Bishop T.D. Jakes, a producer of the new movie “Heaven is for Real,” said interest in the story of Colton Burpo, a four-year-old boy who claims to have glimpsed heaven after a near-death experience, reflects a "growing wonder" in the afterlife that spans religious backgrounds. Photo courtesy of T.D. Jakes

Bishop T.D. Jakes, a producer of the new movie “Heaven is for Real,” said interest in the story of Colton Burpo, a four-year-old boy who claims to have glimpsed heaven after a near-death experience, reflects a “growing wonder” in the afterlife that spans religious backgrounds. Photo courtesy of T.D. Jakes Ministries


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(RNS) Bishop T.D. Jakes, a producer of the new movie “Heaven is for Real,” said fascination with the story of Colton Burpo, a 4-year-old boy who claims to have glimpsed heaven after a near-death experience, reflects a “growing wonder” in the afterlife that spans religious backgrounds. The Dallas megachurch leader answered emailed questions about the film, which opened in theaters on Wednesday (April 16).

Some answers have been edited for length and clarity.

Q: The book on which the film is based was a best-seller and is again. Why do you think it has prompted so much interest?

A: People are attracted to the simplicity of Colton’s story. The vivid detail and the certainty of his experience are the most compelling elements. I also believe that there is a growing wonder about life after death in our culture. The notion of heaven captures people’s imagination regardless of their religious predisposition. The need to find purpose in life is often driving that curiosity. Believing in the hereafter provides an anchor for the soul, and a resting place for one’s faith.

I also think that people relate to a father wrestling with unbelief, and struggling to find meaning in his son’s experience.

Q: Your previous movies have had predominantly black casts. Is there a reason you’re branching out?

A: I have always said that I want to make the type of movies that I want to see. I recognized early on that there is a vast movie-going audience that wants to see films on Saturday night or on a Sunday afternoon with their families and not be embarrassed. That task is larger than any one race or people group. To think of that objective in terms of race is to be far too narrow in one’s definition. Building an exceptional body of work was always the objective.

My casts to date have reflected the story that was being told and from a perspective that is not often represented in American cinema. There are still far too few scripted roles for actors of color. In the faith space, actors of color are rarer still. I am delighted that “Heaven is for Real” will reach a larger audience and provide additional opportunities to speak to people that don’t look like me or think like me. Jesus said to go into all of the world, to preach the gospel. He didn’t send me just to the black world.

Q: Do you think “Heaven is for Real” will answer people’s questions, or prompt them to ask more?

A: I think that the role of the moviemaker is to prompt people to ask questions, to leave the theaters with perhaps just as many questions as answers so that they may continue to explore and to seek answers to life’s mysteries. You can’t solve the world’s problems in 90 minutes. What you can do is set the context, provide the ammunition and hope that people carry the task forward, especially now as this movie comes out Easter weekend. We want people to explore the death, burial and resurrection of Christ.

YS/KRE END BANKS

46 Comments

  1. Yes, heaven is for real, but it is the residence of God, myriads of angels, his son, Jesus Christ, and those who will rule with him (according to Revelation 14:1-5, 144,000 persons from mankind, those who are “born again”, in God’s kingdom or heavenly government). But the earth God has given exclusively to mankind (Psalms 115:16; Psalms 37:29; Matthew 5:5) as our permanent home. God’s kingdom will rule over mankind (Daniel 2:44) with Jesus Christ as King and bring grand blessings to all nations (Psalms 37:10,11; Isaiah 11:1-9; Revelation 21:1-4). Perhaps this young boy “saw things” as a result of medications that were given him. The majority of mankind that will be resurrected by God’s kingdom back to life after death (John 5:28,29) will return to earth to be reunited with family and friends.

    • Oops the 144,000 are redeemed Israelites who are witnesses for God once the church is caught up into the air. “The majority of mankind that will be resurrected by God’s kingdom back to life after death (John 5:28,29) will return to earth to be reunited with family and friends.” The way I read it is the majority of mankind will face judgment at the Great While Throne before being cast into the Lake of Fire where they will be tormented day and night.

      • Those 144,000 (the bride of Christ) are spiritual Israelites, spirit anointed Christians that have been selected by God through the centuries since Pentecost 33 C.E. They do not refer to natural Jews. See Revelation 7:4-8 referencing the tribes. There never was a tribe of Joseph, the tribes of Ephraim and Dan are not listed there, and Levites were set aside for temple service, but were not reckoned as one of the 12 tribes (see Numbers 1:14-16). Romans 2:28,29 brings out: “For he is not a Jew who is one on the outside, nor is circumcision something on the outside, on the flesh. For he is a Jew who is one on the inside, and his circumcision is that of the heart by spirit and not a written code. That person’s praise comes from God, not from people.” In addition, Galatians 3:26-29 brings out: “You are all, in fact, sons of God through your faith in Christ Jesus. For all if you who were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor freeman, there is neither make nor female, for you are all in union with Christ Jesus. Moreover,if you belong to Christ, you are really Abraham’s offspring, heirs with reference to a promise (to rule with Jesus in God’s heavenly kingdom over mankind on earth). As to you comment about mankind being judged at the end of this era, the Bible brings out there will be many survivors through the great tribulation and Armageddon ahead of us (see Revelation 7:9-17). Of course, at that time, all wicked ones on earth will be destroyed (Psalms 37:10,11) and Jesus, along with the 144,000, will start their millennial rule over mankind that remain.

    • Jn 5:28 “Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice 29 and come out—those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned.
      This says that those who have done good will be rewarded while those who have done evil will be condemned. Please read the Scripture you refer to before making it say something you want it to say. Either you are a baby Christian or wanna be?

      • What Jesus said at John 5:28,29 must be understood in light if what Revelation 20:12,13 brings out: “And I saw the dead, the great and small, standing before the throne, and scrolls were opened. But another scroll was opened; it is the scroll of life. The dead were judged out of those things written in the scrolls according to their deeds. And the sea gave up the dead in it; and death and the grave gave up the dead in them, and they were judged individually according to their deeds.” Both those who formerly did good things and those who practiced bad things will be judged “according to their deeds.” If the people were going to be condemned on the basis of deeds in their past life, that would be inconsistent with Romans 6:7: “He who has died has been acquitted from his sin.” It would also be unreasonable to resurrect people simply for them to be destroyed. Jesus here was expressing the outcome after they had been uplifted to human perfection during Jesus’ millennial rule and had been put on judgment.

  2. Movies like this encourage people to think the craziest things.
    There is no Heaven, folks. Don’t be afraid of life. Or death.
    Time to for everyone to grow up.

      • If the afterlife is full of obsequious shrill people who are there solely to stoke the vanity of the all powerful God, why bother? Its not worth the effort.

        Of course there is always the “Sgt Dietrich response” to Pascal’s wager (which you are invoking badly). When confronted with the afterlife, the best response for an atheist answering God would be “whoops”. :)

      • @TheDoctor,

        “bring to me those enemies who would not have me as their King and execute them in front of me.” – Jesus (Luke 19:27)

        So kill God’s enemies and you will get into heaven. Then, you can laugh at me because I wouldn’t kill anyone for Jesus.

        Enjoy your religion. It is insane.

    • Strange how I see you commenting on these Christian sites. Why don’t you keep your useless pathetic opinions to yourself and stop “wasting” your time reading about stuff you supposedly don’t even believe in. Continue in your disbelief and as certain as there will be no Heaven for you there will certainly be hell.

  3. The book and the movie sound great, but trust in the words of God(Jesus) written in the Holy Bible regarding Heaven rather than anything else in this world. God’s Word is the truth.

