Book Review: “Heaven is For Real”
Pastor Mike Wing
Grace Community Bible Church
As a pastor, I have been approached on numerous occasions by people who wanted to know what I thought of this book “Heaven is For Real”. The book is about a young boy, Colton, who underwent emergency surgery due to a ruptured appendix. According to the book, it was during that surgery that Colton was taken to heaven where he saw some amazing new revelations.
My initial response to this book was that this was just another book detailing someone’s “Near Death” experience … there have been several of these over the last few years. But because of the many inquiries and ongoing interest in this book, I wanted to share some of my concerns.
Also, the author of this book has made it clear in print and through various interviews that he believes his son was actually taken to heaven and given additional revelation that is intended by God, to encourage the saints and give hope to unbelievers. Therefore, these claims must be carefully examined in light of God’s word (1 Jn. 4:1; Acts 17:11; Jas. 3:1).
What has caused the biggest stir are three specific “visions” Colton apparently experienced while under sedation during surgery. 1). Colton saw his father and mother in prayer in separate rooms during his out of body experience. 2). Colton met his sister in heaven, who had died as a result of miscarriage. And 3). Colton met his grandfather who had died before Colton had ever met him. The question becomes, how do we explain this? Before I answer this, let me say that in the case of one claiming new revelation, it is their responsibility to prove the truthfulness of their claims, something which the author cannot do. So, assuming these revelations did occur (and that is a huge assumption), how do we explain them? 1). God contradicted His word and gave new revelation to a three year old (3 yrs. – 10 months; pg. 62 ) boy. Revelation 22:14 states, “I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues which are written in this book; ” With this clear warning from God’s word, are we now to believe the unverifiable experiences of a four year old boy who, while under heavy medication, sat on Jesus’ lap, wore wings and saw which people here on earth actually had lights on their heads (apparently to distinguish genuine Christians from those who are simply hypocrites)? Obviously I do not believe this is an option for those who believe God’s word. 2). The author goes to painstaking effort to assure the reader that neither he, nor his wife coaxed young Colton to give a certain answer to their questions or elicit “new information”. I do not doubt their sincerity, but as a father of six, I am constantly reminded of how much of my “private” conversation with my wife is picked up and processed by my children without my knowledge. Perhaps, despite assurances to the contrary, Colton had heard about these people or circumstances from family, friends and/or Sunday School teachers. 3). It is possible that these experiences are Demonic deception. 2 Corinthians 11:14,15 states, “No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness, whose end will be according to their deeds. ”
1. Again, the book details the unverifiable experience of a heavily medicated 3 year old that contradicts Scripture but is assumed to be fact by his father.
2. We are to believe that in all of prophetic history, this four year old received information about heaven that no one before him was ever given or permitted to speak about?
3. I never did read about Colton’s personal testimony as to how he came to saving faith in Jesus Christ. This is a key issue. My youngest daughter is four years old and sincerely loves the Lord as much as her mind is able to comprehend. But I do not believe she has come to a full understanding of the gospel. Was Colton a genuine Christian when he had this experience? If not, are we now saying that an unregenerate 4 year old child has been given a unique vision of heaven?
4. The “revelations” found in this book are, by and large, silly at best; Jesus had blue eyes and rode around on a rainbow colored horse!? How about the picture of everyone in heaven wearing wings (by the way, Colton “looked a little glum” because his wings were not as big as everyone else’s; pg. 72). Does this sound like the observations of a prophet or the musings of a child? Compare Colton’s insights with that of Isaiah in Isaiah 6:1-7 or the apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:1-7). And how does any of this advance our knowledge of God or the salvation He offers beyond what has already been given in the divinely inspired word of God?
This book has hit an emotional chord with many people, especially those who have lost loved ones and are seeking some verification that they are Ok and will be seen again. While such knowledge could be comforting, it is dangerous to go outside the bounds of Scripture to find some unverifiable and unbiblical experience to give such comfort. In Luke’s gospel, the rich man calls out from his torment to ask that Lazarus be sent to warn his brothers of their coming judgment if they do not repent (Luke 16:28-31). ““But he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent!’ “But he said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.’ ” In John 5, Jesus gives proof of His claims to being the Son of God and Messiah. The evidence includes the testimony of John the Baptist, God the Father and His own miraculous works. The final proof given by Christ to verify His claims is the word of God. (Jn. 5:46,47) “For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me, for he wrote about Me. “But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?”
God has not left His people wanting for knowledge, strength or encouragement! 2 Peter 1:3 … “seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. ”
As followers of Christ, let us be careful that we are not led from the simplicity of the truth by the experiences of others, no matter how “heart-warming” they may appear!! 1 Timothy 4:6–7 … “In pointing out these things to the brethren, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, constantly nourished on the words of the faith and of the sound doctrine which you have been following. But have nothing to do with worldly fables fit only for old women. On the other hand, discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness; ”
As Christians, God’s word must be our final authority and the standard by which everything else must be measured!! “I have not written to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it, and because no lie is of the truth. ” (1 John 2:21). Jesus’ prayer on behalf of His followers was, in part, “Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth. ” (John 17:17)
I look forward to the time when this book passes away, as have the multitude of fads with which the professing church has been infatuated over the years, so that we can get back to preaching Christ and Him crucified. This book is nothing more than a distraction from that divine mandate.
Pastor Mike Wing
Grace Community Bible Church (North Platte, NE 69101)