Imagine Heaven: Near-Death Errors

By Curtis Rittenour | Posted November 02, 2015
Another bestseller about heaven attempts to confirm the realities of life after death through a study of near-death experiences. Can we trust these phenomena to guide our beliefs about what happens when people die?

Floating down a tunnel toward a beautiful light. A sense of being out of your body. A feeling of peace and painlessness. These are just some of the common traits experienced by people who report having near-death experiences (NDEs).

Researchers in the fields of medicine, science, and philosophy have studied this phenomenon for ages, and most have concluded there are psychological and physiological explanations for this hallucinatory state. But some insist that these experiences associated with impending death point to a “beyond death” or transcendent realm of consciousness.

A book by John Burke about NDEs claims that a study of near-death experiences across cultural and religious lines shows commonalities that affirm what he claims the Bible says about life after death. Imagine Heaven is already a bestseller. Burke has studied many accounts of NDEs and of survivors “brought back from near death who lived to tell of both heavenly and hellish experiences.”

But there is a serious flaw in this study: It ignores the truth outlined in Scripture. “For the living know that they will die; but the dead know nothing” (Ecclesiastes 9:5). Death is not only the absence of life, it is the absence of thought. “For in death there is no remembrance of You; in the grave who will give You thanks” (Psalm 6:5). Over 50 times the Bible speaks of death as an unconscious state, like sleep (see John 11:11–14).

Perhaps we can learn from Alex Malarkey, the author of The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven, who announced last January, “I did not die. I did not go to Heaven. I said I went to heaven because I thought it would get me attention. When I made the claims that I did, I had never read the Bible. People have profited from lies, and continue to. They should read the Bible, which is enough. The Bible is the only source of truth.” 1

Our interpretation of what happens at death should not be determined by NDEs. The Bible itself should be allowed to speak for itself. There is life after death and a real place called heaven, but we will not experience the joys of paradise until the resurrection morning when Jesus returns (Revelation 22:12). Let’s not have “near-truth” experiences. Let’s make sure we are spot on in what the Bible really says about life after death.

Learn more about what happens when a person dies; click here to watch "Death Delusions" with Pastor Doug Batchelor. And visit our newly redesigned website at
Curtis Rittenour
Curtis J. Rittenour is the senior writer at Amazing Facts International. He pastored for 25 years and has authored books, magazine articles, blogs, and seminars.

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