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. Ungodly Discipline

    Why do Christians insist on torturing children with church and Bible school?

    May 20, 2013 at 12:41 am |
    • My name is Bond

      STFU you ungodly ar-se!

      May 20, 2013 at 12:56 am |
    • Ungodly Discipline

      You disagree Bond? I can't imagine a fate more foul than spending your childhood in a Christian prison being lied to.

      May 20, 2013 at 1:00 am |
    • My name is Bond

      You are nothing more than a stupid ar-se full of wacky backy, a child of hell. I'll be watching you punk!

      May 20, 2013 at 1:15 am |
    • HeavenSent

      But the tongue can no man tame; [it is] an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.

      James 3:8


      May 20, 2013 at 1:17 am |
    • RTfromIL

      As a child, I loved going to Sunday school, church, and Bible school. I even played "church" at home.

      I think the reason why I did not see religion as torture, back then, was the church we went to was all about "Jesus Loves Everybody" and not about hate and exclusion. What a rude awakening I had as an adult when I found out not all churches were like that. Bummer.

      May 20, 2013 at 1:32 am |
    • HeavenSent

      RTfromIL, Jesus is LOVE. He loves us so much that He will destroy death (evil).

      May 20, 2013 at 2:34 am |
    • sam stone

      to convince their children they are sinners?

      May 20, 2013 at 8:42 am |
    • sam stone

      HS: Jesus is DEAD.

      May 20, 2013 at 8:44 am |
  2. Jack

    I think each has validity, but each different. There is "in my mind" a power far greater than us" how that power manifest in us different.

    I think we will never know how come to us at the end physical life. But it will provide us with something far greater than what expect. But I think to define would be incorrect-

    May 20, 2013 at 12:30 am |
    • tallulah13

      There are many things that are greater than humans, but all these things are perfectly natural. There is no proof of any superior supernatural being.

      May 20, 2013 at 1:05 am |
    • Ungodly Discipline

      If something exists, it is natural. There is no such thing as "super"-natural except in fantasy.

      May 20, 2013 at 1:09 am |
    • HeavenSent

      Unbelievers are ...

      He shall suck the poison of asps: the viper's tongue shall slay him.

      Job 20:16


      May 20, 2013 at 1:19 am |
    • The Deist

      ...there's no absolute proof of a lot of things. It doesn't mean anything. If you don't believe, good for you. Not a requirement, but don't belittle people who do. It's a sad testament of insecurity to sit on a pedestal of superiority and look down on people. Get over yourself.

      May 20, 2013 at 1:36 am |
    • LinCA

      @The Deist

      You said, "...there's no absolute proof of a lot of things."
      And for certain things there's absolutely no proof.

      You said, "It doesn't mean anything."
      Merit of an idea is based on the support for it in evidence. The amount of evidence does mean something.

      You said, "Not a requirement, but don't belittle people who do."
      Anyone who publicly displays their belief in the Easter Bunny, or similar imaginary creatures, deserves what they get. Infantile beliefs should be exposed for what they are.

      You said, "It's a sad testament of insecurity to sit on a pedestal of superiority and look down on people."
      Very little insecurity on my part. Consider this a public service announcement. Your god, whichever one that may be, is no more likely to exist than the Tooth Fairy.

      You are free to remain blissfully ignorant. You are free to cling to your infantile beliefs. If you don't want them questioned, you should keep them to yourself.

      May 20, 2013 at 1:46 am |
    • Breece Loo

      LinCA, nicely put. We are not required to respect or protect anyone's "religious sentiments" or "feelings" up to a certain point.
      And your point about keeping things private if you don't want them questioned is priceless. They never seem to get it, though.

      May 20, 2013 at 2:35 am |
    • HeavenSent

      Toxic folks coming on this blog to spew their venom.

      May 20, 2013 at 2:36 am |
    • required

      Skeptics can do this for anything. For example, they could say the article above is merely a long string of random words that accidentally got published. No one could absolutely prove them wrong, there would always be wiggle room for doubt. A lot of people would say they're wrong to believe that. I'm sure people would tell them that the article was written by the author, but for the skeptic, nothing said would convince them. It is the skeptic's belief that the article is unreliable, and the other people of sense believe the article was written by an author. This is basically what's happening when skeptics review the bible, nothing said convinces them, because they don't want to believe that the bible accounts are reliable, when they are.

