90 Minutes in Heaven?

Erik Raymond —  April 25, 2007

This past weekend Don Piper visited Westside Baptist Church in Omaha. Don is the author of the book, 90 Minutes in Heaven. The following was distributed through the Omaha World Herald’s Saturday edition:

The Rev. Don Piper is coming to Westside Baptist Church in Omaha.

Piper is the author of “90 Minutes in Heaven,” a book about his experience with death. He’ll share his story on Sunday at the three services at the church, 15050 West Dodge Road. The services are 8 a.m., 9:30 a.m. and 11:11 a.m.

In 1989, Piper was in a car accident in which he was pronounced dead at the scene but later revived by paramedics. Since then, he has undergone 34 surgeries to regain the use of his legs.

Piper now travels the country presenting “Heaven Seminars.”

What does it say about a church’s view of the Sufficiency of Scripture when they bring in a person to speak about their experience in place of biblical preaching?

What does it say about a church’s view of conversion when experience is elevated over the biblical gospel as the means of bringing salvation?

At its base level, what is the difference between this subjective experience and those promoted by the best selling book The Secret? Or from other Oprah-like views of God and heaven?

I do not want to get into Mr. Piper’s motives, the validity of his experiences or his heaven seminars; rather I just want to point out that this is a truly sad usage of evangelical real-estate and a reproachable evangelistic methodology.

We have been given unfathomable riches to speak of in the Scriptures; riches that will far outlast the time of humanity’s stay on earth. We have a glorious Savior who Himself has died and rose again. We have a powerful gospel that is the only means of saving sinners. We have living and abiding hope that dwarfs any hope that could be compiled in the ingredients of this earth. We have great riches in the Scriptures, and these great riches are powerful and proven.

So at the very least Westside Church has done a disservice to their people by withholding that which is best from them in favor of something that is inferior. In so doing they have heightened people’s trust value in subjective and unproven experience and lessened their trust and value in the objective, proven, sufficient and authoritative Scriptures.

Luke 16:29-31 “But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’ “But he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent!’ “But he said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.’”

[note: here is a helpful review of Don Piper's book written by Tim Challies last April]

update:: here is a review from this site on Don Piper’s book.

Erik Raymond

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Erik has been writing at Ordinary Pastor since 2006. He lives in Omaha with his wife and kids while pastoring at Emmaus Bible Church. Follow regular updates on Twitter at www.twitter.com/erikraymond

58 responses to 90 Minutes in Heaven?

  1. Erik,
    A few years ago, I read the book because a few people had been reading it in the church and lauding it. (note: I hate to read a book when you know it is going to bad ahead of time) What I could tell you about the book is that 1/5 of the book was devoted to this experience that Don had in heaven. What bothered me, was that this picture was about voices and the things of “heaven”. No angels surrounding the throne, no Jesus. So, automatically I thought: “what an opportunity Satan can use in this experience to deflect the glory from Jesus to the aesthetics.” What convinced Don that he was experiencing heaven was someone coming over to the car and not finding a pulse. Then, 90 minutes later he began to move again. Therefore, he must have been dead for 90 minutes (according to Don). I think there are questions about how long Don didn’t have a pulse that can’t be answered. Could it have been that the person looking for a pulse made a mistake? Could He have started breathing again after 10 minutes and nobody noticed until 90 minutes later?
    As you can see, it is all subjective and something that shouldn’t be stated as a hard cold fact! Could this experience have been real? I am sure that it could have been to Don, but was it something akin to having a dream? (especially if he began breathing after 10 minutes)

    The other 4/5 of the book are what bothered me even more! It was really focused on Don’s recovery and what he was thinking and feeling during this time. I don’t doubt that the recovery would have been tough with all of his surgeries. However, I felt like I was observing (in the book) a pagan trying to recover from a horrible accident. There was the pain and struggle mentioned, but hardly any mention of reliance on the Lord Jesus Christ. I don’t recall if there was any reference to Scripture in the book. (if it was, it was so sparse that I forgot it) I didn’t get a sense of hope in the midst of a tragedy from this man, but I was very discouraged through reading the whole process.
    Which brings me back to the title of the book: If Don really had spent 90 minutes in heaven, how would that not translate to a greater devotion and hope in the Lord Jesus Christ?
    Colossians 3:1-2 “Therefore, if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set you mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.”
    If you get to experience heaven, then how can your life not be more focused on Jesus Christ? Better, how can your experience not be centered around Jesus Christ?
    My advice is to stay away from the book. Don’t go to listen to someone share their experience because it probably won’t bring glory to God (at least the book didn’t). Sadly, the people who are gullible to fads and trends are those that might get sucked into this stuff.

    Steve

  2. Steve, thanks for the comment, that was helpful. Your conclusions confirm much of my alarm.

    erik

  3. I had to have a talk with the youth at my church about this book because several had read it and were just assuming that it was as true as Scripture. We had a talk about the sufficiency of Scripture right about then.

    Don Piper is a part of the Southern Baptist Convention in Texas that split off of the regular SBC because they were to liberal. I concur with Pastor Steve’s feelings in general about Don and his book. He and I talked at length about it when he was still here in Ulysses.

    I think it’s a travesty that this guys books even get to lean against John Piper’s books in the store.

  4. Thanks for the thoughts Erik. I hear these things all over from believers. I talked to one of my coworkers today about it and she immediately thought of doubting Thomas from the bible. He seemed to need evidence. Are these experiences for the doubting Thomas’s of today? Do these experiences finally make God real to them?

    Even if that is the case, I agree with you that books like this put too much emphasis on the experience than on Christ. I don’t doubt that these experiences happen to people but…

    Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed. John 20:29

  5. Cade: It is good to think through. What is the biblical name for someone who does not believe what is written about Jesus? An unbeliever. When God ultimately judges unbelievers it will be for their sinful refusal to submit to Jesus.

    Thomas’ initial experience of unbelief was not a commendable position. We read in Romans 1 that those who refuse to worship God are those who suppress the truth in unrighteousness and are w/o excuse.

    It is good to remember that when we either claim the need for more evidence or we try to import other evidence to persuade people we are really saying that the Bible is not sufficient. By promoting these other experiences to a position of authority we demote the Bible…which God has said is authoritative.

  6. Cade:

    It is also encouraging that both peter and thomas who get bad raps and unfortunate nicknames from most these days, both repented. Doubting Thomas became Worshipping Thomas (props to Erik for that observation). Peter went on to be used mightily despite his denial of association with Jesus. A tangent to this post I know, but one I’ve benefitted from thinking through.

  7. Thanks for the post on this and thanks to the link to Challies review. I have heard much about this book from at least two credible Christians who recommended it. I have not read it but probably will later just to get familiar with it. It could be his experience was real but there is always a danger of making our experiences equal with scripture.

  8. Thank you both for your insight. Your last sentence hit the nail into my head (not a typo).

    By promoting these other experiences to a position of authority we demote the Bible.

    Just reading that sentence made me cringe a little.

