A Near Death Experience? A Theological Evaluation of Don Piper’s “90 Minutes in Heaven”

You may be familiar with a book called 90 Minutes in Heaven: A True Story of Death & Life written by Don Piper (not to be confused with John Piper) and Cecil Murphey. It has been on the New York Times and Amazon best seller list since its release in 2004. In the book, Don Piper describes his experience of being in a car wreck where he was pronounced dead by the paramedics. During his death Piper describes the details of his “90 minutes in heaven.”

It is not my intention here to evaluate the validity of near-death experiences in general, but to ask some questions concerning this on in particular. This is not an easy thing for me to do as I believe Don Piper probably sincerely trusts the Lord and truly believes that his experience that evening was a miracle where the God showed him a glimpse of heaven.  

Having said that, I found myself confused with much of his description of heaven. So confused, I thought to myself at one point while reading this book If what he says about heaven is correct, then my eschatology is really messed up. Then I am left with this familiar dilemma: Do I believe what this sincere guy says to be the truth and fit my interpretation of Scripture and theology around it or do I trust what I believe the Scripture says without conforming it to Piper’s experience. If I choose the latter, what do I do with Don? Is he lying? Diluted? Or did he misinterpret what he saw?

Setting Piper’s intentions aside for a moment, here are the two major theological problems that I have with Piper’s description of heaven:

1. His description of people. He says that he was greeted by many people who were the same age as when they died. All of these people were those that influenced him in his spiritual walk throughout his life. Yet he talks about their physical appearance for quite some time. Most interestingly, he says that they all looked the same age as when they died. While the Bible does not tell us much about the state of existence between death and resurrection (the intermediate state), it is clear that our bodies are left behind until the resurrection. It is hard for me to conceive that the disembodied souls of believers have the physical appearance of their former selves. It is even harder for me to conceive that they look the same age as when they died. In the intermediate state their is no material bodily form which causes this type of recognition. As believers, it seems best to remain agnostic about how and if others will be recognized in the intermediate state.

Yet, curiously enough, this would fit the pattern of the common folk theology concerning the state of affairs for those who are in heaven. Of course we would think of them as the same age as when they died, because that represents our freshest memory of them.

2. His description of the heaven. He describes meeting all these people outside the “pearly gates.” This is even more problematic than the first for two reasons: 1) The “gates of heaven” described in the Bible occur in Revelation chapter 21. This chapter does not describe the state of affairs of the intermediate state between death and resurrection, but that of the unique post-resurrection new Heaven and new Earth where the new city of Jerusalem comes from the sky and settles on the earth. The “gates of heaven” are the twelve gates to the new Jerusalem. In other word, these “pearly gates” do not exist until after the resurrection, judgment, and creation of the new heaven and earth. If this is true, how could Piper have seen them? 2) I am not sure that we should take the description of the gates as being “pearly” (or as Rev. 21:21 says “pearls”) as literal. Although I could be wrong, it seems to be symbolic of the beauty and majesty of the great city and God’s kingdom.

This same criticism could be said for the “streets of gold” Piper describes. Once again, in Scripture, these “streets of gold” only exist in the new Jerusalem after the resurrection, not in the intermediate state.

It is again curious that Piper’s description fits with the common folk theology of our day concerning the appearance of heaven. People fail to distinguish between the intermediate state before the resurrection and the kingdom of God on earth after the resurrection.

Having voiced my theological concerns, some might ask if I believe that Don Piper spent ninety-minutes in heaven. My answer is “I don’t think so.” I cannot change my theology based upon the experience of another. Yet to be fair and honest, if I experienced exactly what Don Piper describes, I don’t know what I would do. Experience is very powerful and can often cause us to change our interpretation of things, no matter how clear they seemed before. 

I suppose that we are left with these option:

1. Piper is lying. He made all this up for some type of personal gain.
2. Piper is telling the truth. He did visit heaven and his descriptions are accurate; we have just misunderstood Scripture.
3. He did visit heaven, but misinterpreted what he saw. 
4. He thought he visited heaven but he really did not. His visions, while unexplained from a medical standpoint, are filled with the common eschatological folk-lore that you would expect from a 21st century westernized Christian.

