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Proof of heaven popular, except with the church
They claim that they’ve glimpsed heaven but survivors of near-death experiences face a surprising skeptic: the church.
May 19th, 2013
06:00 AM ET

Proof of heaven popular, except with the church

By John Blake, CNN

“God, help me!”

Eben Alexander shouted and flailed as hospital orderlies tried to hold him in place. But no one could stop his violent seizures, and the 54-year-old neurosurgeon went limp as his horrified wife looked on.

That moment could have been the end. But Alexander says it was just the beginning. He found himself soaring toward a brilliant white light tinged with gold into “the strangest, most beautiful world I’d ever seen.”

Alexander calls that world heaven, and he describes his journey in “Proof of Heaven,” which has been on The New York Times bestseller list for 27 weeks. Alexander says he used to be an indifferent churchgoer who ignored stories about the afterlife. But now he knows there’s truth to those stories, and there’s no reason to fear death.

“Not one bit,” he said. “It’s a transition; it’s not the end of anything. We will be with our loved ones again.”

Heaven used to be a mystery, a place glimpsed only by mystics and prophets. But popular culture is filled with firsthand accounts from all sorts of people who claim that they, too, have proofs of heaven after undergoing near-death experiences.

Yet the popularity of these stories raises another question: Why doesn’t the church talk about heaven anymore?

Preachers used to rhapsodize about celestial streets of gold while congregations sang joyful hymns like “I’ll Fly Away” and “When the Roll is Called up Yonder.” But the most passionate accounts of heaven now come from people outside the church or on its margins.

Most seminaries don’t teach courses on heaven; few big-name pastors devote much energy to preaching or writing about the subject; many ordinary pastors avoid the topic altogether out of embarrassment, indifference or fear, scholars and pastors say.

“People say that the only time they hear about heaven is when they go to a funeral,” said Gary Scott Smith, author of “Heaven in the American Imagination” and a history professor at Grove City College in Pennsylvania.

Talk of heaven shouldn’t wait, though, because it answers a universal question: what happens when we die, says the Rev. John Price, author of “Revealing Heaven,” which offers a Christian perspective of near-death experiences.

“Ever since people started dying, people have wondered, where did they go? Where are they now? Is this what happens to me?” said Price, a retired pastor and hospital chaplain.

A little girl’s revelation

Price didn’t always think heaven was so important. He scoffed at reports of near-death experiences because he thought they reduced religion to ghost stories. Besides, he was too busy helping grieving families to speculate about the afterlife.

His attitude changed, though, after a young woman visited his Episcopal church one Sunday with her 3-year-old daughter.

Price had last seen the mother three years earlier. She had brought her then-7-week-old daughter to the church for baptism. Price hadn't heard from her since. But when she reappeared, she told Price an amazing story.

She had been feeding her daughter a week after the baptism when milk dribbled out of the infant's mouth and her eyes rolled back into her head. The woman rushed her daughter to the emergency room, where she was resuscitated and treated for a severe upper respiratory infection.

Three years later, the mother was driving past the same hospital with her daughter when the girl said, “Look, Mom, that’s where Jesus brought me back to you.”

“The mother nearly wrecked her car,” Price said. “She never told her baby about God, Jesus, her near-death experience, nothing. All that happened when the girl was 8 weeks old. How could she remember that?”

When Price started hearing similar experiences from other parishioners, he felt like a fraud. He realized that he didn’t believe in heaven, even though it was part of traditional Christian doctrine.

He started sharing near-death stories he heard with grieving families and dejected hospital workers who had lost patients. He told them dying people had glimpsed a wonderful world beyond this life.

The stories helped people, Price said, and those who've had similar experiences of heaven should “shout them from the rooftops.”

“I’ve gone around to many churches to talk about this, and the venue they give me is just stuffed,” he said. “People are really hungry for it.”

Why pastors are afraid of heaven

Many pastors, though, don’t want to touch the subject because it’s too dangerous, says Lisa Miller, author of “Heaven: Our Enduring Fascination with the Afterlife.”

Miller cites the experience of Rob Bell, one of the nation’s most popular evangelical pastors.

John Price ignored heaven until he met a woman with an amazing story.

Bell ignited a firestorm two years ago when he challenged the teaching that only Christians go to heaven in “Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived.”

The book angered many members of Bell’s church as well as many in the evangelical establishment. He subsequently resigned.

“Farewell, Rob Bell,” one prominent evangelical tweeted.

“It’s a tough topic for a pastor,” said Miller, a former religion columnist for the Washington Post. “If you get too literal, you can risk sounding too silly. If you don’t talk about it, you’re evading one of the most important questions about theology and why people come to church.”

