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“Heaven Is for Real”—Book review

Heaven is for RealUm, I’m not sure what to tell you about this book. It was...interesting.

But was it factual? I can’t say. Giving the author the benefit of the doubt, I assume he relayed the story honestly according to his and his son’s experience.


The story centers on the almost-4-year-old Colton, who nearly dies via a ruptured appendix. After his recovery, he nonchalantly speaks of heaven and Jesus and angels and dead grandparents. His father, a minister, is shocked by this. He is startled by the connections he sees between his son’s stories and scriptures that his son has not yet been exposed to.

(I, on the other hand, didn’t always make those same scriptural connections. Perhaps we interpret them differently?)

Does it make for a good story? Definitely.
Should it change your theology? Definitely not.

While not denying what Colton may or may not have experienced (because how would I or anyone else know???), I can’t let it negate my reasonings from scripture.

For me, I already believe heaven is for real anyway, based on what I read in the Bible, with or without anybody’s personal testimony.

Should you read the book?
Only if you’ll take it as one little boy’s story, and not equate it with bible truths. Keep searching those out for yourself.

It is a feel-good story and while not particularly sharply written (way too many frivolous details for my taste), it will keep you involved.

My prayer is that perhaps this book may provoke more scripture study on heaven. That would be beneficial.

Because heaven definitely is for real!

* * *

In Tim Challies’ review, he advises you to: “Reject this book. Do not read it. Do not believe it. And do not feel guilty doing so.”

He obviously feels strongly about this book.

What about you? Have you read it? What did you think?


Barbara H. said...

I haven't read it -- I've only recently heard of it. I'm not inclined to read anyone's near death or after death experiences because who knows what that really is. If it did provoke people to more Bible study, that would be good, but, sadly, people tend to flock to the sensational stories. In that vein I can see why Challies warned people away from it, so they wouldn't be misled, but if people can read it with discernment and base their faith on what the Bible says and read this just as one family's story, then it might be interesting. I'm still not inclined myself.

Lisa notes... said...

Wise words, Barbara. Sometimes it’s hard to know exactly what to do with books like this; avoiding it altogether is certainly a good option. It’ll be interesting to see what happens with this story in the long run…

David N. said...

I haven't read it and don't plan to, but I'm actually more interested to hear what you thought of Challies' review, which was, uh, strongly worded to say the least.

Lisa notes... said...

Yes, Tim definitely had an opinion on this one.

So critiquing a critique:

I agree with Tim that Colton didn’t speak like a typical 4-yr-old (I’ve known a few in my time too).

And I agree these two options are available: to believe the story whole-heartedly, or to reject it as false.

But I see a third option that Tim doesn’t mention, which is that I can kinda, sorta believe the story without coming to the same conclusion as the dad in the story. Perhaps this child did experience some kind of after-life experience, but that doesn’t mean he now has authority to say what Jesus looks like, or that we’ll have wings when we get to heaven, or that men will fight Satan there with swords and arrows as women and children watch, etc.

I have much, much trouble believing those conclusions…

My favorite line of Tim’s review:

"If you struggle believing what the Bible says, but learn to find security in the testimony of a toddler, well, I feel sorry for you."

bekahcubed said...

After reading Challies' review, my first thought was "I can't wait to see what Lisa has to say about this one." Your read sounds closer to what I think my own would be. Challies' assessment seemed a bit hard-line.

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