Near Death Experiences: True or False?

What do you think of Near Death Experiences such as the testimonies of Bishop Kelley, Mary K. Baxter, who was taken into the spirit to see Heaven and Hell, as well as Bill Weiss’s book 23 Minutes in Hell?

Dear Blessed,

I would be guarded about NDEs. They’re not scripture.

Don’t base your faith or doctrines on such testimonies, but on the Word of God alone. Take what can be backed up by scripture, be blessed by that, and leave the rest. In their right perspective, they can be encouraging–or a sharp rebuke, depending on the specific revelation. These testimonies are often the only form of prophecy that will be received outside charismatic churches, and should be treated as prophecy should be, that is, judged by the Word. Especially given that the false tends to outnumber the true.

As to the particular accounts mentioned, I am not familiar enough with them to vouch for them. The accounts may well be true, or not true. A testimony is a testimony. Prophecy is prophecy. NDEs can be considered either or both depending on what’s in the account, but neither are scripture. They are good for edification and in some cases rebuke, not for basing one’s theology and doctrine on. That must be grounded in the Word alone.

The Bible itself focuses more on revealing the character of Heaven’s King than it’s geography. If we know Heaven’s King, we really know all we need to know about the place. Because of that focus, I personally have little interest in reading such accounts, but will listen if one is given in church and give an answer if a reader asks me to discern whether the revelation lines up with scripture. Like all revelations, NDEs are only as good as they can be shown to line up with the Word of God.

Just as a false account can lead thousands of souls astray, so can a true witness bless thousands. If it is kept in proper perspective. There’s a temptation in the Church to elevate them to equality with scripture in authority. This makes an idol of the NDE no matter how accurate the account may be. Idolatry in any form is a serious sin that must be repented of and washed in the cleansing flow from Calvary.

In brief, keep such testimonies in their proper place by testing the authenticity of the revelation by the Bible and basing your doctrine on the word of God, not the revelation. On things revealed not backed up by scripture, give no credence. Where the revelation lines up with the Word, by all means, be blessed.

In Christ’s Joy,
Andrea Graham