Heaven is for Suckers: A Review of Todd Burpo’s “Heaven is for Real”

For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten. Also their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is now perished; neither have they any more a portion for ever in any thing that is done under the sun.
~ Ecclesiastes 9:5-6 (King James Version)

The boundaries which divide life from death are at best shadowy and vague.
Who shall say where one ends, and the other begins?

~ Edgar Allan Poe

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In Heaven is for Real: A Little Boy’s Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2010), author Todd Burpo (with coauthor Lynn Vincent) inadvertently tells a very sad (not to mention infuriating) story, even though it was intended to be inspiring and uplifting. By way of introducing the book, I quote from the New York Times’ report on the backstory that resulted in the writing of the book:

Just two months shy of his fourth birthday, Colton Burpo, the son of an evangelical pastor in Imperial, Neb., was rushed into emergency surgery with a burst appendix. He woke up with an astonishing story: He had died and gone to heaven, where he met his great-grandfather; the biblical figure Samson; John the Baptist; and Jesus, who had eyes that “were just sort of a sea-blue and they seemed to sparkle,” Colton, now 11 years old, recalled.

Colton’s father, Todd, has turned the boy’s experience into a 163-page book, “Heaven Is for Real,” which has become a sleeper paperback hit of the winter, dominating best-seller lists and selling hundreds of thousands of copies.

The article goes on to report that more than 1.5 million copies of this book have been printed. In addition, there is now a children’s version of the book and a DVD-based curriculum for churches and small groups. There is now also a movie adaptation of the book, directed by Randall Wallace and released in mainstream theaters on April 16, 2014.

Ka-ching! I imagine every time Todd Burpo and his wife Sonja see or think of their son, they think, well done, kid!

In the book, Burpo relates what his four year-old son Colton told him about what he remembered of his alleged trip to heaven. Here are the main details:

  • John the Baptist is “nice.”
  • Jesus has a rainbow-colored horse
  • There are lots of colors in heaven, because heaven is where all the rainbow colors are.
  • Jesus has “markers” (red-colored wounds in his hands and feet). He has brown hair and a beard. His eyes are very pretty. He wears white clothes with a purple sash, and he is the only one in heaven who wears purple. He has a circular “gold thing” on his head with a pink-colored “diamond thing” in the center.
  • Jesus teaches children in heaven, and gives them homework.
  • Everybody has wings in heaven, and everybody flies. But not Jesus. Jesus is the only one in heaven who does not have wings. He just goes up and down “like an elevator.”
  • People in heaven look like angels and have lights above their head. They all wear white with yellow sashes. They wear different colors than the angels do.
  • The angel Gabriel sits on the left side of God’s throne. He is “really nice.”
  • In heaven, Colton sat in a little chair next to the Holy Spirit, who was “kind of blue.”
  • No one is old in heaven, and no one wears glasses.
  • Jesus “shoots down power” to pastors when they are about to preach.
  • Angels carry swords in heaven to keep Satan out.
  • Besides Jesus’ rainbow horse, there are other animals in heaven, including dogs, birds, and a friendly lion.
  • Colton met Mary, the mother of Jesus. She “still loves him like a mom.”

Todd Burpo insists that Colton could not possibly have just made up these kinds of details:

I was pretty sure neither Sonja nor I had ever talked to Colton about what Jesus wore at all, much less what he might be wearing in heaven. Could he have picked up such a detail from the Bible stories we read to the kids? More of Colton’s knowledge about our faith came from that than from a month of Sundays. But again, the stories in the Bible storybooks we read to him were very narrative-oriented, and just a couple of hundred words each. Not at all heavy on details, like Jesus wearing white (yet Scripture says he did). And no details on what heaven might be like (p. 68).

Burpo is just wrong, and he is obviously reaching, stretching logic to its breaking point. A child can make up stories such as the one four year-old Colton came up with, without any outside help. In fact, it is actually very easy to do. Is Burpo really so dense as to believe that a young child – raised in Sunday school all of his four years – could not have just imagined rainbow horses (has Colton by any chance seen The Wizard of Oz?), a bearded and blue-eyed Jesus consistent with most Sunday school pictures, and ideas of people having wings and halos in heaven? Moreover, we are dealing here with a four year-old who had been steeped in religious training since he was born. The mind of a young child is like a sponge; children absorb a great deal of what their parents tell them and inculcate much of their behavior.

