The Evangelical Universalist Forum

ADCs and NDEs: Their Evidential Value for Apologetics

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.

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(“OBE” would be out-of-body experience.)

Yes, I have the book by Osis and Haraldsson, “At the Hour of Death,” that compares 500 American NDEs with 500 NDEs from India. The 2 biggest takeways were (1) that the basic NDE elements were shared in both cultures and (2) that these elements clashed with the religious expectations of both cultures. But the Indian NDEs left them more fearful of death than did the American cases. I know of no NDE case where Muhammad appears to a Muslim, but a few cases in which Jesus appears to a Muslim and a non-Christian Jew.

In my view, your skepticism misses 3 points:
(1) In the vast majority of NDE cases, the percipient projects a familiar identity on the religious beings because these beings don’t identify themselves.

(2) Evidentially speaking, Christianity stands or falls on anecdotal testimonies to Jesus’ resurrection appearances, in some of which the identity of the visionary figure is initially unclear. . Evidence from the best ADC and NDE cases Is superior to that gleaned from the resurrection accounts in Paul and the Gospels. So in my view, it is dishonest to ignore these modern cases. In my experience, skeptical agnostics are far more likely to develop an interest in the Gospel through an exposure to the best ADC and NDE cases than through conventional Christian apologetics. For that reason alone, evangelistically-minded believers need to investigate what such modern cases have to offer.

(3) ADC s, NDEs, and other visionary experiences often use archetypal or symbolic images. For example, a fairly standard feature of NDEs is a limit beyond which the percipient is not allowed to transgress. This limit can be portrayed as a wall, a river, a fence, etc. Any assessment of cross-cultural cases must take this into account. btw, the role of archetypes in the human psychg is one of the reasons why Carl Jung’s psychology is so intriguing to me.

That will take a bit of explaining. It sounds as if you want to question Paul, as an example, as to the veracity of his vision, and his hearing, and the subsequent fruits of that encounter that have helped shape much of the good on the Earth, and a great Hope.
What reasons can you give for questioning, say, Paul’s Damascus road experience?

2 of Luke’s accounts of Paul’s Damascus road vision contain a contradiction: In 9:7 Paul’s companions hear the heavenly voice but don’t see Christ, while in 22:9 it is just the opposite: they see the light, but don’t hear the voice. Paul’s own allusions to his visionary conversion experience give no details of this vision (Galatians 1:12; 1 Cor 9:1). The Gospel resurrection narratives contain many apparent inconsistences, so much so that a fellow Theology professor told me he rejects them for precisely this reason. I challenge anyone here to create a thread that outlines the sequence of these appearances, including Paul’s list in 1 Cor 15:3-8, in a way that removes all these apparent contradictions. If no such thread is started, I will start one in which I eventually lay out my own theory of the correct sequence. btw, I do believe in the core of these resurrection accounts.

By contrast, the best of modern ADCs and NDEs not only include the types of verification provided by the Gospel resurrection narratives, but some even provide etheric artifacts from the apparition! And unlike the NT testimonials, these percipients and their witnesses are often available for cross-examination. So stay tuned for more of my cases. I hope that readers have by now watched the 2 videos posted in my OP.

We could have a good long conversation about the contrast between the various accounts, but it would need to be too wide-ranging for this forum, I think. We would first have to acknowledge the methodology used in 1st century gospel-making, as well as 21st century verification, and why one method is better than another. In one place we are reading literature, in another purported scientific results.
It would be very interesting. But I’m also interested in your chronology of the resurrection events.
BTW, have you read the excellent novel on this subject (NDE’s) by Connie Willis, “Passages”?. Recommended.

(2) A SHARED ADC: The book, “Lighted Passage,” was brought to the attention of an agnostic friend of mine by a colleague who worked with him at HUD and was a relative of the author, Dr. Howell Vincent. Dr. Vincent, a Presbyterian minister, wrote this book, about his daughter Rea and her death in a car accident on her honeymoon. His description of a shared ADC involving his late first wife Nellie and other family members is quoted from p. 25:

“On at least 2 occasions this radiant mother had come to Rea in visible tangible form and talked with her…I was privileged to be present at one of these heavenly visits by Mother Nellie. Together with Rea I talked with Nellie, fully recognizing her face and form and voice. I saw her place her hand on Rea’s head in blessing, and I saw her give Rea a flower, a calendula, which we pressed and kept. At that time 3 other members of our family were present, including Rea’s second mother, Agnes, and they all saw Nellie and talked with her, as Rea and I did. We were all wide awake and walked around the room with Nellie.”
From an evidential perspective this testimony rivals the Gospel resurrection stories and, for that very reason, lends them added credibility. Rev. Vincent’s testimony certainly opened my agnostic HUD executive friend’s heart to the Gospel and the possibility that Jesus really did rise from the dead."

