The near-death phenomenon has initiated a new debate over Jesus' and Paul's claim in the New Testament that the gospel message therein outlines the only way to salvation. Despite twenty-five years of writing and research by near-death (NDE) advocates the dispute continues not only over the disparity between the gospel and NOE but over the origin and meaning of the near-death experience itself. Initially it was medical and pharmacological questions that focused the discussions. More advanced theories are being offered suggesting that the right temporal lobe of the brain acts as a "circuit board" or gateway for a range of mystical experiences including the NOE phenomenon. Thus the classic NOE may be stimulated by influences as diverse as drugs, Yoga, or even severe emotional or psychological trauma where death in not imminent. However, some believe, it is only by coming into contact with "the light" that real transformation takes place. This the "core experience."
Researcher Kenneth Ring believes that the NDE is a catalyst that jump-starts a transcendent spiritual awakening and transformation in many experiencers. Ring's detailed analysis catalogs religious and spiritual attitudes before and after the experience and show that few remain unchanged by it. He indicates that, as a result of a NOE, many become interested in Eastern transcendental experiences, and psychic phenomena, and amazing prophetic visions which purport to detail the future of this planet. Ring concludes that millions of people have now experienced this phenomenon and are forming a new breed of humanity. This humanity moves beyond homo sapiens towards homo noeticus, in which there is according to Ring, who is representative of NDE philosophy, emergent higher consciousness for humanity at large. These transformed people embody our future destiny as a species.
But how can the gospel message and the experience of salvation through a relationship with Christ crucified compete with the immediacy and intensity of the NDE which seems to answer so many of the questions about death and to confirm the reality of human hope for life beyond. Christianity and the gospel also claim to effect transformation, but a transformation which results not from an encounter with the light at the point of death, but from the believer's relationship with Christ and the reception of the gifts of salvation which God makes available in him. Upon resuscitation from near-death no mention is made, for example, of the death of Christ and his resurrection, or the second coming and bodily resurrection of the dead at the end of the age. However, the assurance of eternal life, forgiveness, love, and participation in the life of the kingdom of God are present realities available as the result of the substitutionary death of Jesus on the cross.
Master of Arts (MA)
Year Degree Awarded
Date (Title Page)
Library of Congress/MESH Subject Headings
Attitude to Death; Death
Loma Linda University Libraries
This title appears here courtesy of the author, who has granted Loma Linda University a limited, non-exclusive right to make this publication available to the public. The author retains all other copyrights.
Tyler, Kenneth Lance, "Near Death Experiences and the Christian Gospel: Concord or Conflict?" (2001). Loma Linda University Electronic Theses, Dissertations & Projects. 854.
Loma Linda University Electronic Theses and Dissertations
Loma Linda University. Del E. Webb Memorial Library. University Archives