Heaven is for Real
When Colton Burpo made it through an emergency appendectomy, his family was overjoyed at his miraculous survival. What they weren't expecting, though, was the story that emerged in the months that followed--a story as beautiful as it was extraordinary, detailing their little boy's trip to heaven and back.Colton, not yet four years old, told his parents he left his body during the surgery--and authenticated that claim by describing exactly what his parents were doing in another part of the hospital while he was being operated on. He talked of visiting heaven and relayed stories told to him by people he met there whom he had never met in life, sharing events that happened even before he was born. He also astonished his parents with descriptions and obscure details about heaven that matched the Bible exactly, though he had not yet learned to read.With disarming innocence and the plainspoken boldness of a child, Colton tells of meeting long-departed family members. He describes Jesus, the angels, how "really, really big" God is, and how much God loves us. Retold by his father, but using Colton's uniquely simple words, "Heaven is for Real" offers a glimpse of the world that awaits us, where as Colton says, "Nobody is old and nobody wears glasses.""Heaven is for Real" will forever change the way you think of eternity, offering you the chance to see, and believe, like a child.

Heaven is for Real Details

TitleHeaven is for Real
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseOct 13th, 2018
PublisherThomas Nelson
ISBN-139780849946158
Rating
GenreReligion, Faith, Christianity, Autobiography, Memoir, Nonfiction, Christian

Heaven is for Real Review

  • Stephanie *Very Stable Genius*
    January 1, 1970
    Oh Boy.I am reluctant to review this since I have friends who loved this book, and my mother recommended it. But this book bugged me so much I just have to have my say.This is a book about a three year old boy, Colton, who comes close to death (never pronounced clinically dead, as in most near death experiences ), Claims that he hung out with Jesus, God, John the Baptist, Gabriel, the Holy Ghost (I've always wondered about the holy ghost), his great grandpa, his dead sister, and Jesus's rainbow Oh Boy.I am reluctant to review this since I have friends who loved this book, and my mother recommended it. But this book bugged me so much I just have to have my say.This is a book about a three year old boy, Colton, who comes close to death (never pronounced clinically dead, as in most near death experiences ), Claims that he hung out with Jesus, God, John the Baptist, Gabriel, the Holy Ghost (I've always wondered about the holy ghost), his great grandpa, his dead sister, and Jesus's rainbow horse, and the ubiquitous men in white beards on giant thrones.I do not doubt for a second that this child experienced something, be it a near death experience or an illness spawned delusion, but I take issue with how his story comes about. I have an open mind about this kind of thing, but.....awe c'mon.So Colton gets really really sick, vomiting every 30 minutes. His parents eventually get him to a hospital where tests are administered. Even though the Burpos question whether it is appendicitis (they have a strong suspicion it is) the incompetent doctor informs them that all the tests are negative for appendicitis. Instead of ripping the child out of bed and heading to a different hospital immediately, they wait 3 or 5 days (can't remember which). By the time they get it in gear and get him to a new doctor the boy is very close to death. His appendix has ruptured and the poison circulated through him. He was dehydrated, and of course he hadn't eaten in days. Ripe for delusion I say.He was taken into emergency surgery, during which he has his NDE/out of body experience. Some compelling things do happen that a lines itself more with an out of body experience, he knows what his parents are doing in other rooms for instance. When Colton is in "Heaven" He sees dead relatives he had never met before. This is all I can buy.Whenever someone reports a NDE, they are usually consistent with that persons belief system. If you are a Christian your experience will follow what you were taught from the bible. If you were raised to believe (or not believe) in another manner, your experience will follow what you were taught. Did I mention Colton's father, the author Todd Burpo, is an evangelical preacher?Slowly Colton's story comes out, by means of a myriad of questions by his father (leading ones no doubt). Colton would mention stuff like what color cloths Jesus wore (purple if you wondered) and his dad's jaw would drop (this happened often) because no one had ever told Colton that Jesus wore purple. "How could he know this?" his dad wondered. I'll tell you how Todd, he heard you say it! You're a preacher, I'd gather the conversation is pretty bible heavy in your household. My question is how could he not know it? Three year old brains are super sponges...he heard this mentioned a some point and that's how he knew it Todd, no great mystery.As I was listening to this book I kept trying to keep an open mind, but where this book completely jumped the shark for me was during a part where Colton is with his dad and family at a funeral. Colton points at the casket with a stern and concerned look on his face and says "Did that man have Jesus in his heart daddy? He had to have Jesus in his heart or he won't go to Heaven!!" *insert drama sting here* and Todd's jaw dropped once again. During this I'm standing in Aldi looking at the cauliflower and said out loud AWE C'MON!! I got a few stares, so I dropped the cauliflower and said "spots".This book is written by a guy who really believes in his evangelicalism. He rummaged around in Colton's "memories" and got "answers" that he wanted to hear and then believes proves his evangelical Christianity. If you don't believe what he believes folks 'ya aint gettin' into heaven people...sorry.
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  • Aaron Carlberg
    January 1, 1970
    For a while now people have been asking me to read and comment on the book Heaven is for Real written by Todd Burpo. Todd Burpo writes the book as an account of the experiences of his four-year-old son, Colten. For some reason, because I am a pastor, people think I am going to love this book about a little boy who went to heaven, met Jesus, and then Jesus sent him back (like you put your unfinished cookies back in the oven).Well, here goes…and don't hate me for being honest. I did not like this For a while now people have been asking me to read and comment on the book Heaven is for Real written by Todd Burpo. Todd Burpo writes the book as an account of the experiences of his four-year-old son, Colten. For some reason, because I am a pastor, people think I am going to love this book about a little boy who went to heaven, met Jesus, and then Jesus sent him back (like you put your unfinished cookies back in the oven).Well, here goes…and don't hate me for being honest. I did not like this book what-so-ever. This book plays into our current climate of people going to spend (pick your amount of time) minutes/hours/seconds in (pick your place) heaven/hell/purgatory/Burger King in an effort to (pick your reason) grow your faith/make you feel good/make some money. It is not just the writing style of an adult trying to sound like a kid who sounds like an adult trying to sound like a kid, it is the poor theology that people are so willing to buy into. First, let me just say that Todd Burpo sounds like a Christian, I am not questioning his faith (for some reason people who have commented on this review think I question His salvation, but that is not my place). I simply want to say to so many Christians out there, please use more discernment in what you allow to shape your view of heaven and Jesus. We should be very careful when we start to build theology based solely on our experience (especially that of a 4 year old). As an example, scripture teaches that Jesus won our victory on the cross, he said our sins were paid for, Jesus actually used the words, "it is finished" in John 19:30. In Heaven is for Real we are told that Jesus still has to fight (pg136-139). My question is why? If Jesus is all-powerful what is the point of him handing out swords and bows and arrows? It seems much of the book is written to fit into a particular mindset and belief structure. Colten (the boy) will say something and the dad will interpret it with a verse that seems to make it all make sense…but it doesn't! When trying to describe Jesus, Colten is convinced that his style of dress is still from the 1st century and has never changed. He has brown hair, a beard, a white robe with a purple sash like a beauty pagent contestant(Jesus is the only one who gets to wear purple by the way), a crown, and red marks in the center of his palms (even though that is not where the nails would have gone) and on his feet (page 65-66.)This goes on and on…from people getting wings, to God and Jesus apparently sitting in their big chairs all day (except when Jesus is going up and down like an elevator)...oh, I almost forgot; all Angels also have to carry swords to keep Satan out of heaven (Page 133). I do not just want to blast the book, but this is the problem with what Christianity has become…according to the book the reason Jesus died on the cross was so that we could go to heaven.Question, is that why Jesus died? Modern Christianity makes salvation all about us, when salvation is about Jesus. Jesus died because we were so awful, our sin so great, that we destroyed everything. Jesus' death pays for our sin not so that we could go to heaven but so we could be a redeemed people living redeemed lives in Jesus' name. Jesus rose from the dead conquering our enemies of Satan, sin, and death. Jesus' death and resurrection are about life, bringing heaven to earth in how we, as God's people, live this life.Never once did Jesus, in the scriptures, talk about the goal being to get out of here and go somewhere else. The purpose of His coming was to restore relationship between God and us again by removing what stood in the way, namely our sin. As Christians we must get away from the idea that Jesus died so we could get out of this place and watch it burn. Jesus died AND ROSE; the heart that Jesus had for this world should burn in us with a passion and intensity to see the lost know Him.Heaven IS for real, but heaven is NOT the point. The point is Jesus…that is what we should remember.
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  • Kristen
    January 1, 1970
    Dear America,This is why people think we're stupid. Knock it off.Thanks,Kristen
  • Natasha
    January 1, 1970
    I am already on the 11th chapter -I am just get chills when I read this book. Last night, I spent time reading comments from Goodreads. I was shocked of all the one stars and negative comments. These are the topics that kept coming up. I just have to vent about it...1.)WHY DID THE PARENTS WAIT SO LONG? - That the parents waited to long to take him to the doctor.Well, they did take him to the doctor. The doctor told them no thing was wrong expect a stomach virus. This can reoccur plus when the si I am already on the 11th chapter -I am just get chills when I read this book. Last night, I spent time reading comments from Goodreads. I was shocked of all the one stars and negative comments. These are the topics that kept coming up. I just have to vent about it...1.)WHY DID THE PARENTS WAIT SO LONG? - That the parents waited to long to take him to the doctor.Well, they did take him to the doctor. The doctor told them no thing was wrong expect a stomach virus. This can reoccur plus when the sister got sick it just made sense. - Being a parent - I put ( or did ) trust into the doctors. I know how it is to feel helpless and not knowing what is 100% correct with a sick kid. I feel they did what they thought was right. It can be confusing when it comes to sick kids. 2.)THE BOY GREW UP WITH A DAD AS PASTOR - The boy knew what to say because his dad is a Pastor and he grew up with all the imagery and around Christians. The way it comes across to me is .. HE IS 3 YRS OLD at the time this happen. It was so branded in his mind - he still remembers till this day! and How can they explain how he saw his dad crying in the room and mom praying on the phone? I am sorry - if my 3/4 year old son told me this in such conviction - I would believe him 100%. I feel this boy is innocent - he did not make up stories just because he knows who Jesus is and Heaven. He went into detail about what Jesus was wearing and etc. in so much detail - that the dad could actually pull out Bible Scriptures relating to it.3.) PROPAGANDA Comments were left also about how the book was too preachy and how he makes it come across that the only way to Heaven is through knowing Jesus. Well- my opinion - there is nothing wrong with TOO PREACHY. This book was written, I believe, as a witness tool. This may have happened to this boy, so his dad could write a book. God wants everyone saved - I think the Pastors job is DONE if only ONE person gets saved. JUST ONE! As for the only way to Heaven - I am not going to get into debate about theology. But I will say this - this book goes by the Bible - and YES, the only way to Heaven is through the relationship of Jesus. Period. 4. MAKE BELIEVE I see some people just slamming this book without reading it. These "people" are leaving remarks about how we shouldn't believe there is a man sitting on the clouds. I know some people just like to spread their opinion but don't slam it just because it is about Heaven or Jesus or God. I am continuing to read this book - I should finish by the end of the week. I am so full of joy and I can't wait to go to HEAVEN. ---------UPDATEI just finished this book late last night -- All I can say is I can't wait to go to Heaven to meet Jesus.
