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Christians Say the Darnedest Things: Satanic Atheism is Taking Over the World

satan

The End Time of the last days is where we believe our present history finds us. The Bible prophetically characterizes this time as a global delusion sent by God whereby He gives the world over to the culminating powers of satanic deception, yet for a season. In the light of the intensifying depravity of mankind, such a season will give witness to the lowest ebb of human history, resulting from the long and persistent investment of Satan’s ploys in his quest to control mankind. The End Time is the prelude to Satan’s greatest and most mature hour. It will mark his collaboration with the leadership of humanity to bring about what he believes to be the overthrow of God on the planet Earth. It will culminate with his ultimate covenant with the Man of Sin, the Antichrist.

In this prelude season, what are the present powers that rest upon contemporary humanity? Two such powers for candid observation and consideration await us in this issue of Straightway. Although they may seem to be contradictory at a glance, from a closer vantage point they are working together toward the same goal. These two powers or forces are New Atheism and Postmodernism. In this article we will examine New Atheism.
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From one perspective, in this tabernacle of humanity’s present dwelling is the obsessive belief of secularism which at its core is the denial of God. Its present appearance in history is the mutation of a mighty force that has steadily risen in the earth, especially in the past 275 years; it is dedicated to the powers of man’s intellect, his “reasoning.” Emerging from the Enlightenment period in European history was its prodigy child Immanuel Kant. Kant stated in the latter part of the 1700s that man had now come “to age.” This acknowledgment by Kant was the belief that man no longer needed religion and the concept of God in order to exist. Man had come to that fourfold power of (1) the inward enabling, (2) the outward ability, (3) the power of authority, and (4) the living performance to do anything he wanted to do. Truly, he believed that man was the measure of all things and that his hour of boast and power had come to maturity.

The world today has accelerated on its information highway to such an overwhelming, staggering proportion that it is believed mankind must not simply be looking for a future, but he must literally create a “new humanity.” This new humanity will demand a new global social change for mankind.

In the sciences there has been an explosion of knowledge in the fields of nanotechnology, biotechnology, info-technology, cognitive technology, genetic technology, and robotic technology. A whole new world of unknown discoveries has now made its debut. With these sciences has been increased interest in the artificial interfacing of technology with humanity, such as finding ways to transfer human personality into an artificial carrier. This is now the aspiration, the hope, and the goal of those controlling governments, the global economy, and many world corporations.

World leadership collectively believes that the “old” mankind must be replaced with a totally new concept of humanity emerging out of the accelerating wonder of multi-technology. Those in power in the world believe that all of this exploding epistemology in technology and science will demand a new global philosophy, new ideology, new ethic, new culture, new psychology, and new concept of metaphysics. The old must go in order to make way for the new. These secularists are looking for a new man, a new birth of man, a new concept of man, and a new reality for this future man to exist. They have convinced mankind to believe that he needs to begin mapping out his own evolutionary path and direction of goals rather than the randomness and “chance” of man’s evolutionary past they once espoused. This new worldview believes it can stop the power of death upon humanity and then soar beyond the solar systems and stars to conquer the universe—mankind becoming God.
….
With such hopes by mankind, a new breed of atheism has emerged from the philosophical think tanks of the world. This New Atheism movement swept through Europe and now has arisen here in the United States as both a social and political movement. This movement strongly promotes secularism and atheism through a selected band of atheist writers who believe that “Religion should not simply be tolerated but should be countered, criticized, and exposed by rational argument wherever its influence arises.”

The Christian is not against the term secular, for anything not sacred falls in this category. But secularism is a clear declaration of an intentional rejection of God in acknowledgment, even to the point of being anti-theistic in its identification.
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The New Atheism movement is dedicated to the promotion of the powers of reason found within man, believing that he is no longer to be held captive to the concept of God. This movement believes that science and technology will bring man to his own powers of creation to be his own God. Their hope of the 2045 Initiative is to “create” a “new man” with an enduring body and to place within this artificial “life” a transplanted human thought-life, including its personality and human senses. It is the belief that this artificial life will take the place of the present human body and that the ruling government of the world will be able to select what brains and personalities will be perpetuated in these artificial life forms. With such a “creation” of a new humanity, the population of the earth could drastically diminish. The created avatars would become the servants and workers for mankind. It will be a world of a “new man” without a soul, without accountability to an invisible Supreme Being, and living for “his master,” man himself.

