What About Those Who Claim They Went to Heaven and Came Back – part 1

I regularly am asked about books written by authors who claim to have gone to heaven. They don't teach "heresy" – so are they good? Should we trust these authors? Probably two of the more recent and popular ones are the following:

90 minutes in Heaven

90 Minutes in Heaven – Don Piper

  • New York Times Paperback Non-fiction Bestseller List 2004
  • Publisher's Weekly Paperback Religion Bestsellers
  • USA Today's Top 150 Bestseller List
  • 4 million copies in print today
  • Sold over 1.4 million copies

Heaven Is For Real

Heaven is for Real – Todd Burpo

  • 2010 #1 NY Times Best Seller in multiple categories
  • on USA Today’s best seller list for 111 weeks
  • 7.5 million copies in sold
  • 232,673 likes on Facebook

So – how should we view such things? Here are a couple of very brief thoughts:

  1. Experience is never a valid test for truth. If experience is a valid test for truth, we are in trouble. Because people have the most bizarre experiences and base their theology on those experiences. So be very careful about declaring anything "true" because someone experienced it.
  2. I think Christians are often gullible when it comes to believing people's stories that coincide with what we believe. If we are so quick to believe they are real simply because there is no obvious heresy – then no wonder we lose credibility with those who disagree with us.
  3. There must be a reason the Bible doesn't tell us much about heaven. We seem to have a longing to know things God never intended us to know. I think – maybe – it should be left like that. 1 Corinthians 2:9 – However, as it is written: "What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived" – the things God has prepared for those who love him." Maybe we should be satisfied with that. God felt it was enough.

What do you think about "I've been to heaven" books? Have you read one?

4 comments
  1. On the flip side, I heard a bit about “23 Minutes In Hell” a while back. I read a chapter or two and wasn’t impressed. It was very strange.

  2. I’ve skimmed a few of these books before because relatives and friends are often talking about them. I agree, it’s a terrible idea to put the experiential cart in front of the scriptural horse. Besides that, these books seem to always have things that are questionable or theologically shaky: Jesus as a blue-eyed Anglo Saxon, Jesus with marks on his palms (not his wrists), angels with wings and halos a la popular culture, people turn into angels after they die, etc. It also bothers me that these books seem to always emphasize that Heaven is just about seeing the pearly gates and streets of gold and relatives that have passed away, and not about being in the presence of the Lord.

    I think books like these can undermine (or demote) the Authority of the Bible. Which is the one book we really should be reading if we want to bolster our faith and learn more about God.

  3. I usually try to see the good in whichever book I read. I do not swallow them whole though. I read both of these and was skeptical of course, but I did pull away the hope for amazing worship. In heaven there will be some awesome (literally) worship.

  4. David Platt made some excellent points regarding this subject. Of those in the Bible who actually saw heaven had very different reactions and wrote very differently about their experiences. I couldn’t agree more that we should not base truth on experiences. Also, I believe the Bible gives us a great deal of insight on what the new heavens and the new earth will be like, so we should study the Bible instead of glean truth from the experiences of people who were supposedly “dead.”

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