Recently, I was given a copy of a blog titled “The Burpo-Malarkey Doctrine,” by Phil Johnson of Grace to You about the books Heaven is for Real and The boy Who Came Back from Heaven. (Link to article here: http://www.gty.org/Blog/B121018)
I will say for the record-I am not a Bible scholar in the sense of having graduated from a Bible school or seminary. However, I am a Bible scholar in the sense that I have read my Bible all the way through MANY times (and constantly read it on a daily basis) and during the times I have been enrolled in the School of Hard Knocks, I usually devoured my Bible. Having read one of the aforementioned books, and from my limited gleanings, I had to comment.
I have read Heaven is for Real by Todd Burpo with Lynn Vincent. Tod Burpo is Colton Burpo’s father, the little boy who went to heaven. See link below:
(https://captivedreamswindow.wordpress.com/2012/11/05/heaven-is-for-real/), I have not read The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven by Kevin Malarkey.
Phil Johnson feels that books of this ilk should not be given any credibility. He states they give contradictory descriptions of heaven and/or do not agree with themselves.
I cannot speak for any of the books except those I have read, obviously, but I would like to make several observations.
In having read 90 Minutes in Heaven: A True Story of Death and Life, by Don Piper and Heaven is for Real, I feel I can at least throw my two cents in.
Most of the differences in the accounts (though Piper’s and Burpo’s have similar undertones) I suspect are due to age, maturity and educational differences.
Johnson goes on to quote a verse from the Bible:
Proverbs 30:4 as follows “Who has ascended to heaven and come down“; then answered it with verse John 3:13 (with an emphasis he added)” NO ONE has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man”.
Now, like I said, I’m not a Bible Scholar but I take umbrage with this usage of John 3:13. I am not sure what version of the Bible he used, but he obviously did not use the entire verse. The verse (and context to verse) follows:
John 3:10-13 (KJV)
10 Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things?
11 Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness.
12 If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things?
13 And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.
Nowhere, in my way of thinking, did the aforementioned verse state emphatically (or otherwise)-“NO one . . . except the Son of man. It reads: “no man. . . EVEN (my emphasis) the Son of man.
The article calls into question even more questions about Johnson’s Biblical learning. Johnson seems to have a desire or need to “protect” himself from stories that do not fit his own preconceived notions. He is too certain Heaven is for Real cannot be real. He “overreaches”, invidiously linking evangelical accounts of heaven with “New Age”, “occult” and “psychic” stories
There are many instances where others in the Bible went to heaven and returned unlike Johnson’s assertion. One example is:
2 Corinthians 12:1-5 (KJV)
12 It is not expedient for me doubtless to glory. I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord.
2 I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven.
3 And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;)
4 How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.
5 Of such an one will I glory: yet of myself I will not glory, but in mine infirmities.
Perhaps the man in 2 Corinthians was prohibited from speaking, but perhaps Colton Burpo (Todd’s son), Don Piper and others were not. I know there will be people claiming untrue things (the Bible even warns of false prophets). We all need to be especially wary of after life experience anecdotes but those that bring comfort, joy and salvation to a hungry, weary and sad person should not be categorically stamped untrue, heretical or pagan.
What do you think? Am I way off the mark?
Have you read either book?