A Christian Review of the Movie, “Heaven is for Real”

By David J. Stewart | September 2014

       Movies are powerful forms of communication, which can have a powerful influence on people. Because of this reality I keep an eye on the religious movies which are produced and the message that they convey to the masses. “Heaven is for Real” is a 2014 religious movie produced by Roth Films and Evangelist T.D. Jakes. The film is based upon the book of the same title, published in 2010. This film is advertised as being based upon a true story. The movie has been a New York Times #1 Bestseller.

Wikipedia states concerning the movie:

Heaven is for Real: A Little Boy's Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back is a 2010 New York Times best-selling Christian book written by Todd Burpo and Lynn Vincent. It was published by Thomas Nelson Publishers. The book documents the report of a near-death experience by Burpo's then-four-year-old son, Colton. The book recounts the experiences Colton relates from visits he said he made to heaven during a near-death experience.

SOURCE: Heaven Is for Real - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The film is not true to the Scriptures. There are numerous problems with the film, which are as follows...

  1. Toward the beginning of the movie, Todd Burpo (playing by Greg Kinnear, who stars in the film as an ordinary father and local minister) receives a phone call to rush to the hospital to attend a dying man. Todd asks the man if he is sorry for anything and the dying man says, “Everything!” Todd than tells the dying man that if God forgives anything, He forgives everything, but there is no mention of the message of forgiveness that comes only through faith in Jesus Christ Who died on the cross for our sins, was buried and then resurrected after three days (1st Corinthians 15:1-4). Apart from the name of Jesus Christ there can be no forgiveness of sins (Acts 4:10).
     
  2. Unbelievably, the mother Sonja Burpo (played by Kelly Reilly) actually sticks her middle finger up at her daughter in the film. I couldn't believe it. I had to rewind and pause the film to make sure, and sure enough, it's her middle finger, and then she switches it momentarily to her forefinger. What is wrong with these people? What kind of mother sticks her middle finger up at her child? In the movie, the daughter (Cassie) punches two boys in the face for making fun of her little brother (Colton) for saying that he went to Heaven. In response to the girl's behavior, the mother gives her daughter the finger. Real Christian film huh?
     
  3. As the family is driving in their car through the Country, they switch from singing “This Little Light of Mine” to the Queer (homosexual) Rock band “QUEEN's” hit song, “We Will Rock You” (aka, We Are The Champions). Then you hear screeching electric guitars start playing. Again, real Christian huh? Freddie Mercury was the lead singer of Queen and died of A.I.D.S. Clearly this movie has a worldly appeal to it, as do nearly all religious films produced today.
     
  4. After his son Colton has a Near Death Experience (NDE) in the film, Todd goes to see a psychiatrist (shrink). This is so ridiculous. No man of God should ever, nor would ever, go to consult with a heathen psychologist. Psalms 1:1 plainly teaches Christians not to stand in the counsel of the ungodly. Psalms 1:1-2, “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.” In the film, the psychiatrist admits that she is not a Christian.

    What an insult to portray a church pastor as having spiritual issues (concerning his son's claim to have visited Heaven during surgery) and seeking help from a shrink. Any pastor who is so messed-up that he needs to consult with a psychiatrist doesn't belong in the pulpit. The film belittles pastors, implying that they need to go seek help from so-called professionals when confused. It is America's psychologists and psychiatrists who need to seek spiritual help from the man of God, and not vise versa. No psychologist or psychiatrist indoctrinated in a heathenistic, atheistic, evolutionistic, devilish, state university has as much brains in one finger, as does the man who walks with God and stands in the church pulpit preaching on Sunday!!!
     
  5. There is a battleaxe 300 pound woman on the church board of directors, bossy and disrespectful toward the pastor, which is totally unbiblical. She tells Todd, their pastor, to shape up or ship out. Any church with a woman in charge is of the Devil. It would be a cold day in Hell before I'd ever pastor any church with a woman on the board of directors. If that's your messed-up church, get right with God! Biblically, women are allowed to teach other women, be soul-winners, play piano, be a secretary, pray, fast and serve in the Church; but they are absolutely forbidden to have any position of authority over men, voice their opinions publicly in church matters, nor are they permitted to teach men the Word of God. New Testament churches are led by men, as they obey the Word of God; but satanic religious cults are led by women.
     
