The newest Christian movie hits the screen in a few days – ‘Heaven is for Real.’ Since I haven’t read the book, I decided to check it out from my local library. I’m on a waiting list 40 deep. Still, without reading the book, I can tell you why I’m not buying into the whole story, and won’t be going to see the ‘true’ story.
The boy’s tale is heartfelt enough, but there is so much inconsistency that it would be laughable to a Christian follower of a few decades ago.
The rainbow horse, the multicultural imagery, the winged humans and so on make the movie resemble something more out of ‘Barbarella’ than our true Heaven. It certainly doesn’t match up with the Bible. What little faith we have in Scripture to believe the fanciful dreams of a child.
I know dreams can seem real. I know because I too had a dream as a child. I didn’t dream about heaven. I dreamed of a wolf.
I was only a few years old. The cause of the dream was precipitated earlier in the day, while I was outside playing at my grandparent’s house. I heard a commotion down the hill. The neighbors were out in their driveway watching a dog run through their yard.
I didn’t think anything about it at the time, but, that night, in the quiet of my dreams, a different animal appeared.
I relived the afternoon. The neighbors were down below. The dog was in the yard. Suddenly, it looked around and stood up on it’s hind legs. It began talking to them in a human voice.
It became a wolf, akin to the drawings on Egyptian pottery. It’s eyes glowed as it talked to the neighbors. A young man came out of the house. He stood before the creature.
The beast said something to it, and the glowing eyes turned red. Suddenly, it opened it’s mouth and leaned over the young man, inhaling him as he screamed. I stood stock still. The wolf’s feast ended. Suddenly, it sniffed and started looking around. Before I could duck down, it turned one of the red glowing eyes to look directly at me.
I woke up.
I didn’t think much about it after that - it was just a dream. Months later, I would have a different dream. I was in my grandparent’s house, and it was night-time, and I had to go to the bathroom. I went in, turned on the light and started to walk over to the toilet, nestled in the corner under the bathroom window. The curtains had been tucked back to let the earlier sunshine in, and no one had closed them. I saw movement and I looked to the window. A red glowing eye appeared and I saw the brown muzzle of the wolf-creature leering in it at me.
“I’m outside,” it said, and shuffled away from the window.
I woke up.
I didn’t remember the dream until later in the day when I saw the open curtains in the bathroom. The wolf might be out there, I thought.
To me, the wolf was real. It lived down the hill, and knew I knew about it. Every time I was at their home, there was a momentary panic when I went into that bathroom and saw the curtains open.
Flash forward to years later. I was visiting again, and soon found myself standing atop the hill, looking down at the neighbors. They were out in the driveway, watching a dog run across the yard. It was a German Shepherd. It played and ran around the family. It ran up to one of the teens and stood on its hind-legs. My heart skipped a beat or two and I watched it move toward the boy. It opened it’s mouth …. and began licking him in playful joy.
I stepped back from the precipice with a smile on my face. It wasn’t a wolf after all. It was just a dog. All those years of frightful visits in the bathroom fled away from me. The wolf-creature wouldn’t bother me again – in real life or in dreams. My fear had transformed to joy, because the adult I was becoming realized the truth behind the fanciful story cooked up by a young boy with a very active imagination.
Sadly, though, the tale doesn’t have such a happy ending. Even though my personal wolf has faded into distant memory. There are still wolves out there - and many of them are showing up right inside our church doors.
Check out these other reviews
Phil Johnson from Grace to You in a 2010 post called “The Burpo-Malarkey Doctrine”
“No true evangelical ought to be tempted to give such tales any credence whatsoever, no matter how popular they become. One major, obvious problem is that these books don’t even agree with one another. They give contradictory descriptions of heaven and thus cannot possibly have any cumulative long-term effect other than the sowing of confusion and doubt.
But the larger issue is one no authentic believer should miss: the whole premise behind every one of these books is contrary to everything Scripture teaches about heaven.”
Tim Challies, 2012, “Heaven Tourism”
“We have no reason to look to another person’s experience of heaven in order to prove that heaven is real or hell is real. The Bible promises blessings on those who do not see and yet believe. Our hope is not to be in the story of a minister or toddler or doctor or anyone else who insists they have been to heaven; our hope is to be in Jesus Christ as God has graciously revealed him to us in the Bible. Faith is believing that what God says in his Word is true and without error. You dishonor God if you choose to believe what the Bible says only when you receive some kind of outside verification. You dishonor God if you need this kind of outside verification.”