|Did This Man Go to Heaven?|
|Written by Rachel Whitaker, Associate Editor|
Don Piper's book "90 Minutes in Heaven" was the best-selling religious book of the year in 2007. USA Today listed it as #17 in their list of 100 top-selling books (on any topic) for the year. It has already been translated into 25 languages.
What's in this book that has captivated so many readers? Don Piper, a Baptist pastor, tells about an accident in which he collided head-on with a semi. He was pronounced dead at the scene. For the next 90 minutes, Piper believes, he experienced heaven. He saw streets of gold and met loved ones who wouldn't let him enter the heavenly city because it "wasn't his time." He heard beautiful music and felt true peace. Then, thanks to the prayers of another pastor who arrived at the accident scene, Piper miraculously returned to life on earth.
Piper, like many Christians, believes that people go immediately to heaven (or hell) when they die. However, the Bible makes clear that when people die, they sleep in their graves until the resurrection at the end of time. Actually, there are two resurrections: one for the righteous at Jesus' coming, and one for the wicked 1000 years later. (John 5:28, 29; John 11:11-14; Ecclesiastes 9:5; 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17; Revelation 20:4-6.)
So what did Piper really see? One medical study found that up to 18 percent of people whose heart stopped beating for a while had some sort of "near-death experience," such as passing through a tunnel to light or seeing themselves from outside. The researchers believed that these experiences came from brain activity, since things other than "death" can cause similar sensations (ever had a dream?). It's also possible that Satan creates these experiences to deceive people. (Read more about that here.)
As Christians we will have times when we can't trust what we think we are seeing or experiencing. Instead, we need to test what we experience by the truths of the Bi