Heaven Is for Real

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For the film of the same name, see Heaven Is for Real (film).
Heaven is for Real
Heaven Is for Real (Burpo book) cover.jpg
Author Todd Burpo and Lynn Vincent
Country United States
Language English
Publisher Nelson
Publication date
November 2, 2010
Media type Print (Paperback, hardcover), ebook, audiobook
Pages 163
ISBN 0849946158

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.[1] A movie based on the book was released on April 16, 2014.


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, 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.[2] Colton also claimed that he personally met Jesus riding a rainbow-colored horse and sat in Jesus' lap when angels sang songs to him.[3][4] He also says he saw Mary kneeling before the throne of God and at other times standing beside Jesus.[5]



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.[6]


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.[7] Author and pastor John MacArthur has criticized the book for presenting an un-Biblical perspective on the afterlife.[8]

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."[9]

Film adaptation[edit]

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.[10] As of July 2014, Rotten Tomatoes rated it at 46%. While critics praised the script and cast, they were critical of heavy-handed exposition.[11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Heaven Is For Real reaches one million e-books sold". Thomas Nelson Corporate. 
  2. ^ Thomson, Cask J. (27 March 2011). "The Boy Who Allegedly Went to Heaven and Returned". WordswithMeaning!org. 
  3. ^ "The angels sang to Colton". The North Platte Telegraph. January 13, 2011. Retrieved January 14, 2011. 
  4. ^ "Kathie Lee and Hoda with the Scoop" (Video(11:23)). The Today Show. NBC. 
  5. ^ 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."" 
  6. ^ Sehgal, Parul (6 April 2014). "Best Sellers" (Paperback Nonfiction). New York Times. 
  7. ^ "Is "Heaven Is for Real" for Real?: An Exercise In Discernment". The Berean Call. Retrieved November 15, 2013. 
  8. ^ "Are Visits to Heaven for Real?". Retrieved April 19, 2014. 
  9. ^ 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." 
  10. ^ "Heaven Is For Real". The "Heaven is Real" page on the Sony Pictures website. The Sony Pictures website. Retrieved 10 April 2014. 
  11. ^ "Heaven Is for Real (2014)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved July 21, 2014. 

External links[edit]