April 28, 2014

5 reasons why “that guy” didn’t really go to Heaven…

by Lyndon Unger

A little while ago, I got an e-mail from a pastor friend who was picking my brain about the whole “I went to Heaven” book industry since one of the largest and most successful fleece-job books is now becoming a movie. I couldn’t be more pleased that another Bible(ish), Christian(ish) movie is being made by Hollywood, since that always turns out to be a smashing victory for biblical fidelity and the proclamation of truth, right?

the-bible-angels(Remember the Teenage Mutant Ninja Angels?)

Here’s what I said to him (with minor edits to remove names…and make it a tad more entertaining):

Hey there!

I’m sorry that I’m responding so late to your e-mail but I’ve been swamped the last little while!

I haven’t written on Gary Wood’s book, nor have I read it, but many people claim to have taken a field trip to Heaven:

nitro_circus

Heaven is for Realz

90 minutes in Heaven

23 minutes in Hell

If you’re going to talk about the issue of heavenly field trips, I’d point out five things:

1.  The Apostle Paul went to heaven and was forbidden to talk about what he saw (2 Cor. 12:1-4)…therefore revealing the various secrets of Heaven might not be as high on God’s list of priorities as some people may want you to believe.

tape mouth

2.  John the apostle went to somewhere beyond this world (I doubt that it was actually the intermediate Heaven) and both explicitly and implicitly states the purpose for the visit:

– An explicit purpose is stated in Rev. 22:10-14 where, at the end of the revelation, Jesus calls people to “wash their robes so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates” (i.e. turn from their sins and walk in obedience to Christ).

– An implicit purpose is stated in Rev. 2-3 where Jesus calls the churches to clean up their acts because he’s coming soon.

The purpose of all prophecy (whether regarding the present or the future) is repentance and obedience to the Lord.  The outcome of revelation should always be repentance, not encouragement/warm fuzzies about how something is “so like totally real”!  (You can see this in other places, like 2 Peter 3:11-14).

white-robe

3.  The general message of people who go to heaven is one of encouragement that the Bible really is true, which utterly goes against point #2.  The truth of the scripture doesn’t rest on someone’s personal testimony or experience, since the Bible is God’s personal testimony about his experience (of all history).  God doesn’t need a “backup witness” and people that suggest otherwise are usually selling something.

Snake Oil

4.  The people who go to Heaven come back with testimonies that blatantly contradict the scripture (therefore the Bible suggests that their interpretation of their experience, whatever that experience was, is a lie).  In fact, the Old Testament is filled with false prophets who actually had visions, dreams, etc. and God calls every one of them “liars” (i.e. Jer. 14:14, 23:25, 23:32; Ez. 13:6, 13:8-9,21:29,  22:28; Zech 10:2).  Only true prophets have the possibility of having authentic dreams and visions, and every dream, vision, and any other means of “revelation” is judged by the scripture (Deut. 13:5; Is. 8:19-20; Jer. 23:25-32; 2 Pet. 1:16-21).

liar

5.  The people who go to Heaven come back with testimonies that blatantly contradict each other (and they can’t all be true, right?).

contradiction

In other words, the entire “I went to Heaven” line is illegitimate when considered from every angle.  Those testimonies contradict God’s own testimony, God’s purposes in giving his testimony, and all the other competing testimonies.

On the basis of the five aforementioned reasons, I don’t have any problem dismissing all the “I took a tram to heaven”  or the “I went to Heaven and got to ride the rollercoaster” or the “I went to heaven and everything was about ME” stories as utterly false…I’m in good company doing so (Jer. 14:14, 23:25, 23:32; Ez. 13:7-9, 21:29, 22:28; Zech. 10:2).

Lyndon Unger

Posts Twitter Facebook

Lyndon is a pastor/teacher who’s currently between ministry work and in the Canadian Mennonite Brethren Witness Protection program. If you think you saw him somewhere...you didn’t.
  • 4Commencefiring4

    I tend to agree that these reported “visits” are fraught with problems and conundrums, both biblical and logical. But here’s a couple observations:

    1. While, as you say, Paul was allowed to see Glory without being allowed to describe it (or perhaps he meant he had no words sufficient to do so), we have the story of the rich man and Lazarus, which many believe to be a real case history (I don’t, but some do). If it’s describing a real peek behind the scenes, how would we reconcile that with an assertion that God does not permit us to know the pleasures or horrors of the after-life?