If pastors do talk about stories of near-death experiences, they can also be seen as implying that conservative doctrine – only those who confess their faith in Jesus get to heaven, while others suffer eternal damnation – is wrong, scholars and pastors say.

Many of those who share near-death stories aren’t conservative Christians but claim that they, too, have been welcomed by God to heaven.

“Conservative Christians aren’t the only ones going to heaven," said Price, "and that makes them mad."

There was a time, though, when the church talked a lot more about the afterlife.

Puritan pastors in the 17th and 18th centuries often preached about heaven, depicting it as an austere, no fuss-place where people could commune with God.

African-American slaves sang spirituals about heaven like “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot.” They often depicted it as a place of ultimate payback: Slaves would escape their humiliation and, in some cases, rule over their former masters.

America’s fixation with heaven may have peaked around the Civil War. The third most popular book in 18th century America – behind the Bible and “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” – was "Gates Ajar," written in the wake of the war, Miller says.

The 1868 novel was “The Da Vinci Code” of its day, Miller says. It revolved around a grieving woman who lost her brother in the Civil War. A sympathetic aunt assures her that her brother is waiting in heaven, a bucolic paradise where people eat sumptuous meals, dogs sun themselves on porches and people laugh with their loved ones.

“This was a vision of heaven that was so appealing to hundreds of thousands of people who had lost people in the Civil War,” Miller said.

Americans needed heaven because life was so hard: People didn’t live long, infant mortality was high, and daily life was filled with hard labor.

“People were having 12 kids, and they would outlive 11 of them,” said Smith, author of "Heaven in the American Imagination." “Death was ever-present.”

The church eventually stopped talking about heaven, though, for a variety of reasons: the rise of science; the emergence of the Social Gospel, a theology that encouraged churches to create heaven on Earth by fighting for social justice; and the growing affluence of Americans. (After all, who needs heaven when you have a flat-screen TV, a smartphone and endless diversions?)

But then a voice outside the church rekindled Americans' interest in the afterlife. A curious 23-year-old medical student would help make heaven cool again.

The father of near-death experiences

Raymond Moody had been interested in the afterlife long before it was fashionable.

He was raised in a small Georgia town during World War II where death always seemed just around the corner. He constantly heard stories about soldiers who never returned from war. His father was a surgeon who told him stories of bringing back patients from the brink of death. In college, he was enthralled when he read one of the oldest accounts of a near-death experience, a soldier’s story told by Socrates in Plato’s “Republic.”

His fascination with the afterlife was sealed one day when he heard a speaker who would change his life.

The speaker was George Ritchie, a psychiatrist. Moody would say later of Ritchie, “He had that look of someone who had just finished a long session of meditation and didn’t have a care in the world.”

Moody sat in the back of a fraternity room as Ritchie told his story.

It was December 1943, and Ritchie was in basic training with the U.S. Army at Camp Barkeley, Texas. He contracted pneumonia and was placed in the hospital infirmary, where his temperature spiked to 107. The medical staff piled blankets on top of Ritchie’s shivering body, but he was eventually pronounced dead.

“I could hear the doctor give the order to prep me for the morgue, which was puzzling, because I had the sensation of still being alive,” Ritchie said.

He even remembers rising from a hospital gurney to talk to the hospital staff. But the doctors and nurses walked right through him when he approached them.

He then saw his lifeless body in a room and began weeping when he realized he was dead. Suddenly, the room brightened “until it seemed as though a million welding torches were going off around me.”

He says he was commanded to stand because he was being ushered into the presence of the Son of God. There, he saw every minute detail of his life flash by, including his C-section birth. He then heard a voice that asked, “What have you done with your life?"

After hearing Ritchie’s story, Moody decided what he was going to do with his life: investigate the afterlife.

Raymond Moody revived interest in heaven by studying near-death experiences.

He started collecting stories of people who had been pronounced clinically dead but were later revived. He noticed that the stories all shared certain details: traveling through a tunnel, greeting family and friends who had died, and meeting a luminous being that gave them a detailed review of their life and asked them whether they had spent their life loving others.

Moody called his stories “near-death experiences,” and in 1977 he published a study of them in a book, “Life after Life.” His book has sold an estimated 13 million copies.

Today, he is a psychiatrist who calls himself “an astronaut of inner space.” He is considered the father of the near-death-experience phenomenon.

He says science, not religion, resurrected the afterlife. Advances in cardiopulmonary resuscitation meant that patients who would have died were revived, and many had stories to share.