I am prone to go with number 4. The theological descriptions of heaven are more consistent with ingrained folk theology than with a critical examination of the eschatological issues upon which these touch. Folk theology is powerful. We can easily interpret our experiences based upon emotionally held convictions that may or may not be based in truth.

Concerning this, I would be curious to hear of a near-death experience of a Muslim. Do they have ninety virgins who meet them? What color are their streets? Who is waiting at the gate to allow entrance? In truth, I would be more inclined to believe this story if it came from someone who was not so educated in 21st century western Christian folk theology.


33 Responses to “A Near Death Experience? A Theological Evaluation of Don Piper’s “90 Minutes in Heaven””

  1. Gary Habermas lectured on Near-Death Experiences and you can watch that lecture here. Habermas doesn’t really make much of a conclusion about the subject but it was interesting to note that he mentioned how people from other religions had also experienced such experiences and their eschatology had indeed been colored by their religion.


  2. btw, probably should have said, “… their experience had indeed been colored…”

  3. Someone in my Sunday School class mentioned a similar incident where a 9-year-old girl was “taken to heaven” and she now draws pictures of what she saw. Furthermore, God speaks to her concerning what she can reveal from what she saw.

    I was out when this woman brought up the story, but I’m troubled whenever someone unquestioningly accepts the experiences of another. This incident is even more alarming since it involves ongoing revelation that is not being tested against scripture.

    Greg Koukl has an article on his STR called “A Private Hotline to God?” where he offers similar thoughts.

    I ran across this website recently which contains a lot of Jewish teachings. I am sure, that similar to Christianity, not all Jewish people would agree with the teachings there. But that URL I gave above talks about what happens after death. I was interested to see that it teaches about purgatory and about a time when the soul and body will reunite. It also teaches about free will. Of course, there is nothing there that teaches that we need faith in Jesus. It teaches about the effects of our good and bad deeds. It also teaches that a person COULD be reincarnated.

    Joanie D.

  5. A long, long time ago I took a philosophy course in college that dealt almost exclusively with Near Death Experiences. What I remember is that members of different religions and faiths experience heaven or the afterlife in the cultural and religous terms they are most familiar with. This lead many physicians to view Near Death Experiences as a medical experience related more to deprivation of oxygen and the sudden automatic release of numerous hormones and chemicals that induce these experiences in people.

    Thankfully my faith does not need to rely on the experiences of people who almost died or briefly died — they have been known to come back feeling they have a “mission.” I also suspect that heaven will be far more wonderful than any images we can conjure up in our head from the brief descriptions provided in the Bible. How could we expect something so wonderful to be adequately described in imperfect human language?


  6. That Gary Habermas video was great. Very interesting and well worth watching. He seems to confirm that many of these NDEs are relevant to the culture of the one who experienced it.

  7. Michael,

    This is the best review of Piper’s 90 minutes that I have seen. You’re right on when you speak of folk theology. It is found everywhere in popular culture, including the country song of some years ago, “Streets of Heaven.” Part of his story even has a familiar ring in the film,”The Apostle.” Here Sonny, the preacher, sees an auto accident and reaches inside the car a prays for the one not being attended by law enforcement.

    Well, one thing we know for sure: Piper is making a trunk-load of money on his 90 minutes.

  8. Thanks Ruth. I just feel it is so unfortunate that stories like these form the basis for people’s faith. Pseudo-apologetics and tabloid theology is ruling the day whether it be this or scientific discoveries of the “lost day” of Joshua or the Bible Code. Sigh . . . We have so much more to offer than this.

  9. KingdomServant August 8, 2007 at 6:36 am

    It seems to me that our experiences outside our physical bodies would be entirely different than from the inside. For example, our vision and our senses would be somehow different, not limited in the way they are form the inside. The biggest difference being that our interaction with physical objects would be different, i.e., passing through walls and so forth.