      May 20, 2013 at 3:09 am |
    • HeavenSent


      Unto the pure all things [are] pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving [is] nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled.

      T i t u s 1:15


      May 20, 2013 at 3:32 am |
    • LinCA


      You said, "Skeptics can do this for anything."
      They should, too.

      You said, "For example, they could say the article above is merely a long string of random words that accidentally got published."
      They could, but when evaluated on its merits, the article may very well have been written by the person claimed to be the author. There simply is very little reason to question its authenticity.

      You said, "It is the skeptic's belief that the article is unreliable, and the other people of sense believe the article was written by an author."
      Even a cursory glance at the comments leads me to believe that it isn't the skeptics that have issues with the contents of the article.

      You said, "This is basically what's happening when skeptics review the bible, nothing said convinces them, because they don't want to believe that the bible accounts are reliable, when they are."
      Bullshit. The bible is unreliable because of the obvious nonsense and outrageous claims in it. But the problem with the bible is not even entirely with the contents, but that it is being touted as the truth.

      You are free to believe that there is anything of value in your fairy tale. You are not free to expect anyone else to share your delusion.

      May 20, 2013 at 12:46 pm |
    • Melissa Raissa

      Well said, Jack ^_^ How could a person define something greater than him/her. It's kinda like asking an ant to describe what people are or what the world is accdg. to its perspective?

      Obviously, an ant can't describe it by talking – but what a grain of sand to us is like a boulder to an ant & a blade of grass like a 10-storey building, & of course their brains are so much smaller to comprehend even the basic stuff that humans know.

      For a person to think that he or she already knows how everything will or will NOT turn out is futile. All we can do is trust what very little clue we're given, no matter how irrelevant as evidence it may seem to some.

      And if someone were given no clue – or chooses to ignore it – that's no longer our responsibility. If they know enough to refute the Bible, then it's their own knowledge that betrays them.

      Mark 4:9 Then Jesus said, "Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear." – or eyes for that matter.

      May 22, 2013 at 4:33 am |
  3. Buster

    Atheism is temporal, it will pass away like a vapor.

    May 20, 2013 at 12:28 am |
    • Colin

      And which faith will replace it. I'm guessing....yours, right?

      May 20, 2013 at 2:41 am |
    • Breece Loo

      No religion has yet lasted forever. Each one has died after a short time. Yours is no different.

      May 20, 2013 at 2:45 am |
    • HeavenSent

      For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name [is] Holy; I dwell in the high and holy [place], with him also [that is] of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.

      Isaiah 57:15


      May 20, 2013 at 2:57 am |
  4. D

    Rob Bell's problem wasn't that he taught about heaven, it was that he denied hell and perverted the gospels teaching about heaven.

    May 20, 2013 at 12:26 am |
  5. Rogue351

    No one knows for sure. It could be heaven or a euphoric sensation that has to do with the process of dyeing. No one can say for certain. I hope it is true. I would like to think there is actually more to the human experience than work, money, pain, stress, worry, sadness, death of the ones you love and finally your own death. Life spattered with happy moments but the bad far out weighs the good. So I hope it is true. Do I think it is true, no. But it is good to have dreams of something better. If it is we will all be happy and if it is not, Well then we will not know the difference.

    May 20, 2013 at 12:25 am |
    • Len

      Hoping don't make fantasies come true though, right?

      May 20, 2013 at 12:31 am |
  6. jt567

    Why are all of their stories of heaven different? Also do animals now go to heaven, I didn't know my dog could go as well, what about my cat? This is all such a joke, they basically had a dream and also why are their no stories of hell? It seems like everyone even the skeptics get to go, guess even if I dont believe, god will have pity on my soul. Crazy Christians.

    May 20, 2013 at 12:21 am |
    • Len

      Dogs are nonthinking and will do whatever they're told, so heaven is for them. Cats are independent and freedom-loving so, of course, they'll be in hell. 🙂

      May 20, 2013 at 12:34 am |
    • Dippy

      And "there" and "their" lare different words with different meanings.

      May 20, 2013 at 2:30 am |
    • HeavenSent

      Isaiah 11:6-9


      May 20, 2013 at 3:09 am |
  7. Mike Hunt

    Mike Hunt can't stand not knowing what happens after death so Mike Hunt has decided to choose from the available theories and then stick to it like glue, because not knowing really scares Mike Hunt. The only thing Mike Hunt fears is fear itself, ... that and vinegar water.... Do you feel like Mike Hunt?