“Now that we have these means for snatching people back from the edge, these stories are becoming more amazing,” said Moody, who has written a new book, “Paranormal: My Life in Pursuit of the Afterlife.”

“A lot of medical doctors know about this from their patients, but they’re just afraid to talk about it in public.”

Ritchie’s story was told through a Christian perspective. But Moody says stories about heaven transcend religion. He's collected them from Jews, Muslims, Buddhists and atheists.

“A lot of people talk about encountering a being of light,” he said. “Christians call it Christ. Jewish people say it’s an angel. I’ve gone to different continents, and you can hear the same thing in China, India and Japan about meeting a being of complete love and compassion.”

It’s not just what people see in the afterlife that makes these stories so powerful, he says. It’s how they live their lives once they survive a near-death experience.

Many people are never the same, Moody says. They abandon careers that were focused on money or power for more altruistic pursuits.

“Whatever they had been chasing, whether it's power, money or fame, their experience teaches them that what this (life) is all about is teaching us to love,” Moody said.

Under 'the gaze of a God'

Alexander, the author of “Proof of Heaven,” seems to fit Moody's description. He’s a neurosurgeon, but he spends much of time now speaking about his experience instead of practicing medicine.

He'd heard strange stories over the years of revived heart attack patients traveling to wonderful landscapes, talking to dead relatives and even meeting God. But he never believed those stories. He was a man of science, an Episcopalian who attended church only on Easter and Christmas.

That changed one November morning in 2008 when he was awakened in his Lynchburg, Virginia, home by a bolt of pain shooting down his spine. He was rushed to the hospital and diagnosed with bacterial meningitis, a disease so rare, he says, it afflicts only one in 10 million adults.

After his violent seizures, he lapsed into a coma — and there was little hope for his survival. But he awakened a week later with restored health and a story to tell.

He says what he experienced was “too beautiful for words.” The heaven he describes is not some disembodied hereafter. It’s a physical place filled with achingly beautiful music, waterfalls, lush fields, laughing children and running dogs.

In his book, he describes encountering a transcendent being he alternately calls “the Creator” or “Om.” He says he never saw the being's face or heard its voice; its thoughts were somehow spoken to him.

“It understood humans, and it possessed the qualities we possess, only in infinitely greater measure. It knew me deeply and overflowed with qualities that all my life I’ve always associated with human beings and human beings alone: warmth, compassion, pathos … even irony and humor.”

Holly Alexander says her husband couldn’t forget the experience.

“He was driven to write 12 hours a day for three years,” she said. “It began as a diary. Then he thought he would write a medical paper; then he realized that medical science could not explain it all.”

“Proof of Heaven” debuted at the top of The New York Times bestseller list and has sold 1.6 million copies, according to its publisher.

Alexander says he didn’t know how to deal with his otherworldly journey at first.

“I was my own worst skeptic,” he said. “I spent an immense amount of time trying to come up with ways my brain might have done this.”

Conventional medical science says consciousness is rooted in the brain, Alexander says. His medical records indicated that his neocortex — the part of the brain that controls thought, emotion and language — had ceased functioning while he was in a coma.

Alexander says his neocortex was “offline” and his brain “wasn’t working at all” during his coma. Yet he says he reasoned, experienced emotions, embarked on a journey — and saw heaven.

“Those implications are tremendous beyond description,” Alexander wrote. “My experience showed me that the death of the body and the brain are not the end of consciousness; that human experience continues beyond the grave. More important, it continues under the gaze of a God who loves and cares about each one of us.”

Skeptics say Alexander’s experience can be explained by science, not the supernatural.

They cite experiments where neurologists in Switzerland induced out-of-body experiences in a woman suffering from epilepsy through electrical stimulation of the right side of her brain.

Michael Shermer, founder and publisher of Skeptic magazine, says the U.S. Navy also conducted studies with pilots that reproduced near-death experiences. Pilots would often black out temporarily when their brains were deprived of oxygen during training, he says.

These pilots didn’t go to heaven, but they often reported seeing a bright light at the end of a tunnel, a floating sensation and euphoria when they returned to consciousness, Shermer says.

“Whatever experiences these people have is actually in their brain. It’s not out there in heaven,” Shermer said.

Some people who claim to see heaven after dying didn’t really die, says Shermer, author of “Why People Believe Weird Things.”

“They’re called near-death experiences for a reason: They’re near death but not dead,” Shermer said. “In that fuzzy state, it’s not dissimilar to being asleep and awakened where people have all sorts of transitory experiences that seem very real.”