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  • Amanda
    January 1, 1970
    So I'll preface this by saying the following:1.) I would have never read this of my own accord. I read it only for book club.2.) I was skeptical going in.3.) Though I'm a born-and-raised Catholic, I would classify myself as an agnostic, at best.4.) I'll also admit I skimmed huge chunks of this book. It was the only way I was going to get through it at all. It was worse than I expected. Things that Bothered Me (in no particular order):1.) The first half of the book is the father rambling about hi So I'll preface this by saying the following:1.) I would have never read this of my own accord. I read it only for book club.2.) I was skeptical going in.3.) Though I'm a born-and-raised Catholic, I would classify myself as an agnostic, at best.4.) I'll also admit I skimmed huge chunks of this book. It was the only way I was going to get through it at all. It was worse than I expected. Things that Bothered Me (in no particular order):1.) The first half of the book is the father rambling about his illnesses. Yes, I'm very sad the guy had kidney stones and breast cancer and [some other ailment I can't remember]...but I don't see what any of that has to do with the kid getting sick. 2.) If this was all so moving, why did they wait seven years before writing the book?3.) The kid is 11 now. Don't you think that's old enough that he could have wrote the book on his own? Or at least contributed a chapter in his own words?4.) Others have said this, but it bears repeating: isn't it convenient that this miracle happened to a pastor's kid? The dad keeps going on and on about how Colton just "couldn't have known" about so much of this religious stuff. Really? Kids are remarkably perceptive. I would find this all much more moving if it had happened to a kid who had never heard "the good word."5.) The parents only dragged the story out of the kid over the course of years. As a parent, this is extremely odd to me. If my kid started telling me one day he'd been to heaven, you better believe I'd be asking some questions, and right now, not five years later.Finally (and this verges on a rant), it kind of annoys me how many Christians are saying that this changed their life / moved them to be better parents / etc... I'm sorry...you have the Bible. The WORD OF GOD isn't enough for you? It takes a fairy tale as told by a three year old to convince you that maybe you should get your act together and start acting like a Christian?Fundamentally, I was just the wrong person to read this book. I am not its target audience. A belief in heaven presupposes a belief in God. Until you can sell me on that, there's not much this (poorly written, highly questionable) book is going to do for me.ETA (2/2012): I think it's pretty clear I think this particular book is crap. However, if you're interested in first-hand, post-death experiences, I'd suggest reading, "90 Minutes in Heaven". It's similar in its premise--a man dies, spends 90 minutes in heaven, comes back and tells his story--, BUT it's experienced by an adult and told by that same adult. (Unlike "Heaven", which is merely the dad's retelling of the kid's story.) I read it several years ago, but remember being much more impressed by it. I will offer the caveat that I was a much better Catholic/Christian at that time than I am now, so that likely colored my perception of the book. However, even accounting for that, "90 Minutes" is certainly the better written book.
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  • Tina
    January 1, 1970
    First of all, this is a book I would never in a million years pick up on my own. I read it b/c one of my students brought it to me and told me how much he loved it, and that he wanted to lend it to me so I could read it. So, yeah: I read this b/c I care about my students and the things that are important to them. But I am also an atheist, and so of course I couldn't read the book through any other lens than that.I honestly tried to balance being skeptical with having an open mind, but, as so man First of all, this is a book I would never in a million years pick up on my own. I read it b/c one of my students brought it to me and told me how much he loved it, and that he wanted to lend it to me so I could read it. So, yeah: I read this b/c I care about my students and the things that are important to them. But I am also an atheist, and so of course I couldn't read the book through any other lens than that.I honestly tried to balance being skeptical with having an open mind, but, as so many others have pointed out, there's just too many big flaws, such as: He's the son of a preacher and so OF COURSE would/could know all this stuff that his father seems baffled by him knowing, young kids are imaginative and he doubtless started to learn that he got lots of positive attention whenever he'd talk about Heaven, the memories were revealed over several years and I find it hard to believe that the parents asked NO leading questions (and even if they somehow managed not to, we're back to issue one and the fact that he is growing up in a religious environment and is not completely ignorant of scripture), etc. See the various other one and two star reviews for a more comprehensive discussion.More than anything, this book disturbed me. I'm not trying to be dramatic or sarcastic here, but the levels of indoctrination going on are unsettling. When a four year old kid starts freaking out at funerals about people who didn't "know" Jesus not going to heaven...that's alarming to me. And I grew up Catholic, so it's not like Christianity is scary b/c it's foreign. I guess what's scary is how closed off some religious people are to other religions and myths. I don't know.To summarize: I don't believe this and I didn't like it (the casual sexism sprinkled in didn't help, you know), but I'm certainly glad the kid didn't die. (The incompetent doctor is another scary thing, too.)EDITED TO ADD: Annnnnd a book on psychology that I'm currently reading just reminded me that when it comes to memory, kids under the age of 5 often can't distinguish things that actually happened to them vs. things they were told. Not that I think my skepticism needed even more justification, but, there it is.
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  • Miranda Reads
    January 1, 1970
    As a true memoir - astounding. As a novel - an okay read. As an audiobook - kill it with fireThere's two ways to go about this review. Either 1) discuss the theological impact and connotations or 2) discuss the quality of the novel.I will be going about route 2 - therefore I won't be getting into the whole did-it-really-happen sort of or how-this-affected-my-personal-beliefs. (Note: As a rule, I don't like it when such events are capitalized to this extent (books, movies, merch, etc) - it just r As a true memoir - astounding. As a novel - an okay read. As an audiobook - kill it with fireThere's two ways to go about this review. Either 1) discuss the theological impact and connotations or 2) discuss the quality of the novel.I will be going about route 2 - therefore I won't be getting into the whole did-it-really-happen sort of or how-this-affected-my-personal-beliefs. (Note: As a rule, I don't like it when such events are capitalized to this extent (books, movies, merch, etc) - it just rubs me the wrong way.)Therefore, I am judging the book solely as I would a story. Please keep that in mind when reading my critiques.Most notably, the plot was just a pile of meh. It wasn't terrible, but it also didn't stand out. I read this book a few years ago but remembered next to nothing. I have a feeling in another few months, I will forget it again.Three-year-old Colton Burpo undergoes surgery for a 5-day-old ruptured appendix. Months after a rather risky surgery, Colton starts saying some very unique things (ranging from rainbow ponies to crying about a miscarried sister he never met).To summarize the entire book: Colton says something amazing, his father marvels, his father finds references in the bible, marvels again and they move on. That was literally it.His father (a preacher) maintains that most of Colton's revelations came to the family unprovoked and over the course of several years. The fact that most of these moments come months, if not years, after the initial surgery, really makes me wonder how much the kid actually remembered vs how much he thinks he remembered years later.When you're a kid, your memory is fluid. You can't remember if you don't like broccoli but your parents say you did last time so you try eating it again (and are disappointed again). You can't tell the imaginary from the real world until you are around 5(ish) (according to a cursory google). Yet, plot hinges on the kid remembering a long, complicated series of events from when he was three. Frustratingly convenient.His father also firmly maintained that most of the things Colton said are things that he had no way of knowing.Judging this as a novel...I have to say that most of these crazy-amazing-things Colton said seemed like they could've been overheard - if not from his parents then from others in the parish. Is it really so unexpected that some well-meaning parishioner didn't describe what heaven was like to the pastor's son? Or that Colton may have overheard two old ladies gossiping about his mother's miscarriage? Kids are perceptive - they listen more than you think. And while his father constantly maintains that the kid could not have known x, y, and z religious concepts. I kept wanting to say, really? The Pastor's son isn't going to parrot back more than the average kid about religion?Then there was the sheer amount of precociousness stuffed into the child. Young Colton was like all six of Anne (Of Green Gables)'s children rolled into one.Everything the child did was adorably religious - from feeling bad about fighting (Jesus wouldn't like that) to his scream-cry fit at a funeral (Colton needed to know whether the dead man had Jesus in his heart). I just couldn't get into the style of writing and the way the characters were portrayed. All I can say is thank goodness they had the based-on-a-true-story angle otherwise this book would've tanked. The 2018 PopSugar Reading Challenge - a best seller from the year you graduated high schoolAudiobook CommentsDO NOT LISTEN TO THE AUDIOBOOK.I cannot emphasize this enough. I have listened to many, many audiobooks but this one grated my nerves the most. I knocked off an extra star because listening to it ruined the experience.The narrator (Dean Gallagher) did an okay job narrating from the dad's perspective - his voice had decent tone and inflection.All hell broke loose when the narrator attempted Colton's voice. Every time 3-year-old Colton "spoke," I cringed. Like physically cringed. There is something so, so wrong about a grown man was mimicking the voice of a three-year-old. His voice went high, breathy and had the grating-on-your nerves whine to it - especially when he said Mommy and Daddy. And Colton says Mommy and Daddy a lot. Like a lot, a lot. To the point where every time the narrator wailed "Mommmmeeeee" I wanted to turn off the audiobook. After all the hundreds of thousands this family made from this book (and related paraphernalia), they seriously couldn't spring for a child actor? Or someone other than a old man to represent their child? It was maddeningBlog | Instagram | Twitter
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  • Laurie
    January 1, 1970
    My best friend in the world is battling stage 4 cancer. She wanted me to read it so of course I did. After finishing it I just can't review this book. Who am I to know if this Colton experienced "heaven" or not? I am no one to judge how well a miracle is written. It will forever be a mystery of faith. I'm rating this 5 stars for the comfort it gave my best friend. There must be something to it if it put a smile on her face while she's dealing with this huge battle. She's not on goodreads but thi My best friend in the world is battling stage 4 cancer. She wanted me to read it so of course I did. After finishing it I just can't review this book. Who am I to know if this Colton experienced "heaven" or not? I am no one to judge how well a miracle is written. It will forever be a mystery of faith. I'm rating this 5 stars for the comfort it gave my best friend. There must be something to it if it put a smile on her face while she's dealing with this huge battle. She's not on goodreads but this is for Shannon. UPDATE: Bad news. :( My best friend passed away from the cancer 10/21/13. Now I intend to buy this book in her memory. There aren't words enough to describe the love I have in my heart for her. I will miss you, Shannon...forever. xoxoxo
