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What “Heaven Is For Real” Shows We’re Avoiding

April 24, 2014

I saw “Heaven Is for Real” the other day.  Great experience.  Maybe more fun for me than for life-long city or suburb dwellers.  The movie shows a different social style of life encountered in rural and small town settings, like the one in which I grew up.  

Anyway, I highly recommend the movie for anyone.  I didn’t experience it as so much a “religious” or even “evangelistic” a movie as I was thinking it might be.  Yes, it pushes you to think about the nature of life and “the life beyond” (if there is such, which I do believe, though not probably a “heaven” as in popular conception or literal description in the book of Revelation, or by little Colton of the movie).  I do tend to take Colton’s experience and descriptions (in the style of a typical 4-year-old) seriously, as did his dad in particular.  It is too similar to hundreds of documented similar cases not to.

The very existence of the movie, and its apparently quite true-to-life telling of the Burpo family story around Colton’s experience raises a number of fascinating issues.  One of particular importance I wrote about in a response to a review/commentary on the movie in the popular online and print magazine, Christianity Today.  Here it is: 

Christians as a whole, and apparently the commenters ahead of me as well, have missed some key responses to NDE’s, for many years now.  I saw and loved the movie for a number of reasons, not for new information about either NDE’s or the reality of heaven.

One of the responses missed (for some questionable reasons) is just some deep curiosity, followed by serious observation of what is being learned in now at least 40 years of reporting and analysis of experiences similar to Colton’s, by both children and adults.  There actually are many books of wide variety, from stories to serious studies and even meta-studies lately.

Who are glaringly “missing in action” as to taking NDE’s seriously and learning all we can from them are the bulk of Christians, especially leaders and scholars, AND the bulk of scientists (the main exceptions being some physicians, psychologists and others in the “human sciences”).  Doesn’t that indicate something significant? I sure find it does: that there probably IS something very important being signaled by these experiences and by the fact that many serious investigators, including SOME religious and SOME “hard” scientists, are finding them well worthy of study. Seems to me the Church (in general), though seemingly very interested in visionary or other “spiritual” states, any possible glimpses “beyond the vale”, evidences of life beyond this one, etc. is curiously, and sadly, avoiding such probing!

And “science” won’t go there because of its prevailing materialist, sensationist (5 senses, measurement-by-instrument), atheist approach.  So is not this area of “NDE’s” and related phenomena a highly fertile ground which may just indicate that both typical “supernaturalist” and “naturalist” assumptions are crude models, often misleading as to gaining a better grasp of God and reality, and what may actually happen after death, or even between human lifetimes? (The latter NOT being clearly ruled out by the Bible, if one looks to its authority in this area.)

Have you had similar observations or a particular interest in the NDE kind of experience (even if not evoked by an actual brush with death)? Had your own experience that you’re willing to share, and its impact? 

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