The boy who saw Jesus

Skeptics may scoff at a story like Alexander’s, but their popularity has made a believer out of another group: the evangelical publishing industry.

While the church may be reluctant to talk about heaven, publishers have become true believers. The sales figures for books on heaven are divine: Don Piper’s “90 Minutes in Heaven” has sold 5 million copies. And “Heaven is for Real: A Little Boy’s Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back” is the latest publishing juggernaut.

Colton Burpo says he saw heaven and describes the color of Jesus' eyes.

“Heaven is for Real” has been on The New York Times bestseller list for 126 consecutive weeks and sold 8 million copies, according to its publisher.

The story is told from the perspective of Colton Burpo, who was just 4 when he slipped into unconsciousness while undergoing emergency surgery for a burst appendix.

Colton says he floated above his body during the operation and soared to heaven, where he met Jesus. Todd Burpo, Colton’s father, says he was skeptical about his son’s story until his son described meeting a great-grandfather and a miscarried baby sister — something no one had ever told him about.

Todd Burpo is a pastor, but he says he avoided preaching about heaven because he didn’t know enough about the subject.

“It’s pretty awkward,” he said. “Here I am the pastor, but I’m not the teacher on the subject. My son is teaching me.”

Colton is now 13 and says he still remembers meeting Jesus in heaven.

“He had brown hair, a brown beard to match and a smile brighter than any smile I’ve ever seen,’’ he said. “His eyes were sea-blue, and they were just, wow.”

Colton says he’s surprised by the success of his book, which has been translated into 35 languages. There’s talk of a movie, too.

“It’s totally a God thing,” he said.

Alexander, author of “Proof of Heaven,” seems to have the same attitude: His new life is a gift. He’s already writing another book on his experience.

“Once I realized what my journey was telling me," he said, "I knew I had to tell the story.”

He now attends church but says his faith is not dogmatic.

“I realized very strongly that God loves all of God’s children,” he said. “Any religion that claims to be the true one and the rest of them are wrong is wrong.”

Central to his story is something he says he heard in heaven.

During his journey, he says he was accompanied by an angelic being who gave him a three-part message to share on his return.

When he heard the message, he says it went through him “like a wind” because he instantly knew it was true.

It’s the message he takes today to those who wonder who, or what, they will encounter after death.

The angel told him:

“You are loved and cherished, dearly, forever.”

“You have nothing to fear.”

“There is nothing you can do wrong."

- CNN Writer

Filed under: Art • Belief • Bible • Books • Christianity • Culture & Science • Faith • God • Heaven • History

soundoff (4,945 Responses)
  1. Fundies Gone Wild!

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I0-04VDrCbM&w=640&h=360]
    .

    May 19, 2013 at 2:06 pm |
    • Glenn

      Making it happen in the name of god is what these people do.
      Their ancestors where there the day Jesus was crucified. Having nothing to say till well after his end on this earth.
      Jesus was the first.

      May 19, 2013 at 2:17 pm |
    • tallulah13

      This is the funniest damned video. Cracks me up every time.

      May 19, 2013 at 2:18 pm |
    • Glenn

      What Jesus has accomplished is far different from what these people do. Not all things are equal.

      May 19, 2013 at 2:26 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      Was that Michele Bachmann near the end?

      May 19, 2013 at 2:44 pm |
  2. Victim of catholic priest pedophilia

    ,, dictatorships and religions are the same..They love control. claim they are right and use fear.. North Korea, chistianity, muslim,, all the same

    May 19, 2013 at 2:06 pm |
    • Dan

      Do you find it ironic that you're bashing religion, and your first example of controlling by fear is an atheist state?

      May 19, 2013 at 2:25 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Uh, Dan? Did you miss the word "dictatorships" that preceded the word "religion" when you rushed to your defense of faith? Low marks on reading comprehension.

      May 19, 2013 at 2:34 pm |
    • Free Man

      So, atheism and belief in God are the same thing. Your stupidity is as fascinating as your lame handle.

      May 19, 2013 at 2:45 pm |
    • Glenn

      I think is objection is to the state of humanity. The ends always seem to justify the means with little regard for the people who are forced to accept the results.
      Have faith in western law, human rights and freedom. No man on this earth should ever be above any of it.

      May 19, 2013 at 3:04 pm |
  3. testy11

    What is truly wonderful is vast amounts of wealth is donated to causes of science, medicine and education rather than religion. Religion gathers money in dribs and drabs from the common-folk. Religion bought nothing but misery for thousands of years, time to give Science a chance.

    May 19, 2013 at 2:04 pm |
  4. M.E.

