Commonsense Christianity

Commonsense Christianity


Near Death Experiences — Don’t Fall in Love with Them

posted by Carolyn Henderson

Our best, most accurate, and truthful source of information — the Bible — does not give us specifics as to what to expect in heaven. On the Horizon, original oil painting by Steve Henderson; licensed open edition prints available at Great Big Canvas and Framed Canvas Art.

“Did you read the book?”

“Nope.”

“See the movie?”

“Nope.”

“Then what makes you think you can have an opinion on the matter?”

I grew up in a family of scientists, where not having a PhD in a discipline (and most 13-year-olds don’t have one of these) meant that you were unqualified to have an opinion on the topic at hand — evolution, say, or the nutritive content (or lack of) of pesticide-laden food.

I learned early that an effective means of squashing dialogue and dissent is to call the other person stupid or unqualified, a technique used liberally in the scientific, political, educational, religious, or financial communities today. (As an aside, since most of the people “representing” these areas don’t have English degrees, perhaps they should refrain from writing, ever. See the absurdity?)

Misgivings about NDEs

So it is when you, or rather, I, express misgivings about Near Death Experiences, first-hand accounts by people who have died medically, been transported elsewhere (heaven, or hell), and returned to tell of their experiences.

It’s not that I don’t believe them — although the more money they make in the process of telling their story the less credence I give to their motives — it’s that I don’t need their stories to confirm my faith, and I encourage my Christian brothers and sisters, especially, to be wary, very very wary, about incorporating NDEs into their faith life.

Why?

Here are — 4 reasons:

Don’t Touch That Curtain

1) Scripture expressly tells us to not try to break the barrier between this world and the next. Leviticus 19: 31 says, “Do not turn to mediums or seek out spiritists, for you will be defiled by them,” and Isaiah 8: 19 asks, “Why consult the dead on  behalf of the living?”

Many NDE messages include words of advice from dead loved ones, to “go back and tell the world about this,” (generally in a book, movie, and multiple talk show appearances), but “it is not the dead who praise the Lord, those who go down to silence.” (Psalm 115: 17)

Noticeably missing from NDE accounts are specific, direct messages from Jesus Christ telling them, “Praise and glorify the Son of Man, and tell people that I am the only way to heaven.” Rather, the message is a more innocuous, “Go and tell people that God is love.”

That’s it?

No Eye Has Seen, No Mind Has Conceived

2) Nobody on earth knows what heaven looks like. 1 Corinthians 2: 9 tells us, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him.”

The sights, the smells, the sounds, the colors, the experience of heaven — these are hidden to us while we live on earth. We are told to focus on, and follow, Jesus. Ocean Breeze, original oil painting by Steve Henderson; licensed open edition print at Great Big Canvas, iCanvasART, and Framed Canvas Art.

These words come from the apostle Paul, who later spoke about a man (many think this is autobiographical) who “was caught up to paradise. He heard inexpressible things, things that man is not permitted to tell.”  (2 Corinthians 11: 28) No books, no movies, no talk show appearances.

While there are many accounts in Scripture of the dead being brought back to life — Lazarus (John 11: 38-44); Jairus’s daughter (Mark 5: 35-43); the widow’s son (Luke 7: 11-17) — distinctly absent are firsthand accounts from these people about their experiences.

Jesus Is Silent

3) Jesus Himself, the best source of truth about what life is like after death, does not share this information with us. In the 40 days after His resurrection and before his ascension, Jesus , “beginning with Moses and all the Prophets . . . explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.” (Luke 24: 13-35)

Christ’s focus was not details about the afterlife, but teaching how Scripture was fulfilled in Him, and instructions to His followers to “go make disciples of all nations.” (Matthew 28: 19)

“As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” (John 21: 21)

Is God Glorified? How?

4) God is not glorified through NDE experiences, but human beings are. Point number one touches upon the innocuousness of the message brought back, and how the supremacy and sovereignty of Jesus Christ is not part of that message.