    May 20, 2013 at 12:15 am |
    • Apatheist

      What are your feelings about sand?

      May 20, 2013 at 12:19 am |
    • lol??

      Does Mike hunt?? Some dogs can't be taught, but will hunt in a pack.

      May 20, 2013 at 12:31 am |
    • HeavenSent

      [They shall be] burnt with hunger, and devoured with burning heat, and with bitter destruction: I will also send the teeth of beasts upon them, with the poison of serpents of the dust.

      Deuteronomy 32:24


      May 20, 2013 at 3:11 am |
  8. Arlene Russell

    I know the Catholic Church talks about heaven at almost every mass....

    May 20, 2013 at 12:12 am |
  9. Tom

    C'mon, total BS. Lets start with the fact that Jesus' name was not ever Jesus, so they could not have talked with "Jesus". Then the fact that "Jesus" most definitely did not have Blue eyes because if he did exist he was a Jew, and next, most of these stories are told by people who have money to be made (the church, the author, etc).

    These people are confusing dreams during unconsciousness with something real.

    May 20, 2013 at 12:08 am |
    • HeavenSent

      Matthew 1:23   Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.

      Matthew 1:1   The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.

      Matthew 1:18   Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.

      Matthew 1:21   And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.

      Matthew 1:25   And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.

      Matthew 2:1   Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem,

      Matthew 2:5   And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet,

      Jesus was Judean.


      May 20, 2013 at 2:24 am |
    • Science

      Comedy Cold..................when.............HS..............does the POLKA !......................That horn-y red devil aye HS ?

      May 20, 2013 at 6:31 am |
  10. the AnViL™

    when you cut off the oxygen to the brain, the neurons which comprise you, your memories...etc. decay and die.

    when the brain dies – the biochemical energy which powered those neurons obeys the laws of thermodynamics and "flows downhill", dissipating out into the surrounding system.

    there is no mechanism to cause all that energy to remain coherent. it spreads out into the surrounding system – like smoke from a blown-out candle, never to be reassembled again – for eternity.

    there is no spirit, there are no souls.

    the flat fact of the matter is – when we die – that's it. we silently and finally meet oblivion... forever.

    the good news is – when you die – you will have no knowledge of the fact – as the organ you once used to know things with will no longer exist.

    there simply is no afterlife. after life – there is only death.

    and that's the only thing that's forever.

    deal with it.

    May 20, 2013 at 12:04 am |
    • stayinalive

      Spoken like a true atheist who has 100% proof.

      May 20, 2013 at 12:08 am |
    • Chutzpaw

      Yes, I have 100% scientific proof of what he's saying. For a copy, send $25.95 for my book.

      May 20, 2013 at 1:13 am |
  11. Oliver

    There is a difference between the Church, Religion, Faith and Spirituality. The Church is a social club that teaches about dogma and ritual that interprets the old testament of the Bible literally. It knows nothing about Spirituality and therefore can not fathom the metaphysics of Light which is the Source of all intelligence that lays in the Wisdom of the Causal Heaven.

    May 19, 2013 at 11:53 pm |
    • Len

      You're really out there, aren't you?

      May 20, 2013 at 12:45 am |
    • Dippy

      Oliver, you really need help with the rules of capitalization. Plain old fashioned intelligence would help also, but that may have to wait for another day.

      May 20, 2013 at 6:03 am |
  12. stayinalive

    Oh how wonderful – heaven filled with every kind of religious person imaginable including atheists. Oh, and how I look forward to my new neighbors: rapists, murderers, pedophiles, adulterers, and the whole shabang! Thanks, but if everyone is going to heaven, I'll be the first in heaven to commit suicide.

    May 19, 2013 at 11:49 pm |
    • Dippy

      I really hate to break it to you, baby, but atheists are not religious. Duh?

