Eleven Million Near-Death Experiences: Do Some Indicate it May Not Be Safe to Die? – Program 3

By: Howard Storms, Nancy Evans Bush, June Langley, Dr. Maurice Rawlings, Dr. John Weldon, Dave Hunt; ©1994
Does a near-death experience give us a truthful picture of what we can expect to see and experience after our death?

Can We Trust What We Learn from a Near-Death Experience?


The popular movies Ghost and Flatliners describe what more than eleven million Americans have now reported, namely that they have had a near-death experience in which they left their body, traveled through a dark tunnel, recognized friends and loved ones who had died, and encountered a supreme being of light. Are their near-death experiences real evidence for life after death? Some people have reported they found themselves in hell, not heaven, during their near-death death experience. Do their frightening hell experiences indicate it may not be safe for us to die?

My guests who will be answering these questions include : Dr. Maurice Rawlings, a specialist in cardiovascular diseases; Nancy Evans Bush, president of the International Association of Near-Death Studies, one of the most prestigious organizations in America collecting information on near-death experiences; June Langley, a nurse who has cared for over 500 children who have died of terminal diseases; Dave Hunt, internationally known Christian researcher and author of the best-selling book The New Spirituality; Howard Storm, an atheistic professor who, as a result of having a hell experience, believed on Christ and has become a Christian pastor; and Dr. John Weldon, author of more than 40 books on comparative religions. We invite you to join us.

Ankerberg: Welcome to our program. And we have a group of distinguished guests with us, and we’re talking about clinical death experiences and near-death experiences. The Gallup poll says that there’s been about 13 million Americans that have had these kind of experiences, and they’re coming back with a similar pattern of what they experience and what they see. What we want to talk about is, what do these experiences tell us? Do they tell us solid information? Is it proof about life after death? If so, what kind of existence is there after death? What are we finding out? And, Nancy, start us off with the characteristics. What is the pattern that these millions of folks that are having these clinical and near-death experiences, what are they coming back and telling us?
Bush: Not everybody will hit all, but characteristics include the feeling of being out of the body, very often watching what’s going on around the body or at a distance; very powerful emotions. There may be movement through a tunnel or space; encounter with a light, which is not just visible light but a radiant, loving presence, or, as a corollary, the absence of that light which may be perceived as a very deep and often unloving darkness; presences; review of one’s life is very common; and then, a return with life-changing aftereffects. The experience is so powerful that whatever the kind of experience, it has the ability to make people’s lives different.
Ankerberg: Dr. Maurice Rawlings, we’ve already covered this in one program, but what if somebody looks at Nancy and looks at the rest of us and says, “Hey, it’s nothing more than what your mind is giving back to you, just like in a dream.” Why is it more than that?
Rawlings: One, it’s life-changing. You don’t even interview the patient unless it’s changed their life upside down—good or bad. Number two, the sequence—like Nancy said. If they had the same dream last night, listen. Third, recall. If they can reconstruct what went on in the room—maybe 10% or so can: exactly who was doing what when they were flat-liners, dead, but they were looking on. Impossible. No dream can do a recall.
Ankerberg: Yes. We talked about the fact of the EEG, the brainwaves, are absolutely dead and they’re picking up information from another area, another geographical location.
Rawlings: One fellow was a blind man. He recalled what went on in the room, had his sight restored during the period of near-death experience, while he was out-of-the-body. You can have either one, “out-of-the-body/near-death,” all together. And then was blind again when he was resuscitated.
Ankerberg: Yes. So the question was, how in the world could he see what was going on in that room?
Rawlings: I don’t know.
Ankerberg: June, you’ve heard about these experiences and so on, what did they mean to you? What did they tell you? What conclusions do you draw?
Langley: I hear my colleagues talking and I hear them say “Jesus Christ.” But I want to know, “What about the other religions and the people of the world that see Muhammad, that see Buddha?” And why can’t they see the person? I feel it’s a deity, whatever name you want to give it. Because the children that have come back and talked to me, they see the “light.” Whatever I feel this deity is to that person in that particular time takes them to the light or to another passing. He, as “infinite wisdom,” can take these children and adults. They wouldn’t frighten a child by being a man in a white robe that has never heard of Jesus Christ. They see something they’re comfortable with. And I feel when we die, if that is of our faith, that’s what we see and that’s how we pass over.
Ankerberg: Nancy, isn’t it true that people across the world—and you’ve got to tell me if this includes some of the letters and information that you have—but don’t people see the religious figure that they’re familiar with in other cultures? Or how does it work?
Bush: The example I use is from “Star Trek.” Year after year, “Star Trek.” Every week a new galaxy. Every galaxy has a different brand of aliens. And they all speak English. So what speaks to people is what they can receive. Any of us will report in the words that are available to us. If I am, say, a Burmese illiterate peasant, I will report an experience in Burmese illiterate peasant terms. It may be an identical experience or as identical as it can be; the spirit of it is the same. The fact, I think, that the words differ, the heart of the experience and the fact that whoever the experiencers are come back, as Howard has said, with the conviction that there is a God.
Ankerberg: Okay. What we have here is, we’re all friends and sometimes friends can disagree and that’s good. And here’s where obviously we’ve got different opinions on this. Dave Hunt, you also would hold that there might be a deception with some of these experiences. Tell us what you’re talking about.
Hunt: Well, I mean, in my research—and I’ve interviewed people, not clinically dead people, people on drugs, under hypnosis, in yoga, all around the world—and I can tell you that there is a commonality to this experience. And amazingly, I mean, from my interviews, it conforms precisely to what the Bible says are the four lies that the serpent told Eve in the garden. . .
Ankerberg: Which are?
Hunt: Now, that tells me where this is coming from. That God is not personal but He’s a force; that there is no death. A lot of these people come back and it can encourage people to commit suicide. We haven’t seen that. They come back, “Oh, no matter what kind of a life I lived,” I suppose even Hitler is embraced by this light. No judgment. That was the second lie of the serpent. God is a force. A force, being impersonal, isn’t going to hassle you with morals and then there’s this warm feeling. No death. You don’t really die. And these people are saying, “I’m not afraid of death anymore. I was happy to die. I didn’t want to come back.” The third thing is that you can become like God. If this force is just a force and you can tune in to the infinite with your mind, you know, then we’re evolving upwards to godhood. And the fourth lie, the tree of knowledge. Nothing wrong with you except the way you think. You’ve been caught in the downward spiral of your negative thinking. You have to recognize this potential that we all have and tune in to this and be transformed. And I see this under hypnosis, under drugs. By the way, if we all dropped—and I’ve interviewed many people like this—we all drop acid right now, okay, suddenly, we are all catapulted into the same landscape. We’re seeing the same creatures. We’re all experiencing the same thing. Now, you cannot explain that physiologically.
Ankerberg: There’s no such thing as group hallucination.
Hunt: There is a common source of inspiration and delusion. Now, it’s interesting. Again, what I have seen in discussing this with many people, that Satan sometimes, the Bible says he “transforms himself into an angel of light.” He comes on as a nice being. But he is intrinsically evil. And he can’t hide that, and it comes out. This can even explain the hellish experiences, where suddenly that evil comes out. Now, all I can say is, I’ve correlated this around the world.
Ankerberg: Okay. You’ve put a lot on the table and I’m sure our television audience, as well as people around this room here, have a lot of questions and I’m going to open this up when we come back from our break with a story that Elisabeth Kubler-Ross told me on our program, and so I hope you’ll stick with us.

Ankerberg: Welcome back. We’re talking about clinical death experiences, near-death experiences. What do people see and what are the meanings that we draw from these experiences? Obviously, everybody sees the light. We’re talking about the fact that you go through the tunnel and you see the light and people across the world characterize either as Mohammed, Jesus, Mary, somebody and it usually comes from their religious persuasion. The question is, Who is that light? Could it be, according to what Dave Hunt is saying, could this be a deception? Now, it is interesting.
If anybody thinks there is evil in the world, here’s what I asked Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross when she was on the program. I said, “Do you believe there is an evil force or personage in the universe?”
She said, “Oh, yes. There’s evil out there. There’s been Hitler. There’s been Mussolini.” We realize there is evil in the world.
And I said, “Well, if this evil spirit or this evil personality that is out there is evil, how evil do you think that he is?”
“Oh, just really bad because look at all the tough stuff that we have in our world.”
And I said, “Well, go one step further. Would he be this evil, that he would give you a good experience”—because Kubler-Ross has had a great out-of-body experience with Raymond Moody and with others. And the fact is, would he give you a great out-of-body experience, a complete physical healing—because she had a complete physical healing—and do all of this and make you feel wonderful while you are living for the ultimate goal of actually deceiving you to damn your soul forever?
And I remember she stopped and she said, “He’s not that evil.”
Now, that’s the question. Is there anything that rings a bell, from your experience with these clinical death experiences, that talks about this deception that may or may not be going on?
Rawlings: Oh, yes. In fact, one fellow that was shot in the chest three times by a transvestite and he beat him up and in the ambulance he had an experience that was beautiful. So when I was interviewing—this was one of the delayed interviews. I hate doing delayed interviews—what was I doing there? Does God ever make mistakes? He was questioning the appropriateness. He had a good experience, life review, everything. Had all the good stuff…
Ankerberg: But he was wondering why he was there.
Rawlings: Yes. Because he had killed two people in a parking lot a year or two before that. He said this all-compassionate, all-forgiving light: “Gee, I’ve got it made the first time around.” And he was thinking of reincarnation, too, because that was the only thing he believed in.
Ankerberg: When you were on Phil Donahue you brought this up of the two lights. Give me a scriptural basis for what you’re saying. Refresh my memory.
Rawlings: Well, Christ says He’s the light; Satan says, “No. My name means ‘light’ or ‘lightbearer. I am the light.” But which light is which? Which light did they see? They could have seen either one, or any of…most other religions there “the light.” So what light did they see, and if so, which is the true light? And in all of these experiences, it comes back to the interpretation, not just the statistical analysis and gathering of data, but what does it mean and who is the real light?
Ankerberg: Dr. Weldon?
Weldon: John, I think that is the key. How do we interpret these near-death experiences? Your illustration with Kubler-Ross is very important because the issue is, if evil is that evil, then the positive near-death experience may carry more baggage than many people suspect. And when you look at the near-death experience, you know, you have to break it down. People that go into the light sometimes have the perception that, number one, God is impersonal; number two, the important thing in the world is knowledge, not sin. Their sins are already forgiven; number three, universalism: everyone who dies will be saved and be with God in a place of bliss forever; number four, the development of psychic abilities often happens after this experience; a belief in reincarnation and things like this.
So we have to find a standard by which to judge the near-death experience. An experience is, you know, they’re a dime a dozen. They happen all over the world, have all kinds of conflicting viewpoints and world views and you have to go beyond the realm of the experience and find out, okay, what is the authority by which to judge these? If you look at the deep near-death experience and examine it biblically, you find that this thing cannot be of God for a number of reasons. The intuitive perception of the message in the near-death experience is that we’re to lead a good life, a positive life, to have more love. But that is not what is going to get an individual into heaven, biblically speaking. You have to believe in Jesus Christ. So even the good can be something that is used for evil purposes in an ulterior sense. I think that the…
Langley: What about the children?
Ankerberg: Yes. Bring it up. How does that hit you?
Langley: What about the children from two to eleven? Where is there evil in them? If they saw the light? Where is evil in them? They will lead us—even the Bible says this, “the little child will lead us”—and I believe in that. And they have come back and told me what they saw. They saw the light and they believe they’re going there. Where is the evil? How can it be bad?
Weldon: That’s a good question. And you have to look at, number one, God loves little children. Jesus said, “Suffer not the children to come unto me.”
Number two, God protects children. But there are cases reported, both in the Bible, of a demonized child, as well as in parapsychological and psychic literature of demonized children. So I would say that most children have positive experiences and that God protects them. But there has to be a realization that there is such a thing as an age of accountability. And if a person has become involved in the occult, even as a child, because of the influence of their parents, that that can cause an opening of spiritistic deception in their own lives.
Langley: Would you say this to a mother whose child is dying: “Oh, I think your child has evil or there’s evil there.” This woman raised this baby and she’s dying and you’re going to say that to her in these last few moments? You wouldn’t want to give her peace?
Hunt: Can I interject something?
Ankerberg: Yes.
Hunt: June, I think you have a heavy responsibility telling children, whoever they are, how old they are, if they’ve made a conscious choice where they’re going: just follow the light. I’m just telling you, I’d be very, very careful. And when Jesus says that He is the true Light, He is the only Light, then we ought to tell them that. In other words, am I going to offend the mother?
Langley: Wait a minute. I didn’t hear you. You said, “Tell the children Jesus?”
Hunt: Right.
Langley: Suppose this person is of the Jewish faith and they’re ready to die. I’m going to convert them in the last moments?
Hunt: If it’s a matter of where they will spend eternity, you ought to.
Langley: Oh! How could you say that to a person that has raised their children of the Jewish faith and then I’m going to say, “Jesus.” When I’m holding this child at this crucial moment when they’re crossing…
Bush: Follow the true light.
Langley: Right. Right. The true light, whatever…
Hunt: Yes. It’s a matter of truth.
Langley: I embrace all religions at that time; because at that particular time, when I’m with those parents, I’m not going to convert them and say, “Jesus Christ,” or “Buddha,” or whatever. I accept at that particular time. They need all the love they can get. I’m the clinical person. Their religion belongs to them before they met me.
Rawlings: I don’t think that all lights are evil. Not all lights are evil.
Hunt: But love tells truth.
Langley: I agree. Love will tell truth. And the love they have for children will tell the truth.
Rawlings: Yes. But you see, the child has the light. And what God does with that child in the light is up to Him. We’re interpreting what that light is. It may be good. Whatever, that child is not accountable. I’ve never seen a hell case in a child, a pediatric patient.
Ankerberg: Alright. We’re going to pick this up and I think next week we’ll devote it to the fact of what about this area of children because if there’s any place that’ll rip your heart out, it’s dealing with children that are dying. This is what you’ve been working with and we want to hear some of those stories. Dr. Weldon, you started this, so how about capping it for me.
Weldon: I think that we need to take a hard look at what really is involved in the near-death experience both from the perspective of the occult historically as well as a biblical perspective. If you look at the experience, despite its goodness—and I’m not saying that it doesn’t have a positive impact in people’s lives; I’m saying that there’s more involved in this experience than one meets at a first look. The experience, as a whole, confirms a mediumistic viewpoint of the afterlife. Now, biblically, mediumism is something that God has condemned as an abomination to Him. So we have to ask, what’s the ultimate source of the experience?
Ankerberg: Yes. And what we have to do is set up a criteria, a standard, and we still need to get to that. So I hope that you’ll join us next week. We’re going to talk about: What do you tell children that are experiencing leukemia, cancer? And some of these folks have dealt with that situation and we’ll talk about it next week. I hope you’ll join us.

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