it off.”

    Patrick, that is certainly one of the options – Pastor Steve Marquedant is a closed minded fool… This would mean that, under all circumstances, making definitive statements (pro or con) about a book (in this case) one has not read constitutes one a closed minded fool. However, there are other options that could put Pastor Marquedant in a less pejorative category.

    1. Pastor Marquedant could base his assessment of the book off of statements made by the author about the book via other media/venues. In other words, if the author has revealed the basic content of the book outside of the book (assuming it accurately reflects the actual content of the book), then the rest of us can base our opinion of the book off of a reliable source – in this case the author himself. I think this is what he has done, in part.
    2. Pastor Marquedant is omniscient – he knows all there is to know about everything knowable. I think this is not what he has claimed and I know for a fact that he neither claims omniscience nor is omniscient without claiming or knowing it. In fact, not knowing one is omniscient makes one not omniscient.
    3. The One who knows all things revealed (either via a dream or audible voice or other) to Pastor Marquedant the bogus contents of the book. Pastor Marquedant concluded that he does not need to read the book to know its contents. Pastor Marquedant then made definitive judgments upon it, but certainly not due to the fact that he’s a closed minded fool. The omniscient One told him it was bogus.
    4. Pastor Marquedant utilized principles from an epistemological authority above himself, the author of the book, and all other men to judge the truth claims of the book. With these principles in hand (mind) and the basic content of the book provided by the author outside the book, Pastor Marquedant judged the book, though not due to being closed minded.

    Of these options (and there are more), either 1 or 4 seems to fit this discussion. I know Pastor Marquedant. I have a hunch that 4 is what happened. This puts the discussion at the question of epistemological authority. Pastor Marquedant’s ultimate source from which he derives principles to make definitive judgments about books without reading them is the Bible. This book claims to be the written revelation of part of the mind of the One who knows all things knowable. This is what the issue is all about. In order to test the truth claims of a book (especially one that utilizes aspects of the Bible), we need a source of authority above us, a source that knows all things knowable. Without this, all of our judgment calls are mere opinions and there is really no way to say anything definitive about anything.

  32. In order to “judge the truth claims of the book” one would have to actually open said book and read the words therein. Consider for a moment what information is circulated regarding the “epistemological authority” in such reliable places as the internet (aka: the basic content of the book provided by the author outside the book). I’m sure Pastor Marquedant would prefer that people actually read the epistomological authority before passing judgement on it based what they read on a blog for example.

    All we’re left with here is number 1 folks…

  33. Patrick — you can rate my blog as low as you wish. That is your perogative. I will rate this book zero stars. Since the Bible tells me that even the Apostle Paul was not allowed to go to Heaven and come back and tell us about it — I really don’t care to read what a little boy tells his parents he thinks he saw. Sorry — but I think it is a classic example of how ridiculous and superstitious evangelicalism has become that ANYBODY would give ANY credence to this nonsense.

    And I won’t be reading the “Heaven is for Real for Kids” either — or any other sequels that this family rolls out. PT Barnum said it pretty well, and he wasn’t even a Christian.

  34. The bible says that Lazarus spent four days in paradise before he was brought to life. There was no mention of whether he ever spoke to anyone about it. But then the Bible doesn’t mention dinosaurs either.

    I’ll not be visiting your blog again.

  35. If one will not be visiting the blog again, I’m not sure what the point is of posting a comment. There’s no way to engage in a meaningful dialog so that we might all be edified if we just hit-and-run our comments.

  36. The point of leaving a comment and not coming back is so that you will think about what that person said and maybe change you views on a topic. The same reason applies for why people comment at all on something.

  37. It’s fine not to come back. Announcing it ahead of time betrays an arrogance that hinders the “other side” from listening. It says, “I’m right so I don’t have to listen to you.” If Patrick wants to change minds, he will do well to interact with the people he thinks are wrong and let them know that he, too, is wrong sometimes and is open to the idea that he might be wrong in this case, too. That makes it a lot easier for the “other side” to hear disagreement. The effect of saying one won’t be back defeats the purpose of posting the “correcting” comment in the first place.

  38. We are here not by our choice. We are created by God, but yet we are fallen
    creatures from the time of birth. I am sure that a lot of our sinful ways is probably
    due to generational sin–a child is violated and later on violates others. This is especially
    common in chlid molestation. (We sin as in Adam.) And we will suffer. We watch our loved
    ones go thru pain–emotional and physical, and ourselves go thru pain. Some us have
    stage IV cancer and perhaps have pain all day long, day after day, and no hope but
    to die. To many, as C.S Lewis described in his book the Great Divorce, God is one
    big vivisector. So for those who suffer it’s easily understood that they can lose hope
    in life, even though they have been faithful. It’s only natural to question. Ask any Jew
    that survived a concentration camp. Yes, the resurrection gives us hope, and without
    it the Christian movement is pretty much dead, there is no meaning in life,
    just wonton existence occupying space and time.

    But the resurrection, for many, is distant. “Yeah, it happened 2000 years ago.” So when
    young Burpo comes up with his “experience” about heaven people listen. Loved ones
    reunited, Jesus is present, and no pain sounds very attactive to many that have given
    up hope in this life thru their pain and suffering. We have no knowledge of what heaven is like only that Jesus says it is paradise (Luke 23:43).

    You say that young Burpo’s descriptions are odd and bizarre, but are they any more
    bizarre than some of the descriptions in Ezekiel or the Revelation. I am no biblical
    scholar and have no idea of what heaven is like. But, the idea of being with people
    that we have lost and loved–that otherwise seems to just fallen in a realm of oblivion–
    and being united Jesus and continuing love with each other sounds beautiful. The
    idea of gold roads and mansions in heaven just doesn’t sit well with me–it seems like
    there was too much blood shed for those things here on earth. So tell me, since I am not
    a bliblcal scholar, do you have any ideas of what heaven is like other than Burpo’s
    “Cha-Ching” story?

  39. Correction. The quote by C.S. Lewis was taken from his book Surprise by Joy; not
    the Great Divorce. I read the books 30 years ago. I apologize for this error. In Bible
    study we often read books by C.S. Lewis.

  40. For a breath of biblical fresh air on this topic, I recommend this:

    “Heaven and Hell” by Pr. Ted Donnelly

  41. Harry – I concur with D. Scott Meadows. If you really want to know the answer to your question: “So tell me, since I am not a bliblcal scholar, do you have any ideas of what heaven is like other than Burpo’s “Cha-Ching” story?”, Then read the book on heaven and hell he just recommended. It contains a wonderful description of Heaven, far more biblical than Burpo’s fairy tale.

  42. Believe it or not — IT IS STILL on the best seller list. I can believe it is on the best seller list. I still do not believe God took little Colton there and brought him back.

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