Near Death Experiences (NDEs) and stories of people encountering Heaven have flooded the bookstands and airways for the past forty years. The Gallup Poll estimates some 8 million Americans have had a Near Death Experience with something to report. Unfortunately, rather than seeking to reconcile these experiences with scripture, many Christians have dismissed or demonized all such accounts, partially due to so few hellish accounts reported.
Starting with the death of my father 35 years ago, I began studying these accounts to discover an amazing correlation with what the Christian scriptures promise about the life to come (both Heaven and Hell). Not every detail of every NDE correlates with the Bible as people are interpreting an out-of-this-world experience. However, I found core experiences shared by thousands clearly point to the God of the Bible and the Heaven he promises. The core of these experiences gives greater clarity to the sometimes fuzzy, boring, and unimaginative views so many Christians (and non-Christians) hold, keeping them earth-bound in focus.
I’m convinced a main reason many people (Christians and non-Christians) live materialistic, self-centered lifestyles is a poor view of the life to come. They can’t imagine Heaven, so they don’t live for it. If eternity is not worth living for in your mind and heart, you’re not going to make decisions based on eternity. Yet all of God’s heroes of faith “were looking for a better place, a heavenly homeland. That is why God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them” (Hebrews 11:16). Imagining and living for Heaven is not optional in God’s eyes—it’s the only way to live.
Imagine Heaven (the working title) will change the way Christians and skeptics view God and Heaven. Using true stories of Near Death Experiences to color in scripture’s picture of the life to come, I hope to stretch the reader’s imagination to see that “the whole earth is full of the glory of God.” If that’s true, wouldn’t God’s World be far better—not discontinuous with His fallen creation, but so much more fulfilling, and definitely worth living for today?
My goal in writing is to propel readers into an experience of Heaven that will forever change their view of the life to come and the way they live life today. I will draw from three sources: A vast array of Near Death Experiences I’ve read or personally interviewed, an in-depth study of God’s Word, and healthy imagination based on what we experience as “every good gift that comes down from the Father of Lights.”
I want to explore key questions people have about Heaven, relating to the core common experiences of NDEs that correlate to the Bible: Will I be myself? Will I see friends and loved ones? Will it be gray and boring or beautiful and exhilarating? What is God like? What will we do forever? What about children and pets? Etc. We will then expound on what scripture teaches but from a perspective that keeps readers on a journey of imaginative wonder.
I will explore questions not often addressed. What about rewards in Heaven? How does what we do in this life affect what we experience in the next? Then we will tackle why so few NDE experiences talk about judgment or Hell. I will help the reader see that these experiences are not the final destination, and why our theology of the afterlife should be based on the words of Jesus, not NDE testimony alone.
While hellish NDEs are reported infrequently, I personally know two people who have died and come back to report a hellish experience. I’ll explore more thoughts on that topic in upcoming blogs. But I think these accounts help us see why God would allow such suffering and pain mixed with such love and beauty during this life—life is a warning of something far worse, and a beckoning toward something so much better. We truly have a choice—to choose God and love God, or to play God and reject Him.
But in Christ, we have nothing to fear—not in this life or in the life to come. In fact, we can have assurance of the Life we long for.