Near death experiences? What should Christians think?
11 July 2000
First, we should realise that we don’t need to invoke NDEs to prove the existence of the Afterlife. We certainly have evidence for the Afterlife in the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, which validated all His claims (cf. Acts 17:31), in particular, His claim to be God who had taken on human nature (e.g. John 8:58, 20:28–29). Therefore everything He said about the Afterlife is true.
Some useful information can be found on the Christian Answers Network page, Jesus Christ: His identity, life, death and resurrection. For something more advanced, see the internet article by the philosopher and New Testament scholar, Dr William Lane Craig: The Bodily Resurrection of Jesus. As for NDEs, not only they are unnecessary, but we should be careful of them:
- First, they are near death, not resurrection from brain death, experiences. They could be due to certain physiological responses caused by decreased oxygen to the brain. This could cause the brain to fail to perceive most sense data, and a greatly enhanced (by comparison) perception of one sense, that of light. In particular, the commonly reported ‘tunnel’ could be the result of a loss of peripheral vision and enhancement of the central visual field.
- Second, many such evidence report a blissful feeling, even with non-Christian subjects. This is especially deceptive, implying that people will get to heaven whether or not they believe in Christ’s deity, sacrificial death for their sins, and His glorious resurrection (cf. John 14:6, Acts 4:10–12, 1 Cor. 15:1–4). Therefore we should question whether the ‘being of light’, commonly reported in NDEs, is really God at all (cf. 2 Corinthians 11:14).