Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Review of the Movie "Heaven Is for Real"

This completes a trilogy of movie reviews on religious films that started with the blasphemous depiction of the Son of God and the satanic version of Noah. Next week, Heaven Is for Real hits theaters, conveniently opening right between Palm Sunday and Easter.

Heaven Is For Real is the story of a three-year-old boy named Colton who had to have an emergency appendectomy where he supposedly died while in surgery. When he came back to life, he was able to recall amazing details he wouldn't have previously known.

He said that he saw his father in another room of the hospital getting mad at God. In his death, he also got to see heaven and encountered a sister whom he had never met. Apparently his mom had a miscarriage, but she had never told Colton about the baby she lost.

He was also able to identify a younger version of his great grandfather. When his father, Todd, showed Colton a picture of his grandfather as a young man, Colton confirmed that was the man he met. "In heaven, everyone is young," he said (a quote also in the preview).

Colton described many other details about heaven: he had wings and a halo, he met the Holy Spirit who is "kind of blue," he saw Mary sitting next to Jesus at the throne of heaven, and Jesus rides on a rainbow horse. Everyone there is happy and they all sing happy songs. The angels even sang to Colton while he sat on Jesus's lap.

Speaking of Jesus, Colton later identified a certain painting of a fair-haired, light-skinned, bright-eyed Jesus, and said that was exactly what Jesus looked like in heaven. Ironically, the picture was painted by a girl who has also claimed that she's been to heaven.

Oh, yay. Another white, blonde-haired Jesus.

Colton's father, Todd, is the one who wrote down all of the details of Colton's "miraculous" experience which became the bestselling book, Heaven Is for Real. I'm so grateful they titled the book that, because I really was in doubt until I read Colton's experience (more sarcasm, in case I have to say that.)

Unlike my previous two reviews, I have not seen Heaven Is for Real. I have read the book. The film is simply a dramatic portrayal of the things Pastor Todd spoke of in his book. Yes, Todd Burpo is a pastor. But it's a shame to say that he's a pastor that doesn't know his Bible. His account of what happened to Colton does not in any way line up with what is described in scripture.

Perhaps Colton saw something, but it wasn't heaven. He certainly did NOT visit heaven and come back. I don't need to see the movie or even have read the book to know that. Scripture is clear enough on the subject of heaven that we should be able to discern when someone is pitching us a bogus tale about having been there.

As David Platt has pointed out, quoting also from John Piper:
"All of the accounts of heaven in scripture are visions, not journeys taken by dead people. And even visions of heaven are very, very rare in scripture. You can count them all on one hand. Four biblical authors had visions about heaven and wrote about what they saw: Isaiah, Ezekiel, Paul, and John. All of them were prophetic vision, not near-death experiences. Not one person raised from the dead in the Old Testament or the New Testament wrote down what he or she experienced in heaven, including Lazarus who had a lot of time in a grave."
The only person who has ever been to heaven and was alive on earth to speak of it was Jesus Christ. Anyone else who claims such a thing is lying. Proverbs 30:4 says, "Who has ascended into heaven and come down?" John 3:13 answers the question when Jesus says, "No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man."

All of the biblical accounts of heaven speak of God's majesty and glory, fixated on the eternal worship of God. Those few biblical authors who have seen it are completely awe-struck. They're overwhelmed by it. They fall on their faces in reverent fear. It's spectacular and incredible. And again, it's all centered around the glory of God.

The biblical authors give absolutely zero confirmation of any of the things Colton Burpo saw. His account of heaven in Heaven Is for Real is more common to cartoons, paintings, poems, and childish depictions. None of it is grounded in the Bible.

As I've said in my previous reviews, this movie and the popularity of the book it came from (over 7 million copies sold) is evidence of our biblical illiteracy, confusion, and misunderstanding. I'm talking specifically about people who attend church. Who is gobbling up films like Son of God, Noah, and Heaven Is for Real? It's mostly those who claim to be Bible-believing Christians. That's the audience these studios are targeting.

Folks, you're being duped. Hollywood has affirmed that faithfulness to the text doesn't even matter to Christians, and we'll still buy right into it. So why should biblical faithfulness matter to them? They're making mountains of cash, and we're getting dumber.

We simply cannot excuse this stuff by saying, "Well, hey, at least it's wholesome entertainment." That's the K-Love mentality: that everything is good as long as it's "positive and encouraging." You're being handed a film (in fact, three in just a few short months) that is billed as a "true story" but is rather a fanciful lie. How is that wholesome?

Equally as problematic is the defense, "Well, hey, at least these kinds of movies encourage discussion." But what kind of discussion are we talking about? Do you know what the Bible calls discussion not rooted in sound doctrine? Vanity. It says we don't understand either what we say or the things about which we make confident assertions. (1 Timothy 1:6-7)

So please, don't go see Heaven Is for Real. There's no reason to. Don't even bother giving your money to it to know what's in the film. And as I've said before, make sure you're in a doctrinally sound, Bible-teaching church with expository preaching by men who submit themselves regularly to the authority of God's Word.

I've already linked to one video above. The following is one made as soon as previews for Heaven Is for Real started hitting the internet. Between these two videos are all you need to know about the movie, combined with scriptural teaching--