Another question we might ask, assuming for the sake of argument that Colton really did have some kind of vision, is how he knew that the bearded, purple-sashed man with the brown hair, blue eyes was actually Jesus. Did this figure have an ID card handy? Does Colton just arbitrarily believe anyone who claims to be Jesus Christ? For all Colton (or his father) knows, the man he met might have been David Koresh. And we can go further with our hypothetical acceptance of Colton’s story. Colton could have gone to hell, where his mind was fed a deceptive illusion by Satan in which he saw his great-grandfather and Jesus and all the other details listed above. Maybe Satan implanted this illusion in the child and then sent him back in order to popularize the book, thereby leading millions of people directly to hell.

I invite you to prove me wrong, Mr. Burpo.

Burpo discusses at some length what he considers to be the “smoking gun” evidence that his son visited heaven. Little Colton apparently knew details about his family about which Burpo claims he was never told prior to his near-death experience. This included information about Colton’s great-grandfather, who died in an auto accident over twenty years before Colton was born. But even the book’s account makes it clear that Mr. Burpo himself dragged the details out of Colton. After his near-death experience, Colton also allegedly knew that when his father was thirteen years old, he felt called by God to be a pastor. “But we had never told Colton about it,” Burpo writes (p. 92). Most impressively of all, Colton allegedly knew about his deceased sister, who miscarried in her mother’s womb in 1998. Although the parents claim they had never told Colton about this miscarriage, he claimed to have met her in heaven.

Now obviously, I was not privy to the family conversations that happened in the Burpo family during the first four years of Colton’s life, but time has a way of passing and people have short memories. This book was written seven years after the events related – plenty of time for gaps in memory to be filled with false details. As the author himself admits,

[O]ur emergency dash from Greeley to the doctor in Imperial turned out to be only the beginning of the story . . . we received the details of Colton’s extraordinary journey [to heaven] in bits and pieces over a period of months and years. So though it’s been some time since his brush with death, the rest of the story took a while to unfold [p. 151, emphasis added].

Parents do not always remember what they did and did not tell their children about family history. A much more plausible scenario is this: what Todd Burpo thinks he remembers as his four year-old son volunteering information, without anyone telling him anything or asking leading questions, was actually a case of his son regurgitating information told to him at some point in the past – either before he was four years old, or even afterward, before the book was published seven years down the road.

The reason I find this to be a sad story is because, despite the fact that the family has gained great wealth as a result of the incident, this story is bound to have one of two possible effects on Colton. He will either (1) develop a lifelong sense of his own infallibility, living the rest of his life with the fact that a silly fantasy he either made up or dreamed up was taken so seriously by the adults that it became the basis of a bestselling book franchise and movie deal, or (2) he is going to live in perpetual fear for the rest of his life, afraid that people will one day discover that he was deceiving everyone the whole time.

I hasten to add that in suggesting the latter possibility, I am not claiming that Colton has been consciously lying about his alleged experiences or in any way attempting to make anything up. Colton’s experience could very well have been a vivid dream, a personal fantasy, or a piecing-together of disparate memories that he is convinced was absolutely real. There is no reason to accuse Colton Burpo of intentionally deceiving anybody in order to be skeptical of the reality of his journey to heaven. I merely suggest it as a possibility, in the interest of exhausting all possible natural explanations before accepting an even more implausible supernatural one. Let us remember what the philosopher David Hume said in his famous essay “On Miracles,” published in his 1748 book An Inquiry Concerning Human Understanding: “No testimony is sufficient to establish a miracle, unless the testimony be of such a kind that its falsehood would be more miraculous than the fact which it endeavors to establish” (quoted from editor Charles Hendel’s edition, New York: Bobbs-Merrill, 1955). The example Hume gives holds immediate relevance to the case we are considering here:

When anyone tells me that he saw a dead man restored to life, I immediately consider with myself whether it be more probable that this person should either deceive or be deceived, or that the fact which he relates should really have happened.

