home
RSS
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. KT

    AS A BELEIVER I WIN EITHER WAY I WILL EITHER DIE AND BE WITH THE CREATOR (WHICH WOULD BE A RELEIF)OR DIE AND BE VOID NO MEMMORY OF BEFORE AND NO KNOWLEDGE OF AFTER. I GUESS EQUIVILENT TO ETERNAL UNCONSOUISNESS. BEING THE WORST. EITHER WAY THANK GOD!!!!!LOL

    May 20, 2013 at 3:48 pm |
    • sam stone

      unless "the creator" is one you hadn't imagined, and one who is jealous enough to torture you forever for your disbelief

      May 20, 2013 at 3:52 pm |
    • John Bigbooty

      WHERE ARE WE GOING?

      PLANET 10

      WHEN ARE WE GOING?

      REAL SOON

      May 20, 2013 at 3:55 pm |
    • Larry Smith

      Some of the most brilliant people I have ever met have been also the most religious. It is complete fallacy to relate IQ with faith. They are totally unrelated.

      May 20, 2013 at 3:57 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      KT, You do know that Pascal's Wager was discredited almost as soon as he made it.

      May 20, 2013 at 4:00 pm |
    • Athy

      Actually, Larry, they are closely related in an inverse manner. Several studies have shown that, on average, religious people have lower IQs than atheists. KT's post above certainly shows that relationship. You're welcome to google it, but you probably won't like the results.

      May 20, 2013 at 4:02 pm |
    • Larry Smith

      Athy, I guess this shows God is equitable as he has given spiritual discernment to those who he hasn't given as much intellectual discernment (that is if you can the source of this information you cite)

      May 20, 2013 at 4:08 pm |
    • R.M. Goodswell

      No doubt Larry...truly

      as Sam Harris said: 'It is possible to be so well educated that you can build a Nuclear bomb – and still think you ll get the virgins in heaven"

      Its also a statistical fact the better educated a person is, or the higher the IQ, the harder it is to indoctrinate them into something they want no part of.

      There are some very smart 'believers' – usually profiting in some way from selling God.

      May 20, 2013 at 4:09 pm |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      "Some of the most brilliant people I have ever met have been also the most religious" I think you need to expand the pool of people you actually know.

      May 20, 2013 at 4:11 pm |
    • Larry Smith

      Satan's Evil Twin-I have met people that are brilliant that live their life to defy God also. As you sew, so shall you reap. I hope you find God someday because Satan doesn't treat his followers very well.

      May 20, 2013 at 4:19 pm |
  2. Science

    Bill Nye: Creationism Is Just Wrong!

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aaKMAhPQ54g&w=640&h=360]

    May 20, 2013 at 3:46 pm |
    • anti-nothing

      With a BS in mechanical engineering, he should be qualified to promote the 'nothing god'. Stephen Hawking said nothing can form a universe, but didn't show any prototype universes formed from their experiments with nothing. I guess that means science knows what it's talking about, given nothing to back it up, witnesses everywhere saying nothing told them nothing about it, and how nothing made everything, really fast, and never again. (snicker)

      Read the bible science, you know it's the right thing to do, right?

      May 20, 2013 at 4:19 pm |
    • Science

      Chard and faith .............chadie is posting again om another thread Comedy Gold !

      Where Does All Earth's Gold Come From? Precious Metals the Result of Meteorite Bombardment, Rock Analysis Finds

      http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110907132044.htm

      May 20, 2013 at 4:03 pm | Report abuse |

      Science

      Evolving Planets Get a Bumpy Ride

      http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/03/120305131756.htm

      May 20, 2013 at 4:16 pm | Report abuse |

      http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2013/05/05/when-christians-become-a-hated-minority/?replytocom=2352045

      May 20, 2013 at 5:06 pm |
  3. Just me

    Religion is one thing and faith is another. I haven't been to church for years but I've always kept my faith in God. I keep his goodness inside my heart. I know that we all will be in his presence one day. About ten years ago I had a near death experience the most amazing overwhelming feeling of love . Hard to explain really. What I can tell you is that I did not want to come back.. I look forward to being in Gods presence and to feel that much love again.

