Heaven Is for Real

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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
Website Official website

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 three-year-old son Colton. The book recounts the experiences that Colton relates from visits which he said he made to heaven during a near-death experience.

By April 2012 over one million ebooks had been sold,[1] and by 2014 over 10 million copies had been sold.[2] A movie based on the book was released on April 16, 2014, earning $101 million at the box office.[3]


In the book, Todd Burpo, pastor of Crossroads Wesleyan Church in Imperial, Nebraska, writes that during the months after his son, Colton, had emergency surgery on March 5th, 2003 at the age of three,[4] Colton began describing events and people that seemed impossible for him to have known about. Examples include knowledge of an unborn sister miscarried by his mother in 1998 and details of a great-grandfather who had died 24 years before Colton was born on May 19th, 1999.[5] Colton also explained how he personally met Jesus riding a rainbow-colored horse and sat in Jesus' lap while angels sang songs to him.[6][7] He also saw Mary kneeling before the throne of God and at other times standing beside Jesus.[8]



Within ten 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; and it reached No. 1 in the Times's best-selling non-fiction paperback category in March 2011, remaining in the top 10 for some weeks.[9][10]


A variety of Christians have expressed criticism 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.[11] Author and pastor John MacArthur has criticized the book for presenting an un-Biblical perspective on the afterlife, especially in light of the Burpo's claim about the portrait of Jesus by Akiane Kramarik being "totally accurate." [12] In an interview with The New Yorker magazine, Vincent expressed concern that Christians would find the book to be a "hoax" if she included people in heaven having wings.[13][14]

In 2015, Alex Malarkey publicly disavowed the book The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven, stating that his near-death experience described in that book was fictional[15] and condemned Christian publishers and bookstores for selling popular "heaven tourism" books, which he said "profit from lies."[16][17] Following Malarkey's statement, Colton Burpo expressed that "People have their doubts about my story," but said he stood by the book.[18]

Film adaptation[edit]

In May 2011, Sony Pictures acquired the film rights of the book. The film was released on April 16, 2014 starring Connor Corum, Margo Martindale, Greg Kinnear, Kelly Reilly, Thomas Haden Church, and Jacob Vargas.[19] As of July 2014, Rotten Tomatoes rated it at 46%. Critics praised the script and cast, but they were critical of heavy-handed exposition.[20]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Heaven Is For Real reaches one million e-books sold". Thomas Nelson Corporate. 
  2. ^ Christine D. Johnson (11 Dec 2014). "‘Heaven Is for Real’ hits major sales milestone". Christian Retailing. Archived from the original on 18 Dec 2014. 
  3. ^ "Heaven Is for Real". boxofficemojo.com. Retrieved November 4, 2014. 
  4. ^ 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. 
  5. ^ Thomson, Cask J. (27 March 2011). "The Boy Who Allegedly Went to Heaven and Returned". WordswithMeaning!org. 
  6. ^ "The angels sang to Colton". The North Platte Telegraph. January 13, 2011. Retrieved January 14, 2011. 
  7. ^ "Kathie Lee and Hoda with the Scoop" (Video(11:23)). The Today Show. NBC. 
  8. ^ Thibault, Joanne (4 June 2011). "Near-death experience led to heaven's door". Winnipeg Free Press. Todd is even able to report to Christian friends that Colton "saw Mary kneeling before the throne of God and at other times standing beside Jesus." 
  9. ^ Sehgal, Parul (6 April 2014). "Best Sellers" (Paperback Nonfiction). New York Times. 
  10. ^ BOSMAN, JULIE (11 March 2011). "Celestial Sales for Boy’s Tale of Heaven". The New York Times. Retrieved 21 December 2014. 
  11. ^ "Is "Heaven Is for Real" for Real?: An Exercise In Discernment". The Berean Call. Retrieved November 15, 2013. 
  12. ^ "Are Visits to Heaven for Real?". Retrieved April 19, 2014. 
  13. ^ Ariel Levy (15 Oct 2012). "Lives of the Saints". New Yorker. 
  14. ^ Phil Johnson (18 Oct 2012). "The Burpo-Malarkey Doctrine". Grace to you. 
  15. ^ "Alex Malarkey, Little Boy Who 'Came Back from Heaven,' Reveals Hoax : People.com". PEOPLE.com. Retrieved 18 January 2015. 
  16. ^ a b Mark Woods (15 Jan 2015). "'The boy who came back from heaven' Alex Malarkey says best-selling book is false". Christianity Today. 
  17. ^ a b Vencent Funaro (15 Jan 2015). "Boy Who Claimed He Visited Heaven Reads Bible and Recants Story; LifeWay to Pull Book From Stores". Christian Post. 
  18. ^ Carey Lodge (17 Jan 2015). "Colton Burpo stands by Heaven is for Real". Christianity Today. 
  19. ^ "Heaven Is For Real". The "Heaven is Real" page on the Sony Pictures website. The Sony Pictures website. Retrieved 10 April 2014. 
  20. ^ "Heaven Is for Real (2014)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved July 21, 2014. 

External links[edit]