Near Death Experiences Valid?

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Re: Near Death Experiences Valid?

Post by RND » Thu Dec 18, 2008 10:30 am

TK wrote:well- i didnt take the time to look at them for a long time- but what i saw looked all right. i'll have to take a closer look

TK

P.S. where does the term "soul sleep" come from? I thought that was a SDA term, but i must be wrong about that. does any other group call it soul sleep?
Honestly TK I can't say. Every time I talk to an SDA or the subject comes up it seems the "state of the dead" seems to be the popular terminology. I know the term seems to be used alot by others to describe what an SDA believes happens at death but honestly the term isn't used in SDA circles from what I'm aware.

Regarding "soul sleep" Wikipedia states: Present-day defenders of these doctrines include the Seventh-day Adventist Church, Jehovah's Witnesses, Christadelphians, the Church of God (Seventh Day), the Church of God Abrahamic Faith, and various other Church of God organizations including most Related Denominations which adhered to the older teachings of the Worldwide Church of God.

I think the understanding of the term is somewhat skewed regarding SDA beliefs because obviously we believe that humans don't have a separate soul from the body (duality of man) but rather humans are "living souls" (Genesis 2:7).
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Re: Near Death Experiences Valid?

Post by Jason » Thu Dec 18, 2008 10:47 am

Wow. I was really hoping this thread wouldn't turn into a proof-texting assasination. RND, you may not be aware that all the verses you cited have been contested in great detail, no less by Steve Gregg who moderates this site. I'm sure you don't appreciate it when a Calvinist attacks an SDA member with their tired barrage of proof-texts. While I'm certainly not opposed to the idea you present and think it very plausbile, it would be preferable not to proof-text people into compliance. We all have the healthiest respect for the Scriptures as the word of God and the final authority on all subjects.

However, I don't believe the bible speaks to NDEs and that is why I opened this topic. Your view on the unity of the body and soul as well as the post-death brain activity you mentioned doesn't explain how people with no vital signs can see things that are happening outside the room they are in. Yet Gary Habbermas has written books that document such cases. Some of them were so credible that they even persuaded the reknowned athiest Anthony Flew. Since this issue won't be settled by the scriptures (unfortunately) I'd like to consider personal experiences if they are documented and credible, like the ones Habbermas deals with.

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Re: Near Death Experiences Valid?

Post by RND » Thu Dec 18, 2008 12:00 pm

Jason wrote:Wow. I was really hoping this thread wouldn't turn into a proof-texting assasination. RND, you may not be aware that all the verses you cited have been contested in great detail, no less by Steve Gregg who moderates this site.


Actually, I wasn't aware of that. Of course Steve's opinion of what is conveyed in these verses are his and he has a right to whatever opinion he chooses, as do I. I find these verses helpful in understanding NDE's and that's why I quoted them.
I'm sure you don't appreciate it when a Calvinist attacks an SDA member with their tired barrage of proof-texts. While I'm certainly not opposed to the idea you present and think it very plausbile, it would be preferable not to proof-text people into compliance. We all have the healthiest respect for the Scriptures as the word of God and the final authority on all subjects.
I haven't been here very long and have yet to be attacked by a Calvinist, or anyone else for that matter, until now I guess. But I feel strongly that the verses quoted do a great deal in negating the notion of NDE's. As for a "Calvinist (that may) attacks an SDA member" all I have to say is bring a lunch, you'll be busy. Also, I'm not looking to "to proof-text people into compliance." People are free to believe whatever they wish and I am here to put my "two-cents" in. If it is true that you "the healthiest respect for the Scriptures as the word of God and the final authority on all subjects" then what's the beef in quoting scripture in the first place.
However, I don't believe the bible speaks to NDEs and that is why I opened this topic. Your view on the unity of the body and soul as well as the post-death brain activity you mentioned doesn't explain how people with no vital signs can see things that are happening outside the room they are in.


Electrical activity in the brain can occur even if other vital signs are not operative. This is a medical as well as a scientific fact. This electrical activity may explain the "visions" people see.
Yet Gary Habbermas has written books that document such cases.