    I recall the movie Ghost with Patrick Swayzee (sp?). In it, he had difficulty moving a penny, but had no trouble standing on the floor. I’m not saying that’s what happens. But if someone were to tell their OBE story that way, you’d have to wonder about what actually happened. Do we stand on the floor or do we float.

    I just see our experiences being somehow different outside these physical bodies. NDE’s claim to be viewing things from the outside. My body is over there and I’m over here. if that’s the case, there is no (or should not be) the same kinds of experiences as from the inside. And the kind of reporting should reflect that.

  10. Option #4 would eventually lead to the same conclusion as Fracis Crick co-discover of DNA. His believe is that brain produces mind and is the mind. There are several challenges that need to be address before considering that NDE and related phenomena are just illusions or hallucinations of the brain.
    Throughout history and in many cultures there are documentations of NDE. The earliest report is Plato where he reported a soldier who was thought to be dead and placed on a funeral pyre. The first systematic study was done by Heim (1892-1972). This study for the first time brought together a large number of these experiences where they only thinks that death is imminent.
    According to neurosciences and psychologists who undertake these researches found some recurring features of NDE:
    1) feeling of peace, joy
    2) sense of being out of one’s body and able to watch events going on around one’s body.
    3) bright light
    4) no pain felt
    One noteworthy point: NDE generally alters the person’s attitudes dramatically and permanently, leading often to increase in spirituality, sense of purpose in life and decrease fear of death.
    As for theories/ models to explain NDE there are several.
    A) Psychological and cultural theories. Example: People in different cultures interpret what they expericence like Indian from India would generally say that messenger of death took the wrong person. Westerners would interpret their experience as being sent back to finish what was unfinished and met by deceased loved ones .
    B) Physiological theories. Blood gases. It is one of the earliest and most persistent theory. It is thought that due to hypoxia ( decrease in O2) and hypercarbia ( increase in CO2) results in hallucinations. Suffice to say there are many problems with this theory. Neurochemical theory. Neuroanatomical theory. All these have major hurdles.

    All of these theories have one common thread about brain/conscious experience. This conscious experience consist of synchronous high frequency ( gamma band about 30-70 Hz) EEG. However, they do not account for those who had heart attack and under general anesthesia an experience NDE. When a person who has a full cardiac arrest, three things occur no if or buts. 1) EKG goes flat , 2) EEG goes flat or brainwaves are absent. 3) No respiration. Yet there are over 100 cases of NDE documented ( Greyson 2003, Sabom 1982, van Lommel et al 2001)
    NDE cannot simply be dismissed as misguided, hallucinations from neuroscience, psychological or theological viewpoint as there are dozens of well documented cases by respected authorities.

  11. To dmcdmc I would say the main point of what I believe the review of the book was trying to convey is that scripture not the testimonies of NDE people should be the final authority on what the after life is like regardless of your particular opinion of NDE in general and whether these are authentic. I think it is right to question a description of the afterlife that is at odds with scripture even if you in principle believe in NDE. If these NDE people later teach doctrines that they supposedly received from God that are not in harmony with scripture, scripture and not there abberant teaching should have authority.

  12. I must say that you have made a very believable presentation in regard to Don Pipers false belief that he visted heaven. The fact that his visit is not consistent with the bible is a convincing fact. However, I tend to not be so dogmatic in regard to other individual’s experiences. Therefore, I am going to go with number 3 in that perhaps there was a visit to the eternal and Mr. Piper misinterpreted what he saw. The key word here being saw because again, neither you or I can emphatically say what the man saw or experienced.

    What about people who have visted the afterlife and are not Christians who have visted heaven and…Hell. Could they all be aluding to a figment of their imaging.

    Finally, if Don Piper did not see the afterlife, why did he not want to live here on Earth?, and what cause him to endure such great physical pain?

    One thing is clear, he did die. Beyond this we do not know what happen.


