Before you starting screaming “heresy, heresy!” please continue to read.
One of the most talked about books and movies in recent years has been “Heaven Is for Real”, by Todd Burpo with Lynn Vincent. The book/movie recounts four-year-old Colton Burpo’s vision of heaven (as told by his father to Ms. Vincent). Colton claims he visited heaven during surgery after a burst appendix nearly took his life. His stories of heaven are full of fanciful features and peculiar details that bear all the earmarks of a child’s vivid imagination. There’s nothing particularly enlightening about Colton’s description of heaven. In fact, it is completely devoid of the breathtaking glory featured in every biblical description of the heavenly realm.
Well in the recent news was an article titled, “Boy Says HeDidn’t Go to Heaven; Publisher Says It Will Pull Book”. Now granted this is not the boy Burpo who is of “Heaven Is For Real” fame, but I found this repentant boy even more credible than Burpo.
Quoting the article; Nearly five years after it hit best-seller lists, a book that purported to be a 6-year-old boy’s story of visiting angels and heaven after being injured in a bad car crash is being pulled from shelves. The young man at the center of The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven, Alex Malarkey, said this week that the story was all made up. The book’s publisher, Tyndale House, had promoted it as “a supernatural encounter that will give you new insights on Heaven, angels, and hearing the voice of God.”
But Thursday, Tyndale House confirmed to NPR that it is taking “the book and all ancillary products out of print.” The decision to pull the book comes after Alex Malarkey wrote an open letter to retailer LifeWay and others who sell Christian books and religious materials. It was published this week on the Pulpit and Pen website.
“I did not die. I did not go to Heaven,” Alex wrote. He continued, “I said I went to heaven because I thought it would get me attention. When I made the claims that I did, I had never read the Bible. People have profited from lies, and continue to. They should read the Bible, which is enough. The Bible is the only source of truth. Anything written by man cannot be infallible.” He concluded, “Those who market these materials must be called to repent and hold the Bible as enough.”
What God has revealed in Scripture is the only legitimate place to get a clear understanding of the heavenly kingdom. The Bible is our only reliable source of information about heaven. You simply cannot gain a better understanding of heaven than we are given in Scripture—especially not from someone else’s dreams and near-death experiences. In the words of Charles Spurgeon:
Its a little heaven below, to imagine sweet things. But never think that imagination can picture heaven. When it is most sublime, when it is freest from the dust of earth, when it is carried up by the greatest knowledge, and kept steady by the most extreme caution, imagination cannot picture heaven. “It hath not entered the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” Imagination is good, but not to picture to us heaven. Your imaginary heaven you will find by-and-by to be all a mistake; though you may have piled up fine castles, you will find them to be castles in the air, and they will vanish like thin clouds before the gale. For imagination cannot make a heaven. “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered the heart of man to conceive” it.
We need to remember to be careful as what we declare to be truth.
Especially when the “truth” is outside of Holy Scripture. Is Heaven for real? Of course it is, not because some 4 year old tells us so, but because God Himself declared it to be so, and God does not and cannot lie.