For the second year in a row, I find myself needing to write a word of warning about movies that purport to tell a story of somebody who has travelled to heaven and returned to tell about it. These films and the books like them have been labeled as the heaven tourism genre.
If not for the fact that modern Christians in America have repeatedly demonstrated a gullible and uncritical approach to what is peddled as Christianity, the acceptance and support of this movie would be shocking. Last year I wrote an article, “Heaven Is For Real” is Fiction. Not everybody was thrilled with that article. Those folks won’t be thrilled with this one either.
[Tweet “We have repeatedly demonstrated a gullible approach to what is peddled as Christianity”]
The story of 90 Minutes in Heaven is about a man named Don Piper who dies and goes to heaven. After somebody on earth prayers for him, he is dispatched back to earth to tell about his experience.
Before I go on, read about the experience of the Apostle Paul related to being caught up to heaven.
I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows. And I know that this man was caught up into paradise—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows—and he heard things that cannot be told, which man may not utter. On behalf of this man I will boast, but on my own behalf I will not boast, except of my weaknesses—though if I should wish to boast, I would not be a fool, for I would be speaking the truth; but I refrain from it, so that no one may think more of me than he sees in me or hears from me. So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
–2 Corinthians 12:2-10 ESV
I find it interesting that somebody like Paul would be unable to speak about his experience but modern men and boys can write books and make movies.
Consider a few things about this newest movie and weigh whether it matches up to the Scriptures.
First, the movie director, Michael Polish, admits to making the movie light on details so as to make the movie appealing. “I don’t think it’s possible not to follow a Hallmark route. What you’re doing is taking creative license.” A Hallmark route? Hallmark isn’t known for truthfulness in storytelling. They are known for romanticized accounts that tug at the emotions of the audience.
Second, one aspect of being light on details is that Jesus is no where to be found. Read that again. A movie about being in heaven that makes no mention of Jesus cannot be Christian. If Jesus is not at position central in heaven, something is amiss. Does any Christian really think that 90 minutes is not enough time to encounter Jesus in heaven?
Third, the director’s wife, Kate Bosworth, plays the lead female role. When asked by a reporter about what she thinks when she thinks of heaven, she indicated that it wasn’t about Jesus. Instead “I would love to have either Mike waiting for me or me waiting for Mike with our dogs running around—I mean, that’s heaven, you know? Whatever heaven is for each individual, that would certainly be it for me.”
The quotes above come from an article in The Atlantic – by no means a Christian publication. In fact, this secular magazine titles their review, “How Heaven Became a Secular Word.”
Christians, let us cease selling our birthrights for these bowls of stew. Look to the Scriptures. For in the pages of your Bible, God has revealed himself and his ways to you.
[Tweet “Look to the Scriptures. For in the pages of your Bible, God has revealed himself and his ways. “]
In my title, I have included the word wherever.This word implies an imprecise location. I don’t know where Don Piper went, but what is presented in this movie is not heaven.