Science, not religion, has resurrected the afterlife. Advances in cardiopulmonary resuscitation mean that many patients who have died are now revived, and some have intense stories to share about what happened to them while technically “dead.”
In the past century, however, churches began steering away from the more traditional preaching of heaven perhaps due to the fact the people were living longer, became more affluent, and a focus on social justice (or bringing heaven to earth) seemed to fit the times.
Recently, the subject of heaven is back in the news but not from the pulpit. Now people who are not traditionally conservative Christians are professing “near-death experiences,” (NDEs) and this is making some churches nervous became some who claimed to go to heaven weren’t “saved” by Jesus. Out of fear or distrust of these stories, some church leaders have gone as far to declare these “experiences” demonic.
Stories about heaven transcend religion, and that makes the more conservative Christian doctrine holders uncomfortable. Jews, Muslims, Buddhists and atheists have all reported having had heavenly encounters from dying and being brought back to life.
How can this fit into a biblical interpretation that those who do not profess Christ as their savior get into heaven? Many who have had NDEs come back changed. They no longer pursue power, fame or money, but believe that this life is all about is teaching us to love. To me, that doesn’t sound very “demonic.” I would have to say that there are areas of the after life we simply won’t understand.
However, what ends up happening at times (and this is where the conservative Christians draw the line) is that some of these people come back saying things like, “Any religion that claims to be the true one and the rest of them are wrong is wrong,” Eben Alexander, author of the book Proof of Heaven. That’s a popular accepted norm in our modern culture, but does it hold validity in light of what goes on in today’s world? How can a religion that promotes the beheading of those against it, for example in ISIS, be a “true” religion? I’d say that religion is most definitely wrong!
Other universal statements have been made from those with NDEs that are questionable. This one is perhaps the most blatant: “There is nothing you can do wrong.” Really? Tell that to the young teenage girl who has just been sold into the sex-slave industry. Tell that to the parents of a first grader who was just shot to death by a young man who went “postal.” Tell that to the millions of Jews who were murdered in WWII from some whacked-out ideology that thought it was the “supreme” human beings creating a perfect race! I am sorry, but reality is that we can, and do, wrong things all the time! History is full of wrongdoings by mankind. So, there is some false impressions that people come back with after having had a NDE. We should not trust everything these people experienced. Hold onto to the good stuff, and chuck the questionable things.
Jesus Christ told us in John 14:6, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” He said He is the gateway to heaven. So, if someone says Christians are too dogmatic, then they must also put Jesus into the same category. Jesus is the way to heaven, folks, and that is the truth. In summary, we can rejoice in these NDEs, recognizing that science has helped show that things happen beyond life that won’t fit into the scientific method, and that gives us hope for life beyond death. Ultimately, Jesus is the hope of heaven.