The Near-Death Experience
Part One: The New Age Connection
by J. Isamu Yamoto
Dan was a warm, gentle, talented, outgoing young man. One would therefore think
he would be popular. But there were in fact many who hated him -- because of his
lifestyle. Eventually he left his Midwestern hometown and moved to San Francisco
to join a community of homosexual professionals.
Because he led a very active homosexual life in that community, Dan contracted
gonorrhea. His physician offered him two choices: either receive antibiotics daily for
ten days or one massive dose by injection. Dan selected the injection. After
receiving it he immediately had difficulty breathing. Soon he went into anaphylactic
shock and died. He had no pulse or heartbeat. His electrocardiogram was flat.
After everything went black, Dan saw himself lying on the floor while doctors and
nurses tried desperately to bring him back to life. He then saw a long, dark tunnel
to which he felt drawn. Before entering it, his entire life passed before his eyes. His
deceased grandparents, who had raised him, appeared at this time and approached
him, expressing their love for him.
After being in the dark tunnel for a while, Dan saw a light that became brighter as
he drew closer to it. Finally he left the tunnel and found himself in a beautiful
garden, where a fence barred him from going any further. Meanwhile, a brilliant light
radiated warmth, love, and peace from the other side of the fence. Dan knew that
the source of this light was Jesus Christ.
He wanted to go to the light but the fence prevented him. He then heard a voice
come from that light, which said, "It is not time to come into my Father's kingdom.
You have not lived as I intended. Go back and glorify me."
At that moment Dan awoke, back in his body, no longer a man living for himself,
but now a believer in Christ. From then on, he left his homosexual lifestyle and
joined a strong, supportive Christian community. To this day, Dan thanks God for
giving him a new chance to live according to His plan and not according to physical
When this story first came across my desk in 1990, I was skeptical about the
extent to which Christ was really involved in Dan's life. As book editor at
Christianity Today, I was responsible for the content of the books they were
publishing that year. Dan's experiences were part of a manuscript that a Christian
proctologist (an expert on the physiology and pathology of the rectum and anus)
had submitted for one of our chapters in a book on homosexuality. Furthermore,
the ten years I had previously spent on staff at the Spiritual Counterfeits Project
(SCP) caused alarms to go off in my head while reading his story, telling me that
this account sounded New Age.
When I checked the sources behind Dan's story and discovered that his testimony
was reliable, I had to rethink my previous assumptions about the issue of near-death experience (NDE). I realized then that my views on this subject were shallow
and not carefully thought out. Since many advocates of New Age ideas had openly
supported the validity of NDEs, I had reasoned that they were part of the New Age
arsenal that was currently bombarding our society. Moreover, because NDEs had
not been in my area of responsibility at SCP, I dismissed them as an insignificant
Dan's story, however, forced me to reassess my casual response to NDEs. Many
questions emerged in my mind about Dan's conversion experience, but the most
disturbing were: "Why would Christ allow an evil spirit to imitate Him for the
purpose of bringing Dan into His kingdom? Why would an evil spirit want to do this?
Might the spirit who spoke to Dan from the light actually have been Jesus Christ?"
I could not really answer these questions without deliberate research into NDEs,
which the Christian Research Institute has given me the opportunity to do. The
following is what I have discovered from my research.
BACK FROM THE TWILIGHT ZONE?
Christians are not the only ones wary of those who claim to have had near-death
experiences. For many in the medical and scientific communities, their stories are
as strange as those tales seen on Rod Serling's "The Twilight Zone." In fact these
scientists maintain that either drugs, lack of oxygen, severe psychological stress,
or some other explainable disorder causes people to dream or hallucinate, believing
they are experiencing an NDE.
Perhaps their Western rational minds have predisposed these scientists against
NDEs because they seem too weird -- like the stories of those who insist they
have traveled with alien beings in UFOs. Or perhaps the subject of death has
become a forbidden topic for the Westerner, and thus anyone who has had a brush
with it is ignored out of fear and ignorance. Whatever causes some to avoid this
mysterious subject, NDE is still a phenomenon that Christians particularly must
understand if they are to share the gospel effectively with those who have
experienced or been influenced by it.
