Todd Burpo Hoax Debunked

Is Jesus real? That’s a question that many Christians have asked themselves over the years. Many non-Christians have asked the same question. The responses typically fall into three categories: Jesus was who he says he was; he existed, but only not as a deity; or he didn’t exist at all. In the past, when a preacher like Todd Burpo would claim that a family member had seen the face of Jesus, most people would take him seriously.

Some still do. That’s why the Heaven Is For Real movement has taken off. The only problem is that with no verifiable evidence, the claims of Todd Burpo must be assumed a hoax until actual evidence is achieved. Validating a Christian faith might inspire others to do good works, which benefits all of humanity, but that doesn’t make God or Jesus real.

Are We So Afraid of Death That We’ll Make Up Facts?

In discussing death from a Biblical perspective to evaluate what Todd Burpo is promoting in regards to his son’s visions, it is important to read what the Christian holy book, viewed as God’s infallible word, says on the subject. “Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope,” it says in 1 Thessalonians 4. “We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.”

1 Corinthians 15 describes that the bodies which are sown on the Earth are perishable, but “raised” to be imperishable. They are sown in dishonor and weakness, but raised in glory and power. Because of this, it would be fair to say that many Christians think about the afterlife a lot. The idea of being raised in glory for everlasting life is a good perk.

In the Biblical accounts, death has no hold on people. Jesus can raise people from the dead. In John 11, he raises Lazarus from the dead. Jesus even describes what he is going to do in John 11:11. “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up.”

Are Dreams the Same As Reality?

When you have a nightmare, it seems very real at the time you are experiencing it. Sights, sounds, and feelings are all present. It is like it is really happening to you until you wake up from the dream. Even though the nightmare is an altered state of reality, it feels very real to the person who is experiencing it at the time.

The same is true for the near-death experience. The mind must cope with the fact that it is near-death. It may be willing to produce an alternate reality that seems very real to the person involved. For a child who has grown up in a Christian family, having a dream or vision about Jesus being there to greet him would be comforting. It would allow the mind to cope.

There is nothing wrong with having this type of coping mechanism. The problem of the Todd Burpo hoax is that these coping mechanisms are used to present a belief as a tangible fact for everyone. There is no doubt that Burpo’s son likely experienced the events as has been described in Heaven Is For Real. It’s also very likely that these events were a human construct, designed to be comforting at a time when comfort was needed the most.