BLINDED BY THE LIGHT
An Abstract of a Book on Near-Death Experiences
by Quigg Lawrence
Popular book scheduled for release in August of 1996 and will include section on Betty Eadie's new book, The Awakening Heart. To order call your local Christian or secular bookstore or call Word Publishing, Inc. at 1-800-933-9673
The purpose of this dissertation is to present an evangelical analysis of the Near-Death Experience (henceforth referred to as NDE). Many have already read some of the autobiographical accounts, and/or Raymond Moody's Life After Life. But very few Christians have studied the NDE in a critical and scholarly manner. Most of the research, analysis, and interpretation that has followed Moody's seminal work has been done by those who are unfamiliar with biblical Christianity, or by those who reject the authority of the Bible.
With the vast amount of literature and media attention given to the NDE in the last twenty years, our culture is being introduced to doctrines and messages that are at odds with biblical Christianity. This dissertation provides an overview of the history of the NDE, defines terms used in current research, and describes the characteristics of the NDE.
It also describes the most common ways in which the NDE has been explained. I highlight the faulty methodologies of well-known researchers and point out where the messages and beliefs that emanate from the NDE accounts conflict with the Scriptures and historic creeds of the Christian Church. Finally, it examines possible implications for ministry in light of the NDE's many unbiblical messages.
My thesis is that the NDE messages are not compatible with biblical Christianity, and that they cannot be accepted by biblically-committed Christians without damage to the integrity of their faith. Unless Christian scholars and pastors recognize these heterodox teachings and provide solid biblical and theological interpretation and answers to them, the Body of Christ will continue to be deceived by a false gospel.
The scope of this dissertation is broad in its overview of the NDE, but more narrowly focused in its evaluation and suggestion of implications for Christian ministry. It aims to provide a good starting place for Christians who accept Raymond Moody's challenge to examine in a thoughtful and critical manner his preliminary findings.
The Pervasiveness of the NDE In Today's Culture
It amazes me how we will live with a serious problem, and yet be unaware of its danger. For example, "Parade Magazine" ran a news blurb from Pravda a few years back that recounted the story of a six year old Russian girl. This young child went out into her family's garden to pick tomatoes. She fell asleep, and rested peacefully. When she awoke, she suddenly became aware of a major problem - a snake had slithered into her throat while she was sleeping. All of a sudden she was gripped with fear as she realized the reality of her situation.
Just as this Russian girl had been oblivious to the dangerous snake in her throat, the Church of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries was unaware of the deadly theological cancer, known as semi-pelagianism, that had invaded her. They just could not see it for what it was.
Nominalists Gabriel Biel, Duns Scotus, and others taught that God will give grace only to those who try to do their best. Their theology, which they claimed was based on Christian theology and the Bible, was based on the presupposition that God's grace is based on what we do. God saves, but only in response to our initiative. This dangerous and unbiblical theology was the foundation of the entire sacramental-penitential system of the medieval era. Only Martin Luther was able to see semi-pelagianism for the cancer it was. Luther recognized that it undermined the gospel, because it rested finally on human merit, rather than the work of Christ. Today this heresy is well understood by the Church, but in Luther's day, the Church just could not see it or grasp its danger.
On a more personal level, I often have married couples come into my office after ten to fifteen years of marriage, and they are ready for divorce. The surprise to me is how few were aware that their marriages were in deep trouble until near the very end. There were plenty of warning signs and "red flags," but apparently they did not or would not see them. The cost in many cases is living for years in a miserable marriage relationship and, sadly, many times divorce.
The NDE and its messages are at odds with biblical Christianity, and are radically affecting the way our society and the Christian Church view humankind, God, the afterlife, and the Scriptures. The Church, for the most part, has failed to grasp the enormous effect that the NDE has had, and is having. We have failed to understand the threat that it poses to biblical faith. Instead of acknowledging and carefully addressing the NDE, we have either failed to see its danger, or have seen it, but chosen to ignore it.