    2. According to those who have made a study of “near death experiences”, what people say they see during these adventures tends to correlate with the religious affiliations they already had: christians are never met by Mohammed or Moses, Muslims don’t encounter Jesus, etc. (I don’t know who atheists greet–maybe George Bernard Shaw or Carl Sagan). So if it were “real”, we would expect similar reports. But as you correctly said in point #5, no one agrees on what they saw.

    3. But the most controversial thing is, as is featured in the popular movie that’s out now about the little boy, information about things the subject could not know is revealed. The boy, for instance, speaks of his unborn sister who died before he (the boy) was ever born and was never told about her by his parents, or he correctly identifies his grandfather as he looked as a younger man–something the boy would not have known. How did he do that? Some would answer, “Satan”–but where do we read in Scripture that Satan gives us CORRECT information about things we didn’t know? What would he hope to accomplish by doing so? Beats me.

    So, all in all, I tend to agree these reports are bunk. But they are also interesting.

    • Franco

      Acts 16:16 “It happened that as we were going to the place of prayer, a slave-girl having a spirit of divination met us, who was bringing her masters much profit by fortune-telling.”

      • 4Commencefiring4

        What the slave girl proclaimed about Paul was true, not something unknown or unknowable. Fortune tellers, both then and now, operate on what is already known about their marks, and they make a living–such as it is–by telling people what they want to hear, not so much what’s true.

        But that’s still a good counter-point reference to consider. Thanks.

        • elainebitt

          Your question: “but where do we read in Scripture that Satan gives us CORRECT information about things we didn’t know?”

          Again Acts 16, this time verse 17:
          “She followed Paul and the rest of us, shouting, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved.””

          As for “why” would satan do that, that’s an easy one: a little truth used as bait. =) It works everytime, just look around at some of so-called Christian churches of our days.

          • 4Commencefiring4

            The Acts 16 episode is a bit of a mixed bag: there’s nothing wrong with what she said–it was 100% on the mark and not a message one would expect Satan to want broadcast. Like the demons who acknowledged who Christ was (“We know Who You are, the Holy One of God”), she was essentially compelled to give testimony to the truth.

            But she had become a sideshow unto herself, it seems, doggedly following Paul & Silas for days and becoming a bit much. I would submit that Paul commanded the demon to come out, not for what she was claiming about them, but for her constant effort to overshadow them.

            But as to the original observation, is this an example of Satan revealing something that was not otherwise known? I’m not down with that. The kind of destructive messages Satan employs usually have a kernel of truth, but are also layered in deception. I don’t see much deception in saying Paul and Silas were men of God proclaiming salvation through Christ. That’s what their own message was, after all. It’s my contention that they became annoyed at her constant presence, not her words.

          • tovlogos

            “Annoyance” is the operative word in this context, certainly not edification. And since the devil is a liar by his very nature, we can never ever listen to him. We can never become attuned to his voice. Thus, in this isolated incident he may have ostensibly said the ‘truth;’ but his words are never separated from his agenda; and he is relentless. Paul saw through her words.

      • 4Commencefiring4

        Also, while I’m thinking about it, Paul would later write that as long as Christ is preached, whether from selfish motives or pure, he was okay with it. So it’s interesting that, in the Acts passage, he turns against someone who is speaking the truth while having evil associations; yet later he says, essentially, no matter the preacher’s heart, the message is to be welcomed. So we have both sides.

        • elainebitt

          You are reading that verse in Phil. 1 out of context. Paul is referring to believers who preach Christ out of envy. “Some”, in verse 15, refers to brethren on verse 14.

          ” and that most of the BRETHREN, trusting in the Lord because of my imprisonment, have far more courage to speak the word of God without fear. 15 Some, to be sure, are preaching Christ even from envy and strife, but some also from good will; 16 the latter do it out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel; 17 the former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition rather than from pure motives, thinking to cause me distress in my imprisonment.” (capital for emphases mine).

        • Lyndon Unger

          Elaine is right. “Brethren” are far different than “demons”…

      • Franco

        Deuteronomy 13:1-5 ““If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or the wonder comes true, concerning which he spoke to you, saying, ‘Let us go after other gods (whom you have not known) and let us serve them,’ you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams; for the Lord your God is testing you to find out if you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. You shall follow the Lord your God and fear Him; and you shall keep His commandments, listen to His voice, serve Him, and cling to Him. But that prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death, because he has counseled rebellion against the Lord your God who brought you from the land of Egypt and redeemed you from the house of slavery, to seduce you from the way in which the Lord your God commanded you to walk. So you shall purge the evil from among you.”

