I finally got around to reading the highly-acclaimed (New York Times Bestseller) and hotly debated “90 minutes in heaven” by Don Piper this week. I was motivated to read it mainly because my current sunday school teacher at church repeatedly mentions it in a negative light. The evangelical circles that I run in seem to concur for the most part. The book is written off as “continuing revelation”– an attempt to add to the Biblical account, which is closed. I won’t go into a summary of the book because I assume many have already read it. Also, if you haven’t read it, the Title tells the gist of the story. I have a few comments or thoughts.
1. I think the concern is warranted. Claiming authority to present heavenly realities without error is risky business. The following quotes from the book strike me as too bold:
“I’ve changed the way I do funerals. Now I can speak authoritatively about Heaven from firsthand knowledge.”
“Because I was able to experience Heaven, I was able to prepare her and her loved ones for it. And now I am preparing you.”
The Bible should be ample preparation for the believer.
2. However, the majority of the book doesn’t even deal with Heaven per-say. Most of it deals with Don’s recovery from his accident and how his story has effected the lives of many. Should we see it as merely motivational?
3. The book has unmistakably provided encouragement to thousands of people. What I am personally trying to figure out is whether this is a good thing or a bad thing. If we are careful not to bank our theology of heaven on it, can it be used as motivational assurance or comfort? The pressing question still looms, ‘Do Christians really trust their holy book?’
4. You don’t get the sense that he is lying to you, and his heart seems to be in the right place. He opens the book with this: “Lord, you know I haven’t always understood the whys of what has happened, but I’ve never stopped trusting you. I pray, Abba Father, that this humble effort to tell my story pleases you and blesses many. Amen.”
5. If I had a similar experience, I’m not sure i’d write a book about it, but I would certainly be sharing my story. Wouldn’t you?
I guess this is what I’ve concluded: If you choose to read the book, or any like it, do so carefully. Never change your theology because of it. Accept it for what it is — a story.
Would love some feedback on this one. My thoughts are kinda messy.