    Heaven isn't real, nor is hell. A near death experience is nothing more than a natural DMT trip. You get one when you're born and one when you die, and a freebie if you die and come back. Personally I'm not afraid of death, I'm happy enough knowing the energy and atoms from my body will always go on.

    May 19, 2013 at 2:03 pm |
  5. Peter

    ... and so it continues. The perpetual feel good story telling of an afterlife to keep the flock believing in religion.

    When will humanity escape such medieval beliefs and nonsense and concentrate its efforts in making life better in the here and now. Look at it this way, you want life to be safe and loving, you don't need the belief in a God to have that.

    May 19, 2013 at 2:02 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Isaiah 53:1-12

      1 Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed?

      2 For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, [there is] no beauty that we should desire him.

      3 He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were [our] faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

      4 Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.

      5 But he [was] wounded for our transgressions, [he was] bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace [was] upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.

      6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.

      7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.

      8 He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken.

      9 And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither [was any] deceit in his mouth.

      10 Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put [him] to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see [his] seed, he shall prolong [his] days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.

      11 He shall see of the travail of his soul, [and] shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.

      12 Therefore will I divide him [a portion] with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.

      Amen.

      May 19, 2013 at 2:33 pm |
    • Peter

      HeavenSent,

      What you have typed is all nonsense, gibberish.

      May 19, 2013 at 3:12 pm |
  6. Sue

    For the 2 people that have just jumped my "sorry threatening ass", I am so sorry that I caused you to become upset. Since individuals such as yourselves generally walk around with your panties in a hard twist, I will try to refrain from upsetting you in the future.

    May 19, 2013 at 2:00 pm |
    • WhenCowsAttack

      Sue- you just need to learn that threatening people with eternal damnation isn't appropriate. I get that you think it's perfectly OK for some reason, but it's actually pretty socially unacceptable.

      We think you're wrong, and if you can't discuss it in an adult fashion without telling us how we're going to burn forever, then frankly a lot of us aren't interested and you're going to get flak.

      May 19, 2013 at 2:03 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Sue, you said:

      "I kind of feel sorry for you. Judgment day is going to be a bit of a surprise for you."

      My panties are not "in a twist." I just think it's really funny that you make empty threats then get all defensive when people call you on it. You are not upsetting in the slightest. You are just silly and annoying.

      May 19, 2013 at 2:04 pm |
    • one more christard

      running scared...when faced with reality she runs like a kid afraid to hear the truth

      May 19, 2013 at 2:05 pm |
    • Wendy

      Sue, grow a skin; arguments about beliefs are bound to get heated.

      Try instead to respond with substance, if you can (I doubt we'll see that from you, nor from any other religious nut).

      May 19, 2013 at 2:05 pm |
    • Terry

      Sue, with your extra large XXXXXXXL panties big enough to cover your fat backside, it's not really surprising that you don't have problems with twisting of yours. Lots of stretch there to reduce the effects of twist, and self-padding fat you have so that you never feel a thing when your ass gets whupped in an argument, as it always has so far.

      May 19, 2013 at 2:10 pm |
    • Honey Hush

      Sue Keep your ugly thoughts and threats to yourself, may want to read up on the golden rule, hypocrite.

      May 19, 2013 at 2:11 pm |
  7. Glenn

    I surprised that doctors who understand the nature of the human body would not question the "light at the end of the tunnel" as a physical reaction to death. I am often reminded of the old television set with the vacuum tube and the lights which appeared on the screen after the television was switched off.
    Everything has a end even in the world of electronics or brain wave patterns.

    May 19, 2013 at 1:59 pm |
  8. Miss Demeanor

    As soon as I'm licensed to create a Cult in the state of California, I'm gonna start one based on fairytales. Any ideas on a good premise to use to draw the money-worshipping, soul-less residents of that forsaken state into my clutches? I'm thinking maybe a little science fiction (like: we all have nano-sized mind-reading sensors inside us cuz the CIA makes us all smoke medicinal mary-jane and my church is the only place that can remove them... no... tin hats won't help a bit.) Obviously this needs more work, but I think that tying it all in with a Prosperity Christianity message is the way to go out on the West Coast. Would appreciate your feedback.

    May 19, 2013 at 1:59 pm |
    • heres a thought

      I'll join your church if you insist that women have to be submissive... that would also work well with an 'in bondage' theme... So combine Prosperity Preaching, and friends-with-benefits and you should make a fortune in Cali. Oh... make your building self-sustaining too... that'll double your chances of attracting people... though I'd focus on finding those who easily part with their money... in other words make an app for the pretty-and-magical crowd.