  9. Angela Danner May 10, 2007 at 12:14 pm

    how fortunate that erik and steve have never had any life experiences that made them feel they absolutely could not endure another breath of another day. how fortunate that they must never have been in a situation where they begged God to just exercise His divine right to take them right off the planet. i have. and so have many other hurting believers and non-believers alike. and don piper’s book, in my opinion, ministers to those people. people like erik and steve shove the gospel out on a silver platter and expect people to just suck it up through a straw and be instantaneously healed, delivered, set free, and happy-ever-after. YES i know that Jesus Christ is enough but satan has discovered that if he can convince us otherwise he can hold many people captive. our hurting society needs to hear (from each other) that the impossible can be possible. that a messed up life can be redeemed. they need to hear it from someone who has lived it. then those who have survived point to the precious scriptures and say “here is why…” there ARE scripture references in don piper’s book. and his testimony to a God that sustains against what all our instincts tell us and when our strength and belief system are nil touch me much more than the words of calvinists too afraid of manifestations of an up-close-and-personal God to rejoice in them!

  10. “YES i know that Jesus Christ is enough but….”

    yikes.

  11. “YES i know that Jesus Christ is enough but….”

    “Yikes.”

    What part about her (forgive the phrasing) “but” don’t you agree with, Erik?

  12. Javaguy,

    I think it’s fair to say that Erik’s issue with the statement is pretty obvious. To assert that Christ is sufficient and then turn around in the next work and assert that they need something more is a complete contradiction. Either Christ and His word are enough and we do not need anything else, including the testimony of another person’s experience, or it is NOT enough and we need the experience of others to make it sufficient. You cannot have it both ways. It is also a bad assuption to assume that since a book quotes scripture that it is biblical. False teachers (and the Devil for that matter) both know scripture and will quote it to make the point they want. Extra biblical writings have always called for discernment on the part of the Christian (which is exactly what Erik has attempted to do in assessing this authors experience.)

    The irony in all this is that Angela attempts to assert that the Devil is trying to convince us that Christ is not enough and then proceeds to tell us that Christ and His word are not sufficient for everyone. There are some people who need to have the experience of others to lean on. They will not believe that God is sufficient for their situation unless He can prove Himself sufficient through someone else’s life. Oh, let there be less of us like Thomas who need God proved to them, and more who will simply trust in the promises of God. “Jesus said to him, “Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed.” (John 20:29)

  13. Justin,
    Are we not His hands and feet? Doesn’t God use Christians to meet people’s needs? How will they hear without someone to preach to them? God provides for our needs in many ways, alot of them through other believers. God doesn’t say that his gospel will supply our every need. I don’t think Angela was saying that people need our testimony to replace the gospel or to supplement Christ, but that God uses us to meet people’s needs, which are very real and recognized by God. He is still the one who is meeting the need, He is just using us as the means to do that. That takes nothing away from Christ’s sufficiency. He could speak a word and miraculously provide food for the hungry. He could simply change someone’s heart without them understanding why they all of a sudden love God. He could miraculously cause money to be in a bank account so the rent check won’t bounce. He could do all of these things without using His children for any of it. Does He? Sometimes, maybe. I don’t know, but certainly, He more frequently uses other believers to help provide for people’s needs. It is, unfortunately, way too easy for people to scrutinize others in such a way that automatically assumes the worst, such as Eriks’ misinterpretation of Angela’s “but” and from that point, simply look for what is wrong about a person’s view, book, blog, comment, etc. I haven’t read “90 minutes…” so I will not speak in defense of it, but if I do read it, I will read it with a heart open to God, not a mind closed to the diversity of God.

  14. there was plenty ‘wrong’ with that blog comment, the headliner was the conjunction, but there was plenty, such as a mischaracterization of my motives, view of emotion, God’s power, the Scripture and Christ’s work and power in the body today….the ‘but’ was very ironic and fitting because it said so much.

  15. Erik,

    with all due respect, your response adresses nothing of what I said.

  16. Javaguy,

    I do not think that it a matter of “simply looking for what is wrong about a person’s views”, but rather it is a matter of attempting to think God’s thoughts after him. It is not my responsibility to the opinions of men and fit them into my view of God. I spent a large part of my life simply reading books about Jesus and picking and chosing the parts that would fit nicely into my belief system, or adjusting my belief system to make room for every religious remark that I read.

    I have learned that what Isaiah said is so true, “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isa. 55:8-9) In fact, what I see as being the very danger with situations like this or others stories I hear about people that say they were visited by God or had some supernatural experience is that the tendency is for us as fallen men to take the experience and make it fit into a Biblical mode, but we will not take the time to heed the warnings that God gives about exulting experiences. “Let no one keep defrauding you of your prize by delighting in self-abasement and the worship of the angels, taking his stand on visions he has seen, inflated without cause by his fleshly mind, and not holding fast to the head, from whom the entire body, being supplied and held together by the joints and ligaments, grows with a growth which is from God.” (Col 2:18-19)

    So let’s at least see things the way God does. The natural tendancy for all men is to take “visions he has seen” and to inflate them. Whether Piper at a dream, a vision, some sort of near death experience, I don’t know. However, I do know that God says that men tend to make a big deal out of things that have happened to them, rather than “holding fast to the head”. I would encourage you to be a little bit more cautious in assuming that everything that has “Jesus” or “God” in it or that quotes scripture is sound doctrine.

    On a more positive note, I do appreciate your remarks about how God uses believers in the lives others. I did not mean to assert that God does not use believers to minister to others, indeed they are given gifts specifically for that purpose.

    I do have one question for you though in light of your statement: “God doesn’t say that his gospel will supply our every need.” How do you understand “seeing that His divine power has granted to us ‘everything’ pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust.” (2 Pet. 1:3-4) Peter seems to assert that everything we need for life and godliness is supplied “through the true knowledge of Him”, doesn’t that imply knowledge of the gospel? And are not the “precious and magnificient promises” those that pertain to the great truths of the gospel?

  17. Justin,
    Thank you for the insitefull comments.

    First, I would like to say that I am cautious to endorse things just because they include the name Jesus or quote the Bible. That is why I said that I would not speak in defense of the book in question here. I am actually disappointed that there are so many people out there who think they can gain an audience, or seek compassion and charity by simply referencing the name of God and using the title of “Christian” to their own gain. I am in full agreement with you all on that.

    This ties into the next issue. Making big deals out of visions, etc.

    The fact that God warns us to not inflate these things doesn’t mean He doesn’t give them and even suggests that He does. I’m not sure we want to debate wether that is true or not because that is a loaded gun and could blow up, but if you will humor me for a moment and assume that God does give visions and act in supernatural ways, then it becomes our responsibility to discern the reason God did it and act accordingly. Basically, pray until you are sure that it was from God and know what His purpose was, before taking action on it. This ties into the first part of my response in that we will tend to inflate supernatural experiences just as we tend to use the title, “Christian” in a way not intended by God.

