I’d Rather Spend 90 Minutes in The Shack

Several weeks ago I warned of looking for truth in all the wrong places such as the novel The Shack.  Well I’d rather spend 90 minutes in The Shack than one minute in 90 Minutes in Heaven.

Don Piper is a Baptist pastor who had a tragic auto accident in 1989.  Ninety minutes after being pronounced dead by paramedics he came back to life.  He “arose” with only blissful memories of his stay in heaven.  Unlike St. Paul what he saw wasn’t too wonderful to relate to us.  Unlike The Shack he doesn’t present it as fiction but reality.  Unlike the Holy Spirit who didn’t see fit to record what the widow of Nain’s son actually said immediately after Jesus raised him, Piper believes what he has to say is worthy of record.  Too bad Lazarus who was raised after being 4 days dead didn’t write something down.  It probably would have sold more than the 1.4 million copies Piper’s book has.

 And what of it?  It’s a free country.  As a pastor I’ve heard many “after death” experiences.  I never say people didn’t hear or see what they say they did.  I only say that their experience can’t be the foundation of their faith.   I’ve noticed that those who do make it their faith’s foundation aren’t faithful in hearing the Word or using the Sacraments.

 I don’t know about the Rev. Don Piper.  He could very well still be a faithful Baptist minister.  And why not?  It’s not out of keeping with Baptist theology to expect and accept revelation apart from the Means of Grace.  It’s supposed to be different with us Lutherans.  We say in the Smalcald Articles, “Therefore we ought and must constantly maintain this point, that God does not wish to deal with us otherwise than through the spoken Word and the Sacraments. It is the devil himself whatsoever is extolled as Spirit without the Word and Sacraments” (III, VIII, 9-11).

 Redeemer Lutheran Church (LCMS) of Austin, Texas subscribes to this confession.  Here is the announcement from their website about the Rev. Don Piper coming to their congregation:

Is Heaven Real?

Don Piper, author of 90 Minutes in Heaven, answers this question from experience.  A semitruck crushed Piper’s car, and medical personnel said he died instantly.

 Piper says he stood at the gates of heaven immediately upon impact with the truck. While his body lay lifeless inside the ruins of his car, Piper experienced the glories of heaven, awed by its beauty and music.

Piper miraculously returned to life on earth 90 minutes after the wreck. He remembers inexpressible heavenly bliss. Piper experienced a huge test of faith in God as he faced an uncertain and grueling recovery that included 34 surgeries.

Come hear Don Piper at Redeemer on Wednesday, September 9.  Contact Mike Naleieha at xxx-xxx extension 8836.  Invite family, friends, neighbors, coworkers, and others to hear this amazing testimony!

Here’s the latest email announcement:

 6:15 p.m. – Pre-service slides begin

6:30 p.m. – Pre-service music begins, childcare opens

7 p.m. – Announcements and introduction made

7:10 p.m. –[Rev.] Don Piper speaks

8 p.m. – Reception and book signing begins

Thirty years ago I read Beyond Death’s Door a book by a cardiologist who had brought back many “dead” people and questioned them afterwards.  He reported that about 20 percent were willing to report they had experiences.  What was unique about his book at the time is that it contained the experiences of those who went to hell.  But at the end of the day good or bad they are just that “experiences.” And experience tells me that those who find comfort in the experience of others inevitably experience something themselves that does away with it.  A trip back to The Shack will show this.

A local radio personality returned from his vacation saying The Shack had changed his life by giving him a new, better perspective.  That was about 6 weeks ago.  Later he reported the experience of watching the movie AI had “bummed him out.  Because maybe this is all there is.”  A caller reminded him what he said about The Shack.  He said, “I guess AI destroyed all that.”  I’m quite sure 90 minutes with the Rev. Piper’s experiences can turn him back around.  But if you’re a confessional Lutheran, the one thing you believe those experiences can’t do is bring him the Holy Spirit.  And Only He can really deliver us from the death that stalks us; He does it in a Divine Service that only lasts  about 60 minutes.

About Paul Harris

Pastor Harris retired from congregational ministry after 40 years in office on 31 December 2023. He is now devoting himself to being a husband, father, and grandfather. He still thinks cenobitic monasticism is overrated and cave dwelling under.
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5 Responses to I’d Rather Spend 90 Minutes in The Shack

  1. Scott says:

    He must not have been awed all that much by it since he is able to condense 90 minutes of heaven into a 50 minute speech.