To better understand what a near-death experience is, we must go back 17 years
to the publication of a book that catapulted this subject into the national limelight --
Raymond Moody's Life After Life. In this small but fascinating book, Moody
compiled a massive number of accounts of NDEs and discovered 15 separate
elements that are common in these experiences.
(1) Ineffability. Many of those who have experienced an NDE say that no words
can adequately or truly describe what happened to them. Their experience, for
them, is inexpressible.
(2) Hearing the News. Many of them relate hearing a medical person pronounce
them dead. To those around them, all their bodily signs indicated that they had
expired, but during that moment, they consciously knew they were still alive.
(3) Feelings of Peace and Quiet. Many people recall feeling sensations of
extreme pleasure. Although severe pain normally accompanies a life-threatening
injury or disease, they remember feeling only a deep peace and quietness during
(4) The Noise. Many relate hearing a distinct sound that occurs either at or near
death. In some cases, this noise can be quite pleasant, like rapturous music. In
other cases, the noise can be harsh and disturbing, like continuous buzzing or
(5) The Dark Tunnel. Many recollect being jerked through some dark
passageway, frequently while hearing the noise. This dark tunnel has been variously
described as a cave, sewer, trough, valley, and so on.
(6) Out of the Body. Many remember seeing their physical bodies apart from
themselves as though they were "spectators" observing their bodies. Surprise,
panic, and a desire to return to their bodies often accompanied the realization that
they were separate from their physical form.
(7) Meeting Others. In many cases they encountered spiritual entities who were
present to help them through the experience. These beings variously appeared as
loved ones who had recently passed away, strangers who had died, or some other
spirits who were acting as their guardians.
(8) The Being of Light. Quite a few speak of beholding a brilliant light that, despite
its brilliance, did not hurt their eyes. To them, this radiant light is a personal being
who emanates irresistible love and warmth and who communicates with them --
through thoughts and not speech -- about the meaning of their lives.
(9) The Review. A number of them recall an instant moment of time during their
experience in which they witnessed a vivid review of their lives. These panoramic
images provoked in them the importance of loving people and understanding the
meaning of life.
(10) The Border or Limit. Some recount being obstructed by some form that
often prevents them from going any further in their journey or from reaching that
being of light. It can be a fence, a door, a body of water, or even an imaginary line.
(11) Coming Back. All of them obviously returned from their near-death
experience, but how they felt about coming back varies considerably. Some
wanted to stay with the being of light. Others felt obliged to return to complete
unfinished tasks. Some chose to return. Others were told to come back. In any
case, the return is often instantaneous -- back through the dark tunnel.
(12) Telling Others. Those who have had NDEs regard their experience as a real
event rather than a dream. But since they believe that it was extraordinarily unique
and that others would be skeptical, they are quite reticent about disclosing their
experience, which they feel is inexpressible anyway.
(13) Effects on Lives. As profound as the effects of their NDEs were on them,
none feel that the experience has perfected them, and few have tried to gain public
attention because of it. Instead, the effects have been more in the way they now
view life and regard others. As was mentioned earlier, caring for other people and
gaining a better understanding of the meaning of life emerged as high priorities
after their experience.
(14) New Views of Death. Most of them no longer fear physical death, but at the
same time they do not seek it. Rather, they view death as a transitional state to
another form of life. Entrance into this new life involves neither judgment nor the
dispensing of rewards and punishments.
(15) Corroboration. Remarkably there are independent testimonies of people who
have corroborated some of the details in NDE accounts; that is, specific incidents
(e.g., in the hospital operating room) witnessed by those who were supposedly
dead. Although their testimonies do not constitute proof of life after death, they
are significant considerations in the study of NDEs.
A close look at Moody's description of near-death experiences might lead one to
discount Dan's experience as a genuine NDE since his account does not include all
of Moody's elements. For instance, Dan did not relate that he had heard a distinct
noise. In Life After Life, however, Moody points out that he came across no
person who experienced all 15 elements, though many described quite a few of
them like Dan did. In addition, no two stories were identical, despite striking
similarities in details.
