Thursday, May 15, 2014

Compare the Uncertain to the Certain: Alleged Visits to Heaven Mock the Seriousness With Which Actual Biblical Visions Describe God, Angels, Etc.

It's fun when I realize that an idea I had, or very nearly had, shows up in other's writings, be it from blogs, pastors, or long-dead theologians, to name a few. Clearly, nothing I wrote influenced them. But I can't recall having read the particular production of theirs before, so it seems rather that our thoughts were trending down a common path, to individually arrive at a common conclusion.

That's one of the things that encourages me in my faith: that other believers invariably arrive at the same beliefs over time. The similarities are in many cases extremely specific, and it is awe-inspiring to recognize that it can't be by chance, but because we are mentally led along by the same Influence, namely, the Illumination provided to each saint by the Holy Spirit. It just makes me happy. It's hard to express it any other way. It's like this:
What am I talking about?

I had noticed, with all of the descriptions of the recent "I went to heaven, came back, and had silly things to say about it from which I made a lot of money off of gullible people" claims, that they seemed to share a characteristic between themselves (irreverence) which they did not share with actual Biblical tales of heavenly visions.

The Bible is in the public domain, so I'll post those passages below. But I'll recommend you read in its entirety, Elizabeth Prata's excellent blog article comparing the Prophets and Apostles who did see heavenly visions with the [hucksters] of the modern-day "heaven tourism" craze.

Please read it for a vivid comparison between the two.

I won't just repost what she's writing, so as to be totally unoriginal, but I think the Biblical witness bears being emphasized:
 "Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest. The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength. When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead." (Revelation 1:12-17)

"And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!" (Isaiah 6:4-5)

"When I, Daniel, had seen the vision, I sought to understand it. And behold, there stood before me one having the appearance of a man. And I heard a man’s voice between the banks of the Ulai, and it called, “Gabriel, make this man understand the vision.” So he came near where I stood. And when he came, I was frightened and fell on my face." (Daniel 8:15-17)

A RANDOM GUY Paul the Apostle mentions as an aside in one of his letters
"and he heard things that cannot be told, which man may not utter." (2 Corinthians 12:4).

"In the thirtieth year, in the fourth month, on the fifth day of the month, as I was among the exiles by the Chebar canal, the heavens were opened, and I saw visions of God. ... Such was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord. And when I saw it, I fell on my face, and I heard the voice of one speaking." (Ezekiel 1:1, 28)

PETER when Jesus was transfigured
"He was still speaking when, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” When the disciples heard this, they fell on their faces and were terrified." (Matthew 17:5-6)
Do you notice a theme? Fell at his feet as if dead. Woe is me. Frightened and fell on my face. Fell on my face. Fell on their faces.

Falling on one's face as if dead, unconscious, or reeling in terror from the recognition of one's sinfulness in front of holy God is not something you'll see characterizing the contemporary "I went to heaven and it was nice" book-writing fad.

Rather than quote it, I'll just compare the list, summarizing what Elizabeth points out so well.
  • John saw a vision, and it was so overpowering that it knocked him flat on the floor
  • Isaiah saw a vision, and reacted with terrifying clarity over his sinfulness before God
  • Daniel saw a vision of the angel Gabriel, and it scared him so hard it knocked him to the ground
  • There have been visions that were NOT repeated, indicating that we don't need to know the details of anybody else's visions of heaven, even if they are real! Much less if they are hoaxes.
  • Ezekiel saw a vision, and it was so overpowering that it knocked him flat on the floor
  • Peter saw Jesus transfigured, and it terrified him so hard it knocked him to the ground
  • Colton Burpo, at 3, claims he went to heaven, sat on Jesus' lap and petted his rainbow horse(??!)
  • Kim Walker Smith claims she interviewed Jesus about "how much He loves her"
  • Jesse Duplantis claims he went to heaven, and Jesus asked him "do you like this place?"
  • Don Piper claims he went to heaven, and before seeing Jesus met his very own "celestial welcoming committee," consisting of people he recognized such as teachers, etc.
The Biblical witnesses put the emphasis on God. The contemporary false witnesses put all the emphasis on themselves. The Biblical witnesses are invariably terrified. The contemporary false witnesses pay lip service to being nervous but invariably go on to describe how comforting, or fun, etc etc it allegedly was.

And most of all, none of the Biblical witnesses claim to have GONE TO heaven. Because nobody goes to heaven and comes back! Yet nearly every modern book-seller (what they primarily are, to be as fair as possible) describes how they claim to have actually gone to heaven.

Here is Elizabeth Prata's link, once more: . Please view it for even more information.

A final consideration: if no one actually goes to heaven when they're in a Near Death Experience, then these are the possible alternative explanations.
  1. They saw something explainable by natural phenomena. They misinterpreted this hallucination or other mental impression incorrectly as a vision.
  2. They did not see anything when 'dead,' and what they remember is nothing that occurred when they were brain-dead but something that they dreamed or hallucinated just before becoming brain-dead or just after coming out of that state, but before waking up.
  3. They saw nothing whatsoever, dream or otherwise, and were influenced by later events or by parents asking leading questions, to believe that they experienced something they did not.
  4. They totally made it up, completely. It's a hoax, through and through, to exploit people for money.
  5. If none of the above are true, then since they did not actually die, because they would not then have come back, then their soul was presumably separate from the body. Where then was it? None of us know. But it would still have been "here" as opposed to heaven, no? And Satan is described as "the god of this world" (2 Corinthians 4:4), meaning that the physical realm is his playing field. So a person's soul is absent from the body for a period of time, and vulnerable to whatever impressions might be given to it from other spiritual beings in the earthly realm? In other words, if a person did not hallucinate and did not fabricate their story, the only other conclusion is that their visions are true in that they are actually visions. But their content is unreliable, because the visions are demonically inspired. 
No matter how you look at it, it's unreasonable to take any of these claims seriously as actual trustworthy information on heaven or hell. Period. There are no logically available options in which it is reliable information.

CS Lewis described the Lord, Liar, Lunatic argument as a logical proof of the deity of Christ, since the only other alternatives are ones that no rational person will accept anyway. In these "heaven tourism" books and movies, the only options for what they might be are as follows: Artifacts of the Brain, Hoaxes by the Individual, or Demonic Visions. Either they didn't see anything, or what they saw was from something less than heavenly in origin. We know this for a fact because:
Hebrews 9:27 "It is appointed unto man once to die, and after this to face judgment."

You don't come back from heaven once you go. You just don't. No matter how you slice it, modern-day "visions of heaven" can be anything but. So stay away.

~ Rak Chazak

No comments:

Post a Comment