Death and Dying – Program 4

By: Dr. Kenneth Barker, Dr. Don Wilkins, Dr. Daniel B. Wallace, Dr. James White, Dr. Samuel Gipp, Dr. Thomas Strouse, Dr. Joseph Chambers; ©1984
Does the Bible teach reincarnation?


Program 4

Ankerberg: Alright, we have a question.
Audience: You were talking about reincarnation and the love, the great love, if you didn’t have it, you would come back as something else or someone else and you’d keep going until you got it so you would go to heaven. He said that they saw people there, and they were in the body that they knew them as. If there were people there—if I were in this place, hey, who wouldn’t want to get out of there, it’s such a terrible place. I don’t see how anybody couldn’t come back and be reincarnated. If you had that you would have your brothers and sisters or aunts and uncles, however it may be, coming back. And could they remember themselves as they were before?
Ankerberg: Something that comes to me here, is what do you do with Luke 16 and Lazarus and the Rich Man who died, and there is a chasm and they talk about going back. Somebody want to comment to that?
Rawlings: I’m not the theologian but he said, “Nobody would believe there’s a bad place down here,” the rich man, as I recall. “Please send somebody.” [Luke 16] He’s talking to Abraham. Abraham is still living spiritually, seeing him, recognized him, Abraham’s bosom.
Ankerberg: Are you saying there’s no reincarnation there?
Rawlings: Not reincarnation. “Send somebody to tell my five brothers living in my father’s house there’s a bad place down here! It’s hot down here! There is flame down here! A little bit of water for the tip of my tongue would feel good!” What did father Abraham say? “No way!” He says, “Even if we could raise somebody from the dead to tell them there was a bad place down here, they wouldn’t believe it. They had the Scriptures and Moses’ word all these years just like we do. They won’t believe it even if we raise somebody from the dead.” That’s what’s happening today.
Hunt: See, that’s one of the problems that I have. You know, Maurice and I haven’t had a chance to discuss in detail, we might come to some more common denominators if he can show a consistency between those who have the bad experience and those who have the good experience and so forth. But still, I mean, this is a very important subject. I don’t want to go by somebody’s experience particularly when there’s a conflict. I don’t care whether they said they went to hell or they went to heaven. I want something more solid than that. The Bible indeed says that this is not the basis for our faith. We’ve got something better than that—Jesus resurrected. We have witnesses and so forth.
Rawlings: I think the purpose of this experience is to lead people back to the Bible.
Hunt: Okay. Well, if you’re going to do that, I’m with you.
Rawlings: This is an introduction to what the real thing is, that there’s life after death.
Ankerberg: It’s what you call a real mind grabber. Right?
Rawlings: Yeah. These people come out of the body, like Elisabeth says. They see what goes on in the room—dead, eyes closed, no breathing, no heartbeat. They can recall the nurse over there had pearl earrings on. Two doctors came in. Impossible—if they have the recall. Only about 20% of the people that have a death experience will have an afterlife recall. But if they have it it’s a life changer. We don’t change our lives over the nightmares. We recognize them. The drug experiences that you’re talking about, that’s this world. “Doctor, get the bugs off me! They’re coming over here!” This is angel dust, Lost Weekend, LSD. It’s this world. We’re talking about somebody transported to another world, having their hallucinations elsewhere, not here. Entirely different. The thing of meeting people that have died before and all of this is conjectural. But these experiences are impossible to reproduce because they’ve got the same sequence of events if they’ve died and come back. There’s no collusion. They haven’t read the books. And yet it’s analyzable because it’s the same thing as all of us having the same dream in this room last night. Impossible!
Kubler-Ross: Can I add something? We try to verify all these different steps. We took children who were in family car accidents where several people are killed at the scene of the accident, and children are severely or critically injured or in a coma, and they are rushed to a hospital. None of the children we investigated have been told who was dead at the scene of the accident. They always take the youngest children because they have been the least contaminated, and they haven’t read Moody’s book and all that stuff. So shortly before they die there is a kind of a peace and a serenity around it. There is a change, a clinical change. That’s when I know that they have already become aware of what’s going to happen to them. And I ask them in a very open-ended question, “Can you share with me what you experienced?” They check you out like, “Can I trust you?” The moment they accept you and they know that I’m doing it out of love, they share with me and tell me, “Yeah, Mommy, everything is okay now. Mommy and Peter are already waiting for me.” In thirteen years of checking out very critically ill children, not one single child has ever once mentioned the name of a person who did not precede them in death. I mean, this kind of research we need to do. Whether that’s an evil force—I still go on teaching people to practice Christianity, not just read the Bible.