    Finally, to your question. God is greater than the Bible. We know this in part because of how he lives in scripture and makes it a living thing that changes hearts. If it were just text on the pages of a book, it would not affect or effect anyone. Knowledge of God does not come from simply reading a book and having wise insite into it’s meaning. Knowledge of God comes only from God, through scripture and, I believe, directly from Him. The verse you quoted does not say that it comes ONLY from the Gospel. It doesn’t even mention the Gospel. So, really, there is no basis to say that true knowledge of God comes only through the Gospel. Forgive me, but I must say this again because I know people will read this the wrong way, but I am NOT belittling or down-playing or trying to undermine the important purpose of scripture. God can give us knowledge of Him however he feels like giving us knowledge of him. I just don’t think we can limit this to scripture when we have such a great God who can do so much.

    So, yes, it does imply knowledge of the gospel, but doesn’t imply knowledge exclusively from the gospel.

    Does this make sense at all? My brain is fried due to my wife needing to be at the airport (which is 45 min. away) at 4:15a.m. this morning and then working a full day. Thanks again for the productive discussion.

  18. The more I read of Don Piper’s ” miracle “, the more sceptical I become of it’s authenticity. As a former member of the British Red Cross, I am aware that para-medics, such as I was myself do not certify death, for legal reasons. Still less would 4 paramedics do so in turn. Mr Piper tells us he also had 34 medical procedures to help him recover. If a miracle had occured, God would not have needed 34 operations to complete the recovery. Unlike Mr Piper and his admirers, I thank God for paramedics, surgeons and medical science, not a self-premoting showman.

  19. I read the book recently and, as I usually do when I like something that may not be totally solid, I began to search for criticism. I certainly found it here! However I find much of the criticism to be written by people who have not read the book. Two small points: 1. Each chapterof the book begins with scripture (I do agree that this does not nessesarily make the book biblically solid.) 2. Check out donpiperministries.com and read How to go to Heaven – I can’t find anything to criticize here and hopfully neither will you.

  20. Mark,

    Surely you understand that my primary point was not to review or critique Piper’s book but rather to point out the concern over what Westside Church has degenerated to:

    “I do not want to get into Mr. Piper’s motives, the validity of his experiences or his heaven seminars; rather I just want to point out that this is a truly sad usage of evangelical real-estate and a reproachable evangelistic methodology.”

    I did however, post what I found to be a helpful review.

    erik

  21. Erik,

    Is it possible that the folks at Westside Church were pulling a “bait and switch”- presenting a program of interest to many people who do not know Jesus as Lord and Savior, knowing full well that during the presentation Mr. Piper would downgrade his experience in deference to the gospel as he does in his ministry’s “How to go to Heaven” page?

  22. I don’t think that the fact Don didn’t indulge in scriptures during his recovery is a point of criticism, except may be that he was not strong in the Word. Elijah had even said, “O LORD, I am not better than my Fathers” in 1 king 9:14. Elijah wasn’t saying, but you will lift me up in times of my trouble and wipe the tears of my suffereing etc etc. He was saying, God, kill me, i’m not better than my fathers. So i figure Don was actually being honest on that point, as Elijah was being honest. And as a disciple of Christ, honesty is worth well above false humility.

    I hate reading about how “God led me through the valley of the shadow of death” that other writers say, when their fruits don’t show it, and especially when it’s a one time deal, and isn’t something that they consistantly deal with, like most of us do, or in the very least, i do.

    As for his motive, who knows. If it were me, i’d make a free booklet or a free video and post it on free websites like youtube or google, because the gospel of Christ has already been turned into a business industry. If he needs the financial support because of his surgeries and collateral damage, I would like to suggest he do what George Mueller did and pray and rely the Creator. LOL but i’m not the one to talk, as my faith is not even close to suggest such things and i’d be a hypocrite.

    And as for the verity of his time in heaven, i’m not too sure about that one. After all, he didn’t describe things of heaven that the bible specifically confirms, and any time someone describes things extra biblical that the bible does not confirm, i become wary. Certainly, if his account of heaven was true, i wish he had been looking for confirmation of the Word of God, you know like, “the scripture said in verse and sure enough, i saw it here” or “the scripture describes the kingdom of God like this and sure enough that’s what i’m seeing”.

    And javaguy, i don’t know if i can agree to your statement “God is greater than the bible.” Psalms 138:2 specifically states that the Creator magnified His word above His name. As a result, i’m more inclined to also believe that we can only know God as the Holy Spirit reveals him through the scriptures. I’m not trying to start a debate or anything to that effect, i just wanted to comment on that point.

  23. I for one have to agree with Erik. He hits the nail on the head. Either Christ is completely sufficient, or he is not. If I was stranded on a deserted island, with just the Bible alone, Christ would *still* be the only example, model, and testimony of victory over sin and suffering. I don’t need anyone else, because no one comes close to what Christ did.

    Tom, the difference between Don and Elijah, is that God directly chose, and spoke to Elijah…and his response was to recognize his wretchedness before a holy God. He was no better than his fathers, but he wasn’t worse than them either. But by this time, most of the Jews probably memorized more of the Law than most Christians probably read in a lifetime.

    However, I have not read the book, but most fully concur that Scripture is clear: “It is appointed unto man once to die, and then judgement.” To say that Don made to the gates, but not inside is ludicrous to say the least. He either made in into the presence of God, or he made it to hell.

    As for the ‘God is greater than the Bible’ comment…I’m sorry, but that is just a very immature statement. Not immature as in childish, but in understanding of the scriptures. Where does a comment like that come from; surely not from the pages of scriptues. And it’s subjective, fly-off-the-cuff statements like that, that are truly irresponsible. Christ is the Word of God, so how can God Himself be greater than Himself?

    I agree that God changes hearts. Yes I agree that the scriptures are God-breathed and are alive. But that specific comment was a poor explanation of what you were trying to say, at best, and very poor theology at worst.

    As for Justin, I give him a hearty Amen for the quote he gave from 2 Peter. If I may add, in Matt 7, Jesus says to those that came saying “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name..etc, etc…….And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you;” Did Jesus not know them? Did they not know Jesus? Of course they knew him, but only in a factual knowledge, and not in a personal, relationship, professing knowledge. My point is for Javaguy: How do you have a true knowledge without the Gospel? You can’t. – 1Cor. 2:14 “But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised.”

    As for Angela,…you only prove this whole point by the fact that you cannot even back up anything you said with any scripture yourself…hmm sounds like a book I know. Maybe Don should take Paul’s advice in 2 Corinthians 12. Not only does Paul say in verse 4 that the things seen in the third heaven were not permitted for a man to speak, but also goes on to say in verse 6 that he refrains from speaking what was seen, “so that no one may credit me with more than he sees in me or hears from me.” It’s a shame Don never took that advice (v.4), excuse me, commandment either before writing his book.

    Who cares if Don died and came back! I have Christ! I don’t need (notice the word ‘need’) anyone else in order to be satisfied with the future promise of what heaven holds for me, because of what is in the pages of scripture! I understand…It is encouraging to hear of people who are in the Faith, come through difficult times, and share their testimony of how God brought them through. Ok. It’s another thing to say that someone died, and came back from the dead. For what? #1. Christ already beat everyone to that punchline. and #2. If Jesus wouldn’t raise the rich man to witness to his sons, why should he raise anyone else from the grave? Christ was all that was necessary…as it says in 1 Corinthians 2:2 “For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.”

