A Reasoned Faith

The Great Beyond…

I decided to write regarding the phenomena of Near Death Experiences and how we should view life beyond the here and now.

The skeptic would say that Near Death Experiences (NDEs) are just chemicals in the brain, or people making it up for attention and money. Perhaps some NDEs would fit within this category. However, the purpose of this post is not to particularly refute all of those NDEs that people have talked about and written about. Instead, I encourage us to be thinking about what is the ‘fruit’ of those claims, and to have a reasoned response from a perspective of Biblical Christianity.

For the person of faith – whether Christian or religious in some other way – there is already a conviction that there is ‘more to life’… Someone or something greater than us.

Those who have declared having an NDE have some similarities in their stories… e.g. floating above their physical bodies, a bright light, a feeling of wellbeing. They may have met a spirit being or heard a voice telling them that it’s “not time to leave earth just yet”. Some mention heaven. Some mention angels. Some mention total darkness with a distant light. A retired Neurosurgeon, Dr Eben Alexander, in his book ‘The Proof of Heaven’, wrote about his own NDE through a near-fatal meningitis experience. “My journey deep into coma, outside this lowly physical realm and into the loftiest dwelling place of the almighty Creator, revealed the indescribably immense chasm between our human knowledge and the awe-inspiring realm of God.” In an interview about his NDE, Eben said a woman met him and told him, “You are loved and cherished. You have nothing to fear. There is nothing you can do wrong”. What could possibly be wrong with that? Also, an interesting ‘twist’ to the experience, is that Eben later saw a picture of his sister whom he had not known or met – and she was the same person he had met in his spiritual experience of what appeared to be the heavenly realms.

Let’s examine the particular statement from Eben’s spiritual encounter with the woman: “There is nothing you can do wrong”. When we study the Bible, God’s word to us, we will not find such a statement or anything like it in the accounts of God or His angels speaking to chosen individuals. The reason there is a redemption story is because the human race is fallen, prone to sin – falling short of God’s glory. If we are honest about ourselves and what we observe in our human interactions, there is plenty of evidence of our flaws. So, no matter how angelic or wondrously someone describes a spiritual encounter in an NDE, if the ‘message’ brought is contrary to what our Creator God has already revealed, we are not to believe the message. A feel-good message that glosses over our desperate need for personal redemption as sinners is a serious deception.

The Missing Link…
In Eben Alexander’s reported NDE, during his interview, the Lord Jesus was strangely missing from the description of his heavenly experience. There appeared to be no encounter with the crucified and risen Saviour. Granted, the experience may have nudged him to try to be more religious, to pray. In fact, during the previous interview with him about his NDE, there was a film clip of his family praying at mealtime and mentioning the name of Jesus. So this was a step in the right direction, seemingly. The experience also led him to write books about a dimension of consciousness beyond the brain and what we can see. But what are his conclusions about the higher dimensions of reality?

Eben writes in ‘The Proof of Heaven’: “Communicating with God is the most extraordinary experience imaginable, yet at the same time it’s the most natural one of all, because God is present in us at all times. Omniscient, omnipotent, personal – and loving us without conditions. We are connected as One through our divine link with God.”
His concept of God is similar to panentheism – that God is in everything/everyone. There is no clear distinction between the Creator and His created beings, even though God is described as omnipotent (all-powerful). This is a ‘God’ of man’s imagination. This concept of God ‘in everyone’ is certainly not a new perspective.

Eben Alexander, whilst seen in a film clip praying over a meal, has unfortunately gone in a different direction in his passionate pursuit of meaning beyond the physical realm. What he needed was someone to sit with him in some Bible studies and prayer, to help him know the true Source and Saviour. Instead the minister of the church he sometimes visited had more secular than spiritual discussions with him, and gave him books on ‘Christian mysticism’ rather than the gospel message and the work of the Holy Spirit. Eben, in his pursuit of deeper meaning, met and partnered up with occultic mystics in explorations that have taken him into a deep deception. His hunger and zeal for more was diverted by satan. His book ‘Living in a Mindful Universe : A Neurosurgeon’s Journey into the Heart of Consciousness’, was co-authored with Karen Newell, a spiritual teacher who is described as “an innovator in the emerging field of brainwave entrainment audio meditation, Karen empowers others in their journeys of self-discovery” (source: sacredacoustics.com/ourstory). We are further informed that:
“Dr. Eben Alexander was exposed to brainwave entrainment technology as a means to revisit the realms he encountered during his near-death experience in 2008. After meeting Karen Newell and Kevin Kossi in 2011, he began listening to recordings they had created originally for their personal exploration. He joined them frequently in shared meditative journeys from their respective geographic locations with often amazing results. He encouraged them to create a company in order to make these recordings available to others as tools to access non-physical realms of consciousness.”
Eben wanted to experience again the realms he saw in his comatose state in the hospital. He could not make this happen by any way other than to try meditation techniques to take him into an altered state of consciouness. If someone has to try ‘techniques’ to recreate an experience, that’s not God intervening. It cannot therefore be a true, healthy, authentic way to live.

So, what does the one true Source of all say about those realms beyond the physical? We find answers in the holy scriptures – the Bible, written by those who encountered the one true God and were empowered by the Spirit of God.

Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

Matthew’s Gospel 6:10, word of Christ

The Lord Jesus taught His followers a prayer example that includes seeking God’s reign on earth as in heaven. Is Eben Alexander seeking God’s kingdom to reign on earth, or are his spiritual explorations leading him simply to self-enhancement, or demonic delusion?

Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

Matthew’s Gospel 3:2

These are the words of the forerunner of our Lord Jesus Christ – the prophetic messenger John the baptiser. He linked the kingdom of heaven with repentance, that God’s kingdom has come near and we need to repent of our ways, for a holy God is reaching out to us. God does not require us to seek spiritual dimensions with meditation techniques or to pursue a deeper understanding of NDE’s in order to know Him. He has already caused heaven and earth to ‘touch’ through the Son – Jesus, the Word of God, coming into our human experience to be our Redeemer.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God… and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:14 John 1:1

John 1:1, 14

Surely this is all humanity ultimately needs to get to ‘higher dimensions’.

1 thought on “The Great Beyond…”

  1. Well written. I’ve heard of several accounts of Near Death Experiences (NDEs) but have not looked deeply into them myself. I guess we can know whether they’re of God by examining their messages after the NDEs to see if they are of God they agree with what the scripture teaches.


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