Ankerberg: Two things I want to ask you about before we get to our next question here, and that would be the fact of, there’s a verse in Scripture in Matthew where the word that is used for the will of God, it has to do with children. “It is the “will of God that none of these little ones shall perish.” [Matt. 18:14] The Greek word for “will” there is different from 1 Peter where it says, “God is not willing that any should perish.” [2 Pet. 3:9] The “willing” there is a different Greek word than the one in Matthew. The one in Peter is more of a wish, a desire; because obviously people do seem to perish. But God wishes that they weren’t. But He gives them that choice. In Matthew, concerning the children, the “will” there is more of the sovereign command of God. They will not perish. So I would, first of all, expect in checking out children that we will not find any bad death experiences scripturally. The second thing, though—and you can come back on this—the comment would be if you two would do further research. You’re saying doctors that you know are doing research around the country. We’re really scratching the surface now. The question would be, what are we going to do if we find some more of these bad death experiences? How would that change your…
Kubler-Ross: We’d publish them.
Ankerberg: Okay.
Kubler-Ross: Oh, I believe that there are people who can have bad experiences. I have no doubt about it.
Ankerberg: Would that change your thinking in any way?
Kubler-Ross: You see, you have to understand that we’re working with those cancer patients, and we do do work David apparently doesn’t approve of. We do help them to get rid of their fear, their guilt, their shame, their anger, their anguish so they find peace before they die. And to me to become a loving human being is exactly what Mother Theresa believes in. If she picks up a dying child in Calcutta and if that child had experienced love once, then it has been worth it. I don’t only work with Christians. To me every human being is worth the same thing because as far as I’m concerned we’re all children of God whether we call ourselves Christian or not. If I love that person in spite of their anger, in spite of whatever and really love them, then they have experienced unconditional love.
Hunt: Can I just interject?
Ankerberg: Okay.
Hunt: I’m not against delivering people from guilt, anger, fear; but I would be against delivering them from it on a false basis. And, in my opinion, anything except the fact that Christ died for our sins and paid the debt we could never pay is a false basis. If I’m a doctor and you come to me and I deliver you from your fear of dying—you’ve got a ruptured appendix—by assuring you that everything is going to be okay, I may get you to feel peaceful and calm. Or a person comes with guilt. “Guilt is just a complex. Don’t worry about it.” But the Bible says we have offended God and there is a debt to be paid. Jesus wept in the presence of death. Jesus was angry with death in John 11, the word in the Greek, “He was angry with death.” This is an enemy! I don’t get the teaching that this is just a nice friend and we just teach people that everything’s going to be okay. There’s a decision they have to make. So that’s where we have our difference. I’m in favor of doing it but I think there is a particular way that it has to be done.
Kubler-Ross: I would never dare to send him a non-Christian patient.
Ankerberg: Say that again.
Kubler-Ross: I would never dare to send him a non-Christian patient.
Ankerberg: Why?
Kubler-Ross: Because he excludes all other people from the chance to experience the same kind of unconditional love.
Hunt: I don’t exclude them. You know, you either believe what Jesus said or not. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, the life. No man comes to the Father but by me.” [John 14:6] That way is available to all.
Kubler-Ross: Yes, I agree with that, but to me that means that you are loving “Thy neighbor as thyself.”
Hunt: I’m loving them if I tell them the truth.
Ankerberg: If you’re a doctor—let’s change from theology to medicine—if a person were to come to you and you realized that they did have a terminal disease at that point and you said that they did not and send them away, would you so something like that? Would you lie to a patient and tell him something that at that point wouldn’t hurt him emotionally? It wouldn’t be true. In other words, you’d say, “Oh, you’re really well,” and actually he wasn’t.
Kubler-Ross: Would I do that? No!
Ankerberg: Okay. But then that’s what David is saying with Truth.
Kubler-Ross: You see that depends on the definition. I don’t agree with his definition.
Ankerberg: The question that I think, what we want to see where David is coming from, if it is true, what he is saying, then he would be at the same definition of you telling a patient about the truth about medicine. He’s just simply saying if it is true that there is a life after death, and Jesus is the Way, and He’s the Savior, and sins have to be dealt with because it’s a serious offense and so on—there is a hell according to Maurice—then people need to be :told that and it’s not unloving to tell them that is the truth. They might not want to hear it. Just like a man coming might not want to hear about cancer, but as a doctor you tell him the truth. Does that make sense?
