Select Page

Image by Tumisu from Pixabay

One of our readers recently sent me a link to the newly released film from Angel Studios titled “After Death.” This is a film featuring those who claim to have had near-death experiences and gone to heaven or hell and, of course, returned (or we would not have heard these stories). One trailer is at After Death.1Accessed 11/5/2023 The film is one of the most recent promotions of what might be called the Heavenly Tourism Industry.

The Quest

The investor page2Accessed 11/5/2023 on the site for this film shows another trailer and pitches “After Death,” asking for investors. An investor summary overview reads:

1. After Death is a feature-length documentary releasing in theaters on October 27th that explores one of life’s biggest mysteries: What happens after we die? In this film we hear from people who have experienced these events first-hand.

2. This fascinating film has already been made. The investment opportunity is to raise funds for theatrical distribution costs (P&A).

3. After Death features interviews with New York Times bestselling authors, doctors, scientists, and near-death survivors including Don Piper (90 Minutes In Heaven), Dr. Mary Neal (To Heaven and Back), JoBurke (Imagine Heaven), Dr. Jeffrey Long (Evidence for the Afterlife), and Dr. Raymond Moody (Life After Life).

4. Interviewees in After Death have been featured on BBC, NBC, TEDx, The Oprah Winfrey Show, National Geographic, and more.

5. After Death explores the human spirit, our collective search for meaning, and the eternal quest to uncover the truth about what lies beyond this mortal realm.

I became interested in after-death and near-death experiences as a New Ager after reading Dr. Raymond Moody’s book. I devoured the book. All it did was confirm some of my New Age beliefs. Dr. Moody is not a Christian.

As for the quest to “uncover what lies beyond this mortal realm,” I think the Bible covers that. Are Christians going to believe they will get some answers beyond the Bible from this film? I fear the answer is yes.

I have written on this topic when all the visits to heaven books were coming out with titles like Heaven is Real, To Heaven and Back, 90 Minutes in Heaven, and many others3Please be aware that a few of the posts I link to are ten years old or more and the links given in them may no longer work. Mary Neal’s “To Heaven and Back:” A Critique; To Heaven and Back: A Furious Fad, “Heaven is For Real” Movie: Not Real at All and MCOI has written on this in the past as well in “The Loss of God’s Holiness.”

It was hard to keep up with these stories. The ones I read about, I did not believe. Others have written solid warnings about these accounts, for example, Tim Challies’ April 23, 2006, “Book Review – 90 Minutes in Heaven.”

This topic raises two important questions:

1. Are the accounts given of having visited heaven and/or seen dead relatives, Jesus/God credible?
2. Are these accounts beneficial as evidence for life after death and/or for the existence of Jesus/God/heaven?

To answer these questions, we will first consider the accounts from some of the people featured in this film.

Howard Storm

First up is Howard Storm, one of the featured people in the film. Storm, a UCC pastor, was promoted online, and I ran into links to his story rather often for a while. I watched three interviews of Storm in which he gave details of his account.

I found so many unbiblical claims and claims contradictory to Scripture and to the gospel, the most shocking was discovering that Storm is apparently a follower of Swedenborg, often called the grandfather of New Thought.4Howard Storm, A Storm of Deception, 2019; Howard Storm and His Buddy, Emmanuel Swedenborg; Storm’s NDE account in 2016

Storm relayed that Jesus told him that earth was like a very low-level place, like pre-school, and there are other places with beings of higher intelligence who are more “spiritually evolved” and where they aren’t violent. That statement alone indicates that Storm is going against what the Bible tells us, that God created man in his image.

This “Jesus” told Storm that some people go to other worlds to enhance their spiritual evolvement. Storm may really think he met Jesus, but what he is saying is contrary to the Bible and to the historic Christian faith. So, we know he did not talk to the Jesus of Scripture and history but to “another Jesus” (2 Corinthians 11:4). In another interview, Storm talks about the choice to spiritually evolve into God’s consciousness or devolve into primordial soup.

