03 May 2014

Perry Noble "Loved" and Recommends the Book 'Heaven Is for Real'

Perry Noble ignores the "theological
police" and endorses Heaven Is for Real.
Perry Noble of NewSpring Church has finally tossed his unsolicited two cents into the Heaven Is for Real discussion. In a May 2 blog post, Noble writes:
Bottom line, I loved the book (I have not seen the movie). I know the “theological police” have issues with it and have attempted to point out where it “falls short” of what the Scriptures say. (Source)
He then goes on to share two questions that he "wrestled" with, as well as his conclusions. The first question is "Could God have done this?" Noble's answer: "Absolutely."
Who am I to claim that this event did not take place? …

Too many people are trying to limit God through their experiences and their theological view in regards to this matter.
Yet, it is precisely because people put far too much emphasis on their experiences that books such as Heaven Is for Real are given a second glance in the first place.

In a recent post at Grace to You entitled "The Idolatry of Experience," Dr. John MacArthur states,
One of the most troubling aspects of Heaven Is for Real is the way Todd Burpo constantly insinuates that personal experiences—even the spectral memories of a three-year-old boy under anesthetics—are somehow more compelling than Scripture alone. “I had been a Chris­tian since childhood and a pastor for half my life, so I believed that before. But now I knew it” (p. 84). Colton’s experiential exegesis of heaven has clearly made a far more profound impact on Todd (and has been more formative to his notion of the afterlife) than anything he had previously gleaned about heaven from his own study of Scripture.

That way of thinking is diametrically opposed to what the Bible says about faith, experience, and the authority of Scripture. In fact, the most important defense Christians have against self-deception is a conviction that the written Word of God is more certain and more authoritative than anyone’s experience. Scripture teaches this explicitly and repeatedly.

MacArthur reminds that in 2 Peter 1:16–21, the apostle describes a very real, no doubt life-transforming experience, namely the Transfiguration. Yet he says this, "So we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts" (2 Pet 1:19). Though Peter had experienced the Transfiguration, he nevertheless appealed to Scripture as "the prophetic word made more sure."

While Perry Noble attempts to appeal to Scripture to justify his affirmation that Colton Burpo might have gone to Heaven, he fails to acknowledge the fact that many of Burpo's so-called recollections do not align at all with what Scripture does tell us about Heaven. For instance, the young Burpo child claims that people in Heaven have wings. Yet nowhere in Scripture is this even remotely indicated. Perhaps the most well-known depiction of this has been in the Sunday morning newspaper comic strip "Family Circus." Yet because this anesthetized child says people in Heaven have wings, we are to accept it blindly as fact. Says the FAQ section of the website of Heaven Is for Real Ministries:
Do we really get wings in heaven? 
As Colton says, “You get to choose if you want to walk or fly.” Again, the Bible is silent on this issue. No verse says that our heavenly bodies will or will not have wings. Colton clearly remembers wings, and because he remembers so many other smaller details that align with Scripture, it would be unusual for him to mistake something as obvious as wings on everyone’s backs.
Again, the powers behind this book desire for people to believe a child over and above the Word of God.

Perry Noble's blog post continues as he asks, "Isn't the fact that people are talking about heaven a win?"
Once again, I believe some people have missed the point entirely on this…people are talking about heaven and hell. Some of the best selling books over the past several years have been on these subjects. Which I believe is positive because the more people talk about it the more people will seek out answers, which COULD lead many people to actually attend a church, read a Bible or talk to a Christian they know.

It is sad because Christians want people to talk about God and the Bible, but they only want people to do so through their particular theological viewpoint.
Yet, in presuming that seeing the movie or reading the book Heaven Is for Real might lead a person to talk to a Christian, what might they learn if they turn to a Christian whose theology has been derived from a bestselling, arguably fictional book full of tales from a child's mind? Would they hear the gospel, or would they hear about the wonders of Colton Burpo's heaven and rainbow horses?

Yes, Perry, we do want people to talk about God and the Bible, and we want them to do it from a biblical viewpoint. If this is an irrelevant approach in the mind of seeker-driven pastors and their followers, then the problem has to lie in those who are spurning the Bible, not in the Bible itself. If people are talking about this book or this movie, then they are not talking about God's Word. They are choosing to listen to cleverly devised tales and myths of men over and above the clear, sufficient Word of the all-knowing God.