      May 19, 2013 at 2:28 pm |
  9. Victim of catholic priest pedophilia

    catholics love hating children victims of their priests and to deny the cover ups.

    If a national day care center did what they did, they;s be all over it. The management would be in jails.

    Instead, they protect the church over destroyed lives by deflecting and claiming others did it too, so it's OK

    May 19, 2013 at 1:58 pm |
  10. Colten

    FYI: Rob Bell is not a leading Evangelical Pastor. He never has. He never will be. Get your facts straight. Most churches reject Rob Bells teaching.

    May 19, 2013 at 1:58 pm |
    • Victim of catholic priest pedophilia

      sane people reject all religions. Their jesus needed a good therapist, for sure.

      May 19, 2013 at 2:00 pm |
    • are122

      Yes, I've noted a lot of that "sanity" exists in North Korea.

      May 19, 2013 at 2:03 pm |
    • Victim of catholic priest pedophilia

      actually,, dictatorships and religions are the same..They love control. claim they are right and use fear

      May 19, 2013 at 2:05 pm |
    • WhenCowsAttack

      Your bible teaches that actions have nothing to do with getting into heaven- it's solely based on whether you have exposure to and are able to believe in jesus. (essentially a thought crime or a crime of circ.umstance via being born in the wrong part of the world)

      May 19, 2013 at 2:07 pm |
  11. M. Brown

    Is John Blake omnipresent? How can he definitively ask, "Why doesn’t the church talk about heaven anymore?" They do. Go to church John Blake and you will hear it!

    May 19, 2013 at 1:57 pm |
    • Ron

      M. Brown, exactly. I really don't know what he is talking about. What planet is he living on?

      May 19, 2013 at 7:01 pm |
  12. Grant

    One major reason most Christian church's don't obsess over the accounts of NDE's is because they would rather obsess on HOW to become a child of God WHILE you are alive.

    While I like to believe that NDE's are genuine, and I have read a bunch of them, I take it in stride because I Already trust God's promises about heaven.... I don't require that kind of reinforcement.

    May 19, 2013 at 1:57 pm |
  13. Colin D

    My church talks about Heaven all the time, also about Hell, Hell is as real as Heaven and both of them are earned through actions or lack of actions

    May 19, 2013 at 1:53 pm |
    • Bob

      But if you do the wrong action, you just say "please god forgive me" and you can do whatever you please. Stuff your disgusting religion and take some personal responsibility, you wimp.

      May 19, 2013 at 1:55 pm |
    • Victim of catholic priest pedophilia

      did they tell you where they hid the easter bunny/

      May 19, 2013 at 1:55 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Hell is just as real as heaven: Neither of them actually exist.

      May 19, 2013 at 1:59 pm |
    • are122

      Ever notice the people that reject religion have nothing of value to say?

      May 19, 2013 at 2:06 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      No, I have not noticed that. In fact, I observe just the opposite – those who believe can't provide any evidence for their childish beliefs.

      May 19, 2013 at 2:09 pm |
    • Terry

      What HotAirAce said. Exactly.

      May 19, 2013 at 2:11 pm |
    • Jesus is the Son of God

      Hell does not exist neither is the word hell found anywhere in the ORIGINAL Hebrew bible http://theeternalwisdom.com/Misconception_of_Hell.html. The bible says the wages for sin is DEATH, not eternal life only so you can be tormented for ever and ever in the most gruesome way. Read the original text before you put your faith and trust in the translations of white men who's only desires were POWER and CONTROL. FEAR being the bridge to the two. Stop judging and condemning people based off of the deceptions, misconceptions, and lack of understanding you suffer from. Learn the truth before you go around spreading poison.

      May 19, 2013 at 2:13 pm |
  14. Jack

    The evangelicals seem to fear that God judges people less harshly then they do.

    May 19, 2013 at 1:51 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Good one!

      May 19, 2013 at 2:06 pm |
  15. Bob

    As many as received Him (Jesus) to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name. ....John 1:12

    May 19, 2013 at 1:51 pm |
    • Bob

      Since we've got other Bob dumping bible bile on us, let's take a closer look at some of the hideous stuff in his Christian book of nasty, OT and NT:

      Numbers 31:17-18
      17 Now kiII all the boys. And kiII every woman who has slept with a man,
      18 but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man.

      Deuteronomy 13:6 – “If your brother, your mother’s son or your son or daughter, or the wife you cherish, or your friend who is as your own soul entice you secretly, saying, let us go and serve other gods … you shall surely kill him; your hand shall be first against him to put him to death”

      Revelations 2:23 And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works.