  6. The film propagates a horrible false plan of salvation. The death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ is not mentioned. The cross upon which Christ died is displayed, assumed, but not taught in the film. When Todd meets the battleaxe woman I mentioned earlier at her son's grave, she asks Todd if her son went to Heaven. He asks her if she believes that his 4-year-old son would go to Heaven. She affirms yes. Then he asks her if God loves his son more than her son. She starts crying in joy and puts her head on his shoulder. That's all he says to comfort her and answer her question. That's the pastor's lame plan of salvation. Let me tell you something, anyone who dies in their sins without having received Jesus Christ as their personal Savior goes straight to Hell to burn in fire forever and ever!!!
     
  7. The pastor (Todd) tells his wife (Sonja) that he believes God is trying to speak to them through their son's experience. This suggestion has misled many people in modern times, who in turn seek such spectacular experiences to validate their religious faith. This is apostasy! The Bible plainly teaches that God speaks to us in these last days THROUGH HIS SON. We have the completed Word of God. Jesus is the living Word, the Word incarnate (in the flesh - John 1:1-3,14). Hebrews 1:1-2, “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds.”

    The Lord promised when He ascended into Heaven that He would send the Holy Spirit to comfort, guide, teach, convict and seal us as Christian believers. Unsaved people do NOT have the Holy Spirit. They have never been born anew by the Spirit of God. We have the Spirit of Christ indwelling us as believers (Romans 8:9; 1st Corinthians 3:16-17), and the Word of God to instruct us in all matters of faith and spiritual guidance (2nd Timothy 3:16-17; John 5:39; Psalms 119:105). I do believe that people have Near Death Experiences, but I also know from the Scriptures that we are not supposed to place any weight upon them. There are thousands of books available concerning people's spectacular and extraordinary claims of going to Hell, seeing the afterlife, going to Heaven, seeing Jesus, being tortured in Hell, seeing angels, and everything from soup to nuts in between.

    Author Bill Wiese has made tons of money publishing his bogus book titled, “23 Minutes in Hell.” I've read the book and it is total bullcrap. Wiese claims to have seen giant demons with claws, fangs and all sorts of bizarre, weird and unbiblical things. The Bible teaches that we all go to either Heaven or Hell, no where else. I cannot argue with people who claim to have had near death experiences, but I can disprove their claims if anything they say contradicts the Word of God. It is amazing to me how millions of people won't believe what the Bible says plainly about Jesus and Heaven, but they will unquestioningly believe all the strange, bizarre, weird and nutty claims of people who say they died and came back from the afterlife. I'll stick with the King James Bible, thank you!

Always remember Hebrews 1:1-2 when anybody claims to have seen things that nobody else has. The holy Bible teaches that no Scripture is privately interpreted. That is, God doesn't say anything to you that I cannot also know. The Bible is available to anyone and everyone. 2nd Peter 1:20, “Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.” I love this Scripture, because it silences all the false prophets who claim to have received private message from God.

God did at times speak to the saints in the Old Testament through dreams and visions, because the completed Word of God was not yet given. With the completion of the book of Revelation in 96 A.D., we have the finished and completed Word of God today. When someone claims to have seen a vision or had a dream, I don't disbelieve them, but I know that it didn't come from God as a message to others. Hebrews 1:1-2 plainly teaches that God speaks to us through His Son, the Word of God (John 1:1-3,14; Revelation 19:13; John 6:63). If you want to hear God speak audibly, then read the Bible out loud!

I don't need some stupid movie to encourage, convince and warm my heart about Heaven. I'll tell you what excites me a whole lot more about Heaven than religious films, and that is documentable history, archaeology, science and the thousands of unearthed manuscripts of the holy Bible which support the divine nature of the Scriptures. Besides all that I have God's Holy Spirit living inside me as a born-again child of God (Romans 8:9). It's a shame that people won't believe the Bible unless someone claims to have had a vision, an experience or a dream.

To be saved, you've got to know that you're a guilty sinner (Romans 3:19). You've got to believe that Christ died on the cross to pay for your sins. You've got to believe that He raised up from the dead. This is the Gospel (good news). If you believe that Christ died for your sins and rose up again from the dead, you are saved (1st Thessalonians 4:14). You won't go to Heaven just because God loves you. Many people go to Hell, wrongly thinking that God's love will pardon their sins; but in reality only the blood of Jesus Christ can wash away our sins. You've got to get born-again. You've got to believe on the name of Jesus apart from all human effort. Adding even the slightest amount of human effort will send you to Hell. Completely rest in Christ's sacrifice for your sins.

Salvation is not doing your best, it is having Christ's best put to your account through receiving Him by faith.


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