Friday, September 24, 2010

A near-death experience

Spent a couple days in New York City last week at a symposium, and during one of the breaks I started chatting with a guy sitting next to me. He mentioned having had a heart attack several years earlier, and he had one of those see-the-light near death experiences. Apparently he was medically dead on the operating table for a bit before they could revive him, and during that time, he talked with God. He experienced God telling him something along the lines of: "You know, I've always been with you" to which this guy replied "I know". Then God said "And I'll be with your children" to which he gave the same reply.

I really enjoyed hearing this story, and after we had talked about it for awhile, I asked him how people responded to it. He said that about half were very interested, but about half felt very uncomfortable and just changed the topic.

Stories like this are fascinating, and I've read some books based on them. But, theologically I'm not sure how to make sense of these kinds of experiences. Aren't they sort of Heaven's version of catch-and-release?

At least the people who experience them usually have positive messages. Imagine hearing "who are you?" or "are you ever in trouble."


Drek said...

Usually positive, but not always it would seem.

You mention "catch and release," but I think a more interesting theological issue is whether people who have such experiences could be said to have faith afterwards. After all, if having faith is believing without proof, their experience makes their belief no longer quite qualify as faith.

Note that I'm assuming for the sake of argument that their experience qualifies as valid evidence. No warranty is implied as to whether that is, indeed, the case.

Anonymous said...

A recent materialist take on the subject of near-death experiences:

Brad Wright said...

Interesting link... I've read some other materialist explanations as well.

Drek... scary book. I definitely want the light at the end of the tunnel scenario.

Edward T. Babinski said...

Drek and Brad, If you're that afraid of the devil and hell, I suggest checking out my blog entries on "Satan" and also "Exorcisms," which might help quell some of your fears.

I also suggest studying a bit about the development of ideas concerning the afterlife rather than fearing anything in the book Drek mentions. Full blown, "Hell, the devil's lair," did not arrive on the scene until later. And the "Watchers" myth in 1 Enoch and other such works had a lot to do with its arrival on the scene, and NT authors picked it up from there, continuing to take it further till in Revelation (that cites 1 Enoch myths) and various pseudepigraphical works like the Apocalypses of Peter and of Paul, quite popular in the early church, all the way to Dante's Inferno.

That book, 23 Minutes in Hell is fundamentalist shlock. I recall another bestselling book about an NDE of a Dr. Ebby or Eby who was interviewed all over the Christian world in the 1970s. He cracked his skull and says he went to heaven (and later hell). In heaven he met up with an enormous talking King James Bible.

Or I'm reminded of the Visions of Rev. David Wilkerson of "The Cross and the Switchblade" fame who led some inner city gang members to Christ. Wilkerson's book the "THE VISION" was filled with phony prophecy.

Edward T. Babinski said...

Brad, I am assuming, since you never said that the fellow was a "Christian" who experienced the positive NDE, that he was not?