Monday, April 28, 2014

A Book Review for: Heaven is for Real: A Little Boy's Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back

Heaven is for Real: A Little Boy's Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back is a Christian witness book written by Todd, Sonja and Colton Burpo. It is written from the perspective of a conservative Christian pastor, Todd Burpo, and it appears to have been written to bring into the world a rather remarkable witness of a young boy who has been to heaven, so that we, the readers, can either be comforted in our belief or have a reason to believe that heaven is real and what it looks and feels like. From my perspective, it is an interesting story that neither buttresses my faith nor detracts from it.  It does, however, ignore some of the basic scholarship that those who seek facts rather than feeling, might be seeking.

It's basic story follows the now familiar line of a near death or out of body vision, this one from heaven. It offers a long list of supports from the vision, verified by third party observations, attempting to validate the thesis that Heaven is for real, and Colton's story, the child subject of the book, is for real.  In the end, there is an impassioned cry to recognize the Glory of God and accept the free gift of heaven for yourself.

One of the most convincing aspects is an out-of-body or near death experience where Colton sees and remembers details that he was not conscious for or even in the room for.  This strikes me as the strongest witness in the narrative, even though these types of stories are often written off as suppressed memory, brain activity while asleep or a whole host of other plausible opportunities for the subject to have gained the information even while they were unaware of gaining it.  Even so, I believe this part because my father had a similar experience during the Korean war, when he was shot, abandoned behind the lines, and later recovered.  According to the record, he died, and then revived. He too saw things that he could not have seen when he remembers being suspended over his body during the operation.  

There are numerous other points of contact with the possibility of supernatural visions, including humans with angle wings, a picture of Jesus that is validated by a third party non-Christian and the meeting of long dead and never encountered family members.

Normally, in the modern age, anecdotal evidence is looked down upon by the new and sudo-intellectuals.  I, being a physicist, tend to accept direct witness, if verifiable, with ease, and have long wondered why in the last few decades witness means so little to the modern skeptic.  In that sense, this book is a disappointment to those who seek scientific fact.  There is none. There is, however, a well written witness story about the power of God.

From the negative side, I have to tell you, as a Christian, I find the book neither beneficial or necessary.  My faith is based on personal contact with God via the Holy Spirit.  All the anecdotal evidence I have ever needed to support the existence of heaven is in the Bible or my own life, or the lives of those around me.  My own witness story, Standing in the Storm, and the witness of Jesus' life, death and resurrection are more powerful to begin with, and the stories of those around me are easier to judge and consider, since I know the people and can see their eyes when they are telling me the story.  The "power" of this story is that it is told by a Pastor who is gifted and explanation and leaves out nothing.

I would recommend this book wholeheartedly if you are already a Christian and are already secure in you faith; or, if you seeking knowledge in  the modern age as to why and what Christians believe.  If you are analytical and want more than anecdotal information, this won't do it for you.

In any case, I suggest you read what the Bible has to say about heaven first.  It is not called the greatest story ever told by mistake.

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