Sunday, January 18, 2015

Can You Leave Heaven and Return to Earth?

A little boy who claimed a near-death experience in 2004 in which he went to heaven and met Jesus and wrote a book about it ("The Boy Who Cam Back From Heaven") has now recanted his story. The boy, Alex Malarkey, said he made it up just to get attention.

But another boy with a similar story stands by his assertions that he went to heaven and came back. Colton Burpo wrote  a book about his near-death experience ("Heaven Is For Real") and after the revelation of Malarkey's admission, he went online to affirm that he stands by his story.

The near-death experience caught my attention as a student years ago before there were many books or movies about it. Typically someone suffers a medical emergency, "dies," his spirit separates from his physical self, passage through a long tunnel with a light and the end, and a meeting with a spiritual being many associate with Jesus.

One aspect of Burpo's story, and others like it, always fascinates me: the assertion that the person was "in heaven" and subsequently returned to earth to resume his physical life.

I see nothing problematic with these aspects of the stories:
  • the existence of a spiritual self separate from the physical self
  • the existence of a spiritual being who is encountered at some "location"
  • the existence of heaven
  • the existence of Jesus

The one aspect of the stories that seems questionable to me is:
  • returning to earth after entering heaven

I don't see heaven as a place one can leave once having entered. Once you're there, you stay there regardless of what you want or what the doctors are doing with your physical body on earth. Heaven is a place of no return. If your body can be revived, you wouldn't have the ability to enter the gates of heaven.

The stories can still be honest however if the person was allowed a "vision" of heaven that appeared real to him. The vision would be given the person that makes him believe he was in heaven but not really.

All suppositions about heaven and who can come and go and who has been there and who hasn't and who will go there and who won't are of course speculation by all parties concerned.

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