NDE’s and the Christian Experience

I have been reading several books describing different individuals’ near death experiences (“NDE’s”). It is interesting to get this somewhat “firsthand” account of what people see, hear, and feel while clinically dead, and to consider how it corresponds with our own spiritual experiences.

Some readers are put off by NDE‑ers’ descriptions of heaven, God, spiritual beings using different names and terms than what our own theology would employ. I don’t see this as a discrepancy in what each NDE‑er actually sees, but simply the use of spiritual terms familiar to the individual. NDE‑ers universally describe their experiences as being very vivid and meaningful; but, as the conscious mind struggles to articulate it, it must rely on familiar terms to describe an event that is beyond its understanding.

The similarity of the varied NDE experiences is one of their compelling characteristics. In Moody’s “Life After Life”, he summarizes the commonalities that exist in the greater number of these accounts. This particular book is interesting for a number of reasons:  it was written decades prior to the advent of the internet, so special-interest subjects like this would not be broadly available on a “social media” level that might influence the respondents’ commentary or beliefs.  Also, the individuals involved hadn’t made personal “causes” out of their respective NDE experiences as far as trying to convince others; most of them preferred to keep the matter private to avoid ugly disagreements with family or friends.

These accounts provide me with a rough framework for visualizing the heavenly realms while I am in communion with God. The details of any individual’s specific NDE experience really don’t interfere with my spiritual experience. I instead utilize the general concept of that spiritual realm as  a device to separate me from focusing on this physical world and redirecting my attention to the larger reality of the Kingdom of God. 

A routine reacquainting oneself to the reality of heaven is a key component of keeping our faith alive. It keeps the Christian looking ahead as he maintains his awareness of his future, and fuels his passion for carrying out his God-given assignment in this world. Individual accounts will be imperfect, but can be a useful tool for redirecting one’s focus away from temporary minutiae and onto the greater reality.


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