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Researching near-death experiences leads author on journey toward faith

Christians have long debated whether so-called near-death experiences are authentic or counterfeit.

NDEs, as they are known, are a scientifically recognized phenomenon that occur when people are clinically dead. People often see visions of themselves; they see their bodies as paramedics try to revive them, doctors as they operate or even family members in waiting rooms. Some even describe scenes they couldn’t possibly have seen except supernaturally.

Author John Burke interviewed 70 people who have had such an experience for his book “Imagine Heaven.” One of the first documented NDEs is the case of Dr. George Ritchie. In December 1943, Ritchie was a 20-year-old Army private and died of pneumonia. Nine minutes later, he came back to life and was profoundly changed. He went on to become a doctor of psychiatry and wrote books on the phenomenon of NDE. In a late 1990s interview with Joan Rivers, Ritchie talked about what he encountered, about the incredible light and love and being in the presence of what he believed to be God in Jesus Christ.

READ: Researcher now believes near-death experiences prove Heaven

Burke told Fox News that there is overwhelming evidence that what people experience is actually in the Bible. “Christians don’t realize how many of these things are tied to what the Bible says,” he said. Light and love are the two attributes of God in the Bible. They are also the two commonalities people describe in NDEs.

  • Light: “And Jesus spoke to them saying, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness but will have the light of life’” (John 8:12).
  • Love: “For God is love” (I John 4:8).

Burke said he had always been a skeptic when it came to religion. He wasn’t an atheist but had serious doubts. However, he said people who had no Christian background or understanding have reported seeing things that are only described in the Judeo-Christian scriptures, particularly Revelation 21.

He isn’t alone as science seems to now be catching up with the phenomenon. Scientific American wrote about it extensively in recent years stating, “A growing number of scholars now accept NDEs as a unique mental state that can offer novel insights into the nature of consciousness.” The journal then quoted Charlotte Martial, a neuroscientist at the University of Liège in Belgium who stated, “Now, clearly, we don’t question anymore the reality of near-death experiences. “People who report an experience really did experience something.”

–Dwight Widaman | Metro Voice

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