  13. Personally, I’m not a fan of this book. I take these kinds of things with a grain of salt. But at the same time there are a lot of things I do not know.

    I have heard it said that, in order to convey revelation to humanity, God had to accommodate Himself in various ways so that those whom He was talking to could understand him. For example, He spoke to people in their language, not some angelic of godly language. Or He became human in the ultimate act of accommodation.

    There was also a time, in Acts 2, when the power of the Holy Spirit descended upon the disciples, and when they spoke, all those present heard in their own language.

    This is interesting because that would mean in between the speaking and the hearing, God was changing the language to that of the hearer. It would be like me talking in English, and you hearing it in Spanish, and another hearing the same thing in French.

    I think that is another example of God accommodating His revelation to those hearing it. Either to show them a miracle to confirm a message, or to allow them to understand. Probably both.

    What I am getting at in all this is that what if God accommodated “Heaven” to Jon Piper’s folk theology? What if God did that with a bigger purpose in mind, something that transcends the realm of our eschatology? Certainly the book has had a strong impact on America.

    I know its a radical thought, and I wouldn’t know what it would mean in the big picture of things. But could it be a possibility? God has done similar things in the past, I think.

  14. When I hosted a book sale I received numerous donted books.
    90 seconds in heaven being one of them, it’s not a book I would usually read but for whatever reason I picked it up and over the course of 2 weeks read it in various waiting rooms.

    Greg I find your thoughts very well thought out and VERY conceivable. ie.. we both ‘witness’ an a purse snatching, yet each of us will discribe the snatcher, the purse and other variables differently. and what about abstract art and it’s interpreatation.

    Back to the book, what I got from the book had nothing to do with what heaven “looked like or who was there to great me” what touched me and encouraged me to keep the faith and strenght was … here is a man of Faith, questioning why he was sent back, why the pain and suffering, a man with depression and all the things that come from physical or emotional trama as well as chronic illness. How he learned from all these experiences, learned to allow others to show love, realizing they to are feeling helpless. Looking for and finding ways to take the experience and bring good to others as well as a spiritual and emotional growth for self.
    Something Greg said… also can apply so to speak… Don Piper experincing what so many others have or will go through is someone who speaks from experince and knowledge of being there… not heaven… but in the throws of dispare, depression, pain, and questioning…. it is easier to understand and listen to someone Who Has been in your shoes. There is no way Don or anyone can tell me what “my” heaven will look like. I would not take stock in anyone’s account of what heaven looks like. I feel he wrote the book to share more than ‘what heaven looked like’

    I think it was a great book, we all could learn from his expereince of pain, compassion, empathy and apply the lessons to our lives. Why was he afraid to share his experience from the begining……. people wouldn’t believe.

  15. I personally love Don Piper’s book. I don’t think we should quibble over facts about the appearance of heaven etc., just rejoice that we praise such an awesome God and be happy that our Lord Jesus has prepared a place for us in his kingdom!! Does it matter if the gates are described as pearly in Revelations and pearlescent or something different in Piper’s book – NO! Human words are not adequate to describe such sensations we will experience in heaven. (And let’s face it – though the Bible is inspired by God, revealed to those who wrote it, it still had to be written down in human words and has been translated and re-translated into hundreds of languages, so human words may not depict the picture in same awesome terms used in heaven.)

    I believe that Piper’s experience was genuine. Someone made a comment further up the page…that he must be making lots of money (implying that he’d made it all up). COME ON! This man is a pastor, living his life for the Lord and the people, I’m sure money’s not what he wrote this book for. I’m quoting from Chapter 12, Piper’s friend David Gentiles says to him: “Why do you think you experienced heaven if you’re not supposed to share it?” Then he says: “Is it possible that God took you to heaven and brought you back for you to share what happened to you? Don’t you realize what a powerful encouragement you can be to others?”
    And Piper shares with us so many testimonies about how the story of his death has helped those grieving over loved ones, those dying and in bad shape and even brought people to salvation!
    That is powerful!