    Don’t get me wrong Angela, these stories may be encouraging, but we’re suffient in Christ without it.

    I guess I’m just sick and tired of ignorant sheep, and false prophets. Let’s not sugar coat this. Let’s bring it out into the light so that it’s deeds may be shown as having been wrought by God or not. (John 3:19-21, 1 John 4:1) Let’s take Paul’s example in Phil 3:8-12 and “More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassingn value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish in order that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, THAT I MAY KNOW HIM, AND THE POWER OF HIS RESURRECTION, AND THE FELLOWSHIP OF HIS SUFFERINGS, BEING CONFORMED TO HIS DEATH; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead…..”

    Verse 10 DOESN’T say “that I may know Him, and the experience of a vision of heaven, and the power of my resurrection,…”

    My amen to those who vigorously have been defending this false doctrine. The burden of proof is on Don, not us, not God’s Word, because God’s Word is clear, and hidden in our hearts. A deep understanding of God’s Word, and good theology is why the few people on this blog have exposed this book for what it really is.

  24. Back in 1962 or so, four missionaries entered the Auca Indian territory to bring them the gospel. The Auca tribesmen met them with spears, and killed them as they got out of their small plane. As the blood of the dead was still warm on their spears, and the bodies were at their feet on the ground, the
    Auca tribesmen, who never had heard of the Bible or anything in it, looked up to the sky, and saw the gates of heaven. The men they had just killed were being welcomed through gates of splendor into Glory. This supernatural experience caused the entire tribe of Aucas to become Christians. The missionary’s widows wrote about the experice in the famous book, “Through Gates of Splendor”.

    I know there are liars and blasphemers hanging around the Christian church.

    But the real power of God is still real. Wondrous things happen by the Holy Ghost that are in perfect alignment with the written Word. So don’ t be so quick to be skeptical when someone has an experience of God’s power.

  25. That is interesting. I have heard of Jim Elliot and his 4 friends who were martyred in Ecuador. However, I had always been under the impression that it was the testimony of their willingness to sacrifice their lives for the sake of the gospel and the subsequent ministry by Elizabeth Elliot and Rachel Saint (a sister of one of the other missionaries) and others that had been the catalyst of their becoming Christians. It is interesting to note that if no one would have continue to minister the gospel to these people after this initial incident, it is likely that they would have simply gone back to the way they were. I am thankful that God can use the lives, or rather deaths, of men like Jim Elliot and his co-laborers to open doors for the proclamation of the gospel.

  26. Bryan,

    Did you happen to read everything I wrote or just see that phrase that I wrote and ignore the rest?
    You said: ” My point is for Javaguy: How do you have a true knowledge without the Gospel?”

    This is what I wrote before:
    “Finally, to your question. God is greater than the Bible. We know this in part because of how he lives in scripture and makes it a living thing that changes hearts. If it were just text on the pages of a book, it would not affect or effect anyone. Knowledge of God does not come from simply reading a book and having wise insite into it’s meaning. Knowledge of God comes only from God, through scripture and, I believe, directly from Him. The verse you quoted does not say that it comes ONLY from the Gospel. It doesn’t even mention the Gospel. So, really, there is no basis to say that true knowledge of God comes only through the Gospel. Forgive me, but I must say this again because I know people will read this the wrong way, but I am NOT belittling or down-playing or trying to undermine the important purpose of scripture. God can give us knowledge of Him however he feels like giving us knowledge of him. I just don’t think we can limit this to scripture when we have such a great God who can do so much.”

    I even made it a point to repeat myself because I knew someone would read this wrong. I am not saying that we can have knowledge of Christ without the Gospel. I emphatically pointed this out. I am just saying that God can give us knowledge and understanding beyond the Bible. I never even once said it could be gained without the Gospel. Have you ever read a passage of scripture that you have read many times before and God suddenly gives you new insite into it’s meaning? That is an example of God using His Word in conjunction with His power to give you better understanding of His nature. I think you would support this. Have you ever been put in a situation in normal everyday life where God uses something that happens to give you insite into His nature? If so, do you always link it to a passage of scripture or have you ever just accepted it as a lesson from God taught through the ordinary things of life? I am not saying that there aren’t passages that would relate to it, because certainly there are, but does that mean that the lesson had to be linked to those passages to be genuinely from God?
    Romans 1:20 ” For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities— his eternal power and divine nature— have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.”
    What does it mean “being understood from what has been made?” This says to me that God’s creation and His invisible qualities, eternal power, and divine nature, are all enough to hold us accountable. It doesn’t say: being understood from what has been written in His Word.

    ONE MORE TIME, let me re-iterate, I am not saying we don’t need the Gospel.

  27. Westside Church has become a joke since Lambert left. That is why when I am out in West Omaha and around 156th street on either Blondo or Dodge on a Sunday I will either attend Covenant or Trinity cause Westside has degenerated big time.

    If Curt Dodd of Westside Church of Omaha really cared about his church he would allow Bible Prophecy or Christian Apologetics Teachers like Norman Geisler or Gary Frazier speak at Westside Church of Omaha Nebraska

  28. Joshua,

    I actually attended Westside for 2 years when Lambert was there. I would not be comfortable labeling that place as a church that upheld a high view of God and his word even during that time.

    I left due to significant compromises on gospel ministry.

    What you see now is the natural fruit of such things.

  29. erik I dont label a church either.

    I label it is a end result of watered down preaching by wimpy pastors and political correctness.

  30. The story of Mr. Don Piper makes some of verses in the bible become invalid , they are :
    Acts 2:29-35
    Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day. For David is not ascended into the heavens.
    If David, who is called ” a man after God’s own heart” is not ascended to heaven, how can be we are the lesser one ?

    Ecclesiastes 9:5: “For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing.”

    “Do with thy might what thy hand findeth to do, for there is neither wisdom nor knowledge nor device in (sheol) the grave, whither thou goest.” (Ecc. 9:10)

    PSALM 115:17 The dead do not praise the LORD, nor do any who go down into silence; (NASB)

    And many more ….

    We just decide, believe the Word of God or believe the Story of A Human Being …

  31. Erick,

    Did you ever attend any of the meetings where Don Piper was present? Did you ever hear if the gospel was presented when he was there? Did any one during Don’s visit come to know Jesus as Lord and Savior because of his testimony?

    There should be a concern when the church turns into a place where the gospel is NOT preached. Christ needs to be lifted up.

    Bryan said it well in comment 25. “The burden of proof is on Don, not us, not God’s Word, because God’s Word is clear, and hidden in our hearts.” The burden of proof also lies in the fact if God is bringing people closer to Him through Don Piper.

    God has always used people to touch people. He has called us to be witnesses for Him. Witnessing is “Look at what Christ has done in my life.” As I read the pages of the Bible I find experience after experience where people go through fantastic situations. Paul talked about how he had been beaten, ship wrecked and stoned – these stories helped others come to Christ I am sure.

    The scripture says that God uses nature, His word – the Bible and other people to reach people for Him – but it is God who is at work.

    I don’t know if Don Piper’s story is true. The question I ask is – 1. Does it go against what the Bible tells us. 2. Does it bring others closer to Christ?