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  • Dawn
    January 1, 1970
    I'm not sure how I feel about this book. When I lost my son last year, I got a lot of the "he's in heaven now, and you'll be with him again some day" comments. And I wanted to believe, I really did.. But I've always had a problem with faith. It would be so much easier for me to accept losing him, if I could truly have faith in him being safe and happy in a better place. But it's a hard thing to believe... Try though I might.Several people in a Compassionate Friends support meeting recommended th I'm not sure how I feel about this book. When I lost my son last year, I got a lot of the "he's in heaven now, and you'll be with him again some day" comments. And I wanted to believe, I really did.. But I've always had a problem with faith. It would be so much easier for me to accept losing him, if I could truly have faith in him being safe and happy in a better place. But it's a hard thing to believe... Try though I might.Several people in a Compassionate Friends support meeting recommended this book to me, and said it might help me find some faith.. Might make it a little easier for me really believe that my son is in a better place. So I read it.. And I'm not sure what I feel.First of all, I'm not quite sure that this is a book that a parent who lost a young child should read. It tells the story of a family that almost loses a young child, and that alone triggered a lot of emotions. Longing for my son.. Sadness at his loss.. And jealousy. Because this family almost lost a son, while I did lose my son. There's a line near the end, that really upset me...Speaking of Colton’s experience in heaven, people have said to us, “Your family is so blessed!” In the sense that we’ve had a glimpse through the veil that separates earth from eternity, they’re right. But I also think, Blessed? We watched our son almost die.I read this and I think... Yes, you are blessed. You watched your son almost die. But you have him with you now, he's growing up and is healthy and happy. You are blessed beyond belief.While it did give me a lot to ponder.. It also did wonders for the guilt I feel because of my loss and the circumstances surrounding it. And I mean that in a not so good way.. It goes on and on about how they prayed and prayed, and God granted them their wish, God let them keep their son. I didn't pray, because I had no faith, I didn't believe, or at the least I didn't care. I saw no need to, I didn't know he could be taken from me. Is my son gone because of my lack of prayer? Because of my lack of belief? Because I didn't appreciate his mortality? If I had prayed the right prayer, could I have saved him? Was I not a good enough person to save him? I know these questions are silly in a way. Scratch that, I know they are silly in every way. But reading this story brought the questions repeatedly into my mind, it wasn't something I could help. And the questions, of course, don't stop there.. Beyond those questions, were the questions that those questions inevitably led to. If the answer to those questions is yes... And it's my fault because I lacked faith.. The question isn't "Why me?" it's "Why my son?" Why did he have to be punished for my wrongs and for my lack of faith? But like I said... These sort of thoughts aren't new to me. These are questions I deal with every day, and eventually hope to work through. Reading this story just amplified them for a short period of time.For that reason, I definitely wouldn't recommend this book to anyone who has lost a young child and is still dealing with the grief and guilt associated with that loss. Beyond that.. I need time to think about this story, to process it, discuss it, research it. I want to believe.. I want to make the right choices so I can be with my son again one day, if that's a possibility. But to make the right choices, and to believe.. I have to do it right. I have to find real faith, not conditional faith (faith based on the condition that I'll get to be with my son). It's not something that can happen over night.. But I hope one day to find peace. With that, I'll end this review. It's been a revealing one, and I'm hesitant to post it. But... It's a part of who I am now. I have to embrace it or hide it.. And I won't hide Lucas.
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  • Jacob J.
    January 1, 1970
    Update 4/14/2014 (initial review remains unchanged)Now seems like as good a time as any for an update on this relevance-clutching intelligence insulter, seeing as how the cinematic adaptation (with all the cliches and sentimentality of a Lifetime movie and all the subtlety and critical rigor of Ken Ham) is hitting theaters on that pagan holiday on which Christians celebrate a brutal execution and subsequent messianic zombification. The film--starring Greg Kinnear and (disappointingly) Thomas Hay Update 4/14/2014 (initial review remains unchanged)Now seems like as good a time as any for an update on this relevance-clutching intelligence insulter, seeing as how the cinematic adaptation (with all the cliches and sentimentality of a Lifetime movie and all the subtlety and critical rigor of Ken Ham) is hitting theaters on that pagan holiday on which Christians celebrate a brutal execution and subsequent messianic zombification. The film--starring Greg Kinnear and (disappointingly) Thomas Hayden Church--will, I suspect, take some narrative liberties as pertains to the source material and try to make it more palatable to general (i.e. non-Christian) audiences. This is evidenced by the casting, which is in turn evidence that some powerful casting agents were behind it. But, oh well, they're just faces for hire, and they'll class up the preposterous endeavor a little bit. The real reason I'm issuing this addendum (aside from shamelessly trying to accumulate a few more votes [ahem]) is that, if you read my original review, I took similar sneering jabs at two components of the inevitable commercial implications of this book. The first was that a version of the book for kids was published. Since then, we have had a version for infants, a conversation guide, a devotional, and a DVD-based conversation kit. This is all for that one kid's little story. The second point I made was about a book that rode on its coattails called The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven . Of course, that was only the beginning. An entire genre of exploiting children and hallucinatory speculation flooded the shelves, testing the credulity of the American public, and succeeding wildly. The publishers have made a killing on their rube-based buying demographic. Among these dime-a-dozen accounts are Waking Up in Heaven, Proof of Heaven, When Will the Heaven Begin?, To Heaven and Back, My Journey to Heaven, Flight to Heaven (published earlier, but seized upon after the success of the example under discussion), and I predict many, many more before this nonsense fizzles out like Hal Lindsey and Billy Graham before them, heaven forbid. This anecdotal stupidity has created a marketing monster, and it's about time that it is slain. Reject this movie. Reject this book. Reject anything that strains credulity past its breaking point and demands that you abandon centuries of mounting scientific evidence regarding our world and our critical inquiry. The Burpos and their profiteers are now veritable snake-oil salespeople schilling an invisible product with a net benefit to the consumer of absolutely zero (at least in this life). Demand more respect for your cognitive faculties. -------------------------------------Reviewing this book from my standpoint will probably be as functionally useful as explaining to my devout, border-line senile great-aunt Edna why I abandoned the family tradition of Norwegian Lutheranism for methodological naturalism/ critical inquiry, proceeding to suggest such an outlook to her in her twilight years, and perhaps just as surreal. Even reading it seemed rather evil-twin-like of me.If I ever mention that I read this book to some bottom-feeding bookstore lady who would gasp and go into a tizzy about how she cried and cried and now just can’t wait to go to heaven and sit in Jesus’ lap like little baby Burpo, I may go the intellectually rapacious route and destroy her just as she thought she found a kindred spirit; using such deliberately incendiary terms as brain rape, wish-thinking porn, and credulity stroking, or I may just smile, and in a most covert fashion, spit out a sardonic ’see you there’. The scenario is all too possible, because it's selling better than most science books.This book is for the minds of those who are capable of taking it seriously. Even going from Mitch Albom, or Rhonda Byrne to this, one might notice a spike in eye-rolling and scoffing and ‘you-have-got-to-be-kidding-me'. Several years of prodding parents and all we get from the kid is ‘Jesus has pretty eyes’, ‘I saw mommy and daddy praying for me at the hospital while I was being operated on’, ‘I saw grampa in heaven, but he wasn’t wearing his glasses’, ‘mommy, I had a sister but she died in your belly; she’s in heaven too’, and Heaven’s lighting system is different from what we’re used to (probably not fluorescent; that’d be hellish), or something like that. That last one might actually be from Mitch Albom or Don Piper; all this middle-America, low-brow nonsense tends to coagulate into one heaping pile. I have to wonder if these people know that their books aren’t impervious to the secular world. Those who don’t forego their critical faculties are going to get their hands on this. I would honestly love to meet a skeptic who had a change-of-mind (or heart?) after reading the Burpos' tale. But then again, the family has made a pretty penny, so they probably don't much care. Oh, and in case you feel they need further support, or if you think you might need further inspiration (or if your kids do), you can get your hands on this.Face Value:Assuming Mr. Burpo is telling the brimming, scrupulous truth to the best of his abilities (of which there is reason to doubt), those abilities seem to be lacking. He was utterly astonished at everything his son said regarding heaven. Every description corresponded rather well with the white-jumpsuit-with-wings-on-an-endless-expanse-of-giant-inflatable-fun-bounce-clouds-whilst-singing sort of cliché that we were forced to imagine in Sunday school. Or was it more like the garden of Eden, with a landscape that only the most austere of ethereal suburbanites could maintain? With the knowledge that his son Colton was never pronounced clinically dead (he wouldn't have gotten away with suggesting that), he never treats this toddler's testimony with a smidgen of skepticism or scrutiny. Isn’t Mr. Burpo familiar with the adage/ 90’s television series kids say the darndest things? But perhaps the Bible is right when it declares "...unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven". Hey, what a great tagline for the book! (I wonder if it ever comes up in the contents...) However, I do not recall an affirmation of heaven being "like a mustard seed".Literary Quality:N/A viz. there is none to speak of. (Are we sure the kid himself didn’t write it?)Am I still talking about this?This book was so stupid I nearly fell off my chair/veered off into a ditch/ spit out my coffee/ wrecked my segway/ whatever else Mr. Burpo claimed he nearly succumbed to each time his son said something that his young mind ‘couldn’t possibly have known’, or about what heaven was like, in attempts to convey bewilderment and profundity, which were definitely not mundane hyperbole… But Hey:If for some ungodly reason this didn’t convince you that heaven is for real, perhaps this one will (conveniently published not long after Mr. Burpo’s tale): If none of this curtails your doubt; if indeed you are incredulous about a preacher's relaying of a child's ongoing testimony, well, there may just be no saving you. Perhaps we should all pray for a near-death experience ourselves.