It is not difficult to see the issues with these claims. I realize Angel Studios was co-founded by Mormons, Neal Harmon, his brothers, brothers Jeffrey, Jordan, and Daniel, and cousin Benton Crane.5Adam Levine, “The Untold Truth Of Angel Studios;” Looper, July 20, 2023; accessed 11/6/2023 and biblical discernment may not enter into their film making. Not all associated with Angel Studios are Mormons, and their content and projects are crowd-funded by various people. However, no matter who owns or invests in Angel Studio, simply letting the content of “After Death” speak for itself makes a more powerful argument against the film’s claims. I also know Angel Studio produces “The Chosen,” but again, in this article, I am focusing on the content of the film After Death. It is distracting to bring up the studio or “The Chosen” and would make for a confusing and possibly illogical argument against this particular film.

Dr. Mary Neal

Another person featured in the After Death film is Dr. Mary Neal, whose book To Heaven and Back gained a great deal of attention from and was promoted by Christians. I read that book but did not see many Christian concepts in it.

In my article on Neal’s book, “Mary Neal’s “To Heaven and Back:” A Critique,” I write about Neal’s bizarre claims. For example, she writes about an owl that hung around her home that she believed to be an angel (she thinks angels can appear as animals).

Neal agrees with her pastor, whom she quotes as saying that “we must tune our soul to the ‘right frequency’ in order to hear the messages being sent to us from God.”

Neal believes that everyone has a chance to accept or reject God after death. She sees blooming flowers as a message from her dead son and lightning striking a tree is another message.

Don Piper and His 90 Minutes Outside Heaven

That’s right, Don Piper, another featured character in this movie, wrote a book titled “90 Minutes in Heaven,” but it turns out he was actually outside the gates of heaven. He wrote he never saw God, but later, in a talk said he did see God in the distance. This contradiction is pointed out by Jim Osman in his excellent Critique of Don Piper’s “90 Minutes in Heaven” by Jim Osman.

Piper writes more about his accident and recovery in his book than his alleged visit to heaven or, rather, his visit outside the gates of heaven. Osman points out many unbiblical claims from Piper in his critique.

Why We Should Not Believe These Stories

There are many reasons to reject tales from anyone who claims to have gone to heaven:

1. If a person is dead, they are dead. Barring the accounts of miracles in the Bible performed by Elijah, Elisha, Jesus, Peter, and Paul, a dead man who touched the bones of Elisha, and the saints who came out of tombs after the resurrection of Christ (Matthew 27:50-54), all of which had a purpose designed by God, people who die stay dead. Medical death is even defined differently in different states, and there are disputes on what constitutes a medical death.

2. Even if the person did appear to die and come back, that does not mean what they experienced as far what they saw is from God. It could be imagination, hallucination (this could be oxygen deprivation in some cases or another cause for hallucination), delusion, or deception.

3. The stories people give about heaven differ and often conflict.

4. The stories of heaven contain information that is contradictory to Scripture.

5. Many stories of going to heaven are from non-Christians, such as Eben Alexander whom I write about in Out of Body Experiences (OBEs) Are a Snare. Alexander, formerly a skeptic, was converted to New Age beliefs through his experience.

6. Such tales add information to heaven and to the nature of God and/or Jesus outside scripture and contradict the sufficiency of God’s word.

7. Reported NDEs (near-death experiences) or trips to some place after death in other cultures are culturally based and include seeing Hindu gods, Buddha, or other non-Christian deities/figures lending support to the idea that one sees what one expects (a delusion).

8 These accounts base truth on dubious subjective experiences.

9. There is no way to verify these anecdotes.

10. One who is from earth can only speak of earth and not know about heaven beyond what God has revealed in his word. Jesus, speaking of himself, states:

He who comes from above is above all; he who is of the earth is from the earth and speaks of the earth. He who comes from heaven is above all. (John 3:31)

Why These Tales Should Not Be Used in Christian Apologetics

I do not support using NDEs or OBEs as supposed evidence for the afterlife claims for several reasons:

1. Using what is arguably an occult or esoteric experience is not conducive to presenting the truth of Christ or honoring the Lord. For example, Dr. Eben Alexander’s alleged NDE and supposed trip to heaven led him from disbelief to New Age views about the afterlife. As noted earlier, Dr. Alexander authored the bestselling “Proof of Life” about his alleged trip to heaven. In fact, when I was in the New Age, all the material and books on NDEs and OBEs were from non-Christian (mostly New Age) sources.

2. It has been suggested that these experiences can be trusted because people accurately report back on conversations they heard or people they saw while out of the body. However, there are other explanations for this:

a. The Person was able to hear in the case of most conversations.

b. The person was aided demonically, and/or, in some cases, coincidence or guessing could account for this. As someone who had many OBEs before knowing Christ, who had spirit guides, and who has studied the New Age and the occult for many years, I can attest to the fact that demons can be sources of information for material previously unknown to the person.

c. I think when something specific happens in a place at a distance from the person’s physical body and the person is able to recount this when “coming back” from the unconscious state, it cannot be automatically attributed to God or used as a positive experience to use for dialogue. This is an unnatural and abnormal experience, and there is no evidence the information would lead to a belief in God.

d. Even though God could use such an experience if he chose to do so, that does not make NDEs or OBEs automatic evidence for life after death, heaven, or for God. God has used dubious people and sources, but that is His prerogative, not ours.

e. I think there are too many faulty and unreliable side roads that branch off from supposed out-of-body or afterlife accounts. All we have to do is examine the occult, the New Age, and many religions for such stories.

f. This is tricky territory. The invisible and the unknown are realms governed by God alone, and these accounts are those on which the occult, the New Age, and false teachings thrive. There is no clear evidence for any out-of-body state and certainly none for having visited heaven (the books on visiting heaven have anti-Christian theology, conflict with God’s word, and/or present inconsistent accounts).

g. Creating interest in these areas can stir or feed morbid curiosity and/or an unhealthy appetite for the esoteric and, in my view, could lead to confusion and/or not end in honoring God and the truth.

3. The experiences of people who claim to have died and returned seem to be a claim that God made a mistake. Did the person who “died” die at the wrong time? Did God not mean for them to die then? If it is supposed not to be their time, then they will not die.

4. Using experiences from people who have near-death events opens this “evidence” to even more attack and doubt because we do not know what the experiences were actually what was claimed for them. Instead of presenting truth from God’s word, one is presenting subjective experiences that seem to be inconsistent with or contradictory to Scripture.

While it certainly is a good thing to discuss this if an unsaved person brings it up and so uses the conversation to point the person to the truth of Christ, I do not think it is fruitful or honoring to God to purposefully produce or promote near-death accounts as any kind of apologetic. I know that this has been done, but I disagree for the reasons given.

This film appears to be sensational and tawdry, which is how the subject matter strikes me. Added to that, the information on some of the people featured makes it worse. It is like National Inquirer material, good for bird cages.

An account from the teaching ministry of Jesus casts some light on this issue:

And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, that you send him to my father’s house— for I have five brothers—in order that he may warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’ But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’ But he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent!’ But he said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.’” (Luke 16: 27-31)Ω

Before trusting Christ, Marcia Montenegro was a professional astrologer and was involved in Eastern and New Age practices for many years. Through her ministry, Christian Answers for the New Age, Marcia speaks around the country and on radio and writes on New Age and occult topics. She has a Masters in Religion from Southern Evangelical Seminary, Charlotte, NC, and serves as a missionary with Fellowship International Mission, Allentown, PA. Based in Arlington, VA, she is the mother of an adult son and the author of SpellBound: The Paranormal Seduction of Today’s Kids (Cook, 2006). She is also co-author of Richard Rohr and the Enneagram Secret (MCOI Publishing, 2020) with Don and Joy Veinot You can find her online at: CANA or on Facebook at Christian Answers for the New Age

© 2023, Midwest Christian Outreach, Inc All rights reserved. Excerpts and links may be used if full and clear credit is given with specific direction to the original content.

Link partner: pokerseri autowin88 vegasslot77 mantra88 ligasedayu warungtoto luxury138 luxury777 bos88 bro138 sky77 roma77 zeus138 batman138 dolar138 gas138 ligaciputra babe138 indobet rtp zeus luxury333 ligagg88