      • Is it not true that God became man and died to save humanity from God’s own rules? How can he be both God and God’s Son?
        Explain how this makes sense.

        • In answer to your question, the son of God, Jesus, became a man. The trinity doctrine does not make any sense, neither is it taught by the Bible. Jesus is the son of God who died for all mankind to get rid of Adamic sin so that they may live forever on earth. It is impossible for God to lie (Titus 1:2) or to die (Psalms 90:2), but the son of God, Jesus, did die and was resurrected back to life after 3 days by his Father, Almighty God.

          • You are saying Jesus cannot have been God.
            Since there is only ONE God.

            So God did not come down to earth to become human to save mankind?
            What then is the level of Divinity of Jesus?
            Are his rules not absolutely the same as Gods?

  4. So do you think The TD Jakes Ministries goes out to solicit donations from his congregants or does he use the profits of his publishing and film production efforts towards charity?

    • Probably both for we give to the Lord our tithes and offerings but whatever he does with profits are between him and God. I would think that he tithes with whatever his salary and business profits are?

      • So you are giving money to a multi-millionaire who makes a very good living producing films and as an author. Money which probably takes up a more significant part of your income than it would for Jakes. Some of which will go towards the “operating expenses” of his ministry and attendant related businesses.

        If you are giving to his ministry, to put it politely, that is some pure unrefined gullibility on your part. Nothing like religion to make the rich even richer.

        Why would Jakes bother tithing? People like yourself are giving him more than enough on top of the millions he earns on his own. As the head of his church, who would he be tithing to?

          • You are telling me there is a good reason to give a significant portion of your meager income to a multi-millionaire film producer/author outside of being a consumer of his works? Of course not. That’s just stupid.

            A fool and his money are easily parted. If you want to be foolish enough to make rich people richer, voluntarily, for nothing in return. Don’t let me stop you. Fleecing the foolish under the guise of religion is a time honored tradition.

  5. People only go to heaven if they Repent/put their trust in Christ!
    Many today want to go to heaven without Repenting. Many claim
    they’re on the road/way to heaven but actually are on the highway to hell.
    The Bible says to examine yourself to see if you are if the faith and
    Jesus said many will say to me Lord,Lord and not enter heaven so
    people who still get drunk,smoke dope,cigars,be mean,gossip,gamble,
    sleep around,sell sex/practice sin are in for a rude awakening on judgment
    day unless they Repent! Bible says Repent or perish! We must Repent/follow!
    Broad is the road to destruction and many are on it and narrow is the gate
    which leads to heaven and only a few find it! We must Repent then follow!

    • Why are the people who talk about heaven the most and the loudest are the ones you would least want to spend 5 minutes with, let alone an eternity?

      Karla, anyplace where there is the eternal possibility that I would run into you, could not possibly be heaven.

      • Larry-You are most people today claiming to be Christian. You don’t
        want to Repent/follow Christ you just want to go to heaven. The
        Bible is clear lukewarm people like yourself won’t be going to
        heaven so you don’t have to worry about running into me in
        heaven because you like most so called “Christians” today will
        get spit out of the Lords mouth right after He says depart from
        Me you are a worker of iniquity I never knew you! I hope that you
        Repent and choose to follow Christ because unlike you I hope
        to see you in heaven but with your response I doubt that I will.
        Read 1 Corinthians 5 and 6 the whole chapters/also Revelation 3.

        • “Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order sto be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.

          “Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may ube praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. wAnd your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

          “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 6 But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door.:
          Matthew 6:1-5

          Even Apostles are telling you to keep a lid on it. :)

        • @Karla,

          You keep telling everybody to read ‘Corinthians’

          This is wrong.

          Read THE HOBBIT, chapter 4, verse 46
          “Gandalf appeared and the evil elves vanished”

          Also read THE LORD OF THE RINGS, chapter 6, verse 789:
          “The great auk bent forward to allow Frodo a place on his back”

          This is evidence you should consider. And it is just as relevant as Corinthians, Mark, Matthew, or anything else in the Bible.

