Since publishing the article, 'Biblical Critique of 'Heaven is for real' movie,' ten days ago on April 18, 2014, this writer received quite a lengthy comment from Mike Riccardi, who apparently also writes a blog at blogspot.com. This writer attempted to answer his comment and post the rebuttal in the comments section, however, the system would not let me sign in to post. Therefore, this article is being written so that I can post the rebuttal to Riccardi's comment. So here it is:
J - "The video from the Inside Edition story while short, doesn’t appear in and of itself to have been truncated – in other words, pieced together to make a totally different account. MacArthur is well known for lambasting the Pentecostal side of the church of the Lord Jesus Christ. You must know this since
you offered a link for me to buy his book. I personally wouldn’t waste my money. The Bible does not in any way allude to the fact that the revelation manifestations have ended. They are all in existence and still being practiced today in any church that honors the Holy Spirit."
Mike you said, "Obviously, there is more to MacArthur's criticism of Burpo's book than simply his spliced statement that the reports don't agree with one another."
J - "MacArthur is asserting that these dozen or so recently-published books on visits to heaven and hell are actually making claims that are mutually exclusive of one another, not simply varying perspectives on the same realities. In other words, it's not that they merely are not saying the same thing, but that they are saying contradictory things.
J - You fail to state what ‘more to MacArthur’s criticism' actually is. I haven’t read all of these books and quite frankly don’t plan to necessarily. So MacArthur is basically stating that one book mentions another and they claim to be mutually exclusive of one another?"
J - The visions of Ezekiel and of John absolutely do not contradict one another, however, they are totally different, aren’t they? So it is established that God works with different people in different ways doesn’t He? In the case of Colton Burpo who was four years of age at the time, (at least according to the movie), what he saw in Heaven was a play yard with a swing set and children who had already gone to Heaven playing there. What else besides this does a four year old have experientially? So the Lord Jesus gave him a visionary trip to Heaven showing the things that a four year old would be familiar with, namely, his family and other familiar things such as children playing on a swing set.
Mike - "Besides this, Burpo isn't claiming to have had a vision from heaven, like Ezekiel or John, but to have actually gone to heaven and returned. This flatly contradicts Scripture's teaching, which MacArthur has outlined elsewhere (see links below)."
J - Even though Colton claims to have been in heaven, this doesn’t mean necessarily that it wasn’t a visionary trip rather than a physical trip. Since we will also be spirits when we go to heaven (if you are) we will also experience the same ‘trip’ at that time. Even according to the movie, Colton’s body remained on the table while it was his spirit that went on the trip.
Mike - "your crass misrepresentation and blithe dismissal of the doctrine of cessationism is disconcerting. But miracle-workers have ceased; no one is performing the kinds of works that Jesus and the Apostles did because God has limited the functions of such works to the foundational era of the church, before the canon of Scripture was completed. And yes, God still speaks today, but not in personal revelations and visions, but through His sufficient and inerrant written Word, the Bible."
J - "The doctrine of cessationism is flat out wrong. Some things can be explained by it or least
partially, but most definitely they utterly fail when it comes to the revelation manifestations. Also, that the CANON was the ‘perfect’ thing that came? How utterly ridiculous! In case you do not know it, during the Canon wars which was about what should be included in and what should be left out of the Bible...this should tell you right there that it wasn’t perfect. The pastoral letters sometimes make reference to other letters that were travelling around the churches, that we do not have…therefore, how can the Canon be perfect? Let’s get real!
The only PERFECT one that has yet to come is the Lord Jesus Christ.
Miracle workers have ceased? I suppose you know absolutely everything and everyone in the entire world so that you can make that statement? I do believe that Reinhard Bonnke qualifies as having raised the dead back to life. This is not a miracle? And for your information, the Lord does speak in visions and dreams still today. It did not end when the Apostle John died. Just because you have never experienced it, does not mean that others have not. With your tremendous ignorance on the subject and the subsequent unbelief on your part, it is no wonder that you have never received.
You go on to mention MacArthur's worldly achievements…you know what?...it doesn’t amount to a hill of beans before the wisdom and glory of the Lord Jesus Christ. It also doesn’t matter how large a church he has grown, and for your information…He did not grow it….the Lord Jesus Christ gives the growth. He is a ‘certain disciple’ just like every other Christian disciple."
Let me close with this Scripture, Mike:
After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter. And immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne.
J - "I just wonder if Colton Burpo didn’t hear a similar voice when he went to heaven in the spirit. John went into the Throne room and so did Colton...hmmm."