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

Faith Equals...
This Sunday the preacher said faith is the gap between the kingdom of God we only catch faint glimpses o

posted 11:58:48am Jul. 29, 2014 | read full post »

The Rise of the "Spiritual But Not Religious"
Here at this intersection between God and life, I'm always interested in news pertaining to those who call themselves "spiritual but not religious"—hence this article from The New York Times featuring the work of three other authors who, like me, are responding to the epithet that now describes on

posted 5:53:50pm Jul. 27, 2014 | read full post »

Are You Opposed to People Owning Guns? Via John Piper
[caption id="attachment_5235" align="alignleft" width="339"] Jim Eliot and 4 other missionaries were killed in Ecuador by Auca Indians. The missionaries had guns but chose to fire them in the air rather than at their attackers who had spears. The Aucas have since embraced Christ in great number.[/ca

posted 11:40:36am Jul. 22, 2014 | read full post »

Mental Health Break— "Sea Song" and Lisa Hannigan
This week the theme of the sea put to music especially touched me as our family grieves the loss of my granddad.  My granddad was a lifelong sailor and lover of the sea, and we will scatter some of his ashes on the sea where he used to command our family's annual regatta from Shelter Island, New Yo

posted 11:16:49am Jul. 18, 2014 | read full post »

"Admiral John": A Granddaughter's Remembrances
It feels a bit like Groundhog Day: wasn't it just a couple months ago that I was sharing a granddaughter's reflections upon the death of a grandparent?  This past Saturday, my granddad John slipped away suddenly to join his late wife Peggy of 68 years who had been his companion until two months ago

posted 11:58:22am Jul. 15, 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.