While on the subject of more probable explanations, it bears pointing out that there is a clear difference between the way a child handles a vivid dream (or whatever Colton’s experience happened to be) and the way an adult handles one. This may seem like an obvious observation, but it is an important one in the case before us. When an adult awakes from a nightmare – and I speak from personal experience, because I have many of them – he or she may initially pant for breath, and then take a moment to become oriented to reality, and then mentally note, “Oh, I just had a nightmare. Carry on.” When a child awakes from a nightmare, on the other hand, he or she will often run to the parent’s bedroom, insist that the closet be checked for monsters, and will generally treat the dream with all seriousness until he or she is sufficiently talked down to by a rational adult.

My point is this: Colton Burpo did not have any rational people around him in his household. Thus, when he woke up from surgery and almost four months later began talking about meeting his long-dead great-grandfather and Jesus and Samson in heaven, his parents did not say anything like, “No, you probably didn’t; it was just a dream.” Colton’s parents instead saw in Colton’s fantastic story a validation of their religious beliefs. Perhaps more importantly, they saw an opportunity to become rich by writing a book (although, I must admit I am rather surprised that they even they went along with the “sparkly, blue-eyed Jesus” bit).

The fact that this book became an instant bestseller illustrates the special dispensations accorded to religion by modern society. Consider: if this had been a story about a child meeting anybody else besides Jesus and other assorted Bible characters, the story would probably not have been written, much less published. Burpo mentions in the book that Colton’s favorite superhero at the time of his ordeal was Spider-Man (p. 25). Imagine if Colton had claimed to have visited Spider-Man or any other fantasy character that appeals to small children. Nobody would have taken him quite as seriously as his religious parents did when he told them he met Jesus in heaven. I am reminded of what Sam Harris wrote in his book The End of Faith (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2004): “It is merely an accident of history that it is considered normal in our society to believe that the Creator of the universe can hear your thoughts, while it is demonstrative of mental illness to believe that he is communicating with you by having the rain tap in Morse code on your bedroom window. And so, while religious people are not generally mad, their core beliefs absolutely are . . . billions of us [believe] what no sane person could believe on his own” (p. 72).

I submit that beliefs about Jesus’ rainbow horse and about Jesus zapping preachers with spiritual power from above fall squarely in the category of “mad core beliefs.” And then there is this little tidbit shared by Colton:

“There’s going to be a war, and it’s going to destroy this world. Jesus and the angels and the good people are going to fight against Satan and the monsters and the bad people. I saw it.”

I thought of the battle described in the book of Revelation, and my heartbeat stepped up a notch. “How did you see that?”

“In heaven, the women and the children got to stand back and watch. So I stood back and watched.”

Strangely, his voice was sort of cheerful, as though he were talking about a good movie he’d seen. “But the men, they had to fight. And Dad, I watched you. You have to fight too.”

Try hearing that and staying on the road. Suddenly, the sound of the tires whirring on asphalt seemed unnaturally loud, a high whine . . .

“Um, Colton . . . what am I fighting the monsters with?” I was hoping for a tank, maybe, or a missile launcher . . . I didn’t know, but something I could use to fight from a distance.

Colton looked at me and smiled. “You either get a sword or a bow and arrow, but I don’t remember which.”

My face fell. “You mean I have to fight monsters with a sword?”

“Yeah, Dad, but it’s okay,” he said reassuringly. “Jesus wins. He throws Satan into hell. I saw it” (pp. 136, 138).

It should be clear now exactly what I meant when I said that Colton is not being raised by rational people. In fact, as I read the passage quoted above, I could not help but think of the 2002 movie Frailty, in which Matthew McConaughey stars as deranged religious fanatic who believes he has been visited by a heavenly messenger who tells him God has given him a special mission: find demons disguised as humans and kill them. What follows is a murder spree motivated by his belief in the reality of his vision, a grisly undertaking into which he tries to recruit his two preteen sons.