But according to the rising powers of atheism, this will not come about without a “theothanatology,” a death of God in the thinking of man. Though Christianity is the most hated of all the religions by atheists, they are strong in the belief that all religions must be destroyed because all religions believe in some concept of “God.” This neo-humanity must be delivered completely from all concepts of morality, of right and wrong, of ethics, and of predetermined absolutes. Again, to them, only the death of religion can bring this about.
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It is evident that atheism is becoming more and more prominent in the world. It has taken over the governments, the public educational systems, the voice of science, the approach to medicine and suffering, and has caused the denial of definitive morality. America, a nation that was founded upon the belief of God and His Word, has now become the leading nation in attacking God and in following the destructive powers of sin in sodomy and in atheism. Oh, what America could have been today in providential blessings in many ways if we had continued to honor God! But God has given us over to a mood, a spirit, and a mindset that are swiftly creating the tabernacle of evil resting upon us. The very philosophical air we breathe is fathered by the “prince power of the air,” the Devil.

How will America finally fall? Will it be through Islam? An implosion of debauchery and lust? A civil war? An assimilation by other nations? No matter how and when it comes, God’s hand will be upon it, and we will deserve whatever His appointment of judgment will be.

— H.T. Spence, Straightway, May-June 2015, The Powers of an Age Resting Upon Contemporary Humanity: The New Atheism

The Sounds of Fundamentalism: No Hell, but I Warn Ya by Parody Queen

parody queen

This is the ninety-seventh installment in The Sounds of Fundamentalism series. This is a series that I would like readers to help me with. If you know of a video clip that shows the crazy, cantankerous, or contradictory side of Evangelical Christianity, please send me an email with the name or link to the video. Please do not leave suggestions in the comment section.  Let’s have some fun!

Today’s Sound of Fundamentalism is a video clip of a woman named Parody Queen singing an awful parody of Hotel California. No Hell, but I Warn Ya is one of The Parody Queen’s attempts to put Christian lyrics to popular secular songs. This is how Parody Queen describes her music on her website:

In case you’re wondering, my forte’ is writing parodies — putting my original (usually Christian based) lyrics to existing popular music.  I believe in taking back the music for God’s kingdom, and what better way than using already familiar tunes. Kind of like a Christian Weird Al Yankovic.

Video Link

The Sounds of Fundamentalism: Satan is Trying to Castrate White Heterosexual Males by Dave Daubenmire

dave daubenmire

This is the fifty-eighth installment in The Sounds of Fundamentalism series. This is a series that I would like readers to help me with. If you know of a video clip that shows the crazy, cantankerous, or contradictory side of Evangelical Christianity, please send me an email with the name or link to the video. Please do not leave suggestions in the comment section.  Let’s have some fun!

Today’s Sound of Fundamentalism is a clip taken from a sermon preached by “Coach” Dave Daubenmire. Daubenmire says he is not a racist, but he spends 3 minutes proving that he doesn’t know himself very well. This sermon would play well at a KKK rally.

Video Link

Songs of Sacrilege: The Garden of Allah by Don Henley

This is the seventy-fifth installment in the Songs of Sacrilege series. This is a series that I would like readers to help me with. If you know of a song that is irreverent towards religion, makes fun of religion, pokes fun at sincerely held religious beliefs, or challenges the firmly held religious beliefs of others, please send me an email.

Today’s Song of Sacrilege is The Garden of Allah by Don Henley.

Video Link

Lyrics

It was pretty big year for fashion
A lousy year for rock and roll
The people gave their blessing to crimes of passion
It was a dark, dark night of the collective soul
And I was somewhere out on riverside by the el royale hotel
When a stranger appeared in a cloud of smoke
I thought I knew him all too well
He said now that I have your attention
I got something I wanna say
You may not wanna hear it, I’m gonna tell it to you anyway
You know I’ve always like you boy
Cause you were not afraid of me
Things are gonna get mighty rough here in gomorrah-by-the-sea

Ya said it’s just like home
It’s so damn hot I can’t stand it
My fine seersucker suit is all soaking wet
And the hills are burning
And the wind is raging
And the clock strikes midnight in the garden of Allah
In the garden of Allah