      Leviticus 25
      44 “‘Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you may buy slaves.
      45 You may also buy some of the temporary residents living among you and members of their clans born in your country, and they will become your property.
      46 You can bequeath them to your children as inherited property and can make them slaves for life, but you must not rule over your fellow Israelites ruthlessly.

      Note that the bible is also very clear that you should sacrifice and burn an animal today because the smell makes sicko Christian sky fairy happy. No, you don't get to use the parts for food. You burn them, a complete waste of the poor animal.

      Yes, the bible really says that, everyone. Yes, it's in Leviticus, look it up. Yes, Jesus purportedly said that the OT commands still apply. No exceptions. But even if you think the OT was god's mistaken first go around, you have to ask why a perfect, loving enti-ty would ever put such horrid instructions in there. If you think rationally at all, that is.

      And then, if you disagree with my interpretation, ask yourself how it is that your "god" couldn't come up with a better way to communicate than a book that is so readily subject to so many interpretations and to being taken "out of context", and has so many mistakes in it. Pretty pathetic god that you've made for yourself.

      So get out your sacrificial knife or your nasty sky creature will torture you eternally. Or just take a closer look at your foolish supersti-tions, understand that they are just silly, and toss them into the dustbin with all the rest of the gods that man has created.

      Ask the questions. Break the chains. Join the movement.
      Be free of Christianity and other superstitions.
      http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/

      May 19, 2013 at 1:54 pm |
  16. Darwin was right

    By GOLLY – there's big money in JESUS & heaven! I think I'll make up some neat stories about going up into heaven and MEETING MY BELOVED DOG, SHEP. And better yet, NOT having to meet or put up with any of those dam in-laws.

    May 19, 2013 at 1:51 pm |
  17. Bob

    Since we've got other Bob dumping bible bile on us, let's take a closer look at some of the hideous stuff in his Christian book of nasty:

    Numbers 31:17-18
    17 Now kiII all the boys. And kiII every woman who has slept with a man,
    18 but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man.

    Deuteronomy 13:6 – “If your brother, your mother’s son or your son or daughter, or the wife you cherish, or your friend who is as your own soul entice you secretly, saying, let us go and serve other gods … you shall surely kill him; your hand shall be first against him to put him to death”

    Revelations 2:23 And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works.

    Leviticus 25
    44 “‘Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you may buy slaves.
    45 You may also buy some of the temporary residents living among you and members of their clans born in your country, and they will become your property.
    46 You can bequeath them to your children as inherited property and can make them slaves for life, but you must not rule over your fellow Israelites ruthlessly.

    Note that the bible is also very clear that you should sacrifice and burn an animal today because the smell makes sicko Christian sky fairy happy. No, you don't get to use the parts for food. You burn them, a complete waste of the poor animal.

    Yes, the bible really says that, everyone. Yes, it's in Leviticus, look it up. Yes, Jesus purportedly said that the OT commands still apply. No exceptions. But even if you think the OT was god's mistaken first go around, you have to ask why a perfect, loving enti-ty would ever put such horrid instructions in there. If you think rationally at all, that is.

    And then, if you disagree with my interpretation, ask yourself how it is that your "god" couldn't come up with a better way to communicate than a book that is so readily subject to so many interpretations and to being taken "out of context", and has so many mistakes in it. Pretty pathetic god that you've made for yourself.

    So get out your sacrificial knife or your nasty sky creature will torture you eternally. Or just take a closer look at your foolish supersti-tions, understand that they are just silly, and toss them into the dustbin with all the rest of the gods that man has created.

    Ask the questions. Break the chains. Join the movement.
    Be free of Christianity and other superstitions.
    http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/

    May 19, 2013 at 1:51 pm |
    • Victim of catholic priest pedophilia

      wow.. those passages sound like something out of Charlie Manson's mouth.

      May 19, 2013 at 1:53 pm |
    • are122

      Not real big on the New Testament are ya.

      May 19, 2013 at 2:07 pm |
    • Norman Page

      Or you should just shove the Bible... Maybe that'll make you go to Heaven.

      May 19, 2013 at 2:09 pm |
  18. April

    Its wrong to say 'church' doesnt believe in heaven or talk about heaven, because my church still does. If certain churches cant talk about heaven, its because theyre afraid. they are cowards who take JESUS and GOD for granted.

    May 19, 2013 at 1:50 pm |
    • Victim of catholic priest pedophilia

      silly

      May 19, 2013 at 1:53 pm |
    • how do you

      take jesus and god for granted if they don't exist?

