Every year it seems a new book or movie is released that recounts an individual’s brief tour of heaven. Are there any common threads that emerge when evaluating the history of these kinds of reports? What should we believe about the afterlife, and how do stories like these compare with what we find Scripture? On this program Shane Rosenthal talks again with St. Louis University professor Michael McClymond about how the reporting of near-death experiences have shaped, and continue to shape, contemporary views of the afterlife.
Michael McClymond: In 2 Corinthians 11:14, Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. What do people say in near-death experiences? They see angels of light. That doesn’t mean that there couldn’t be an encounter with a good angel, but just because one appears as an angel of light, scripturally speaking, does not mean it should be accepted as such. Appearances can be deceiving.
Term to Learn
“Already / Not Yet”
The coming of Jesus Christ at his incarnation marked the beginning of a glorious new redemptive age with a corresponding set of blessings (the already). Yet this new age is not fully consummated and will be fulfilled in the future (the not yet). Christians today can experience a measure of the blessings and promises of heaven while still living in a fallen world that is groaning for the consummation.
The already / not yet concept is expressed in the New Testament’s distinct and pronounced tension between what God has already done in fulfilling the promises of the Old Testament and what God will do yet in the future. It can be said that the already / not yet structure gives the New Testament a strong forward-looking focus.
(Adapted from A Case for Amillennialism by Kim Riddlebarger)