    I recommend this book to anyone. Of course the Bible should be the foundation of your faith, but if you feel like something different 90 Minutes in Heaven is a very inspirational book that will improve your relationship with God and you’re excitment to be with him in everlasting life. (And it is great to evangelise your non-believer friends and coleagues with because it’s readable enough and doesn’t look intimidating to them! Try it!)

    God bless!

  16. “I would be more inclined to believe this story if it came from someone who was not so educated in 21st century western Christian folk theology.


    One wonders too about certain other experiences in dreams. They can seem so real at the time.

    I’m certainly not questioning Mr. Piper’s sincere belief that this happened to him, only whether it was real, or an ideal scenario or wish that he simply lived out in a dream.

    As far as evangelizing with a book like that, (while it is a moving story), I think I would find that somewhat dubious, because it stresses his positive experiences of death and heaven, rather than putting the main emphasis on the gospel itself.

  17. We have to be careful about books like this that seem to contradict where the scriptures speak on a particular situation or issue.
    The word “once” in Hebrews 9:27 is the Greek word hepax, which means “once, one time.” The author says very plainly right here: “And just as it is appointed for man to die once.” We only get one chance at life. Once breath runs out of us, we are dead, “and after that comes judgment.” This one verse would seem to shed light on these “experiences.” It would interpret those experiences as what they are: “near-death.” Not death. When a person’s heart stops, it doesn’t mean they have died. There are many examples in Scriptures about a person appearing “dead” but not really being dead (Matt. 9:24; Mark 5:39; Luke 8:52; Acts 9:40, 20:10).

    A person cannot see the afterlife of heaven or hell and then go back. The parable of the rich man and Lazarus is a prime example. In Luke 16, the rich man begged Abraham to send Lazarus to his father’s house to tell his family to change their ways of living, “lest they also come into this place of torment.” This seems like one of the “warnings” we hear from someone who just had a near-death experience. The rich man continued, “If someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.” Then Abraham replied, “If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.” We see from Luke 16 that after the rich man died, he was in a place of judgment. Revelation 20:14 talks about the lake of fire-which is hell. This is called the “second death.” If someone were to die once, and then die finally, and then be thrown into hell, that would be three deaths! The arithmetic does not add up according to Scripture. Therefore, on the issue of “near-death experiences,” we must say that they may be dreams, visions, or hallucinations, but we cannot say that a real death has occurred in which a person has seen the gates of heaven or the fires of hell. Furthermore, in John 3:3, Jesus said to Nicodemus, “Truly, truly, I say to you unless one is born-again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” This verse tells us that unless you are a child of God and have a new life in Christ, you cannot even see the kingdom. So, it makes no sense that people who have had these experiences can say, “I saw the pearly gates” or “I was in heaven, talking with loved ones and Jesus.” It simply does not mesh with the word of God.

  18. Okay! We shouldn’t believe what Mr Piper has said about heaven because it could have been a dream, hallucination etc. etc.
    Tracie Hall, you have said there are many examples in Scriptures about a person appearing “dead” but not really being dead. All the incidents in the scriptures you’ve given are illustrations of the power of prayer for healing.
    Even if we don’t believe Mr Piper went to heaven his book still shows the enormous power of prayer and God’s love on his journey to healing. (I also wanted to point out that I think Miss Hall’s “near-death” is probably a very good word for what happened to Mr Piper, because though he “went to heaven” he didn’t actually go through those gates and meet Jesus etc.)

    Mr Piper didn’t want to share his experience for a reason: He thought people would doubt it. There are a few slants you can take on his book:
    1) We cannot believe a word a he says because it does not align with Scripture etc.
    2) We can take what we want from the story like the power of prayer, God’s love, healing, fellowship etc. but leave out the heaven bit.
    3) God wants as many people to be saved as possible. So maybe (and I’m no theologan, so sorry) like Greg said at his comment #14 God gave Mr Piper – a faithful child of Jesus – his experience of heaven with a bigger purpose in mind, something that transcends the realm of our eschatology? God is so much bigger than us we cannot understand eveyrthing he does. Maybe – put in simple language – He is changing His approach to cater for our 21st century non-believers, so they can see His love and know of His kingdom and be saved.

