Movie Reviews

Movie review: ‘Heaven is for Real’

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Comments (16)
  1. Nora Maloy says:

    I have yet to see the movie, so can not give my opinion of it. Based on your report, I probably will see it. Concerning someone who sees the movie and thinks heaven is real because of the child, great! It’s a start. I can not fully explain “everything” so an invitation to church is a start also. I’m happy to hear of a film like this and hope it does pique someone’s curiosity.

  2. I have referenced this book in two sermons; once on May 22, 2011, and once on March 31, 2013 (Easter). These are easy-to-find on our congregation’s website (, and they are listed by date. I have not seen the movie yet, but I plan to see it soon. My comments are based upon the book.

    The March 31st Easter sermon was the last sermon my mother heard before she went home to heaven. We had quite a discussion about it a couple of days before she died, and I know without a doubt that she was ready to meet her Saviour. She wanted to read the book, but she never had the chance. She is experiencing heaven first-hand now.

    The point I make with this book, is that anything is possible with God. However, as incredible and believable the book is, my hope of heaven is not based upon young Colton’s experience, but is the result of my God-given faith in what Jesus has promised me in Scripture. The book never attempts to pull someone away from the Bible; rather, it directs people to the Bible and what God says about salvation, heaven, and everlasting life. I would hope that the movie accomplishes the same purpose.

    The thing I find amazing is the number of website hits these sermons have received, especially the May 22, 2011 one. People have questions; and I hope that they continue to search the Scriptures for the answers. If people come to know their Saviour as a result of young Colton’s experience, then praise God! As Jesus says in Mark 9:39-40: “Do not stop him, for no one who does a mighty work in my name will be able soon afterward to speak evil of me. For the one who is not against us is for us.”

    I’d be happy to hear whatever comments anybody has regarding the sermons I referenced. My Email address is on the website.

    Be blest!

    1. Dr. I do have one question concerning the use of the word “heaven”. Isn’t the word itself synonymous with the “kingdom of God”? And if so while His kingdom is the ‘cosmos'(the entirety of creation), the heaven that we speak of ultimately is a reconciled earth where everything has been completely restored, including us, sin removed and everything being as God intended for it to be, and this our final inheritance, or “heaven”?

  3. Diane Lovell says:

    I read the book when it first came out, and I thought that it was amazing.I lost my husband of 37 years in November, and read it again, And found it to be very comforting. I am very anxious to see the movie, and I am sure that I will love it! There is no chance of it changing my views; I was born and raised in the Missouri Synod Lutheran Church, I already knew that Heaven is for real.

  4. Russ Mains says:

    I am so very thankful for the comments to this review. As a lifelong LCMS Lutheran, I was confused by the review, and thought that I would be in the minority; since I thoroughly enjoyed the movie. I did not attend the theater to “hear a sermon”, and since I am a Christian and already believe heaven is real; I viewed this film as an account of a PERSONAL, SPIRITUAL EXPERIENCE. This review appears to make a “spiritual mountain out of a mole hill”, by arrogantly assuming that true believers do not have the spiritual insight or discernment to know that we are “Saved by Grace through Faith, not of ourselves; it is the GIFT of the Holy Spirit.” This review actually discourages people from attending the film. I believe that EVERYONE should see it; particularly unbelievers. I have already had an opportunity to witness about my Christian faith and Lutheran doctrine, because of this movie to skeptics, agnostics, and atheists who had questions. Is the reviewer prepared to say that he, or the late Dr. Prues have exclusive knowledge of how the Holy Spirit works, or what method the Spirit may use to bring people to the Risen Christ; OUR ONLY HOPE FOR SALVATION? Jesus kept His messsge simple and said we must come to Him as with the faith of a child. The only inividuals who seemed to question the supernatural powers of Jesus, were the Pharisees! Thomas had to be SHOWN proof that Jesus is alive, but Jesus said, “Blessed are they who have not seen, but believe.” I have not seen the risen Christ or heaven, but they are more real to me than anything that I will experience on earth. I have heard many stores from pastors (particularly in hospice ministry) who have witnessed spiritual, supernatural events; thus, I don’t believe that I am in a position to judge them as truth or not. Yet, my faith is not dependent on those events; but on Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. As the previous comment exclaimed, if one is curious, questions, or believes, and the Holy Spirit gives them the gift of TRUE FAITH; then praise God. We constantly berate Hollywood for the insidious prevalence of sex and violence, but when a film is produced about religion or spitituality, we criticize it; instead of recognizing an opportunity to witness. This movie was not advertised as something that would bring everyone to Christ; but if the Holy Spirit uses it as an opportunity to open doors; HERE I STAND. I AM READY TO WITNESS TO THE TRUTH FOUND IN ONE SCRIPTURE, ONE GRACE, ONE FAITH!