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  • Deborah Markus
    January 1, 1970
    True story #1: My husband’s former boss once told him she has evidence for a past life: she spoke Welsh (a language she is completely unfamiliar with) in her sleep.My husband asked the obvious question: “How do you know you spoke Welsh in your sleep?”She had a friend spending the night, and the friend heard her talking in her sleep, “and she said I was speaking Welsh.”“Does she speak Welsh?”“Well, no. But she said it sounded like Welsh.”Every time I hear someone say, “This is how I know such-and True story #1: My husband’s former boss once told him she has evidence for a past life: she spoke Welsh (a language she is completely unfamiliar with) in her sleep.My husband asked the obvious question: “How do you know you spoke Welsh in your sleep?”She had a friend spending the night, and the friend heard her talking in her sleep, “and she said I was speaking Welsh.”“Does she speak Welsh?”“Well, no. But she said it sounded like Welsh.”Every time I hear someone say, “This is how I know such-and-such is true,” I think about this story. I think about the people who wouldn’t bother to ask any questions after hearing this woman announce that she spoke Welsh in her sleep. I think about the fact that my husband’s questions didn’t change her mind one bit about what she believes.I think about the fact that she’s deciding how the universe works based on one incredibly flimsy anecdote. I think about how she might react if I suggested that what had really happened was, the government has been messing around with telepathic language education programs, and her head accidentally got in the path of one of their experiments.She’d tell me I was being ridiculous, I’m sure. Why?Why is that idea any odder than the concept of an invisible, intangible spirit that flits from body to body and retains memories of some of its voyages?“Memory” is too strong a word for something she has no recollection of, of course. But the idea that she’s a very specific sort of immortal being – one who collects rare languages along the way! – is apparently preferable to the idea that, as Charlotte says in Charlotte’s Web, “We’re born, we live a little while, we die.”There’s plenty of evidence for that, but nobody likes to look at it. True story #2: When I was in second grade, I heard someone say something about skipping a grade in school. I’d never heard of this concept, and I was curious. This was decades before the Internet, so when I got home, I asked my mother, “How do people skip grades?”My mother didn’t reply in a matching matter-of-fact tone, “Oh, there’s a testing process.” To which I would have replied, “Oh,” and said no more about it. Because I wasn’t interested in skipping a grade myself. I just wanted to know what it was, the same way I wanted to know how caterpillars turned into butterflies and why reptiles were called “cold-blooded.”Instead, my mother’s eyes lit up with fondness, hope, and pride. “Do you want to skip a grade?” she asked warmly.I was one of four kids at the time. (More would come later.) My mother was a very troubled individual, and no one had ever taught her much about parenting or patience. The only time I got positive attention from her was when I successfully fulfilled my designation as “the smart one.”I could respond (truthfully), “Not really – I was just wondering,” and watch the glow vanish from her face. Or I could nod speechlessly and feel like a fraud for (let me check my watch) the rest of my life.I don’t blame her much for asking, since I can see how it might sound as if I were hinting in that direction; but I can’t much blame myself either for not having the moral fiber to answer honestly. I just couldn’t stand the thought of watching her eager expression go blank and disappointed.So I took the tests and got promoted a grade and listened to my parents bragging about their super-smart kid and felt a mishmash of emotions I can’t begin to break down even now. I thought of this story all through reading HifR. I thought about how my mother probably thinks she was being a supportive parent when her daughter came home begging to skip a grade. True story #3: My father spent a lot of my childhood unemployed, and we were broke as often as not. We never went on vacation, or even on day-trips. Nevertheless, my parents were able to come up with the money to enroll us all in a three-day seminar sure to change our lives by teaching us the Silva Mind Control method. This was presented as a matter-of-fact miracle factory. My sisters and I were told stories of children who performed all sorts of wonders, even curing faraway strangers suffering from fatal diseases – just by using their Silva-taught mental powers! The children’s classes we took barely touched on this sort of life-saving work, though. Instead, we were encouraged to focus on something showier and easier to check: bending cutlery just by thinking about it.Give a classroom full of children a spoon apiece and tell them how impressed you’ll be by anyone who can bend that thing like it had melted in their hot little hands. Emphasize this point frequently. Give the kids several hours to “perform.” Don’t pressure them by watching them too closely, and (of course!) allow them to handle the spoons as much as they like. Make sure you only have one or two grownups riding herd on 30 kids. Have those grownups step outside frequently for coffee breaks. Oh, and if you see one of the kids vigorously pushing and pulling on the neck of the spoon – bending it using brute force rather then mind-powers – assure the other children that this is known in the business as “loosening it up.”What will you get?You’ll get 28 kids with silverware bent every which way, and two dejected, bewildered children clutching spoons stubbornly set in their original spoony curves. These two will wonder where they went wrong as they watch the other kids eating up praise from the proud grownups.You might want to keep this story in mind as you read HifR. (P.S. Yes, I was one of the two. My older sister was the other. After spending several years of childhood feeling like a loser, I’m very proud of both of us.)True story #4: Carol Tavris relates a startling story from her own life in Mistakes Were Made (but not by me): Why We Justify Foolish Beliefs, Bad Decisions, and Hurtful Acts, the terrific book she co-authored with Elliot Aronson. Tavris’ favorite children’s book was James Thurber’s The Wonderful O, which she remembers her father giving her as a child:“A band of pirates takes over an island and forbids the locals to speak any word or use any object containing the letter O. I have a vivid memory of my father reading The Wonderful O and our laughing together at the thought of shy Ophelia Oliver saying her name without its O’s. I remember trying valiantly, along with the invaded islanders, to guess the fourth O word that must never be lost (after love, hope, and valor), and my father’s teasing guesses: Oregon? Orangutan? Ophthalmologist?”Isn’t that sweet? Many of us cherish similar fond memories from childhood.Oh, wait. I forgot the important part:“And then, not long ago, I found my first edition of The Wonderful O. It had been published in 1957, one year after my father’s death.”Yup.“I stared at that date in disbelief and shock. Obviously, someone else gave me that book, someone else read it to me, someone else laughed with me about Phelia Liver, someone else wanted me to understand that the fourth O was freedom. Someone lost to my recollection.”Many of us have read the many books, articles, and blog posts available on how human memory really works, and how reliable it isn’t. I’d guess that most of us shake our heads and murmur to ourselves, “Wow. It’s amazing how flawed everybody else’s memory is.”Stories like Carol Tavris’ make it a little harder to hold on to that comfortable sense of superiority. True Story #5: My teenage son is homeschooled, so he only knows things I taught him.Just kidding. He knows more about how my car works than I do, though I’m the one who knows how to drive it. He knows about TV shows I’ve never watched or even heard of, and we never have the TV on unless we’re all watching a movie together. He has taught himself all manner of things about electronic music production. And don’t get me started on Lego engineering. (Yes, that’s a thing.)Stick with me. We’re almost there.True Story #6, and I swear this is the last one plus it’s short: When I was six or seven, my lung collapsed. I’d always suffered from asthma, but this was worse than anything I’d ever experienced. All morning I’d been wheezing around the house, desperately hoping for some sort of improvement. Finally, I told my mother something along the lines of, “This is bad. This is different.” She rushed me to the hospital. On this short drive, a big part of my mind was occupied with the possibility that this could be The End for our young heroine. The rest was wondering how grownups always knew how to get to important places like hospitals. (Several decades later, as I consistently get lost even with the help of GPS and online map services, I’m still impressed by the driving feats my parents’ generation managed using, apparently, nothing but a compass and the stars.)Lots of true stories (in no particular order). Here’s where they come in.Heaven is for Real is a book whose author, Todd Burpo, spends what feels like half the story saying, “There’s no way my son could have known that.” Usually, “that” is something religious – specifically Protestant Christian. Colton, the child in question, is the son of a very engaged and active pastor. He lives in a town Burpo describes as having “more churches than banks.” Colton goes to Sunday school, and is regularly read Bible storybooks at home. But somehow, there’s “no way” he could have known that angels have halos. He absolutely, positively never heard about halos in church or Sunday school, and there’s no way he ever saw anything about halos in a picture book. See page 74 of the paperback edition if you think I’m exaggerating how vigorously the author denies the possibility that his kid could know anything about what most of us consider to be one of the two defining characteristics of angels (the other being wings, of course).Nearly four-year-old Colton spends five days in the hospital with an undiagnosed ruptured appendix. He’s violently ill pretty much nonstop.After the doctors finally figure out what the heck is wrong and remove what’s left of his appendix, Colton looks his Dad in the eye and says, “Daddy, you know I almost died.”Well, duh.I mean, no way:“Fear gripped me. Where did he hear that? Had he overheard the medical staff talking? Had he heard something the surgical team said, despite the anesthesia? Because we certainly hadn’t said anything about his being close to death. Sonja and I had feared he was at the brink, had known it after we learned his appendix had been leaking poison into his system for five days. But we’d been very careful not to say anything in front of Colton that would scare him.”Which I believe. What I can’t believe is that any parent is thick enough to think his dangerously afflicted kid won’t figure out that maybe, just maybe, he’s a goner. That was the first place I went in my head when my lung collapsed. I wasn’t much older than Colton, I wasn’t nearly as ill, and nobody had mentioned death or dying around me, either. Funnily enough, I figured it out from landing in the hospital after I could barely get enough air to tell my mom I needed help.Remember the story about the woman who “spoke Welsh” in her sleep? Burpo has a similar story about grabbing the phone and calling his wife with the news that “[Colton] told me he met John the Baptist!”Well, yeah. Technically. After a lot of questions from his dad, including his dad telling Colton John the Baptist’s name. Burpo insists all through the book that Colton offered information about Heaven all on his own – and, okay, sometimes after lots of questions from his curious parents. I can’t tell you how many times I stopped reading and thought (or said aloud, if my husband was there), “Objection, your honor. Counsel is leading the witness.”Quite aside from that: Given how much time went by between Colton’s visit to Heaven and Todd Burpo deciding to write a book about it, I can’t have much confidence in the conversations he relates from memory. Yes, those memories would be very vivid, since they relate to his faith and his son, two things Burpo cares deeply about. Carol Tavris has vivid memories about her much-loved father. Those memories turned out to be how trustworthy, exactly?Burpo insists that Colton described things on Heaven and Earth that there’s just no way he could have known about. Burpo doesn’t seem to mind, in one recorded instance, when Colton gets things wrong:“You said you went to heaven. People have to die to go to heaven.”