    I know lots of people are going to have something to say to point #3 and I probably won’t be back to comment again because this is not meant to be a debate. I just depends on your slant, I guess, and in the end the only book we really need to believe is the Holy Bible.
    God Bless you all!

  19. Charles E. Miller, Deacon July 6, 2012 at 11:07 am

    I believe like Billy Graham and Erwin Lutzer: the spirit of a person can take on bodily form until the resurrection. I believe my mother recognized my father the moment her spirit left her body December 18,2006. Daddy went to heaven April 11, 1985. I believe this view of the soul can be taken from Scripture: 1 Samuel 28 and Matthew 17:1-5.

    Charles E. Miller,Jr. BA, MAR
    Former Deacon, Southern Baptist Convention
    Lay Speaker, United Methodist Church

  20. In all honestly I have not read Don Piper’s book, but I’m quite skeptical of his story. I listened to him on a Christian program and a few things did not add up. Our LORD God and his precious son-our LORD and Savior Jesus Christ will be the center and focus of our Heavenly, eternal home!!! Why would we have our relatives greet us first?!! It will be Jesus with his nail-scarred hands and feet!!! I believe we will see our LOVED ones {that did make it}, we will have new bodies and not these old tents that wear out. I long to worship my LORD and God someday forever and ever, but my dearly beLOVED brothers and sisters-there is so much work to do here on earth!!! Jesus told us to pray for laborers in the field and Isaiah says “Here I am LORD send me.” May God use us to bring in the harvest and to God be the glory!!! Thank you Jesus for giving your life for sinners like me and for interceding for us-I LOVE YOU LORD!!!

  21. Good afternoon!

    Thanks for the article. With you, I would characterize the book in the fourth of your options. Your second critique of Piper’s book is accurate and devastating to his alleged narrative.

    But, as to your first critique, do you mind if I push back a bit? Saul recognized Samuel. Jesus (and, mysteriously!, Peter, James, and John) recognized Moses and Elijah. John recognized the elders on their thrones and the martyrs under the altar.

    The theory of people possessing an intermediate body in the intermediate state (what I like to call the “loaner car” theory) has not been so thoroughly disproven as to rule it outside of the bounds of orthodoxy, has it? And certainly, as to the two questions that seem implicit in your critique here—can the dead be recognized as themselves by their physical appearance, and what is their apparent age in heaven—although the second seems entirely beyond our ability to know, the scriptures I have cited seem to answer the first in the affirmative, do they not?

  22. It has been a while since I read the book but I believe he says his old grandmother appeared as a young woman. I didn’t read that they were the age they were when they died. I had problems with the pearly gates, but my grandfather before he died said he saw a river. That only appears in Revelation too.

  23. There is another possibility. When Don Piper visited Heaven, he was actually in the future. This would solve the problem of him seeing things that only exist after the Resurrection (pearly gates, streets of gold). Seems a little far fetched, I know, but then again why would we assume he was in Heaven in present-time? I haven’t read his book so forgive me if my theory is off-base from what he wrote.

    Addressing another issue: will resurrected people look the same age? My question for that is: did Jesus look the same age? On one hand, maybe he didn’t, which is why he wasn’t recognized at first. But the gospels make no mention of him looking older or younger, which I think the gospel writers would include if the difference was significant enough.

    Just some food for thought.

  24. I recently heard a story from a guy who told me he was in a
    car accident and had died 4 times on the way to and in the
    initial hours. After which he told me of no conception of time.
    Just a foggy memory of dreamlike rememberance. He I think uses this to support being in paradise and being with the
    risen Christ. However, the big distinction for me is he is not
    in his resurrected body as yet. My question would be without
    your resurrection body how do we relate and what do we
    do until Jesus resurrects our bodies.

