Visits to Heaven and Back: Are They Real?
I was immediately intrigued when I saw the book Visits to Heaven and Back: Are They Real? by Mark Hitchcock. I have followed the explosion of books on personal visits to Heaven and have been somewhat leery of the sudden boom in the publishing industry of people claiming to have visited Heaven and returned to Earth. I, admittedly, have even been caught up in reading a few such books and found them intriguing, but also in parts lacking or even heretical. Therefore, I was anxious to read this book, which promises to take a closer look at such experiences. The book description reads:
"What will heaven really be like?
Today’s bestseller lists are filled with stories of those who have claimed to experienced heaven firsthand. Curiosity about what will happen after we die is as strong as ever in the twenty-first century. Yet, each book contains a different story about what we will experience in heaven.
What are we to believe? What is true?
In Visits to Heaven and Back: Are They Real? Mark Hitchcock, a respected Bible teacher, sorts out the facts. He chronicles the recent phenomenon of “heaven” books, comparing and contrasting the ideas presented in these books and revealing the discrepancies and contradictions. Then, Mark turns to the Bible, laying out clearly the teachings about heaven and experiences in this life of another world. The Bible does reveal that there is a world beyond this one, but it also contains clear warnings and amazing promises.
Discover today God’s clear and certain promises concerning heaven."
This book is a short, quick, accessible read that I finished in just a few hours. It's definitely something that can be read in one sitting. I was so intrigued by the subject that I didn't want to put it down. This book is divided into topical chapters: Heaven Can't Wait, The ABCs of NDEs, "I Thought I'd Died and Gone to Heaven", Your Best Afterlife Now, Dead Wrong, Heaven Is for Real - Is It for Real?, Trouble in Paradise, To Hell and Back, What Is Heaven Like?, and How to Be Dead Right (a gospel presentation). There's also several Appendices, including answers to common questions about death and Heaven, in a Q&A format.
I really appreciated Hitchcock's easy, understandable format. He lays out different "experiences" people have had, and then compares them to God's Word to see if they stand up to the test. In some areas, I thought the differences he pointed out were a bit nitpicky or splitting hairs, but overall he gives fair treatment to these books and testimonies. I feel like this is an extremely important book that every Christian should read in light of the current booming trend of heavenly experiences being published. I hate to discount people's experiences, but on the other hand we need to measure every "experience" against the Word of God to make sure it adds up. As Hitchcock points out, we'd be naive to assume no one makes up stories to ride the wave of the latest trend in order to obtain financial gain, status, or popularity. I highly recommend this book to every Christian.
What do you think? Have you every had a "heavenly" experience, or do you know anyone who has? What's your take on NDEs and visits to Heaven and back? I'd love to hear from you!
I received a copy of this book from Tyndale House in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.