Hunt: You see if this is my conviction, which it is, then I have to tell people what I believe is the only remedy for them. It’s not a case of saying, “Take whatever road you will.” I don’t believe that that’s true.
Ankerberg: Maurice, why don’t you comment here. What would you say?
Rawlings: I think the answer is easier with the dying patient. I’m not sure you’d handle the dying patient. No offense to you. You do better in the stock market or in a horse race, most people will, than they will with their own souls and their life. When they’re dying, they want to know. But they don’t want to know it by “You’re going to hell!” and “Are you saved, brother?” Bruise the fruit and slap them on the back. It might work for the drunk on Ninth Street but not here with the dying patient. What the dying patient wants to know is, “Is death oblivion or is there life after death?” That’s what nobody tells them. That’s what the hospices do not tell them.
Kubler-Ross: Some of them!
Rawlings: Many of them!
Ankerberg: A little disagreement there. Keep going.
Rawlings: It’s so simple because if death is oblivion and you’re right, you’ve lost nothing. But you’re 50% better. You’d do better on the stock market, as I say, because if you bet your life on Jesus Christ you can’t lose whether you live or whether you die because if death is oblivion, you’ve lost nothing. But if Jesus Christ is who He said He was, you’ve gained the whole eternity.
Ankerberg: Okay, I think what David is saying is if you didn’t have patients that were dying and showing you the experience that they’re in hell, would you have still believed in Jesus? Is there enough reason to believe in Jesus, scratch the experiences?
Rawlings: Yes. If they believe there’s life after death, they want to believe it. Then they want to know, “What is the answer behind that?” They’ll eventually ask you if you start stuffing it to them, this attitude “Do you know Jesus Christ as your Savior?” I think that’ll turn them off.
Ankerberg: I’m not sure that’s what you’re saying, Dave. You’re not going to jam it down their throat.
Hunt: Give me the credit of doing it diplomatically and wisely, hopefully. But still, we speak in love, the Scripture says, but we must speak the truth in love. [Eph. 4:15] And what I believe is the truth; I’ve got to give it to them. If I’m wrong,… but I must go by my convictions.
Rawlings: I think after the second or third visit, instead of walking in and telling your convictions, you’ll gain more by being the servant, as Elisabeth mentions. But, at the same time, being available so the patient eventually, when he realizes there’s a possibility that there is life after death after all, he wants to know what you think. He’ll start asking you. Then you have permission to talk to him.
Ankerberg: We’ve got a man that’s been patiently standing here.
Audience: My father was a missionary in Africa. He was a flying doctor of Zaire for about 30 years. And I grew up in this area so I know some of his experiences of demon worshippers who went through the negative experiences that have been talked about. Now, has any research been done on the negative experiences in other cultures, especially where you have the demon worship commitment? They knew where they were going. A lot of times they were very accepting of this death. They would go around as their spirits had said or as their voices had said, paid all of their bills. They had said goodbye to all of their friends, submitted to it, and yet went through these horrifying experiences.
Ankerberg: Let me just ask you a question. And that is, when you’re talking about negative experiences, what actually did you see?
Audience: My father described them. Occasionally I would go down to the hospital and go into a room where one of these people had died. He would occasionally tell me about some of these things. He said that they would die screaming and pleading not to let them go. Sometimes he would talk about the little people that they saw. They described little people who would come and leer at them. Now the little people, according to this culture, happen to be the native terminology for the demons that they worshipped. They would see them at this time whereas beforehand they would hear them. They talked about their voices. They talked about other things that were actually measurable. I remember one particular situation where a man came to my father and asked him to go out into the jungle and get an antelope that had fallen off a cliff. He said, “My voices told me.” My father was very skeptical of this. Finally, because of the man’s emotional disturbance, said, “Okay, go this time. But if you don’t bring the antelope back, you cannot go again.” Well, he went and brought it back. He was extremely happy. Some of these things are verifiable. They’re testable.