      • Larry, I just want you to know that Jesus loves you so much. Repent of your pride and your love of money, because, honestly, you seem like you probably wouldn’t even donate a nickel to a poor church. Know that a sincere giving heart is always rewarded. So, any good donation, no matter who scams them, will be a donation that comes from a person who will be rewarded! Also, I love you, and I want to see you in Heaven. I hate seeing Satan trying to run your life! Research information on Satanic or Luciferian practices. Anyways, Karla A. loves you, too, and she only speaks what is truth without condemnation. However, you seem to not want to accept the truth of repentance, because there are some sins you are afraid of letting go of. Many people, even me, dealt with this problem. Either way, rather we believe in Jesus or not, there will be judgement and every knee will bow at God’s feet. Learn to just seek what is true, because the prince of the world, who is the devil, will continue to use you for his dirty work, without you being aware of his tactics. There is no love and free will in working for darkness, even if you don’t believe in Heaven. And I gotta tell ya, “Dark forces are working daily to destroy your freedom and your soul!” Do you want to fight for the dark side, where there is no love, or for the good side? No matter how much you hate me or any person hates me, I love them and I want to see everybody fighting for the good side where there is love for them! Also, the good side will win! So, rather you like it or not, Jesus reins! I’m a person with sin, just like you, but I do love you so much and I want to see you fighting for my side! Our fight is not against the people, remember that. It is against the dark forces of the world that try to use the people and destroy them in the end. So, I guarantee you, that when you ask God to let you know Him more, you will began to love Karla A. so much that you will want to see her in Heaven. Love your neighbor buddy, because our creator loves you so much, words cannot explain.

      • Chances are with Karla and lots of people who like to think we can be Perfect is , they haven’t had a life test where your faith is shaken by things such as divorce, the death of a child ,living in a third world country, war, living in poverty ,abuse etc.These things should and can change the desire to be on a podium when it happens to you, IT should give us more humility and love for others more tolerance when it does,and open our eyes to what really is important ! Also to go and do for others instead of just Talking and never extending a helping hand to people in need, But most American Church going people never go out of there church and help the needy,they want someone else to clean up the city or they want someone to shape up on the outside b4 they will be accepted, its so sad the way us Christians live our lives today !
        just want to talk about there belief and that’s about all they do !

  6. Why can’t everyone just enjoy a good movie. None of us can prove one way or the other anything that is in the movie or the Bible. There are some people who are just ignorant and do not even want to truly consider the possibility of a higher power. There are some people who are ignorant and do not want to consider the possibility there is not. My faith in God is not based on religion, denominations, church leaders, etc. My faith in God is based on my own personal experiences in my life where I have seen God work in situations that NO ONE could have resolved except God. I have been through the seminary and I have led churches, but education did not give me the faith I have today my experiences have. The Bible is simple you do not need a degree in theology to understand it you only need to have an open mind.

  7. The Bible clearly tells us two things about this issue: 1. Heaven is for real. 2. Going to heaven and coming back is for real.
    What the Bible does NOT teach is:
    Coming back from heaven to narrate your experiences, especially if done as a sort of validating material for basis of faith. Let’s look at the evidences:
    1. Paul was caught up to heaven alive and declared his experiences “unlawful” to preach.
    2. Father Abraham firmly declined the rich man’s request to go back to narrate / preach his heavenly experiences to his brethren.
    3. Non of the numerous people raised from the dead in the Scripture (OT and NT) mentioned anything about their experiences.

    I do not have any reason to doubt that young Colton actual went to heaven and indeed had great experiences. What I cannot vouch for is the accuracy of his reporting, being only human. I also hold that the experiences should have been “private” to him and his family. That is the biblical pattern as we saw with Paul. Making quasi-scriptural literature out of heavenly experiences may turn out to be more harmful than beneficial in the long run.

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