Heaven Is for Real
|Author||Todd Burpo and Lynn Vincent|
|November 2, 2010|
|Media type||Print (Paperback, hardcover), ebook, audiobook|
Heaven is for Real: A Little Boy's Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back is a 2010 New York Times best-selling Christian book written by Todd Burpo and Lynn Vincent. It was published by Thomas Nelson Publishers. The book documents the report of a near-death experience by Burpo's then-four-year-old son, Colton. The book recounts the experiences Colton relates from visits he said he made to heaven during a near-death experience.
By April 2012 over one million ebooks had been sold, and by 2014 over 10 million copies had been sold. A movie based on the book was released on April 16, 2014, earning over $101 million at the box office.
In the book, Todd Burpo, pastor of Crossroads Wesleyan Church in Imperial, Nebraska, writes that during the months after his son, Colton's, emergency surgery in 2003 at the age of three, Colton began describing events and people that seemed impossible for him to have known about. Examples include knowledge of an unborn sister whom no one had told him about and his great-grandfather who died 30 years before he was born. Colton also claimed that he personally met Jesus riding a rainbow-colored horse and sat in Jesus' lap when angels sang songs to him. He also says he saw Mary kneeling before the throne of God and at other times standing beside Jesus.
Within three weeks of its November 2010 release, the book debuted at No. 3 on the New York Times bestseller list. By January 2011, there were 200,000 copies in print. The book hit No. 1, remaining in the top 10 for some weeks. It became the No. 1 best-selling non-fiction paperback.
A variety of Christians have expressed criticism of or concern about the book's content and message. The Berean Call, a Christian ministry and newsletter, criticized the book for its "extra-biblical" and "problematic" claims, as well as the lack of any medical evidence that the boy was clinically dead during the surgery. Author and pastor John MacArthur has criticized the book for presenting an un-Biblical perspective on the afterlife. In an interview with The New Yorker magazine, Vincent expressed concern that Christians would find the book a "hoax" if she included people in heaven having wings.
Secularist and author Susan Jacoby, writing as "The Spirited Atheist" in the Washington Post's "On Faith" forum, was critical of both the book and those who accept its supernatural claims, saying that the book's commercial success "attests to the prevalence of unreason among vast numbers of Americans."
Jeb Lund, a columnist for The Guardian  is also skeptical. The red markers which Colton Burpo claims Jesus had on his hands and feet are well known. The boy could easily have guessed his minister father would have been praying or nursing staff could have told him. When Colton remembered things his parents claimed they had not told him, other people may have told Colton or his parents and may have forgotten. Also young children sometimes have trouble telling dreams from reality and can be coached.
In 2015, Alex Malarkey publicly disavowed the book The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven, stating that his near-death experience was fictional and condemned Christian publishers and bookstores for selling popular "heaven tourism" books, which he said "profit from lies." Following Malarkey's statement, Colton Burpo expressed that "people have their doubts about my story" but said he stood by the book.
In May 2011, Sony Pictures acquired the film rights of the book. Starring Connor Corum, Margo Martindale, Greg Kinnear, Kelly Reilly, Thomas Haden Church and Jacob Vargas, the film was released on April 16, 2014. As of July 2014, Rotten Tomatoes rated it at 46%. While critics praised the script and cast, they were critical of heavy-handed exposition.
- The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven, a fabricated account of a near-death experience
- 23 Minutes in Hell
- 90 Minutes in Heaven
- Proof of Heaven
- Howard Storm (author)
- "Heaven Is For Real reaches one million e-books sold". Thomas Nelson Corporate.
- Christine D. Johnson (11 Dec 2014). "‘Heaven Is for Real’ hits major sales milestone". Christian Retailing. Archived from the original on 18 Dec 2014.
- "Heaven Is for Real". boxofficemojo.com. Retrieved November 4, 2014.
- Schiffer, Kathy (27 April 2014). "Heaven Is For Real: Secrets Colton Burpo Didn’t Tell You in the Book or the Movie". Seasons of Grace. Retrieved 18 January 2015.
Colton is the child who, at the age of three, nearly died and who visited heaven while he was in surgery.
- Thomson, Cask J. (27 March 2011). "The Boy Who Allegedly Went to Heaven and Returned". WordswithMeaning!org.
- "The angels sang to Colton". The North Platte Telegraph. January 13, 2011. Retrieved January 14, 2011.
- "Kathie Lee and Hoda with the Scoop" (Video(11:23)). The Today Show. NBC.
- Thibault, Joanne (4 June 2011). "Near-death experience led to heaven's door". Winnipeg Free Press.
Todd is even able to report to Catholic friends that Colton "saw Mary kneeling before the throne of God and at other times standing beside Jesus."
- Sehgal, Parul (6 April 2014). "Best Sellers" (Paperback Nonfiction). New York Times.
- BOSMAN, JULIE (11 March 2011). "Celestial Sales for Boy’s Tale of Heaven". The New York Times. Retrieved 21 December 2014.
- "Is "Heaven Is for Real" for Real?: An Exercise In Discernment". The Berean Call. Retrieved November 15, 2013.
- "Are Visits to Heaven for Real?". Retrieved April 19, 2014.
- Ariel Levy (15 Oct 2012). "Lives of the Saints". New Yorker.
- Phil Johnson (18 Oct 2012). "The Burpo-Malarkey Doctrine". Grace to you.
- Jacoby, Susan (March 30, 2011). "'Heaven Is For Real' and the Immature American Mind". The Washington Post. Retrieved May 5, 2014.
What is truly disturbing about this book’s huge commercial success is that it attests to the prevalence of unreason among vast numbers of Americans... At age four, the inability to distinguish between fantasy and reality is charming. Among American adults, widespread identification with the mind of a preschooler is scary.
- Jeb Lund. "Jeb Lund". the Guardian. Retrieved 18 January 2015.
- "How Hollywood Screwed Up a Simple Tale of a Four-Year-Old Going to Heaven and Coming Back - VICE - United States". VICE. Retrieved 18 January 2015.
- "Alex Malarkey, Little Boy Who 'Came Back from Heaven,' Reveals Hoax : People.com". PEOPLE.com. Retrieved 18 January 2015.
- Mark Woods (15 Jan 2015). "'The boy who came back from heaven' Alex Malarkey says best-selling book is false". Christianity Today.
- Vencent Funaro (15 Jan 2015). "Boy Who Claimed He Visited Heaven Reads Bible and Recants Story; LifeWay to Pull Book From Stores". Chrsitian Post.
- Carey Lodge (17 Jan 2015). "Colton Burpo stands by Heaven is for Real". Christianity Today.
- "Heaven Is For Real". The "Heaven is Real" page on the Sony Pictures website. The Sony Pictures website. Retrieved 10 April 2014.
- "Heaven Is for Real (2014)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved July 21, 2014.
- Heaven is for Real official website
- Heaven Is for Real on Facebook
- The Christian Post article on near-death experiences (Criticism about near-death experiences.)