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Faith is for Real – How About You?

Living in a small town; the movies we get at the local theater are not always what you might call, “First Run.” Recently the film, “God is NOT Dead, He is Surely Alive,” was shown and it received raves from the local community but within the church circles it also spawned what seemed like a flurry of chatter about another upcoming movie, “Heaven is for Real.” Facebook posts have popped up about how this person or that, simply cannot wait to see the account of a 4 year old boy who supposedly entered Heaven and returned to tell the tale. I say, “Supposedly,” because these accounts always have me raising an eyebrow, questioning the validity of such claims.

I know that there are a multitude of folks who will tell you that they died for several minutes and saw the tunnel of white light, the past family members that were lost long ago and other details of their near-death experience, but I always greet such stories with more than a grain of salt. One has to wonder about the motives of those who claim to have seen within the heavenly realm. Some of you may be surprised to learn that I am skeptical of such goings on but I am. True, Lazarus was dead and Jesus commanded his life to return, Elijah stretched himself out on a child three times and prayed that God would send the boy’s soul back into his lifeless body – and it was done, in Mark 5 Jesus raised a little girl from her death sleep and even the apostle Paul, by the power of Christ, revived Eutychus after he had fallen from the third story window ledge. So we do, in fact, have accounts of the dead returning to life at the will of God, (not to mention the many godly people who came out of their graves after the resurrection of the Lord).

Why should I have trouble with someone claiming to have entered Heaven and then returned? First, I believe that Scripture plainly states that, “…it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.” Hebrews 9:29. So to all of those who say they died and came back, I say they were not really dead. They might have been close, but since it is appointed ONCE for men to die, they had not actually crossed over to death. Then there are other verses that tell us that no one has ever entered heaven except the One who came from heaven. Even Steven as he was about to breathe his last, or Jacob as he saw the heavens open with the angels ascending and descending, or the accounts to the Revelation given by John; I am not convinced that they ever entered heaven or experienced anything other than a vision from God.

Granted, such a vision would be beyond extraordinary, but the problem remains, why would God send such information through a 4 year old? I believe that the canon of Scripture was closed with the advent of the Son of God and the writings of the Apostles. What else is there for God to want us to receive than the words of Jesus and the accounts of the early church given through the inspired writers? Why would so many people clamor after the tale of a preacher’s child and believe, when the same information from the lips of the incarnate God left them unmoved?

In fairness, I have never read the book nor seen the film to know exactly what the message is – but then I have never read, “The DaVinci Code,” “The Shack” or, “The Satanic Bible,” either. I don’t need to read the entire content of a book to know it’s in conflict with Scripture. Since I take a fundamental view of the Bible as being the inerrant Word of God; if it conflicts with the Bible, it is immediately suspect, and not worth my time. “But Charlie, look at all the good it’s done. A lot of people have come to Jesus because of the testimony of this child.” Maybe so – but does not the Bible teach us that God can turn even the bad to His purposes if it suits Him? And how many people follow supposed accounts of the divine toward a Jesus who is not the Christ at all?

The first question that needs to be asked regarding these accounts is this; to whom is the glory given? It seems a lot more likely that some preacher who has filled his 4 year old with mental images of heaven is now exploiting that base of information to reap a reward similar to the way Joel Osteen, Joyce Meyers and countless PTL charlatans have. Let me be clear – I AM NOT SAYING THAT THIS LITTLE BOY IS LYING. He may genuinely believe what he is saying, but the problem is that we can easily believe something with our whole being and still be wrong. I cannot say the family is intentionally practicing deceit, but it seems far more likely to me, from a fundamental, biblical vantage point, that they are espousing a mistaken notion.

Whether these films are frauds for profit, tricks of the devil being used by God for some small benefit, or something even more nefarious is up to each of us to decide for ourselves. If we have a biblical basis for our worldview and reason from the Scriptures, then we should find the truth in the vast array of theological and quasi-religious material presented for our consumption. We have a responsibility to guard our children from wild lunacy and bald-faced lies whenever possible, to ensure that the information we, and our children, use to form decisions and base our eternal destinies upon are the best source materials available. Just as I would rather have taken guitar lessons from Les Paul than the guy in the garage down the street who has a couple of three chord progressions under his belt, I would prefer to base the security of my eternal condition on the words from the lips of Jesus than I would the stories of little children.

If you want to go see films like this, go ahead. I’m fairly certain that you won’t end up in Hell for something so benign, but be aware of the potential for the deception of the biblical truths that really found a faith that is for real. For the Christian who is solidly grounded on the rock which is Jesus Christ, this movie will be little more than a sweet story of an adorable child in a very difficult position who comes through with an incredible story. To the non-believer it will mean less and may even point them in the wrong direction. Remember that incredible is the adverse of credible, un-credible would surely be the more proper word. It’s your money to throw around as you see fit so if you want to throw it at a theater; I guess it’s up to you.

Let’s say that you take a date to the movie, with a quick bite to eat and maybe a stop for a coffee after the show while you discuss what you have just seen; counting a box of popcorn and a soft drink at the show you might easily drop $60 or $70. Now think for a moment how that same amount of money could pay for the food, clothing, medical treatment and Christian education of a third-world child for two months and consider which would be the better use of your dollars. I’m glad that production companies are beginning to value the Christian viewpoint enough to make movies with a family-friendly message, a basis in faith, and how those efforts are attempting to fill a void that’s been too long neglected but I’d like to see better choices in material being produced. How about using a, “Star Wars,” budget to make of a full length feature of, “A Pilgrim’s Progress?” Now there’s something that I bet would be…

All for the Glory of Christ

A Cup?

2 Responses to “Faith is for Real – How About You?”

  1. Carol says:

    Thank you for sharing….this makes one think really hard about this subject and offers a biblical answer to all the questions regarding it.

    • Fundamental Charlie says:

      I appreciate your loyal readership but I want to be sure that you, (and everyone else), understand that this was MY take on the situation. I am certain that others could put forth a convincing biblical argument to counter mine, however; the position I took in the above column is one I feel I can defend.

      My intention was to try to make people stop and consider the buffet of quasi-theological choices being offered as Christian, and try to get them to consider, first; Is this right? and then, Is this the better use of the resources God has gifted me with?

      I hope you continue to read and share your valuable input, as every voice adds to the overall edification of us all.

      God Bless,

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