Heaven is for Real – Do you need to die to experience heaven? (What does your faith teach you?)

Heaven is for Real – Do you need to die to experience heaven?

I watched the movie, Heaven is for Real, and it seems the Christians portrayed in the movie felt one needed to die in order to experience heaven.

What are the different views on this? What do Protestants, Catholics, Orthodox, Muslims, Jews, Hindus have to say about experiencing Heaven before one dies?

I am not sure what each Christian sect (Protestant, Catholic, Orthodox) believes or teaches concerning this, but according to the Bible, it seems that one does NOT need to die in order to experience heaven.

Paul said, I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago-- whether in the body I do not know, or out of the body I do not know, God knows-- such a man was caught up to the third heaven. (2 Corinthians 12:2)

Share your thoughts…

I’m going to search the net to see if I can find anything similar in different religions.

Dalai Lama said,** “At the moment of death, the mind is in its most subtle state at this point of change… transformation occurs in the consciousness. With training this transfomation can be practiced. To attain this state at the point of death without difficulty… is of course beneficial. It should take as little effort as possible as explained in the tantras.
There are many different paths toward the attainment of clear light. Consciousness can be trained to leave the the body. In powa meditation it is trained to leave the body and return at will. It is this possibility of separating consciousness and body.
We call transformation… There are also other techniques to transfer consciousness to another body during one’s lifetime.”**

This was taken from a youtube video.

I haven’t seen the movie but I read the book. One of the things that bothered me with the book was the parents acting as if the boy died when he did not. He had surgery and was never near death.

But to better answer your question , I’d say the only way most Christians would say one can view heaven is through death. A rare exception would be a vision given someone (or St John who wrote Revelation) but it seems unlikely a very very young child would have a vision. Regardless, the movie/book portrays it as an out of body experience from a near death experience which doesn’t really add up to me.

So what do you make of the verse, Paul said, I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago-- whether in the body I do not know, or out of the body I do not know, God knows-- such a man was caught up to the third heaven. (2 Corinthians 12:2)???

Do we need to die to experience Heaven? No. We just have to go to any Catholic Mass.

I’ve been to one, but I wouldn’t say my experience was heavenly. It was interesting.

He wasn’t sure whether he was in his body or not, presumably because he had his senses (we at least know he could hear, obviously) and for those you need your body; yet when the experience was over, his body most likely seemed to have gone nowhere.

The reference seems to be to Saint Paul himself, and would seem to suggest what we now would call an “out of body experience.” But the passage gives no further information.


I think that God can give people visions of heaven and hell for various reasons, but I don’t think they experience it in the same way we will when we die. I don’t think people can or should attempt to train themselves to have such visions.

I agree.

I don’t think people can or should attempt to train themselves to have such visions.

Why not?

Are there any records of Saints or Monks having such experiences, other than Paul???

It seems to be a vision he had, which I acknowledge occur. I also think people can have out of body experience when they have “died”. I would think it unlikely for one to “go to heaven for an hour or two during surgery” and come back as the book makes out.

I do not believe the “Heaven is For Real” at all. Mainly because of his description of heaven seems more delusional. For example claims of Jesus riding a horse and angels singing his favorite Biblical songs, but wouldn’t sing Queen’s We Will Rock You. It sounds more like he was either making it up since kids do that (especially since the cardiac monitor didn’t show he was dead nor did the parents present any medical evidence) or the father added elements of the story to make it more interesting to readers.

You also forgot to mention the next part of 2 Corinthians 12:2 and verse 3 and 4. “Whether in the body or out of the body I do not know; God knows. And I know that such a person-whether in the body or out of the body I do not know; God knows-was caught up into Paradise and heard things that are not to be told, that no mortal is permitted to repeat.”

Because if it is God’s will that you have a genuine vision or revelation of some kind, He will make it happen whether you want it to or not. If you attempt to seek that sort of thing on your own will you could be opening yourself up demonic influences that may seem empowering, but aren’t a genuine vision or message from God.

Heaven is to be in the immediate presence of God. To be in that state is to possess all one could possibly want-and more; to be completely satisfied, at perfect peace and happiness. It’s customarily referred to as the “Beatific Vision”, the vision of God. And he may grant “glimpses” of that vision in the here and now, for our encouragement, but the realities of this world don’t allow for that kind of state to be permanent in this life.

Because we do not have the senses to experience the other life on our own; we will not, unless God gives us a vision, until we get there.


Heaven and Hell are not places but states of mind in which the we finds ourselves- so we can experience both heaven and hell while on earth.

However, we can not maintain this state for very long while alive, because the body has its own state and needs - hunger, thirst, pain, sickness etc which we can not control. It is only after death that we can experience Heaven for an extended period of time (except that we all have to pass through purgatory first).

In orthodoxy there is the tradition of the Beatific vision, in which one experiences a state which is beyond description. Its neatly summarized in a little book in the Philokalia volume four, called “on faith.”

That being said what is heaven, what is true heaven? It is not a disembodied state in which we are only soul and not body it is in the Resurrection we can truly say we are experiencing heaven because then everything has been fulfilled.

The physical senses are not attributes of the physical body. The sense of sight for example is not a physical sense, it is an attribute of the soul. We do not need physical eyes in order to see. (look up “paradoxical sleep” and the dream state for example). In heaven we will have full sight of all creation without physical eyes.

The autonomic system of the body and consciousness as a whole is not a physically run phenomenon. Consciousness and autonomics are again, attributes of the soul…

There is no doubt that the world beyond this one is as different, yet, all encompassing, to this world, as this world is is as different, and all encompassing, to the world of the womb.

Just as the baby inevitably enters this world, we too inevitably enter another world beyond this one.

How we function spiritually in the next world can be defined as the grades between heaven and hell. The spiritual perfections that we acquire in this world contribute to the maximum bliss experienced in the next world.

In like manner, the physical perfections acquired in the world of the womb contribute to the maximum bliss experienced in this world.

This is heaven



Pax Christi!

There are stories, or claims, of visions of the afterlife: hell, Purgatory; some are deemed “worthy of belief” by the Church. None are we required to believe. The children at Fatima are examples, and I believe St. Teresa of Avila. But I don’t recall reading of “worthy” visions of Heaven.

No, Dante doesn’t count.

God bless.

They are places.

Otherwise I could be sat next to Satan and that would not be Heaven to share space with him would it. Do you not remember the great vault between Abraham’s Bosom and Hell?

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