What is the Church's Position on
Near Death Experiences?
Q. I've just read a book on NDEs (Near Death Experiences) by Joyce H. Brown and I am confused by some of the things that I have read. What is the Church's position on the phenomenon?
One of the big problems with personal experiences is that they are just that: personal -- and we cannot always be sure how much is "reality" and how much is personal impression. I happen to know that Joyce H. Brown's book, Heavenly Answers for Earthly Realities has been a great blessing to those who have contemplated suicide and that it has given them new hope. It contains a message of love and hope like so many accounts of NDEs. On the other hand, many NDE accounts are without doubt influenced by many forces, some of which are dark.
I personally was very touched by what I read of Brown's experience in the Spirit World and I was able to identify with a great deal of it. There are many who, for one reason or another (despite calling themselves Christian) who reject all kinds of supernatural experience involving the projection of the spirit from the body, prophecy, revelations, etc., and they will doubtless reject the book as a "New Age deception" without further ado. These are they who believe spiritual gifts like prophecy and visions belonged to the infant New Testament Church in order to get it "established" but are not needed any more. As New Covenant Christians we cannot accept that position both on biblical and experiential grounds. However, those of such a mind-frame often have useful comments to make about such pheneomena as NDEs and deserve serious consideration as we weigh all experienced against what it revealed in the Bible.
As I said, I was happy with the book most of the way -- what she wrote about love, forgiveness, and positive attitudes was all very excellent. Not until I came to the end of the book did some loud alarm bells start going off, especially when she started making such ecumenical, New Age assertions that God was not too bothered by the religion we chose to live provided we sought to be righteous. Here we have to say a very definite STOP! not because our own religious traditions are offended but because God has stated quite clearly that NOBODY comes to the Father except through Jesus Christ. How can God, therefore, be pleased if a man embraces Hinduism and tries to live a righteous life serving others? Such a person is doomed if he has heard the message of salvation in Christ preached (if he hasn't, then he will be judged by his righteous conduct, of course), because salvation is a free gift which is obtained through faith in Christ alone, and not a matter of meritorious living.
Like Betty Eadie in her NDE books, Joyce Brown never announces her religious persuasion. She quotes the Bible but never mentions the word "Bible" -- only "Scriptures" and "Books of Scriptures". Her doctrinal statements indicate, like Eadie's, that she is a Mormon. That the Mormon Church promotes both authors' books lends further support for my contention. Whilst Mormonism teaches many truths that are reflected in Brown's book, there are others which are present which cannot be said to be truthful as adjudged against the Bible. Jesus is never mentioned once, nor the saving relationship needed in order to gain admission into heaven.
So whilst I do not reject Brown's experience I am inclined to conclude that it is coloured somewhat by her Mormon (?) belief system, especially in those parts where she is reflecting on various aspects of life and gets "knowledge" and "insights" whilst in the Spirit World. Therefore I would walk carefully and be inclined not to lap up too many of Brown's theological conclusions. Her teaching, whilst pointing in the right direction, does not go far enough in leading souls to the only source of salvation, Jesus Christ, to whom God the Father has given all authority to judge mankind.
For further information, see Blinded by the Light: An Abstract of a Book on Near-Death Experiences.
This page was created on 8 April 1998
Last updated on 8 April 1998
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