Another criticism of Dan's narrative might be its chronology, which doesn't match
up with Moody's outline. For example, Dan said he journeyed through a tunnel
after he reviewed his life and encountered the spirits of his grandparents, while
Moody listed those elements in reverse order. Again, however, Moody describes
variation among the reports he studied, stating that his order is typical but not
Moody also says no one element occurred in every account, and no one element
occurred only once. How many NDE elements a person experiences seems to
depend on how deep and how long he or she was apparently dead. In Dan's case,
he was believed to be clinically dead for almost ten minutes, which might explain
why he experienced so many of Moody's NDE elements.
In the introduction to Life After Life, Raymond Moody says, "My hope for this
book is that it will draw attention to a phenomenon which is at once very
widespread and very well-hidden, and, at the same time, help create a more
receptive public attitude toward it." This statement raises several questions:
first, what does he mean by "it"? Is he speaking of NDEs in general, or is he
speaking of his interpretation and elaboration of them? In other words, does he
want people like Dan to be more open about their experiences and others to be
more understanding, or does he want his world view based on his presumed
insights into NDE to take a prominent role in the global marketplace of ideas and
Elsewhere in his book Moody insists that he is not trying to prove that life exists
after death or that he is conducting a scientific study of the claims of the people he
interviewed. Nevertheless, although he tries to be objective and straightforward, he
admits that his "background, opinions and prejudices" are reflected in his book.
Thus, in answering the first question, Moody would like "it" to be NDEs in general.
He would be thrilled if people became more sensitive to those who have
experienced NDEs and more open to the study of this phenomenon. But, a subtle
agenda does emerge from his book that inclines the unwary reader toward a
particular world view. And so, a second set of questions must be posed: What
points is Moody trying to make in his book, and to what conclusions do those
points take the reader? In order to answer these questions, one must have some
knowledge of Moody's background, opinions, and prejudices.
Raymond A. Moody, Jr., attended a Presbyterian church in his youth, though his
parents never insisted that he embrace the Christian faith. Instead, they
encouraged and supported any interest that influenced and formed his philosophy
of life. As an adult he became a member of the Methodist church. Nevertheless, he
states in Life After Life: "I believe that all the great religions of man have many
truths to tell us, and I believe that no one of us has all the answers to the deep and
fundamental truths with which religion deals."
In 1969, Moody earned a doctorate in philosophy at the University of Virginia. After
teaching philosophy at the university level for three years, he altered the direction
of his professional career: he entered medical school with the purpose of becoming
a psychiatrist teaching the philosophy of medicine. During the late seventies and
early eighties, however, he spent much of his time on the lecture circuit sharing his
thoughts about NDEs. In this he was often accompanied by the most famous
luminary in the field of thanatology (the study of concerns related to death and
dying), Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, author of On Death and Dying.
Moody's religious views are veiled in his best-selling book, Life After Life, in such a
way that they do not appear to take center stage in his studies of NDE. But, in fact,
they play a significant role behind the scenes.
At first glance Moody seems to be observing and making comments about NDEs
as a Christian. After all, he divulges his early Christian training and later membership
in a Protestant church. He confesses that his background cannot help but intrude
into his observations. Indeed, there are numerous references to the being of light
as Jesus Christ. He even tries to show that such passages in the Bible as Paul's
conversion on the road to Damascus resemble NDEs. And yet he slips in other
remarks and issues that reveal he is a man who embraces the beliefs of more than
As was mentioned earlier, in one of his 15 elements of an NDE (New Views of
Death) Moody describes the afterlife as a place full of love and acceptance --
devoid of a supreme being who makes any judgment about people's lives or
character. In his words, what is absent in this place beyond death are "harp-playing
angels" and "demons with pitchforks." The "mythological" picture of an afterlife
with rewards and punishment is replaced with a being of light who responds, not
with righteous indignation against sin, but with understanding and even humor at
our shortcomings. Thus, the character of a supreme being that Moody presents
from his observations of NDEs is quite different from the character of the infinitely
just and merciful (offering complete forgiveness through faith in Jesus Christ) God
portrayed in the Bible (whose heaven, by the way, is also different from Moody's
According to Moody, the identification of the being of light varied according to the
religious background of the person he interviewed. So, although some people
believed that the being was Jesus Christ, others claimed the being was another
holy personage, an angel, or simply just a being of light. The point is that the
afterlife, in Moody's view, is not restricted to the singular lordship of Jesus Christ.