    A side issue: I have really appreciated Javaguy’s statements about scripture in 18 and again in 28. He said, “God is greater than the Bible. We know this in part because of how he lives in scripture and makes it a living thing that changes hearts.” Folks we need to worship Jesus not the Bible. Look in John 5:39-40 and see what it says. The scripture have a purpose – to bring us to Christ. Life is in Him.

  32. I read Don Piper’s book 90 Minutes in Heaven, after randomly coming across it at the book store. I want to buy it for everyone I know! I do feel God has used Don Piper and his experience to lead others to Christ. God’s word is totally sufficient and all we need, but I believe with all my heart that God uses people and circumstances to show His Glory! Why would some people believe that God would not give some a glimpse of Heaven in our times. I do believe that He alowed Don Piper to stand at the gates of Heaven and chose not to reveal Himself at that time because it was meant to be a temporary stay and not final. Ofcourse only God knows why and what happened, but I just feel that Don has certainly been used by our Father in Heaven to give hope and comfort to so many people. Don is giving God all the Glory and seeking none for himself. The book was only written at others urging because others wanted to know more about the experience. It took Don Piper a couple years to even be able to speak about it. I am so glad that he did write the book, it has helped me grow spiritually and given me the desire to spend more time reading and studying God’s Word, The Bible.

  33. Erik,
    I noticed my blog entry for November 11th regarding Don Piper is no longer on your site. I was shocked to see it gone. I did not feel I said anything that would not edify Christ and felt that I responded as fairly and honestly as anyone else in the previous blog entries. I would have expected, at a minimum, a personal response to my e-mail explaining why you would not post my blog.
    So in case you accidentally deleted it, here it is again…Thank you
    Written Nov 12, 2007
    I also just finished reading this book with my husband and quickly visited Don’s web site to read more about his ministry, his speaking schedule and his personal beliefs. I was deeply touched and encouraged by his testimony. I have read through this blog and all the opinions expressed here to see the type of criticism the book might be up against.
    After reading all the debate, I suggest everyone who has participated in the blog on this subject read all of 1 Corinthians 3. I am hearing verbal attacks toward Don Piper, The Church and fellow Christians.

    I would like to go back to the original questions posed by Erik that started all of this debate:
    Q1: What does it say about a church’s view of the “Sufficiency of Scripture” when they bring in a person to speak about their experience in place of biblical preaching?
    I personally believe in the “Sufficiency of GOD” and that with God ALL things are possible. In Matthew 19:26, Jesus says, “With God, all things are possible.” The same sentiment is expressed in Genesis 18:14, Job 42:1-2, Jeremiah 32:17 and 32:27, and in the parallel-passage in Mark 10:27. Do not misquote me and think I am saying that God’s word is not absolute truth. I believe the scripture is one of God’s tools to teach and guide us, but in everything we must PRAY for God’s guidance. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. Jam 1.5 (see also 1 Kings 3.5-14) Prior to the New Testament writings, many of the spiritual leaders in the bible who legalistically followed the Torah and only believed in the “Sufficiency of Scripture” persecuted countless Christians and ultimately crucified Jesus Christ, God’s son. The Bible says “Do not judge lest you be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. (NASB) Matthew 7:1-2. I am sure they are being judged by God for not seeking His guidance in persecuting the followers of Christ. Their condemnation of Jesus and his followers caused many to fear and even reject the truth of God presented in the flesh (God-became man). Another one of the verses that come to my mind as I read this blog, especially for those who have not cared to even read, listen to or pray about the truth of Don’s testimony is Romans 4:14. “But you, why do you judge your brother? Or you again, why do you regard your brother with contempt? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of God. (NASB) Rom. 14:10

    Q2: What does it say about a church’s view of conversion when experience is elevated over the biblical gospel as the means of bringing salvation?
    I feel this is an unfair assumption of the church’s intentions. I do believe this book was geared toward those who doubt God is real and those who struggle with personal hardships that have caused them to question God. To that audience, I believe it excites and points them ultimately back to a deeper relationship with the Father, I believe the conversion experience is an individual one, and whether God speaks to us through the Bible itself, a burning bush, a pastor in the pulpit or a personal testimony of how we are experiencing God in our every day lives, it really doesn’t matter how one accepts Christ as their savior, does it? Aren’t we limiting God if we say the Bible is the ONLY way God speaks? Praise be to God if lives are being changed and more hearts are being opened to God.

    Q3: At its base level, what is the difference between this subjective experience and those promoted by the best selling book The Secret? Or from other Oprah-like views of God and heaven?
    I have not read the Secret, but heard it teaches the law of attraction and that everything that happens to you—good or bad—you attract to yourself. Like children dying of cancer attracted it to themselves. (That sounds uplifting-not) I also do not follow Oprah’s views on the bible or scripture, seems to me she has a very “politically correct” view of faith. I do know, because I did read the book, that Don Piper shared a personal testimony of something he lived through, a life changing event that could have scarred him physically, emotionally and spiritually forever. Because he believed in the Bible as the living Word of God, believed that Christ died for his sins, and asked Jesus Christ to live in him and through him, he has been saved and assured a place in heaven, not only for a few minutes, but for eternity. This is what I got from Don’s testimony. I apparently am not the only one who felt this way after hearing his experience.

    Aside from the title and all the emphasis everyone is placing on heaven, Don Piper’s book clearly spoke to ME on the power of PRAYER, and was genuine to point out our weak human nature. Don Piper was a pastor, and to share the depression that overtook him during his countless months of painful recovery was a very humbling thing to admit. I didn’t feel at any time he was looking to bring glory to anyone but the Father and I think many Christians and non-Christians can relate to the overwhelming despair and depression our human nature is prone to, especially in grueling situations such as this. So much more than his heaven experience, I was deeply touched reading about the countless times God revealed to Don the purpose of his terrible accident and pain by putting someone in his path who needed to hear his recovery story, who needed to see him walking, who needed to know they were not the only ones who had to wear that horrible brace that brought so much misery. Don said over and over in the book that countless people were praying for his recovery. They were having prayer vigils after the accident, entire church congregations were praying for him to live, to be healed and to continue in ministry. God answered those prayers in amazing ways and I felt Don gave God all the glory for that. I am curious why no one asked Don these questions themselves? He has a way to contact him on his website.

    After the criticism I have read and prayerful consideration, I have still decided to mention Don’s testimony to my small church pastor and am forwarding the book onto him to investigate further and pray about having him come and speak to our congregation in the future. (FYI-Don speaks only for a “love offering and these proceeds go toward other Christian ministries) I believe Don’s testimony is genuine, has a purpose and can open hearts to the truth found only in Jesus Christ. Thank you for allowing me to share my heart on your blog.

    I also just finished reading this book with my husband and quickly visited Don’s web site to read more about his ministry, his speaking schedule and his personal beliefs. I was deeply touched and encouraged by his testimony. I have read through this blog and all the opinions expressed here to see the type of criticism the book might be up against.

    After reading all the debate, I suggest everyone who has participated in the blog on this subject read all of 1 Corinthians 3.

    I would like to go back to the original questions posed by Erik that started all of this debate:
    Q1: What does it say about a church’s view of the “Sufficiency of Scripture” when they bring in a person to speak about their experience in place of biblical preaching?
    I personally believe in the “Sufficiency of GOD” and that with God ALL things are possible. In Matthew 19:26, Jesus says, “With God, all things are possible.” The same sentiment is expressed in Genesis 18:14, Job 42:1-2, Jeremiah 32:17 and 32:27, and in the parallel-passage in Mark 10:27. Do not misquote me and think I am saying that God’s word is not absolute truth. I believe the scripture is one of God’s tools to teach and guide us, but in everything we must PRAY for God’s guidance, including interpretation of scripture. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. Jam 1.5 (see also 1 Kings 3.5-14) Prior to the New Testament writings, many of the spiritual leaders in the bible who legalistically followed the Torah and only believed in the “Sufficiency of the Scripture they had” persecuted countless Christians and ultimately crucified Jesus Christ, God’s son. The Bible says “Do not judge lest you be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. (NASB) Matthew 7:1-2. I am sure they are being judged by God for not seeking His guidance in persecuting the followers of Christ. Their condemnation of Jesus and his followers caused many to fear and even reject the truth of God presented in the flesh (Jesus Christ). Another one of the verses that come to my mind as I read this blog, especially for those who have not cared to even read, listen to or pray about the truth of Don’s testimony is Romans 4:14. “But you, why do you judge your brother? Or you again, why do you regard your brother with contempt? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of God. (NASB) Rom. 14:10

    Q2: What does it say about a church’s view of conversion when experience is elevated over the biblical gospel as the means of bringing salvation?
    I feel this is an unfair assumption of the church’s intentions. I do believe this book was geared toward those who doubt God is real and those who struggle with personal hardships that have caused them to question God. To that audience, I believe it excites and points them ultimately back to a deeper relationship with the Father. I believe the conversion experience is an individual one, and whether God speaks to us through the Bible itself, a burning bush, a pastor in the pulpit or a personal testimony of how we are experiencing God in our every day lives, it really doesn’t matter how one accepts Christ as their savior, does it? Aren’t we limiting God if we say the Bible is the ONLY way God speaks? Praise be to God if lives are being changed and more hearts are being opened to God.

    Q3: At its base level, what is the difference between this subjective experience and those promoted by the best selling book The Secret? Or from other Oprah-like views of God and heaven?
    I have not read the Secret, but heard it teaches the law of attraction and that everything that happens to you—good or bad—you attract to yourself. Like children dying of cancer attracted it to themselves. (That sounds uplifting-not) I also do not follow Oprah’s views on the bible or scripture, seems to me she has a very “politically correct” view of faith. I do know, because I did read the book, that Don Piper shared a personal testimony of something he lived through, a life changing event that could have scarred him physically, emotionally and spiritually forever. Because he believed in the Bible as the living Word of God, believed that Christ died for his sins, and asked Jesus Christ to live in him and through him, he has been saved and assured a place in heaven, not only for a few minutes, but for eternity. This is what I got from Don’s testimony. I apparently am not the only one who felt this way after reading his experience.

    Aside from the title and all the emphasis everyone is placing on heaven, Don Piper’s book clearly spoke to ME on the power of PRAYER, and was genuine to point out our weak human nature. Don Piper was a pastor at the time of the accident, and to share the depression that overtook him during his countless months of painful recovery was a very humbling thing to admit. I didn’t feel at any time he was looking to bring glory to anyone but the Father and I think many Christians and non-Christians can relate to the overwhelming despair and depression our human nature is prone to, especially in grueling situations such as this. So much more than his heaven experience, I was deeply touched reading about the countless times God revealed to Don the purpose of his terrible accident and pain by putting someone in his path who needed to hear his recovery story, who needed to see him walking, who needed to know they were not the only ones who had to wear that horrible brace that brought so much misery. Don said over and over in the book that countless people were praying for his recovery. They were having prayer vigils after the accident, entire church congregations were praying for him to live, to be healed and to continue in ministry. God answered those prayers in amazing ways and I felt Don gave God all the glory for that. I am curious why no one asked Don these questions themselves? He has a way to contact him on his website.

    After reading the criticism and prayerful consideration, I have still decided to mention Don’s testimony to my small church pastor and am forwarding the book onto him to investigate further and pray about having him come and speak to our congregation in the future. (FYI-Don speaks only for a “love offering and these proceeds go toward other Christian ministries) I believe Don’s testimony is genuine, has a purpose and can open hearts to the truth found only in Jesus Christ. Thank you for allowing me to share my heart on your blog.

  34. Denise,

    Comments get held in a moderation que for a number of reasons. This was the case with yours and I have not been in the blog for a bit to clear them.

    As far as your comment, I think a lot of this has been dealt with here. The bottom line is the sufficiency of Scripture, Don Piper is not someone who maintains or promotes this and this is a problem. The book and articles are laden with self-authoritative statements. Whenever someone shelves the Bible’s authority in place of self authority, regardless of the appearance of the motives, Jesus is pretty clear the real motive or goal is the self-exaltation at the expense of the glory of God (John 7.18).

  35. I am neither promoting nor warning against this book. In fact I have not read it. I was searching online to find reviews before I purchased it. One person above commented that his youth were regarding D. Piper’s writings as nearly scripture…then went on to say that it should not be cataloged next to J. Piper’s books. I find this hilarious since many of my fellow SB’s (I am NOT of the liberal persuasion,) seem to regard JOHN Piper’s books as the new scripture.

    I will read D. Piper’s book. I will give him the benefit of the doubt. And, I will do it prayerfully, hopefully keeping both sides in balance.

  36. I found this book amazing and encouraging. How readers can say it lacked scripture, thus is irrelavent. Truth can be spoken without quoting a scripture every 2nd sentence. Piper gave all the credit to God and shared honestly how feel fells he did NOTHING, and it was the power of prayer that was the miracle. Also he didn’t see God or Jesus but all that he met were continually praising God. And that he only made it TO the gate note actually all the way IN heaven yet. So perhaps there was more to come that he didn’t experience. I didn’t find anything contrary to scripture. Although he could have spent less time on his recovery process, I can cut him some slack there. He doesn’t claim to be an accomplished author.

  37. Christ is sufficient for reconciliation to God. BUT we also have 4 Gospels, the epistels and Revelation. Why did we need these if, once He said it is finished, we then get inspired words written and canonized in the first century.

    I read the book. I was skeptical before reading it because of sensationalism. However, I found it humbly written and if anything, somewhat honest about the weaknesses of a human being who, regardless of encountering heaven, was only changed after reaching the end of himself and surrendering his helplessness and depression to God. The encounter with heaven, consistent with the scripture quoted from Abraham bosom, had no efficacy to bring change. Only through surrender, i.e. Be Still and know that I am God, did he have peace.
    If anything, he describes his experience with heaven as a stumbling block to his ability to surrender to God and he was very reluctant to talk about it. God’s Word is living and active. This is a story about God’s Word revealed and acted upon to find the truth about a loving God who charms and puts to death the fears propagated by the enemy. If your church prides itself in only making sure it’s congregation “hears” the word and when somebody is a “doer” of the word, it is looked upon with skepticism, then I would ask where the real waste of real estate is and where the enemy is really having his hayday. Give Biblical reasons why this man’s “bearing witness” to what God has done is wrong.

  38. Don, like so many church leaders today, is preaching another Jesus and another gospel, something that Paul emphatically warned the Corinthian church about (2 Cor. 11:3-4), something so serious and so cleverly deceptive that many could fall for the counterfeit, and it worried Paul. Don Piper’s “heaven” had no Jesus because his Jesus are “another Jesus” and that “Jesus” is not in heaven. I hope that he realizes that he has been deceived, and I hope that he is not a willful deceiver.

  39. Speaking from an RNs point of view I found the book to be very human and the level of suffering realistic. I have seen people endure these types of injuries and been able to watch the fight to regain function and in some cases their life. I know what he went through is accurate. All the phases of his recovery is real. I have seen true belivers recover no more or less than non belivers. The thing I do know is that this book offers hope to people put in this position by circumstances beyound their control. It lets them know that with prayer and love of family and friends they too can recover from a devastating physical issue. I can only see then that if nothing else it reaffirms that God is in our lives and we can access his love and healing. Why does it matter then if you believe Don’s accounting or not. He is helping people in a time that it is needed and that is in keeping with the love of Christ. His compassion was apparent when encountering like people with like injuries and his ability to let them know they would get better most likely helped them be better.In a pay it forward concept this is how I practice my beliefs.

  40. I’m not a pastor or a scholar. I’m just a guy trying to stay in the light. i bought the book over a year ago as part of my 5 for $.99 offer. i never got around to reading it because of the controversy. I picked it up yesterday afternoon. I read and cried for 7 hours reading it straight through. I have no doubt Piper believes what he experienced was real. My “opinion”, and i think everyone has a right to an opinion, is that it was a dream or delusion. Is it not possible GOD sent the vision to give the man strength to get through his ordeal? I’d like to think GOD would give a boost to a righteous man, knowing that human faith can be tested. The reason for my tears and what I got out of the book was prayer works DUH!!! It’s obvious to us, but to a non-believer that might be enough to get them to turn to the scriptures. I’m not familiar with his lecture tour, so I’ll leave it to you guys to argue that. From what I gather after reading all the posts i maybe he should have writen the book and let that be his testimony to the power of prayer. Prayer works. Jesus listens.

  41. I am confused about the problem you guys have with Don Pipers story. He has shared his experience and has made no attempt to lay the authority of scripture to the side. The Apostle Paul shared his experience at least three times in the Epistles and acts alone. John Wesley shared his experience and God used it to start a movement that would save England from a civil war. IN the Church we have rataionlized our experience out of our message. Our experience must be in rhythm with the scripture and Don Piper’s experience is in agreement with the Word.

    You are talking about Theology and please remember “YOUR” theology is not perfect. As “my”theology is not perfect. God has commited Himself to faith not theology. I hope you understand this.

  42. camdoc: you said: “God has commited Himself to faith not theology. I hope you understand this.”

    I honestly don’t. This makes absolutely no sense. God does not care about what we believe to be true about him? What is the basis of faith? Who is God? The Bible is actually a theological book that reveals God, so that we may know him truly, by faith. Your theology is, at the end of the day, everything. Because if your theology is jacked up then you what are you worshiping?

  43. We should not assume that all miracles from God happened long ago, they still happen today.

  44. Erik do you understand the fundamental difference between Wesley and Calvin? Which one of these guys would you say had a “jacked up theology?” I have much to share with you because what you said was totally uninformed but I need to hear your answer to this question first. Do yourself a favor and think about it before you answer.

    By the way, what is you theological position?

  45. Erik, I am amazed that there are so many people who pass judgement without all the facts. I just read this book a couple of weeks ago. In it, Don Piper states that he never actually went into heaven….but discussed more about his experience on the path to heaven. He did not share his experience for more than 2 years, as he feared what people would say. Most of you have proven him right! Who are we to say that his experience was not real. Most of those who have commented here have not even read the book. Judge not, least ye be judged. What about the minister who was directed by God to pray for this man, who was pronounced dead at the scene? We don’t know all the facts, and never will, in this lifetime. He simply has shared his story to give hope to others. He is not afraid of death, because he has had a glimpse of what’s to follow. Missy

  46. Camdock, my theology is not tied to men (though I may agree with certain guys on certain issues) but at the end of the day Calvin did not die for me, it was Jesus (cf. 1 Cor. 3). I think if you read the site for more than a couple of minutes you would be aware of where I stand theologically.

    Missy, I stand by what I wrote. I have a hard time believing him and take serious issue with his deviations from what the Bible explains is heavenly. By the Bible is supposed to provide hope, assurance, and validation (Luke 16.29).

  47. Theology is a method and system of beliefs.
    Faith is a trust that God will guide a person in the way he has prepared regardless of what that person believes.
    I would be very skeptical of anyone who says that their beliefs have not evolved through study of the scripture and inspiration from God. In other words – Theology can change, faith cannot.

    What a person believes to be true about God can change as that person grows in faith. In other words, theology can change as God reveals himself through faith. I appreciate Camdock’s statements and challenge to ask ourselves the question: is our faith based on our theology or is our theology based on faith?

  48. Javaguy,

    “Theology is a method and system of beliefs… about God.”

    Now, one can say that they increase their knowledge of God, or that what they used to believe isn’t what the currently believe, but this doesnt’t place faith as preeminate over theology. Quite to the contrary, this only points out how fallen we are. My theology can grow, but the God who is at the center of that theology doesn’t grow. My theology can change, but the God of my theology doesn’t change. My experience can change how I view God but the God of my theology doesn’t learn new things based on my experience.

    This is all to say that I believe there is right theology and wrong theology, because there is a true view of God and an erroneous view of God. This is why I would say my faith is in God.

    The arrival at good theology then becomes the goal, for the more erroneous your view of God the more likely your are to be worshiping the god you created in your mind and the less likely you are to be worshiping the true God. It sounds as though your assesment is that we should value each person’s theology because it is wrong to question what another has had “revealed” in their experience. If I am reading you wrong, I appologize.

    If I am reading you right, then I would submit that God has saved us from our decietful hearts by revealing Himself in the Bible and that this revelation is clear enough to give us an accurate understanding of who He is. To elevate our understanding of who the god we experience is over the God as He as chosen to reveal Himself in His Word is arrogant and destructive. (A man nearly dying in a car accident can teach you anything you want it to about God, from believing He ordained it to believing He let it happen, for to stop it would interfere with free will.) Humility is to submit to what He has said clearly and question all other experience with the filter of Scripture.

    Toby

  49. Toby,

    I actually was trying to say much of what you did without being too lengthy (since I have a reputation for lengthiness) However, I do believe that faith is preeminent over theology for exactly the same reasons you discussed. Theology can change, God/faith cannot. I am not saying that we should accept everyone’s personal theology simply because they claim it comes from faith. I believe that any change in theology should come only from God bringing us closer to the truth through faith. Ungodly claims of better theology tend to move further away from the truth and aren’t inspired by faith, but by the flesh.

    It is true that God will give us an accurate understanding of who He is through scripture. That doesn’t mean that He won’t continue to reveal truths to us as we grow in faith and study His Word. As these truths are revealed, we may need to change our theology. Can God reveal truths supernaturally? I believe, yes. I don’t know how many times I have read a passage of scripture that I have read a hundred times before and God gives me new insight into what it means. That is supernatural. The only way it wouldn’t be supernatural is if I were to claim that I gleaned this new insight through my own wisdom and ability to figure God out. Obviously, I tend to think that it was God who supernaturally revealed it to me as opposed to claiming that I had figured it out on my own.

    Well, I ramble, but I think it is important to realize that God does work supernaturally and can reveal things in whatever way he chooses and if someone claims that God has revealed something to him that He hasn’t revealed to you, that doesn’t mean that it is false. It could just be that it is a truth that person needed to understand at that moment and maybe God is using him to share that truth with others. That being said, I think you are right on in what you said in your last sentence. Experience should never be contrary to scripture and should always be tested against scripture.

    Couldn’t it be that instead of man using experience to define God that maybe God is using experience to define Himself?

  50. erik,

    You still did not answer my question. That’s ok. I do see your theological position and for you info I have looked at your blog for more than two min. You said the “bible is a the9ological book.” WRONG…by simple definition theology is the study of God. erik….The Bible is a declaration of God. Theology is a study of that declaration. Therefore we have many streams of Christian theology. God has used those who study Calvin, Wesley, and others. Your problem is you know only enough to come across as immature and arrogant. I am a conservative pastor in the Wesleyan church. Two hundred years ago George Whitfield left England and turned the responsibility of his ministry over to John Wesley. These two men were not in the same theological camp. On some issues they were polar opposite. However, Theology was not what was most important to Whitfield…it was the Kingdom of God.
    So I ask you again. Using your own words…. Which one had the “jacked up theology, ” Wesley of Calvin?

  51. I also believe we must be careful to not substitute the Holy Bible with Near Death Experiences accounts, however I God is a God of comforts, he comes and comforts those in deep pain, and there is no greater emotional pain than that of loosing suddenly and prematurely a son, a husband or wife, or a parent especially for a child. Jesus said bless the ones who mourns, why do we want to limit God, don’t you think God may be allowing these testimonies to bring some sort of comfort and relief where there is huge pain for a loss?

    I say, be careful at being quick to judge. God might have allowed Don Piper to see and to tell of his experience so that this may be of comfort to those who are desperately suffering for their loss. The motive to go down on the earth to tell what is on the other side would be that of comfort not that of persuading people of the exsistance of God. Do you believe Paul when he writes in Corinthians:

    ” I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know—God knows. 3And I know that this man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows— 4was caught up to paradise. He heard inexpressible things, things that man is not permitted to tell. ” Corinthians 12:2-4

    Why be so resistant at believing your brother in Christ – Don Piper? Isn’t our God a God of miracles? Isn’t his goodness infinite?

    The Bible come FIRST, over and well above any of these experiences, I agree, but look at the fruits …. form those you will be able to tell is this book is good or bad. It has brought me huge comfort.

    A mother who recently lost her son.

  52. It’s a good book and Piper should be congratulated for sharing his Near Death Experience. Only readers should be aware of one serious mistake he makes in the book which is to jump from hearing songs praising Jesus and meeting fellow Christians in heaven to religious fundamentalism. Research of Near Death Experiences show that there is no evidence to support that heaven is exclusively for Christians, or a narrow interpretation of the Bible, as experiences of heaven happen in all cultures and religions. Cross cultural studies of Near Death Experiences show that the Golden Rule truly means that we must love our neighbor – even if this person is of another faith – and “hell” is not something we can simply throw around when we disagree with people. If you have not fallen asleep in Christ, or simply use reason as well, and want to know what people who have Near Death Experiences truly experience in Heaven, have a look at my book Behind 90 Minutes in Heaven.

  53. Rene,

    “Research of Near Death Experiences show that there is no evidence to support that heaven is exclusively for Christians, or a narrow interpretation of the Bible, as experiences of heaven happen in all cultures and religions.”

    Actually there is ‘evidence to support this’. IT’s called the Bible.

    Your positing of yourself and these researchers as the authority stands in an arrogant posture to the Lord God and his word.

    (Isa 41.21-24) 21 Set forth your case, says the LORD; bring your proofs, says the King of Jacob.
    22 Let them bring them, and tell us what is to happen. Tell us the former things, what they are, that we may consider them, that we may know their outcome; or declare to us the things to come.
    23 Tell us what is to come hereafter, that we may know that you are gods; do good, or do harm, that we may be dismayed and terrified.
    24 Behold, you are nothing, and your work is less than nothing; an abomination is he who chooses you.

    Your book is more of a joke than Don Pipers; and that is saying a lot!

  54. As a paramedic with 17 yrs experience, and after examining the story of Don Piper, some questions come to mind. First, it is possible for someone to be “puleless” if the pulse is felt radially (wrist) and if the bloo pressure is below 80 systolic. Someone might very well be alive yet unresponsive without a palpable pulse. So my question is, was he infact pulseless AND asystole (flat-line) on a cardiac monitor? We never just check one with out the other. Also in a trauma as Don had, 99% of the time ressussitation efforts are not successful – there is just too much “stuff” that can be going on that is unseen (ie. internal bleeding; ruptured aorta, etc…), so often times a pt is “called” DOA and that is it. On another note, I am also a Baptist minister and would teach my congregation what I know about heaven from Scriptures. Even Christ did not dare allow Lazarus to come back from the ‘other world” to try to convince his brothersof the state of the after life, whether heaven or hell. Someday I know I will get to see heaven – when I do I won’t ever want to come back!

Trackbacks and Pingbacks:

  1. Cade Halada » Sufficiency of Experience? - April 30, 2007

    [...] A few days ago the Irish Calvinist gave his thoughts about Don Piper, the author of 90 Minutes In Heaven, visiting a church near him to preach about his near-death experience. I have never read the book but have heard the author of the book on the radio. I was enamored with the testimony of his experience. He described his experience of being in a car accident which should have killed him. He was even placed in a body bag before anyone noticed he was alive. I won’t go into the details of it as his book can do that just fine. [...]

  2. Après church » Blog Archive » Dead man talking - May 30, 2007

    [...] Don’s book but it seems to be a genuine, if somewhat overhyped, account to me.  Bookmark on del.icio.us Darren posted this entry on Saturday, May 12th, 2007 at 2:29 pm. Posted in the category Bookreviews You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site. [...]

  3. Irish Calvinist » Blog Archive » 90 Minutes in Heaven - December 21, 2007

    [...] Piper is a Baptist pastor who was in a tragic accident in 1989. He states that he died that day, went to heaven, spent 90 minutes there, saw some friends and relatives and then returned. He wrote a book about it and many people are reading it, over 2 million people actually. I have previously interacted a bit with Piper based on second hand sources and his website. However, upon a recent visit to Borders I could not resist the urge to pick up the book and begin reading. [...]