In Matthew 17: 1-13, Jesus, in the Transfiguration, is visited by Moses and Elijah, and this mountaintop experience is witnessed by Peter, James, and John. Peter’s response is distinctly human-based:

“If you wish, I will put up three shelters — one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” (Matthew 17: 4)

With a cover charge, perhaps?

Christ’s response is,

“Don’t tell anyone what you have seen, until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.” (Matthew 17: 9)

THAT particular event is the big one, and it is the one that is shoved into the background when we focus upon, seek out, and place our trust in Near Death Experiences.

We are told that, in the latter days, “false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect,” (Matthew 24: 24) and while many, no doubt, of NDE speakers have genuinely experienced something, if that experience does not glorify Jesus Christ, then it’s not a message worth focusing on.

“So if anyone tells you, ‘There he is, out in the desert, do not go out; or, “Here he is, in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it.” (Matthew 24: 26)

For now, we are increasingly getting messages from “beyond.” In the future, we will be told that Christ Himself has appeared.

It’s happening, people — false messages, false signs, false wonders — that look really, really real, but don’t glorify God. Be awake.

Thank You

Thank you for joining me at Commonsense Christianity, where I encourage Christians to make a distinction between the words “spirituality” and “Christianity.” Just because something generates from the spiritual realm, does not mean that it is from God.

Posts similar to this one are

Satan’s Three Lies

Why You (Probably) Shouldn’t Pray for a Sign

The Business of Christianity

Newly published, The Misfit Christian — Empowering the Believers and Seekers Who Don’t Fit into Contemporary Church



  • ItIsNeverTooLate

    This I agree with.

  • ItIsNeverTooLate

    Too late. The Bible is a book that was created by a bunch of Priests that decided what books go in and what books stay out.

  • ItIsNeverTooLate

    All I know is that I find great comfort in the NDE’s. The bible is a document on how one should live their life. The Bible does provide some positive information, but all in all it is a book that was written a long time ago.

  • http://www.beliefnet.com/columnists/commonsensechristianity/ Carolyn Henderson

    Lize — very, very true — what we need to know is in the Bible, and nothing needs to be added. What’s intriguing is how many Christians are told that they can’t, or shouldn’t, read the Bible too much on their own, because they might make a mistake or get a wrong idea somehow. And yet they are fully encouraged to read all sorts of books and accounts about the Bible, or worse, about sort of what’s in the Bible but not really. Why do we need someone to tell us that heaven is for real, when the Bible has already told us that?

  • http://www.beliefnet.com/columnists/commonsensechristianity/ Carolyn Henderson

    That’s a sobering verse, John, and one that is worth reading, re-reading, and meditating upon.

  • http://www.beliefnet.com/columnists/commonsensechristianity/ Carolyn Henderson

    I like that, Crystal — “Not buying it.” It’s similar to the promises of prosperity preachers, who advocate using certain language that is promised to work, whether or not the person is a Christian. Way too many people buying that one.

  • Crystal Spraggins

    Interesting post, and I agree completely with your thinking. Stories about NDEs only benefit Satan, because no matter how the individual has lived his life or what his relationship with Christ, the experience is always something positive about not fearing death, or how great heaven is, or whatever. It’s like Christ doesn’t matter. Not buying it.

  • John Quinlan

    In Revelation 22:18-19 we read “REV22.18 I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, if any man shall add unto them, God shall add unto him the plagues which are written in this book: REV22.19 and if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the tree of life, and out of the holy city, which are written in this book.”

    God (2011-07-15). Holy Bible, American Standard Version (ASV) (Kindle Locations 37415-37417). . Kindle Edition.
    So it seems we should not be adding nor subtracting from God’s word.

  • Lize

    Well, I can agree on one point…the message is always about God is love and never about choosing Christ and coming to Him as the only Way. Also, at some point or the other, something very ‘earth-like’ becomes part of the story always leaving me a bit of “Is that heaven? I thought it would be more? I expected more” so that it is almost a put-off. And that to me is a tell-tale in itself. I agree to be very discerning and wary and I agree…what we need to know is told in the Bible. Nothing needs to be added.

  • Pingback: Be Wary of Near Death Experience Stories | This Woman Writes by Carolyn Henderson

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