Of course, Moody would argue that he is only disclosing details given to him by
others. Moreover, that some people believe they have had such experiences as
Moody recounts cannot be disputed. Nevertheless, since Moody's system of
selection remains in his ballpark, his additional comments on these reported
experiences are suspect of being biased toward his particular world view --
especially when he tries to tie in parallels with other materials (e.g., the Bible and
After Moody tried to demonstrate similarities between Paul's experience on the
road to Damascus and NDEs, he moved on to more fertile ground. Most notably he
cites the eighth-century Eastern occult work, The Tibetan Book of the Dead, and
the eighteenth-century writings of the Swedish mystic, Emanuel Swedenborg.
Although Moody refrained from drawing any conclusions about the parallels
between NDEs and these writings, he does pose carefully worded questions that
would compel many readers to nod in agreement that NDEs follow an ancient
tradition, one that espouses an occult/mystical view of spiritual reality.
Moody, however, denies being qualified to discuss NDEs as an expert on the occult.
In the introduction to Life After Death he maintains, "I write as a person who is
not broadly familiar with the vast literature on paranormal and occult
phenomena." His statement can be defended or criticized depending upon what
is understood by "familiar." But to the casual reader, it would suggest that Moody
has no vested interest in linking NDEs with the occult. For this reason, and because
he has presented himself as a detached researcher, when he does inject occult
interpretations subtly throughout his book and overtly at the end, many readers
would be inclined to swallow his opinions as true insights into spiritual reality.
Moody's interest in the paranormal and occult, however veiled in his book, can be
traced as far back as his undergraduate days at the University of Virginia in the mid
sixties. Tal Brooke, currently the executive director of the Spiritual Counterfeits
Project and formerly Moody's friend and fellow student at the University of Virginia,
relates that "Moody claimed that he regularly conversed with a spirit being."
Brooke further recalls that his and Moody's common interest in "esoteric
philosophies, whether Eastern-religious, occult or psychic" was "the major basis for
their companionship." Brooke's description of Moody's involvement in the occult
offers a far different understanding of Moody's use of the word familiar than what
his book suggests.
Even more revealing is his association with Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, who wrote the
Foreword to Life After Life, praising Moody's research and contribution to the field
of thanatology. They worked closely together, with Moody even filling in for Kubler-Ross on numerous occasions when she was unable to appear for speaking
engagements. Kubler-Ross has been widely acclaimed for her work in the
treatment of emotional problems experienced by terminal patients. Her research
and claims regarding mediumship (divination by contact with the dead, especially
through the agency of familiar spirits), however, have met with mixed reactions.
Some ridicule her contentions; some condemn them; but many others have been
enthralled by them. In any case, she is the most noteworthy guru in the field of
In September 1976, Kubler-Ross revealed to her audience that she had acquired
her own personal spirit guide, called Salem. This announcement confirmed for
her followers that her out-of-body experiences (OBE) had attained an even higher
level of transcendence. For Christians it confirmed that her involvement with
spiritistic practices had reached the lower depths of necromancy (concourse with
forbidden spirits). Although both Kubler-Ross and Moody preach love, peace,
understanding, and world unity, they also speak of our spirits traveling outside our
physical bodies and communicating with other spirits, (Kubler-Ross and OBEs), and
of gaining new insights into the mysteries of life from contact with the being of light
during a deathlike state (Moody and NDEs).
Elizabeth Kubler-Ross and Raymond Moody were trailblazers in the research of
death and dying. Unfortunately, their research also included spiritism, religious
universalism, and a denial of sin, judgment, and the need for repentance and grace.
During the past two decades, their paths have been followed by others. These
have not only expanded their studies in near-death experiences, but have also
broadened the influence of New Age ideas in our society.
THE PSYCHOLOGIST AND THE PHYSICIAN
In the wake of Moody's Life After Life, many no longer view near-death
experiences as utterly strange and unusual. More and more people are stepping
forward and sharing their own experiences. The print and broadcast news media
have been more sympathetic in their inquiries into NDEs. We can even go to the
cinema or turn on the VCR and see serious treatments of the subject, such as the
Included among those who have more recently taken up the banner of NDEs are
both Christians (who will be the subject of Part Two of this article) and New Agers,
whose ubiquitous slogans dot the landscape of our spiritually bankrupt society.