So? The Bible is full of actual "death" experiences where people are brought back to life from the dead. None of them, not one, ever discuss their death experience. Why do you think that is?
Some of them were so credible that they even persuaded the reknowned athiest Anthony Flew.
So? It's possible that the very elect can be deceived, so should I be surprised when an atheist is? Has Anthony Flew embraced the cross yet?
Since this issue won't be settled by the scriptures (unfortunately) I'd like to consider personal experiences if they are documented and credible, like the ones Habbermas deals with.
It's your opinion that the issue won't be settled with scripture, not mine. I think the scriptures are quite clear as to what happens at death and indeed settle the issue of what happens in a NDE. The Neurobiology Of Near Death Experiences has had many studies, papers, and examinations over the last 20-25 years. Many seem to conclude that these are indeed the result of remnant electrical activity in the brain which seems to me to prove the scriptures right.
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Re: Near Death Experiences Valid?

Post by Jason » Thu Dec 18, 2008 2:23 pm

RNS, I hope you don't think I was attacking you in my reply. I just have an aversion to throwing out rapid verses in a seemingly perfunctory manner. [edited this paragraph because upon re-reading, it comes off as somewhat arrogant on my part]

To be fair, I said your view was entirely plausible and wouldn't bother me in the least if it was correct. Paidion, a member on this forum, holds the same view and I once commended him on his careful remarks on the subject. But Paidion didn't proof-text us, he exegeted many of the common scriptures that are used by both sides. I found that to be a very good approach. I don't agree with Steve Gregg on everything but he exegetes passages very, very carefully. When people approach the scriptures with a prior commitment (to a denominational view, for example) it will no doubt skew the meaning of the passages they are looking at. If you disagree doctrinally with other positions of SDA then I would commend you as someone persuaded by truth and not blind loyalty.

You asked this:
The Bible is full of actual "death" experiences where people are brought back to life from the dead. None of them, not one, ever discuss their death experience. Why do you think that is?
Well, those individuals who were raised from the dead never talked about anything in scripture so I'm not sure why we'd expect them to recount their experience before they were raised. Paul said he'd prefer to be absent from his body which strikes me as odd if, as the SDA claims, one can't be absent from the body. I know Paidion takes issue with that example but I've never been convinced by his dismissal, nor that given by the SDA.

You seem to have judged me as a person who is commited a particular view of NDEs when in truth I have no solid opinion whatsoever right now. I do possess a curiousity on the subject and, as preivously mentioned, a certain disdain for donominational proof-texts. I would like to apologize if my tone was too aggressive in the preivous post. It was not intended, but I should consider how such statements will be recieved before I post them. Not everyone in this community debates with the same precepts so in my ferver against poorly reasoned arguments, I may have unfairly pegged you as such a one. In any event, I hope I haven't offended you.

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Re: Near Death Experiences Valid?

Post by RND » Fri Dec 19, 2008 2:55 am

Jason wrote:If you disagree doctrinally with other positions of SDA then I would commend you as someone persuaded by truth and not blind loyalty.
Jason, would you consider it possible that my beliefs regarding the state of the dead were formed before I became an Adventist? Would you consider that one of the reasons I became an Adventist was their view on the state of the dead was the same I has formed without them? There are many things I disagree with regarding SDA doctrine but the state of the dead isn't one of them.
You asked this:
The Bible is full of actual "death" experiences where people are brought back to life from the dead. None of them, not one, ever discuss their death experience. Why do you think that is?
Well, those individuals who were raised from the dead never talked about anything in scripture so I'm not sure why we'd expect them to recount their experience before they were raised.
What I'd expect is that if God saw it was necessary to to teach something different than that which was already made self-evident in scripture He would have done so, preferably through those that were once dead but then made alive. I see God as being extremely consistent from Genesis to Revelation regarding what happens when one dies.
Paul said he'd prefer to be absent from his body which strikes me as odd if, as the SDA claims, one can't be absent from the body.
I agree with Paul frankly. Paul was beheaded 2,000 years ago and is still dead and buried, yet when he is raised his first waking thought will be the one he shares with the Lord in the presence of the Lord. Understanding his position is easy when his letters are read in order and in context.

The one thing that might be of interest is the chronological order in which Paul wrote his letters. His 1st letter to the Corinthians in chapter 15 perfectly explains what happens at death and when it happens. His 2nd letter clarifies and substantiates the 1st position.

Quoting scripture (sorry! :oops: ):

1Cr 15:51 Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal [must] put on immortality.

To me, based on 1 Corinthians 15, it is plain that Paul was substantiating taking on a "glorified body" in 2 Corinthians 5:8.
I know Paidion takes issue with that example but I've never been convinced by his dismissal, nor that given by the SDA.
Look, I'm not trying to convince you or anyone for that matter. I feel scripture is clear regarding the state of the dead. You have to let the scriptures convince you, not me.
You seem to have judged me as a person who is commited a particular view of NDEs when in truth I have no solid opinion whatsoever right now. I do possess a curiousity on the subject and, as preivously mentioned, a certain disdain for donominational proof-texts.
Denominational proof-texts? If I'm not mistaken I quoted from the Hebrew Bible (God's word). There are loads of folks that have had this same view of scripture. Many Lutherans, Methodist's, Presbyterians, Baptist's, etc., as well as SDA and others have had the view of the validity of conditional immortality and what happens at death. I quoted the Hebrew Bible not the Seventh-day Adventist Bible.
I would like to apologize if my tone was too aggressive in the preivous post. It was not intended, but I should consider how such statements will be recieved before I post them.


No sweat, 70 X 7.
Not everyone in this community debates with the same precepts so in my ferver against poorly reasoned arguments, I may have unfairly pegged you as such a one. In any event, I hope I haven't offended you.
A Christian isn't easily (or shouldn't be) offended. No sweat.
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Re: Near Death Experiences Valid?

Post by TK » Fri Dec 19, 2008 6:10 pm

RND, you mentioned the fact that the brain may have some undetectable electrical things happening for up to 30 minutes after "death." Even assuming that this is true, and indeed it may be, this doesnt explain how some people who have NDEs are able to see things in their surroundings (like on top of the building or on top of cabinents in their room) that they talk about later and are proven correct. Thes people say they leave their physical body and sometimes actually see their body on the bed or operating table from above.

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Re: Near Death Experiences Valid?

Post by RND » Fri Dec 19, 2008 8:18 pm

TK wrote:RND, you mentioned the fact that the brain may have some undetectable electrical things happening for up to 30 minutes after "death." Even assuming that this is true, and indeed it may be, this doesnt explain how some people who have NDEs are able to see things in their surroundings (like on top of the building or on top of cabinents in their room) that they talk about later and are proven correct. Thes people say they leave their physical body and sometimes actually see their body on the bed or operating table from above.

TK
Sure TK, I understand completely what you are stating. I believe that many of these NDE's are simply an enhanced dream like state and the vision these people see are part of that dream state. I got a traffic ticket the other night in a dream even though I'm a pretty safe driver. Can't figure that one out either so it's hard for me to comment on the visions of others. Neurobiology is such an extremely difficult science and understanding why the brain does the things it does is not necessarily easy.

I'll check with some doctors at Loma Linda University to try and understand more.
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Re: Near Death Experiences Valid?

Post by Jason » Sun Dec 21, 2008 6:54 am

Jason, would you consider it possible that my beliefs regarding the state of the dead were formed before I became an Adventist? Would you consider that one of the reasons I became an Adventist was their view on the state of the dead was the same I has formed without them? There are many things I disagree with regarding SDA doctrine but the state of the dead isn't one of them.
I believe you. Like I said before, Paidion is not SDA but holds your view, as do many others. I'm not even opposed to the view since it seems to make no difference to one's life.
What I'd expect is that if God saw it was necessary to to teach something different than that which was already made self-evident in scripture He would have done so, preferably through those that were once dead but then made alive. I see God as being extremely consistent from Genesis to Revelation regarding what happens when one dies.
Actually the early Jewish tradition around the time of Christ was that dead people went to Hades, which had different "compartments" for the righteous and unrighteous. I believe Jesus used this theme in his parable in Luke 16 to make a point about Jews and Gentiles (Lazarus and the Rich Man). That would've been a good time for Jesus to tell them their view of Hades was incorrect but those who heard him would have gotten the impression that Jesus agreed with the tradition.
I agree with Paul frankly. Paul was beheaded 2,000 years ago and is still dead and buried, yet when he is raised his first waking thought will be the one he shares with the Lord in the presence of the Lord. Understanding his position is easy when his letters are read in order and in context.
I'm not sure what is meant by Paul's first waking thought since he doesn't mention that concept. He says he'd prefer to be away from his body and with the Lord. If Paul is talking about going into a literal sleep when he dies, in what way is that being absent from his body? When I went to sleep last night I was still very much in my body. Paul never describes death as going into a prolonged dreamland but he does describe it as being absent from his body and present somewhere else. Of course, many times in Scripture we see sleep being used as a metaphor for death and Steve actually addressed this (how timely) on Friday's program.
To me, based on 1 Corinthians 15, it is plain that Paul was substantiating taking on a "glorified body" in 2 Corinthians 5:8.
I would say that 1 Corinthians 15 is clarifying his position because of the way he begins his argument in verse 35. In 2 Corinthians 5 it seems like Paul is trying to encourage them with hope, not clarify an earlier position. He says in 2 Corinthians 5:9 that "We make it out goal to please Him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it." If you you take "away from it" to refer to a sleep that awaits the resurrection, how can we make it our goal to please him during this unconscious phase?
Look, I'm not trying to convince you or anyone for that matter. I feel scripture is clear regarding the state of the dead. You have to let the scriptures convince you, not me.
There's nothing wrong with trying to convince me of your position so there's no need to qualify what you've written. I know you feel that Scripture is clear on the subject and you even have some verses in your favor, just not as many as the traditional view. But you shouldn't feel it's some sort of sin to try to convince another. I've changed my views on many, many things when others have shown me a good case from Scripture and I'm glad they did try to convince me, with sound exegesis.
Denominational proof-texts? If I'm not mistaken I quoted from the Hebrew Bible (God's word).
I'm not sure you know what is meant by proof-texts. This term refers to isolated bible verses that are used to make a given theological point, yet removed from either their immediate context or the overall context of the book. For example, using a verse in poetic writing to make a theological point is not as sound as a didactic verse from an epistle. I could quote many things from Ecclesiastes, to give just one example, which would not hold true at all. Think of Solomon's exhortation that the goal of life is to eat, drink and be merry. You wouldn't take that as a doctrinal truth, yet it's a scripture from the Hebrew Bible (God's word).
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Amen to that.

