Michael Bresciani
Lifeway Christian stores: no books about visions of heaven
By Michael Bresciani
March 29, 2015

Translated into 46 languages and becoming a bestselling book after the sales of 6.5 million copies, Don Piper's "90 Minutes in Heaven" has been removed from the shelves of all the LifeWay book stores.

Based on the Southern Baptist Convention's resolution "affirming the sufficiency of biblical revelation" to explain the characteristics of heaven and hell, the remaining books have been pulled from the shelves.

The incongruity of the decision is blaring, considering that they still have almost 75 offerings of various types of media for the LaHaye "Left Behind" series, which after all are purely – fiction.

Other partial fiction or non-biblically embellished pieces are being offered like Roma Downey's "The Bible" which after all, was unable to spot over three stars for accuracy and relevance under the scrutiny of inspirational movie reviewers.

It may be the fact that Alex Malarkey recently retracted his story about visiting heaven after a serious car accident which spurred the decision to abandon such accounts, but no one has publicly admitted to that at this time.

Weak Theological Premise for Pulling the Book

It is the macro side of the argument that makes the decision to pull the books and others like it such as Todd Burpo's "Heaven is for Real" that raises the big question – why not dismiss all visionary aspects of the scripture. Every vision and dream of the scriptures from Joseph's dream of the sun, moon and the eleven stars and all the way up to John's vision of the Revelation on the Isle of Patmos came before the first complete rendering of the book we know as the Bible.

Many of the deepest teachings of the bible and much of prophecy came from visionaries, but Baptist's believe that all such visions have ceased since the scripture became available. The idea is that the book is final and now God can put to rest his interventional nature and cease to speak directly to men.

Such a view has run headlong into the fact that people have had millions of interventional visions and dreams since the scripture were completed and the bible promises that such visions will only increase as we approach the last days of time.

"And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions." (Joel 2: 28)

No vision that contradicts the scripture should be given any credence, but those that do not, can be seen as supplemental if they are true to the theology of scripture.

The theology that says God has limited himself to scriptures alone to speak to men runs headlong into the un-changeability of Christ. (Heb 13: 8) It also limits God's sovereignty over all matters of revelation and intervention – the simplest way of saying it is – God will speak to anyone at any time he chooses both and now and throughout all of eternity.

Those who believe that when Paul said "But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away" (1Cor 13; 10) he was referring to the completion of the scriptures into its present form, the bible, never seem to see that they are stuck with a whopping interpolation and a strained interpretation of that passage simply because that interpretation is not stated. The bible does not say "that which is perfect" is itself, the bible.

Verses preceding this popular interpolation are used to argue against gifts of the spirit, but few notice that not only does it say that prophecies will pass away, but knowledge is also slated to go. (1Cor 13: 8) We may want to wait until knowledge goes before giving prophecy the boot. It is a bit of nonsensical interpretation that has gained popularity, but denies honest scrutiny.

Fear of the unknown or the inexplicable is not what should drive our theology. When Jesus said we should be wise as serpents, but harmless as doves he didn't include being as fearful as chickens. Using the bible to scrutinize visions is wise; chucking all vision into the trash heap is foolishness on a grand scale.

The very nerve of the Apostle Paul to mention things seen in heaven! Paul said he could glory in those things, not ban them – should we learn something from his willingness to allow the visions of others which have certified connections to the faith and have been born again? Would Paul cast the dissenting vote in the LifeWay decision?

"And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth ;) How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter. Of such an one will I glory: yet of myself I will not glory, but in mine infirmities." (2Cor 12: 3-5)

Green-light for fiction – Red-light for visions

Topping the amazing incongruities chart is the un-noticed fact that LifeWay still sells millions of the LaHaye "Left Behind" series books and CDs which are all – fiction!

Fifty years of teaching eschatology have caused me to conclude without doubt that the greatest deterrent for students in comprehending the intricate and complicated passages of prophecy throughout the scriptures is, hands down, – fiction. The goofiest interpretations and ideas about second coming almost always come from the fiction writers.

Second only to the mostly Godless meandering of Hollywood film makers; the writers of second coming fiction have added more confusion to the well-ordered teachings of second coming doctrine than anyone else.

Partial rapture, pre-mid and post tribulation rapture arguments and other spurious nonsense have come from the fiction folks and there doesn't seem to be any end to the new offerings coming off the presses of late.

Any vision that is not directly antithetical to the scriptures may or may not add to a person's spiritual knowledge or strength, but all fiction adds nothing to anyone except to engage the imagination which has been known to be the greatest false guide to man since the days of antiquity, To wit:

"And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually." (Gen 6: 5)

I should be defrocked, de-certified and tarred and feathered

If extra-biblical revelation were a truly legitimate way to determine if a preacher was legit, I would be run out of town and possibly tarred and feathered.

I saw Christ's face at the moment of my conversion and it should be noted that I was not open to, or believing, in religious experiences of any kind. Why didn't God respect my aversion to visions and dreams or any religious experiences at all? I have had perhaps over a thousand prophetic everyday kinds of dreams of the future that have never been wrong. In my younger day I had a picture of some of the next day's events almost every night of the week. I was, as it were, in training; God wanted me to see one overall important truth – to him the future is as clear as the past and it is no big deal for him to let us know what that future is – if he chooses.

I have heard God's voice (in English) on a few occasions, seen angels, been given a detailed vision of the second coming of Christ and once was visited in a dream by one of the fathers of this nation – Abraham Lincoln.

At my age keeping these matters a secret might be comforting if I was a coward, but since I am not and my time is limited it would be pure selfish irresponsibility if I kept these things to myself.

Not only have I had prophetic dreams, but I know when and if others have had one and – what they mean, sometimes even when they don't. I also know when a dream or vison is false, demonic or caused by eating pickles and cream before bedtime. I am not self-absorbed with this gift, nor overconfident; my trust is in the scriptures first and secondly in the promise of Christ who said:

"And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice. And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers." (Jn 10: 4, 5)

It suffices to say, that today would be as good a day as any to break the penchant, the trend and the wicked habit of killing the prophets, dismissing vision and hanging the Savior on a tree. This is not the day to turn over the responsibility of revealing the will and counsel of God to Hollywood film makers and fiction writers regardless of what the booksellers have decided.

In today's twisted world it is no longer the argument between the faithful and the hypocrites; a third element has overridden both groups and they are called the marketers.

When Paul's message was in question and his very life was threatened it was the Pharisees, well known for their religious hypocrisy that spoke up and called for discretion based on the possibility that Paul's vision had actually come from God, the question of their reputation or the sale-ability of Paul's message never entered the conversation.

"And there arose a great cry: and the scribes that were of the Pharisees' part arose, and strove, saying, we find no evil in this man: but if a spirit or an angel hath spoken to him, let us not fight against God." (Acts 23: 9)

Has the apostasy of the faithful gone so far as to create a day when we learn our best lessons from the hypocrites?

© Michael Bresciani


The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
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