People are fascinated with Near-Death Experiences (NDE’s) these days. Books like Heaven is For Real,To Heaven and Back,1 90 Minutes in Heaven, and 23 Minutes in Hell tell the story of people who died and crossed over to the other side before they were sent back to earth to tell their stories. Many Christians find in these stories evidence of the traditional doctrine of the immortal soul. For them, the teaching that the soul goes directly to heaven or hell upon death has been placed, due to the common occurrences of NDE’s, beyond question. In this article I don’t wish to argue for or against the doctrine of immortal soul. I must, of course, freely admit my bias against the immortal soul theory. However, for the sake of this article I am not going to debate whether or not the doctrine of the immortal soul is biblically sound. Instead, I will simply show that NDE’s cannot be proof of that doctrine.
First of all, NDE’s contradict each other. I am not saying that NDE’s should be identical. What I am saying is that while I would expect diversity from one NDE to another what I don’t expect is contradiction. For example, Christians who have NDE’s report an experience consistent with their biblical beliefs. Likewise, Hindus, Buddhists, and Muslims report NDE’s consistent with their beliefs. However, all of these beliefs contradict one another. Christians believe that there is only one God manifested in three – God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit. So how does a Christian respond to a Buddhist who has an NDE and sees Buddha or a Hindu who has an NDE in which he talks with Hindu gods which the Bible declares false gods? One Hindu claimed to go to heaven on the back of a cow, others report seeing Krishna in heaven.
Another contradiction in these NDE’s is that they often contradict basic Bible teaching. In some instances the person who has the NDE is not even a follower of Jesus. The Bible tells us that Jesus is the only way to heaven and yet just last year I read an account of a man who had an NDE and went to heaven even though he was not a follower of Jesus. While there he rode on the wing of a butterfly and spoke to spirits. On his way back to earth he was told by the spirit that he could “do no wrong.” This is contrary to Scripture which declares that “all have sinned (past tense) and fall short of the glory of God (present tense)” (Rom. 3:23). Mormons report going to heaven and participating in a self-judgment even though the Bible says that we are judged by God not ourselves. Others are often told that there has been a mistake and that it is not yet their time to die, so they must return to earth. However, the Bible tells us that God doesn’t make mistakes. Perhaps the scariest aspect of NDE’s that contradict Scripture is the New Age NDE’s in which those who experience it come back to push the idea that truth is relative and that all paths lead to “the light” when Jesus said that he alone is the door of heaven.
The final problem I would like to propose is the absence of NDE’s in Scripture. The Bible reports many instances in which people were resurrected. The New Testament alone records more than 5 instances of resurrection from the dead. In most of these instances the dead person had been dead for more than just a few minutes. In fact, Lazarus had been dead for 3 days! However, not one of these report anything even remotely related to NDE’s. Lazarus, who would have spent 3 days in heaven, is strangely silent while those who have NDE’s today can’t stop talking about it.
In conclusion, I propose that NDE’s do not in any way prove the doctrine of the immortal soul. If we accept NDE’s as true afterlife experiences we must do so whether the person is Hindu, Christian or whatever. We must also be willing to embrace the plethora of contradictions they propose. While NDE’s are real experiences I see no ground to believe that they are genuine afterlife experiences. At best they are merely psychological and at worst they are Satanic deceptions. Sound too far fetched? Not as far fetched as riding on the wing of a butterfly I hope. Adam and Eve were deceived by Satan and opened the gates of sin into our world. To this day Satan has not changed his tactic. He continues to deceive and, as his time runs short, will do so with even more intensity. Were I not grounded in the Bible, how easily could an NDE, in which a “spirit” points me away from Jesus and the Bible, lead me down the path of perdition? Our only safeguard is the word of God. I’m sticking to that. I pray you do the same.
Note: All of the information in this article regarding NDE experiences of Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Atheists etc. can be accessed through Google searches on these topics.
- Heaven is for Real: A Little Boy’s Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back
To Heaven and Back: A Doctor’s Extraordinary Account of Her Death, Heaven, Angels, and Life Again: A True Story
90 Minutes in Heaven: A True Story of Death and Life
23 Minutes In Hell: One Man’s Story About What He Saw, Heard, and Felt in that Place of Torment ↩