    • Ella

      Or another option besides this being true or a work of satan would be the fact that the father of the boy wrote this story. He knew that his wife miscarried. He could have added that info with a twist to spice the book up for the readers. I myself am not taking the word of anyone involved for face value. Just because the author wrote that his 3 yr old son met his sister in Heaven doesn’t mean I’m eating that up with a spoon. Humans lie and have motivations, in this case the motive seems to be money. The movie has already made $13M. How much will the Burpos be giving to further the Gospel? I won’t hold my breath.

      • 4Commencefiring4

        Well, there’s always that. And we can’t know what really happened, only what they claimed. I can’t evaluate the experiences of others, just my own. Some people say they were abducted by aliens and underwent an exam. I can’t prove from Scripture that they weren’t, or that we’re the only place in the universe with life. As long as they don’t ask me for money, I’m just an observer.

      • Lyndon Unger

        Good point Ella. It’s funny how often we simply forget that some people can simply lie outright with not so much as a twitch of conscience…especially when loads of money are involved.

        *cough* Ergun Caner *cough*

    • Lyndon Unger

      Thanks for your thoughts! Here’s some responses to chew on:

      1. Thanks for bringing up Luke 16:19-31. Let’s look at what we learn there: Lazarus was with Abraham (16:22), the rich man went to Hades and was aware of those who weren’t there with him (16:23), the rich man was in a place of agony (16:24), Lazarus and Abraham were in a place of comfort (16:25), there was no way to cross over (16:26), and…wait for it…

      NOBODY gets to return from the dead to warn people they care about because the scripture are sufficient for such things (16:27-31).

      You asked “If it’s describing a real peek behind the scenes, how would we reconcile that with an assertion that God does not permit us to know the pleasures or horrors of the after-life?”

      Your question seems flawed since it appears to assume something I would certainly deny.

      God certainly does permit us to know the
      pleasures or horrors of the after-life…but he tells us about them in his Word; both inscripturated and incarnated. We don’t get to go on field trips to learn these things for ourselves from our own firsthand experience of them. We only get his eye-witness testimony of these matters.

      2. According to those who study NDEs, people get deceived into thinking that their false religions are true. Yup. Agreed there.

      3. “…where do we read in Scripture that Satan gives us CORRECT information about things we didn’t know?” Well, some arguable examples are Matt. 8:29 (& Mark 5:7-9); Luke 4:33-34, 4:41; Acts 16:17. The only caveat I’d have is with the “us”.

      “What would he hope to accomplish by doing so?”

      Deception. Truth mixed with error makes error harder to spot, and corrupts the truth that’s attached to the error.

      • 4Commencefiring4

        The NDE phenom is perplexing in some cases. Some who were committed atheists beforehand became believers afterward, and others who were nonchalant about spiritual things were transformed into zealots by what they experienced. Hard to see how the kingdom of darkness racks up points there, although it seems their near-universal post-trip message is, “No worries, everyone. Heaven is going to be great!” True–if you’re a believer. Not so much if you’re not.

        We have a few examples of instances when Christ raised people from the dead (as well as the many who came back to life after His resurrection), and the question naturally follows: What did they experience while they were “away”? We’re not told, of course, but one would have to assume that, if they were believers beforehand, their faith was certainly made more sure by it; but if they were not, they would have presumably gotten a taste of what lies ahead. So I’d have to say that “field trips”, as you called them (very good) were not disallowed…at least in those cases.

        Well, if I’m ever floating above the ER and get to hear what my surgeon is saying about my prospects, and I manage to get back to terra firma in one piece–or even two–I’ll try to report back. Don’t wait up.

    • Dave Stockhover

      What Satan would accomplish by giving correct information is DECEPTION. By giving an experience that is supernatural, people are led to believe exactly what you have just stated…”it MUST be God because it is so positive”. Therefore, they are inoculated to the real Gospel and truth of Scripture because they have been deceived by a false one. That is what Satan accomplishes

      • Dave Stockhover

        I apologize…I did not mean to say that you had just stated those experiences were positive so it must be God. I meant to say that is what you were inferring because you asked the question what would Satan accomplish. Again, I apologize.

  • Franco

    Job 7:9-10 ““When a cloud vanishes, it is gone,
    So he who goes down to Sheol does not come up.
    “He will not return again to his house,
    Nor will his place know him anymore.”

    Thanks for your article!