“Well, okay then, I died. But just for a little bit.”Except that Burpo has the postop report from Colton’s surgery. Colton never stopped breathing. His heart never stopped beating. He didn’t die on the operating table.After a startled moment, Burpo remembers sections of the Bible “about people who had seen heaven without dying.” Which is fine, so far as it goes on the theological front. But Burpo doesn’t seem to notice, amidst all the “There’s no way he could have known that!” anecdotes, that Colton was nudged by his father’s questions into saying something completely factually incorrect. And Colton is getting plenty of incentive to keep telling stories. I’m not saying he was lying. I’m saying kids go where we push them. Burpo was calling people on the phone and inviting them over to hear the things his kid had to say about Heaven. Later, his own church was packed with people who came to hear the story he’d promised to tell about this amazing child. (And the actual kid was there for the sermon! Bonus!)I’ve had plenty of experience with what happens to kids who want to live up to grownup expectations. My mother would swear to this day I asked her to let me skip second grade. The other kids in the Silva class performed “magic” after being told that applying any kind of pressure they wanted to their spoons was fine – as long as the result was something that would look cool in a photo for their newsletter. (And I’m willing to bet those kids “remember” using nothing more than the force of their mental powers on that hapless cutlery.)To conclude (finally): I do not recommend this book unless you already agree with its premise. If you’re a critical thinker, it will drive you nuts. Also, it’s not particularly well written. (At one point, Burpo describes the kids in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe as having been “deported from London” when they paid their visit to the house with the magic door. I do not think that word means what you think it means.) It’s very short, and I still had a hard time finishing it. If you liked this book and it made you happy: good! The world needs more happy. I’m not going to throw trash all over your review. Please don’t trash mine. Thank you.
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  • Natalie Vellacott
    January 1, 1970
    I skim-read this some time ago and just glanced over it again to remind myself of some of the details. I cannot believe this book continues to sell millions of copies or that there has been a sequel and now a movie! The book itself is poorly written and tells the story of all of the mundane details and events leading up to and after Colton's hospital admission. They would have done better to have written a blog post containing the interesting details than trying to make the word count sufficient I skim-read this some time ago and just glanced over it again to remind myself of some of the details. I cannot believe this book continues to sell millions of copies or that there has been a sequel and now a movie! The book itself is poorly written and tells the story of all of the mundane details and events leading up to and after Colton's hospital admission. They would have done better to have written a blog post containing the interesting details than trying to make the word count sufficient for a book.The crazy stories about trips to heaven and back....and even to hell to be given a personal tour by Jesus are ludicrous and I'm shocked that people even give them the time of day. I can only imagine what non-believers have to say about it all....My views are represented herehttp://christianmissionaryuk.blogspot...For those who don't know who I am and wonder why they should listen to my opinion.. here are some articles by more prominent theologians/reviewers. The graphic from Challies is great...Tim Challies--http://www.challies.com/articles/the-...John Piper--https://soundcloud.com/askpastorjohn/...John MacArthur--http://www.gty.org/blog/B140428/heave...John MacArthur--http://www.gty.org/Resources/Print/Bl...I recommend Visits to Heaven and Back: Are They Real? by Mark Hitchcock on this subjectPlease stop buying these heavenly tourism books.....
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  • Nandakishore Varma
    January 1, 1970
    I know, I know, don't raise your eyebrows... I felt I just had to read this book. I felt it could not possibly be as ridiculous as it seemed from many reviews.Well...“Colton, you said that angels sang to you while you were at the hospital?”He nodded his head vigorously.“What did they sing to you?”Colton turned his eyes up and to the right, the attitude of remembering. “Well, they sang ‘Jesus Loves Me’ and ‘Joshua Fought the Battle of Jericho,’” he said earnestly. “I asked them to sing ‘We Will, I know, I know, don't raise your eyebrows... I felt I just had to read this book. I felt it could not possibly be as ridiculous as it seemed from many reviews.Well...“Colton, you said that angels sang to you while you were at the hospital?”He nodded his head vigorously.“What did they sing to you?”Colton turned his eyes up and to the right, the attitude of remembering. “Well, they sang ‘Jesus Loves Me’ and ‘Joshua Fought the Battle of Jericho,’” he said earnestly. “I asked them to sing ‘We Will, We Will Rock You,’ but they wouldn’t sing that.”----------------------------------But all I could think to ask was: “So what did the kids look like? What do people look like in heaven?”“Everybody’s got wings,” Colton said.Wings, huh?“Did you have wings?” I asked.“Yeah, but mine weren’t very big.” He looked a little glum when he said this.“Okay . . . did you walk places or did you fly?”“We flew. Well, all except for Jesus. He was the only one in heaven who didn’t have wings. Jesus just went up and down like an elevator.”----------------------------------“Everyone kind of looks like angels in heaven, Dad.”“What do you mean?”“All the people have a light above their head.”----------------------------------I also learnt other things such as:1. The Burpos' first child, which was lost in a miscarriage, is alive in heaven. It is a little girl with dark hair. How the foetus grew up to this level and then stopped is unexplained, however. 2. Similarly, Burpo's grandfather who died in his sixties has been brought back to his late twenties. Don't ask why: God works in mysterious ways. 3. Jesus shoots down his power to Pastor Todd Burpo, Colton's father, when he preaches. Presumably he does this for all priests - which should keep him busy round the clock.4. God loves everybody - you can't believe how much. But then, how do such things as the recent Nepal earthquake happen?There should be many more - but at this point I stopped reading.***And oh, one more thing - Colton learned all this and more in three minutes of temporal time. But then maybe, time dilates up there. I'm sure it has got something to do with relativity.
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  • Lori
    January 1, 1970
    Why did I read this book? I don't know. I saw the family on the Today Show, and they seemed honest and earnest and pretty normal. When something extraordinary happens to regular people, I tend to be more open to believe it. So if this little boy was claiming he visited heaven, I was curious to see what he had to say about it. In short, the Burpo family's 4 year-old son Colton suffers from a burst appendix and nearly dies on the operating table. I won't go into discussing why the family waited wh Why did I read this book? I don't know. I saw the family on the Today Show, and they seemed honest and earnest and pretty normal. When something extraordinary happens to regular people, I tend to be more open to believe it. So if this little boy was claiming he visited heaven, I was curious to see what he had to say about it. In short, the Burpo family's 4 year-old son Colton suffers from a burst appendix and nearly dies on the operating table. I won't go into discussing why the family waited what seemed far too long to go to a hospital, nor will I debate the obvious ineptness encountered at the small-town local hospital who misdiagnosed Colton 's condition and nearly killed him. When Colton finally receives medical care from professionals who seem to have done more than play "Operation" and watch "ER," he has a near-death experience on the operating table, sees his parents as he floats up and out of his body (in separate rooms, his pastor father praying, his mother on her cell phone--which he couldn't have known and they claim to be true) and visits heaven. This is where things started to go horribly wrong for me. Colton's version of heaven is pretty much what I would expect from a 4 year old with a pastor for a dad-- everyone in heaven is wearing white robes (with colored sashes), the angels have wings, the colors are bright, everyone is nice, Jesus still has the wounds from his crucifixion ("markers" Colton called it), there are lots of children and animals and the gates to heaven are made up of gold and pearls. But Colton's dad, the Pastor Todd Burpo, claims at every turn these descriptions must be true because Colton wouldn't have known that! How could he describe these things when he's never been exposed to them? A four-year old wouldn't have known those things! Really? You expect me to believe that a four-year-old with a pastor for a dad, who spends a lot of time in a church, and whose mother is the Sunday school teacher was never exposed to images of angels, people in white robes, the "pearly gates" or a depiction of the Crucifixion? Strike one.The Burpos played it cool on the Today Show. No talk of the consequences of not accepting Jesus as your personal savior. Shrewd marketing move. So the constant proselytizing throughout the book was somewhat of a surprise to me. I guess I'm just a naive quasi-Jew/wavering-agnostic-atheist. The book is rife with beating the drum about accepting Jesus into your heart or you won't get into heaven. Colton returns from his trip to heaven bursting with this information, to the point that he almost disrupts someone's funeral service by loudly demanding to know if the deceased had accepted Christ into his heart. I find this behavior in a little kid to be horrifying. It reeks of brainwashing and intolerance. Colton's version of heaven didn't allow for any other religions? No Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus-- nevermind the ancient Greeks, Romans, Egyptians and so on? I guess heaven didn't exist before the time of Christ? Or maybe Dante is right and all us heathen unbaptized are hanging out on a lower ring of limbo/hell together, either because we had the misfortune of being born before the time of Christ, or being too foolish to accept the Truth? Strike two.The Burpos extracted the information from Colton over several years before they decided to start keeping notes. Colton said he met his sister, who his parents confirmed was miscarried at 2 months(obviously, they didn't know it was a sister at the time). This was intriguing, as I do believe Colton had no idea his mom had had a miscarriage. But he also claims to have met lots of children in heaven-- but neither Todd nor his wife thought it would be interesting to write down any of these children's names just to see? Am I just too skeptical? If someone told you they went to heaven and met so-and-so, wouldn't you want to look that person up? To verify? I guess this is where the concept of "faith" and the concept of "logic" start to war it out in my mind. In any case, strike three.I wanted to like this book. I wanted to have an open mind and try to see the value in other points of view and maybe gain an understanding into faith and perhaps some validity in the supernatural. But I just couldn't. I guess I'll see you in Hell.
