Monday, May 26, 2014

A Faith-Based, Critical Review of “Heaven Is For Real”, the Movie


Having never read the book “Heaven Is For Real” by Pastor Todd Burpo, I have to base my opinion of the storyline on this movie, which I finally was able to see on May 25th, 2014. I have read several positive and negative comments from friends at Facebook who saw the movie, as well as positive and negative Faith-based reviews about this movie that they shared, and all of these made me want to see this movie for myself so I could form my own opinion. After giving myself a day to think about it, here is my unvarnished opinion of the movie.

Overall, I thought the acting in this movie was good, the sets and special affects were attractive and believable, and the little boy that played the role of Colton was absolutely adorable. The storyline was also generally interesting, although there were a couple of scenes showing partial nudity in the movie that I felt had absolutely no place in it. In addition, it soon became glaringly obvious to me that the portrayal of the Pastor in this movie was horribly unbiblical.

For example, this Wesleyan Pastor and his wife initially don’t appear to believe that Heaven or Hell actually exist, and many of the parishioners appear to have trouble believing that Near-Death Experiences (or NDEs) could have any validity. The Pastor, his wife and their two children also appear to have their share of accidents and other problems in the movie, but are only shown turning to prayer once - when their son is close to death in surgery.

There are also several scenes where the children are shown going to bed, or are in bed, at which time no bedtime prayers are said, and Colton’s sister’s fear of the dark is never addressed in prayer. Thus, the truth of how to live a Christ-centered life full of peace, joy, hope, healing, courage, strength and the love of God, His Son and His Holy Spirit is almost totally lacking in the movie.

But the most glaring problem with the movie is its lack of a clear Salvation message pointing to Yahshua or Christ as our Savior from sin, and the needed requirement for a guaranteed entrance into Yahweh God’s Heavenly abode at death. In fact, there are several perfect scenes in the movie where the Salvation message could and should have played a role. But all we end up being told is that God loves everyone, and so we are left with the implication that everyone is going to Heaven because of this. Furthermore, the movie Pastor doesn’t acknowledge that there is a place called Hell reserved for those who aren’t saved, even when he is given the opportunity.

Toward the end of the movie, there is also a long, tortured scene that was a poor attempt at humor. In it, the Pastor is found crying out as he is passing gall stones. I felt this scene was totally out of place in this movie, and added absolutely nothing to the plot, but actually detracted from it.

Finally, there is a scene at the end of the movie where we are introduced to Akiane Kramarick’s depiction of Jesus or Yahshua called “Prince of Peace” that appears to be based on the face depicted on the Shroud of Turin. When Colton is shown this picture by his father Pastor Todd Burpo, Colton immediately acknowledges it as a faithful rendition of the Divine Being that he met in Heaven called Jesus, whereas Colton had earlier rejected the paintings of Jesus done by many other artists as inaccurate. 

Although I believe that the Shroud of Turin is real, and it is obvious that Akiane is a skilled child artist who claims to have had valid spiritual experiences such as visions and dreams, she is not a Christian. In fact, she was neither raised as a Christian, nor did she ever convert to true biblical Christianity.

On the contrary, Akiane has revealed that she has New Age spiritual beliefs that are totally unbiblical. As a result, no matter how lovely, engaging or realistic, her depiction of Christ should not have been used in the book or movie without an explanation that it is not an endorsement of the artist’s erroneous beliefs. Here is an article detailing Akiane’s New Age beliefs:

ENCHANTMENT THROUGH ART:
AN INTERVIEW WITH AKIANE KRAMARIK:

Therefore, my overall impression of the spiritual content of the movie “Heaven Is For Real” is extremely negative. In fact, I do not believe it is a good Messianic or Christian movie at all. Instead, it offered nothing of real or lasting spiritual value due to its erroneous and wishy-washy portrayal of Biblical Theology. For this reason, the movie could actually be very detrimental to the spiritual growth of anyone who watches it.

Unless viewers have a strong Biblical moral foundation and Biblical Worldview to help them fill in the blanks and catch the glaring errors being taught in the movie, they will definitely be misled by it. Worst of all, many unbelievers who see the movie might never be challenged to question their faith or lack of it,  or to seek salvation from sin and death through Yahshua our Messiah (Jesus the Christ), thereby going to Hell forever instead of Heaven!

Sincerely Yours In Yahshua,
Helena Lehman of the
Pillar of Enoch Ministry

POEM Ministry Web Site: