Tuesday, January 15, 2013
“Life after death - proven”
The world is rightly fascinated by that growing body of testimony consistently coming from people who have been resuscitated after clinical death and lived to publish their experiences. People who have come back from hell feel as though they have been given another chance by the grace of God. People who have had heavenly experiences and been re-united with loved ones in paradise have said that death no longer frightens them since they have been there and done that. Even the blind report being able to see during these experiences, some for the first time in their lives. They say they never felt more alive than when they were ‘dead’.
Lutherans should have mixed reactions to this. On the one hand, we rejoice that further evidence is available (if more were needed) that God, heaven and hell are real and our souls do survive death and every human being does live forever, as the word of God teaches.
We also rejoice that these things, formerly considered mere doctrines, have now been proven scientifically, since vivid experiences had by souls cannot be explained away as ‘brain activity’ when a brain has been disabled. So writes renowned Harvard professor of brain surgery, Dr. Eban Alexander, in his best-selling book, ‘Proof of Heaven’ – having himself been a disembodied soul, his body comatose with meningitis for seven whole days.
On the other hand, we should not take people’s experiences as anything more than ‘tours’ of the afterlife given to their souls by forces beyond their control. Because they vary so much from person to person, little ‘objective’ data about the afterlife has accumulated as a result of these ‘tours’.
Some of these souls – particularly unbelievers - may even have been deceived during their time away from the body, much as they are deceived whilst in the body into false belief and doctrines of demons. Testimonies from disembodied souls that contradict the Bible cannot be trusted since ‘God…does not lie’ (Titus 1.2)
Believers know that God will not let any souls ‘blow His cover’ or see what He does not want them to see. Speaking of himself, St. Paul wrote, ‘I know that this man was caught up into paradise - whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows - and he heard things that cannot be told, which man may not utter’. (2 Corinthians 12:3-4).
We mortals cannot survive even clinical death without God’s permission. Although an amazing resuscitation suggests that, with modern medical technology, we can give ourselves ‘second chances’, we really can’t. Many resuscitations fail, and those that succeed only succeed with God’s help and approval.
Meanwhile, we may say with St. Paul, ‘If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better’ (Philippians 1:22-23).