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  • Carol
    January 1, 1970
    This book was a very quick read, due to the fact that I didn't want to stop reading it. Todd Burpo did an excellent job in describing the events that led to his son's discovery of Heaven. If you have children, you can appreciate his depiction of the events and mannerisms of his children. If you have lost a child, you can appreciate the pain that Todd, and especially his wife reflect upon, and the sheer joy that they experience when they are delivered a simple, yet powerful message from their son This book was a very quick read, due to the fact that I didn't want to stop reading it. Todd Burpo did an excellent job in describing the events that led to his son's discovery of Heaven. If you have children, you can appreciate his depiction of the events and mannerisms of his children. If you have lost a child, you can appreciate the pain that Todd, and especially his wife reflect upon, and the sheer joy that they experience when they are delivered a simple, yet powerful message from their son, Colton.Although I didn't want to put this book down, I would have to stop reading for at least a few minutes between chapters, as I had to take that time to reflect upon what I had just read.Having grown up a Catholic, I truly believe in Heaven and always have.... but this book turns that belief into a form of peace that I never knew was missing.This is a crazy, wild-kind-of-ride world that we live in, and if you are a believer in Heaven (or not) this is a book that will settle you down and place your faith in its proper perspective.... at least that's what it did for me.
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  • Kelly (and the Book Boar)
    January 1, 1970
    Find all of my reviews at: http://52bookminimum.blogspot.com/0 StarsIt’s rare that I go back and review a book that I read in my past life (see what I did there?) as a non-book-reviewer. That being said, with movie promos bombarding my television (and Goodreads feed) night and day, I figured it was time to make an exception. Let me begin by stating I do not read book jackets and was always a pretty willing guinea pig when it came to reading whatever friends/co-workers/relatives/acquaintances wan Find all of my reviews at: http://52bookminimum.blogspot.com/0 StarsIt’s rare that I go back and review a book that I read in my past life (see what I did there?) as a non-book-reviewer. That being said, with movie promos bombarding my television (and Goodreads feed) night and day, I figured it was time to make an exception. Let me begin by stating I do not read book jackets and was always a pretty willing guinea pig when it came to reading whatever friends/co-workers/relatives/acquaintances wanted to pass my way. All that changed after I read this book. The past few weeks I have been asked the same questions over and over again. I figured it was time to express my feelings once and for all.“Have you read Heaven is for Real?????" Unfortunately, yes and I have not spoken to the co-worker who recommended it to me in almost two years now. “Did you like it????” “Should I read it????” Possibly the most poorly written novel I have ever read. Imagine these immortal words from the classic film Billy Madison pertain to this book and that about sums up all that needs to be said regarding how I feel.
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  • Jonathan
    January 1, 1970
    I don't doubt for a minute that this kid believes what he is saying. After all, he was 4 when it happened. Aside from heaven being real, I'm guessing he believes many other things are real too: Elmo, Mickey Mouse, and unicorns. What I can't fathom is that his parents would be gullible enough to believe it too. Although, the fact that when Todd says "as a pastor, I'm not a believer in superstition" he doesn't see the irony in the statement, it should have told me everything I needed to know about I don't doubt for a minute that this kid believes what he is saying. After all, he was 4 when it happened. Aside from heaven being real, I'm guessing he believes many other things are real too: Elmo, Mickey Mouse, and unicorns. What I can't fathom is that his parents would be gullible enough to believe it too. Although, the fact that when Todd says "as a pastor, I'm not a believer in superstition" he doesn't see the irony in the statement, it should have told me everything I needed to know about him. Of course, it could be true. I mean, how couldn't a story created by a four year old pastor's son, one that was added to and embellished over the course of several years, one that described jesus exactly as you have seen him painted on a million pieces of black velvet, one that was fitted into scripture by the author, not be true?At any rate, if you believe in this sort of thing, you'll probably find this story inspirational. If you don't you will most likely find this story laughable and pathetic.So Todd, now that you have a bestseller and your benevolent God has rewarded you with a wad of cash, have fun trying to fit through the eye of that needle on the way to heaven.
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  • Jeni
    January 1, 1970
    This book made you think. I feel like it is a feel-good story, and most everything this boy saw went along with what i believe heaven will be. I thought the writing in the beginning was well crafted and the ending wavered a bit, but overall it is a fast, captivating read. It is worth your time. I think it is possible he saw heaven, but I also am not sure all the things his 4 year old said necessarily were accurate, as is the case with all 4 year olds. This book had a way of pulling you in and ma This book made you think. I feel like it is a feel-good story, and most everything this boy saw went along with what i believe heaven will be. I thought the writing in the beginning was well crafted and the ending wavered a bit, but overall it is a fast, captivating read. It is worth your time. I think it is possible he saw heaven, but I also am not sure all the things his 4 year old said necessarily were accurate, as is the case with all 4 year olds. This book had a way of pulling you in and making you relate to the journey this average Midwest family took. While reading this book, my own 4-year-old daughter had a dream that Jesus came to our house. She has never told us about her dreams before, ever, and she talked and talked about this dream for days in great detail. I could see how even if this boy didn't go to heaven, he easily could have had a dream, like my daughter, which was very real and life altering for a little boy. It has turned into an interesting way for God to be able to speak to millions of people because it has been a bestseller for months.
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  • Benjamin R
    January 1, 1970
    My Mom has been reading us this story at nightime. We usually read 2-4 chapters. The book is about a little boy named Colton. At the beginning, he dosen't want to hold Rosie, a big Spider at the Petting Zoo. Later, he can't stop throwing up. He has to go through surgery because he had the place inside him that holds all the Poison in him exploded. Then he said that he left his body and went to Heaven. Then he said to his dad, "Hey Mommy!" Colton's Mom says "Yes?" "Did you know that Daddy was giv My Mom has been reading us this story at nightime. We usually read 2-4 chapters. The book is about a little boy named Colton. At the beginning, he dosen't want to hold Rosie, a big Spider at the Petting Zoo. Later, he can't stop throwing up. He has to go through surgery because he had the place inside him that holds all the Poison in him exploded. Then he said that he left his body and went to Heaven. Then he said to his dad, "Hey Mommy!" Colton's Mom says "Yes?" "Did you know that Daddy was given the job to be a Pastor by Jesus?" asked Colton. And that was true. There were also two funny parts-One of them was when a man died, and at the church asked, "Daddy, did the guy have Jesus in his heart? HE HAD TO!HE HAD TO or else he wouldn't go to Heaven!!!" The other silly part is when Colton's Mom had a Baby, it died inside her. She died before Colton was born. And Colton said "Hey Mommy! I have two sisters! One died inside you, remember?" After he dropped that Bomb, his Mom was Crying. It's one of the greatest books ever!!! You ought to read it because it's the best book I've ever heard in my whole entire life. But still, it is a really long, long book that's still awesome!Thanks,BEN
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  • Stephanie
    January 1, 1970
    Heaven may be for real, but the Burpos certainly aren't.I know it sounds hypocritical for a Christian to be skeptical, but I think in a few years the Burpo family is going to come out and say the whole thing was an elaborate metaphor and they're shocked anyone would take it literally. But thanks for the $$$$.Overall, the book is a quick, easy read. Sometimes there are too many digressions about how cute the kids are and how awesome small town life is, which seem unnecessary for the scope of the Heaven may be for real, but the Burpos certainly aren't.I know it sounds hypocritical for a Christian to be skeptical, but I think in a few years the Burpo family is going to come out and say the whole thing was an elaborate metaphor and they're shocked anyone would take it literally. But thanks for the $$$$.Overall, the book is a quick, easy read. Sometimes there are too many digressions about how cute the kids are and how awesome small town life is, which seem unnecessary for the scope of the book. You know how it is when you don't have kids and you're listening to a friend go on about how awesome their kids are and all you can do is nod and think, "I'm so never going to be that boring" even though you totally are? That's what some passages of this book are like.The spiritual aspect got harder and harder to swallow as the book went on. Sometimes, there are pithy little statements about humility and the way children cut through all the crap adults tell themselves about God. But overall, I just found it increasingly too convenient that a four-year-old who spent three minutes in heaven would manage to cover such an array of topics, from relativity, to the body after death, to the end times. I'm just surprised Colton didn't somehow manage to see creation too.If this was a real kid, wouldn't there be a bunch of statements that don't appear to make any sense? After all, the book of Revelation doesn't make a whole lot of sense. Heaven wouldn't, from our perspective. But Todd seems to leave all these out. What clinched it for me was the description of the final battle, where men fight with swords but women and children have to stand back and watch. Really? We have gender segregation in heaven? It's bad enough that we get our old bodies back, but we conform to conservative 20th century gender ideals? What about that verse that says there is neither male nor female, Jew nor Greek, slave nor free in heaven? Did Todd conveniently forget that one?Read this book so you can discuss it, but on a closer glance Colton's vision of heaven is neither Biblically accurate nor internally consistent.
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  • Ron
    January 1, 1970
    One sub-genre of Christian literature reports dead-and-back experiences. Because I criticized some as self-serving and frankly false, I receive others for my enlightenment or critique. Heaven is for Real: A Little Boy's Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back is distinctly different. Naturally, anyone could make up a story about a four-year-old boy's brush with death and his report on what heaven's like. And this may be one of those. I have no way to judge. But unlike so many others of t One sub-genre of Christian literature reports dead-and-back experiences. Because I criticized some as self-serving and frankly false, I receive others for my enlightenment or critique. Heaven is for Real: A Little Boy's Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back is distinctly different. Naturally, anyone could make up a story about a four-year-old boy's brush with death and his report on what heaven's like. And this may be one of those. I have no way to judge. But unlike so many others of the genre—so obviously erroneous based on their own report—Heaven is for Real: A Little Boy's Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back has convincing simplicity and internal integrity while being consistent with the acknowledged reference scriptures.There are weak points, of course. Among the many specific scripture references footnoted, several only have a generic "the scripture says." Unfortunately, those are scriptures with which I am not familiar. It sounds like equivocation. Allowance must also be made for the denominational filter through which Todd and Sonja Burpo experienced and reported, but we've all got filters.The language is folksy and natural, credit I'm sure to Lynn Vincent. (I'm so happy to see competent co-authors come out of the shadows of "ghost writer" to receive the credit they deserve.) The book has a good narrative drama without being melodramatic. The few gaffs—like "like a jib on a sail"—don't detract too much.One of the best of its type.
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  • Sean
    January 1, 1970
    DISAPPOINTED!! I remained open all the way to the end hoping somehow that I would be blown away by some philosophical rant about how all people could hope to experience "heaven". I'm wondering if there was something I missed? I walked away from this book somewhat indignant at the idea that a person did not have a chance of going to heaven because they did not have Jesus in their heart. I find the book to be another example of why people have difficulty finding any spiritual comfort in religion, DISAPPOINTED!! I remained open all the way to the end hoping somehow that I would be blown away by some philosophical rant about how all people could hope to experience "heaven". I'm wondering if there was something I missed? I walked away from this book somewhat indignant at the idea that a person did not have a chance of going to heaven because they did not have Jesus in their heart. I find the book to be another example of why people have difficulty finding any spiritual comfort in religion, Christian based or not.
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  • Ross Blocher
    January 1, 1970
    While doing some research on NDEs (near death experiences) at the local library, I noticed the shelf held five copies of "Heaven is for Real" - the story of a boy who went to heaven and came back. (This not to be confused with "The Boy Who Came Back From Heaven", which has now been pulled by the publisher after young Alex Malarkey confessed his story was... fabricated.) It's a bonafide genre now, boasting a number of bestsellers, but "Heaven is for Real" reigns chief amongst them with 10 million While doing some research on NDEs (near death experiences) at the local library, I noticed the shelf held five copies of "Heaven is for Real" - the story of a boy who went to heaven and came back. (This not to be confused with "The Boy Who Came Back From Heaven", which has now been pulled by the publisher after young Alex Malarkey confessed his story was... fabricated.) It's a bonafide genre now, boasting a number of bestsellers, but "Heaven is for Real" reigns chief amongst them with 10 million copies sold and a successful 2014 film adaptation starring Greg Kinnear.The premise is what you might expect: young Colton Burpo falls ill just short of his 4th birthday with a ruptured appendix, undergoes surgery, and over time his mother and pastor father piece together that Colton had a supernatural visit to heaven in the process.I know what you're thinking: "Enough already! So what does heaven look like?" Well, Jesus is there, and he's really nice, and has beautiful eyes. Colton got to meet Jesus's cousin (John the Baptist). Oh, and Jesus has a rainbow horse. It's never night time, because all the light comes from God and Jesus. And sometimes Satan is there, and Colton won't talk about that. The angels are all carrying swords, because they have to do battle with evil every now and then. They also sing "Jesus Loves Me" and some other Sunday School song I haven't heard of but Colton has. Everybody's got wings, except for Jesus, who moves up and down like an elevator. Jesus sits on the right hand of God, and Gabriel on the left. Mary hangs around, too - she's very proud of Jesus. The Holy Spirit's there, and he's hard to describe, but he's kind of bluish. Lots of animals. Lots of colors. Everybody wears a white robe but a different colored one of these things (sash) and has a glowy thing over their head (halo). Oh, and the kids do homework. They learn things; there's a lot of kids there. Jesus REALLY LOVES THE KIDS. Oh, and Colton was in heaven for three minutes.All makes sense, right? Strangely enough, Colton never died - clinically or otherwise. His vital signs remained solid, though he was under anaesthesia for his surgery. The father, Todd Burpo (the primary author of the book and a pastor) analyzes each description of heaven to find scriptural support. The "Notes" section is just a page and a half of individually-plucked Bible verses. When the elder Burpo does find some loose scriptural connection, he exclaims there's no way his son could have known such esoteric theological tidbits. Todd writes off little inconsistencies, like the fact that haloes are only present in religious art and not part of the biblical descriptions. (Another young girl who has a special "gift" sees lights above the heads of saved people, so they're just aware of something that's not in the Bible.) When Colton says he was in heaven for three minutes, Todd goes into a discussion of how one hour is a thousand years for God. And kids aren't very good with time. Tada! He's impressed that his young son can describe robes and sashes and haloes when he doesn't even know the names for them - and yet, Colton still doesn't know the names for them - he just describes them and lets dad fill in the gaps. Every now and then the father tries to be skeptical and throw his son for a loop, like when he asks Colton what happens in Heaven at night. That's when we learn that there is no night in heaven. Test passed.The real linchpin is that Colton knew his parents were in separate rooms during the surgery, and that mom was on the phone and that dad was praying by himself. Whooooaaaa. He also meets his sister in heaven, who died in mommy's tummy, and no one ever told him that mommy had a miscarriage (the baby had died early enough that no one knew the sex, so now mom and dad are each eager to die first so they can go to heaven and get dibs on naming their long-lost daughter - so sad). He also spends a lot of time with Pop, his dad's maternal grandfather, and no one told Colton his name was "Pop". Colton also doesn't recognize a photo of 60-something Pop, because everyone is young in heaven. Oh, did I forget to mention that? Apparently they're frozen somewhere in their twenties, unless they never reached that age, in which case they're still kids but they continue to grow? I'm confused. But yeah, otherwise they look the same, so too bad if you were hoping to be more gorgeous in heaven. Later on he sees a younger photo and identifies Pop successfully.So yeah, you get the idea. The whole story could have easily been told in half the space, and the remaining pages are filled with unnecessary details about Todd's financial problems and side business selling garage door openers and stuff like that. They brought in Lynn Vincent to help out - the best-selling author of Sarah Palin's memoir - but this still feels like an amateur effort. Some of the aw-shucks writing is painful to read. Heck, this whole thing is painful to read.
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  • Katie
    January 1, 1970
    I love the very last line of the epilogue of this book: "Colton, what do you want people to know from your story?"(Colton says): " I want them to know that Heaven is for real." And that's the journey this book took me on. Helping me get a tiny a picture of what Heaven is going to be like. This story also reminded me of the importance of childlike faith, and how much Jesus especially loves children. It emphasized in a new way how important my example and interactions are with the children in my I love the very last line of the epilogue of this book: "Colton, what do you want people to know from your story?"(Colton says): " I want them to know that Heaven is for real." And that's the journey this book took me on. Helping me get a tiny a picture of what Heaven is going to be like. This story also reminded me of the importance of childlike faith, and how much Jesus especially loves children. It emphasized in a new way how important my example and interactions are with the children in my life. Children I work with at my job, and children in my family - Jesus loves them and wants us to show them love. And it's important to really listen to what they have to say as well, because, as was the case with Colton, we as adults have a lot to learn from children.