      May 19, 2013 at 2:11 pm |
  19. Bob

    I am the Door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved. ....Jesus John 10:9

    May 19, 2013 at 1:50 pm |
    • Bob

      Since we've got other Bob dumping bible bile on us, let's take a closer look at some of the hideous stuff throughout his Christian book of nasty, both testaments:

      Numbers 31:17-18
      17 Now kiII all the boys. And kiII every woman who has slept with a man,
      18 but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man.

      Deuteronomy 13:6 – “If your brother, your mother’s son or your son or daughter, or the wife you cherish, or your friend who is as your own soul entice you secretly, saying, let us go and serve other gods … you shall surely kill him; your hand shall be first against him to put him to death”

      Revelations 2:23 And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works.

      Leviticus 25
      44 “‘Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you may buy slaves.
      45 You may also buy some of the temporary residents living among you and members of their clans born in your country, and they will become your property.
      46 You can bequeath them to your children as inherited property and can make them slaves for life, but you must not rule over your fellow Israelites ruthlessly.

      Note that the bible is also very clear that you should sacrifice and burn an animal today because the smell makes sicko Christian sky fairy happy. No, you don't get to use the parts for food. You burn them, a complete waste of the poor animal.

      Yes, the bible really says that, everyone. Yes, it's in Leviticus, look it up. Yes, Jesus purportedly said that the OT commands still apply. No exceptions. But even if you think the OT was god's mistaken first go around, you have to ask why a perfect, loving enti-ty would ever put such horrid instructions in there. If you think rationally at all, that is.

      And then, if you disagree with my interpretation, ask yourself how it is that your "god" couldn't come up with a better way to communicate than a book that is so readily subject to so many interpretations and to being taken "out of context", and has so many mistakes in it. Pretty pathetic god that you've made for yourself.

      So get out your sacrificial knife or your nasty sky creature will torture you eternally. Or just take a closer look at your foolish supersti-tions, understand that they are just silly, and toss them into the dustbin with all the rest of the gods that man has created.

      Ask the questions. Break the chains. Join the movement.
      Be free of Christianity and other superstitions.
      http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/

      May 19, 2013 at 1:53 pm |
  20. Bob

    Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest. ....Jesus Mathew 11:28

    May 19, 2013 at 1:49 pm |
    • Bob

      Since we've got other Bob dumping bible bile on us, let's take a closer look at some of the hideous stuff in his Christian book of nasty:

      Numbers 31:17-18
      17 Now kiII all the boys. And kiII every woman who has slept with a man,
      18 but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man.

      Deuteronomy 13:6 – “If your brother, your mother’s son or your son or daughter, or the wife you cherish, or your friend who is as your own soul entice you secretly, saying, let us go and serve other gods … you shall surely kill him; your hand shall be first against him to put him to death”

      Revelations 2:23 And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works.

      Leviticus 25
      44 “‘Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you may buy slaves.
      45 You may also buy some of the temporary residents living among you and members of their clans born in your country, and they will become your property.
      46 You can bequeath them to your children as inherited property and can make them slaves for life, but you must not rule over your fellow Israelites ruthlessly.

      Note that the bible is also very clear that you should sacrifice and burn an animal today because the smell makes sicko Christian sky fairy happy. No, you don't get to use the parts for food. You burn them, a complete waste of the poor animal.

      Yes, the bible really says that, everyone. Yes, it's in Leviticus, look it up. Yes, Jesus purportedly said that the OT commands still apply. No exceptions. But even if you think the OT was god's mistaken first go around, you have to ask why a perfect, loving enti-ty would ever put such horrid instructions in there. If you think rationally at all, that is.

      And then, if you disagree with my interpretation, ask yourself how it is that your "god" couldn't come up with a better way to communicate than a book that is so readily subject to so many interpretations and to being taken "out of context", and has so many mistakes in it. Pretty pathetic god that you've made for yourself.

      So get out your sacrificial knife or your nasty sky creature will torture you eternally. Or just take a closer look at your foolish supersti-tions, understand that they are just silly, and toss them into the dustbin with all the rest of the gods that man has created.

      Ask the questions. Break the chains. Join the movement.
      Be free of Christianity and other superstitions.
      http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/

      May 19, 2013 at 1:52 pm |
    • Grant

      Battle of the Bob's.

      May 19, 2013 at 2:00 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Bob, when did the baton get past to you?

      May 19, 2013 at 3:12 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      correction: passed not past

      May 19, 2013 at 3:14 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      I have a hard time passing furballs after my daily meal.

      Amen.

      May 19, 2013 at 3:34 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.