There’s an old saying on the internet:
Wise words to live by.
I say that as a bit of a joke, but not entirely.
That’s the level of sheer stupid to which one has to plummet in order to make fun of bad ideas on the internet, because mocking anything less stupid might offend someone. Almost everything is taken serious by someone on the internet. The internet has been an absolute haven for the wicked, the wide-eyed and the witless since the first day someone sent a data packet across a phone line. Every unfathomably stupid idea has found new life on the internet, and old heresies have found unprecedented popularity amongst those who have more information than discernment.
Speaking of stupid ideas, there has been seen rather pronouncedly among the resurgence of the “heavenly tourism” books. There was a time when only folks in the barking mad Charismatic crowd (and other comically unreliable individuals) claimed to have gone to visited Heaven, but not anymore. In the past few years, the whole “I went to Heaven and returned to write a book” crowd have gone mainstream and started getting on the New York Times bestsellers list…but God will not be mocked. Recently, one book reporting a young man’s “trip to heaven” has been admitted to be fraudulent by the very boy who reported the trip in the first place. There’s been no small scandal about the book, and rightfully so because the book was declared fraudulent months before the publishers took it from shelves and the publishers were alerted by credible sources. That whole scandal is not what I’m writing about though.
In the light of the Alex Malarkey…uh…malarkey, Don Piper has great news: His book 90 minutes in Heaven is going to be a movie! Here’s the story. Now, that’s not really big news but it’s rather obnoxious news. I’ve written before on how everyone who claims to have gone to Heaven are liars, and I’ve also written a review of Don Piper’s book. I’m going to update the “everyone is liars” post and write something a little harder hitting against the whole “heavenly tourism” book industry, but for your current reading enjoyment, here’s the one picture summary of the book 90 Minutes in Heaven:
(Feel free to take that as a preemptive movie review as well)
In case that’s inarticulate enough, here’s the full review I wrote of Don Piper’s book:
***PROS***- Piper is a decent writer. He knows to whom he’s writing and doesn’t write with too much complexity.- The book attempts to not speculate about the esoteric questions about Heaven (i.e. do pets go to heaven?) and only attempts to relay Piper’s experience.- It’s short and I made it through in about 1.5 hours.And, well there’s not much else I could say positively. Read on…
***CONS***- Piper clearly went somewhere. I don’t doubt that he experienced something, but he claims that he actually went to Heaven. Do his claims stand up to scripture?
Well, Piper makes some strange claims, like:
a. He somehow went to Heaven and didn’t see either God the Father or God the Son (page 26 & 37). Piper went to Heaven and only saw dead friends.
This is utterly unfathomable.
Every Old and New Testament saint who went to heaven had several common experiences, the foremost of which was that Heaven was somewhat oriented around God! Everyone that went there in the scriptures encountered God because heaven is all about God, not about being reunited with loved ones.
b. The conversations and attention of everyone in Heaven was devoted to Don Piper (page 30). Don experienced perfect love when everyone welcomed him and paid attention to him (page 31).
The people in Heaven were all focused on Don Piper and devoted themselves to glorifying his presence?
Don Piper went to Heaven and everyone was like:
c. There were hundreds of worship songs being sung at the same time (page 34) and though such would be cacophony on earth, it somehow worked in Heaven.
Well, not according to places like Rev. 5 where everyone sings in unity.
d. None of the songs were about Jesus death or anything sad (page 35).
Again, this is utterly contrary to the scripture. Rev 5:9-10 & 5:12 suggest that the death of Christ is what everyone IS singing about in Heaven.
e. After Piper left Heaven, the thing he missed most was the MUSIC (page 36).
Not God? Not Christ? The music? Seriously?
f. The angels had wings in Heaven (page 33).
Well, not according to the scriptures. The only creatures in heaven are the cherubim/seraphim, there’s only 4 of them, and they’re ALWAYS around the throne. Is. 6, Ez. 1, and Rev. 4 talk about the only creatures in heaven with wings. The rest of the angels consistently are not described as beings with wings.
What’s even more interesting is that the only beings of the spiritual realm in scripture with wings are cherubim/seraphim (which are two names for the same creature) and demons (Zech. 5:9-11). If Don Piper saw humanoid beings with wings, they were demons masquerading as angels (Feel free to look through all 80 occurrences of the term “wing” in Scripture here and show me where I’m wrong).
g. The gates of Heaven were not fashioned from a single pearl, but instead shimmered like pearls (page 38) and had streets that were paved with literal gold (page 38-39).
“And the twelve gates were twelve pearls, each of the gates made of a single pearl, and the street of the city was pure gold, transparent as glass” – Rev 21:21.
Piper not only disagrees with the scripture on the gates, but he even confuses the current Heaven with the New Jerusalem, which is what is described in Rev. 21. The current Heaven is NOT the place with pearl gates or gold streets. That place is a’comin.
Piper seems to have experienced a Heaven that looks more like what one would see on TV shows than what is revealed in the Bible. All his obvious objective and theological errors remove any question of whether Don Piper actually went to the current Heaven. He may believe he went to Heaven, but place he describes sure doesn’t sound like the place the Bible describes.
– Secondly, the fruit of Piper’s journey was basically depression and bitterness. The rest of the book goes on with Piper recalling how he was so angry that he was shown Heaven and didn’t get to stay, but rather had to come back and suffer with months of recovery.
In a nutshell, Piper’s visit to Heaven resulted in a whole bunch of sin.
I don’t have a clue how to make sense of that. A great revelation of God doesn’t result in increased sin in one’s heart or life, at least if I’m going by the biblical examples of people like Noah, Moses, Abraham, David, Isaiah, Ezekiel, Saul of Tarsus, Peter, etc.
This book is a cacophony of error that pretends to come from a reliable first-hand witness. The more reliable witness (God’s word) consistently disagrees with Don Piper and calls his interpretation of his experience unquestionably incorrect.
***FALSE TEACHING ALERT***
One final note – Some people, well most people, will be offended by my review. Many will think I am rude, or unloving, in saying that Don Piper is horribly confused or worse, willfully spreading false teaching.
I get that, but he’s a pastor who is using a role of spiritual leadership and authority for the purpose of giving his book credibility and he’s saying things that are demonstrably false. Titus 1:9-11 instructs me, as a pastor, to take serious task with someone who uses a spiritual office for the propagation of lies. Titus 1:11 instructs me to not simply ignore stuff like this, but rather to literally muzzle the people in my church who are trying to pass off spiritual error as spiritual truth. When a book comes into my church and is given to me by a congregant, it’s all of a sudden on my issue.
I have no ill will towards Don Piper, and I have no idea as to heart motivations or any sort of standing before God.
I can address his propositional claims and check them against the Bible, which is all I have attempted to do.
If you’re a believer, I’d like to quote Brian Mattson’s review on the Exodus movie as to why you should not go see the 90 Minutes in Heaven movie when it’s released:
Evangelical Christians not only take the insults from Hollywood graciously and willingly, we pay them handsomely for the pleasure. So go see Exodus, if you want. Just remember that the more you subsidize it, the more of this you’ll get.
I know you’re happy they’re making Bible movies. But it isn’t because they respect you.
Demand more from “Christian” films and vote with your feet. Don’t pay Hollywood for the honor of getting a pie in the face.
Until Next Time,
Lyndon “that’s right, I said ‘liar’…” Unger
One last note. Seeing that Hayden Christensen is playing Don Piper, I hope that the movie accurately portrays all his friends in Heaven…
I just couldn’t resist.