Heaven Is Real, but Heaven Is for Real Is Really Not

Article ID: HIR20140416 | By: Hank Hanegraaff

HeavensGate

See Hank’s special video resource: Hank articulates ten reasons why both the book and film,Heaven is for Real is a dangerous diversion. Click here to view the video.


To read Hank’s related article: Heaven Is Real, please click here.


There is nothing new under the sun. From the time occult parapsychologist Raymond Moody coined the moniker “Near-Death Experience” (NDE) to the present, bestsellers on NDEs have abounded—Embraced by the Light by Betty Eadie; Beyond Death’s Door by Maurice Rawlings;Life after Life by Raymond Moody; The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven by Kevin Malarkey; 90 Minutes in Heaven by Don Piper; My Journey to Heaven by Marvin J. Besteman; Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon’s Journey into the Afterlife by Eben Alexander—to name just a few.

The following are ten reasons I consider the movie
Heaven Is for Real to be a dangerous diversion:

1. It is more than noteworthy to point out that NDEs are predictably contextualized by the backgrounds and belief systems of those who experience them. As such, they hardly provide a unified conclusion regarding the matters of life and death, heaven and hell, and most importantly the nature of God. Muslims encounter the Holy Spirit as the archangel Gabriel. Buddhists are inexorably guided down the pathway to nirvanic realization of “no self.” And the Burpos, who interpret the Bible literalistically, are now convinced that God the Father has enormous wings, blue eyes, and yellow hair, and God the Son is wingless, with sea-green-bluish eyes, brown hair, and a rainbow-colored horse. And the Holy Spirit? Well, He is bluish! Who would have thought?

 2. The subjective recollection of NDErs are wildly divergent and mutually contradictory. Logically, while they can all be wrong, they cannot all be right. Orthopedic surgeon Mary Neal, in the wake of a drowning accident, felt her soul being inexorably pulled toward the entry of a “great and brilliant hall,” in which the dead are given “a final opportunity to choose God—or turn away—for eternity.” Conversely, in Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon’s Journey into the Afterlife, Dr. Eben Alexander experiences an afterlife in which such choices are wholly unnecessary—“You have nothing to fear.” “There is nothing you can do wrong.” This, writes Alexander, “is not only the single most important emotional truth in the universe, but also the single most important scientific truth as well.” In short, Neal, Alexander, and, for that matter, the Burpos and a host of other NDErs paint entirely different and conflicting portraits of the afterlife.

3. There is a substantive difference between clinical death and biological death. Put another way, to be almost dead and absolutely dead are two entirely different propositions. We may rightly suppose that what is experienced during clinical death and what will be experienced at the climax of death are not one and the same. The point here is that NDEs do not provide definitive knowledge of what happens after death in that NDErs by definition have not actually experienced biological death. In short, a near-death experience is the subjective recollection of an experience that occurred during a state of unconsciousness precipitated by a medical crisis, such as an accident, suicide attempt, or cardiac arrest. As such, an NDE is notoriously unreliable as a means by which to determine what awaits us when “the silver cord is severed” (Ecclesiastes 12:6).

4. There is a clear and present danger in turning to Burpo rather than the Bible respecting those things that allegedly will happen in the future. Has Burpo indeed been shown the future? Is he really a direct eyewitness who is now empowered to settle theological issues that the body of Christ has struggled with throughout its history? Has he really had face-to-face communication with the resurrected Christ, John the Baptist, David, Peter, John, and even the archangel Gabriel? If so, Burpo is a treasure to the body of Christ like unto the Bible. If not, we should dismiss the subjective recollections of a three-year-old and instead hold fast to that which is good (1 Thessalonians 5:21).

5. While Christ does not tell us the time of His second appearing, Colton is more than happy to! Indeed, according to Colton, it is within the lifetime of his own father. As a result, Pastor Burpo not only knows that he will be alive during the final battle of Armageddon but also that he will personally slay monsters during this cosmic battle with either a sword or a bow and an arrow.

6. Among the biblical writers who “spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:21), not one dared say that like their Lord they could speak authoritatively about heaven from firsthand knowledge. Nor, in contrast to Burpo, did one of them dare prophesy the century of Christ’s return!

7. In the 14th chapter of the Acts of the Apostles, Dr. Luke chronicles the near-death experience of Paul.

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