Friday, May 6, 2011

Heaven is For Real by Todd Burpo *Review*

I'll admit. I am a very skeptical person. It's not that I don't have faith, I believe I have a lot of it. The times in my life I have gotten on my knees and asked, believed and received are numerous. But when I am looking at a book written by the father of a then four-year-old who claims he met relatives in heaven he had never seen or heard of before, a father who is faced with more medical bills then he can pay, all I can think of is what a great way to make some money and save himself from bankruptcy!

After reading this book, my viewpoint has changed...somewhat.

Colton Burpo's father, a small town pastor in Nebraska, tells the story about Colton's miraculous visit to heaven during emergency surgery for a ruptured appendix. Colton was a very sick little boy, but there was never any mention by the doctor that Colton had "died" on the operating room table, nor is there any medical proof that he had. But Colton can accurately describe what his parents, in two separate rooms in the hospital, were doing when he floated out of his body.

Colton does not tell his parents immediately what happened. Instead, over the course of months and years little snippets of revelation comes out. Finally piecing everything together and checking what their son says against what is written in the Bible, things a four-year-old can not possibly know, they come to believe that a miracle has indeed occurred. And I believe too.

What I am still a little skeptical about, however, is whether or not little Colton was led to any of the answers he gave when he was questioned by his father. Todd Burpo admits he may have asked a few leading questions when he first started examining what Colton was saying, but after realizing he was doing so made sure he asked open ended questions instead. I'm not so sure about that. A few conversations throughout the book still made me feel he was leading Colton down a particular path to get the answer he wanted to hear.

That said, there are definite descriptions of heaven and of Jesus himself that were not forced out by leading questions. Spoken simply, like a four-year-old would, Colton talks about what Jesus looked like, and how he had "markers" on him. It takes a little bit of deduction to figure out what "markers" would mean to a preschooler. Asking where the "markers" were, Colton points to the palms of his hands and the tops of his feet. The family, not being Catholic, were not exposed to the crucifix, or the crucified Christ, more often seeing only the cross hung in their church and home. It stuns Todd that Colton was so specific about where the "markers" were.

This book should give anyone who is on the fence about whether there is truly a heaven real hope. And without hope for a wonderful afterlife filled with beautiful colors, visits with our dearly departed family members, and hugs from Jesus what are we truly living for? 3.5/5 stars