    1. While I can appreciate your view and agree with it somewhat, I didn’t think the review arrogant at all. I have been fortunate enough to travel alot and attend many LCMS churches nd work beside many LCMS Christians and many from other faiths as well as many non Christians for the past 8 years.
      You would be surprised to learn how many of own members do not know and have never been taught the faith we have been privileged to receive.In my experience many LCMS and others get their information from pop culture and are very mis informed as to wht it is we believe.
      I hope we redouble our efforts to lovingly teach the faith,assume that not everyone knows because they certainly do not( especially to those people who are strangers or visiting in our congregations) even to those who are life long members. Many of the congregations i have visited have not been friendly at all, are usually suspicious and stand off ish as well as stuffy, do not use the Book of Concord but turn to opinion and speculation rather than letting the text be the text etc etc.
      Im thankful that the review points us back to where, ultimately we turn. Reminding us all in this culture that whether a book or movie is good or bad, it does not influence what the LCMS teaches preaches and believes.

    2. Diane says:

      Hi Russ,
      Dr. Gibbs from Concordia Seminary, St. Louis wrote a review of the book several years ago and it probably would help you see the Lutheran point of view more clearly. It’s at He emphasizes three main points. !. Colton’s story isn’t verifiable. 2.’ Holy Scripture’s authority comes to be less important than the testimony of Colton Burpo’. This quote is taken directly from Prof. Gibbs’ review. 3. ‘This book wrongly assumes throughout that God’s purpose in sending His Son into the world to serve, suffer, die and rise from the dead was so that when we die, we can “go to heaven.” To be sure, there is sufficient testimony in Scripture to say that when a believer dies, his soul goes to rest with Christ. But as every writing in the New Testament shows, Scripture reveals very little of what “heaven” is like, and (more importantly), “heaven” is not the great hope and promise of the Christian message at all! Rather, the return of Christ in glory is the time when God’s good work, begun in us, will come to completion (Phil 1:6), and the creation itself will be set free from decay into the glorious freedom bestowed on God’s children (Romans8).’-Dr. Gibb’s review.

      Also Issues,etc. had Rev. Tom Baker on this past Friday reviewing the book. Excellent stuff.

      In Christ,

  5. Dan Keram says:

    Typical LCMS response: every i must be dotted and every t must be crossed exactly as the LCMS teaches, preaches, and confesses. Yeah, yeah, we all know that, but the question is, IS ‘Heaven is for Real’ an enjoyable movie to watch?

    1. Bruce Lucas says:

      This review is written for the “Reporter,” a periodical (in this case the online version) sent to the rostered church workers of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. One would expect anything written in the “Reporter” to reflect the theological viewpoint of the LC-MS. This review is not meant to be a “popular” review. The author knows it will be read by church workers who are interested in the theological perspective of the movie. Therefore, I don’t understand your criticism. If you were to read a review of the movie written by a Russian Orthodox priest evaluating the movie from the perspective of Orthodoxy, would you be equally disappointed if he did not tell you if it is enjoyable to watch? As a matter of fact, the Ted Giese explicitly states, “If, on the other hand, a viewer is seeking a heartwarming, G-rated film with above-average acting, solid production values and a happy ending, then ‘Heaven is for Real’ will be satisfying.”

  6. Paula says:

    “I viewed this film as an account of a PERSONAL, SPIRITUAL EXPERIENCE. ”

    In which case it is mostly useless as a guide into the truth. Yet, people will view it as such and somehow derive comfort from the personal, subjective experiences of others rather than Scripture.

    I read this review and what I took from it was that Pr Geise was damning the movie with faint praise (and frankly it should be damned because it portends to give spiritual truth without giving Jesus, as he said).

    However, this subtle approach toward discernment, while it allows a speaker or author to avoid a lot of flack, does not serve less discerning hearers very well, as evidenced by many of the comments thus far on the thread. The very reason it serves to allow the author to avoid such flak is because it does not offend the people who have already swallowed the lie.

  7. Trish Pickard says:

    The book, HEAVEN IS FOR REAL was a fascinating read for me. For many it has given them hope for eternal life. To me, this is a far too important a subject to put my hope in a little boy’s experience. I wanted to see what God had to say so I went to the Bible. I have written a Bible study about heaven. I would be delighted to send you a free copy. Email me at and I will email you a copy. I was disappointed in the movie, they added some things they did not happen and left out other great information. I suggest that if you have only seen the movie, you read the book. Trish Pickard

  8. erick says:

    Cute movie.

  9. Rev. Robb Roloff says:

    I truly believe that the best answer to this film is in the current issue of “Answers” magazine put out by the Creation Museum. The article is entitled “Are Visits to Heaven for Real?” and it correctly points out the danger of such films as this one. The article can be read on-line at

  10. Brad Jarvis Willis says:

    2 Corinthians 12:1-10

  11. Ray Reeder says:

    We first read the book which was better than the movie, in the book it was expressed that the only way to heaven is through Jesus, this seemed to be left out in the movie , apparently not to offend anyone. Some parts of the movie lacked emphasis.

  12. I recently wrote an article on my blog about this movie. If you have a chance, check it out. I would be curious to see what you think. Thanks!