Heaven is For Real

Question
What are your thoughts on "Heaven Is For Real," which recounts a boy's death experience of going to heaven and coming back?
Answer

In general, I do not see such "accounts" (i.e. "Heaven is for Real: A Little Boy's Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back," by Todd Burpo; "90 Minutes in Heaven," by Don Piper; "23 Minutes in Hell," by Bill Wiese, etc.) as lining up with the reality of Scripture (2 Cor. 12:4).

Luke 16:19-31 states:

There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores and longing to eat what fell from the rich man's table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores. The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham's side. The rich man also died and was buried. In hell, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. So he called to him, "Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire." But Abraham replied, "Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us." He answered, "Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my father's house, for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment." Abraham replied, "They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them." "No, father Abraham," he said, "but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent." "He said to him, "If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead."

From Scripture I see that people do not return from hell and that if Lazarus could have come back and testified of the realities he had seen (or even if he had written a book called, "Heaven and Hell Are For Real"), no one would have listened. Heaven's reply to such requests is, "If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead." The Scripture is definite when it says, "...it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment"(Heb. 9:27).

There is enough evidence in Scripture alone from Christ, Paul, John and others to prove the existence of heaven and hell. If one will not hear them, then they will not hear another. While heaven and hell are real places, we do not need new accounts of them; rather we need God-given faith (Eph. 2:8-10) to believe what is already written (Job 32:8; Ps. 119; Prov. 30:5; Matt. 4:4; 2 Tim. 3:16-17; Heb. 4:12). Every true Christian has this, as enabled by the Holy Spirit (2 Cor. 3).

Answer by Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr.

Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr., D.D., M.Div. is the Theological Editor at Third Millennium Ministries (IIIM).