Death and Dying – Program 2

By: Dr. Kenneth Barker, Dr. Don Wilkins, Dr. Daniel B. Wallace, Dr. James White, Dr. Samuel Gipp, Dr. Thomas Strouse, Dr. Joseph Chambers; ©1984
How can a person’s view of the afterlife be dramatically changed by a near death experience? What are the three stages of dying?

Clinical Death Experiences

Program 2

Ankerberg: Welcome. We’re glad that you joined us tonight. We’re talking about the serious topic of death and what comes after death. What do clinical death experiences tell us? We have world-famous Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, a psychiatrist that is known for her work with those that are dying. We also have Dr. Maurice Rawlings, a cardiologist, a specialist on the heart. And a man that has done research around the world, Mr. Dave Hunt, on religious phenomena.
Folks, I’m going to come and ask that you would share very personally with us at this point. In our last program we were talking about some of the things that you have observed as doctors or as a researcher. Then you talked about personal experiences. They have changed your life in essence. What I want to know is about your thinking about your experiences, your worldview, what has changed because of your experiences? Elisabeth, I’d like to come to you. I know sometimes that articles distort what you say so please feel free to correct anything in this that would be objectionable. This came out of The Mother Earth News in a Plowboy interview—not a Playboy but a Plowboy interview here. In this you were talking about your views that we were enunciating in the last program. The interviewer asked, “Do you have a name for your spiritual views?” You said, “Yes, practicing Christianity.” The interviewer said, “I’m sorry, but I never thought of Christianity as including reincarnation and spirit guides.” You said, “Oh, yes. Reincarnation was taught in Christianity for hundreds of years.” I’d like for you to comment. Do you still believe that? Why don’t you give us a definition of Christianity as you now hold it, because you told us last time that you started out in your medical work, your psychiatric work, as somewhat of a skeptic about life after death. Apparently all that’s changed. Define “Christian” for me now as you’re using that word.
Kubler-Ross: If I define it, very few people would regard themselves as Christians. To me a real Christian practices love, and I mean unconditional love. If you can really love unconditionally, and that includes your enemies and those who do you wrong, and can forgive them and learn to understand why they became the way they are, you have to love yourself, too. You can’t love others if you don’t love yourself. I think, to me, Christianity boils down to “Love thy neighbor as thyself.” [Mark 12:31] And “thy neighbor” is anybody and everybody on this planet earth. If you practice that every day, then you’re a Christian.
Ankerberg: I’m going to ask all three of you the same question here. Comment on who do you think that Jesus Christ is and what part He plays in your life.
Kubler-Ross: You’re asking me?
Ankerberg: Yes, first.
Kubler-Ross: He’s a very special being that was sent to earth at times when we lost all our spirituality and had become more negative than positive to set an example, to be our teacher.
Ankerberg: Okay. Comment also on, do you believe in reincarnation from your experiences?
Kubler-Ross: Yes.
Ankerberg: Define reincarnation as you see it; because I think that yours is just a little different than other folks would define reincarnation, but maybe I’m wrong. You define it for me.
Kubler-Ross: I cannot conceive that Hitler could return back to God. I believe that you cannot return to God with dirty hands, symbolically speaking. If you have broken the universal law, then you have to make up for it. As you sow, you shall reap. I think if you have broken universal law and if you have led a more negative life and not tried your best, to me grace is that you have a thousand chances to come back and make up for it. When you have learned your lessons and passed your tests, then you’re allowed to graduate. For me, death is a graduation.
Ankerberg: Elisabeth, how would describe the nature of man?
Kubler-Ross: Bad.
Ankerberg: Okay. Why? What do you attribute that cause?
Kubler-Ross: Because we ruin everything. We don’t appreciate nature. We don’t appreciate life. We don’t appreciate human beings. We don’t appreciate all the blessings we have. We’re surrounded with gifts, everywhere you look. We don’t look at it until some tragedy hits you and then suddenly you become religious. Or, I should say “spiritual,” not “religious,” because many religious people are very negative. They judge you if you belong to the same church. They judge you for many things that Christ would never do.
Ankerberg: Alright. You talk about the four quadrants—spiritual, physical, intellectual, emotional (intuitive if you want). Would you comment about your thoughts concerning how important it is to look inside and to get in touch with your intuitive, spiritual quadrant that sometimes, and for you, did not share the same kind of information as your intellectual quadrant? In other words, your intellect kept you from knowing certain truths. Would you define that for us? Just briefly tell us what you mean by that.