  • Pingback: 5 reasons why “that guy” didn’t really go to Heaven… | Christian Heritage News()

  • Some very good observations. To me, the biggest problem with the Burpo heaven-visit books is that you have to subscribe to one of two camps: if this is TRUE, then this view of heaven is basically on par with Scripture. What this kid saw of heaven is literally what we as Christians can expect, so we need to tag his heaven descriptions, onto the back of Bible with some duct tape, perhaps?

    Or, the kid’s book is bologna.

    I don’t knock NDEs necessarily. I find them fascinating, especially when people can recount details of conversations taking place in other rooms while they were brain-dead on an operating table, but I think this Burpo stuff is contrived.

    • Lyndon Unger

      Or, it’s a trap!

      • C. Bauserman

        Thank you, Admiral Ackbar.

        I wonder what would happen if someone said he went to heaven and he actually had a Scripturally sound witness… I mean, if someone went to heaven, and saw God and Christ face to face, I don’t think that person would waste anytime dropping to his knees, sticking his face to the floor, and saying, “Forgive me, for I have sinned”… Kind of like Isaiah’s vision of God.

        • I agree. I find the shampoo-model, namby-pamby visions of Jesus that people claim to see to be the most troubling.

          When I daydream about NDEs, and if I did the “47.3 minutes in heaven” thing, I’d probably find as many famous dead people as I could and ask them lots of incredibly secret and isoteric facts, so that I could get back to earth and verify if any of it was true. At the very least, get enough facts to fill up a book that would be a LifeWay bookstore best seller!

        • Karen

          If Jesus has washed away all our sins through His precious blood, then why in heaven must we have to say “Forgive me, I have sinned?” I think in heaven we will have awe of Christ for His atoning work on the cross, and we will still see the marks on His hands, but I don’t think we will have any memory of our sins on earth. I believe they will all be completely erased. I don’t think God’s grace holds our sins against us. In heaven there won’t be I’m a sinner or I’m depraved–but only the perfection of Christ in our redeemed and transformed bodies. So why in heaven must a person say “forgive me I have sinned?” They are already forgiven and with the Lord!

  • Pingback: 5 reasons why “that guy” didn’t really go to Heaven… | Truth2Freedom's Blog()

  • BOB

    Isaiah 53:3 CLEARLY says Jesus was NOT handsome, period. Also, deal with it because Jesus was NOT a white guy. If he was, he would have been the ONLY white Jew in Israel during that time (historical, non debatable fact). The kid described Jesus (the photo is in the book… I was into it before that part, seriously) is a white, handsome, Hollywood candidate (painting below per. kid’s description). NOT reality……

    • 4Commencefiring4

      Plenty of Jews look as white as Eisenhower. Natalie Portman is Jewish, as is Julia Louis Dreyfus, Michael Bloomberg, Mel Brooks, and a host of others you would know. No one knows what Jesus looked like, how tall, how heavy, or how strong. But there’s no logical reason to think He could have passed for Magic Johnson or Nelson Mandela.

  • Pingback: The Round-Up (April 29) | Entreating Favor()

  • Brian Monkey

    You should look into what prophecy is in the new testament, you may get encouraged 🙂

    1 Corinthians 14:3
    But the one who prophesies speaks to people for their strengthening, encouraging and comfort.

    • Lyndon Unger

      I should have been more clear in that. I’ll make an edit. I was talking about “warm fuzzies” (where one has a strictly emotional positive response to something, like what happens when you get kitten pictures or some made up “here’s a story about someone doing something amazingly nice” article posted on your Facebook wall), not edification (the building up and strengthening of one’s faith, which is what Paul is talking about in 1 Cor. 14:3).

    • Lyndon Unger

      I made the edit Brian. Is that more clear?

  • scottwelch

    Great article, thanks for sharing.

  • J.C.

    I love a healthy discussion!

    Can someone clear up for me as to who a “false prophet” and a “true prophet” is?

    • Lyndon Unger

      Those posts are in the queque.

  • kevin

    I linked this post to my Facebook and got this response. It is actually pretty solid. I know how I would respond to it, but certainly would love to hear yours Lyndon. Thanks!

    5 Reasons the points in this article are not necessarily valid:

    1. The scripture they reference about Paul going to heaven does NOT clearly state that Paul is talking about himself. “I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven…”. We can assume all we want, but we don’t know it was him. And whoever it was, just because “he heard things that cannot be told, which man may not utter” does NOT indicate that anyone who has seen heaven is not allowed to talk about it. This first point is jumping to WAY too many conclusions to be valid in my book.