But two basic questions. Number one, have these been tested? Have they been collected? Have missionary surgeons and others that deal with this phenomena been actually recruited for this particular type of studies? Secondly, you mentioned that you believed that Jesus was the Son of God. Now, it seems throughout the Scripture that He taught a lot about hell and a lot about judgment. If He really was our teacher, our example, and indeed the Son of God, and He warned of hell, and He spoke of it over and over, and that it was a very real danger to the human race, and that He was literally dying so that we would not have to go there, this was His love. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes on Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” [John 3:16] Is there not a possibility—I believe there is—that He was right about this and His greatest love was in paying the penalty for our sins perhaps to give us this choice so that we would not have to go through this?
Kubler-Ross: Why do you think I try to teach people to love unconditionally while they’re alive? So they can practice what Jesus came to teach us. That’s my whole work, is to love people and to teach them how to love. That’s my whole work. Sure we’re making hell on this planet earth. We’re so destructive, it’s pathetic. But if I love a hundred people unconditionally and they pass it on and love their children or their families more and they pass it on, I believe that I’m doing His work.
Audience: Yes, but Christ was not talking about just loving as an emotion. He was talking about a real sacrificial, unconditional love which paid the penalty so that we would not have to go through something that He said was eternal punishment.
Kubler-Ross: That doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t try. We’ll never be perfect.
Audience: No, this is true. But what I’m saying is that He taught… if He was God Himself in the flesh, as we say and as the Scripture teaches, and He taught that there’s a very real danger of eternal hell, eternal punishment. He says, “They will have no rest day nor night, forever and ever.” [Rev. 14:11] He said that when He comes back in His glory, He will sit on the throne and He will tell these people to go into everlasting punishment. It’s a real danger. But the message of Christianity is “You don’t have to go.” You can accept Christ as Savior and God, and through this for what He did on the cross, if we accept that, that we do not have to go to this eternal hell. It doesn’t talk about reincarnation. The verse quoted in Hebrews…
Ankerberg: Any of you want to respond to that?
Rawlings: It sounded more like a sermon than a question. The expertise of people contemplating death, there are just as many bad ones presented as good ones, not seeing this Heavenly Host at the foot of the bed waiting for them but some demons. Voltaire, the one that wrote so much that the pen is mightier, he had a horrible death. There’s at least two books, and I can’t recall the titles but I can get them for you, The Confessions of the Dying or something like that will verify things like he said. But Elisabeth is more expert by far than I. My job is resuscitation—those who have died and come back—where her major thrust has been along the lines you mentioned of interviewing the dying patient and she would know more about it.
Kubler-Ross: About the research, I think Ken Ring could answer that question.
Ankerberg: Dave, you have a comment before we have another question?
Hunt: Well, I would just comment to say that I understand what Elisabeth is saying and I appreciate her desire to be loving and to teach people to love, but it’s my understanding the Bible says love is “the fruit of the spirit.” It contrasts human works. It even says, “Our righteousnesses are filthy rags,” [Isa. 64:6] that self-righteousness is trying to be what I can’t really be, and that I become a loving person when I accept the fact that Christ died for my sins and I open my heart and He comes in to live His life in me. Now, it’s my understanding that she’s not suggesting that a person receive Christ as Savior and Lord, that He died for their sins, but she’s saying, “Be loving and be kind.” And I think that’s self-righteousness.
Ankerberg: Elisabeth.
Kubler-Ross: I love all my patients or try to love them unconditionally. I see lots of non-Christian patients and I don’t treat them any different. I’m sure if Christ was right here with us, He would do the same thing. I truly believe that.
Hunt:And I have a pill that would cure everybody, and everybody is dying in the world, and I had the pill that would cure them, I ought to offer it. And if I really believe that the answer is in receiving Christ—He said, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hear my voice and open the door, I’ll come in,” [Rev. 3:20]—and I don’t tell my dying patients that somewhere along the line, lovingly, carefully, diplomatically, the best way I can to get the point across, I’d just tell them to try to be loving and accept death, I don’t think I’m really loving them if I don’t give them the only solution.
Ankerberg: And you’re not saying you’re going to jam it down their throat. You’re simply saying you make that as an option because everybody’s got free choice at that point.
Hunt: No. It does no good. Right.
Ankerberg: Question.
Audience: There was a controversy earlier in the show with Dr. Rawlings and Elisabeth Ross. He asked you whether you believed in the Son of God. You said, “Yes.” And he said, “Well, I don’t see how a Christian can believe in the Son of God and then believe in the reincarnation as well.” Could you document where you believe in reincarnation and how you came to believe that?
Kubler-Ross: We have studied many, many ministers and priests who know much more about the Scriptures and about theology and they all confirm that reincarnation had been taught through the first few hundred years until the Constantinople. I can’t remember what he called that thing. What do you call that?
Hunt: The Council of Constantinople.
Kubler-Ross: The Council of Constantinople. And that it was forbidden for purely political reasons after that.
Hunt: You will never find reincarnation taught in the Bible. You have exactly opposite. I don’t care what some Christian at this time in history or at that time in history may have taught. But it just is not in the Bible. “It’s appointed unto man once to die and after this the judgment.” [Heb. 9:27] You can’t believe in resurrection and reincarnation. They’re just incompatible.
Ankerberg: You wrote a whole book on this topic. What do you think?
Rawlings: Well, it’s from the lay viewpoint. I’m not a theologian.
Ankerberg: What was your conclusion?
Rawlings: Hebrews 9:27.
Ankerberg: Which is?
Rawlings: Christ died once for our sins forever, for all sins forever. I’m paraphrasing. We shed our corrupt bodies only once.
Ankerberg: So?
Rawlings: There is no reincarnation.
Ankerberg: Okay. From the standpoint of your research of the Bible. That’s what you’re saying. Let me ask you, can you gentlemen see how some of the people that Elisabeth has talked with that are ministers would come to that point of view, David? Have you talked with people like that?
Hunt: I have been studying the Bible on my knees for 40 some years and you just can’t find reincarnation in there.
Ankerberg: But why then do some of these others say that?
Hunt: I don’t know. Well, some of them would say John the Baptist was the reincarnation of Elijah because it says, “He came in the spirit and power of Elijah.” [Luke 1:17] But Elisha, when he caught the mantle, you know, and he walked back and he smote the waters of Jordan and said, “Where’s the God of Elijah?” The prophets watching the waters part said, “This man has the spirit and power of Elijah.” He wasn’t the reincarnation of Elijah. They were contemporaries. So you’re never going to get from that one verse, but that’s the one verse that they hang on. If you read Ecclesiastes, for example, it says, “You can never return to this life.” A living dog is better than a dead lion because you’re not going to get a second chance to come back here to this earth.
Ankerberg: I’d like to have a closing comment from each one of you. I would like to keep it in the broad area of answering the question, What would you say that clinical death experiences are showing, suggesting to us today? Elisabeth, then Dave, then Maurice.
Kubler-Ross: That if you have lived a life according to the teachings of Christ, love and love and love, then you don’t have to be afraid of death.
Hunt: Well, I don’t think you will get that from the clinical death experiences. As I said earlier, I still have questions about this experience. But Christ Himself taught that it wasn’t trying to be loving that would…. You know, Elisabeth and I have a different Christ. The Christ she’s talking about, she says had to get rid of the Hitler inside of Him. The Christ she’s talking about, she says, “He materialized His body.” The Christ I know had no Hitler in Him. He is God who came in the flesh and He died because He was sinless and He could pay a debt that we could never pay. He’s in a different category than we are.
Ankerberg: I’m going to sneak in one more question on a different Christ.
Kubler-Ross: He materialized after His death and came to the disciples and walked down the road with them and ate with them so that the disciples would know and not just believe. And if you know, really know that, then you can stick your neck out and many of them have gone through a lot of hardship.
Ankerberg: Concerning the Christ, you were quoted in a magazine, and refresh my memory, that at the end of a seminar—in Detroit, somewhere up north—that you said that you agreed that the world messiah was on the scene and that Benjamin Crème was His prophet. Is that true?
Kubler-Ross: No. That’s news media distortion.
Ankerberg: Okay. I just wanted to get that straight.
Rawlings: Summary?
Ankerberg: Yes.
Rawlings: I think all through history man has predicted life after death. All religions are based on life after death. One: Who is God? Two: What happens to you when you die? Only in our lifetime, all of us here, has resuscitation become so good that we now have a population to talk to that have been there or claimed to have been there and this results in changed lives. Now, testimonies are pretty good in killing people in court. So testimonies we use in the Bible and testimonies we’re listening from people. And it brings up the very basic question to me and perhaps to others; “If this is true, what the Bible has said all along that there is life after death… now our patients are telling us, now science is telling us that eternity exists with the black hole and what not, “If there is life after death, is it safe for me to die unless I know where I’m going?”
Ankerberg: Dear friends, it’s been a wonderful evening. Thank you, Elisabeth. Thank you, David. Thank you, Maurice, for being so personable with all of us and sharing so intimately. Thank you for joining us.

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