    May 20, 2013 at 3:45 pm |
    • Larry Smith

      Just me. You are not insane. A lot of church congregations do not have the spirit of God in them. They are often driven by a desire for money and power of the church leader. These are wolves in sheeps clothing. I know what you experienced is real and I appreciate you sharing it.

      May 20, 2013 at 3:55 pm |
    • John Bigbooty

      Larry....wtf.

      "A lot of church congregations do not fit my worldview therefore they're wrong and bad."

      You sound like a 4 year old.

      May 20, 2013 at 3:57 pm |
    • Larry Smith

      John Bigbooty, it is not that they don't fit my world view it is that some churches profess Christ but are driven by money and power not by the glory of God and a love for all mankind.

      May 20, 2013 at 4:02 pm |
    • Humble_Hearted88

      ((HUG)) Just Me...thank you for sharing! No one can take that TRUTH and EXPERIENCE from you! Be blessed my friend.

      May 20, 2013 at 4:05 pm |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      Larry: Most churches are driven by the mighty dollar. Look up the Clergy Project, these are members of varying clergy who speak of their experiences and struggles. These are men and women who no longer believe but yet leaving the church is a risk...both financially and personal (the risk of the loss of family, friends, being shamed). If you had no other experience in life or support system out of the church, the money would be a good reason to keep pretending.

      May 20, 2013 at 4:10 pm |
    • lol??

      Well, the Beast Inc'd em and then there's that little matter of all the modern day pharisees from the nation of laws.

      May 20, 2013 at 4:14 pm |
    • lol??

      Translation fer the A&A's,

      punk'd.

      May 20, 2013 at 4:15 pm |
  4. HotAirAce

    Divine Truth, you are disgusting!

    May 20, 2013 at 3:44 pm |
  5. Maya

    One wonders how a person could ever become a neurosurgeon with such a poor grasp on scientific thought. Personal anecdotes are proof of nothing. That does not become less true simply because it is your anecdote and not someone else's, nor does an explanation for a phenomenon become more true simply because you prefer to believe it. Logical fallacies abound.

    May 20, 2013 at 3:37 pm |
    • My Dog is a jealous Dog

      How about "my brain was offline"?

      This guy actually has an advanced medical degree? I supposed he is half-pregnant as well.

      May 20, 2013 at 3:45 pm |
    • lol??

      Hal9001, where are you?? Alert alert alert not a true surgeon Hal!!!! Help!!!! HAL!!

      May 20, 2013 at 4:09 pm |
    • My Dog is a jealous Dog

      @lol

      You really don't understand, do you? We are not saying he is not a "true surgeon" we are just questioning his qualifications. I am convinced that he actually is a neurosurgeon (because CNN usually checks this kind of thing out – and I have seen this guy in other interviews) – I just am glad he is not my wife's neurosurgeon. I will say the he is a "true idiot" and if you would like to object to that on the basis that you are a true idiot and you know one when you see one – then we can call in Hal9000.

      May 20, 2013 at 4:35 pm |
    • lol??

      No excuses, dawg, now fetch me my paper.

      May 20, 2013 at 4:59 pm |
  6. Cloudrider

    Hmm interesting how the article ended with... “There is nothing you can do wrong." REALLY...
    Sounds a like a very well put together "deception" ... interesting it does not mentioned those that had a NDE and went to the bad place (I read the book too) So based on this do what you want, just love people the way you think best, and you have A GREEN LIGHT to eternity!

    Yep, and how does it go, "ITS JUST AN APPLE!" A very crafty venus fly trap.

    Dangerous stuff. You will either have eyes to see and ears to ear, or YOU WONT!

