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CHRISTIAN NEWS 

A toddler’s report that he has visited heaven is met with skepticism from everyone but his father.

mpaa rating:PG

Genre:Drama

Directed By: Randall Wallace

Run Time: 1 hour 40 minutes

Cast: Greg Kinnear, Kelly Reilly, Connor Corum, Margo Martindale

Theatre Release:April 16, 2014 by For thematic material including some medical situations.

I believe heaven is for real. Allow me to get that out of the way up front. About the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting, I am as confident as I can be regarding any doctrine that is ultimately an article of faith.

But about Heaven is for Real, Todd Burpo's book chronicling his son Colton's emergency appendectomy and subsequent claim that he had visited heaven, I am a skeptic. It's awkward but necessary that I tell you that before I explain the ways in which I thought Randall Wallace's adaptation of Burpo's book improves upon its source material, and where, perhaps, the film may frustrate readers expecting less ambiguity and more vindication.

The film depicts many events from Burpo's book, though it obscures the timeline between Colton's operation and the first time he mentions to his father that he visited heaven. Gradually, under increasingly leading interrogations from his father, Colton reports having sat on Jesus's lap, seeing many animals, having angels sing to him, meeting Todd's grandfather, and, finally, meeting his own unborn sister, of whom he purportedly had no previous knowledge.

This compression is important because regardless of the content of Colton's memory, his level of recall seems contrary to the way most research demonstrates human memory actually operates. (For a good summary of social-science research on memory, see chapter three of Chabris's and Simon's The Invisible Gorilla).

Once Colton begins sharing his experience, the film deviates from the book more in tone than in substance. In his book, any doubts Todd has about the authenticity of Colton's experience are minimized. "By the time we rolled across the South Dakota ...

Continue reading...

A toddler’s report that he has visited heaven is met with skepticism from everyone but his father.

mpaa rating:PG

Genre:Drama

Directed By: Randall Wallace

Run Time: 1 hour 40 minutes

Cast: Greg Kinnear, Kelly Reilly, Connor Corum, Margo Martindale

Theatre Release:April 16, 2014 by For thematic material including some medical situations.

I believe heaven is for real. Allow me to get that out of the way up front. About the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting, I am as confident as I can be regarding any doctrine that is ultimately an article of faith.

But about Heaven is for Real, Todd Burpo's book chronicling his son Colton's emergency appendectomy and subsequent claim that he had visited heaven, I am a skeptic. It's awkward but necessary that I tell you that before I explain the ways in which I thought Randall Wallace's adaptation of Burpo's book improves upon its source material, and where, perhaps, the film may frustrate readers expecting less ambiguity and more vindication.

The film depicts many events from Burpo's book, though it obscures the timeline between Colton's operation and the first time he mentions to his father that he visited heaven. Gradually, under increasingly leading interrogations from his father, Colton reports having sat on Jesus's lap, seeing many animals, having angels sing to him, meeting Todd's grandfather, and, finally, meeting his own unborn sister, of whom he purportedly had no previous knowledge.

This compression is important because regardless of the content of Colton's memory, his level of recall seems contrary to the way most research demonstrates human memory actually operates. (For a good summary of social-science research on memory, see chapter three of Chabris's and Simon's The Invisible Gorilla).

Once Colton begins sharing his experience, the film deviates from the book more in tone than in substance. In his book, any doubts Todd has about the authenticity of Colton's experience are minimized. "By the time we rolled across the South Dakota ...

Continue reading...

Bart Ehrman’s narrative suggests the more educated you are, the less likely you are to believe. My life proves otherwise.

Bart Ehrman, a professor of religion at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, is something of a celebrity skeptic. He's written a number of bestsellers exposing the alleged errors in traditional accounts of early Christianity. His book Misquoting Jesus (2007) asserts that the manuscripts used to compile the New Testament are corrupted and unreliable, deviant from original autographs. His book Forged (2011) claims that many of the New Testament writings were counterfeits written pseudonymously under the names of the apostles.

In his latest book, How Jesus Became God: The Exaltation of a Jewish Preacher from Galilee, Ehrman argues that belief in Jesus' divinity evolved over the first few centuries and eventually crystallized into what we know today. Jesus didn't claim to be God; rather, his followers thought he was divine because they believed he rose from the dead. But even then, the understanding of Jesus' divinity was incredibly elastic, ranging from a man exalted to be God's vice-regent to a pre-existent person who was equal with God. Only much later was Jesus identified as the Almighty. You can read Ehrman's own summary of his book at The Huffington Post.

Ehrman has a famous de-conversion, turning from an evangelical Christian to an agnostic. And he loves to tell his story. Ehrman is a gifted communicator, never short of a provocative quote. He knows how to stir a crowd, and he does well in talk shows, conferences, presentations, and debates.

But I've got my own de-conversion story to match his.

From Skepticism to Faith

I grew up in a secular home in suburban Australia, where religion was categorically rejected—it was seen as a crutch, and people of faith were ...

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