Undoubtedly, some of you have said to someone, “I want to see that movie Heaven is for Real.” It just recently became available On Demand, so you might be consider purchasing it or renting it at some point. Don’t bother! There is less distortion about truth in Barney the Dinosaur than there is in Hollywood’s Heaven Is For Real!
Let me say first that I did not read the book. My wife and daughter did and they loved it. I skimmed the children’s book and it was interesting. Let me also say that I have no issue with someone who experiences extraordinary things in their relationship with God as a Christian. A child visiting heaven in some miraculous way does not present a problem for me. But as I watched the movie, I kept thinking Surely this is not what the book was like!
So what was my problem? It wasn’t the typical movie critic kind of things like the quality of acting or the slowness of the script, or any of those superficial things. I have a problem with the message of the movie and with the lame view of Christianity it portrays both before and after the heavenly visit is accepted by Burpo and the church.
First of all, the brand of Christianity pedaled in this movie is appalling! The church and the Burpo’s are shocked and surprised, even scandalized that there is an actual heaven and hell. Burpo admits to not knowing whether he had actually believed in heaven prior to the boy’s experience! The type of Christianity demonstrated here is the emptiest sort of mainline nominalism.
Then, when the female church boss (that’s what she is) finally breaks down and opens her heart, she asks the pastor if he thinks her son went to heaven. His answer is typical Hollywood drivel. The conversation goes like this:
Todd Burpo: Do you love your son, still?
Church Boss: Of course.
Todd Burpo: Do you think I love mine?
Church Boss: I know you do.
Todd Burpo: Do you think I love my son more than you love yours?
Church Boss: No.
Todd Burpo: Do you think God loves my son more than he loves yours?
Voila! Just like that, all dogs go to heaven! As long as your love for your family is strong, God’s is stronger, therefore of course they will go to heaven!
At the end of the movie, Pastor Burpo reduces heaven to our earthly experiences of love. The final message is that everyone goes to heaven but heaven is actually the good we experience on earth!
Hollywood, please stop making Christian movies! Christians, stop buying into the idea that a vague mention of Jesus or heaven equals evangelism! All it does is cause a wayward generation to feel better about their sinfulness.