Life After Death – Part 6

By: Dr. John Ankerberg, Dr. John Weldon; ©2004
What are some additional implications of the Near-Death Experiences? What about children who have Near-Death Experiences?


Life After Death—Part 6

What are some additional implications of the Near-Death Experiences?

By now, tens of millions of people have been exposed to the “death is glorious” theme in one way or another. But in the last ten years there have also been reports in the media of suicides apparently induced by the desire to experience the “glorious” nature of death as commonly reported in near-death experience (NDE) literature.

This phenomenon also has its parallel in the occult. In the world of mediumism, spiritism, Eastern religion, and other forms of the occult, one not infrequently finds that those who seek out the spirits may become their victims through occult-induced mental illness and even through suicide. In fact, the spirits may cunningly counsel their contacts to commit suicide in order that they might experience “enlightenment” sooner or be reunited with their “loved ones.”[1]

In some cases, an inducement to suicide may also result from the NDE. While those with partial NDEs usually express gratitude at being brought back to life, others with more powerful experiences may resent it deeply and become depressed or even wish to die: Says one NDEr, “I just kept withdrawing more and more into my own world. I really didn’t have much desire to go on living. I really wanted to go back to the tunnel…. I really wanted to die.”[2] And another admits, “The most depressed, the most severe anxiety I’ve ever had was at the moment I realized I must return to this earth. That is the greatest depths of depression I personally have ever had since that time or before.”[3]

One can only wonder. With millions of people already suffering from depression in our coun­try, will the knowledge that “death is bliss” provide a welcome relief and help justify their final act? Is it only coincidental that an increasing social acceptance of suicide coincides with the widespread reporting of blissful NDEs?

Some claim that NDEs will not lead to an increase in suicide because suicide-related NDEs are allegedly so unpleasant. But studies of suicide-induced NDEs reveal that these experiences are very similar to non-suicide-related NDEs. “The data offered no support to the claims of some researchers that suicide-induced NDEs are unpleasant.”[4]

It is impossible to gauge how many suicides may eventually result from the widespread exposure to the positive NDE report. But there may be other consequences as well. Hundreds of NDErs apparently feel they have been “led” into counseling ministries with the terminally ill for the express purpose of conveying the “truth” about death.[5] In fact, many who research NDEs believe that nurses and other health professionals should specifically be trained to impart the NDE view of death to those who are dying. Of course, whether this is something good depends on the nature of death. Is it really an omnipresent bliss for everyone, including the unrepentant?

Or does the biblical portrait of an eternal hell, confirmed by Jesus, describe the real nature of death for those not saved?

Finally, NDEs may also precipitate depression, divorce and other problems, including alien­ation from ordinary reality.[6] For example, it has been noted that “primary relationships are often subject to great strain following an NDE, and a considerable number of NDErs end up by divorc­ing their spouses, or at least wanting to.”[7]

In conclusion, whether or not the NDE itself is heavenly its end results may not be.

What about children who have Near-Death Experiences?

When discussing this issue, we need to remember two things: (1) that God protects children because they are special to Him (Psalm 127:3), and (2) that such protection may, in some circumstances, be thwarted or rejected by the child himself, depending on his age and circum­stances. Biblically, we know that Jesus taught that the kingdom of God belonged to children and that children (at least) have guardian angels (Matthew 19:14; 18:10). However, the Bible also records at least one case of a demonized child and occult literature has many others.[8]

Children who are exposed to the occult may be influenced or harmed by it. For example, parents who train their children to accept occult practices harm them spiritually.[9] Regrettably, as our culture increasingly accepts the occult, children are increasingly exposed to it. Thankfully, many and perhaps most childhood NDEs do not seem to be occult. But some are.

Not surprisingly, children do not have the characteristic review of one’s life, but some do experience the tunnel, the “being of light,” dead relatives and other components of the adult NDE. Unfortunately, even the small amount of research done to date indicates that these expe­riences frequently become the basis for these children accepting false views about God and death as adults. For example, Melvin Morse, M.D. has written the runaway bestseller Closer to the Light: Learning From the Near-Death Experiences of Children. It is based on conversations with hundreds of his patients, including children who had NDEs and adults who remembered NDEs as children.

In discussing his research with childhood NDEs, Dr. Morse comments that “the near-death experiences of children remind us of forgotten ancient truths.” And he gives examples of similar NDEs in ancient pagan religion such as the Egyptian mystery religion of Osiris, The Egyptian Book of the Dead, and The Tibetan Book of the Dead.[10]

In other words, even the childhood NDE can present us with a false message of universal­ism—that all will be saved, and that God is primarily concerned with good deeds, not specific religious belief. These childhood experiences can open the doors to a variety of occult pursuits later on in adulthood such as spiritism, developing psychic powers, and uniting medicine and the occult.[11]

For example, children who experience supposedly benevolent and loving spirit entities that act as their “guides” during an NDE may be more open to the general claims of spiritism later in life, such as in channeling. Without a biblical corrective to guard against spiritual deception, such NDEs might predispose a person toward accepting the occult. The issue then becomes whether or not children are protected by a proper interpretation of their experience. Consider some examples catalogued by Melvin Morse, M.D., in his book on near-death experiences of children.

  • A seven-year-old girl, raised as a Mormon, had an NDE where she saw two young boys who were “souls waiting to be born”—as well as her late grandfather and other dead people. This NDE supported Mormon doctrine relating to the dead (necromancy) as well as to preexis­tence (of souls waiting to be born to their life on earth).
  • One teenager who had an NDE realized “that death was not to be feared” and that “the only real fear is not accomplishing our work in this life.”
  • One child met a “guardian angel” during her NDE which has remained with her throughout her adult life as her spiritual “guide.”
  • A nine-year-old girl’s NDE resulted in her religious life being guided by that experience. Today, at 43, she “believes only in a vague conception of God” and is convinced that “being one with God is something that can be done without rules.”
  • A 50-year-old man who had his NDE at nine comments: “I know that where we are going is a beautiful place,” and “because of that [NDE] I have never carried that burden of fear with me that many people have about death.”
  • A 33-year-old housewife who had her NDE at seven continues to have out-of-body experi­ences in her adult life.
  • A five-year-old boy’s NDE left him with two strong convictions. First, that life is precious and that death should not be feared. Second, that everyone is born with the knowledge he needs to solve life’s problems and that “the answers are all inside” a person.
  • A 54-year-old woman believes that her NDE at 15 years old has made her more tolerant of other people’s beliefs and has given her a belief in reincarnation—but not a belief in God.[12]

Dr. Moody notes, “When individuals have an NDE at a very early age, it seems to get incor‑porated into their personality. It is something they live with all their lives, and it changes them.”[13]

Whether it occurs in childhood or adulthood, the NDE may encourage individuals to become better people and give them meaning to life, and devotion to humanity. But again, it does not appear to lead them to salvation in Christ: instead, it frequently inhibits it. For example, children who have NDEs seem to become model teenagers,[14] but they also have no fear of death and think that God is with them entirely apart from a personal faith in Christ. The “God” they experi­ence is never identified. It seems that all they are left with is an uncertain understanding of who or what God is. Thus, children who have NDEs are not brought into a personal saving knowl­edge of God and Christ (John 17:3), but have only a powerful understanding that some nebu­lous God exists.

Further, the specific messages given to the children involve the basic teaching of a “social gospel”: that being good and having a social conscience is the principal means of doing God’s will.[15] Thus, “The message from the Light is almost always one that encourages [the gaining of]knowledge” [i.e., gnosticism], and the messages given to these children of the Light are not new or controversial. They are as old as mankind itself and have served as the primary fuel of our great religions: “Be the best that you can be.” “Contribute to society.” “Be nice, kind, and loving.”[16]


  1. For examples see John Ankerberg and John Weldon, Cult Watch: What You Need to Know About Spiritual Decep­tion (Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 1991), pp. 101, 286.
  2. Kenneth Ring, Heading Toward Omega: In Search of the Meaning of the Near-Death Experience (New York: William Morrow, 1985), p. 93.
  3. Ibid., p. 91.
  4. Kenneth Ring and Stephen Franklin, “Do Suicide Survivors Report Near-Death Experiences?” in Craig R. Lundahl,A Collection of Near-Death Research Readings, from K.J. Drab, Book Review, Anabiosis, Vol. 3, No. 1, p. 110.
  5. Melvin Morse, M. D., Closer to the Light: Learning from the Near-Death Experiences of Children (New York: Villard Books, 1990), pp. 177-179; Ring, Heading, pp. 126, 179.
  6. Ring, Heading, pp. 94-98.
  7. Ibid., p. 96.
  8. Matthew 17:18; Nandor Fodor, Encyclopaedia of Psychic Science (Secaucus, NJ: Citadel, 1974), p. 234.
  9. Cf. John Ankerberg and John Weldon, The Coming Darkness (Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 1993); Johanna Michaelsen, Like Lambs to the Slaughter (Eugene, OR: Harvest House, 1989).
  10. Morse, Closer, pp. 77-82.
  11. Ibid., pp. 92-93,131, 126,149,163.
  12. Cited respectively in Morse, Closer, pp. 7, 122-123, 124, 131-132, 145-146, 148-149, 152-154, 155-156, 157-158.
  13. Raymond Moody, The Light Beyond: New Explorations by the Author of Life After Life (New York: Bantam, 1989), p. 59.
  14. Morse, Closer, pp. 164-165.
  15. Ibid., pp. 151, 163.
  16. Ibid.


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