July 21, 2014

Heaven is for Real…Well Duh. [Reprise]

by Clint Archer

In the shadow of the movie’s release, I thought it apropos to regurgitate this (one of my first) posts…

This annoying little book is not going away. Upon hearing his 4-year-old claim that he had visited heaven and met Samson and a blue-eyed Jesus, Pastor Todd Burpo encountered the same challenge all parents of toddlers frequently face. When my boy claims that he is actually Superman I wrestle with an identical dilemma: Do I just smile and play along til he grows out of it, or do I write a book sharing the claim with the world? What to do, what to do? 

Pastor Burpo didn’t chicken out and opt for the condescending smile-and-nod approach most of us lazy dads do. No, he employed a literary agent who successfully lured Thomas Nelson Publishers into eventually putting 1.5 million copies into print. (If anyone can get me that agent’s number, I’m very interested!) Dad exploited assisted his boy to polish his story, and Nelson presented their newest father-and-son trophy as the very yellow “Heaven is For Real: A Little Boy’s Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back.” It shot to #1 Bestseller for non-fiction.

The NY Times ran an article facetiously titled “Celestial Sales for Boy’s Tale of Heaven.” In it there is a priceless explanation of why reputable literati types would stoop to promoting this project. Patricia Bostelman, the vice president for marketing at Barnes & Noble admitted: “When you buy the religion subject, you are presented with many stories about heaven, personal experiences about …the afterlife,… But what was unusual about this book was that it was the story of a little boy. It deactivated some of the cynicism that can go along with adults capitalizing on their experiences.” In other words, when you rub shoulders with the gullible folk who “buy the religion subject” you are bound to meet shameless kooks who try to profit from fanciful lies. But this one we could promote, because it will sell. And why will it sell? Because the picture of a little boy will “deactivate” some of the normal discernment that might hinder sales.

This “non-fiction” bestseller has done embarrassingly well. Not that the Burpos are embarrassed, they’ve gone on TV News stations to promo their product. It’s the evangelical world that is shuffling its feet. What do we do now? It’s not like we don’t believe in heaven. But do we really want Colton Burpo as our Exhibit A in the case for eternity?  So how do Christians who already believe heaven is for real deal with claims from people who appear to be on our side? Do we add them to our menagerie of evidences that the Bible is true? Do we stock this account next to the Shroud of Turin, the Ark-shaped mountaintop, and that big skeleton that Goliath supposedly used? 

Here is a what I hope is a helpful suggestion on how to respond when people make claims expecting you to believe them…
The Nutshell: “Heaven is for real…well, duh, of course it’s real, God said so. Am I more/less convinced that it’s real because a toddler says so? No. I already have the more sure word of God (2 Pet 1:19).”

Read 2 Peter 1:16-21 (text found below this article). Follow Peter’s argument: “I didn’t make up the story about the mount of Transfiguration; I actually did hear the audible voice of God confirming that Jesus is the Messiah. But I don’t expect you to accept that. What I do expect you to pay attention to is the more sure word, the Bible.”

When someone claims to have a mystical experience, I would start by believing the best (perhaps they aren’t lying but truly believe it), but I would also take them to this passage and try to explain that personal experience is unsure, untouchable, and unverifiable.

Unsure. No personal experience is trustworthy enough to stake your soul on it. “Are you saying that the Bible is more sure than what I can see with my own eyes??” Yes. Ever been to a magic show? I have seen a lady chopped in three and then reassembled, but I wouldn’t try it at home. Our senses are not reliable enough to gauge spiritual truth by them. Contrast that to the Bible as Peter describes it: “no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation.”

Untouchable. Experiences are subjective, not open to critical examination. If you claim, “I saw heaven,” and I ask, “How do you know there was no LSD in your iced-tea?” You can simply reply “I just know it was true.” End of discussion. You and your subjective experience is untouchable. But how does that compare to Scripture: “No prophecy was ever produced by the will of man…”

Unverifiable. It’s open to deceptive people using the claims for their own gains. Peter says he didn’t “follow cleverly devised myths.” When your church cultivates an environment in which people believe claims of “God told me so,” you are throwing down the welcome mat for liars to run your church. Imagine a deacons’ meeting where one guy wants the carpet to be blue and the other prefers beige. The first one to say God sides with him, wins. You are asking for liars to come in and get attention they don’t deserve.

And when a new “evidence” for the supernatural surfaces, I’d simply say–in a pleasant sort of way–“Well duh, God said so.”

2 Pet 1: 16 For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,” 18 we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain. 19 And we have something more sure, the prophetic word, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, 20 knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. 21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

 

Clint Archer

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Clint is the pastor of Hillcrest Baptist Church. He and his expanding troop of Archers live near Durban, South Africa (and pity anyone who doesn't). When he is off duty from CGate, his alter ego blogs at Café Seminoid, clintarcher.com
  • http://twitter.com/azekveld Andrew Zekveld

    Three “Un’s” followed by “Duh!” – Good points to recognize Truth …

  • Scott

    Excellent. I truly wish more within the church would show some discernment like this when presented with these books, instead of instantly making them best sellers. Great post. Thank you.

  • http://twitter.com/WilliamsonShane Shane Williamson

    Im sure I’ve heard this before, somewhere? Hahaha. Im kidding. Thanks Clint. This blog is growing exponentially! Another timely reminder.

  • Anonymous

    I feel a need to defend Thomas Nelson briefly. They are different than Crossway or some other Christian publishers because they are not so concerned about the theological content of books, as much the fact that the author is a Christian (in the loosest sense of the term). They pride themselves on having different authors that disagree on “non-essentials” of the faith. They also say that the readers should determine what books get published, not publishers. Thus, the more a book sells, the more they push it.
    The result is that they publish Benny Hinn, John MacArthur, RC Sproul, and this book. So I say blame the public that buys it, rather than the publisher.

  • Anonymous

    Haha! “Do I just smile and play along til he grows out of it, or do I write a book sharing the claim with the world?” and “Because the picture of a little boy will ‘deactivate’ some of the normal discernment that might hinder sales.” Good stuff. Proverbs 26:5.

  • http://www.susiefinkbeiner.wordpress.com Susie Finkbeiner

    I think that one of the dangers in this kind of book is the “followers”. Like any gimmicky Christian “gift” book it can be the focus of near idol worship. We saw this with all the angel following, Jabez praying fads. They might be born of good intentions…but could they simply distract from the gospel message? Good things for us to contemplate.

    • jeffrey

      I saw it at my church with everybody getting excited with Don Piper and his 90 Minutes in Heaven.

  • Elaine

    “I have heard what the prophets have said who prophesy falsely in My name, saying, ‘I had a dream, I had a dream!’ ”

    As for the publisher, it’s all about money to them, that’s the bottom line. It’s not about theology content? Of course it’s not, it’s about truth. Are we not supposed to shut the mouths of all these liars who misrepresent our God and Lord? No, instead “Christianity” (also used loosely) give them even a wider platform.

    • Anonymous

      In one sense, for publishers it is about the money. Books don’t publish themselves. An author can self publish, but they they can only get the books to people they know. A publisher can put them in stores around the country, and that costs money.
      All that to say, the success of Heaven is for Real can be viewed, as Susie said above, as just the latest best selling Christian book that shows how shallow most evangelical readers really are. It really points back to the shallowness of churches, which breaks my heart.

      • Elaine

        Are you really saying that I implied publishers shouldn’t think about money? I hope not, I am not that… hmmm… naive. I said “it’s ALL about the money”, and not “it’s about the money”. When anyone, a publisher or not, helps to disseminate error, what’s that called? Maybe compromise of truth? Mix error and truth a little here, a little there, “after all we need the money to print all the good stuff”?

        Furthermore, I am not really worried about Christians’ (real ones) broken hearts when they (“us” actually) come across shallowness of churches and “Christian” books (the one in case is not Christian, it’s error wrapped in what the world sees as Christian, so it’s not a case of said book to be shallow, it’s simply NOT Christian – unless, of course, you believe the boy really had a glimpse of heaven, then it’s Christian for you, but not according to what the Bible teaches). What concerns me most in cases like this is that God and His kingdom are being misrepresented, it is a reproach to all of us who bear the name of Christ. We, and Christ, are the joke of the day to many people in the world because of books like that.

        John MacArthur is his study of Titus (code 56-10) says:
        [i]“We can silence them [evil men and seducers] by taking away their platform. We don’t do that in our day. We put them on radio. We put them on TV. We publish their books. We let them have rallies in our churches. We propagate their tapes.

        I was sitting at lunch with a publisher and I said to him, “I want to ask you a question…why in the world would you publish Benny Hinn’s book Good Morning, Holy Spirit?” A book that in its original edition before it was fixed had nine members of the trinity and assorted other strange fantasies. “Why would you publish that?”

        And his answer, and I quote, was very straight forward, he said, “Oh, we publish everything.”

        That was it.

        There is an obligation on the part of Christianity to give voice to some men and to silence others. And we silence them by taking away their platform.”[/i]

        • Anonymous

          Agreed.

  • http://mriccardi.blogspot.com Mike Riccardi

    While both the publishers who make this stuff available and the Christians who buy this stuff both share fault, let’s not let that issue take away from the thrust of this post — the thrust that confronts our own poor thinking as well as the publishers and the shallow Christian landscape. That is: Scripture is the interpreter of our experience, and not vice versa.

    “The Bible is more sure than what I can see with my own eyes.” That is a true statement, and it’s absolutely amazing.

    If more people believed that, (1) there’d be no market for books like these, and (2) the church would be a whole lot healthier, nourishing herself on the Words of her Master, and not the junk food of her own speculations and impulses.

    Well done, Clint.

    • Elaine

      Of course, and I agree with you. It’s not the false teacher who creates a following, it’s the people who create those false teachers, wanting to have their ears tickled.

  • Mary Elizabeth Tyler

    I agree, Elaine, for filthy lucre’s sake people will print anything, and gullible, blind fools will buy it and eat it up like candy. There never ceases to be an audience for the lurid, salacious, slanderous, sensual and corrupt inventions of totally depraved minds. This is an age-old story.

    How is this book any different from 90 Minutes in Heaven by Don Piper? At least I believe that is the title. It sounds to me like he also had an experience equivalent to this young child, not to mention all the Virgin Mary sightings, and the crevices in trees that hold the sacred image of Jesus, and even crusts of bread that bear the divine image, as well. There is a charlatan for every genre in life.

    There will always be chasers of signs and wonders because their imaginations and lusts put them at high risk, and they become a casualty of their own desires. Everyone who I have ever discussed this with (signs and wonders and extra Biblical revelations), always say the same thing. Canon is NOT closed. Thus, their excuse for every which way their doctrinal wind blows.

    A more sure word is ALL we have. Amen, Clint!

  • http://mriccardi.blogspot.com Mike Riccardi

    Hey look! Another one! (HT: Challies)

    • jeffrey

      Please, No.

  • m.mcglam1017

    Good read. I wrote something similar on my site regarding our overreliance on experience to the exclusion of scripture.

    http://mountaintheology.blogspot.com/2011/03/blog-post.html

  • Pingback: Heaven is for real… Well Duh. « Pursuing Truth

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  • Anonymous

    Clint, thanks for your post my friend, I do appreciate it. I had not heard of this book until a few weeks ago when a new couple who just began attending a few months ago brought it to my attention and were very excited about it. Clearly I’m living under a rock! Anyway, we had some excellent initial discussion but you make a few additional points that I had not thought of and so will circle back around with them. They have yet to truly embrace Christ and so books like this continue to reveal their ‘grasping’ and searching for truth rather than depending upon the ‘living and abiding word of God.’ Thanks again! John

  • http://markpenrith.wordpress.com/ Mark Penrith

    “It’s the evangelical world that is shuffling its feet. What do we do now?” is quotable. I serve a community prone to swagger of flashy pastors and their sparkling stories. Shuffling my feet trying to figure out a response is what I do on a weekly basis as I’m assaulted after church with all manner of fanciful tales. I’ve not mastered the art yet however the concepts above ring true to me.

  • Shauna(restintheway)

    Good article Clint. Hey when I saw you on here I emailed my friends in SA and they do know you and enjoy the fellowship with your family and your church. They are missionaries of ours (we went to the same church – their sending church, in Michigan!) Kyle and Heather Farran. This internet thing makes for a small wold, eh?!

  • Jennifer

    I’ve only flipped through this book, not read it thoroughly, but I don’t see it too differently from being thrilled if my child had been healed of a disease or had their life profoundly changed through Salvation. I haven’t read the book all the way through, but I think those are personal, experiential evidences of what the Bible says in the same way this book is and I’d be sharing it with anyone who would listen. I don’t see it as “why I should believe in Heaven” but rather another way God chooses to reveal himself to someone in a particular way. It’s not the basis for my faith, but neither am I offended by it.

    • http://mriccardi.blogspot.com Mike Riccardi

      …but I don’t see it too differently from being thrilled if my child had been healed of a disease or had their life profoundly changed through Salvation.

      Wouldn’t you agree, though, Jennifer, that there is a qualitative difference between (a) experiencing a medically-unexplainable healing or getting saved and (b) receiving personal revelation from God outside of the Scriptures?

      Also, I think a big difference has to do with Clint’s three points at the end there, especially the final two. A healing can be verified, and so can the change in one’s life as a result of salvation. But there’s no way to honestly and responsibly verify someone’s claim to direct revelation from heaven.

      I don’t see it as “why I should believe in Heaven”… It’s not the basis for my faith, but neither am I offended by it.

      The thing is, though, the name of the book is, “Heaven is for Real.” And what follows in the book is supposedly evidence for that claim. And the evidence given isn’t the testimony of Scripture, but of someone’s supposed, unverifiable experience. So there’s the rub. What is more reliable evidence for supporting such a claim? Experience, or Scripture? Peter clearly prefers the latter (2Pet 1:16-21). If we prefer the former, I believe we dishonor the sufficiency of Scripture.

      • Jeremy MacGray

        Keep in mind that the “scripture” you refer to didn’t always exist in the format and entirety that you presumably base your criticism on. The “word of God” and “scriptures” referred to in the new testament texts are not speaking of the bible you hold in hand, obviously, which is “verifiable” using the basic chronology.
        My point being, what would your response be to Jennifer had you lived 300 years previous to the canonization of the current scriptures? What would your qualitating, verifying source be?
        That being said I felt that Burpo kept verifying his son’s claims in a very Berean-like manner by filtering it through the truths presented in the bible.
        No?

        • Anonymous

          This is probably worth its own post, but the NT was recognized as Scripture immediately after it was written. But if this kind of event had happened prior to the writing of the NT, we have Paul’s response where he was caught up to heaven. He said, essentially, that he wouldn’t even describe it because it was unverifiable, and thus unprofitable to discuss. That is a far cry from writing a book about it.
          In point of fact, Peter’s experience on the mountain was prior to the NT writings, and it was him who said that the Scripture was made more sure than his experience (and he called Paul’s writings Scripture, btw).

        • http://mriccardi.blogspot.com Mike Riccardi

          My criticism does not rest on that assumption. As Jesse said, the NT was Scripture when it was written. Contrary to your claim that “The ‘word of God’ and ‘scriptures’ referred to in the new testament texts are not speaking of the bible you hold in hand,” those terms include in them the NT as well as the OT. Here’s what I base that on:

          – God spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and many ways (Heb 1:1). That’s the OT.
          – In these last days, He has spoken to us in His Son (1:2), who is the ultimate revelation of the Father to man (Heb 1:3; John 1:18; 14:9). That’s Christ.
          – The Son then promised that He would send the Spirit to bring to the Apostles’ remembrance all that He said (John 14:26). These are the four Gospels.
          – He also promised that the Spirit would guide them into all truth, revealing to them those things which they could not bear then (John 16:12–13). This is the rest of New Testament revelation.

          We see this confirmed in Peter’s statement in calling Paul’s writings “Scripture” (2Pet 3:16) and Paul calling Luke’s writings “Scripture” (1Tim 5:18; cf. Lk 10:7).

          My point being, what would your response be to Jennifer had you lived 300 years previous to the canonization of the current scriptures? What would your qualitating [sic], verifying source be?

          Your question assumes that there was no authoritative NT literature before Nicea, which is demonstrably false. What the 4th century provided was a universally recognized, universally available collection of the NT. But virtually all of the NT books were recognized as Scripture somewhere by the end of the first century, and without question by AD 170 (see Metzger, Canon of the NT).

          So, the “more sure prophetic word” to which I would direct your, or Jennifer’s, attention, is the apostolic witness that was available in large part by the turn of the second century. Jesse’s comment also answers the second part of your question. Both Paul and Peter demonstrate their reluctance to rely on experience, while Peter explicitly esteems Scripture as superior over experience.

          • Jeremy MacGray

            Maybe a better question would be, ” Why does the post have to be cynical and sarcastic?” My personal opinion is that it would be more edifying and helpful if the book was actually reviewed in a claim vs. scripture format.
            Ironically, there’s as much unverified sarcastic speculation in Clint’s review of the book as he claims there is in the book itself!
            Just a thought…

          • http://mriccardi.blogspot.com Mike Riccardi

            Is “Just a thought…” your way of absolving yourself from having to produce actual examples of unsubstantiated criticisms?

            We don’t mind the disagreement here. We really don’t. How else would we expect to be sharpened by our brothers and sisters? But what we do mind is disagreement that doesn’t engage what’s written. If you believe Clint’s violated the principles with which he’s evaluating Burpo’s book, by all means, document it, and if he has time he’ll reply. But don’t just assert something without backing it up just because it has a bit of a rhetorical punch.

          • Anonymous

            In fairness, even Challies called Clints post snarkey… There is a point that Clint didn’t do a review of the book. I don’t think that was his objective. Clints main point, as I read it, is that it is silly and ultimately unhelpful to point to an experience as proof of the afterlife. Plus, believing stories like that shows a lack of discernment.

          • Jeremy MacGray

            “just a thought” is a courtesy statement by which I am placing my opinions below those of the person in authority, viz. Mike, Clint, etc. and I that is still my intent as I continue. :)

            I would suggest that there are no “unsubstantiated criticisms” of the book’s content for me to produce because no review of the book’s content exist.
            I suppose you can skirt this issue by stating, “the principles with which he’s evaluating Burpo’s book” and therefore any principles by which a reviewer chooses to review make for a legitimate review of a book, but I would disagree since the title of the title of this section of your web page is “Book Review”. ;)
            I agree with jarbitro that, in this instance, it is instead a platform for Clint to share his issues and opinions regarding how Burpo publicly communicated the experiences he had with his son. Right or wrong, I’m not disagreeing or agreeing, but I think it stands that no review of the book exists.

            Again, that being said, as I read the book I did not get the impression that Burpo was trying the prove the existence of heaven through the experiences of his son. Burpo clearly believes previous to his son’s comments and appears, through his writing, to have known scripture pretty well also. (As I understood it, when the family was trying to give the book a name the son blurted out “heaven is for real!” as any young child with a hint of skepticism would do upon finally coming to believe something wholeheartedly.)
            I don’t think many people in Burpo’s shoes would casually brush off the comments of his son as a “Superman dilemma” especially when they are considered in light of filtering them through the words of scripture to verify their validity as Burpo so diligently did.

            Unless you believe that the bible is just a set of propositional truths and not also a great story of God and His interaction with His people throughout history in each of their various lives, then some amount of value must be attributed to personal experience. In no way am I diminishing the authority and value of scripture and, in fact, I would agree in asserting that our experiences must be substantiated by scripture, which outside of a few things in the book, I think Burpo does well.
            Our entire lives are experiences; not just black and white truths, as if only we could discern what those truths were. The reality of the one and only great God is much more broad and wild than that as I’m sure each of us can attest to via the personal dynamics of our relationship with Jesus; unique in so many ways and similar in so many.

            Let’s get a review of the book’s content and point out the strengths and weaknesses of the material so that when people read it (and be assured they will) they have the tools to objectively and discerningly, not cynically and sarcastically ;), evaluate what the author is communicating.

          • Anonymous

            FWIW, clint actually put this under evangelicalism, and I changed it to book review. Probably worth switching it back though. Ill do that later today.

  • http://mriccardi.blogspot.com Mike Riccardi

    Let’s recap, Jeremy.

    First, your problem is that the objective authority that takes precedence over and interprets our experience wasn’t available for a 300-year period. So, hypothetically, the question is, what would I say then.

    I answer that, noting the superficial understanding of the development of the canon and unmasking it for the tired canard that it is, and then the problem switches to why Clint has to be sarcastic.

    Giving you the benefit of the doubt, remembering, as Jesse brought up, that even Challies said it was snarky, I ask you to document your accusation (read: mere assertion) that there is “as much unverified skepticism” in the original post as in the book.

    Then, instead of that, we get a critique of whether or not the original post is worthy of the very official “Book Review” label, followed by some…interesting…argumentation that suggests since the Bible is a story, our experiences matter. Of course, no one has actually denied that experiences matter, so, like much else, that’s neither here nor there. What’s being discussed is how much they matter, and how much weight should be given to them given the close of the canon and the sufficiency of God’s revelation as revealed therein. As to that point, 2Pet 1:16-21 continues to speak loud and clear.

    So, you’ve gone from one complaint, to another, to another, with very little interaction with the post itself. Your contribution essentially amounts to asking for a more objective review. In which case I might point you to this one as a helpful companion to the above.

    • http://mennoknight.wordpress.com/ Lyndon Unger

      Cripplegate is officially another great blog. Thanks for the thoughts Clint! I was given that book by some well meaning people and gave it a 20 minute speed read, which revealed that it was basically what I thought it was; nutty. Sadly, I then saw it at a huge national bookstore chain here in Canada and it’s one of the top 20 best sellers in Canada. Yikes!

      It’s unbelievable that someone can write a book about spending 90 minutes in Heaven, 23 minutes in Hell, or 3 minutes in *somewhere* (I don’t know where Colton Burpo thought he was, but I think he was describing the New Jerusalem in the book…kinda…), and millions of people give them $15 for it. This stuff always is so strange because it’s so demonstrable false. Then again, many Christians don’t know enough about the Bible to answer a question as simple as “do people get wings and a halo in Heaven”?

      Speaking of halo, I feel like playing XBox!

  • Brettgjacobs

    I just the book and I am sifting through all the comments on this blog. My question to the good people of this blog is this: what would you do if you were in Todd’s position? If something tugged at your heart and felt inspired by the Holy Spirit, would you share it with the world? Or would you hide it in shame? I, personally, would share it and have it be received in whatever way a person’s heart would do with it. I know this book makes Christians an easy target for ridicule but why so much concern for being ridiculed? Isn’t our job to share the good news…even if it may not come right out of any page in the Bible. Has there ever been a story outside the Bible that gave you the feeling that the Holy Spirit was at work? I know the point being made is that the boy’s story cannot be corroborated and our discernment should tell us to be skeptical but where does discernment end and faith begin?

    • http://mriccardi.blogspot.com Mike Riccardi

      If something tugged at your heart and felt inspired by the Holy Spirit…

      I’m not sure if you mean “inspired” in a technical or non-technical way. If you mean something you believed the Holy Spirit impressed upon you, then go ahead and share it. But share it as just that: an impression, not a revelation.

      If you mean “inspired” in the same way the Holy Spirit inspired the writing of Scripture, then there’s a theological disagreement. We (and I believe I’m speaking for my fellow-contributors on this blog, they can correct me if I’m wrong) don’t believe that the Holy Spirit is giving inspired revelation today. That category belongs to Scripture alone. When the Apostle John finished his last stroke, the fullness of God’s revelation was complete. The sufficiency of that revelation teaches us to locate authority in Scripture alone.

      Isn’t our job to share the good news…even if it may not come right out of any page in the Bible.

      If by this you mean, “Can we preach the Gospel without using only Scripture?” then the answer is: of course. But the Gospel is not, “Hey! Heaven is real! I had a dream that told me so!” It’s that sinners can be forgiven through the shed blood of the crucified and resurrected God-man, and that God said so in His Word.

      Has there ever been a story outside the Bible that gave you the feeling that the Holy Spirit was at work?

      The Holy Spirit is at work in every minute detail of our lives. That’s what meticulous providence is all about. But there’s a difference between providential guidance and inspired revelation.

      …but where does discernment end and faith begin?

      Discernment doesn’t end at all. And both discernment and faith begin and end with Scripture.

      • Brettgjacobs

        Mike – Thanks so much for your reply. I see your knowledge of Scripture and the concepts that govern it are no match for my own….hehe. I jest in good nature. As I read your breakdown of my post, one thing really sticks out to me. That was the idea whether this book is a revelation or an impression. Since, the blog’s author suggests a ‘D’uh’ at the end of the book’s title to indicate that this is not new knowledge (revelation) then that puts this book firmly in the impression category. Correct? Then my question to everyone here is why all the commotion?

        I suppose the ones who frequent this blog are a bit more on the scholarly side and to this group a book like this is the equivalent of telling a marine biologist that fish need water to breathe. Seems like an awful silly comparison, I know. But believe it or not, there are people out there that range from having never heard the message of Christ to knowing but have been, for some reason, completely repelled by organized religion. Some would sooner have faith in the flying spaghetti monster then Christ.

        For many of those people, Scripture alone hasn’t compelled them in any way and to approach this subject with them with the intent on winning over their hearts would almost be impossible. I really don’t see the problem if the impressions in this story trigger something inside the atheists to the Christians w/Questions to open up and possibly accept that Christ is our Savior and that if we have Christ in our heart (i.e. at the heart of all that we do) then we will be saved.

        In fact, I think I should ask everyone to check their own hearts to see what is motivating their critical nature in favor of silencing the voices that are bringing people closer to God and His love. (yes, these people might stand to make some money but for some to compare them to Benny Hinn is shameful) Also, Mike, I was really confused by what you said about preaching the Gospel without using only Scripture. You went on in mocking tone to say, ‘But the Gospel is not, “Hey! Heaven is real! I had a dream that told me so!”‘ Who are we to say?

        • http://mriccardi.blogspot.com Mike Riccardi

          Then my question to everyone here is why all the commotion?

          Because it’s not being presented as an impression, but as a revelatory vision.

          Your third paragraph is very troubling. You seem to imply that there is some other trigger of faith aside from the message of the Gospel — such as tales of personal experiences and visions. Yet the Scripture tells us that faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ (Rom 10:17). 1 Peter 1:23-25 tells us that people are born again by the living and enduring Word of God. James 1:18 tells us that we were brought forth into new life by the word of truth.

          In short, if Scripture hasn’t compelled someone, nothing else will. Unbelievers need a new heart, not more information. And God has declared that the means by which He grants that new heart is through the preaching of His Word.

          …silencing the voices that are bringing people closer to God and His love.

          Well, that’s kind of begging the question. “Bringing people closer to God and His love” needs to be defined by Scripture — how God Himself has said He will bring people to Him. And the testimony remains clear (2Pet 1:16-21): He does so by revealing Himself in His Word.

          ‘But the Gospel is not, “Hey! Heaven is real! I had a dream that told me so!”‘ Who are we to say?

          We are people with access to a Bible — that is, what the Holy Spirit has already revealed. Do you really want to argue that “Heaven is real! I had a dream that told me so!” is the Gospel with which Christians have been entrusted to take to the ends of the earth? Is that what Peter and Paul preach as they’re taking the Gospel to Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth?

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