This e-book was provided to me for free courtesy of the BookSneeze programme.
I have to say that I wasn’t sure whether I was going to like Heaven is for Real by Todd Burpo with Lynn Vincent. It’s the story of Burpo’s son’s visions of heaven in the context of a life-threatening episode of appendicitis when he was only four years old. And I wasn’t sure I was going to like it because unfortunately this genre tends to attract rather colourful stories of unlikely visions, many of which can’t be substantiated in Scripture or which seem to have led to pride or even subtle twisting of faith in the writer.
So it was to my great delight to find that this book is, in some ways, different. Burpo, a pastor, tells how the story of his son’s visions came out only over time and in small parts. As he and his wife began to realise that something had happened to their son, they began to ask him questions about the experience; and so it is that we have in this book the details of some of what Colton Burpo saw. Most importantly for me, Todd Burpo – as a pastor who loves his Bible – was keen to test how the things his son claimed to have seen measured up with Scripture and would even try to trick his son with questions to see whether his son would affirm things about his experience of heaven which the Scriptures expressly deny!
As someone who has a healthy – even extreme? – tendency towards cynicism regarding this genre, I found this book incredibly faith-enhancing in fact. There were a handful of things which Colton claims to have seen that I don’t think can be substantiated from Scriptural accounts of heaven and which sound a little far-fetched. But then…nor does Scripture expressly deny those things either! It is because of this fact that I would not give this book to a new believer unless I was prepared to sit with them and do a detailed Bible study to help them test its content; I still maintain that believers are to test carefully against Scripture anything which purports to be revelation and worry that some new believers might get very excited about this book and not necessarily follow on to reading the Scriptural accounts of heaven.
Yet, truth be told, what this book did for me was to reignite an excitement. Excitement that heaven – this dimension of reality so wonderful that you’d think it could only belong in a fairytale – heaven is for real! Excitement that actually the life of faith is all about Jesus, how much he loves us and how he longs for us to enter into relationship with him. And, as I was brought to a place of childlike wonder and love for Jesus, I remembered his own words that the kingdom of heaven was open to those who would come as children. Todd Burpo’s book invited me to come as a child and marvel at all the wonders which will be our inheritance. If you are longing to stand and stare at the joys of heaven, the face of Jesus, this book might just reignite your heart for Jesus, your longing for heaven and your passion for the Scriptures.
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