Reformed Baptist Fellowship

Heaven is For Real – Now a Major Motion Picture

In Reformed Baptist Fellowship on April 23, 2014 at 7:46 pm


Heaven is For Real – Now a Major Motion Picture

This blog article is presented unedited as it was first published on this site on October 18, 2011.  It can be found in the archives.  Now the book has become a major motion picture.  Here is what I wrote then.  44 comments followed, some of them in favor of the book.  Two and a half years later, I am happy to have this blog re-published again.

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.”

So, as I said then, I hadn’t read the book, still haven’t read the book, and now I have a movie I can add to my list of “will not see”.  

Steve Marquedant
Sovereign Grace Reformed Baptist Church
Ontario, California


  1. I made a measured decision to read this book not because I felt that there was any real advantage to be gained from reading of the ramblings of a four year old, pardon me, not quite four year old, but because I was curious how anyone could take seriously such ramblings. I am the father of three and the grandfather of seven. I have seen all of these through this period of life and do frankly find it amazing that so many adults could in all honesty subsume that whatever flows out of such a young child can hold any credence for an adult mind no matter how close to reality such things could come to fact. After all even a non-running clock is correct twice a day.

    Even the title of the book, given by the young child Colton, whose information forms the key substance of the narrative, leaves for any thinking individual some question as to why the adults involved would accept it as being valid. It says, “Heaven is for Real”, to which Christians should turn to one another and ask, “So??”. GOD in His Word uses the word “heaven” over four hundred times [depending on your translation], so if He says it, why should we find this title so startling. Are Christians to be of the opinion that because Colton Burpo has made certain statements that “appear” to be from his own experience of visiting Heaven, then we should all suddenly be saying to ourselves, “Oh, I guess what GOD has for millennia been saying is reality, is reality, because this little fellow has confirmed it.” So now we can go on waiting on other individuals to affirm other Biblical truth, by experience, so that can have something new to hang on to.

    Do you see what this book is doing? It’s casting aspersion on the truth of the Word of GOD and hence placing Scripture into a secondary place with respect truth, for there is no truth but the Word of God. But more than that, it’s adding to Scriptural truth certain things which have no foundation in the Word at all.

    There was the time, for example, when supposedly the Burpo household was getting back to normal when Todd was talking one day with his son, and Colton asks, “Hey, Dad, did you know Jesus has a horse?”; Todd responds, “A horse?” to which Colton says, “Yeah, a rainbow horse. I got to pet him. There’s lots of colors”

    A brief conversation ensued that for Todd, “….set my head spinning”. Now this is not just another child that Colton is talking to, this is his father, a man that is a professing Christian and has been in a pastoral ministry for many years. And he is sitting talking to a four year old boy and taking on his precocious memories as if he’s getting some brand new biblical revelation and he’s not sure what to do with it. Having been a pastor at one time myself I believe that upon hearing these types of things coming out of the mouth of a child so young, and there were many of them, I would have simply laughed and congratulated the child on his over active imagination.

    Todd Burpo doesn’t do this. He sets them all down on paper and writes a book. I dare say he’s made a lot of money from it, not to mention that which has undoubtedly come forth from the book having been made into a motion picture. And, judging from the number of five star reviews on Amazon there are a lot of folk out there who find the ramblings of a four year old concerning a place he’s never been to, to be more than credible. They find these matters to have a basis in fact, and because Scripture is used throughout the book to “back up” what’s being claimed, then it all must be true. The plain fact of the matter is, what’s being claimed is not true because it has no basis in Scripture other than the truth that Heaven is reality. Everything else stated as being truth is supposition, nothing more.

    I personally dis-like seeing books of this nature pop up on the world scene because there are some very great dangers present within them that need to be identified. I recently received a copy of John MacArthur’s book, “The Glory of Heaven”. John devotes several pages of a very valuable critique of Todd Burpo’s book. I will sum up this review from that:

    “It denigrates the authority and sufficiency of Scripture; it
    confounds faith with superstition; it subtly elevates human
    experience to a higher level than the Word of GOD; it pur-
    ports to reveal things about GOD and the heavenly realm
    that are not taught in Scripture; and it repeatedly insinuates
    that the testimony of someone who has been mystically en-
    lightened can be a more effective stimulant to faith than
    Scripture alone.” (pg. 48)

    These books are not as innocent as they appear on the surface and the evangelical community needs to leave them alone.

  2. What? Do you have a source of authority that transcends the now or something like that?

  3. Pastor Steve, Can you explain what you mean about Wesleyan doctrine playing into this? What part of the boy’s story supports or seems influenced by Wesleyan theology?

  4. I simply mean “experience oriented” doctrine. The father was a pastor in a Wesleyan church. As a denomination, the Wesleyan’s have moved far away from John Wesley, as have the Methodists.

  5. You make a good point in the article about the info. in the book being extra-biblical. The Bible is not enough anymore to many who profess Christianity – it’s not “exciting” enough. Sadly, the words of a four-year-old seem to be more desirable than the Words of the Creator of the Universe. The sufficiency of Scripture is, at best, misunderstood and, at worst, completely ignored.

  6. Yes, Tammy is right there. FYI, Tim Challies reviewed this book when it first came out adn I thought it was helpful as well:

  7. Jim Duval – your brief but insightful commentary on the book is very helpful. I review books on my site – usually books that I’ve read and recommend – but I wouldn’t mind sharing your comments about this book by way of warning. Would you be willing to allow me to post your response on my site (giving you the credit as a guest reviewer, of course). Email me and let me know: Thanks!

  8. I’d be honoured to have you use it any way you see fit. Jim Duval

  9. Here is news from the publisher of THE NEW BOOK This one is only $16.95 and a limited edition. You better hurry before the movie is out of theaters and before this “limited edition” is sold out. It’s BOUND to be a collectors item!


    This #1 New York Times bestseller gets a limited-edition version with movie art and a new introduction and updated epilogue from the authors.

    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.

  10. […] Do you see what this book is doing? It’s casting aspersion on the truth of the Word of GOD and hence placing Scripture into a secondary place with respect to truth, for there is no truth but the Word of God. But more than that, it’s adding to Scriptural truth certain things which have no foundation in the Word at all. (comment by J. Duval at […]

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