Nice car
Ah, I love those bavarians
So meticulous
Y’know I remember when things were a lot more fun around here
When good was good and evil was evil
Before things got so fuzzy
I was once a golden boy like you
And I was summoned to the halls of power in the heavenly courts
And I dined with the deities who looked upon me with favor,
For my talents, my creativity
And we sat beneath the palms
In the warm afternoons and drank the wine
With fitzgerald and huxley
And they pawned the biting phrase from the tongues hot with blood
And drained their pins of bitter ink
Vainly reaching for the bottle full of empty edens
Branded especially for the ones who had come with great expectations
To the perfumed halls of Allah, for their time in the sun

And we were stokin’ the fires and oilin’ up the machinery
Until the gods found out we had ideas of our own
And war was coming and the earth was shaking
And there was no more ruin in the garden of Allah

Today I made an appearance downtown
I am an expert witness because I say I am
And I said gentlemen, and I use that world loosely
I will testify for you, I’m a gun for hire,I’m a saint, I’m a liar
Because there are no facts, there is no truth
Just data to be manipulated
I can get you any result you like
What’s it worth to you?
Because there is no wrong, there is no right
And I sleep very well at night
No shame, no solution, no remorse, no retribution
Just people selling t-shirts
Just opportunity to participate in the pathetic little circus
And winning, winning, winning

It was pretty big year for predators
The marketplace was on a roll
And the land of opportunity
Spawned a whole new breed of men without souls
This year notoriety got all confused with fame
And the devil is downhearted babe, cause
There’s nothing left for him to claim

He said it’s just like home
It’s so low-down I can’t stand it
I guess my work around here has all been done

And the fruit is rotten, the serpent’s eyes shine
As he wraps around the vine,
In the garden of Allah
In the garden of Allah
In the garden of Allah

I Really Liked You, but Then I Found Out You Were An Atheist!

dont talk to atheists

My writing tends to attract a number of Evangelical readers. If they happen to come to this site via a search engine result that takes them to a specific page, and they are not overly curious about who I am, they might even conclude that I am a Christian. I’ve received numerous emails from Christians praising me for my stand on the Word of God, only to get another email later expressing how disappointed they are about finding out I am an atheist. One woman even told that she wished she hadn’t learned this because now she couldn’t trust any of my writing (please see Curiosity, a Missing Evangelical Trait).

Evangelicals say that truth is important to them, but the fact is they only want truth from certain sources. They only trust their own, and they are unwilling to believe that truth can be found outside of their peculiar theological rut. It seems that everything I learned about the Bible, Christianity, and the ministry over the first fifty years of my life became toxic and worthless the moment I said I no longer believe. All of a sudden, a once trusted source is now considered a heretic, a liar, a deceiver, and a tool of Satan.

Several years ago, an Evangelical woman commented on this site and tried to solicit my support for her war against clergy sexual abuse. She loved my writing about the subject and was certain we were of a common mind. At the time, she didn’t know I was an atheist. Once she found out I was, here’s the email she sent me:

I was not familiar with your story and change of heart concerning God’s word. I can tell you I don’t believe in religion but I do believe in the bible. Big big difference. People, circumstances, man made religions will always hurt us and let us down. I have never felt the pressure to conform to anything or anybody. I have never tried to take the burdens of this world on my shoulders and have never judged my belief in God’s word based on my circumstances. Why? The bible is clear on who we are and aren’t in Christ. This world is set in motion both good and bad by our Heavenly Father. We are all called  individually to find our way to our creator via the bible. I am a RN,grandmother, saved at nine. The things I have seen in my years working with  dying patients has only strengthen my belief. Those who choose to look at the leaders of organized religion  and believe their every word and interpretation of the bible. Are the ones that burn out,walk away and give satan the victory. If I thought for one minute this life was it. I would never have brought children into it. Man could never have  created our beautiful nature around us. Sit in the woods and listen, look,and you will find our creator.  Look away from man and your own reasoning. It will always leave you with feelings of loss and doubts if you don’t. Praying for you.

I can only imagine how disappointed she was when she found out I was not on Team Jesus. I will leave it to others, if they are so inclined, to respond to her silly notion about religion vs. the Bible. I will say that it is religion that gave us the Bible, not the other way around. The Bible was birthed by the church. Only Evangelicals fail to understand this, thinking that God tossed a leather-bound King James Bible over the portal of heaven and when it landed on earth it immediately gave birth to Christianity.

On another post, Brian and Zoe responded to her statement about not having children if this life is all there is.

