David Jones, professor of Christian Ethics at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, has provided an excellent resource on how to think about “Near Death Experiences” (NDE). In four pages, he gives thoughtful Christians a historical, cultural, biblical, and practical look into a discussion prompted by the recent movie Heaven is for Real.
Here’s a brief outline:
- He begins with the way that all religions have NDE tales, and he chronicles the rise in recent Christian interest in the subject.
- He points to the ten NDE in the Bible (e.g., the widows son, 1 Kgs 17:17–24; the Shunammite’s child, 2 Kgs 4:32–37; the dead man who touched Elisha’s bones, 2 Kgs 13:21; Jairus’s daughter, Matt 9:18–26 [par. Mark 5:21–43; Luke 8:40–56]; the widow’s son, Luke 7:11–16; unnamed saints, Matt 27:52–53; Jesus, Matt 28 [par. Mark 16; Luke 24; John 20–21]; Lazarus, John 11:1–4; Dorcas, Acts 9:36–41; and Eutychus Acts 20:9–12) and observes that no one (including Jesus) returned to earth touting the glories of heaven.
- He considers a number of other heavenly experiences in Scripture and concludes with cautionary counsel from Scripture about the recent book/movie Heaven is for Real and its predecessor 90 Minutes in Heaven—the book which Tim Challies notes as creating a new genre of Christian non/fiction (namely, Heaven Tourism).
If you have read the book, seen the movie, or are in conversation with those who have, let me encourage you to read Dr. Jones four-page outline. It will give you more than a few things to think about and help you formulate a better understanding of what Scripture says about heaven, seeing God, and near death experiences.
Soli Deo Gloria, dss