Some of my readers may have strong objections to such a comparison. After all, what can possibly be the harm in allowing the Burpo family to share what they believe happened to their son, without questioning them and subjecting their story to critical scrutiny? Well, for one thing, read what kind of attitude toward life Colton’s parents have fostered in him as a result of his experiences:

That day, I bought vanilla cones, one each for Colton and me. True to form, when we walked out the door, he took his treat and darted out into the parking lot, which is only a couple dozen feet from Broadway.

Heart in my throat, I yelled, “COLTON, STOP!”

. . . Just then, I noticed a little pile of fur right out in the middle of Broadway. Seizing what I thought was a teachable moment, I pointed to it. “See that?” . . . “That’s a bunny who was trying to cross the street and didn’t make it,” I said. “That’s what can happen if you run out and a car doesn’t see you! You could not only get hurt; you could die!”

Colton looked up at me and grinned over his cone. “Oh, good!” he said. “That means I get to go back to heaven!”

I just dropped my head and shook it, exasperated. How do you scare some sense into a child who doesn’t fear death? (pp. 113-114).

Therein lies the danger and the harm of religion, especially in the lives of impressionable children who believe everything they’re told.

For me, as an aspiring investigative journalist, one of the most disappointing (but by no means surprising) aspects of the book is its one-sided reporting. If any of the details given by young Colton happened to be wrong, we the readers do not get to hear about those wrong details against which to measure chance probabilities of Colton receiving insights by other-than-normal means. Colton’s parents, along with several other people in their circle who helped produce and promote this book, have looked only at the generalities of this incident. These generalities grew into a story who key elements are a little boy going to heaven and there meeting his great-grandfather and Jesus. But what about all the other smaller details that must have manifested, including any disconfirming data? This book subtly and misleadingly portrays Colton Burpo as much more than just a little kid who I suspect is just as fallible and human as the rest of us. One gets the impression that Mr. Burpo thinks his son is incapable of either lying or being deceived, and even that God pays special attention to his prayers:

[W]hen, in the spring of 2004, the most brilliant rainbow we’d ever seen appeared over Imperial, we called him [Colton] outside to take a look . . .

“Look at that rainbow, Colton,” Sonja said. “There definitely should be a big pot of gold at the end of that thing.”

Colton squinted, peering up at colors pouring across the sky.

“Cool,” he said with a nonchalant smile. “I prayed for that yesterday.”

Then he turned on his heel and went back to play.

Sonja and I looked at each other like, What just happened? And later we talked again about the pure-faith prayers of a child. “Ask and it will be given to you,” Jesus said. He put that instruction in the context of a child asking a father for a blessing . . .

Colton Burpo hadn’t seen a rainbow in a while, so he asked his heavenly Father to send one. Faith like a child. Maybe, Sonja and I thought, we had a lot to learn from our son (pp. 108, 109).

What else might Colton Burpo not have seen in a while, if at all? What about the worldwide suffering caused by human cruelty and natural disasters? Has Todd Burpo, who believes that God pays special attention to his son’s prayers, advised his son to pray that scientists will find a cure for cancer, or that God will miraculously restore lost limbs to the nearly 2 million amputees living in the United States alone? Apparently not, if what he says about the special supernatural dispensations afforded to his son is true.

The only reason Colton’s parents believed his son’s fantastic tale is because they already believed that people go to heaven to meet Jesus. They were primed to believe it, not only because of the formally-stated doctrinal tenets they strongly associated with, but also on an emotional basis: they wanted to believe that their deceased infant daughter was waiting for them in heaven. They did not believe their son’s story for any evidential reason (i.e., the claim that he could not possibly have made it up). Instead, they wanted desperately to believe Colton for emotional reasons and they already believed in a heavenly afterlife for departed loved ones. Todd Burpo and his wife were bound to find some truth in what Colton said, regardless of what he said, because they were looking for that truth with blinders on.

In the final analysis, Todd Burpo was not thinking skeptically or critically in writing Heaven is for Real, a book which is the product of a failure to analyze details that I suspect would go a long ways toward demonstrating whether or not the information Burpo received from his four year-old son is reliable. But then again, why would he enter into a critical analysis that had the potential to ruin a great story? Where is the money to be made in that?

