A Question I Was Asked:

Do You Fully Support 'Out of Body' Experiences?

The Question:

Do you fully support 'out of body' experiences? I think it's an intriguing subject but can't accept all the accounts and stories. I have heard that you are in favor to some extent.

UK Apologetics Reply:

I certainly accept that this phenomena has some substance to it. These things are now becoming very well documented. Sometimes the accounts are even corroborated by the people undergoing these experiences having seen and heard things which they could not have possibly known, even some people who were blind from birth having clearly seen things. In some cases the people were even considered 'brain dead' at the time. So, yes, the whole thing is, as you say, intriguing. I think we can no longer write it off, especially since Paul the Apostle seems to have undergone such an experience, possibly after being stoned by a mob:

I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know - God knows. And I know that this man - whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows - was caught up to paradise and heard inexpressible things, things that no one is permitted to tell. I will boast about a man like that, but I will not boast about myself, except about my weaknesses. (2 Corinthians 12:2-5).

We cannot be certain, but it seems that Paul refers to himself here; so we refer to a genuine spiritual/metaphysical phenomenon. I believe that many who are very close to death, even temporarily 'dying' until resusitated, experience their souls beginning a travel to Heaven, a thing which occurs at physical death. What did Jesus tell the thief on the cross?:

'And Jesus said to him, "Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise."' (Luke 23:43).

What were Stephen's last words?

While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit." (Acts 7:59).

But is it only believers who have their souls return to God? Not according to Ecclesiastes (please note the last few words here particularly):

Remember him - before the silver cord is severed, and the golden bowl is broken; before the pitcher is shattered at the spring, and the wheel broken at the well, and the dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit returns to God who gave it. (Ecc. 12:6-7).

This, of course, is not the full resurrection of soul and body which occurs at Christ's return, but the returning of our souls, or spirits, to God for His safe-keeping. Those deemed worthy enter the very presence of the saints and angels, of course.

So yes, I have come to accept this as something which correlates to biblical teaching, but does this mean that every single such account which one hears is accurate? Sadly no. I have heard some accounts which seem to have been philosophically/ theologically 'doctored,' and which give me a real problem. Other such accounts seem to have been 'got at' by occultic types, so we have to be careful.

At least one British Christian Apologetics writer seems to accept pretty much all such accounts 'hook, line and sinker,' I cannot follow him that far. Nevertheless, I think there is a very real experience here which many - though possibly not all - go through. An old friend of mine, now deceased, had such an experience, following a heart attack, which seemed to bring him closer to God in his final years. Sadly, the second heart attack killed dear Ron (yes, he really was a most lovely person) but he was assured about the Lord's love for him by his earlier NDE ('near death experience').

Robin A. Brace. June 22nd, 2013.