Fellowship of Saints and Sinners

Fellowship of Saints and Sinners


23 Minutes in Hell?

images

Bill Wiese is author of “23 Minutes in Hell.”

From Dante to Wiese, people have been having visions of heaven and hell for years, it seems.

From Dante to Wiese, people have been having visions of heaven and hell for years, it seems.

I’m slowly making my way through Dante’s Inferno after our time in Tuscany. Right now that means dawdling in the seventh circle of hell with avaricious money lenders—look out, Wall Street—and, not surprisingly, Dante’s hell is hot and very unpleasant.

So hell was therefore already on my mind when I caught someone reading a contemporary memoir all about…yup…hell. I couldn’t resist taking a second look.

23 Minutes in Hell tells the story of one man’s harrowing, out-of-body, speed-demon (pun intended) tour through hell. The man is Bill Wiese, a Christian realtor in southern California. Wiese, as he tells it, woke up in the middle of the night to find himself in a really bad place with all the works— demons, fiery pits, and total darkness pretty much sum it up. In short, he was having a helluva time.

I must confess that when I first saw the book, I was inclined to discard it as yet another display of dubious evangelistic scare tactics built on one man’s hyperbolic storytelling.

Then I began to read the book and felt a bit convicted that I would be so quick to dismiss one contemporary’s personal experience (of hell) as just a cynical tall tale. If postmodernism has left us anything of value, it is that personal, lived experience, however subjectively felt, is an invaluable teacher. Certainly this has proved true in my own life; my best lessons have been those that have felt a bit, like, well, hell; why could the same not be true for this author? Besides, why was Dante’s divinely inspired, more literary construction of hell so believable while Wiese’s seemed a hoax?

The jury is still out about Wiese and his book…but I have moved from knee-jerk dismissal to a willingness to accept that a) Wiese’s account could be true and b) that Wiese’s way of making sense of the experience, including an earnest plea to the reader to get right with God, really may be Wiese’s way of working out his relationship with God and others “with fear and trembling.”

But what do you think? Are discussions of heaven and hell and people’s various experiences of them convincing? More importantly, do they motivate you to “get right with God”?

Check out this wild extended interview with Bill Wiese—(gotta love the spooky special effects and re-enactments)—conducted by Sid Roth of It’s Supernatural! & Messianic Vision. (Disclaimer: I am not familiar with the ministries of either Bill Wiese or Sid Roth; by posting this televised interview, I wish to be clear that I am in no way endorsing or advocating support for these ministries.)

 



Previous Posts

The Witness: A Good Friday Sermon
For the last three years I've had the privilege of participating in an annual ecumenical and interracial Good Friday service, "Women's Views o

posted 2:50:15pm Apr. 15, 2014 | read full post »

The Vatican Diaries: A Review
Sex. Money. Power. Corruption. Controversy. Scandal. Since the 1980's Catholic News Service reporter John Thavis has been covering all of it and more—not from a post in Las Vegas or the nation's Capitol but from (of all places) the Vatican. Which may explain why Thavis prefaces his New York

posted 11:06:12am Apr. 11, 2014 | read full post »

Lent Madness
In an effort to infuse this often somber season of Lent with a little humor and motivational pizzazz, one Episcopalian priest in Massachusetts has invented "Lent Madness." Four years ago Rev. Tim Schenck started the initiative, which pits some 32 saints in a basketball-type bracket squaring off as r

posted 9:58:05am Apr. 03, 2014 | read full post »

Wasn't April Fool's Day Last Week?—World Vision, Evangelicals and Gays
April Fool's Day seems a fitting day to review what happened last week, when, within just two days of announcing its decision to hire gays in recognized same-sex marriages, World Vision reversed its decision. An official statement from World Vision president Richard Stearns communicated "heartbreak"

posted 4:32:40pm Apr. 01, 2014 | read full post »

"Wild Geese" by Mary Oliver
Each week in hospice a team of doctors, nurses, chaplains and social workers meets to discuss every patient in their care. Usually the meeting starts with a few moments of silence remembering those who have died in the preceding days, followed by a short meditation from the chaplain. Yesterday a col

posted 10:56:17am Mar. 26, 2014 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.