Among the legion of researchers in the field of NDEs, two stand out: one is a
psychologist, Kenneth Ring, and the other is a physician, Melvin Morse.
In 1981, Life at Death: A Scientific Investigation of the Near-Death
Experience achieved national exposure. This book propelled Kenneth Ring to the
forefront of professional researchers who were examining near-death experiences.
Eight years earlier Ring had become intrigued with NDEs when he first heard of
them. After shifting his academic studies from social psychology to the psychology
of consciousness, Ring commenced his scientific research of the NDE phenomena in
1977 as a professor of psychology at the University of Connecticut. The first
significant fruit of his labor was the publication of Life at Death two years later.
In Life at Death Ring tried to measure the experiences of a number of people who
claimed to have undergone NDEs. After he delineated their experiences into
components quite similar to Moody's 15 elements, he assigned values to each
component. His goal was to determine whether a single pattern could be
constructed from their accounts. He found that certain feelings, perceptions, and
experiences were common among the people he interviewed.
Life at Death sparked renewed interest in NDEs, so much so that the International
Association for Near-Death Studies (IANDS) was established in Storrs, Connecticut.
Ring cofounded and once served as president of IANDS, which is internationally
branched. Many of IANDS's most prolific writers and speakers do not hesitate to
support their New Age world views with the accounts of NDEs.
When interviewed by the news and print media about his NDE research, Ring
himself is much more cautious in publicizing his metaphysical views. His policy is
certainly understandable since the scientific community, of which he is a respected
member, is one of the most vocal and ardent critics of such people as Elizabeth
Kubler-Ross and Raymond Moody. In fact, when Kubler-Ross announced that near-death experiences indicate there is life after death, she was vilified by the scientific
establishment. And so, Ring is guarded in his remarks.
For instance, when John White of Science of Mind asked him about "the being of
light," Ring at first replied, "That being or that light which the individual encounters is
so loving that even though the individual may have done many bad things,
somehow he still knows that he as an individual is okay. His acts may have been
wrong, but he himself is okay." Ring goes on to cover himself, however, by
saying: "I can't recall any case of someone reporting being judged by God." In
other words, he is only presenting a particular character description of that being of
light -- which other people have reported to him.
In that same interview, when White specifically asked him how his research has
affected his religious views, Ring offered an answer that can be swallowed like
honey: "I'm much more aware of the importance of unconditional love. I now
understand that to be not only the supreme principle of life itself, but also the core
of all religions. I think this is what all religions are trying to show us."
At first glance, his statement appears benign, but it really is no different from the
religious universalism espoused by Kubler-Ross, Moody, and most New Agers. It
also indicates that he puts more stock in a "being of light" who is totally accepting
and nonjudgmental than he lets on. Ring said he doesn't have "any particular
religious affiliation," but one doesn't need an affiliation to carry a world view
While holding up such a banner, Kenneth Ring has lectured widely on the near-death
experience. He has conducted numerous seminars and workshops for professional
organizations and lay audiences. He has also been a guest on many television and
radio programs. But it is in his book, Life at Death, where a statement can be
found that discloses the most disturbing feature of his message: The "light" is
"actually a reflection of one's own inherent divine nature and symbolizes the higher
self. The light one sees, then, is one's own....If one can accept the idea of a higher
self, it is not difficult to assume that that self -- as well as the individual self -- is
actually an aspect of God, or the Creator."
Anyone familiar with New Age doctrine will recognize Ring's reference to "the higher
self." For many New Agers, every individual has a higher, larger, wiser, and more
real self which needs to be tapped into and then manifested. This will hasten one's
self-realization, when a person realizes that he or she is god. This is the most
prominent statement etched in the cornerstone of the New Age movement and it
happens to be the slogan written on Kenneth Ring's banner.
In 1990 Ivy Books published Melvin Morse's Closer to the Light: Learning from
the Near-Death Experiences of Children, with, by the way, a foreword by
Raymond Moody. It was on the New York Times Best Seller List for three
months. The New York Tribune, quoted on the back cover, called this book
"compelling," and went on to say, "What a salute to Morse's moral courage and
intellectual curiosity is his book. It deserves serious attention."