Kubler-Ross: I need to add one more sentence about what I said before. When I said “bad” it was kind of facetious, because all of us have the chance to become good. But if we were raised with unconditional love and firm, consistent discipline, we would truly become wholly human beings in the image of what Christ, I think, tried to teach us. We are physical quadrant, emotional quadrant, intellectual quadrant, and spiritual quadrant. If we are allowed to express our feelings as children, like natural anger, natural grief, natural jealousy, if you’re allowed to accept those gifts from God that we were given, and we have free choice so we are totally responsible for it, then you would develop. Your physical quadrant is the most important in the first year of life and then at the end again. Then you would develop your emotional quadrant between one and six. It’s where we get all our basic attitudes which ruin us for life. I hope everybody hears that. And then the intellectual quadrant, and if we were raised and experience unconditional love, even for a moment from a grandma or grandpa, it doesn’t have to be the parents, then we develop a spiritual quadrant in adolescence lessons. Once you get that, it’s the most incredible gift because you can then follow your own inner voice and you know when you do wrong or right.
Ankerberg: Because that inner voice is….
Kubler-Ross: That’s a part of God in all of us. Every human being is born with that. That’s a gift to man. I think only human beings have that spiritual quadrant. Then when you follow that and listen to it and you’re not afraid and you have no negativity, you experience miracles beyond any descriptions. I can ask for something and a few seconds later it happens and they’re total miracles. And then you follow that and you’re not afraid what other people think of you. They will knock you, and belittle you and be horrible. You don’t judge them because you know that you pushed a button of their unfinished business. I always say other people’s opinion of you is their problem, if you don’t become negative and you follow that inner voice.
Ankerberg: I sure appreciate you sharing it. David, let me come to you and let me ask you the same questions out of your research and so on. You’ve gotten very technical on many things. What’s your basic definition of Christianity? Tell me about who you think that Jesus Christ is, and about reincarnation. Let’s start with those three.
Hunt: Okay, let me start with reincarnation first. The Bible teaches resurrection, not reincarnation. In my opinion you cannot believe in both. If I’ve been reincarnated a hundred different times and I’ve left a hundred different bodies decaying in a hundred different graves around this world, come the resurrection which body will be raised? No matter which body is raised, 99 will be left in the grave and will have been conquered by death. Now, as I read Elisabeth’s writings, my understanding is that she believes in a spiritual resurrection, that Jesus materialized His body. I don’t believe that that is the teaching of Christianity personally.
Ankerberg: What do you believe?
Hunt: The grave was empty. His body was raised. This is the foundation of Christianity—that death was conquered. As I read her writings and listen to some of the tapes, I get the impression that it’s really a belief that is part of this whole picture that I mentioned before. I find it everywhere, that comes out of Eastern mysticism—that is that death is part of this normal cycle of life and death and rebirth, and life and death and rebirth. The Bible doesn’t teach that, in my opinion. The Bible teaches that death came because of sin, and that death is the judgment of God who will not perpetuate man in his fallen state, and that God has a very specific solution. The solution is not from within. You know, it’s very popular today to say, “Well, what we’re going to do is get in touch with ourselves.” I don’t care whether you call it intuitive or whatever—“find out who I really am.” I think we’ve been demonstrating who we really are for a several thousand years. That’s why the world is in a mess. We are not separated from some deeper level of our psyche or whatever. We’re separated from God by sin. He has a specific solution to this, and that solution is not for me to try to pass a test, or pull myself up by my bootstraps, or develop into a better person, become all-loving. The Bible says, “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” [Rom. 3:23] The answer is not within me, it’s within Christ. And He wants to come into my heart. He died for my sins. This is an entirely different solution, you see. One of them is a denial of death, and….
Ankerberg: Why do you say that? Why is it a denial of death?
Hunt: Well, you see, Elisabeth talks about, and I agree with her on this, how society tries to cover up death. We have beautiful flowers at a funeral. We pretty up the corpse and so forth. But I think, in my opinion, I’m not insulting her, but in my opinion she is denying death in a greater way. It’s a denial of what the Bible teaches, that death is a result of sin and that God’s judgment has been brought about. The Bible says, “It is appointed unto man once to die and after this the judgment.” [Heb. 9:27] Now, as I read the Bible, I find that the first person, the first entity who denied this was that serpent again who said to Eve, “No, you’re not going to die. There is no death. You don’t need to be afraid of judgment.” [Gen. 3:4] That is a recurring refrain that has echoed down through human history. I find it everywhere. Now she comes at it in a different way, but I see a denial of this in the same way.
Ankerberg: Alright, Dave, there’s so many people out there that are listening to us, though, that would say, “But, you know, I’ve had a mystical experience. I’ve had whatever you want to call it. It was real. I cannot deny it. It changed my life.” Now, what would you say to those people?
Hunt: Well, as I said before, you can have all kinds of experiences but the question is, is there some objective reality by which we can measure this?
Ankerberg: How do you judge an experience like that?
Hunt: You see, this is another problem that I have with Dr. Ross. I’ve been reading very much this afternoon some of the things she’s said. She says that “We must have a balance between these four quadrants.” But yet it seems to me in this state of out-of-body experience, it is a rejection of the rational, of the intellectual; and I’m accepting something purely on the basis of the emotional and the intuitive, so-called spiritual, which doesn’t seem to me to be a balance.
Let me just put it in simple terms like this. If I was given a ticket for doing 80 miles an hour down the freeway and I stand before the judge and I say, “But, judge, I know that I speeded, but I’ve driven that freeway at least a hundred times when I never exceeded the 55 mile an hour speed limit. Surely my good deeds will outweigh my bad.” I mean, you try it before some judge, anybody. It won’t work with an earthly judge. I don’t think it will work with God who is infinitely more just. Or, if I say to the judge, “Judge, I promise you. If you let me off this time, scout’s honor, I promise I’ll never break the law again.” The judge says, “If you never break the law again, you’re only doing what the law demands. You don’t get any brownie points for that. What about the fact that you’ve already broken the law?” Now what are we going to do about that, you see?
So in reincarnation and Karma, there is literally no forgiveness. Now, Elisabeth has sort of a Westernized soft-sell version of it. But reincarnation comes from the East, and it’s a form of punishment and there is no forgiveness. If I’m a man who beats his wife in this life, Karma and reincarnation say I must come back as the wife who is beaten by her husband. If I’m a murderer in this life, I must come back as the victim of a murder. So, far from solving the problem of evil, reincarnation and Karma only perpetuate it. Because every sin requires another one that the perpetrator must become the victim of, you see? This is why the Hindu calls it the wheel of reincarnation; why Gandhi said, “It’s a burden too great to bear.” You can’t escape. So the idea that I can somehow turn myself into becoming a loving, good person, I don’t think she has an explanation for evil. It surprised me when a few minutes ago she said, “We’re bad,” because she does say that man is perfect. I wonder where this negativity came from if we’re all perfect. You see, I can’t blame it on my parents. Where did they get it from? From their parents. Well, somewhere somebody got it, you see? There just is no escape.
The Bible would tell me that the solution is not in myself. If I went to the racetrack and I bet on the same old nag day after day, week after week, that could hardly stagger out of the starting gate, you would have good reason to think that my loyalty to that horse far exceeded my common sense. And if, after the thousands of years of history of humanity, and I don’t see any evidence that we’re evolving through reincarnation, getting better and better and better; if after thousands of years of the failure of humanity and the evil in the human heart, which she herself referred to, yet we’re still going to bet on the human race and say that the solution lies within, I don’t think it’s rational. I think that the biblical solution is much more logical—that Christ, who is God, was so concerned about us that He became a man to die for our sins and pay a debt we could never pay. He rose from the dead. He wants to come and live His life in us, become our life, and give us the strength to do what we can’t do ourselves.
Ankerberg: Maurice, why don’t you tell us the same thing. How would you define the word Christian? Maybe you can go back to your experience, if you want, before and after; because you had one definition before your clinical death experience of the man that was in hell and you came to another worldview afterwards. Define what it is that you hold to be a Christian and about Jesus Christ and where does reincarnation fit in there for your definition.
Rawlings: That’s a lot of questions. I’m glad I’m not a theologian. Being a Christian to me, before these experiences with interviewing patients, meant belonging to a good church, being a good citizen. I was a socialite. I wasn’t a good citizen if I didn’t belong to a some church, therefore, I’m a Christian because I belong to a church.
Afterwards, to me it means “full of Christ,” Christian. Not love. That comes later, maybe. Because I still don’t manifest the love I should. God help me! But I’m Christian because I admit that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, the only Son of God. Do you believe that?
Kubler-Ross: Yes.
Rawlings: Is the Son of God, the only Son of God?
Kubler-Ross: Yes, absolutely.
Rawlings: Okay, then you can’t be a reincarnationist. I don’t know anything about theology, but it….
Kubler-Ross: Yes, I can!
Rawlings: …it says you can’t serve two masters. [Matt. 6:24] You can’t do both sides of the road. I sure would like to, in some of my nightlife, for instance, play both sides of the road. This is where the rest of your question, the reincarnation bit. All of the patients that we see that visit in another world are being interviewed by a “being of light.” They maybe had trouble with this. They don’t cross the barrier, some of them. Some of them do. Usually are forced back in the body, being resuscitated or defibrillated, the world of pain they come back to. This “being of light” they interpret as their culture demands. But the “being of light” never identifies himself. The point I’m getting to, beyond the “being of light,” is the people that meet them. They’re greeting them in the same form they died, not reincarnated as somebody else. There they are. “There’s my mother. There’s so and so, and so and so.” There’s another hell case. You can tell he’s a hell case by looking at him. He’d met people that died before. He never saw any fire, just fitting puzzles together in space and he’s crying, “I’m in hell.” Piece of a giant puzzle. He’ll tell you about it. Got some patients in the hospital I’d like you to interview. One of them I worked on this morning that had two hell experiences at the hospital. The reincarnation things, they’re not given any indication by this “being of light” that they’re coming back to earth in another form, the patients I’ve interviewed. They are coming back for a second chance maybe. The people that have died and they meet, as I mentioned, are in the same body. I’ve never seen anybody come back in a different body than they left in. The things about imagination like you had mentioned, Dave, hypnosis. To me, I was surprised. I think there’s a passage in the Bible in Corinthians.
Hunt: Second Corinthians 10:8.
Rawlings: Yes! “Cast down imagination and put all your thoughts on God.” I don’t think these people were imagining things. They’re changing lives and you don’t change lives over hallucinations. You can change your coffee habits, your sleeping habits, but you’re not going to change your life. Whether it’s a bad or a good experience, it always changed life, for this life, not for another life.
Ankerberg: Maurice, there was one thing that really caught my attention and I want to draw the people’s attention to it. That was the fact that you thought that you were a Christian, that you went to church. I forgot exactly how you phrased this. But it was very devastating that when you were writing the book you were saying maybe you’re thinking about other people in terms of these clinical death experiences. But you said finally, “Think about yourself. Do you know?” What I want to ask you to explain to people that are listening to you—and you’re in a certain way saying some very scary things at this point; I think all three of you are saying some things that we haven’t heard before—you’re saying, hey, you can think that you’re an outstanding citizen because you’re track record is very good in this city. You can belong to the social clubs and go to church and not be out running around, adultery on your wife, or committing murder, or any of what are called the “big sins,” and yet, you figured it out, that might not be good enough. Why not and what would a person have to do to cross the bridge if you wanted?
Rawlings: To be good enough?
Ankerberg: To not have a hell experience.
Rawlings: They have that answered for them. I don’t have the answer. Whatever they did wrong, they changed. They can’t live with it. It is too horrible. But the ecstatic experience of being…
Ankerberg: I guess the thing I was asking about was what part did Christ play in the difference of experiences? You were sharing with us before about the man. In your book you said that He made the ultimate difference. To a person that knows intellectually about Christ as you did, what was the difference later on? Elisabeth is talking about not just head knowledge. You weren’t talking about head knowledge either. What are you talking about?
Rawlings: I’m talking about a personal experience. Even further, something I haven’t shared is being baptized in the Holy Spirit, the most wonderful moment of my life, was at two o’clock in the morning in Minneapolis by a Catholic priest to whom I’m forever grateful.
Ankerberg: Okay, define what that means.
Rawlings: It means at the same moment of ecstasy when you actually cry because you realize you’re not worth anything. It’s a very personal thing. It’s explosive. I can’t describe it. It’s like these patients that have these experiences after death through the sequence that can be analyzed, they are never the same again. This is how you recognize somebody that’s had an experience.
Ankerberg: Did you ask Christ or God to do something for you or did it just happen to you?
Rawlings: Oh, no. I was playing around with fire and didn’t know it. I said a prayer that backfired and got me.
Ankerberg: Tell us what you mean there.
Rawlings: Well, I was saying a prayer to this fellow over here that had the first hell experience. The other one over there, his wife was saying a prayer for him, who had the space experience with hell. He died at a Knoxville football game, fibrillated in the crowds, defibrillated and brought back.
Ankerberg: I want to know how you got that experience. Did you ask God to do something or did it just happen to you?
Rawlings: I was saying a prayer to keep this fellow off my back so he wouldn’t bother me, so I could resuscitate him. Because he asked me to pray for him. This little, simple prayer not only converted him but me, too.
Ankerberg: Can you tell us what it was?
Rawlings: Yes. I told him to say this prayer after me. “I believe Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” He’d repeat it. “And if I die I want to go to heaven. Please keep me out of hell. And if I live, I’m on the hook forever.” As I mentioned, he’s been on the hook ever since. This little, simple prayer.. .I don’t know how it happened but it got him and it got me.
Ankerberg: Okay. We’re going to have a response from each of our guests to what’s been said and then we’re going to have questions from the audience. Please stick with us.

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