    2. Some of the heaven-visiting authors ARE trying to point people toward Jesus. They may not be saying it the way the apostles John and Peter said it (or even in a way that I necessarily think is super useful), but… would you believe them if they did? Saying that their experience is impossible because their experience is different than John’s experience is not a very useful argument, especially considering who John is (gospel writer, disciple who “Jesus loved”, writer of Revelation).

    3. So… we are setting limits to how God can use people now? How is this even an argument? God doesn’t need people at all, and yet we exist. Trying to argue that God doesn’t need to use these so-called heaven-visitors is not valid because HE DOESN’T NEED ANYBODY. HE’S GOD.

    4. Yes, the old testament warns us of false prophets. Yes, it is very good to be discerning and don’t believe everything you read or hear. Yes, some of these authors who claim they’ve been to heaven are probably full of crap. But scripture that warns of false prophecy does not equal evidence that these people’s stories are untrue.

    5. Actually this one point might actually be valid in a way because it indicates that at least SOME of the heaven-visitors are not telling the truth. But some does not mean all. Also, not every author of the heaven books has described a self-centered heaven. At least Don Piper didn’t describe it that way (if I’m remembering correctly), and his 90 Minutes in Heaven is the only heaven book I’ve read (at least I read the interesting part). While I myself wouldn’t point anyone to this website for steps to becoming a Christian, Don Piper’s ministry has an ok informational page about “how to go to heaven” which is actually based on biblical truth:http://www.donpiperministries.com/how_to_go_to_heaven.asp

    My point is not that we should believe all these stories. My point is that there is no EVIDENCE that these heaven-visitor authors are just making stuff up. Use your own judgment based on the truth from the bible, but this article is not based on biblical EVIDENCE validating his opinion as much as the author might like you to believe.

    That said, heaven books are definitely NOT a solid foundation for faith in Jesus, and I am not going to recommend that anyone read them.

    • Lyndon Unger

      Okie Doke:

      1. Your friend is simply misunderstanding the scripture here. Paul is boasting about himself from 2 Cor. 11:16 all the way through 12:10. Paul speaks of himself in the third person in 12:2-5, but in 12:1 Paul’s in first person and 12:6 Paul switches back to first person. Notice how in 12:7, after describing the heavenly vision, Paul says “So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited.”

      So if Paul’s talking about some other super spiritual dude, why did God send Paul a thorn in his flesh to prevent Paul from conceit? I mean, does God regularly strike you with suffering to prevent you from being full of yourself because someone ELSE has an amazing experience of God?

      2. To quote Yoda, “there is do and do not. There is no try.”

      If people have a “different experience” of Heaven than the people that we know have been there for certain, we simply compare accounts. One is inspired, inerrant scripture. One is certainly not. One is pointing people to the Heaven that exists, and the Jesus that is there, and the God that is there, etc. One is not.

      You don’t “try” to point people to Jesus by spreading obvious lies about him. You don’t “try” to inform people about Heaven by getting basic facts about Heaven wrong.

      That’s no more “having a different experience” than you and I both talking about our trip to “Hawaii” and you claim to have flown for 5+ hours, enjoyed the beaches, and went to Pearl Harbor where as I drove from Seattle for 2 hours, enjoyed the mountains, and went skiing.

      One of us clearly didn’t go to Hawaii, and that person is either intentionally lying or an imbecile. Either way, you probably shouldn’t trust him.

      3. No. You friend doesn’t understand my point. The point is that God’s testimony is ultimate in both authority and truthfulness. The testimonies of other people cannot possibly add anything to the testimony of God. God’s not suspect until a dozen people corroborate his story. God’s story is the standard by which those dozen people’s stories are judged as accurate.

      People going to Heaven to verify that it’s “for real” are doing something absolutely worthless.

      We don’t need Colton Burpo to finally settle whether or not Heaven is for real. God has settled that question forever. There are no doubts…only irrational doubters.

      4. Again, your friend doesn’t understand my argument. Any story about “Heaven” that contradicts scripture is automatically a lie.

      The point about the false prophets is that we have had false/lying visions and dreams (about things like Heaven), for thousands of years. The new wave of liars are nothing new.

      5. Well, I’m glad that your friends somewhat agrees with me here. He apparently didn’t pay much attention to Don Piper’s book though. That was the most self-centered “I went to Heaven” book I’ve read! Here’s my review: http://www.amazon.com/review/R3MMMXJ7G483YO/ref=cm_cr_rdp_perm

      Your friend is simply wrong in his conclusion though. There is a whole lot of evidence “that these heaven-visitor authors are just making stuff up”. The evidence is that:

      a. They claim to have a vision of Heaven.
      b. Their vision of Heaven contradicts God’s descriptions of Heaven.
      c. There is a large biblical precedent for people having lying visions/dreams.

      So…the dreams/visions aren’t true and don’t come from God…

      Therefore…

      It’s most likely that every one of these claims about going to Heaven are lying visions/dreams.

      The Bible gives us more than sufficient reason to chuck every one of these stories in the “utter pigswill” bin.

      • Isaac Smith

        Hey there, I hadn’t thought very critically about your article until my wife posted a reply… It got me thinking.

        Let me also preface all this by saying I have read none of the books, so if your blog is intended for those who have, that will most likely explain some of my confusion. Also, I realize that this post is most likely not intended to be a thesis on the matter, and didn’t cover all the ground possible.

        1. Really all of point one, if it is a solid argument, defeats the later ones that mention what people (in the Bible) who have been to heaven, say about heaven. Either we have reports about heaven or we do not.

        2. why bring up John at all when you (and I) don’t believe it was heaven he visited?

        3. I give my personal testimony, in part, as corroborating evidence of scripture. I not only can read about how God will provide for me, but here are some ways he has! so I don’t understand how further testimony is necessarily not of God. Having not read the books, I am unable to say for certain that this is an accurate comparison, but I only mean to say that we can corroborate scripture, and even gain a deeper understanding of God, outside the scripture, HOWEVER, if this understanding is true it will not contradict scripture which brings us to point 4 and 5.

        4 and 5 are great arguments. and really seal the deal, well, 5 would only prove all but one wrong. Just one problem, and this goes back to the fact that I haven’t read the books, there are no examples of these contradictions. Do you have, or know of another source, that goes into more detail on that? I’d love to read them, but REALLY don’t want to read the books to find out.

        I hope I wrote that all fairly and in a respectful tone. That’s a struggle for me face to face, much more so, I’m sure, in type.

      • Erika

        Hi. I’m the friend of Kevin’s, thanks for your response!
        Here is the big point missing from your blog / response: A scriptural description of heaven with which to compare the heaven books.
        The ones included in the article simply do not have enough information to base your conclusions on.
        1.The fact that Paul was talking about himself in the 2 Cor is good to know, but that does not make the argument any more solid. Paul says pretty much nothing about heaven in this verse, except that “he heard things which may not be told, which man may not utter.” Not really much a description to compare the heaven books to eh?
        Also, just because Paul heard things in heaven “which man may not utter” does not mean that anyone who ever visits heaven is forbidden from talking about their experience.
        2. Quote from your article: “John the apostle went to somewhere beyond this world (I doubt that it was actually the intermediate Heaven)”
        My question is then, why are you using this as a basis of comparison when it is not the same situation? And even without this point, is it really so crazy to believe that God would use an American author from this time differently than he used John the disciple and gospel-writer?
        Also, what are these so-called “basic facts about heaven”? What scripture backs up these “basic facts”?
        Side note: What are your thoughts about Don Piper’s website page (I linked to it in the post Kevin quoted) that tells people the truth about Jesus? It’s called “How to Go to Heaven”. He seems to know the truth about Jesus, and he seems to want to spread that truth. Why would he lie about Heaven? What good would it do Satan to draw people to this guy’s ministry?
        3. In response to your comment: “The testimonies of other people cannot possibly add anything to the testimony of God. God’s not suspect until a dozen people corroborate his story. God’s story is the standard by which those dozen people’s stories are judged as accurate.”
        My husband’s response was this this was worded so effectively that I have just copied and pasted it: “To say that a hypothetical experience of visiting heaven would add nothing to our understanding of God (if that is what is being said) is false. That, or we should quit preaching, or, more on point even, giving testimonies. (Why should I tell you how God provided for me? What a worthless story! The Bible already said He would!)”
        4. You’re right, I don’t understand your point. I am fully aware that scripture is to be the basis of comparison for any account, but you have not provided scriptural evidence that proves these heaven accounts are false. You say you have, but all you have provided is your opinion that the accounts are self-centered, which is not inerrant. Give me a BIBLICAL DESCRIPTION OF HEAVEN to compare these authors’ accounts to! Otherwise your claims that their stories contradict scripture are simply unfounded.
        5. It is true that the old testament warns of false prophets and teachers. However it is NOT logical to say these verses are evidence that the heaven authors are liars.