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Re: Near Death Experiences Valid?

Post by RND » Sun Dec 21, 2008 12:07 pm

Jason wrote:I believe you.
Outstanding, now we can move forward! :D
Actually the early Jewish tradition around the time of Christ was that dead people went to Hades, which had different "compartments" for the righteous and unrighteous. I believe Jesus used this theme in his parable in Luke 16 to make a point about Jews and Gentiles (Lazarus and the Rich Man). That would've been a good time for Jesus to tell them their view of Hades was incorrect but those who heard him would have gotten the impression that Jesus agreed with the tradition.
The "the early Jewish tradition" that you speak of was actually imported from the Greeks, who imported their view from the Egyptians and Babylonians. And right before Jesus lays into the parable about Lazarus and the rich man there is this odd exchange that does indeed speak to what exactly Jesus was saying to the Pharisees He was speaking to:

Luk 16:14 And the Pharisees also, who were covetous, heard all these things: and they derided him. 15 And he said unto them, Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God. 16 The law and the prophets [were] until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it. 17 And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one tittle of the law to fail. 18 Whosoever putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery: and whosoever marrieth her that is put away from [her] husband committeth adultery.

Verse 18 is the key in understanding the parable of Lazarus and the rich man. Jesus was telling the Pharisees that they were doing the same thing as their fathers which led to their captivity in Babylon. Israel, both Judah and the ten northern tribes were always compared to adulterous women in the OT for their nuzzling up with paganism and adopting their pagan traditions and views. This is one of the most easy to recognize facts in the Bible.

Jer 3:8 And I saw, when for all the causes whereby backsliding Israel committed adultery I had put her away, and given her a bill of divorce; yet her treacherous sister Judah feared not, but went and played the harlot also.

The scriptures are consistent in this view. The whole book of Hosea is about God's love towards the adulterous. Thus Jesus was actually telling the Pharisees that their views about heaven and hell were indeed incorrect and apart from the teachings in the Torah and Tanakh.
I'm not sure what is meant by Paul's first waking thought since he doesn't mention that concept. He says he'd prefer to be away from his body and with the Lord. If Paul is talking about going into a literal sleep when he dies, in what way is that being absent from his body?


When did Paul discuss this change as coming?
When I went to sleep last night I was still very much in my body. Paul never describes death as going into a prolonged dreamland but he does describe it as being absent from his body and present somewhere else. Of course, many times in Scripture we see sleep being used as a metaphor for death and Steve actually addressed this (how timely) on Friday's program.
Didn't hear Friday's program so I can't comment on that but actually Paul's writings are extremely consistent with the entire portrait painted by scripture regarding what happens at death. The metaphor for death in scripture is indeed sleep yet that explains and not confuses the idea of what happens at death.
I would say that 1 Corinthians 15 is clarifying his position because of the way he begins his argument in verse 35. In 2 Corinthians 5 it seems like Paul is trying to encourage them with hope, not clarify an earlier position. He says in 2 Corinthians 5:9 that "We make it out goal to please Him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it." If you you take "away from it" to refer to a sleep that awaits the resurrection, how can we make it our goal to please him during this unconscious phase?
It can't and Paul isn't talking about pleasing the Lord when we sleep, but when we are awake.

2Cr 5:1 For we know that if our earthly house of [this] tabernacle (literally: tent) were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.

Taking the description of when this happens into account is vital in understanding this and the subsequent verses of 2 Corinthians 5. 1 Corinthians 15 tells us exactly when this change takes place. Like "peas and carrots."
Look, I'm not trying to convince you or anyone for that matter. I feel scripture is clear regarding the state of the dead. You have to let the scriptures convince you, not me.
There's nothing wrong with trying to convince me of your position so there's no need to qualify what you've written. I know you feel that Scripture is clear on the subject and you even have some verses in your favor, just not as many as the traditional view.


I didn't realize this was a competition! Anyway, in my mind at least, I'm actually espousing the "traditional view" and modern day Christianity espouses the "pagan view". The "traditional view" is that when man dies he returns to the dust of which He was made and the breath he had returns to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob which gave the breath in the first place. The "pagan view" is the view that whether you are Muslim, Buddhist, Taoist, Hindu, or "Christian" when man dies he goes "somewhere." A Taoist believes the soul flies into Uncle Charlie, a Christian, into heaven.
But you shouldn't feel it's some sort of sin to try to convince another. I've changed my views on many, many things when others have shown me a good case from Scripture and I'm glad they did try to convince me, with sound exegesis.
I can only lay out a case, it's the Holy Spirit's job to convince.
I'm not sure you know what is meant by proof-texts. This term refers to isolated bible verses that are used to make a given theological point, yet removed from either their immediate context or the overall context of the book. For example, using a verse in poetic writing to make a theological point is not as sound as a didactic verse from an epistle. I could quote many things from Ecclesiastes, to give just one example, which would not hold true at all. Think of Solomon's exhortation that the goal of life is to eat, drink and be merry. You wouldn't take that as a doctrinal truth, yet it's a scripture from the Hebrew Bible (God's word).
I understood what you meant, and you're saying, essentially, that I was speaking out of the Seventh-day Adventist "playbook." But again, keep in mind that, as I stated, there are many from all sorts of denominational beliefs that have understood the scripture to be stating the obvious; once dead we await our change. Job knew the difference, so did Paul.

Job 14:10 But man dieth, and wasteth away: yea, man giveth up the ghost, and where [is] he? 11 [As] the waters fail from the sea, and the flood decayeth and drieth up: 12 So man lieth down, and riseth not: till the heavens [be] no more, they shall not awake, nor be raised out of their sleep. 13 O that thou wouldest hide me in the grave, that thou wouldest keep me secret, until thy wrath be past, that thou wouldest appoint me a set time, and remember me! 14 If a man die, shall he live [again]? all the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come. 15 Thou shalt call, and I will answer thee: thou wilt have a desire to the work of thine hands.

What a glorious description of the truth!
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Re: Near Death Experiences Valid?

Post by Jason » Tue Dec 23, 2008 11:17 am

RND, thank you for such a thoughtful response. I'm not sure we can parse the words of Paul more than we already have so we'll just agree that the other is wrong. :lol: I agree with your exegesis of Luke 16 so perhaps we're talking past one another on that one.

I'm curous about a couple things with the view you present. Is it your opinion that when a Christian dies, their next thought (after death) is resurrection? As in, I die today and in my mind I've been immediately resurrected from the dead? This would be akin to "going under" for surgery and waking up, thinking only a second had passed.

Or is it your view that a Christian dies and then goes into an actual sleep state wherein the mind is active? I ask this because you mentioned in a previous post that you believe the brain is active for up to 30 minutes after death and that view would interfere with the analogy of surgery, where one feels no time has passed and the brain was totally "out." Steve mentioned that the analogy of sleep is used in scripture, not because it describes a person in dreamland, but because it's a temporary state... just like death. In other words, one sleeps and they later wake up. But people who sleep are not unconciouss since their mind is very active during REM. I think one can press the sleep metaphor too far.

Also, I'm not sure you're fully answered TK's question. I don't see how a hallucination could cause a person to see things on the roof of the building they are in (or what's happening at someone's house) at the moment they are physically dead. This is, in my opinion, the strongest case for NDEs. Depriving the brain of oxygen might account for someone seeing a white light but not having vivid conversations with Jesus. What sayeth ye?

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