Melvin Morse and his book certainly do deserve serious attention. As a physician,
he has made two significant contributions to the subject of near-death
experiences. First, he has provided professional insights into NDEs from a medical
perspective. And second, his research was mainly conducted with children. Because
his studies and observations gave the whole subject of NDEs a needed boost for
the early nineties, Morse has frequently appeared before the media spotlight. For
this reason also, the banner he is waving should be examined as well.
Morse is a pediatrician who studied at the George Washington University School of
Medicine, and whose private practice is in the suburbs of Seattle, Washington. He
was introduced to NDEs when one of his young patients shared her experience with
him after she awoke from a coma caused by a swimming accident. With the help
of a major hospital in Seattle he began research projects that would examine this
phenomenon scientifically. In 1983 his first article on the subject was published in
the American Journal of Diseases of Children. Since then he has studied a
number of people who claim to have had an NDE as a child.
In the November 1986 issue of the American Journal of Diseases of Children,
Morse published a study in which he tried to demonstrate that drugs are not the
source of NDEs. He went on to say that NDEs "are a natural psychological process
associated with dying." These medical observations, as well as others, have
given NDE researchers the ammunition they needed to bring attention and respect
to their work and claims.
The use of people who had NDEs as children in Morse's study is also significant.
Unlike adult NDEs, children are too young to have absorbed adult views of death. In
other words, there is far less likelihood for preconceived ideas about death to
influence what they believe is happening to them during NDEs. Thus, the validity of
an NDE could be more forcefully argued with the addition of Morse's findings with
Morse's comments about the medical profession, and particularly doctors who
treat dying patients, also have elicited much interest -- and praise. "For instance,"
he writes, "it is well documented that as patients get closer to death their doctors
spend less time at their bedsides." This criticism strikes a loud chord felt
almost universally by Americans, who believe they wait at least a long hour to see
a faceless physician for a few brief minutes at the cost of long hours of hard labor.
Morse also says the role of comforter is often left to the nurse or to no one. What
his colleagues need to do, he says, is "be able to answer questions about death
just as we can about other aspects of normal development and life stages."
Rightly or wrongly, Morse's remarks have been well received.
How can doctors become more sensitive and caring toward their patients who are
facing death? "Make the patient's spiritual needs a routine part of daily rounds,"
Morse says, "just as much a part of his medical chart as a detailed description of
urine output." But what does Morse mean by "spiritual needs?" "For me the
answer is simple," he says. "NDEs are the way to join science and spiritualism....We
will combine the essence of those ancient truths with scientific knowledge and
create new rituals with which to heal our inner selves and society." Although
this declaration is still somewhat vague, it is at least becoming clearer where his
metaphysical orientation lies.
In Closer to the Light Morse does what Moody and Ring did in their books -- he
compares NDEs with the experiences found in different world religions, including
Christianity. Morse even says Saint Paul claimed to have experienced astral travel.
He then speaks of Paramahansa Yogananda's spiritual experiences as described in
Autobiography of a Yogi, a book that opened the minds of countless Westerners
to Eastern mysticism. He tries to tie the experiences of both Yogananda and St.
Paul -- along with those of Native American spiritual leader Black Elk and Calvinist
theologian Jonathan Edwards -- into elements of NDEs. He is even more
deliberate when he draws similarities between NDEs and The Egyptian Book of
the Dead and The Tibetan Book of the Dead.
Morse's spiritual inclinations are most evident when he discusses the being of light,
or "The Divine Light," as he calls it. "The Light," he says, "is the key element of the
NDE." He goes on to explain: "I think the Light seen during NDEs and the
mystical light seen by those having spiritual experiences are the same light. Both
fuel religious awe and both have the power to transform." But who is this light
who is doing the transforming? Is it Jesus Christ? Is it the spirit of Osiris, the
Egyptian god? After Morse describes the rituals of ancient Egypt he states: "Just as
children that I interviewed often perceived the light that they saw as the light of
Jesus, these king-initiates would perceive that same light as the spirit of
Osiris." Morse is not claiming that the being of light is necessarily the spirit of
Osiris, but he is inferring that this being can be the spirit of any god or holy
personage that people have worshiped, past and present.