  25. Another “best seller” has been In “Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon’s Journey into the Afterlife” (Simon & Schuster) in which Dr. Eben Alexander recounts the extraordinary discoveries he made while in a life-threatening coma. Catching a ride on the wings of butterflies is the part that got me. Personally, in regards to his and the dear pastor you mentioned near death statements, who is to say that the neurons don’t just keep bouncing around in our brains which cannot be detected on a monitor? I would rather think that perhaps these men were simply trying to rationally collect these free floating images (words, pictures, experience) and tried to refocus them into some meaningful content once they began to regain consciousness. I certainly believe in a life hereafter; however, I find it ridiculous to base my “proof” on someone else’s possible hallucinations. I think if God wanted us to know more he would have given us more. Sola scriptura must be the bottom line here, I think. But, then I may be brain dead at this very moment. :-)

  26. I didn’t read all of the comments on this topic, but when we die do we, or do we not, come face-to-face with God?
    “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment” —Hebrews 9:27

  27. Charles Miller,BA, MAR May 24, 2014 at 1:24 pm

    I must say that I believe in instantaneous resurrection. This view was accepted by Dr. Frank Stagg of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Time and Eternity are not the same; therefore, I believe that those who leave this life before the Second Coming enters time experience it at death. Rev. Piper must have had his spiritual body at the moment of death. 2 Corinthians 5: 1-10 seems to indicate this.

  28. Don’s experience lines up with Scripture in amazing, surprising ways. A book will come out soon to show this, with mathematical proof. It will help clear up confusion for many, and will point to our utterly amazing God!

    God Bless!

  29. I realize this is a blog post that is several years old, but I did want to comment in case you’re interested. It wasn’t the theology that struck me as odd in this story so much as it was wildly different from my own near death experience. In my experience when I was in a severe car accident with a friend of mine (I had a broken neck and she was in a coma) we both experienced standing a block away, outside our bodies and discussing whether or not we wanted to die or if we wanted to try and go back and see if things would work out ok. I guess we didn’t get as far as heaven or judgment but what struck me as odd in his story was that 1) my friend and I had no bodies and we didn’t “talk” exactly, our communication was kind of like our thoughts that were completely exposed (I really can’t explain it very well). Also, we had no bodies so we had no senses per se – we were aware of what was going on around us but not in the way you would experience it through your senses. And there were no emotions because we had no bodies – that sounds weird but it was the most peaceful, sense of “wholeness’ you could ever imagine. I actually hold on to that memory when I’m feeling anxious to remind me that death is just fine and it’s very natural and it’s nothing to worry about because it’s as natural and as joyful for the one who dies as being born. The downside is not getting to see our loved ones again after they die – that’s the part I don’t like. Anyway, that’s why this guy’s story does not resonate with me.

  30. One question strikes me about accounts of people actually “being in heaven” and returning with their descriptions (which often contradict one another). If a great man of faith like the apostle Paul saw heaven and, by his own admission, was prohibited from describing it for fear of becoming conceited (thinking more highly of himself for having been given such a privilege), then how is it that God would approve of people like Don Piper, et al, obtaining fame and financial gain through the marketing of their books describing such things? They might very well be sincere, but they are sincerely wrong, because what they say does not square with the whole counsel of God.

  31. The God of Scripture is certainly bigger and beyond our well honed doctrines. While I believe in Piper’s sincerity, just as I do in the person of Rev Ian McCormack, I don’t think I should take Eban Alexander’s explanation as scriptural–for that is New Age. Even Dr. Mary Neal has a good testimony despite our needing to “spit out a few pips” here and there. James


  1. Truth is Still Truth - September 10, 2007

    The Deaths of the Apostles

  2. Passion For Preaching » Blog Archive » Revelation, not Experience Should Drive Our Apologetics - June 15, 2011

    […] New York Times’ bestseller list since it was released in 2004.  Though I have not read the book, Michael Patton argues that this form of apologetical argument is insufficient and dangerous. One of his strongest […]

Leave a Reply