Dr. Eben Alexander’s Proof of Heaven has now been on the New York Times Bestseller List for 41 weeks and is estimated to have sold over two million copies. With a lot of discussion going on about the book, and after being asked several times what I thought of it, it seemed time to blog about it.
My first thought is that it appears Christians have become increasingly gullible and accepting of these personal accounts of near death experiences. First came books by believing evangelicals with mostly good theology (Don Piper’s 90 Minutes in Heaven and Todd Burpo’s To Heaven and Back), then came books by evangelicals with some good theology but some very bad as well (Mary Neal’s To Heaven and Back). In my opinion, people have now been set up to believe books with utterly bad theology (such as Dr. Alexander’s Proof of Heaven).
Not only is the theology bad, but others are now coming forward contradicting Alexander’s account of what happened in the hospital. It’s mostly small things, like what the weather was that week and that it’d be impossible for Alexander to cry out “God help me” since there was a tube down his throat. But, significantly, Dr. Alexander didn’t slip into a coma void of brain activity due to meningitis, but was in a medically induced coma where his brain retained consciousness. So, there is no compelling reason to believe it was anything more than a powerful and vivid dream.
In Alexander’s account, he describes being given the “universal wisdom”:
Contrary to this, in Scripture we are told:
As I shared in previous blogs, I’ve read many accounts of such experiences in which people who do not know Christ claim to have gone to Heaven, or its outskirts, and were reassured by a “being of light” that all is well with them.
Obviously, Satan has great vested interests in deceiving unbelievers into thinking that what awaits them after death is a place of serenity rather than of eternal punishment. Scripture says, “Even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:15).
While I am not the judge of who has really been to Heaven or Hell, I emphatically believe every near-death (or supposed “after-death”) experience must be evaluated in light of God’s Word. Where the experience contradicts the revealed Word of God, the Word must be accepted over the experience. For the Christian, there simply is no other option. We dare not ground our beliefs about God and Heaven on people’s memories of their personal experiences.
Randy Alcorn (@randyalcorn) is the author of over sixty books and the founder and director of Eternal Perspective Ministries.