Brian said:

” If I thought life here as we know it was all their is. I couldn’t face another day. I would not want to be a mother grandmother or nurse. What hope could I give my loved ones and patients. I know without a doubt I have a creator above that loves me just like I am. Knowing him makes me want to love give forgive and keep reaching out.”

I am so sorry that life is so meaningless to you, that you couldn’t face another day! That you would spurn motherhood and being a grandmother and nurse! Wow, what utter depravity you must live with…. I am so sorry. As a mother, a grandmother and nurse you likely give such love and help… YOU give…. Why do you throw that away as if it is worthless? I find statements like yours very very sad. What on earth happened to you to make you state such things? Just open your heart (to yourself.)

Zoe had this to say:

Cheryl wrote: ” If I thought life here as we know it was all their is. I couldn’t face another day. I would not want to be a mother grandmother or nurse. What hope could I give my loved ones and patients.”

Zoe responds: Sure you could Cheryl, you just don’t know it. You aren’t so very different than many of us who also once could have and did have those same thoughts. I suspect like many of us because you are a mother a grandmother and a nurse, you indeed could face another day, many days. 🙂

My unbelief in your God does not affect who I am as a caring and kind person. I spent time yesterday with a Christian family who is facing a life and death situation. My unbelief did not affect my love for them or my ability to be present, to help, to make supper, to care for children, to encourage and support them. It certainly also did not interrupt my hope for the best possible outcome. As a nurse myself (no longer in practice) I am also still a great sounding board regarding medical terminology. My unbelief in a theistic being like yours doesn’t change who I am as a human being.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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I’ve Always Wondered What Bruce Gerencser Looked Like

Yes, this is what it has come to in rural Ohio. *sigh*

Recently, I attended a grandchild’s sporting event and someone asked my son how our last name was pronounced and if he was related to the Gerencser who wrote in the newspaper.

Yes, he’s my Dad.

He sure is opinionated…

All of my children know that they are free to disown me. So far, when put in situations that requires establishing paternity, they have been willing to say the DNA is a match.

The inquisitor in question proceeded to ask if I was at the ballgame and my son said, Yes, he’s over there with the red hat on.

I always wondered what he looked like…

I think local Christians are shocked when they see or meet me. They expect to see

satan
What many local Christians think Bruce Gerencser looks like
Imagine their surprise when they see

bruce gerencser 2015
What Bruce Gerencser really looks likes
Shocking, I know. A political liberal and an atheist that looks like Santa Claus and roots for the Cincinnati Bengals. Little do locals know that under my hat are small, growing horn buds. Just biding my time until Team Satan takes on Team Jesus at the Battle of Armageddon. Until then, what time is the baseball game on?

Satan is Behind the Push in Ohio to Legalize Marijuana

jesus

According to Bryan, Ohio resident L. Jay Nafziger, Satan, the head toker himself, is behind efforts to legalize marijuana in Ohio. Nafziger had this to say in a letter to the editor of the Defiance Crescent-News:

Did legalizing alcohol in the USA make our world a better place to live in? Why not ask one of the thousands  who have had a loved one tragically killed by a drunk driver.

Did legalizing abortion make the world a better place to live in? Definitely not for the millions of unborn children who never had the chance to live outside the womb.

Has legalized tobacco smoking made the world a better place to live in? Long before medical science “proved” that cigarette smoke is not good for the smoker or anyone else, good, old-fashioned, outdated, uncommon, common sense could tell a person that drawing smoke of any kind into your lungs over a period of time will probably cause problems.

So who is to say that legalizing pot will make the world a better place to live in? Time and time again, many FDA  approved “safe” prescription drugs have been pulled off the market because they were found to be “not so safe” after all.

I will admit that I think it is hypocritical for any government, society or culture to accept and allow alcohol, abortion and tobacco while not allowing marijuana. But then, on the other hand, how about this gateway drug thing? If marijuana is legalized, why not heroin and methamphetamine, and why limit prescription drugs?

Why not get rid of all hypocrisy and judgement and let anyone do anything they want to at anytime as long as they are not “hurting” someone else? And it could all be so good for the economy! Did you just detect my sarcasm?

The greatest evil of all is not alcohol, abortion, tobacco or marijuana, but Satan himself, the father of lies. One of his biggest lies is that we (human beings created in the image of God) can/should disregard the laws (ten commandments) of God (creator of the universe and everything in it) and instead, find happiness and fulfillment in life by “doing our own thing if it feels good, do it.” Then, when we get into trouble and aren’t feeling so good, he (Satan) offers us a short term solution or “fix” like alcohol, abortion, tobacco or marijuana, which can ultimately cause us more pain and dissolution than we had in the beginning.