I wonder if the etheric calendula in the family album is available for scientific chemical examination. I heard an interview with a Dr. Lind, who witnessed a dying patient’s face light up in response to a take-away family apparition. The patient cupped her hand to receive a 4-leaf clover which she gave to Dr. Lind, saying it was a gift for him from her deceased relative. Dr. Lind put it in a glass, but in a few days it had dematerialized! Similarly, a parishioner of a UMC church I pastored (Bob) was meditating on paranormal manifestations in our congregation, when he received his deceased mother’s long lost wedding ring. It appeared in the center of his made bed, but then dematerialized not long thereafter. I wonder if the calendula remains pressed in that scrap book.

My Christian maternal grandparents believed in consciousness immediately after death.
On his death bed, my grandfather said to my grandmother, "If I am allowed to, I will try to contact you after I die. My grandmother lived many years after his death, but there was no communication from him.

So either such communication is impossible, or else my grandfather was “not allowed to” communicate in this way.

Regarding After-Death Communications, and also the paranormal,

  • do you believe that demonic entities have ever impersonated people?

  • what do you think of the use of mediums / channeling / séances?

  • do you believe that paranormal activities / psychic phenomena are neutral, of God, or demonic?

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Hermano: "Regarding After-Death Communications, and also the paranormal,
do you believe that demonic entities have ever impersonated people?
what do you think of the use of mediums / channeling / séances?

The answer to your first question is, “Absolutely, yes.” There are well-investigated cases in which a medium channeled a loved one, who then “confirmed” his authenticity with characteristic jargon and detailed accurate information and it was later demonstrated that the person channeled was actually alive at the time and knew nothing of what he allegedly communicated through the medium (e g. the famous Gordon Davis case). What initially made this impersonation work is that the “sitter” had come to the séance with the false belief that Gordon Davis had died. There are other well-investigated cases in which the medium used an alleged spirit control for contact, but it was later proven that this alleged control never actually lived in the town where he claimed to have lived and at the time he claimed. So mediumship is highly deceptive even when valid paranormal information is channeled.

Hermano: * do you believe that paranormal activities / psychic phenomena are neutral, of God, or demonic?"

All 3 answers can be correct. So the gift of spiritual discernment is essential. At the same time, the gifts of the Spirit (See 1 Cor 12-14) can bring the greatest intimate connection with God possible for a believer. So it is well worthwhile to wade through the spurious to get to the genuine article. Since you asked, I will probably eventually start a thread on my personal experience and encounters with speaking in tongues, in which I highlight all the ways Christians can be fooled. Yet at the same time, I would probably not even be a Christian today, were it not for a particular experience of speaking at tongues at age 16 that was by far the highlight of my life. Indeed, several decades later, I’m still able to renew my intimate sense of God’s presence from the sheer memory of that awesome night! For now just let me say this: the greatest spiritual gifts and manifestations available to us all have their corresponding counterfeit experience which is usually of the flesh, but can at times be demonic.

(3a) Leonard was a wealthy elderly businessman who was a beloved member of a church I pastored in western New York. On a few occasions I had dinner with him and his wife Helen. He was very anxious that I visit his brother, his wife, and his cousin when they had health issues. But one day it dawned on me that he seemed to have little or no grief about the premature deaths of his son Jeff, Jeff’s wife Karen, and their 2 children in a small plane crash. One day Leonard asked me to visit him to discuss a possible visit to his dying cousin who lived across the road who had refused any visitation. Leonard wasn’t home, but I found myself remarking to Helen at how easily Leonard seemed to adjust to the tragic deaths of his young son’s family. Helen replied cryptically, “Oh, that’s because Jeff visited him, but Leonard doesn’t like to talk about that!” Curious, I took the risk to make the same observation to Leonard the next time I saw him. His responded with the most dramatically supernatural encounter I’ve ever encountered.

Leonard told me that after the funeral he was about to drive Jeff’s pickup truck to town on an errand. As he approached the end of his driveway, he noticed a figure looming from the ditch by the highway. It was his late son Jeff! Jeff approached the pickup, saying, “Hi Dad, do you mind if I drive my pickup for old time’s sake?” A stunned Leonard slid over and Jeff got in and drove his pickup north towards Rochester, NY on Rte. 37. Jeff assured his Dad and he and his family were together and OK and then revealed the details of his financial investments to help Leonard settle his estate. After driving a few miles, Jeff abruptly turned right on a less traveled highway and drove a couple of miles until they approached a thicket of woods. Jeff then solemnly remarked: “I’m sorry, Dad, but I’m not permitted to drive any further.” Jeff then got out of the pickup, walked towards the woods, and dematerialized! A stunned Leonard then drove the pickup home.

