Why Are We So Afraid Of Heaven

Last week the movie Heaven is for Real came out in theaters. I haven’t seen it. My grandma sent me the book because Christian. I’m a Christian and a pastor so therefore she sends me anything she finds in the Christian section of Wal-Mart. I honestly like the effort. She doesn’t have to send me anything. I wish I liked more cheesy Christian stuff.  I digress.

I think I am going to see this movie. It will most likely be on DVD. Don’t judge my love of God but I have to save my pennies to go see really important documentaries like Spiderman 2, and the new X-Men. Maybe my grandma will send me tickets to see Heave is for real. If she does I’ll go. If not I’m going to rent it.

I am excited that it came out in theaters. There seems to be the common thought that Hollywood hates Christians. And yet in this year we’ve already had 3 1/2 faith based films. Son of God, God’s Not Dead, Heaven Is For Real, and Noah. Noah gets the 1/2 mark because Christians hated it. Let this sink in though. Heaven Is For Real is the third faith based film this year. But wait! There is more. Mom’s Night Out comes out in May and is a very funny faith based film.

With this swarm of Christian films you would think that Christians would be celebrating. Not so much. Instead they seem to fight every thing that comes out.

Enter Heaven Is For Real.

As with anything that’s popular in the Christian subculture it’s met with great fanfare and great fear. There have been lots of blog posts, warnings, and Facebook rants about not going to see this movie.

If you are not familiar with the story it’s about a little boy who dies but is then miraculously brought back to life at the hospital. Over the next few days/weeks he says things that he should not know about to his parents. They become convinced that when he died he went to Heaven.

Apparently it’s been very inspiring to a lot of people.

The preview is below.

So why are many Christians afraid of this film?

“My concern is this: Christians, in their enthusiasm for the glimpse of heaven that is offered in the book, may begin to base their view of the afterlife and of heaven on these sorts of experiences rather than on what the Bible teaches.” William Lane Craig

Okay, I get that. Christians should love the Bible. Christians should allow the Bible to form their views on God. Heaven is for Real is not the Bible. But…

Why are we so afraid of it?

If a movie inspires people to believe more deeply in God then that’s okay right? I mean Jesus told parables that most likely were not true stories. Those parables challenged the status quo, encouraged believers, and drew a crowd.

I view movies like Heaven Is For Real like a parable. It might be true. The real life boy and his pastor father seem legit in interviews. Maybe it was not really Heaven that the boy saw, but a vision from God. Maybe it was not even God but a good dose of drugs to put him to sleep before his surgery. Either way I’m not afraid of it.

My faith is built on what I read in the Bible. So many today seem to believe that God is done in the miracle business. If the same God that raised the dead in the Bible is still active today this book is plausible. Right?

What if we base our views of Heaven off of the account of a four year old boy? We might get some things wrong. Like when Christians based their belief that the earth was the center of the universe. The believed this because of verses like…

“He set the earth on its foundations, so that it should never be moved.” Psalm 104:5

Clearly the Bible states that the earth does not move. So when Galileo challenged the common belief by looking into space through  a telescope he was branded a heretic and spent the rest of his life under house arrest. Um…not a good move.

Now you can disagree with me and we can still be friends. I hope we still can. In fact I disagree with author and pastor David Platt’s stance on this movie. He’s one of my favorite preachers and I love his book Radical. I disagree with his stance against Heaven Is For Real. I still like him.

You can watch David’s argument against the film here.

He is convinced the story is fiction. He warns that Christians should have more discernment. He says the book, Heaven Is For Real, is fiction.

David bases his frustration with the film on John 3:13…

“No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven.” John 3:13

I’m not sure that when Jesus said this He was making the point that no one has ever visited Heaven and then come back to earth. I’ve often wondered why people who died in the Bible and came back to earth were silent about their experience. What did happen to them? Did things change after Jesus died, went to Heaven, and then came back to earth? I don’t know.

And that leads me to not be afraid of Heaven Is For Real. I’ll see it. I’ll probably shed a tear but act like some butter from my popcorn squirted into my eye. Men don’t cry. We deny.

If you see it watch it for what it is. A movie. It does not replace the Bible but it’s okay to encourage your faith in God.

No one goes to Hell for believing that Heaven Is For Real is real. Just like no one went to hell for believing the earth is the center of the universe.

Do you agree or disagree? Can we still be friends? Why do you think Christians are so afraid about so many things?

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Rob Shepherd

I am the full-time husband of a wonderful woman! I love being married! We are proud parents to twins, Hayden and Reese. In my spare time I am the pastor of Next Level Church. I have a relationship with God and it is an adventure. Oh and I wrote a book. It's called Even If You Were Perfect Someone Would Crucify You.


  1. April 25, 2014

    Surely all of these movies are a sign of the Apocalypse? Time to stock up on bottled water, batteries, and plywood.

  2. Mary
    April 25, 2014

    Read the book,saw the movie,both EXCELLENT!!!!!! People are always looking for a way to dis believe Jesus,one day they will feel real stupid standing in his presents re thinking their opinion!

  3. jebatthebeach
    April 25, 2014

    Totally AGREE. I’m surprised at David P. I have not read the book or seen the movie. I go to about 1 movie per year. I believe “something” happened.

  4. Shay
    April 25, 2014

    Ok..here I go again lol I don’t think there is anything wrong with seeing the movie, and I plan to see it this weekend. No, this movie is not the BIble. But why should we put God in such a box as to say he cannot use things other than just the BIble to help us to learn about Him. I agree, our fundamental foundations (or fundamentals of the faith) if you will should only come from the BIble, but hey, God is big enough to use anything to teach us.

    Please tell me if I’m wrong Rob, but wasn’t there something in the BIble about Paul making it to the third heaven and not wanting to come back?
    I think one of the reasons some people are so afraid of this movie, (and I may be going out on a limb here) is because if we really and truly accept the fact that Heaven IS for real, and people are who we know them to be, and consciousness is a real thing there, then we also have to accept the fact that hell is just as real. That’s a little harder to swallow for some. That’s just an observation I have. But if we accept that, then we should be moved to an even greater extent to show and tell the love of Jesus to others. Awesome blog! Im done rambling for the day now lol

  5. mim Shepherd
    April 25, 2014

    I don’t think we should put the God of heaven and earth in a box. We do not have a box big enough to contain the God who can do immeasureably more than we ask or imagine.

  6. April 25, 2014

    I don’t think of it as being afraid of this sort of thing. I kind of go along with Tim Challies in referring to this sort of thing as Heaven Tourism. I don’t get it. Do I think that this boy or Don Piper actually went to heaven and came back? No. Why? Because the story becomes more about their experience. Their experience seems to get glorified more than Christ. Maybe that’s just me being cynical and having a bad attitude toward them, but I’m just not going to get on their bandwagon.
    And yes, we will be friends. If you and I agreed on everything, then I think we might not really like each other. Sometimes I don’t like myself. I would love to be an IRL friend of yours and argue and debate stuff and then go see X-Men and Spidey together.

  7. Joseph M.
    April 26, 2014

    I do not see the conflict here. There is a large chance this kid went to Heaven isn’t that the place kids go when they die or is that something we believe just to fit in with the crowd? It seems to me with Christianity it’s pick and choose. I believe this glory to god almighty and a golden duck but oh I do not believe that…. Seems a little off to me.

  8. April 27, 2014

    I read the book and saw the movie. I’d recommend either. I’m pretty sure Jesus had a good reason for saying, “unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven.” Heaven Is For Real offers us a view of Heaven from a child’s perspective. I think the biggest danger this story exposes is our desire as adults to make things far more complicated than they need to be.


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