Review: 90 Minutes in Heaven

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Author: Don Piper with Cecil Murphey
Reviewed by Donald L. Hughes

This is the kind of book that would send Bill Maher, comic turned anti-Christian crusader in his film, “Religulous,” to new heights of religious bigotry. I mean, that guy would really hate this book.

Why would this book seem so offensive to people who scoff at the Christian faith? Because it presumes that there is a heaven, that humans can experience it, that miracles occur, and that there is a bond of faith among Christians that transcends normal human experience.

In the book, Baptist pastor Don Piper relates how he was involved in a horrible head-on collision with an 18-wheeler, was pronounced dead, but came back to life and experienced a long and excruciating hospital recovery. It is a very inspiring and worthwhile story about how family, friends and church came together help bring healing to a man damaged in body and spirit through encouragement and the power of prayer.

A very important ingredient of this book this how the Piper was blessed by the care and concern of others, and, as he improved, became a blessing to others. There are millions of copies of this book in print now, and it continues to remain high on the Christian bestseller lists after three years, so it has been an encouragement to many.

New products have been added to the “90 Minutes” family after the success of the original book.

I must say, however, as a Christian writer, I was troubled that little more than a half-dozen pages were devoted to Piper’s sojourn in heaven. He claims he only spend 90 minutes there, but there is an argument that he never really made it to heaven at all, since he turned backed before he passed through the Pearly Gates. More importantly, however, the scenes he describes there are rather pedestrian, no different than what you’d find in the verses of any 19th century hymn.

The issue is not the authenticity of Piper’s story. He did have a terrible automobile accident, he did have an introduction to heaven, he experienced a miracle of recuperative healing, and he benefitted from the blessings of prayer and care from his family and local community of faith. It is an excellent story in its own right. The problem is the title of the book. It leads people to believe that the book is about what happened in heaven, but it’s not about that at all. It is about how a man recovered from some serious auto accident injuries. If you want to learn anything important about heaven, you’re better served by reading Heaven by Randy Alcorn.

Don Piper, with Cecil Murphey, has written an interesting and inspiring book. You wouldn’t want to share it with Bill Maher or other skeptics, but you would want to share it with someone who has gone though a devastating accident or illness. It will be a genuine blessing to them.

90 Minutes in Heaven
By Don Piper with Cecil Murphey
Revell (Baker Publishing Group)
$13.99, 208 pages, pb
Copyright 2004
ISBN-13: 978-0800759490

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