Leonard told me that Jeff’s paranormal visit did little to ease his grief because he was in shock and the whole adventure seemed too surreal to be real. But everything changed the next morning. Leonard awakened with a heavy heart and went for a walk in the woods behind his house to ease his grief. He was soon overcome by a weeping spell and sat down on a log. Then he heard a branch crack and saw a young woman approaching. It was Jeff’s late wife Karen! She chided him, “Dad, didn’t we tell you that we are all together and OK? So what are you doing grieving like this? You get back in the house and comfort Mom (Helen)!” It was Karen’s comforting visit that dispatched most of Leonard’s grief.

After sharing this amazing account, Leonard gazed at my incredulous expression with great concern and I felt ashamed because he hadn’t wanted to share this experience and I had goaded him into sharing it. I apologized, adding that I was grateful that he shared his ADC and I just needed time to process what I’d heard.

I asked him if he had shared this experience with his 2 daughters and he said No. He didn’t want his family to think he was crazy. I left to pastor another church a year later and eventually heard that Leonard had passed away, but that his daughter had shared his ADC at his funeral service. Apparently, my sympathetic listening had encouraged him to share his ADC with his daughters.

(3b) You will remember the bald actor, Telly Savalas, who starred in the Kojak TV series. Telly shares an ADC analogous to Leonard’s in an interview:

I suspect that the discarnate driver is trapped in Hades.

(4) Albert Baldeo (now deceased) was a friend of my uncle’s and a United Church minister in Kelowna, BC. He was held in high enough regard to be assigned a weekly column in the city newspaper. One of his articles featured this story of his father’s death and I confirmed his story by interviewing him in person.

His Dad was dying in a local nursing home, when at 11:45 AM, he suddenly sat up, looked in the distance, and shouted, “Hurry up, brother! Hurry up!” Then he died. Albert would later learn astonishing news. In another nursing home 10 miles away, his Dad’s brother was also dying and family members maintained a death vigil there. At 11:45 AM this brother suddenly sat up, looked in the distance, and shouted, “Wait for me, brother! Wait for me!”
Then he died and his family noted the time.

2 brothers shared a common departure from their bodies at the same time, with one shouting, “Hurry up, brother! Hurry up!” and the other shouting, “Wait for me, brother! Wait for me!” What an amazing anecdote demonstrating the reality of the soul!

I would say Berserk’s 3 points would be valid points in why every NDE does not cumulate in the encountering of Jesus.

For me, Jesus was a way to the Father for a select group of people.

One of the big and interesting points in many NDE’s, is that at some point the person confesses that there are no words in his/her language to properly describe what he/she saw, or they simply use verbiage that is at their disposal. Thus could be the same with biblical verbiage like ‘face like lightning, belt of gold, eyes like flaming torches’ etc.

The paranormal evidence of the best ADC and NDE cases is overwhelming. The relevance of NDEs to the possibility of universal salvation is poignantly illustrated by Howard Storm’s NDE:

In his book “My Descent into Death” Storm reports that He asked Christ the identity of the true religion. Storm says he expected an answer like Methodist or Lutheran. Instead, Christ answered: “the religion that brings you into a relationship with God.”

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I like that. :slightly_smiling_face:

What religion would that be?


Jesus doesn’t give that answer. The apparent implication is that the right religion depends on how it affects your way of being and your mystical connection with God–and that can vary form person to person.

That is a bucket o’ worms, though, isn’t it? We have to define ‘religion’ ‘relationship’ and even ‘God’.
Asking Jesus what the right religion is, is an odd question - we know who He is, and his relationship as son to the Father and all that glorious outworking and meaning - for Jesus to say in effect ‘find your way’ when he himself said ‘I am the way’ - you see the incoherence?


Well, I would say first of all that many Christians are somewhat skewed in their belief that the only way to God (YWHY) is through Christ. That is a scriptural premise that is historical to a given group of folks at a given time.

So as to your ‘I am the way’ you are and most evangelicals are correct in that that is what Christ said to those folks at that time. And meant it! I’m not sure where the idea of:

Not sure where this comes from maybe you can help me out.

Look forward to your response. :smile: