Near-Death Experiences, God's Promises, and the Exhilarating Future That Awaits You
Review posted April 14, 2017.
Baker Books, 2015. 348 pages.
Imagine Heaven looks at accounts of near-death experiences (NDEs) from all over the world, from various cultures, religions, and backgrounds -- and shows how the accounts match what the Bible says about heaven.
I've been interested in near-death experiences for awhile. Most of the books I've reviewed on the topic were quoted in this book: Proof of Heaven, Heaven Is For Real, To Heaven and Back, and even the book where the author went to hell first, My Descent Into Death. (Reading my review of My Descent Into Death, it was apparently the book that got me started reading other such books.)
Author John Burke does stick with a strictly evangelical perspective in his interpretation of the experiences. I tend to think they give support to Universalism. But one thing that is striking, which I hadn't noticed before, is how those who have experienced NDEs describe heaven using very similar terms with the descriptions in Revelation.
When I was in the middle of reading this book, my sister had a dream about our mother, who is in late-stage Alzheimer's. She dreamed that they were climbing stairs together. My Mom was much better, happy and eager, and climbing the stairs. At the top, there was a door, and Jesus was at the door. Becky left Mom with Jesus, and Mom was so happy to be there. Reading this book, and a dream like that, reminds me that Yes, heaven is a wonderful place. Yes, what's important is Love.
The highlight of many NDEs, for all who claim to have come near, is this mystical Being of Light who fills them with a love beyond imagination.
A common experience across cultures is that this Being of Light gives them a Life Review.
One of the greatest indications that the God NDErs describe is the God of the Jewish/Christian Scriptures is how they depict their life review in his presence. Despite vividly seeing all their deeds, good and evil, and all the relational ripple effects of both, they do not experience a Being who desires to condemn. They experience a compassion coming from this Being of Light.
The author looks at the work of other researchers:
Dr. Long talks about how the unified theme of thousands of NDEs is the importance of love first. Muhammad in Egypt said after his NDE, "I felt that love is the one thing that all humans must feel towards each other.
The book does go on about details -- the "sea of glass, clear as crystal," the "rainbow that shone like an emerald," the streets of pure gold, like glass. The author throws in lots of interpretation -- but with many valid conclusions.
For me, the book encouraged and uplifted me, reminding me that God is Love, that heaven is not something to fear, and that what's important, in this life and the next, is Love.