Further Reading

Claims of near-death experiences, out-of-body experiences, and astral journeys to the afterlife are everywhere to be found. Heaven is for Real by Todd Burpo is merely one of the latest additions to a vast body of anecdotal claims that rely not only on circumstantial evidence and selective data, but also on questionable science.

Fortunately, there is a large and ever-growing literature providing a much-needed skeptical perspective on NDEs, OBEs, and the like. Several excellent books and articles have examined the phenomenon in a less credulous and more critical manner, and present strong and detailed arguments demonstrating why the data from NDEs do not offer any evidence for the existence of an afterlife. For the interested reader, I recommend the following books and articles:

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About Nathan Dickey

I am a freelance writer trying to finish my degree in Journalism. I attended Southern Oregon University in Ashland, Oregon. My interests are many, and include investigative reporting, science, philosophy, history, classic rock music, and pop culture analysis. My motivation in writing is to contribute what I can to the promotion of science and skepticism among the public. My goal is to use my journalism training to be active in the skeptical and freethought movement, analyzing dubious but popularly-believed claims involving the supernatural, the paranormal and religion.
This entry was posted in Book Reviews, Popular Culture, Religion, Skepticism and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

32 Responses to Heaven is for Suckers: A Review of Todd Burpo’s “Heaven is for Real”

  1. john says:

    Mr. Dickey, what did you learn besides how do spend your life in school? You must not have kids or deal with them often! Most children don’t lie at four years old much less know about a man with marks in his hands and feet. I feel for you that someone with your education could still be so uneducated. Please seek another school in another state because Oregon didn’t do you justice for a education. Please pray that Jesus whom you talk about and refer to forgives you , because you will not see him as this little boy did if you don’t change and believe.

    • David says:

      A complete waist of time reading this. I hope God blesses this very shallow soul.

      • Thank you for commenting so I can put you on the spot. Since you say I am “shallow,” surely you can easily show me exactly where and how I went wrong in this article. Tell us why we should take the grandiose claims of an impressionable four-year-old seriously.

      • Also, why is it a Christian is the first person to call tell someone they have a shallow soul, whatever that is, and put them down. I’m not a Christian, I’m not an atheist. I’m a nothing. I don’t even thing the term for what I “am” should exist. I’m a human being. Why is his soul shallow? Because it doesn’t agree with what you believe? Believe what you want. I’ll enjoy the time I have here and not live through someone else. Do you realize how many atrocities were committed in the name of Christianity, or any religion for that matter? If anyone has shallow souls, it the people who follow blindly the path set out by their Sunday school teachers or their parents. I had this crap beat into my brain for 25 years before I moved on. It was after my degree and being exposed to freely thinking individuals. My degree was the second best thing college ever gave me. Get your minds back. You are, I’m sure, VERY SMART people otherwise. What’s the issue?

      • *** “think,” not “thing” (this blog have no way to edit typos)

  2. Pingback: Geocentrism at the Box Office | Skeptical Inquests: A Blog by Nathan Dickey

  3. Bethany Mitchell says:

    Dear Mr. Dickey, I totally agree with you – that this really did not happen to Colton. To begin with, he didn’t even die. Also, I was raised by a Christian mother (my father was not a Christian). By the age of 4, I could have described everything that Colton did. My mother constantly talked to me about Jesus, Heaven, the Devil, etc. etc. etc. So yes, I agree that all this came from this child’s imagination, and from the child’s father leading/prompting him. Oh, and for the record, I’m 46 now and an atheist. So there is hope for those who have been brainwashed since birth.

  4. Hi! I wonder if these Burpos are related to Charles W. Burpo. See C. W. Burpo – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia – He was my father and they say a “man of God”. I never knew him and if he was alive today, I wouldn’t want to know him. When I see the name Burpo, an alarm sounds. I haven’t read the book, seen the movie…just saw a little blurb about this on TV. OK – just wanted to share.

