Believe the Bible not Hollywood on Heaven, says NT prof

It is not wrong to watch Christian films but they could be damaging to a person’s faith because they are so compelling, a leading academic has warned.

Christian faith should be based around the Bible but some films, especially those dealing with death and the afterlife, can tempt Christians to believe the fantasy they offer rather than what is taught in the Bible

Scot McKnight, professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Lombard, Illinois, told Christian Post: “I find that, with many people either going to movies or reading these books and stories of near death experiences, I find that people believe these stories because they’re so compelling and powerful and real, so people believe that they must be what Heaven is like.”

He was speaking as 90 Minutes in Heaven, an adaptation of Pastor Don Piper’s book about his near-death experience, was released in US cinemas last Friday. A year ago the box office hit Heaven Is for Real, about a boy who allegedly came back from heaven, made $101 million before it emerged that it was based on a fairy tale.

A new film due out next year, Miracles From Heaven, starring Jennifer Garner, tells the story of a miraculous cure.

Professor McKnight, who has studied more than 100 stories of near death experience, warned that although some of the stories might be valid, believers should be careful before treating all of them as fact, because they are inconsistent with the Bible.

“If we study what the Bible says about Heaven, we will come to the conclusion that what the Bible says about Heaven is seriously out of synch with what NDEs tell us about Heaven and that deeply concerns me,” he told the Post. “I believe that reliance upon these stories can harm Christian theology and a biblical understanding of what Heaven is like.”

He added: “I don’t want to say that there’s no truth near death experiences. That’s a very strong statement. I want to say that we should not rely on them as a source of information about Heaven. These are real experiences, I don’t believe most of them are fabricated as there’s too much common element to these experiences, but I do not believe in them as a source of revelation of what Heaven is like.”

Christians should instead study Bible passages such as Revelation 20-22 to understand better what Heaven is really like.

“We discover a city that is a thriving, flourishing city where the lamb is on the throne, where the father is the centre,” he said. “These experiences are overwhelming experiences of light. The picture of Heaven in the Bible is not of light but it is of the lamb. It is not of being overwhelmed but it is of being welcomed into the family of God. So I’m concerned about too much faith in what people are experiencing in their near death experience and not enough faith in what the Bible has already told us about what Heaven is like.”

Source: Christian Today

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