My primary purpose in studying the NDE and writing my dissertation on the subject is to bring it to the attention of the Church and to study the implications of its messages. In spite of the NDE movement's tremendous impact on both the Church and our culture, there has been precious little awareness of the NDE impact or messages by Christian theologians and pastors. There have been only a handful of books by Christian authors on the subject since Raymond Moody published his seminal work, Life After Life, in 1975, and few of them have been helpful.
The majority of these have been autobiographical accounts by Christians who have had their own NDE. For the most part, these have not provided any critical evaluation of the NDE or its various messages.
Many NDE authors claim to be Christian, but deny basic elements of biblical Christianity. We have seen this in the writings of authors from certain heterodox sects and cults, like The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, The Unity School of Christianity and The Way International, et al. Many of these authors deny the uniqueness of Jesus Christ, question the existence of hell, are Universalists, believe in reincarnation, and give their experience more authority than the Holy Scriptures.
Some examples of authors who claim to be Christians and who have written autobiographical NDE accounts that are heterodox at certain points are George G. Ritchie, M.D., Thomas Eby, D.O., Betty Malz and more recently, Betty Eadie.
No one but the Lord can say definitively whether a person is a Christian. For God alone is able to look past our outer speech and actions, and into our hearts. At the same time, the Lord has told us to test everything and hold onto the good, avoiding evil and to judge not according to appearance, but to judge with righteous judgment. The Lord Jesus also instructs us in Matthew 7:15 to: "Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves." So with grace and truth in hand we will accept the Lord's challenge to discern, test and judge.
Aside from the autobiographical accounts of the NDE written by those who call themselves Christians, there have been a few books and magazine articles on the subject. These for the most part have been more helpful in analyzing this huge field of the NDE, but still have not been very thorough. Tal Brook's The Other Side Of Death, Maurice Rawlings' Beyond Death's Door and To Hell and Back, Gary Habermas' Immortality: Other Side Of Death and John Ankerberg and John Weldon's little booklet, The Facts On Life After Death, have proven helpful. The Christian Research Institute's "SCP Journal" has also published two insightful articles on the NDE, one by Yama Moto, and the other by Bill Alnor.
Just recently, The Spiritual Counterfeits Project "SCP Journal" (volumes 18:4/19:1) was dedicated to exploring the NDE in detail. This double issue journal was helpful, but was not a comprehensive study, and the lead article was taken from Tal Brooke's 1979 book, The Other Side Of Death. Also helpful has been the recently published work by Richard Abanes, Embraced By The Light and the Bible. This book's primary focus is investigating Eadie's best seller Embraced By The Light, but Abanes also includes an overview of both the NDE and the NDE researchers. Finally, Douglas Groothuis in his 1995 work, Deceived By the Light, has done an excellent job of investigating the NDE. He and I obviously were working on our books at the same time, and came up with many similar findings. His book is very thorough and well written. In interpreting the primary NDE accounts, I have had the advantage of an emergency medical background and being a family member of the first NDEr to come to the public's attention. These have perhaps provided me with additional insights.
Still, Christian theologians, pastors and scholars have not done a credible job of fully investigating the NDE phenomena. Many of the published works were written for a popular audience, and do not show critical reasoning or in-depth research. Most were published over a decade ago and do not address the current scope of NDE research. Others are mean spirited personal attacks upon the NDE authors themselves. My hope is that I shall provide an up to date study of the NDE and that I shall do this with both grace and truth.
One of the reasons that Christian pastors and theologians have not adequately addressed the NDE is that most have never taken it seriously. They have failed to see what a dramatic impact that the NDE is having on the faith and practice of the Church, or how its messages are reshaping our culture's view of death.
So how big is the NDE? How pervasive is its message? In his 1982 statistical study of the NDE phenomenon, George Gallup has estimated that 15 percent of all adult Americans or about "23 million people have had a verge of death or temporary death experience, and of that number about eight million have experienced some sort of mystical encounter along with the death event."
To get a better grasp of the pervasiveness of the NDEs message in our culture and in the Church, consider the following findings.
In the twenty years since Raymond Moody's Life After Life was published, accounts of NDE have literally bombarded us in every form of media. A quick trip through our local library's computer card catalogue and periodical index revealed almost 500 books or magazine articles on the NDE. This is all the more arresting for a library in a conservative, rural area. Terry Basford compiled an annotated bibliography of NDEs in 1990, and he had 710 sources listed at that time.
In September of 1994, for example the New York Times Best Seller List included two NDE books in the top ten. In second place, after over six months in first, was Embraced By The Light. In ninth place was Dannion Brinkley's Saved By The Light.
Raymond Moody's Life After Life is approaching an unbelievable 12 million copies but has been read in full or digested form by many more people. There is no way to determine an exact number of people who have read Life After Life, but I know from my own informal survey, that almost half of the people that I interviewed who claimed to have read any part of Life After Life say that they read someone else's copy. Many of the copies sold were bought by libraries. Most library copies have been read by several different readers. Moody's other books have sold at least 3 million more copies.
Trips to local secular and second-hand bookstores reveal a plethora of books on the subject. Christian bookstores always seem to have three or four books on the NDE. They tend to carry autobiographical accounts, although some, like George Ritchie's Return From Tomorrow and My Life After Dying, seem to have fallen from grace with bookstores that carry strictly biblically- ommitted and theologically conservative works. Betty Malz's My Glimpse of Eternity also seems to have fallen from grace, but for different reasons. Her NDE account appears to have been fabricated. The doctor who treated her denies the main elements of her story. Christianity Today has documented her doctors' accusations.
Christian television shows like the CBN's "700 Club" and TBN's "Praise the Lord" regularly feature NDErs. John Osteen, a charismatic Christian pastor from Houston, Texas has recently featured a "Christian" NDEr who also makes money speaking to The Edgar Cayce Foundation's Association for Research and Enlightenment. Secular talk shows, "Unsolved Mysteries," and even morning "news" shows have featured those who claim to have had a NDE. Carol Zaleski notes the great demand for NDErs on the talk show circuit and other media forms. She writes: "In great demand on the talk show circuit is the "near-death experiencer" who appears, escorted by sympathetic psychologists, as a latter-day Lazarus bearing clinically tested tidings of the afterlife. Every year the theme of revival from 'clinical death' resurfaces in novels, documentary films, and fantasy or horror movies -- complete with special effects. As one television commentator put it, 'Now in the twentieth century it's fashionable to be dead and come back and talk about it.' "
The movies Flat Liners, Ghost, Fearless, Always and Blown Away showed Hollywood's interest in the NDE or afterlife. The NDE has even made it into Christian fiction novels, such as Death Trip.
Guideposts has published many accounts of NDEs and has even published two books on the NDE. One combines Ritchie's Return From Tomorrow and Malz's My Glimpse of Eternity, and the other combines Raymond Moody's first two books Life After Life and Reflections on Life After Life.
A quick survey of magazine found articles on the NDE in the following magazines: Golf, Publishers Weekly, Discover, People Weekly, Essence, Maclean's, Redbook, The Washingtonian, Psychology Today, Ladies' Home Journal, Life, The American Legion, American Health, Reader's Digest, and The National Inquirer. These are just a few of the magazines and periodicals that have covered some aspect of the NDE.
My Motivation For Writing
I grew up with the NDE. It affected me and my family greatly. It delayed me from becoming a disciple of Jesus Christ for over ten years. I am the nephew and look-a-like of George G. Ritchie, Jr., M.D. - the "Grandfather of the NDE." Ritchie had his NDE in Camp Barkley, Texas, in December of 1943. He was the first person to share a NDE with Dr. Raymond Moody, whose pioneering book Life After Life launched the entire NDE movement. Dr. Moody dedicated that book to my uncle George, and quotes him anonymously throughout his other works. Ritchie is well known in Christian and non-Christian circles, having been published by Guideposts, Chosen Books, Bantam Books, Fleming Revell Publishing, and Hampton Roads Publishing. His first book, Return From Tomorrow, even won Campus Life's prestigious "Medallion Award." Ritchie has appeared in numerous newspaper articles as well as on well-known national television shows.
It is difficult for me to critically assess the NDE because my uncle George is "Mr. NDE." He is not only a NDEr but also a "lay theologian," lecturer, and author. To critically evaluate the NDE and its messages, necessarily involves examining and calling to question much of what my uncle espouses - - and he was one of the people God used to help me consider the claims of Jesus Christ. While I have no doubt that my uncle George is a loving and fine man, much of what he now teaches contradicts basic Christian doctrine.
If doctrine were just a mental exercise conducted by theologians, I probably would not risk such a critical evaluation of the NDE phenomenon and my uncle's beliefs. The NDE doctrines or teachings are not, however, left to ivory tower theologians and dusty books in musty stacks in seminary libraries. They are having a dramatic influence on how our culture views life, death, Jesus Christ, salvation, humankind's purpose in life, and the trustworthiness of God's Word.
So, like Martin Luther, I must speak. To remain quiet would be disobedient to the Lord who has called me to be a pastor and "guardian of the faith." Raymond Moody has graciously insisted that he does not have all the answers on the NDE phenomenon and has strongly encouraged ministers and other professionals to critically study and evaluate his preliminary findings.
So I am accepting his challenge -- but without venom. This is not a personal attack on my uncle or anyone else. I have tried to write this without a mean or critical spirit. I have endeavored to keep grace in one hand while searching for truth with the other.
My hope is that my family in general, and my uncle George in particular, will not see this book as a personal attack, but as an attempt to discern and test what, if anything, from this NDE phenomenon is "from the Lord." I also hope this study will provide a comprehensive and thoughtful evaluation of the NDE from a biblically-committed Christian perspective.
When I was eleven years old, my parents separated for the first time. This was embarrassing, because very few students in my school lived in "broken-homes" in 1969. The chaos of our family life and the pain of being in a broken home, propelled us to find comfort and help. Unfortunately, we had not committed our lives to Jesus Christ, and we did not have a fellowship of believers to minister to us. So we were open to almost any group that would show us affection.
About that time, my Uncle George (hereafter referred to as Ritchie) was running weekend retreats and week long summer camps under the name of the Universal Youth Corps. It was on these weekends that I first heard about the incredible love of Jesus Christ and how he wanted me to come and follow Him. Most importantly to me at the time, I was shown real love.
I shall never forget the summer retreats we attended at Camp Alta Mons, in Shawsville, Virginia. The heart-moving singing, fun group sports, excellent food, and challenging talks were fantastic. The love that was shown to me, my mother and twin sister Leslie was a gift from God. Those weekends were like an oasis in the desert.
Strangely enough, even though we heard many talks about the Christ and Ritchie's NDE, we were never encouraged to "give our lives to Jesus Christ" or to accept salvation by faith and experience the New Birth. We left each retreat with our spiritual and emotional batteries charged, but the harsh realities of every day life quickly drained us. Still, somewhere deep inside, I wondered about this Jesus. I was intrigued by Him and wanted to have His love in my life everyday. I just did not know how to do that.
In the winter of 1972, our family went on the Universal Youth Corps fall retreat in the mountains of Virginia. This retreat had and would continue to have great spiritual significance to me, and it was the first time that I had the privilege of meeting Tal Brooke. Brooke writes of that retreat weekend in The Other Side Of Death. In the winter of 1972, a week after I returned from India, I was invited by Ritchie to speak at a retreat in Massanetta Springs, Virginia, and again join his Universal Youth Corps. Ritchie disclosed something to an audience of 200 people that finalized the tie between his mission and (Robert) Monroe's. (It was also something that soon created a barrier between Ritchie and myself, for by then I was a former mystic and had become an evangelical Christian.) Ritchie announced that in 1958, at a corps retreat at the Peaks of Otter, he had an experience one night that revealed his true mission on the earth. A voice (whom he called "God") told him to leave his tent and go out on the mountain. It then instructed him to observe the firmament of brilliant lights above, which he did. Next, it told Ritchie that these lights were massive "mother ships, UFOs of five miles in diameter, numbering sixty thousand," and poised waiting for the celestial command to come swooping down to pick up the remnant of true believers on the earth before the planet plunged into darkness and catastrophe. Ritchie was informed that he was the new Noah of this age and that the vehicles used would be flying saucers. Like Abraham, Ritchie was promised that many would be in his fold.
Brooke's recollection not only ties our family experience to an event that has been documented by an outside source, but more importantly, demonstrates the type of messages that were being given at this "Christian" retreat. We were so biblically and spiritually undiscerning, that we failed to hear the unscriptural teachings that were given. We thought we were hearing a "Word from the Lord." As mentioned above, I am no stranger or newcomer to the NDE. I have heard about the NDE, from the lips of one of my own family members, since I was ten years old (that was over twenty five years ago). I heard and thought about this experience for six years before Life After Life was published. Ritchie's NDE was very influential in my spiritual life. After all, when I was a pre-teen, I knew almost nothing about Jesus Christ, in spite of attending church almost every Sunday. Whether it was my parish's fault for failing to clearly present the Gospel in a way that I could hear it, or my fault for having my ears closed, I do not know. But I do know that I had not received the new birth. When Ritchie spoke about the Christ, I was fascinated. I had never heard anyone speak with such passion about Jesus Christ, except for a few people who I knew who were hyper-religious zealots. Ritchie was (and is) a man's man, an Eagle Scout and former Scout master, an athlete, and a physician. He was funny, and he had an unusual ability of looking right into your soul, with eyes that say, "You're important to me." Obviously, I was not the only one to feel this way, because his Universal Youth Corps retreats were filled with his current and former patients.
God used those retreats not only to bolster my self-esteem, but to present my need for Christ. During the Universal Youth Corps retreats, we sang Christian "campfire songs," and even some classic Methodist hymns. My spirit was moved. Inevitably, Ritchie shared about his Camp Barkley Texas Experience. He used this as the foundation of every retreat. He was able to share with us many exciting things that Christ had taught him as he visited the various "realms" during his NDE. I loved it when he would subtly insinuate that the institutional church had really made a mess of things. I agreed with him that their Jesus and the Jesus of Scripture were totally different.
Ritchie's major themes were: living your entire life for the Christ, "standing for the hard right against the easy wrong" and "taking up your cross and following the Christ." For Ritchie, that meant practicing meditation daily, living a disciplined life, loving everybody, and going through the ranks of the Universal Youth Corps. The Corps was a mixture of Boy Scouts, the military, and Wesley's "Holy Club." There was much emphasis on living a life of love, and learning to discipline and prepare yourself for the kingdom. There were weird "spiritual strands" woven throughout the fabric of the Corps, which we were not discerning enough to detect. I remember how excited we were when Ritchie rounded us up and took us to Fork Union Military Academy to hear a famous lecturer -- astrologer/psychic, Jeanne Dixon.
But I was more fascinated by Ritchie's talks. They motivated me to want to live for "the Christ." I felt like I was enlisting in the Lord's "Special Forces" team. Yet, I was never told how to become a Christian. The great truth of Ephesians 2:8-9 was never explained. The concept and reality of the New Birth (e.g., John 3:3 and 2 Corinthians 5:17) was never mentioned. If it was, it was brushed over so quickly that it never registered.
So, at age 12, I was ready to serve the Lord, read His Word, and was fascinated to be around an important man who loved me and had actually been shown four "realms" by the Christ . . .including a realm of study and knowledge, a city of light, hell, and a realm like purgatory.
It was on the Massanetta Springs retreat that I had my first encounter with the demonic. Even though Ritchie's theology might have been heterodox, and even though, in his headier moments he was claiming that God had appointed him to be the Noah of this age, he still spoke of Christ. By the mercies of the Holy Spirit, I was very much attracted to this Jesus Christ, and God used Ritchie to influence me to consider serving Christ. In fact, if there had been any type of invitation to give my life to Christ and receive the New Birth, I would have, because I was ready. Unfortunately, only talks about the NDE and Pelagian flavored calls to spirituality were offered.
After hearing Brooke speak at the Massanetta Springs retreat in 1972, "my heart was strangely warmed." Brooke had been involved in many types of unusual religious and occult experiences, and had been the Sai Baba's top devotee and student. The Sai Baba, who had almost 20 million followers, had hand-picked nineteen-year-old Brooke to go back to the United States and recruit followers. Brooke was the Sai Baba's "fair-haired boy," and he had allowed him to learn and witness many deeply occult practices. Brooke was taught how to levitate, do astral projection, and read minds. He told us that he had seen the Sai Baba do incredible miracles.
Somehow, the Lord Jesus Christ got hold of Brooke's mind and heart, and he accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. Brooke left India, renouncing his old master, the Sai Baba, and proclaiming his new master Jesus Christ. Why Ritchie let Brooke speak on that Massanetta Springs retreat, I shall never know. Perhaps it was because they had been on the same "wave-length" prior to Brooke's trip to India. Perhaps Brooke still had enough mystical overtones, that Ritchie felt sure that he was not a "born-again" fundamentalist. In any case, Brooke shared his conversion story, and gave a clear presentation of the Gospel without an altar call.
How I wished he had! After Brooke spoke, I went back to my friend's room, and we talked about Jesus. I was twelve and my friend was about ten. He shared with me, in his deep Tennessee mountain accent, that he was a preacher. Actually, he had felt called to preach when he was eight, and he and his dad had built a little church for him to preach in, in his backyard. I thought that both he and his story were peculiar, but apparently he loved Jesus. As I sat in my chair, listening to this little hillbilly preacher-boy, it happened. Without notice, his face began to slowly change, disfiguring into a hideous, monstrous three-dimensional, gargoylish face. When I say three- dimensional, that is a bit of an understatement, because his face became larger than normal, and seemed to thrust itself toward me. I sat there scared to death, not knowing what to do. The feeling was something like you might have just before a serious car accident. You see the other car or bridge abutment coming, and you try with all your might to avoid the accident, but time strangely slows down almost to a frame by frame sequence. Your mind reacts quickly, but your body cannot respond quickly enough to save you from the apparently slow-motion collision that is inevitable.
My experience of the demonic was similar. In my mind, I desperately wanted to get out of my chair and run for cover from this hideous and demonic manifestation, but my body was frozen in the chair. At the same time, a wave of terror came over me, further paralyzing me and scaring me almost to death. The boy's disfigured face contorted towards me. A large, snake-like tongue whipped and darted from left to right, just missing my head. Then when I thought my heart was going to beat out of my chest or go into cardiac arrest, I was somehow freed from the chair, and ran out of the room, frantic for a safe place.
As I ran down the hall, my heart was pounding so loudly that I thought I could hear it inside my ears. My pulse must have been close to 200 beats per minute, and I am sure that I was as white as a ghost. The first grownup I saw, Harry, was my group leader. He tried to calm me down, but it was obvious that he had no understanding of things in the demonic realm. He suggested that I talk to Ritchie after his next talk. I told him, as I gasped for breath, that I could not wait. I had just seen the most demonic thing the mind could fathom, and was scared to death.
Surely Ritchie would understand, and be able to explain. After all, like Ebenezer Scrooge who was escorted by the angel of death, he had been escorted by the Being of Light he called the Christ through realms of hellish character. Unfortunately, Ritchie did not understand. He told me to try to calm down and breath into a paper bag to stop my hyperventilating. This addressed only the symptom, not the experience itself. Perhaps he thought I was delusional, or playing games. My ashen face, hyperventilating, shaking body, and wide-open eyes bore collaborating testimony that something very serious had happened to me. I am still perplexed that my story and outward symptoms did not suggest that I needed prayer and spiritual counsel. None was offered. Ritchie certainly had been exposed to the basics of spiritual warfare and the demonic in his association with "Camp Fartherest Out" [sic] and in the charismatic circles of which he was a part.
After that horrible experience, and the adult leader's failure to interpret it for me, I was scared. I do not remember anything else that was said that weekend. That was my last Universal Youth Corps Retreat, and my heart, which had been "strangely warmed" to accepting Christ as Lord and Savior, was "strangely frozen." I did not make a conscious decision to stop considering Christ or wanting to give my life to Him, but I quietly and quickly lost all interest in spiritual things. Ritchie's talks on his NDE had opened Pandora's Box. It had opened my mind not only to considering Christ, but also to the reality of unseen principalities and powers. Perhaps the enemy, Satan, saw how close I was to accepting Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior after Brooke's talk, and decided to scare me away from any interest in Christ. Satan was (and is) so subtle. He used that event to scare me so badly that I did not want to have any type of spiritual experience at all. I just slowly drifted away from Christ to sin.
After high school, I left for the University of Virginia, in pursuit of "wine, women and song." Sadly, I excelled in all three -- except perhaps song! I was now eighteen years old, and never even thought about Jesus Christ. I was now drinking heavily, smoking pot, living a promiscuous life, and strangely, never felt the least bit guilty. That is probably hard for some Catholics, Baptists and people who were raised in strong Christian homes to understand, but as Paul writes in Romans 1:28-30, "Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, He gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents".
Strangely enough, on this same University of Virginia campus, Ritchie, Brooke, occultist Robert Monroe, reincarnationist Ian Stephenson, and Raymond Moody had all become friends. But by the time I entered Mr. Jefferson's University in the fall of 1977, most of that group had left Charlottesville. The point of my taking you on this extended personal pilgrimage has been to show you that the NDE did adversely affect my life. Indirectly, it hindered me from becoming a Christian. It did this in two ways. First, the NDE messages shared by Ritchie presented a "different gospel," which led to spiritual confusion and deception. Secondly, it placed my family into a fellowship in which there appears to have been strong demonic activity and influence. This demonic influence not only deceived me, but also scared me so badly that I stopped considering Christ.
Ritchie, who admits that he was profoundly shaped by his NDE and what he was shown by the Christ, claimed to be a Christian. His NDE talks appeared to be Christian and biblical, but they were a hybrid of New Age theology, experience, and Scripture.
This is important because he preached and taught extra-biblical revelation that we and many others thought was Christian. The NDE teachings obfuscated the Gospel, actually preventing or delaying many of us from being born again. The demonic manifestation occurred immediately after Brooke shared his conversion to Jesus Christ.
The NDE messages I heard at Massanetta Springs titillated me. Ritchie presented the Christ (he seldom called Him Jesus) but apparently opened us up to demonic forces that scared me so much that I unconsciously withdrew from God, and ran deeper and deeper into ungodliness, until it almost killed me. Now let us examine my hypothesis about NDEs.
- 1. The Bible is trustworthy for all matters of faith and practice.
- 2. The NDE messages are at odds with the many teachings found in Scripture.
- 3. Jesus warned us to be on guard against the wiles and deceit of the father of lies, who has the power to lead astray the elect if that were possible.
- 4. NDEs often produce paranormal events or knowledge that could be known only through supernatural means.
- 5. Satan is the force behind these messages that are deceiving people, and behind these supernatural events and revelations that supposedly verify these NDEs and their messages.
- 6. Careful investigation of the NDErs, reveals that few have had a biblical salvation event. Many have spiritual experiences, but few display evidence of having been regenerate.
- 7. None of the popular explanations suggested by major NDE researchers adequately explain the NDE.
NCCG endorses the conclusions of this article. For further materials, please see our section on NDE's
This page was created on 16 October 1997
Last updated on 20 February 1998
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