What is a Near Death Experience?
By: Dr. John Weldon
Note to The Reader: This is an introductory article; for important additional information please see, “What Is the Biblical View of NDEs & the Afterlife.”
NDE’s (Near Death Experiences) are typically occult experiences, but not always. The evidence to date indicates they are genuine experiences, although such a conclusion does not necessarily provide the whole picture.
The typical near-death experience (NDE) has been described by leading death researcher Dr. Raymond Moody and other leading researchers. Dr. Moody’s several books, including the 10 million bestseller Life After Life, opened a new era of “scientific” study of the near-death experience. With the near-death or clinical death phenomenon, some people who are brought back from “death” have reported being alive the entire time they were “dead.” This phenomenon occurs among people with a wide diversity of religious belief and no religious belief at all— from atheists to Zen Buddhists.
When I wrote my first book on the subject in 1976 (Is There Life after Death?), there was almost no literature available. Today there are hundreds of books and research papers. Unfortunately, the clear majority of them reveal that the NDE is typically (although not always) a deceptive and occult experience.
Being conservative, approximately 65-70% of those who have been clinically dead report no experience at all. Further, those who have experienced a near-death episode report experiences along a continuum. Only infrequent or rare experiences include the “composite” or “full” NDE containing almost all the characteristics noted to date in NDEs. The “normal” and most frequent NDE contains some or many but not all the characteristics of the “composite” experience. The “deep” NDE is also not a composite experience. But in its large number of characteristics and/or its profundity (including the subsequent impact upon the person), it is distinguished as a more powerful NDE than average and in some respects is as powerful as the full-blown occult NDE.
We should point out that not every NDE is by definition occult. Nevertheless, the more a culture rejects the true biblical God and the more pagan a culture becomes, the more it opens itself to occult powers . Deeper NDEs are characteristically occult experiences, and occult experiences frequent persons for specific reasons based on specific spiritual conditions.
Nevertheless, if even 10 percent of the 13-15 million people who have had the “average” NDE have had a deep NDE, we are dealing with over one million persons who have had, in a spiritually negative sense, the fully transformative NDE. Furthermore, as our technology improves and resuscitation attempts continue, there will be millions more, so none can deny the importance of this phenomenon. The fact that this experience itself (unsought and unexpected) may finally produce occult transformation in the lives of several million persons is substantiated by the occult revival now coursing through Western society.
The composite or classic NDE involves the perception of being “out of the body”—and looking down at one’s body while resuscitation attempts are being administered. Soon afterward the person finds he or she is in another location where the spirit world is encountered. There the person engages in non-verbal or verbal communication with various spirits, usually with dead friends and relatives or a “being of light.” This entity is often very warm and loving, unconditionally so, and involves the “dead” person in an evaluation of his or her life by showing an instantaneous playback of the major events. At some point, the person finds himself approaching a barrier or border which he is not allowed to cross. He is told he must go back to earth, for his time to die has not yet arrived. However, the participant’s experience in this other state of existence is frequently so peaceful, joyful, and loving that he desperately does not want to return. Nevertheless, he finds himself back in his body anyway. And when he awakens in this world he finds that he had been pronounced dead, but was fortunately (?) revived. Characteristically, the previous fear of death has been removed.
Skeptics and materialists are doubtful about all this and have put forth a variety of theories that they think explain the phenomenon. Some of the major explanations are that NDEs are (1) hallucinations induced by pain or medication; (2) leftover memories from the experience of birth; (3) the brain’s reaction to altered levels of carbon dioxide; (4) psychological wish fulfillment (the hope of a heaven); (5) experiences related to Jung’s theory of the collective unconscious and/or archetypes; (6) experiences induced by drugs-LSD, heroin, marijuana, etc., or various anesthetic agents; (7) temporal lobe seizures, and (8) sensory deprivation.
The problem with these theories is that none of them (or the others put forward) adequately explain the facts of the NDE. For example, they cannot explain how people who were brain dead at the time are later able to describe in vivid, specific detail the attempts of medical personnel to resuscitate them, or even specific events a block away. It would seem that the most logical explanation is that these people were somehow outside their bodies actually observing the procedure and/or other activities.
Let us give an example. In one study, 25 medically informed patients were asked to make educated guesses about what happens when a doctor attempts to resuscitate a clinically dead patient. Almost all persons in the control group (23 of 25) made “major mistakes” in providing descriptions of the resuscitation procedure. On the other hand, “none of the near-death patients made mistakes in describing what went on in their own resuscitations.” Studies like this present evidence that these people were actually outside their bodies looking down upon their “death” just as they claimed.
This article was written for The John Ankerberg Show by: Dr. John Weldon; ©2013.
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Dr. John Weldon
Dr. John Weldon (born February 6, 1948) went to be with the Lord on August 30, 2014 following a long-time battle with cancer. John served for more than 20 years as a researcher for The John Ankerberg Show. During his tenure, he authored or coauthored more than 100 books, including the best-selling Facts On Series of books that has sold more than 2.5 million copies in 16 languages. His final book, published in July 2014 with Harvest House Publishers (coauthored with John Ankerberg), is especially fitting. How to Know You’re Going to Heaven offers a biblical and personal look at the way God has provided salvation through Jesus Christ (Acts 4:12) and the confidence the believer can have of eternity with Him in heaven (1 John 5:13). John’s life and work have touched countless others seeking to grow spiritually and better understand the Bible. His friends describe him as genuine, humble, and passionate to share the hope of eternal life with everyone he met. His work will continue through his many books, his online writings at The John Ankerberg Show website (JAshow.org), as well as through the many people John has personally influenced through his ministry.