Indeed, does not the fascination with such phenomena as Heaven Is for Real ultimately point to a dissatisfaction with the sufficiency of the Word? Says John MacArthur in the aforementioned article:
The authors of these stories—and evi­dently millions of readers as well—regard these testimonies as authori­tative, reliable, and full of superior insights that can take readers to a higher level of understanding and enlightenment beyond what we can get from the Bible. In other words, all of these books take a similarly protognostic stance on heaven and the afterlife. All of them are dan­gerous and misleading. That includes the ones that seem fairly benign as well as the ones that are clearly steeped in occult superstition. All of them stand as reminders to us that Scripture and Scripture alone is the only safe place for Christians to learn anything about the immortality of human souls, what happens to a person after death, what heaven is like, what awaits the unrighteous in hell, and what we can expect in the judgment to come. . . .

Clearly, if we believe Scripture is the Word of God, we must re­ject every anecdotal account that contradicts or goes beyond what Scripture teaches. We must also refuse to get caught up in every kind of speculation, every truth claim, and every supposed new revelation that detracts from or leads people away from simple reliance on the Word of God.

Yet Perry Noble, a pastor of thousands, has allowed himself to "get caught up" in the toddling musings of a child as he exclaims,
I LOVE the fact that the book and the movie are SO POPULAR. I think it is a good thing and that Jesus will use it to draw people to Himself. (Source)
Noble's lack of discernment, apparent disregard for the truth and failure to uphold the Word of God ought to serve as one more warning as to the dangers of his teaching and leadership. A shepherd who would lead his flock to drink from a poisoned well is a man who will have much to answer for when he stands before the Good Shepherd, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Further Reading
Dedicated Pastors Produce Discerning Sheep
God Speaks, but How?
Why Do We Believe the Bible?
Neurosurgeon's 'Proof of Heaven' Differs from God's as Found in Scripture


  1. I know I'm late in commenting, as I had missed this entry at the time of its posting. It caught my eye this time, however, and instantly made a connections with what I recently heard Hank Hanegraaff, president of the Christian Research Institute, talk at length about on this. He commented on this book and its new movie during The Bible Answer Man broadcast within the last week or two. Hanegraaff's is a scathing rebuke of the book first and foremost, which he says is far from what the parents and the boy stand by as a finished product and allegedly truthful, factual representation of what happened, and what they stand behind as the account of it.

    Moreover, Hanegraaff's commentary on buying in to such accounts as these as "biblical illustrations" of heaven bestowed on people with near-death experiences, temporary death experiences, whatever we might call them--they are NOT to be seen as such illustrations at all. They are subjective, personal-background driven accounts, which were very real and vivid for the person experiencing them, but are NOT visions from God, were not permitted-visits to heaven by God, etc. Hearing and reading what CRI has to offer at its website is time well spent about this topic, and should dis-spell all the "spells" these stories are weaving around people's beliefs.

    Not only do people of different geographies and backgrounds and faiths report widely differing accounts of their "visits to heaven," but (mainly my thoughts now) we have to consider the 1) confusion they spread, 2) seeming correctives to the Bible's depictions and descriptions, and 3) the once-again feeding of the lust we all have for the tangible, the experiential, the right-now in-my-hands "proof." Which is the antithesis of "we walk by faith, not by sight," that Scripture calls us to. Not blind reason, but faith placed in the REAL accounts of the REAL eyewitnesses attested to through many, many witnesses, prophets, history, manuscript evidence, the Scriptures from oldest to newest, and scholarship by devout believers since it was all laid down and sifted out (i.e., councils of Church fathers proceeding soon after the apostles and after the first Christian churches).

    Let's just stick to the Bible, God's written record upon which we base our faith, from which comes the only light of truth. Let's not go rambling, even if we are an ultra-popular pastor of tens of thousands. Perry is speaks as one with very little real accountability, and with very little mature discernment, and with a lot that is sounds like an adolescent with wishful hope about the matter Not to mention an emotional mania about anything and everything that just MIGHT lead people around to discuss biblical matters so that the Lord can woo their minds at last and can finally capture their hearts. Really? Is it just me, or does it sound like we're a little desperate on God's behalf to make the gospel have power to pull people. By any means? How far should that go?

    What about a Satanic ritual out on town square with everything that involves, to the fullest... well, at least with one animal sacrifice, and definitely with a prominent upside-down pentagram? That would have people talking about spiritual things: about good and evil, about God and Satan, about heaven and hell, about WWJD (What Would Jesus Do) about it, and on and on and on.

    Or then again, maybe we could just hold to what God said through the Apostle Paul: "For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it IS the power for salvation for everyone who believes... " (Romans 1:16, ESV, emphasis mine).

  2. Sorry about the "late in commenting" bit, I read the post as being March 3. Whereas now I see that it's date is May 3, which was yesterday. Nuts. No wonder there are no other comments yet. That wasn't very watchful of me.


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