    May 20, 2013 at 3:37 pm |
    • Larry Smith

      Yes, I agree. I was interested to see if there was a twist to the article that would be Satan's touch to a great amount of truth. Those who are influenced against God and towards Satan will use mostly truth and one small twist to lead God's children astray. The final statement in the article that there is nothing you can do wrong. This goes against every other authentic near-death experience I have ever read and goes against all of God's teachings. I am not surprised to see that CNN chose to end an article with a lot of truth with a complete falsehood.

      May 20, 2013 at 3:53 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      Larry, You seem to think that if one does not believe in your god then one believes in satan. Not true. They're both figments of your collective imagination.

      May 20, 2013 at 3:56 pm |
    • Larry Smith

      God is real. He created you. He created this earth and blesses those all of his children. Those that seek after Him sincerely find Him. The blessings and the assurances come after a trial of our faith. I know that God loves me and that Jesus Christ will be there when I die to welcome me back home. This knowledge helps me find peace in this life and helps me understand and love others.

      May 20, 2013 at 4:17 pm |
  7. KT

    There is really no concept of heaven and hell in the bible until the new testament like my previous post the bible sort of states what you Athesit state that there is nothing.

    May 20, 2013 at 3:34 pm |
    • Dippy

      KT, try using a little punctuation in your comments. Punctuation are those funny little marks in the lower right-hand part of your keyboard.

      May 20, 2013 at 4:06 pm |
    • A Conversation

      KT...not exactly...

      Proverbs 15:24: "The way of life is above to the wise, that he may depart from hell beneath."

      May 20, 2013 at 4:39 pm |
  8. Humble_Hearted88

    My comment is short and sweet. You do not have to wait until you are "near death" to experience Heaven. I believe (and per definition, belief is not neccesarily proof) that you can experience and see heaven on earth. Most Christians don't talk about Heaven in the church because some people aren't satisfied with the answers. I've seen heaven. I've never been in a "near death" accident in my life. However, through my prayer life, and through my desire to see life as God has instructed us all to see, I've entertained angels. I've entertain strangers. I've even literally seen God pick me up into His presence and held me in His arms. Call it imagination if you will but the light of His countenance. The energy and the abunance of love I've felt is very real. Say what you will, but I know we can see heaven on earth if our hearts are right, and prepapred.

    May 20, 2013 at 3:33 pm |
    • snowboarder

      @humble, you have a vivid imagination.

      May 20, 2013 at 3:37 pm |
    • Madtown

      because some people aren't satisfied with the answers
      ----
      Maybe they realize we don't know the answers, can't know the answers in this life. Some things we're just not meant to know, and that is ok.

      May 20, 2013 at 3:37 pm |
    • sam

      It wasn't short.

      May 20, 2013 at 3:41 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      Looks like it's not so hard to buy DMT or other mind altering drugs. Maybe that's the big secret about religion – they have easy access to drugs?

      May 20, 2013 at 3:47 pm |
    • Humble_Hearted88

      Say it is my imagination, what makes my thoughts any different from what is considered the "near death" Heaven experience? Rhetorical question. Religion will never be a great conversation starter, neither will heaven. However, if people are willing to make themselves as child, who knows what expereiences we can have. But first we must believe. There are so many things that have to be taken into account because there was no mention of the Holy Spirit. One thing leads to another in these types of conversation, and everyone is always aiming to be correct. My aim was never to be correct, but to share my experience. And that's just it, these are people's experiences, accounts, and testimonies. No one can rob a believer of that!

      May 20, 2013 at 4:00 pm |
  9. Larry Smith

    I wasn't aware that there were people capable of comments as ignorant as yours on this earth. You sir have won the prize of the worst post I have ever seen.

    May 20, 2013 at 3:31 pm |
  10. Ec1warc1

    Seeing this garbage on a news site is yet another example that CNN is agenda driven, not news driven.

    May 20, 2013 at 3:30 pm |
    • Madtown

      Well, they are ratings driven, just like any other business in this market segment. Look at the number on comments on this article, that means high volume web-traffic which is good for business.

