To Heaven and Back by Mary C. Neal

To Heaven and Back is "a doctor's extraordinary account of her death, Heaven, angels and life again" and is supposedly true is all aspects.

Allow me to preface this review by stating that this opinion is coming from a born-again, fundamental, Bible-believing Christian.  As such, I found this book very disturbing and feel that the best place for it is in the garbage can.  I know that sounds harsh, but I feel this book contains several elements that could prove to be extremely hazardous to Christians and non-Christians alike.  Allow me to state a few examples:

1. Ms. Neal gives readers the idea that a Christian following God's direction will not encounter troubles.  In her words, "when you are doing God's will, everything seems to happen without much effort or many obstacles".  Say what?  Read the Bible, and you'll discover the exact opposite is true.  David was a man after God's own heart, and he faced obstacles.  Job was a good man and full of integrity, yet he lost everything he held dear.  Paul was the greatest missionary to have ever lived, yet he was imprisoned countless times, stoned, beaten, shipwrecked, and the list goes on.  Satan knows how to put obstacles in our path too.  He doesn't want us serving the Lord.  I fear after reading this, there will be Christians doubting their life's direction because they've run into an obstacle or two.  My dear Christian, if this is the case, please know that those obstacles are a pretty good sign that you are on the right track.

2. Ms. Neal claims to have experienced salvation during her baptism.  Salvation occurs when you accept Jesus Christ as Lord over your life.  It has nothing to do with baptism except that baptism is an outward show of an inward change.

3. Ms. Neal admits that she felt God was a "Sunday thing" and spent the majority of her early life ignoring Him.  Yet every time she found herself in a difficult situation, she "remembered" to pray and God jumped in to meet her need exactly as she saw fit.  Again, I fear we have Christians reading this and wondering why God doesn't work that way for them.  God doesn't work that way for anyone!  God is not a genie in a lamp.  He is not at our beck and call.  We either have a relationship with Him or not.  We can't ignore Him and then expect Him to jump every time we call.

4. Ms. Neal uses quite an imagination in describing how children actually abide in Heaven before being sent to earth and that they remember Heaven when they're young.  So if that's the case, child-like faith isn't faith at all.  It's just memories.  Additionally, she tells of communicating with angels and of others who communicated with their dead loved ones.  Okay, if you say so.

5. Beyond that, there were events that were described that were beyond miraculous; they were downright fictional.  Please don't misunderstand me.  I believe in miracles, and I believe God can do the impossible and unfathomable.  However, for one person to have experienced so many HUGELY miraculous events is just very hard to believe.

6. Last, but certainly not least, Jesus was hardly mentioned at all in the book.  Yes, this woman went to Heaven, but yet angels and light and gardens get more mention than Jesus.  And the few times she did mention Jesus, His name was used interchangeably with "the angel".  Jesus is not an angel.  He is the Son of God.  Surely, a book about heaven should have more focus on Jesus and less on self, right?

I hope that you understand why I'm so emphatic about my opinions on this book.  It is "feel good" fiction like this that is leading hordes of people away from true salvation and a true knowledge of Christ.  And as a Christian, I feel it is my responsibility to warn others of the dangers I see lurking in these areas.  I do so with love, for I want to do as God commanded and speak the truth in love, seasoned with grace.  And so, my friends, consider yourself warned!

I received this book from Waterbrook Multnomah for the purpose of this review. Obviously, I was not required to write a positive recommendation of this book.