    But on his website when answering the question of whether or not there will be animals in heaven, he says specifically “I only arrived at the gates of heaven” Rev.22:15 (I know dogs are mentioned) when John says “But outside are the dogs, and sorcerers, and the sexually immoral and murderers, and idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie.”

    John speaks from within the gates about those who are standing outside of it. Piper never writes from within the gates, only from what he sees outside of it, but not even this if this if it is a real expereince breaks the conscience of piper who should be driven onto his knees in repentance so that the next time he sees those gates it’s from the inside looking out and not the outside looking in.

    These 90 minutes are described in one verse in Rev 22:15 and while Piper himself says that once at the gates he was greeted by “the people who helped me get to heaven through their witness on Earth.” Based upon the people standing outside of the gate in John’s trip to Heaven, I am not so sure that these are the people I would brag about greeting because that only places him on the list as one who loves and practices a lie.

  2. Bart Goddard says:

    A few months ago, Redeemer invited a “Christian”
    financial expert to give a program (on how to amass
    wealth in a loving manner, I guess.) This new business
    is a step lower. I’m deeply disturbed that they call
    the program a “service”, and surround it with the trappings
    of religion. The congregation is going to come together
    in the sanctuary, have music, then, right where the
    Service of the Word, should be, have a Baptist speaker
    talk about his coma-induced hallucination. If there’s one
    place we ought not to have non-Lutheran speakers, it’s
    in our pulpits, and especially not in our pulpits during
    a “service.” I sure do get weary of Redeemer trying to
    show off how much they can get away with and not be

  3. Rev. Sherman Stenson says:

    Quite so, dear Brothers.

    People helped get Piper to heaven? Really? So much for ‘Christ Alone’ and the work of the Holy Spirit through the means of grace, eh? No wonder he’s left at the gate, then!

    I’m amazed that so many people who have near-death experiences are convinced that what they’ve witnessed are actually glimpses of heaven, and that so many who listen to them describe it are so enthralled by the stories—as if those visions were going to “sell” people on having faith so they can gain heaven, too. It’s particularly problematic because many of those who relate such near-death experiences do not subsequently confess faith in the Triune God or the person and work of Christ for their salvation, and have only judgment and condemnation in their future. Would God, in His love, infinite wisdom and perfect foreknowledge, “tease” someone with death and heaven, only to let human medicine pull them back from it? Seems to be just another case where emotional, experiential religiosity is allowed to overshadow the objective truth of God’s Word.

    It’s challenging to strive to remain faithful to Scripture and the Confessions when brethren encourage (or at least allow) their flocks to listen to the subjective experiences of a Reformed-theology, anti-creedal, non-sacramental minister under the guise of enhancing their spiritual lives–in a unionistic worship setting, no less.

  4. Deacon Charles E. Miller, BA , MAR,DipBS,Abschlussurkunde in Biblische Studien says:

    I am not sure how I feel about pages 23 and 24 in Rev. Piper’s book” Heaven is Real.”
    On these two pages, he seems to state that we experience instantaneous resurrection instead of separation of the spirit from the body until the Second Coming. That was a view that Baptist Frank Stagg,PhD of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary held. The Pastor who held my father’s funeral believed as Dr. Stagg. After quoting 1 Corinthians 15:35-58, Piper states every person in my trip to heaven was totally healthy. For example,my grandmother had false teeth, but when i saw her in heaven,her teeth were real. Her body was as perfect as it had never been on earth.

    Deacon Charles E. Miller, CBF

  5. Charles E. Miller, Deacon says:

    P.S. I wish to clarify something. Dr. Stagg of the Southern Baptist believed in instantaneous resurrection and so did the Pastor at my father’s funeral. No all Southern Baptists believe this view, however. Most Baptist Statements of faith use Ecclesiastes 12:7, 2 Corinthians 5:6-8, and Luke 23:43. Catholic Christians use The Book of Wisdom 3:1-9. To be absent from the body, is to be present with the Lord.
    I am not trying to say that Don Piper is not telling the truth. I am one Baptist, a member of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, who agrees with Dr. Billy Graham. The spirit lives on until it is reunited with the body at the glorious Second Coming of Christ. I am also a former Missouri Synod Lutheran. Do my fellow brothers in Christ agree? I hope you respond. In the meantime, God bless all of us including the Rev. Don Piper. Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

    Charles E. Miller of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship

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