When ‘Heaven is for Real’ becomes a movie (and it’s my final straw.)

‘The time I went to heaven’ books have both captivated and divided audiences in recent years.

 I’ve avoided the debate, but yesterday something inside me clicked. I noticed that ‘Heaven if for Real’ is coming to cinemas. With something akin to anger, I decided ‘enough is enough’ and I wrote the title of this post.

 Then I chickened out.stairway-to-the-sky_18-6364

 But I’m back.

 Because sometimes we have to call it as we see it.

 A while back a friend loaned me the book ‘Heaven is so Real.’ I was a skeptic, but I started reading anyway. I was not prepared for what I found.

 Her stories were interesting, but they just weren’t right. Not only did they differ from the teachings of Scripture, but they became narcissistic. I felt a real sense of oppression in my spirit, and I had no doubt: This message was not from God.

 It’s the only book I’ve read on the topic, so I can’t speak for them all, but I can say this: Scripture must be our authority on Heaven and nothing else. I take offense to people returning from momentary ‘death’ and proclaiming triumphantly “Heaven actually IS real!” as though their experience gives it more credibility than the promises of Christ.

 I’m not here to judge the motives of those who wrote these books, but I would exhort those who consider reading them: On the topic of Heaven, consult the Bible and make that your authority, not a few people with some weird experiences.

My follow up Blog ‘Why I don’t believe people returned from Heaven‘ articulates my reasoning for this viewpoint in more detail.

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Why I travel as much in books as I do on planes

granada-alhambra_19-137430When it comes to traveling, there’s nothing quite like the real thing.

The experiences that you gain stay with you for life. The dingiest of hotels, the smelliest of trains and the most bizarre experiences become part of the fabric of who you are, growing only more legendary with time.

It seems strange then, that I’d even consider comparing my ‘book traveling’ with my ‘real traveling.’ But I can. As a traveler, I’ve stood before the Eiffel tower, seen Mount Everest and floated in the Dead Sea, but each of these things had one thing in common: I experienced them as me. And I’ll tell you something, being me is pretty ordinary. I’ve done it my whole life; it’s not very magical.

That’s why when I travel through books I travel as much as I do on planes. In books I’ve raised my children in Paris and lived in war-ravaged Kabul. I’ve been an early Australian pioneer, and I’ve risen from the deepest slums of India. I may not have lived their lives in reality, but through them, I’ve experienced much more than I ever could have on my own.reading_28819

And the marriage of the two is perfect, because as I walk down the cobblestone streets of Düsseldorf, I feel the shadow of a woman over me. As she glances into a shop window, I sense her fear that the Nazi’s grip is growing tighter and it becomes more than just a town, and I am more than just me.

What has the right to judge me?

smallLet’s face it. We don’t like to be judged.

We live in the age of relativism. What’s right for me is right for me and what’s right for you is right for you, but you know what all that really boils down to? An innate, inner desire to have ultimate authority over our lives.

The relativist looks at the world around them and says: If I see it, if I feel it, if it’s within my realm of experience, then it is truth. Right and wrong can be whatever I want them to be.

Even Christians are far more prone to this than we like to think. Sure we look to the scriptures, but too often we hold them in one hand, balancing them against a hand piled high with reason, experience and feelings.

This makes me think of one of my favourite quotes by Tozer: ‘[The scholar] may compare scripture with scripture until he has discovered the true meaning of the text. But right there his authority ends. He must never sit in judgement upon what is written. He dare not bring the meaning of the Word before the bar of his reason. He dare not commend or condemn the Word as reasonable or unreasonable, scientific or unscientific. After the meaning is discovered, that meaning judges him; never does he judge it.’[1]

May we never bring the Word of God under the judgement of our own corrupt reasoning.


[1] Tozer, A.W. The Knowledge of the Holy, p24

Is it not enough to just see with our eyes?

Fireworks over Water

Last night my church hosted our annual Carols by Candlelight. The event draws thousands of people and culminates with a large fireworks display.

This year the fireworks were spectacular, bursting into a clear sky in front of a full moon. I was standing at the back of the crowd, and wandered along the perimeter of the oval as the sky was lit by the dazzling colours. I must confess, my immediate instinct as they started was to get my camera out to take a photo, but as the thought registered, I looked out across the crowd and saw a sea of people with the glow of mobile phones reached out towards the sky.

Was it not enough just to see with their eyes?

I sometimes wonder how much we miss by being so consumed with capturing every moment. I once heard a story about a well-known musician who was giving a small concert. He announced at the beginning that there were to be no mobile phones, no recordings and no pictures taken; not only that, but this was going to be a one-off performance. The audience, knowing that they had this moment, and this moment only, to enjoy the performance, found themselves mesmerized by the music; engaged on a level that they  otherwise never would have been.

How often do we view the world through the lens of a camera, and never really take the time to really see it with our own eyes?