My  new,  progressive,  updated,  upgraded,  evolved  mindset of 2015 says, “No, do not legalize pot.” Any outdated mindset that keeps another “evil” from being legalized is far better than any updated mindset that says “smoking marijuana is good for you.” How can a person know for sure that they are not being lied to, not by just another human being but by Satan himself?

God did not send his Son into the world to condemn it, but to save it. John 3. 17.

Jesus is the way, not cannibas. Jesus is the truth, not cannibas. Jesus is the light, not cannibas.

I think Nofziger’s letter speaks for itself. He asks “did you just detect my sarcasm?” No, but I did detect the signs of a fundamentalist lobotomy.

I have several questions for Nofziger. If God is the creator of everything, who created marijuana? And tobacco? And alcohol? If drinking alcohol is a sin, was Jesus sinning when he drank wine and turned the water into wine? What about the verses in the Bible that suggest giving a sick and dying man alcohol to ease his suffering? If marijuana can ease the suffering of someone, shouldn’t they be permitted to use it?

I did like the last sentence of his letter: Jesus is the way, not cannibas. Jesus is the truth, not cannibas. Jesus is the light, not cannibas. Ignoring the fact that Nofziger misspelled cannabis, I think Christians churches should start an evangelistic campaign that touts the superiority of Jesus to being high on marijuana. Get High on Jesus!

reefer madness

Reefer Madness

Songs of Sacrilege: Sympathy for the Devil by The Rolling Stones

This is the thirteenth installment in the Songs of Sacrilege series. This is a series that I would like readers to help me with. If you know of a song that is irreverent towards religion, makes fun of religion, pokes fun at sincerely held religious beliefs, or challenges the firmly held religious beliefs of others, please leave the name the song in the comment section or send me an email.

Today’s Song of Sacrilege is  Sympathy for the Devil by The Rolling Stones.

Video Link

Lyrics

Please allow me to introduce myself
I’m a man of wealth and taste
I’ve been around for a long, long year
Stole many a man’s soul to waste

And I was ’round when Jesus Christ
Had his moment of doubt and pain
Made damn sure that Pilate
Washed his hands and sealed his fate

Pleased to meet you
Hope you guess my name
But what’s puzzling you
Is the nature of my game

I stuck around St. Petersburg
When I saw it was a time for a change
Killed the Tsar and his ministers
Anastasia screamed in vain

I rode a tank
Held a general’s rank
When the blitzkrieg raged
And the bodies stank

Pleased to meet you
Hope you guess my name, oh yeah
Ah, what’s puzzling you
Is the nature of my game, oh yeah
(Woo woo, woo woo)

I watched with glee
While your kings and queens
Fought for ten decades
For the gods they made
(Woo woo, woo woo)

I shouted out,
Who killed the Kennedys?
When after all
It was you and me
(Who who, who who)

Let me please introduce myself
I’m a man of wealth and taste
And I laid traps for troubadours
Who get killed before they reached Bombay
(Woo woo, who who)

Pleased to meet you
Hope you guessed my name, oh yeah
(Who who)
But what’s puzzling you
Is the nature of my game, oh yeah, get down, baby
(Who who, who who)

Pleased to meet you
Hope you guessed my name, oh yeah
But what’s confusing you
Is just the nature of my game
(Woo woo, who who)

Just as every cop is a criminal
And all the sinners saints
As heads is tails
Just call me Lucifer
‘Cause I’m in need of some restraint
(Who who, who who)

So if you meet me
Have some courtesy
Have some sympathy, and some taste
(Woo woo)
Use all your well-learned politnesse
Or I’ll lay your soul to waste, mm yeah
(Woo woo, woo woo)

Pleased to meet you
Hope you guessed my name, mm yeah
(Who who)
But what’s puzzling you
Is the nature of my game, mm mean it, get down
(Woo woo, woo woo)

Woo, who
Oh yeah, get on down
Oh yeah
Oh yeah!
(Woo woo)

Tell me baby, what’s my name
Tell me honey, can ya guess my name
Tell me baby, what’s my name
I tell you one time, you’re to blame

Oh, who
Woo, woo
Woo, who
Woo, woo
Woo, who, who
Woo, who, who
Oh, yeah

What’s my name
Tell me, baby, what’s my name
Tell me, sweetie, what’s my name my name is rick I say

Woo, who, who
Woo, who, who rick
Woo, who, who
Woo, who, who
Woo, who, who
Woo, who, who
Oh, yeah
Woo woo
Woo woo

 

Book Review: Heaven is for Real

heaven is for real

In light of the recent repudiation of The Boy Who Came Back From Heaven by its author, Alex Malarkey, I thought I would repost my review of a similar book of fiction, Colton Burpo’s story, Heaven is for Real.