        • Christina

          I 100% agree with Erika. Please provide a Biblical description of Heaven to contradict the books. Your opinion alone is not credible.

          • Lyndon Unger

            See the above comment.

        • Lyndon Unger

          So I’ll just hop right on writing a book on Heaven then.

          Nothing else to do with life, a family, ministry, etc.

          Quick response to your points:

          1. I never argued that people who go to heaven aren’t allowed to talk about what they see. I only suggested that the scripture gives me reason to believe that it’s far lower on God’s list of priorities than the thousands of “I took a trip to Heaven” folks want you to think.

          2. You do realize that I wrote a 500 word post, not a book. I didn’t answer every question as I’ve only got so much time to address these issues. I’m sorry, but I don’t have time to go investigate Don Piper’s website. It’s actually irrelevant as he says things about Heaven that aren’t true. I reviewed his book here: http://www.amazon.com/review/R3MMMXJ7G483YO/ref=cm_cr_rdp_perm

          3. You are misunderstanding me. I’m not suggesting that a trip to Heaven wouldn’t add anything to our understanding of God. I’m suggesting that a trip to Heaven couldn’t confirm any truths about Heaven that we have already had revealed.

          4. So I’ll just hop right on writing a book on Heaven then? I’m sorry ma’am. You’re upset that I haven’t provided the thorough refutation that you’d like and I also don’t have time to. Here’s some place to start: http://www.gty.org/resources/sermon-series/175/heaven

          5. You’re right. That’s totally not logical. That’s not what I was arguing at all. Read point 5 in my previous comment again.

          • Christina

            If I could respectfully make a suggestion: If you don’t have time to “provide a thorough refutation,” on the subjects that you choose to blog about – knowing that some readers will most likely have questions – then maybe you should choose a subject that you’re more educated on so that you DO have the time to explain your basis…instead of replying to the questions with sarcasm (i.e: “so I’ll just hop right on writing a book on Heaven then?”). Some people actually care about discerning this issue and want to know all sides so that they can make their own, clear, biblical views. If you’re going to write on a subject for the public to have access to, then you should be prepared to back it up- not toss questions to the side that you “don’t have time” to answer.

          • Lyndon Unger

            You know this is a blog, right? This isn’t a replacement for a local church, or a pastor, or personal bible study.

            You get what we have the time and opportunity to give. If you don’t like that, we can refund your money.

            Also, blogging about things I know about doesn’t magically free up the hours needed to write a long comment to someone.

            I’ve tossed some resource leads out. That’s what I got for you. Now my coffee break is over. Glad I could spend it doing this.

          • Christina

            Wow. Yes, I do know this is a blog. There would have been a way more gracious way to say what you just said in that comment, but no, you chose to be incredibly rude. Way to represent the Cripplegate.

          • Lyndon Unger

            Christina, 90% of the tone we read into the text is brought there by us. I’m not calling you names, or saying that you’re stupid. You’re the one calling me names, in case you missed it. All you have is 12 point text and you don’t know if I’m writing this in my study sipping a hot chocolate or in bed and on heavy painkillers because of complications with my treatment. Stick with what’s said and don’t pretend to be able to read between the lines because you’ll almost always be wrong.

            Again, this is a blog. That means you get what you get since this is sort of a digital brief case for thoughts that some of us have. We toss them out there. Some are edifying and encouraging (praise the Lord). Some aren’t well thought out and get honed in the process (much to our embarrassment). Some are simply wrong or dumb and we (hopefully) toss those (much to our shame).

            We don’t take requests. We give what we can, and showing up complaining that something doesn’t meet your standard of curiosity is meaningless since I don’t write for you. I don’t know you. I don’t know what continent you’re even from. I don’t pretend to. I had no idea you were going to read this and demand a refutation of a series of books. Even on a small post like this, I spend probably 5-7 hours of work, which is all my free time for several days. What you get is what I’ve had the freedom to offer.

            You’re the one making claims and demanding that I jump through some arbitrary hoop that you have established for me. You’re a commenter that I don’t know from a hole in the ground.

            I don’t owe you an explanation of whatever issue it is that you haven’t even mentioned. You’re simply written: “Please provide a
            Biblical description of Heaven to contradict the books.”