  5. People will defend their religions. You’re right. You’ll never convince them though. If they were old purple dragons fly around when they are asleep, and they have massive cathedrals dedicated to the purple dragons, and priests who talk about the purple dragons, and entire college courses dedicated to the field of purple dragons, and if you didn’t believe in the purple dragons you get tortured forever in non-believer hell, guess what? People would believe in purple dragons and pray to them out of fear. Hmm, his father is a priest and has found some way to rape millions of dollars from people. Saying his son is happy to die to go back to heaven. What a whack nut job. Now with millions of followers and readers. Yup. Sounds pretty religious to me.

    Do something good with your life. THINK and read science. Stuff that’s provable and factual. You’ve been given a wonderfully complex brain. Thank evolution, chemistry, and biology. Step away from the purple dragons folks. They ain’t real. Go hop in a whale’s stomach and last 3 minutes much less three days. The acid would eat your skin off. Idiots. And where’s the record of a giant flood? SHOW ME the sedimentary layers of evidence of a giant flood. Ever wonder why Hell is hot? Because people didn’t understand volcanos. THINK!!! Open a science book. Quit reading this trash.

  6. Eric says:

    Well maybe when the trumpet sounds and Jesus/god/holy spirit which ever one he is that day kills the seven head ten horned dragon while you atheist devil worshipers are hiding under rocks worshiping your ridiculous evolution bible and dreaming about killing babies then you will know your prophet Darwin was a false prophet but it will be to late for you then you will have to burn with your false prophet forever while me and Todd and colten are riding rainbow horses with Jesus and god then you will be sorry but it will be to late you will weep and whale and Nash your tooth forever and ever for worshiping evolution and the bigbing

  7. Eric says:

    Who is Poe and what is funny about people burning forever

  8. Dustin says:

    Here’s what I think. They openly divulge that they’re in dire straights financially. What better way to make some bucks AND get followers to come to your church to hear your version of the correct story and give you their money happily? If the book had failed, they’d still be broke and the church would have nene what it was. I believe they planted the stories into the poor kid just to cover their asses later on for tv interviews and such. I used to get visions of Santa Clause when I was five or six. I could really see him in my head and tell you stories about shit that he does. Why? Because the idea of Santa was placed in my head at some point before I actually remember hearing the story. I actually tried to watch the, movie but just couldn’t convince myself that it was remotely possible, much less real.

  9. matthbrandon says:

    This Eric guy is absolutely ridiculous

  10. Eric says:

    Yes I’m for real save ur magic soul and come to church with me Sunday to eat the flesh and drink the blood of our cosmic Jewish zombie skydaddy lol I think if I were that dumb I’d kill myself. Ahhh oh yea if I were that dumb I wouldn’t know I was so I’d be just another religious fucktard republican.

  11. Chris says:

    I am a Christian and I have to actually agree with Nathan on this one. I have way too many problems with this story being believable. Without getting into ALL of them I will say this, just once I’d love to see a story come out from a family like this who isn’t poor or has trouble paying bills.

    Many parts of this are either hard to believe, too “feel good-ish” or just don’t lineup. The fact that the story is written 7 years after the fact is also problematic. Now every shameless parent who’s kid has a near death experience is going to write about it, make stuff up and hope that they too hit the lottery.

    The story would be a little more believable if Mr. Burpo has written the story soon after and donated all the money he made from the book and the movie to a charity.

  12. Tim Brooks says:

    I skimmed through the article, one thing I didn’t notice was you never explained anything about how a four year old would know about his miscarried sister? If you did touch on it I’m sorry just reply where it’s at and I’ll take a look. I’m also a father of a five year old, and a Christian. A four year old would never completely understand why a baby died in a tummy, let alone a pastor would tell a three to four year old that. The parents did question their son. Look at live YouTube videos lots of the questions you’ve asked they’ve answered, and over the years never change their answer. Todd stated he kept a journal of what he said to show doctors to see if he needed therapy, but when he mention his great grand father and unborn sister they stop doubting him. I saw some “Christians” on this thread that said you and others will burn in hell. Honestly we are taught at my church that only God decides that. There’s an interesting book that a well educated professor, that was atheist, wrote about his NDE. When demons started to drag him away he cried out for God and Jesus. Jesus came to him and told him that he couldn’t come to heaven and showed him why. But allowed him to go back to his body to start over. His name was Howard Storm he taught art at Northern Kentucky University until this happen then he became a preacher. If you don’t feel like buying his book I can give you my copy.