Heaven is for Real is the life-near-death-back-to-life story of a four-year old boy named Colton Burpo. Colton is the son of Todd and Sonja Burpo. The story is revealed by Colton to his father over the course of three or four years (2003-2007). The book detailing the story was written in 2010.

Todd Burpo is the pastor of Crossroads Wesleyan Church (link no longer active) in Imperial, Nebraska. A significant amount of time is spent detailing the day-to-day life of Todd Burpo, pastor. Burpo paints an all-too-typical picture of the ministry. Long hours, overworked, underpaid, under-appreciated. As a former pastor myself, I found Burpo’s story seemed quite familiar.

The young Burpo family had their fair share of adversity. Todd was diagnosed with a severe leg problem, kidney stones, and hyperplasia. A  breast biopsy showed cancer cells which resulted in the surgical removal of Todd’s breasts. Sonja had a miscarriage. On top of these trials, their son Colton required emergency treatment for a ruptured appendix. Colton was shuffled among 3 hospitals before the proper diagnosis was made. He almost died. Almost…

According to the Burpos, Heaven is for Real is a testimony to the power of prayer. Multiple illustrations throughout the book give clear testimony to the Christian God being a prayer-answering God.  Todd gives a testimony of being healed of cancer. A biopsy was used to first diagnose Burpo’s cancer. After having a mastectomy, the doctor was astounded to find no cancer in the removed tissue. The doctor said “I don’t know what to say. I don’t know how that happened.”  Burpo writes “I knew: God had loved me with a little miracle.”

The focus of Heaven is for Real is Colton Burpo’s near-death experience while being operated on for a ruptured appendix. After Colton came out of surgery, he began screaming for his father. Todd raced to his son’s side. Colton said to Todd, “Daddy, you know I almost died.”

There is little doubt about Colton almost dying. He went five days before being diagnosed with a ruptured appendix. By then, his body was full of infection. The doctors left tubes in Colton’s abdomen to drain the infection. After a grueling ordeal that lasted 15 days, Colton was released from the hospital. Burpo credits the prayers of God’s people for the miraculous deliverance of Colton from the jaws of death.

Burpo tells an incredible story that I have heard time and time again. Doctor bills are astronomical. What are we going to do? Pray! And lo and behold, God comes through with the exact amount needed to pay the medical bills.

A closer look at these kind of stories often yields a different conclusion. Take the Burpos’ case. First, the Burpos had insurance. According to the book, the deductible was $3,200.00. Burpo does not say what the maximum out-of-pocket amount is, so readers are left to wonder how much the insurance actually paid and how much the Burpo’s had to pay. What we do know is that God provided the Burpos with almost $23,000.00 in gifts and donations to be used for medical expenses.

After Colton was fully recovered, the Burpos noticed that Colton seemed quite focused on people knowing Jesus as their Savior (having Jesus in their heart).

Todd writes:

I didn’t know what to think. Where was this sudden concern over whether a stranger was saved , whether he had Jesus in his heart, as Colton put it, coming from?

Four months after Colton’s near-death experience, the Burpo family took a Fourth of July trip to Sioux City, South Dakota to visit Sonja’s brother. While traveling to Sioux City, Todd, Sonja and Colton had a discussion about Colton’s time in the hospital.

Colton: “Yes Mommy, I remember, that’s where the angels sang to me.”

Todd:  “Colton, you said the angels sang to you while you were in the hospital.”

Todd: “What did they sing to you?”

Colton: “Well they sang Jesus Loves Me and Joshua Fought the Battle of Jericho. I asked them to sing We Will, We Will, Rock You, but they wouldn’t sing that” (implication: angels hate rock music).

Todd: “What did the angels look like?”

Colton: “ Well, one of them looked like Grandpa Dennis, but it wasn’t him ‘cause Grandpa Dennis has glasses.”

Colton: “Dad, Jesus had the angels sing to me because I was so scared. They made me feel better.”

Todd: “You mean Jesus was there?”

Colton: “Yeah Jesus was there.”

Todd: “Well, where was Jesus?”

Colton: “I was sitting in Jesus’ lap.”

Todd: “Colton, where were you when you saw Jesus?”

Colton: “At the hospital. You know, when Dr. O’Holleran was working on me.”

Todd: “But you were in the operating room, Colton. How could you see what we were doing?”

Colton: “ ‘Cause I could see you. I went up out of my body and I was looking down and I could see the doctor working on my body. And I saw you and Mommy . You were in a little room by yourself, praying; and Mommy was in a different room, and she was praying and talking on the phone.”

And so the story Heaven is for Real begins.

Here are some of the things that four-year old Colton revealed to his parents:

  • Jesus was baptized by his cousin and his cousin was really nice. (John the Baptist was the cousin of Jesus.)
  • Jesus rode a rainbow-colored horse.
  • Jesus has brown hair and hair on his face.
  • Jesus has pretty eyes.
  • Jesus wore clothes that were purple and white.
  • Jesus wore a crown with a pink, diamond-like stone in the middle.
  • Jesus had red markers (nail prints) in his hands and feet.
  • Jesus gave Colton work to do and that was his favorite part of Heaven.
  • There were a lot of kids in heaven.
  • Everyone in heaven has wings and people fly everywhere they go.
  • Jesus didn’t have wings and he went up and down like an elevator.
  • All the people in heaven look like angels and have a light above their head.
  • He saw Pop, his Dad’s grandfather, in heaven.
  • Pop told Colton about his dog that had one blue and one brown eye.
  • Jesus went to Colton’s Dad and told him he wanted him (dad) to be a pastor.
  • Jesus was really happy Dad became a pastor.
  • Colton saw his  8-week-old miscarried sister in Heaven.
  • Colton told his Mom it was OK his sister died because God the Father adopted her.
  • His sister didn’t have a name in heaven because her parents never named her.
  • God the Father has a throne in heaven and Jesus sits on a throne right next to him.
  • Jesus sat on the right side of the Father.
  • The angel Gabriel sat on a throne on the left side of God the Father.
  • Colton sat on a small chair near the Holy Spirit.
  • Colton prayed for his parents while he was in Heaven.
  • The Holy Spirit is colored blue.
  • God and Jesus light up Heaven and it never gets dark.
  • There were animals in Heaven.
  • The gates of Heaven had gold and pearl on them.
  • The heavenly city was made of something shiny.
  • Jesus really, really, really loves children.
  • Jesus died on the cross so we could go see God, the Father.
  • No one is old in Heaven.
  • The Holy Spirit shoots power down from Heaven when Todd is preaching.
  • Satan is not in hell yet.
  • The angels use swords to keep Satan out of Heaven.
  • Jesus wouldn’t let Colton have a sword because it would be too dangerous.
  • Colton saw Satan (but refused to talk about it).

Colton also told of a future day when there will be a war. Good people and good angels are going to fight against Satan, bad angels, monsters, and bad people. While this war is going on, the women and children get to stand back and watch. Colton saw his Dad fighting on God’s side. Jesus wins and throws Satan into hell.

And so, there you have it. Colton told his father that he saw all of the above in three minutes. That’s how long he was in Heaven…three minutes. It took the Burpos four years to get the whole story out of Colton.

What are we to make of Heaven is for Real, A Little Boy’s Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back?

First, Colton was raised in a pastor’s home. He was taught from his earliest days the stories of the Bible. That he was conversant in “church-talk” should not be surprising. Most preacher’s kids learn “church-talk” at an early age.

It is quite evident that Colton has a vivid imagination. Having raised four boys myself, I am well aware of the imaginative powers young boys (and girls) have. My three-year-old grandson, only 11 months younger than Colton was when he had his vision, has quite an imagination. On any given day he believes he is Batman, Superman, or the Incredible Hulk.

Most of the book consists of Todd Burpo trying to prove that what Colton saw has a Biblical basis. Virtually every part of the vision was fact-checked according to the Bible. Colton’s vision always matched what the Bible said. Amazing, yes? The Bible is an amazing book. It can be made to say anything and it can be used to prove even the most astounding things.

As I read the book, I found myself saying, “is the story told by Colton in the language of a four year old?” It isn’t. The story has been polished for publication. Only Todd Burpo knows what the actual story is. I am not suggesting that Burpo is lying, but I am saying the story shows the marks of being shaped by adults. One, seemingly insignificant, example of this stood out to me. Colton asked the angels to sing We Will, We will Rock you. I thought, “would a boy a few months short of four say We Will, We Will Rock you or would he more likely say We will Rock you or Rock you?”

For those who are Evangelical Christians, the book has numerous theological problems. I want to focus on just one of them.

Colton describes heaven as a place filled with people, especially lots of kids. This description flies in the face of orthodox Christian doctrine concerning death and the resurrection from the dead. When people die, they are put in the grave to await the resurrection from the dead. Depending on what eschatological view a person has, the Christian’s body remains in the grave (or wherever its final resting place is) until Jesus comes again or until the final judgment.  At that moment, the Christian dead will be resurrected and given a perfect body. At this time, there are NO physical bodies running around heaven.

NT Wright writes:

There is no agreement in the church today about what happens to people when they die. Yet the New Testament is crystal clear on the matter: In a classic passage, Paul speaks of “the redemption of our bodies” (Rom. 8:23). There is no room for doubt as to what he means: God’s people are promised a new type of bodily existence, the fulfillment and redemption of our present bodily life. The rest of the early Christian writings, where they address the subject, are completely in tune with this.

The traditional picture of people going to either heaven or hell as a one-stage, postmortem journey represents a serious distortion and diminution of the Christian hope. Bodily resurrection is not just one odd bit of that hope. It is the element that gives shape and meaning to the rest of the story of God’s ultimate purposes. If we squeeze it to the margins, as many have done by implication, or indeed, if we leave it out altogether, as some have done quite explicitly, we don’t just lose an extra feature, like buying a car that happens not to have electrically operated mirrors. We lose the central engine, which drives it and gives every other component its reason for working.

….When Paul speaks in Philippians 3 of being “citizens of heaven,” he doesn’t mean that we shall retire there when we have finished our work here. He says in the next line that Jesus will come from heaven in order to transform the present humble body into a glorious body like his own. Jesus will do this by the power through which he makes all things subject to himself. This little statement contains in a nutshell more or less all Paul’s thought on the subject. The risen Jesus is both the model for the Christian’s future body and the means by which it comes.

Similarly, in Colossians 3:1–4, Paul says that when the Messiah (the one “who is your life”) appears, then you too will appear with him in glory. Paul does not say “one day you will go to be with him.” No, you already possess life in him. This new life, which the Christian possesses secretly, invisible to the world, will burst forth into full bodily reality and visibility.

The clearest and strongest passage is Romans 8:9–11. If the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Jesus the Messiah, dwells in you, says Paul, then the one who raised the Messiah from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies as well, through his Spirit who dwells in you. God will give life, not to a disembodied spirit, not to what many people have thought of as a spiritual body in the sense of a nonphysical one, but “to your mortal bodies also.”

Other New Testament writers support this view. The first letter of John declares that when Jesus appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. The resurrection body of Jesus, which at the moment is almost unimaginable to us in its glory and power, will be the model for our own. And of course within John’s gospel, despite the puzzlement of those who want to read the book in a very different way, we have some of the clearest statements of future bodily resurrection. Jesus reaffirms the widespread Jewish expectation of resurrection in the last day, and announces that the hour for this has already arrived. It is quite explicit: “The hour is coming,” he says, “indeed, it is already here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of Man, and those who hear will live; when all in the graves will come out, those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of judgment.”….

Evidently bad theology is less of a problem for Evangelicals than is was years ago. Heaven is for Real is a bestselling book among Evangelical Christians. At our local library, the waiting list for Heaven is for Real is 488 patrons long. Astoundingly, it is the number one seller on the Amazon.com book list.

From a non-theist perspective, Heaven is for Real is cheap lit of the worst kind. It is a work of fiction, and not very good fiction either.  Sadly, many Evangelicals will see this as a wonderful, true story. The book reinforces their view that life is filled with tragedy but heaven awaits all those who, through Jesus, faithfully endure what life gives them.

Todd Burpo said in  the preface:

I am not a believer in superstition.

Heaven is for Real is 162 pages of proof that he does.

The Heaven is For Real website.

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Bruce Gerencser