Jesus, Christians, and Near-Death Experiences
By David Sunfellow
A note to those who of you may have concerns about near-death experiences being tied directly to the life and teachings of Jesus.
Let me begin by acknowledging that when we examine near-death experiences as a whole; when we consider the experiences that people from all of the world, including non-Christians, are reporting, the best estimates we currently have indicate that Jesus only shows up in 6.5 percent of these experiences. What makes it look like Jesus is more dominant is that some of the most famous and influential NDEs that have been reported come wrapped in Christian packages. This includes the NDEs of such people as Dr. George Ritchie (who was the inspiration behind Dr. Raymond Mood’s groundbreaking book, “Life After Life”), Howard Storm, Betty J. Eadie, Angie Fenimore, Don Piper, Ian McCormack, Mickey Robinson, Colton Burpo, Dr. Mary Neal, Chris Markey, Yvonne Sneeden, Annabel Beam, Jeff Olsen, Chris Russell, Emanuel Swedenborg, and many more.
Western civilization, especially America, is also dominated by Christians and Christian traditions. That means that the western media and, by extension, much of the global communications network, is heavily influenced by Christian sensibilities. And this, in turn, produces more reporting of NDEs with overtly Christian themes, which generate higher ratings, produce more best sellers, and make more money than less Christian, less dramatic NDEs.
But there is another inescapable truth to consider.
If you wash away the dirt that has been piled on Jesus for the last 2,000 years and go back to the earliest records, which pre-date Christianity and the New Testament, you discover someone that is astonishingly aligned with the core truths presented in NDEs from around the world. Simply put: there is no other historical figure who embodies the core truths presented by NDEs more fully than Jesus, especially the central and uncompromising call to love one another, love God, and love ourselves.
The Jesus I am referring to championed a God that loved EVERYONE (not just the members of our particular group or tribe) personally, wholeheartedly, and unconditionally. He taught that the Kingdom of God is ever-present and accessible to all. He encouraged us to love one another, especially our enemies, which is massively supported by modern near-death experiences. Life reviews make it dramatically clear that Jesus wasn’t speaking metaphorically when he said the way we treat the lowliest among us is the way we are treating him (and ourselves). Many of the miracles that are attributed to Jesus, including raising people from the dead, are happening again today, all over the world, by people tapping into the same all-powerful, all-loving, completely life-changing love that he championed.
Instead of fighting Jesus and Christianity, why not look for ways to build bridges and encourage the 2.2 billion Christians in the world to take a closer look at their faith — and their founder?
That’s one of the things I’m interested in doing. Instead of encouraging fundamentalist Christians to think that near-death experiences, and those who report them, are messengers of the devil, I want to help them understand that today’s NDErs are talking about the same thing Jesus was talking about two thousand years ago. Can you imagine Christians, in mass, realizing that near-death experiences are not only providing modern evidence that the core teachings of Jesus were/are true, but that they can learn more about their faith, their founder, themselves, God, and others by learning more about these experiences? This kind of approach not only provides an authoritative response to Bible-believing Christians, but it could also help spark a Christian revival of epic proportions.
What can you do to help?
Those of you who have a secret (or not-so-secret) fondness for Jesus can stand up and be counted. Tell others about this website and do what you can in your sphere of influence to encourage a deeper, more universal, all inclusive understanding of Jesus.
And those of you who have a secret (or not so secret) hatred of Jesus and Christianity; those of you who have been brutalized by dogmatic Christians cramming Jesus down your throat, I encourage you to consider the possibility that those who champion a Jesus that ignores his central message of love, inclusiveness, and compassion are not following the path he advocated. There are records that pre-date the New Testament (pdf) that reveal a Jesus who was on fire with the same universal God of love that so many NDErs encounter on the other side today. If you are an NDEr, you probably know what it is like to be misunderstood and have your words and visions twisted into something they aren’t. Consider the possibility that this is what happened to Jesus. He’s a brother, like you, who got misrepresented — and roasted — by others who weren’t able to see what he saw.
I think the time has come to not only dust off Jesus, but to remind Christianity what its founder was really about; to take Jesus back from the scribes, Romans, and politicking rabbis, priests, and followers who turned him into a fire and brimstone preacher, a prophet of hell and damnation, and a sword-weilding crusader. If a kinder, gentler, more loving and compassionate Jesus appeals to you, I hope many of you will lend a hand. Do your part to help present Jesus — the real Jesus, or as much as we currently know about the real Jesus — as someone who was not only aware of, and in agreement with the core truths presented by near-death experiences, but also as someone who lived them in technicolor (which, of course, is not only the hard part, but also the part that so many of us — both NDErs and non-NDErs — struggle with today).
For more information on present day encounters with Jesus, Jesus scholarship, The Shroud of Turin, Jesus books and movies, and related topics, visit:
I also encourage you to watch this very informative video that examines what we presently know about Jesus historically: