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Flight to Heaven

The problem is, if we're going to give credence to this Christianity-confirming book, what are we going to do with the multitude of other books and reports in which the individual was medically near death and had a Near Death Experience (NDE) but the NDE did not conform to the standard Christian model? Are we just going to pick and choose, treating those that conform to our beliefs as "true" and those that don't as "false"?

When Life After Life ushered in the modern era of NDE studies more than 40 years ago, the typical NDE experience conformed in very broad terms to the "Christian model" but had little explicit Christian (or non-Christian, for that matter) content. The entire field was soon co-opted by the New Age movement, leading to an "NDE theology" that was positively hostile to Christianity: I'm OK, you're OK; there is no Judgment; there is no Hell; all is Love; Christians are hopelessly unenlightened. (I'm not just pontificating here. I was an early member of the International Association for Near Death Studies and have been involved in the field for many years.)

As garden-variety NDE accounts became passé, the accounts predictably became more elaborate and content-laden. Gotta keep selling books, ya know. There is now a veritable cottage industry of explicitly Christian NDE accounts. The Christian NDE literature is a niche or subgenre of the overall category of elaborate, content-laden NDE accounts.

This happens with every area of the paranormal. The "alien abduction" phenomenon followed a near-identical path until it finally collapsed of its own weight.

I pay zero attention to any of the elaborate, content-laden accounts. Capt. Black got a guided tour of heaven? His NDE confirmed the truth of Christianity? Well, good for him. But I have no interest in his book. I'm not saying he's a charlatan by any means, but what are we going to do with equally compelling NDEs having no Christian motif?

I recently exchanged a few emails with an author who is both a psychologist and a Christian. He has one NDE book out and another coming out shortly. His study of many, many NDE accounts has led to a radical revision of his Christian theology. Because he does not believe he can simply reject this massive body of anecdotal evidence, he now believes (or at least it's my understanding that he now believes and will so state in his next book) that all humans are saved unless they explicitly reject God. This admittedly stands conventional Christian theology on its head - but again, he does not feel that he can simply reject the massive body of anecdotal evidence that the conventional Christian model is wrong.

Anita Moorjani is one of the most respected - and successful - of those who have leveraged their NDE accounts into worldly fame: http://anitamoorjani.com/ She is a veritable goddess to the IANDS crowd. I haven't studied her closely for the same reason I'm not going to study Capt. Black. But even a quick skim of her site will show that her NDE had no explicitly Christian elements but did have an explicit reincarnation component: "I then saw a glimpse of my brother and me and somehow seemed to understand it was a previous life, where I was much older than him and was like a mother to him (in this life, he is older than me). I saw in that life I was very protective towards him. I suddenly became aware he was on the plane to come and see me, and felt 'I can’t do this to him – can’t let him come and see me dead.' Then I also saw how my husband’s purpose was linked to mine, and how we had decided to come and experience this life together. If I went, he would probably follow soon after."
The Great White North
Thank you so much for your comments. I hear what you are saying. I know that there are a lot of NDE books and stories out there. It is interesting what Capt Black's grandfather advised him - do not take your experience public (or to others at all) unless you are clearly lead by God to do so. He himself recognized that there were some questionable NDE stories out there and that it would likely be best for his grandson to learn personally and live out his experiences rather than talk about it. For me, I actually didn't find the NDE part of the book the most interesting. I was actually more taken by the faith that this young man had in his physical recovery and the way in which he was lead through that recovery (and brought others to the faith including his doctor). Unless this part of the story was greatly exaggerated (and I have no reason to believe that it was), it really was quite an amazing story of a young man's faith in and obedience to God.