      May 20, 2013 at 3:40 pm |
  11. Larry Smith

    I have studied near-death experiences as well as the scriptures a lot. I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormons) also. I believe in these near-death experiences. The wonderful thing about my belief is I can accept all truth from any source. I know that God loves all of us his children. I have always been taught this. Even those that don't believe the way that I do. I have always been taught that all of us will be welcomed with love into God's Kingdom except those who refuse to go. Satan is also as real as Jesus Christ is. He wants us to follow him. We have freedom to follow Satan or Christ. Hell is real and those that refuse to come to Christ in this life or the next life will be drawn towards the devil and will be treated poorly by the other occupants of hell.

    The evidence of life after death is indisputable with all of the experiences of believers and atheists alike (see Howard Storm's experience while he was an atheist). All the truth that I have ever learned in my life has added to the religious knowledge I have received and supports the truth that I have learned. These stories give me comfort because they verify the truths that I already know.

    May 20, 2013 at 3:29 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      How do the experiences of people who did not actually die support your life after death delusions?

      May 20, 2013 at 3:32 pm |
    • Maya

      Anecdotes =/= evidence

      May 20, 2013 at 3:35 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Larry, why is it that no one ever reports an NDE involving hell? Do only the saved and the believers have NDEs? Why then do many people who never believed in a god have the same experiences as people who do?

      May 20, 2013 at 3:38 pm |
    • Brother Maynard

      Larry
      Just curious ... how many near death experiences have you studied / heard about ?
      ( a round number is fine ) .

      May 20, 2013 at 3:38 pm |
    • Larry Smith

      To the real Tom. Read about Howard Storm's experience of a glimpse of Hell and then let's talk. I don't know that people return back if they truly go to Hell. Howard Storm got close to Hell and then called out for Jesus prior to making it completely there. Also, to answer the question about how many near death experiences. I am by no means an expert, but my great grandmother had one, my neighbor had one, I have read several books by those who have had them. I have also read short account from maybe 200 other near-death experiences. Not an expert, but learn new things often from reading these. Of course not all of them are authentic, but I believe that the spirit of God helps us discern truth if we really desire to know the truth and ask God for guidance to recognize the truth. I feel that I KNOW a lot of what will happen to us when we die, But, I also know that the amount that I know is just a drop of water in a whole ocean compared to all the knowledge regarding our souls and God's creations.

      May 20, 2013 at 3:48 pm |
    • John Bigbooty

      Quite likely the people around you have so many NDE's because you keep trying to kill them. You do sound pretty serial-killerish, Larry.

      May 20, 2013 at 3:59 pm |
    • Larry Smith

      Good one John Boy. That actually did make me laugh. Thank you.

      May 20, 2013 at 4:05 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Just curious, Have you ever stayed at a Holiday Inn Express?

      May 20, 2013 at 4:13 pm |
    • John Bigbooty

      Good one Bill.

      May 20, 2013 at 4:24 pm |
  12. sirhuxley

    Well, I hope they have Lowes stores in heaven, I am sure that I will have lots of accessorizing to do on my new house in Heaven.

    What about zero interest loans? Does heaven have those?

    May 20, 2013 at 3:21 pm |
    • lol??

      Not loans, inheritance! You been po' all yer life??

      May 20, 2013 at 3:40 pm |
  13. KT

    Ecclesiastes 9
    This is the evil in everything that happens under the sun: The same destiny overtakes all. The hearts of people, moreover, re full of evil and there is madness in their hearts while they live, and afterward they join the dead. 4 Anyone who is among the living has hope[b]—even a live dog is better off than a dead lion!

    5 For the living know that they will die,
    but the dead know nothing;
    they have no further reward,
    and even their name is forgotten.
    6 Their love, their hate
    and their jealousy have long since vanished;
    never again will they have a part
    in anything that happens under the sun
    11 I have seen something else under the sun:

    The race is not to the swift
    or the battle to the strong,
    nor does food come to the wise
    or wealth to the brilliant
    or favor to the learned;
    but time and chance happen to them all.

