Christian Professor Warns: Movies About Heaven, Near Death Experience 'Can Harm Christian Theology'

Scot McKnight is a recognized authority on the New Testament, early Christianity, and the historical Jesus. McKnight is the professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Lombard, Illinois, and author of “The Heaven Promise: Engaging the Bible’s Truth About Life to Come" which releases on October 6, 2015.

Christian films continue to dominate at the box office thanks to a growing consumer appetite for faith-based entertainment, but one Christian professor says that a particular theme of Christian films and books, namely those about Heaven and the afterlife, could potentially be harmful to Christianity.


I always thought the worst part of these movies is the vast majority are so sappy they should come with a diabetes warning! :eek:

yes or a warning that they are very corny.

My big question is, “Why would God take someone in Heaven just to send them back here again ???” The Catholic Church teaches that once we’re in Heaven we STAY there! No try overs. The mind is a complicated organ and who knows what goes thru it when VERY ill. (Even dreams can be a good example for that!!! ) Most are to protestant orientated for me. I read the book, “Heaven is for Real” and it was more about the father than the son. Full protestant thinking. I wouldn’t waste my money on the movie.(the book was loaned to me, to try to convince me it was true, DIDN:T work) God Bless, Memaw

So I assume this line of thinking would also condemn “It’s a Wonderful Life?”

One would hope that as someone is leaving a theater, they understand they just saw…a movie.

Even if ‘based on a true story’, a movie is a movie.

You can’t harm the theology, but you can make someone curious, which might lead to questions.

If someone develops their mind in the religious arena on the foundation of a movie, there may be bigger issues than the implied religion in the movie.

NO ONE has ever claimed that “It’s a Wonderful Life” was a TRUE story!! Maybe that’s our trouble today, we can’t tell fact from fiction! God Bless, Memaw

Plus, It’s a Wonderful Life isn’t about a near death experience, or about Heaven. It’s about God’s gift to a broken down man, allowing him to see what most of us only get to know after we die: The impact of our choices on the lives of those around us.

If anything, it could be classified as a movie about private revelation. :stuck_out_tongue:

Agree with your assessment.:thumbsup:

I tend to agree with the professor, and I add that someday science may prove (if it hasn’t already) a physical basis for these experiences, in other words, that they are hallucinations due to biochemical imbalance in the brain, and experiences just like them are induced by certain hallucinogenic drugs. If someone builds his faith on lies which are later exposed, then his faith may be severely harmed.

That is why I place no faith in NDEs, movie or no movie.

There is no compelling reason that these are not just the work of a breathless head fighting the darkness. After all, our mind’s major duty is to keep the body alive, and will imagine staying alive even when that becomes impossible, just as the limbs are made for movement and will twitch or wiggle when effective movement is impossible.

While I am not anti NDE, I don’t find them worthy of faith. In any case, the accounts diverge too much.


Well, there is still the matter of the questionable understanding of a heaven where an angel has to “earn” their wings!!

Oh, I’m not saying it’s perfect theologically, but it’s still an excellent reminder that our actions have an impact we simply cannot know in this life.

You wouldn’t go to a monastery or parish mission for entertainment. Why go to a film expecting to learn theology?

I haven’t seen “90 Minutes” yet, but hope to, but I don’t expect any great insight on the human afterlife either way.


After reading the book,I remember thinking,either this guy is a great storyteller,or we all have something to get really excited about and to lookeforward to!
Now,I do believe we as Christians do have something to get excited about and to look forward to,just not certain it is exactly as described in the book.:wink:

At the very least take them with a large grain of salt. I have a friend who has returned to the Catholic Church a few years back but before that was dabbling in New Age. Remember the book Embraced By the Light? She really liked that book and even after reconversion at first thought it was good. But I had skimmed through it and to me it contained heresies such as syncretism. I think my friend has probably gotten more firmly grounded in her Catholic Faith by now and I’d bet the book has lost its appeal. But it was a big influence on a lot of spiritual seekers in its heyday.

NDEs, who knows. Some may be legit - but maybe in the retelling they get mixed in with our own minds’ preconceived biases? :shrug:

Pure fiction !! God Bless, Memaw

I don’t tend to watch Christian movies, but I like movies or narratives with Christian themes. There’s a big difference between the two, the former being unbearable and the latter being something which feels more legitimate instead of just pandering to an audience.

I cannot imagine being in the presence of God and then being sent away. Since God is the answer and fulfillment of all that we desire, could a human soul even stand the separation from God, once this perfect bliss is experienced?

It brings to mind what Hamlet said in his depressed state:

“How weary, stale, flat and unprofitable,
Seem to me all the uses of this world!
Fie on’t! ah fie! 'tis an unweeded garden,
That grows to seed; things rank and gross in nature”

I imagine earth to be like that to someone who has experienced God in His glory. And, like the fictional Hamlet, wouldn’t it drive us to madness?

Those movies might do for some, but I’m afraid I’ll have to pass.

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