            That’s
            not a specific question. You probably didn’t mean what you wrote, but
            what you wrote was for me to refute all the books out there with a
            Biblical description of Heaven. That’s asking me to write a book.

            Do you understand what even attempting to write a biblical overview of Heaven that sufficiently rebuts a series of books would be? Do you think that would take a few hours? How would I even know that I’m scratching your itch and addressing whatever specific issue it is that you have and aren’t telling me?

            I’m sorry. I don’t have time for that. I’m sorry if that sounds arrogant or sarcastic to you.

            I honestly didn’t even think the initial comment was serious because it’s such an unreasonable request.

            Beyond that you said “maybe you should choose a subject that you’re more educated on so that
            you DO have the time to explain your basis…instead of replying to the
            questions with sarcasm”

            If the problem is not having enough time in the day to address an issue, how in the world does knowing more about something free up time to write about it? That doesn’t even make sense.

            I’m sorry that you’re upset at me not somehow doing whatever impossible thing it is that you want. I’m sorry that you just assume that I’m being sarcastic or angry or whatever.

            I’ve linked to MacArthur’s long study of Heaven, as well as my review of Don Piper’s book. If those resources don’t help, you might try asking a meaningful and specific question about a specific aspect of one of those books. I may carve out time to try to give you a specific answer, or try to point you in the right direction.

            As it stands, I’ve spend 35 minutes writing and editing this comment for you to try and be both clear and forceful without being needlessly abrasive.

            That’s time that you took from my wife.

            You’re welcome for the effort.

          • Christina

            I’m calling you names? Where in any of my comments did I call you names? I didn’t take time away from your wife. You did. You could have chosen to not reply to me and spend that time with your wife. I wrote a respectful appeal to you. You’re right when you say that it’s hard to discern tone when reading someone’s thoughts. But in this case, how am I supposed to hear anything but sarcasm when you say “we can refund your money” or “oh so I should hop right on writing a book on heaven” etc etc. You are childish. You are unkind. Oh, and FORGIVE me for taking away time from your wife to read this comment. (That’s sarcasm, just in case you can’t tell.) <— so was that.

          • Lyndon Unger

            Fair enough. I won’t reply to you anymore.

            Two questions though: Does sarcastically pointing out sarcasm work like a double negative? Does that mean that the initial comment was actually serious?

            I’m not sure how that works.

          • Isaac Smith

            Let me first say that I looked for a way to message this privately, but could not find it.

            If I were you I would be thankful that people are pointing out the weakness in my arguments, and then I would address the weaknesses, not dismiss them. You don’t have the time to do a great, complete argument, people understand, though you may have to remind us of that fact. Refer people to some good sources, including bible references, Don’t use sarcasm, even if it’s used against you. High standards for a high calling right?

            I hope my tone is as respectful as I intend it to be.

            -Isaac Smith

          • Isaac Smith

            BTW, the last 4 comments had not shown when I was working on my last comment. Also,I appreciate the edit.

          • Lyndon Unger

            Thanks for the reminder Isaac.

          • Erika

            Sir I think you have misunderstood that what Christina and I thought was missing from this post was a scripture reference that describes heaven, similar to how you provided scripture referencing false teachers and necromancers in the Old Testament. I apologize if that wasn’t clear. Thank you for providing the link to the audio series.
            Christina, I think that Lyndon was trying to express that there is no easy-to-reference scriptural description of heaven, thus why he provided the link to the audio series.
            I hope that this comment clears up a little confusion and brings closure to the discussion.

  • Jason Worrell

    Satan always mixes truth with lies, it’s part of the way he convinces people to do the wrong thing, just look at Eve. He also misinterprets Scripture and twists it for his own agenda.

    • Lyndon Unger

      Agreed.

  • Steve

    Those guys are shady entrepreneurs.

    • Lyndon Unger

      Agreed…though I’d suggest you’re free to stand on the scriptures and be more than apprehensive. You’re allowed to call something “false” when it contradicts God’s revelation about it.

  • Philip

    Has anyone been to Heaven and returned with an account or description of Heaven at any point in time in the last 2000 years? What about trips to Hell and back?

    • Philip

      From the lack of response, I suppose that I’ll have to conclude that no one has been to Heaven and returned in the last 2000 years. Same holds for Hell.

      • Lyndon Unger

        Sorry Philip. I’ve got a post coming out answering that very question.

  • Pingback: 6-String Salvo, May 2, 2014 | Mike Lee()

  • Pingback: The Round-Up (April 29) | My great WordPress blog()