    12 Moreover, no one knows when their hour will come:

    As fish are caught in a cruel net,
    or birds are taken in a snare,
    so people are trapped by evil times
    that fall unexpectedly upon them
    Go, eat your food with gladness, and drink your wine with a joyful heart, for God has already approved what you do. 8 Always be clothed in white, and always anoint your head with oil. 9 Enjoy life with your wife, whom you love, all the days of this meaningless life that God has given you under the sun—all your meaningless days. For this is your lot in life and in your toilsome labor under the sun. 10 Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the realm of the dead, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom
    TO ALL YOU FANATICS THIS BELOW IS OUT THE BIBLE AS WELL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    ECCLESIASTES 7 :15In this meaningless life of mine I have seen both of these:

    the righteous perishing in their righteousness,
    and the wicked living long in their wickedness.
    16 Do not be overrighteous,
    neither be overwise—
    why destroy yourself?
    17 Do not be overwicked,
    and do not be a fool—
    why die before your time?
    18 It is good to grasp the one
    and not let go of the other.
    Whoever fears God will avoid all extremes.[

    May 20, 2013 at 3:20 pm |
    • Robert Brown

      Solomon tried everything under the sun apart from God and found it all to be vanity and vexation of spirit.

      May 20, 2013 at 3:26 pm |
    • sam

      Why exactly are you copy-pasting bible quotes?

      May 20, 2013 at 3:30 pm |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      Get quotes daily Sign in with Facebook Sign in
      options Join Goodreads
      A Book of Five Rings Quotes

      Want to Read saving…

      Want to Read Currently Reading Read Rate this bookClear rating
      1 of 5 stars2 of 5 stars3 of 5 stars4 of 5 stars5 of 5 stars A Book of Five Rings: The Classic Guide to Strategy by Miyamoto Musashi
      9,904 ratings, 4.11 average rating, 377 reviews
      buy a copy A Book of Five Rings Quotes (showing 1-30 of 37)
      “Do nothing that is of no use”
      ― Miyamoto Musashi, The Book of Five Rings
      111 people liked it like “Think lightly of yourself and deeply of the world”
      ― Miyamoto Musashi, A Book of Five Rings: The Classic Guide to Strategy
      107 people liked it like “there is nothing outside of yourself that can ever enable you to get better, stronger, richer, quicker, or smarter. Everything is within. Everything exists. Seek nothing outside of yourself.” ― Miyamoto Musashi

      May 20, 2013 at 3:44 pm |
    • conguero

      You know who else is really adept at taking scripture out of context? Satan. Matthew 4:6 NIV
      "If you are the Son of God," he said, "throw yourself down. FOR IT IS WRITTEN: " 'He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.' "

      May 20, 2013 at 3:52 pm |
  14. anonymous

    And what church have you been to CNN? Lay off the crack pipe this article is downright dumb and false. I can't believe people would actually write this.

    May 20, 2013 at 3:12 pm |
    • lol??

      Created corps of the Beasties, err procreations, are people, too according to SCOTUS.

      May 20, 2013 at 3:43 pm |
    • Paul H

      Humans have near-death experiences. Humans have visions of the afterlife when under extreme stress. Why not try living out of your comfort zone sometime and see if the things of this world actually bring you comfort when you realize that you are not strong enough to continue with what you know needs to be done to improve this world. Those that don't have the true comfort of God in these situations are more likely to use things like controlled substances to curb their anxiety and to forget their meaningless existance. It's time for you to experience the reality of God's love and become more human in the process.

      May 20, 2013 at 3:48 pm |
  15. thecommonathiest

    You are all living a petty lie and you need to rethink your places in the world. Because religion is for weak minded people that need something to believe in because they cannot face the fact that one day we all die. Without the false promise of heaven.

    May 20, 2013 at 3:09 pm |
    • HK

      with the numerator being somewhere between 1 and 100, and the denominator being somewhere between unknown and infinity, don't put all of your eggs in the numerator

      May 20, 2013 at 3:19 pm |
    • Doug

      yeah, maybe. i'm pretty much an atheist/agnostic too. but his story about his near death experience pretty much aligns to what the book of mormon says, so I found that a bit strange. it would be interesting to know what the guy's religious background is. maybe the afterlife is dependent upon what people believe vs. any kind of real external god/heaven/etc.

      May 20, 2013 at 3:46 pm |
  16. thecommonathiest

    this is all a joke. god isnt even real

    May 20, 2013 at 3:07 pm |
  17. Ken

    This is quite an unfounded article. Perhaps the writer should attend some more churches.

    May 20, 2013 at 3:04 pm |
    • sam

      What was the writer wrong about?

      May 20, 2013 at 3:06 pm |
  18. My Dog is a jealous Dog

    Assume for just a second that Mary was a virgin. That can only mean that

    1) Jesus was a clone of Mary (and was actually female)
    2) God has DNA (and a Y chromosome)

    of course there is a more likely answer (she lied about being a virgin)

    May 20, 2013 at 3:04 pm |
    • kk

      this article talked so much about the virgin birth

      May 20, 2013 at 3:09 pm |
    • R.M. Goodswell

      No...but it does point out that a toddler is a credible 'witness' – have a successful book and all....

      no functioning nervous system ..i.e. dead- means no means to experience 'heaven'.

      May 20, 2013 at 3:31 pm |
  19. ANNIEMOM

    The Church of Jesus of Latterday Saints can answer your questions about life after death. I invite you to learn more at Mormon.org. It was shocking to me to read that other religions don't talk much about heaven, when our beliefs center so much on who we truly are, where we came from, our purpose here on earth and where we are going after this life is over. My faith helps me live each day with purpose and view challenges with a balanced perspective. I DO believe in life after death and that we will see our loved ones again. We will be taken home to that God who gave us life, who is a perfectly loving and merciful God... Please learn more so many questions brought up in this disucussion can be answered even about "organized religion" etc.

    May 20, 2013 at 3:03 pm |
    • sam

      Not really the greatest blog to try recruiting on.

      May 20, 2013 at 3:10 pm |
    • snowboarder

      i have never really understood how contemporary religions get started. the older religions are carried forward by indoctrination and groupthink, but how does someone in the modern era all for a new religion? pt barnum was right.

      May 20, 2013 at 3:17 pm |
    • Ted Jones the crusader not for khrist

      Yep God was there for those that died in that church van crash...god was their co-pilot.

      May 20, 2013 at 3:20 pm |
    • R.M. Goodswell

      Anniemom,

      Loving God? Survival of the fittest is many things...loving isn't one of them. The here and now, this world is all there is. if the food stops, if the power stops, if society breaks down........

      Heaven was invented to make ignorant peasants give their lives willingly to further the goals of the elite. They don't want the con to end because it has served them so well.

      May 20, 2013 at 3:43 pm |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      What's with all of the idiotic Mormon posts on here today? I can't take seriously a group that found the bible not stupid enough for them, so they made one even more appallingly stupid.

      May 20, 2013 at 3:49 pm |
    • lol??

      Snow, pt barnum said,
      wiki,
      "..... Barnum spoke before the legislature and said, "A human soul, ‘that God has created and Christ died for,’ is not to be trifled with. It may tenant the body of a Chinaman, a Turk, an Arab or a Hottentot – it is still an immortal spirit.""

      May 20, 2013 at 3:49 pm |
    • Carsosi

      Explain to me all of the following lies told by the LDS and then we can talk: http://www.mrm.org/ten-lies

      May 20, 2013 at 4:09 pm |
  20. lol??

    Paul had to defend himself from the opposition,

    "2Cr 12:11 -12 I am become a fool in glorying; ye have compelled me: for I ought to have been commended of you: for in nothing am I behind the very chiefest apostles, though I be nothing. Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you in all patience, in signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds."

    Signs, wonders, and mighty deeds. They forgot so soon.

    May 20, 2013 at 3:01 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62
Advertisement
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.