Heaven is Real…First Glance

A while back (quite a while) I had come across a blog post here regarding the book “Heaven is Real: A Little Boy’s Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back.”

It’s the story of Colton Burpo, the four-year-old child of the pastor of Crossroads Wesleyan Church in Imperial, Nebraska (looks like they’ve only recently installed their WordPress site and not updated it), who during emergency surgery is said to have gone to Heaven to sit in Jesus’ lap and have angels sing to him until he was resuscitated. The book tells of the claims and observations made by the child while he was dead/unconscious that seem to defy logic and support the idea that the Biblical god is for real. So far I’m only 11 pages into it but here are my observations so far:

Colton, like me, was brought up in the church by a pastor and presumably indoctrinated from birth with ideas of Heaven and Hell, Jesus and Satan, angels and demons, and all of the cute little songs that kids learn in Sunday School. Whatever he did or didn’t see during the time when he was dead/unconscious would have been influenced heavily by this because it’s a cornerstone of his upbringing and the foundation of his family’s faith. He doesn’t have to think about Jesus or angels, it’s just part of his immature belief system.

The author (the father, Todd) states in his introduction, “Now, as a pastor, I’m not a believer in superstition.” I completely acknowledge that in this context he’s talking about superstition relating to “chills” or “bad feelings” about a road trip, etc. – the kind of superstition that drives baseball players not to change their socks or whatever. However, Todd most definitely believes in superstition. He believes that the ritual of praying will affect the outcome of an event. He believes that going to church on a regular basis will affect the strength of his faith. He believes that reading the Bible on a regular basis will affect his relationship with god. These are all ritualistic, superstitious practices. If Todd began wearing the same pair of socks whenever he preached because he thought it made his sermon better, it really wouldn’t be a stretch above and beyond what he already believes. The only difference would be that it’s not prescribed by the Bible.

Colton says that while he was in Heaven sitting in Jesus’ lap the angels were singing songs to him like “Jesus Loves Me” and “Joshua Fought the Battle of Jericho.” That’s a nice thought, but doesn’t it seem a little silly and maybe too convenient that the angels would just happen to be singing the Sunday School songs Colton knows? I know this seems like a weak objection and I’ll readily admit that, but think about it: angels are ethereal creatures who live on a completely different plane of existence. They would presumably have the capability of singing songs to this child (not even the child, but the child’s soul) that would comfort him. Perhaps “Jesus Loves Me” qualifies as such, but “Joshua Fought the Battle of Jericho?” Really? That just seems ridiculous to me…and by that, I mean it’s merely my personal opinion that nobody else has to adopt.

Obviously, I’m skeptical to the claims this book has made and will be making. It’s no secret I don’t believe in Heaven or god. However, I intend to continue reading this book with as open a mind as I can muster and give it due consideration. I’m really curious to see why there’s all the buzz over it, but I have a sneaking suspicion that it all stems from the fact that people who already believe in this find that it provides the sort of evidence that they not only accept but latch onto in order to bolster their beliefs. I doubt this story would do much to convince someone who didn’t already believe before they started reading the book but like I said, I’m only 11 pages into it.

I’ll keep you posted.

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8 Comments

  1. “Now, as a pastor, I’m not a believer in superstition.”
    After I read that (before what you wrote) I did a sing song voice in my head and said “Irronnnyy!!!”

  2. @tgwiy – To be honest the first thing that popped into my head when I read that sentence was, “By renouncing beliefs in ridiculous things that cannot be proven he hopes to give more credence to his book…about things that cannot be proven.” Like I said, I’ll still give it a fair shake but that set off my B.S. detector pretty hard.

  3. I’m not sure I believe this either, even though I’m a Christian. I read another article on it saying that the boy knew things, such as his mom having a miscarriage which she never told the boy, and the boy came out of his body and described seeing his dad praying in the chapel and and some other things about the hospital that he couldn’t have known.

  4. you are being very kind. you gave your best to objectionally describe the book when i think you really had to think that it was mystification fiction at its best.

  5.  – @CoderHead – @tgwiy – 

    It might seem like a small thing to obsess on, but it has to be absolutely understood.  Within the subculture of the sect / denomination, a pastor is like a wise tribal elder.  He’s the one who has been chosen, to lead…not autocratically, but by example and encouragement.  And more often than not, the congregation gets a great deal of input in his selection.  He has to manage the life transitions, birth, marriage, passage into adulthood, death.  He has to deal with the traumas of all his folk;  divorce, addiction, depression, debt.  In fact, HE’S the one whose B.S. meter has to be tuned to extremely high sensitivity.  He / she has to be heads-up for the crackpot who said God told ‘em to sleep with a dozen different people, or Christ is coming in a UFO to some hilltop, or something like that.  The pastor isn’t there to deconstruct the peoples’ religious faith, in other words–or to let some stranger come in and use it to sucker them.  He / she are there to keep it on an even keel.
    And there are visions and there visions.  A  kid has visions of people in Heaven singing songs he knows.  Nothing odd in that.  A Roman Catholic kid is going to report seeing St. Mary, and so forth.  People are going to see what they’ve been taught…like you said.  If his fear of death is taken away, it’s a good thing.  If he grows up to become a Francis of Assisi, even better.  Hopefully he doesn’t grown up to become a Jim Jones or David Kouresh.
    I didn’t hear of the book before today.  This is the second thing I read about it.  Like @musterion99I too am from Missouri.  Not that I don’t think it didn’t happen.  Maybe writing about it is kinda jumping on a sort of bandwagon merry-go-round syndrome.  I think supernatural things are mondo common.  I don’t think they’re like a big shout; more like a whisper.  I think things like that are tremendously personal, like first-time romance.  I guess I’m worried that the kid will get celebrity-ized.  And nothing seems to ruin a person like being a celebrity.

  6. “He believes that going to church on a regular basis will affect the strength of his faith.”

    This is actually true. However, it is faith in an entity that doesn’t exist.