Abigail and Dolley readers last evening I settled down to watch "Heaven is for Real". I came away with mixed emotions about the film. Like much Christian entertainment these days it is Laodicean in it's theology, neither hot nor cold and thus unpalatable. There were times during the latter half of the film that I wondered if these folks on the screen were even Christians! The total lack of Biblical understanding filled me with consternation and in the end serves no one.
We are so "seeker friendly" that we don't tell seekers the truth! Afraid to offend and drive off anyone, we soft sell their eternal destiny so we don't hurt their feelings or make them uncomfortable. This is dangerous theology friends. "Many will say to Me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?' And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.'
There are some positive elements to the film. I enjoyed the depiction of a believable Christian family. The husband and wife have a real marriage, with tenderness, struggles, compassion, and physical affection. The family sings bible songs in the car and then rocks out to Queen in the next breath. Financial pressures are real and so is compassion for people going through difficult times. People of faith suffer in this life, the pastor broke his leg and then subsequently suffered terribly with kidney stones. The depiction of this suffering rang true. The fellowship of the church body at the beginning of the film is heart warming, it shows a true caring Christian family. The call to prayer when Colton was sick and in the hospital brought me to tears. To see the Body of Christ respond as intercessors before the Lord was powerful. The first half of the film was fantastic.
The second half? Not so much. Filled with real questions about belief, the Pastor and his congregation go through a seeking journey that is more suited to those who have never believed in Christ. This journey is fine and necessary for those who have not professed Christ as their Savior but is troubling in this context because what in the world do these people believe? They seem to struggle with basic doctrine, what is salvation and how do we achieve it? Is the Word of God true and correct? Do we actually believe in Christ or is this just a social club?
The scene at the graveyard is particularly troublesome. The pastor tells the grieving mother that he has nothing for her. He admits that he did not say or do anything to comfort her at the death of her 19 year old son. What? It isn't difficult, this is Christianity 101 and these folks are treating it like it is a deep mystery.
I surmise they had a Believer direct the first part of the film and a Seeker the second. A moving film in the beginning had my brow furled in the end. Instead of clearly presenting the truth of the Gospel which is in order to go to Heaven you must confess your sins, accept the death, resurrection, and atonement of the death of Christ for your sins. You must accept that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and ask Him into your heart and your life. There is no other way to the Father except through the Son. That is straight up truth and it isn't complicated. Instead, the film says to the seeker that God loves us and that is enough to get us into Heaven. If that were true then why did Jesus have to die?
I must conclude, that indeed "Heaven is for Real" but this movie and it's theology are not.
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