Morse would be appalled to hear conservative Christians declare that his message
is demonic, just as Moody explained he was in his sequel, Reflections on Life
After Death. This would be a hard judgment to make since Morse is obviously a
very caring and sensitive person. But his message is never so clear as in the story
he tells at the end of Closer to the Light. It is a moving account of a boy who had
cerebral palsy. When he was six months old his mother had a vision of her son
happy, beautiful, and healthy. Ten years later he died, still a cripple. "It was then
that she realized the meaning of her vision: He was free of a body crippled by
Cerebral Palsy." In the context of Jesus Christ one could only praise God for
her faith. But Morse says he doesn't understand her premonition just as he doesn't
know what the light is in NDEs. Both are beautiful and wonderful, but neither are
defined, except that there is no room for sin, judgment, repentance, grace, and,
most importantly, for the primacy of Jesus Christ.
These are the trademarks of the New Age message: to present their thoughts
sincerely and graciously, to speak of unconditional love and acceptance, but to
deny that salvation for a person can come only through the person and work of
Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, the banner of Melvin Morse has such a message.
EIGHT MILLION STRONG AND GROWING?
To dismiss near-death experiences simply because the most prominent
researchers in the field have interpreted NDEs from a New Age perspective would
not be wise. NDEs touch the lives of too many people, demanding that Christians
explore this phenomenon more thoroughly and objectively.
In 1982 George Gallup, Jr., published Adventures in Immortality, which
presented a number of surveys relating to NDEs. A frequent resource and
contributor to such evangelical publishers as Christianity Today, Gallup found that
the number of people who have claimed an NDE is considerable. In a 1981 poll, he
conducted a scientific survey of 1,500 adults who experienced brushes with death.
One-third of them admitted to a near-death experience. Using that ratio for the
entire U.S. population of those believed to have come close to death, Gallup
estimated that as many as 8 million could have had NDEs.
Furthermore, the resuscitation technology in the medical field has advanced
greatly. More and more people who have apparently died from a cardiac arrest or
other conditions are now being revived. And, as the subject of NDEs becomes
increasingly accepted as a normal phenomenon, people are becoming more open
about describing their NDEs. This includes people like Dan, who have accepted
Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior because of their near-death experiences.
In Part Two we will evaluate alternative explanations for NDEs to those supplied by
the New Age movement, from both secular and Christian sources. And we will
examine biblical texts which are used to validate this phenomenon.
1 Raymond A. Moody, Jr., Life After Life (Harrisburg, PA: Stackpole Books,
2 Ibid., 9.
3 Ibid., 10.
4 Ibid., 80-82.
5 Ibid., 70.
6 Ibid., 46.
7 Ibid., 84-89.
8 Ibid., 9.
9 Mark Albrecht and Brooks Alexander, "Thanatology: Death and Dying," SCP
Journal, April 1977, 9.
10 Lennie Kronisch, "Elizabeth Kubler-Ross: Messenger of Love," Yoga Journal,
November-December 1976, 20.
11 John White, "Beyond the Body: An Interview with Kenneth Ring," Science of
Mind, November 1982, 88.
12 Ibid., 89.
13 Ibid., 89-90.
14 Ibid., 89.
15 Kenneth Ring, Life at Death: A Scientific Investigation of the Near-Death
Experience (New York: Coward, McCann & Geoghegan, 1980), 240-41.
16 Melvin Morse with Paul Perry, Closer to the Light: Learning from the Near-Death Experiences of Children (New York: Ivy Books, 1990), 49.
17 Ibid., 52.
19 Ibid., 102.
20 Ibid., 98, 105.
21 Ibid., 125, 142-43.
22 Ibid., 86-92.
23 Ibid., 133.
24 Ibid., 144.
25 Ibid., 89.
26 Ibid., 213.
Taken from the Christian Research Journal, Spring 1992, page 20. The Editor-in-Chief of the
Christian Research Journal is Elliot Miller. Copyright © 1994 by the Christian Research Institute,
P.O. Box 7000, Rancho Santa Margarita, CA 92688-7000. Faith and Reason Forum would like to
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End of document, CRJ0097A.TXT (original CRI file name), "The Near-Death Experience. Part One:
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