Colton Burpo in "Heaven is for real" movie and the artist he referenced, Akiane Kramarik who painted the "Prince of Peace".
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Near-death experiences must be viewed with extreme caution, and their content always checked against Scripture. Whenever we see a heavenly scene in the Bible, the worship of God is always present. None of the books written about out-of-body, near-death experiences that I have read ever mentions falling down and worshipping Christ. That makes them suspect. Some of the details in Colton's memories of "Heaven" don't line up with Scripture, such as a child having no name, or people having wings. It's a sweet story, but it should NOT be given any weight as to what Heaven is like. If the beings that people "meet" in their experiences assure that everyone ends up in Heaven, that it doesn't matter in whom you believe, etc., this is a demonic vision, designed to give false assurances and lead souls to Hell. Lastly, if the Apostle Paul said that HE could not speak of what he saw (2 Corinthians 12:2-4), actually declaring that it was not permissible, then why do we give any credence to these recent so-called "revelations?"
After finishing both the book and the movie "Heaven is for Real", I dissuade other Christians from reading/viewing them. As was expected, the movie promotes a vague spirituality rather than anything Christian. In the movie, Colton's father Todd sees his church shrink and decides preaching the bible is too old fashioned and boring; so instead of doing what Christ and Paul command (preach the Word), he replaces it with Colton's experiences. The book faired only slightly better. At least there was an attempt to sound Christian. However, at every turn Colton's father chooses to filter the bible through his son's experience and at times, terribly twist and distort the quoted bible passage to somehow loosely link it to Colton's story. We as Christians are to filter experiences such as these through scripture, we are warned that Satan masquerades as an angel of light, Jesus says our hearts are desperately wicked, Paul tells us that strong delusions will deceive people and Jude cautions against running after those who "rely on their dreams". If we are to believe the claims of Colton Burpo, what are we to make of another Christian claiming they too visited heaven yet have contradictory information? Why not just believe the Word God has given us, inspired by the Holy Spirit and preserved through the ages?
I have not read the book, but I bought the movie and have watched it twice in the past month. I will put a few points out there to consider: 1. It was not a "near-death experience". They say in the movie how the medical records show Colton never neared death during his operation. So the nomers about near-death experiences must be taken off the table when considering the answer to this question. 2. It was a pastor and a devoted Christian family that experienced this, and Anna Kramarik was from an athiestic family: 2a. So if it were the devil, don't you think he would NOT want to do something that would draw more attention to Christ? Healing, Repentance & Humility (in the case of Todd Burpo's pride being broken, and Anna's parents coming to believe), and Hope being given to others, would not be the fruit of the work of the devil. This is the fruit of the Holy Spirit and of Christ, according to Scripture. And there is no evident ulterior motive -- like the Burpo's trying to bolster church attendance, or gain profit from it, due to their financial need (the book wasn't even published until years after the event, with much urging from the Holy Spirit on Todd to do it)-- nor is there on Anna's end. Her parents probably would've rathered she didn't even bother with Christian things. 2b. Knowing Satan's nature, if this event were orchestrated by him wouldn't he CONTINUE to ensnare either the Burpos or Anna directly by such means? Yet we don't see that. We see renewal of faith, renewal of hope, and we do NOT see the Burpos building on this message nor Anna attempting to gather a following which is contradictory to the Biblical faith nor additive to it. All their actions point back to Christ, not a human opinion or standpoint. And further more it points to Christ's love. Just even listen to them talk about it-- they're not trying to push you to accept their experience, they're not jumping up and down for attention and acceptance of it, rather they are humbly and just as somewhat awe-struck as they try to explain it, gently. 3. Does the movie say "Everyone goes to Heaven?". No, it does not. It references people the family members (not Colton) knew - in the movie Colton mentions only a handful of people-, but not unbelievers (as far as we know). So, it does not violate the bible on that point. 3a. As far as what people look like in heaven (wings, names, etc), AND how John attempts to describe his visions in Revelation, I would venture to say that a child's perspective & ability to communicate would be comparable to a grown man's (in the case of John in the book of Rev) attempts to describe the experience. So to say Colton's witness report is unbiblical would be a step too far, without citing scripture that oblately says "no wings" & "all have names". What about aborted babies? If we all have names, then what are they named? The bible says simply, "I will call you Beloved." I'm a super skeptical Christian when it comes to any type of media/movies/music that claims to be Christ-like, especially movies with Hollywood actors not known for their faith (like the man who played Todd Burpo in the movie), and I always try to stay sober-minded, as scripture says, by testing what I see/hear/etc by matching it up with scripture and how it has taught me who Christ is, who the devil is, and how our emotions are untrustworthy. Speaking on my own personal experience with the movie, I will say I was moved and I found great peace in the movie, and it helped me to re-realize Jesus' deep love for us all. I went into it with the usual filter in front of my eyes, and that's not to say I'm infallible, but with all that I've studied and read in the Bible, I saw this movie as an inspiration & hope to mankind, a reminder to Christians to rely on God, to remember & cherish Christ's love for each of us, a resource that urges all humans to seek after God and to know Him truly, and for Christians to work for & sees peace, especially the Prince of Peace.
I believe that what Paul said was because it wasn't the time because John was caught up to heaven and he wrote what he saw. Know I'm not saying not to research but we need to pray to God for wisdom
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