  13. eric says:

    Yea another guy writes a book he gets rich off of must be true lol Christians are naive and stupid

  14. truebinx says:

    When I was 4 years old I thought for sure I had seen a ghost. Now as an adult I realize that I was impressionable and easily fooled by shadows and quite possibly had a mild hallucination as my brain struggled to make sense of a swaying window shade. Yes our own brains can trick us in such silly and obvious ways.

  15. Pingback: An interview with the Burpos | Molivam42's Weblog

  16. Sharon bohner says:

    I found it difficult to believe colton didnt know the word for ‘beard’ (What about santa’s?), and yet did know the word and the definition of ‘diamond’……the ‘diamond thing’ in the middle of jesus’ crown. i didnt feel like wasting anymore of my time, so i closed the book and opened GOOGLE. sharon

  17. Teresa says:

    I swear I saw Santa as a child as well. Very simple, Colton is the child of religious parents, and has an imagination.

  18. Eric says:

    A great review and I’m with you 90% of the way. You lose 10% with me when you assert that Colton’s parents believed his story because they were primed by their religious beliefs to believe it. My bet, if there were only some way to prove it, is that Todd doesn’t really believe any of this nonsense and just saw the marketing opportunity. He’s a scam artist no different than John Edward and the psychic mediums who prey upon the gullible and needy. (By the way, has anyone discussed the fact that having “met Jesus”, young Mr. Burpo has disproved the religious tenets of Judaism and various other world religions? Ridiculous.)

  19. Jon says:

    For anyone who thinks kids can’t make up elaborate stories, I have two words: ‘Axe Cop’.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Axe_Cop

  20. seattlegirl123 says:

    I read this book and was scared, for the family and this little boy. The book was supposed to be somehow comforting and I couldn’t get over the wild details of this boy’s glimpse into heaven. What really freaks me out: is people will believe this. I am not sure what I am, but Christian I am not. I believe in a higher power, but I believe our view on God and Jesus will also change to meet the changes of the populations, and a changing culture, and I really want to see what that looks like. I say this, because over time many of the predominant cultures have had their view of Gods and it looks a little different as the culture and value system changes. I agree with this article wholeheartedly.

  21. well i read the book, but i never read it just to find something to criticized. and before i read this, i always pray not to be lost in reading and let Him tells me if its true or not. if you read the book to find some wrong in it, definitely you will find something intriguing, unbelievable, unimaginative, and many unnecessary words that shouldn’t be there. but there are many different kinds of readers. there are those who reads to be inspired, those who read to see different things, those who wanted to be touch by these stories, and certainly, there are those who reads to criticized, to find faults, to just mess up, and those who doesn’t have anything to read at that point of their life, and worst! some people will just try to read it so they can make wars with those who believes…basically, there’s no way the views of a true Christians will agree to those who does not have the faith to believe in true God…but either way, no one should judge a person base on what they believe. some say Christians are dumb and stupid, and some Christians shouldn’t say that these unbelievers have shallow hearts. personally, to say that the pastors has just influence his kid in order to make money and gained riches is quite judgmental. does anyone of you knows the true identity and personality of todd burpo and even colton, definitely none of you does, specially nathan. Jesus said that we have to be like a little child in order to enter the kingdom of heaven: well not by action but to be innocent in thinking how a child does think. grownups are really wise and knows too much that none of us wanted to think that we are wrong on our ideas and beliefs. i believe Nathan’s articles have some points to be considered, however in my view as a believer of Jesus. the book is not about concentrating in the imaginative view of colton, but to let us see that heaven is really real. and you have to have Jesus in your heart to get there. otherwise, were just another smart guy who think we’re right. but lost…

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