      May 20, 2013 at 6:05 am |
    • Maria Thetford

      Nobody goes to Heaven by force my friend. I am sure that you believed in Einstein when he said that if you bend space will make a distance shorter . In order to believed you must have seen Einstein very busy working really hard bending space with his hands writing on a black board some scribble that only a few can understand, but you do believe on it, and Einstein. How about black holes, how many have you seen? but you believed on this things just because a guy that you never met told you so ? It will never be a tangible prove till a few people go through a warp in space making the distances, shorter. Black holes I hope you never be close to one. How about the Higgs particle, the whole World was fascinate just knowing that a few people sow or thought they sow this little " bug" or rather the waves that it makes around it You will not say to all this incredible smart people that you much rather believed in Spiderman because is in a magazine and in the movies and you much rather believed in pixies because you can't see this things. Really there is no prove that exist but in a few formulas in a black board This scientist had spend their lives trying to find it spending millions and millions of dollars and euros, THAT IS CRAZY!! How much time had you spend trying to find God ?. Seams to me that is a lot easier to just say " Is just a fantasy, just make believed " !!! Too much work for you maybe ??

      May 20, 2013 at 8:58 am |
  13. Candice

    I find that Baptist churches speak of heaven quite frequently on a regular basis. Hymnals and songs are sung regarding 'those pearly gates' and 'flying away.' Messages often are centered around getting ones life in order so that entering heaven can be achieved.

    May 19, 2013 at 11:48 pm |
    • Athy

      What little I know about Baptists seems to place them pretty far out beyond the lunatic fringe. I used to date one in my youth and, well, it was scary in more than one way.

      May 20, 2013 at 6:11 am |
  14. Theo

    Even IF, there is something after death I DO NOT see how that condones any particular silly fairy tale

    May 19, 2013 at 11:48 pm |
  15. MIchael Ngong

    Heaven is being repeatedly revealed to many around the world because our God is merciful and his plans for us are not to perish. Many have already made up their minds never to believe no matter how much the church sings it. Many think that science and human reasoning have it all. Believe it or not, Heaven is real and the proofs are uncountable.

    May 19, 2013 at 11:44 pm |
    • Seyedibar

      Yes, proof is uncountable, because you can't count "0".

      May 19, 2013 at 11:47 pm |
    • Brian

      Proof? What physical proof is there that heaven exists? Poor brainwashed monkey.

      May 19, 2013 at 11:47 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Lest I be full, and deny [thee], and say, Who [is] the LORD? or lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God [in vain].

      Proverbs 30:9


      May 20, 2013 at 3:15 am |
    • Athy

      The proofs are uncountable? Shit, I can count the proofs on one fist. A bunch of believers singing in church are hardly proof of anything.

      May 20, 2013 at 6:16 am |
  16. yaa

    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.”

    Hmm... now now now, a fairy tale is a fairy tale and an acid trip is an acid trip.

    May 19, 2013 at 11:43 pm |

    • But a good cigar is a smoke.

      May 19, 2013 at 11:51 pm |
    • Athy

      Watch out for those "wow" eyes.

      May 20, 2013 at 6:19 am |
  17. edmundburkeson

    Like most liberals this one misrepresents the beliefs of those he criticizes, demonstrating poor scholarship and an understanding that is misguided mostly from a knowledge deficit of the historic Christian position.

    May 19, 2013 at 11:42 pm |
    • Len

      Do you have any scholarly sources to back up your criticism?

      May 20, 2013 at 12:52 am |
  18. J B

    im pretty sure whatever your opinion is on this, it is probably wrong.

    May 19, 2013 at 11:36 pm |
  19. pickle

    Of course heaven exists:

    Act 1:11 Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.

    May 19, 2013 at 11:29 pm |
    • LinCA


      You said, "Of course heaven exists:"
      By the same logic Spiderman is real.

      May 19, 2013 at 11:31 pm |
    • Seyedibar

      Of course, Spider-Man is real!
      He's in a book that's older than me, so he must be!

      May 19, 2013 at 11:35 pm |
    • edmundburkeson

      Not sure we're are talking about the same heaven here!

      May 19, 2013 at 11:37 pm |
    • pickle

      Bible covers that too:

      2Pe 1:16 For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty.

      May 19, 2013 at 11:37 pm |
    • pickle

      They knew what was coming up:

      2Ti 4:2 Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.
      2Ti 4:3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;
      2Ti 4:4 And they shall turn away [their] ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.

      Spiderman won't save you.

      May 19, 2013 at 11:43 pm |
    • Melissa Raissa

      Well quoted! Obviously there's a heaven, accdg. to the Bible that's where God & Jesus lives along with the angels & the saints.

      I guess some people just don't want to consider going there even if its just for argument's sake. They would rather not know or end up in a void or even prefer non-existence after we die than imagine a heaven full of all the good things that we could hope for. Then, I guess that's where they would end up coz life is a choice after all. Freewill & all that.

      It's unfortunate that some people will believe scientific studies without question & yet wouldn't consider the Bible for it's truths that have transcended all the debunked scientific knowledge of the past.

      May 19, 2013 at 11:46 pm |
    • Seyedibar

      Spider-Man will save you faster than Jesus.
      But only once. Everybody gets one.

      May 19, 2013 at 11:48 pm |
    • lol??

      They prefer Frankfurter's school with relish.

      May 19, 2013 at 11:48 pm |
    • Melissa Raissa

      @LinCA & @Seyedibar

      To compare the Bible with Spiderman comic books makes me think that those comics are the only books you've ever read. Then again, there's Ironman & the X-men or other...

      May 19, 2013 at 11:55 pm |
    • LinCA

      @Melissa Raissa

      You said, "To compare the Bible with Spiderman comic books makes me think that those comics are the only books you've ever read."
      Actually, come to think of it, you may be right. Maybe I shouldn't compare the two. Spiderman comics are far more believable and contain far less bullshit and lies.

      May 20, 2013 at 1:25 am |
  20. Melissa Raissa

    I would just like to ask if the Jesus they saw had any of the wounds he had on the cross or "Holy Wounds" coz I've heard that the devil can manifest anything beautiful to achieve his purpose – "a beautiful lie" so to speak. He could imitate anything & anyone but the Holy wounds of Jesus Christ, those he couldn't imitate – at least that's what I believe.

    But if the Jesus they saw had the wounds of the cross & on His side, then maybe I'd be more convinced that they saw the Christ who loves us & suffered for our sins.

    It just bothers me about the last part regarding the 3 messages: (1)“You are loved and cherished, dearly, forever.”(2)“You have nothing to fear.”(3)“There is nothing you can do wrong." especially the 3rd message coz obviously people make mistakes which have consequences. The rest of the story is inspiring although the 3 messages seems to me like another way to say that "There is no sin, no hell, nobody trying to lead us to there." which is somewhat complacent Christianity.

    May 19, 2013 at 11:29 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      Zounds! You may be onto something, Melissa.

      May 19, 2013 at 11:39 pm |
    • Rob L

      Not that I disagree, but the way I look at it is you have to ask why are we here? From my vantage point, we are here to learn and grow to become more open, honest, respectful and loving towards ourselves and each other. If that is true, then when we say we do no wrong are we attaching too much to a physical life that we possibly repeat hundreds of times? That the true essence of a soul that comes through in a manifestation of physical life is just a body and a vessel and way to learn? Of course we have consequences here, we should stick up for ourself and not look to do harm to each other, but can't experience be the greatest asset to teach a lesson?

      May 19, 2013 at 11:45 pm |
    • J.R.

      Yea, I have to agree with Mel up there. The first lie told by the serpent was "Ye shall not surely die, but live forever" This was a complete lie. I mean if you look through the new testament....I mean really study it, it seems to concrete the fact that although there is life after death, for the DEAD....it is just darkness. No consciencousness until the 2nd coming of Christ. I would love to talk about this with others, as there are many points I can make. The eternalness of the soul is a lie, told by people who sought to usurup Christianity in its infantile stages. The soul, while incoporeal is finite until judgement day. Socretes, plato, and other greek philosphers had a working practice of (tell the masses false information, while telling those "enlightened" the REAL truth)

      May 19, 2013 at 11:52 pm |
    • Melissa Raissa

      I really don't know for sure what happens after life & nobody really knows except God. But what has been made known to us, (1) the laws through Moses 10 commandments to know what's right & wrong & (2) the fulfillment of the law through Jesus' agape love & obedience to God's will – if you're Christian you would know what I'm talking about – then we already have a pattern on how to live our lives & not repeat the mistakes of the past.

      Granted, you will never really know the full extent unless you experience it yourself – but the point is to follow what Jesus did along with all the motives behind his actions – which is love for God & for others even to the point of death. Then maybe, you wouldn't have to worry where you're going after you die – it's the journey & not the destination as they say.

      I believe, how you live your life today is how you live your life forever. How you make choices now, it's a pattern that will determine your fate – our life experiences tell us that. What if it doesn't stop after this life? Will we just keep going on doing what we're used to doing – following our own will instead God's will, making the same mistakes over & over. Some people think hell is like that.

      May 20, 2013 at 12:16 am |
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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.