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  • Katie
    January 1, 1970
    **SPOILERS BELOW** This review may seem a bit negative, but I really didn't think that this book was bad... I just thought it was a little too "stretched" for my liking. I 100% believe that it is possible for this little boy to have gone to heaven & seen Jesus Christ & seen relatives from the other side of the veil. I also believe that it was possible for him to see things that were occurring to his parents while he was in surgery. However, I find a few things that the author talked abou **SPOILERS BELOW** This review may seem a bit negative, but I really didn't think that this book was bad... I just thought it was a little too "stretched" for my liking. I 100% believe that it is possible for this little boy to have gone to heaven & seen Jesus Christ & seen relatives from the other side of the veil. I also believe that it was possible for him to see things that were occurring to his parents while he was in surgery. However, I find a few things that the author talked about a little hard to swallow. For these reasons, I feel like the author maybe "exaggerated" a little bit - I mean (lets be honest) when we are telling a really compelling story to our friends/family, we all tend to over-embellish details so that our story seems more cutting-edge and gripping for the listener. While I think that this little boy had an INCREDIBLE experience, I feel like there were a lot of details that were a little "too drawn out" which may have helped the author really promote this book. Let me elaborate:1. "Jesus loves the Children" - Any 4 year old boy (or younger) is going to have this engrained in his head growing up. It is going to be something that parents, teachers, family, friends, babysitters, etc. share with children. They share this because they want to teach children about their own faith, they want their children to have a strong conviction of the Savior and live such Christlike principles, and they also share this because of how much it is re-iterated in the Bible. I know and I believe that Jesus loves the children... but just because Colton goes around saying this "non-stop" doesn't necessarily mean that was what the Savior told Colton up there. I believe that the Savior shows others he loves little children through his actions, and while he may have said to Colton that he loved the little children and therefore he loves him... I don't think that the Savior told him that he needed to make sure everyone on earth understood that principle through this little boy.2. "Oh yeah..." I feel like over and over in this book every time the author wanted to teach a religious principle, it was echoed by his son saying, "Oh yeah... I learned that in Heaven." Examples include, "Oh yeah, they do too have swords in heaven.", "Oh yeah, Jesus told me that he told you to personally become a pastor.", "Oh yeah, Jesus told me that if you don't accept him in your heart that you aren't going to heaven.", "Oh yeah, even though you've never told me a story about what Heaven looks like, this is what it looks like.", "Oh yeah, there is going to be a war in heaven." , "Oh yeah, Jesus showed me that you were fighting in it Daddy." "Oh yeah, even though I never met my future brother, I met my so-called, supposed to be sister who appeared the same age as me.", "Oh yeah, Dad didn't you know that God the Father & the Son & the Holy Ghost are three separate beings?" (The list could continue). But the only point that I am trying to make is that all of these topics that Colton supposedly "brought-up on his own" just seems a little to coincidental that they were religious principles that the author was trying to teach the reader. Don't get me wrong, and think that I'm a pessimistic atheist, I actually am a devout Christian - and I believe a lot of the things that were written in this #2 section - but it just seemed a little off to me that the little boy just so happened to have all of these very long conversations with God & Jesus while he was gone & that all the things he talked about fit into this authors "sermon."3. My little boy didn't know the word for... Just because Colton didn't know the word for "sash" & "throne" doesn't mean that he wasn't taught this before hand. He probably was - children learn a lot more through picture books than we give them credit for - so don't act like it was a big revelation that he was teaching you what he saw when in reality, he probably saw it several times before his experience in Heaven.4. Pops & Sister. I believe 100% that you can have experiences with deceased relatives on the other side of the veil - and I believe that Colton was telling the truth when it was explained that he saw his "pops" in his prime age (about 30's). But I have a really hard time believing that he saw his older sister as a sibling typed age - when she was miscarried - it just seems a little back-words and inconsistent with the author's theories... but then again I think that there is a lot we don't know about Heaven & Hell.5. I don't believe for a single second that Colton saw Satan. Really???!!!??? Satan in Heaven... um... that seems like a huge HUGE contradiction to everything that is taught in the Bible. If the author claims that we have to "accept Jesus into our hearts to enter into heaven" then what the crap is Satan doing up in Heaven? And angels with swords guarding heaven so that he can't enter? It seemed a little far-fetched for me. Almost like it was a retaliation by Colton to get back at his sister for saying that there weren't swords in heaven. A little light-bulb went off in his head saying, "Yes too there are swords in heaven, and everyone makes such a big deal about what I tell them about Heaven, that I'll just tell them there are swords up there and they will believe me." 6. And I don't believe for a single second that Colton saw Armageddon. Isn't that supposed to be a mystery when this war is supposed to take place. What would be the use of Prophets if we had little 4 year old boys telling us when it was going to occur. Once again - a little exaggerated.7. At two different points in the book Colton describes heaven as white & gold & beautiful... but then again with colors that we have never seen in this world. I just had a hard time deciding which one was true.Anyways - I really did think that this book was alright - there were just too many "really???"s to swallow. Like I said earlier, I believe a lot of concepts that were shared in this book - just not to the same extent that the author exploited them. Maybe my attitude would be different if I had a child which experienced Heaven at the age of 4.On a positive note, I did like the story about Miracles, how prayers are answered, Jesus' appearance, and miracles of tithes & offerings which were shared in this book.
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  • Mike (the Paladin)
    January 1, 1970
    I'm not putting this on any shelf other than "read". I'm not going to take a stand on any other heading.The first part of this book was hard for me to read, I suppose it will be for most parents. Knowing we're closing in on an account of either the near death or temporary death of a child will bear down on anyone who has children. After that we get into the account of "how the parents came to believe that their child had been conscious in Heaven". The point of the book is that Colton remembered I'm not putting this on any shelf other than "read". I'm not going to take a stand on any other heading.The first part of this book was hard for me to read, I suppose it will be for most parents. Knowing we're closing in on an account of either the near death or temporary death of a child will bear down on anyone who has children. After that we get into the account of "how the parents came to believe that their child had been conscious in Heaven". The point of the book is that Colton remembered seeing Jesus and sitting on his lap (not far fetched at all as Christ showed love for children when on earth and speaks of love for children). Colton also expresses other memories of his stay in Heaven which include descriptions of how things look and so on. Some people have accused the parents of being exploitative with this book...I WILL NOT go there. There is no evidence of that that I saw. If it's true it's between them and God (well and Colton). So assuming they are sincere in the writing where do we go?Well critics have pointed out that some of the things seen seem to be unbiblical. I can see their point. Some of the descriptions given by Colton do raise questions about the state of those already in Heave. But then this is a little boy. If he indeed does remember an encounter with Christ Jesus I'm sure Jesus would have presented things to him in a way easy for a child to understand. I'm not willing to quibble over whether Christians "in Heaven" have wings. Nor do I feel like arguing over soul sleep or other critical ideas raised by those looking for detail problems. If Jesus did deal with a child He would have dealt with him in a way the child could understand.Did Colton have an experience in heaven he remembers? I don't know. Some find this book inspiring others not. I certainly won't nay say it. Try it yourself, see what you think. I didn't enjoy it as it's about a child who was injured. Past that are questions. I'm a Christian and I don't doubt that if God wanted this it would be...is it a real account. As noted, I don't know, however God does.
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  • Grace Best-Page
    January 1, 1970
    While I don't doubt this boy's sincerity or the facts of his illness and his remembrance of what he experienced, surely there is more to God's realm than this. I find his God too small, but perhaps God tailored the boy's heaven experience specifically to him. We'll know when we get there!
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  • Joy
    January 1, 1970
    A young boy emerges from life-saving surgery with remarkable stories of his visit to heaven. "Heaven Is for Real "is the true story of the four-year old son of a small town Nebraska pastor who during emergency surgery slips from consciousness and enters heaven. He survives and begins talking about being able to look down and see the doctor operating and his dad praying in the waiting room. The family didn't know what to believe but soon the evidence was clear. Colton said he met his miscarried s A young boy emerges from life-saving surgery with remarkable stories of his visit to heaven. "Heaven Is for Real "is the true story of the four-year old son of a small town Nebraska pastor who during emergency surgery slips from consciousness and enters heaven. He survives and begins talking about being able to look down and see the doctor operating and his dad praying in the waiting room. The family didn't know what to believe but soon the evidence was clear. Colton said he met his miscarried sister, whom no one had told him about, and his great grandfather who died 30 years before Colton was born, then shared impossible-to-know details about each. He describes the horse that only Jesus could ride, about how "reaaally big" God and his chair are, and how the Holy Spirit "shoots down power" from heaven to help us. Told by the father, but often in Colton's own words, the disarmingly simple message is heaven is a real place, Jesus really loves children, and be ready, there is a coming last battle.
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  • Jdaniels
    January 1, 1970
    This is probably the most neutral review I've ever written. Why write one then? Because there are some things I have to say about this book.Before I begin, let me say I am coming from a conservative Christian background - I believe that what the Bible says is true. And the Bible says that there is no new revelation. Which meant I was approaching this book with quite a bit of misgiving.Although technically a nonfiction book, I ended up reading it as if it were fiction. It was a very quick read, e This is probably the most neutral review I've ever written. Why write one then? Because there are some things I have to say about this book.Before I begin, let me say I am coming from a conservative Christian background - I believe that what the Bible says is true. And the Bible says that there is no new revelation. Which meant I was approaching this book with quite a bit of misgiving.Although technically a nonfiction book, I ended up reading it as if it were fiction. It was a very quick read, easy to understand, and had numerous little anecdotes to keep the reader's interest. I cannot fault the writing. This story was told well and was lightly entertaining.The difficulty for me comes with the subject matter and content of the book. A little boy is sick, has an emergency operation, goes to heaven, comes back, and remembers and tells about his trip to heaven. After reading this book, I've come to some decisions. 1) I am not wise enough to decide if I believe this actually happened or not. The God I worship can do anything - I am not going to limit Him by saying He can or can't do something. If He wanted to take this child up into heaven for a bit, He can do so. But at the same time, this is not something that God does frequently at all. I hesitate to say that the author and family are lying, but this is something that I have difficulty believing in. Unlike many people, I am perfectly fine with not knowing. Does it truly even matter if I believe or not? Not to me.2) There is no new revelation in this book. Everything the child says about heaven and God can be verified in the Bible. There is nothing new here. To be honest, it would have made it a bit easier for me if there had been, because then I could have written this book off as heresy. But this book is written with precision, comparing what this boy has said with what the Bible says. And it matches. I cannot argue with that.3) Nothing in this book harms the Gospel of Christ. In the book of Luke, Christ tells the disciples not to stop other people who were casting out demons in His name, even though they were not members of Christ's 12 disciples. Christ tells them, "he that is not against us is for us" (Luke 9:50). If anything, this book makes you want to pick up the Bible to read what the original says about heaven. How can I find fault with that?The upside about this book? It makes heaven feel like a real place - a place where children of God will one day actually get to go. It's not a vague notion of a vague place we've been told about, but an actual, physical place. And to be honest, that excited me. Which made this book worth the read after all.
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  • Jaelle Hamann
    January 1, 1970
    I found pieces of this book very emotionally moving and convincing. The way he wept over the sister he met in heaven and the reaction of his mother who had lost her years ago absolutely killed me. The tenderness and childlikeness displayed throughout the prose was very thoughtful. Yet there were certain passages that left me questioning it's authenticity. I want to believe that the son was completely unhindered in what he saw but some of his descriptions sound like classic bible school teachings I found pieces of this book very emotionally moving and convincing. The way he wept over the sister he met in heaven and the reaction of his mother who had lost her years ago absolutely killed me. The tenderness and childlikeness displayed throughout the prose was very thoughtful. Yet there were certain passages that left me questioning it's authenticity. I want to believe that the son was completely unhindered in what he saw but some of his descriptions sound like classic bible school teachings. (Jesus in white with a purple sash and everyone has wings). Those things I could have done without because it makes me wonder how much he genuinely witnessed. I believe the authors are real people recounting a beautiful event. How much is really heaven and how much is just a child musing can only be weighed by the bible and where this book lines up or misses the mark with scripture. That's the only way I think anyone can bring judgement against it or that I can be convinced of its truthfulness. Overall I appreciated how much Heaven is for Real reminded me about the gentleness of God and how perfectly He is able to turn tragedy into healing in areas his family never expected. That is our God.
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