In my experience of evangelistic witnessing, ADCs [After-Death Communications] and NDEs [Near-Death Experiences] are far more effective than any Bible-based apologetics. To demonstrate why I will share some of the most mind-blowing evidential NDEs and ADCs I have encountered, including some of the most convincing which have not been published.
I will ultimately address the relevance of these experiences to universalism.
But first, I will provide some biblical background for ADCs:
(1) Apart from Jesus’ resurrection appearances, the most obvious NT example of an ADC is the return of Moses and Elijah to be present with Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration (Mark 9:2-9 and parallels).
(2) “After His resurrection, they [deceased saints] came out of the tombs and came into the holy city and appeared to many (Matthew 27:53).”
Whether their bodies were actually resurrected or their spirits simply appeared to the living in Jerusalem, these paranormal appearances qualify as ADCs.
(3) Hebrews 12:1: “Since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely and run with perseverance the race that is set before us.”
In part this image of “the cloud of witnesses” refers back to the list of OT saints discussed in chap. 11. But in Hebrews, the word “witnesses” (Greek: martyres) always refers to eyewitnesses and the witnesses in 12:1 do not precede the living spiritual athletes, but rather surround them. So “the cloud of witnesses” are alive and are currently monitoring the progress of the spiritual athletes competing in the arena below. Hebrews 12:1 is thus an important prooftext for the affirmation in the Apostles’ Creed, “I believe in the communion of saints.” If our beloved dead can monitor our progress, why can’t they sometimes manifest to comfort the bereaved?
(4) In the Catholic OT Judas Maccabaeus has a vision of 2 deceased saints, the high priest Onias III and the prophet Jeremiah, whose encouragement and prayer support spur them on to military victory in Israel’s decisive battle with the Greeks (2 Maccabees 15:6-19). True, this book is absent from the Protestant canon. But this visionary appearance of Jeremiah inspires speculation that Jesus in fact represents Jeremiah’s return from the grave (Matthew 16:14).
(5) NDEs are experienced as a form of OBE. Paul considers his visit to Paradise a possible OBE (2 Corinthians 12:1-5) and Ezekiel describes his visions like ADCs:
e. g.: “Then the Spirit lifted me up (Ezekiel 3:12).”
Sp let’s begin with the most impressive evidential cases:
(1) NDE researchers like Dr. Raymond Moody are now writing books about shared NDEs, which are generally far more evidential than most conventional NDEs because the doctors, nurses, and family members witnessing the apparent deaths actually experience key elements of the NDEs, including the OBE and the past life review! (a) Watch this interview with Dr. Moody for a summary of this type of afterlife evidence:
Elsewhere Dr. Moody describes his own shared NDE at his mother’s deathbed. The shared nature of these NDEs is somewhat reminiscent of Jesus’ resurrection appearances.
(1b) For a gripping personal account of a shared NDE, watch Scott Taylor’s testimony:
Such shared NDEs refute the claim of skeptics that NDEs are delusions caused by oxygen deprivation in a dying brain.