I finished “Heaven Is For Real” by Todd Burpo a few days ago. As someone who has a deep well of christian knowledge, this book brings up questions. It took a little bit to form an intelligent response.
This book is about a young child who has a near death experience. Over a undefined period of time “a few years” he talks about his trip to heaven.
My overall review is its a cute feel- good story. It is decently written although the lack of variety for their reaction to shocks got old “I almost drove off/into ________”; or “my jaw hit the floor.” Overall it was a sweet story that was a quick and easy read.
Then came the process of clarifying what I had just read. As a Christian with an evangelical background everything I read is in accordance with everything I have been taught my entire life. So simple I should believe the kid’s story right? Wrong, I don’t know what to think. Young children absorb so much information so quickly. It comes out so randomly that I doubt the whole out of body experience. Does a preacher’s son who has been surrounded with biblical information not pick up a few things? I think not, he probably heard christian radio and radio preachers talk of heaven. The books and Sunday lessons he had heard, talked of heaven. His parents spoke of heaven to others in his presence. That is the evangelical way, its either the glory of heaven or the heat of hell. The things he spoke of are very common fodder for christian sermons, books, and art. The family claims he’s never heard these things or seen these images, but I doubt that. The addition of the time period this story developed makes me doubt it as well. I also believe myself, this is a case of wanting to believe too much. Personal opinion here, a very young boy clung to happy images in terrifying moments. Then as he told these stories the attention he received created information gathering mentality for a little more attention. I gave it 3 stars because I feel so opposite about this book. On one side it was a very sweet book I am going to read to my kids. On the other side it is one more reason why christians end up the butt of jokes. So I figured my enjoyment and my ambivalence were about equal.