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I'm currently fascinated by extraordinary cases of NDEs reported by individuals who have been declared blind from birth. I recently watched a 33-minute video (available here) featuring an interview with one of such blind-from-birth NDEers (title of the video: Vicki Noratuk Blind Person NDE). This case is quite impressive, because the lady in question experienced two NDEs in which she saw very vivid details of her surroundings as she left her body, with what appeared to be perfect 20/20 vision in spite of her congenital blindness, in addition to the evidently mystical aspects of her story, which includes being transported at extraordinary high speed to a paradise in heaven, meeting deceased loved ones and even Jesus himself. In fact, this case is put forward as a strong piece of evidence by a journal article titled Near-Death and Out-of-Body Experiences in the Blind: A Study of Apparent Eyeless Vision, Kenneth Ring, Ph.D. Sharon Cooper, M.A. University of Connecticut. Journal of Near-Death Studies, 16(2) Winter 1997. 1997 Human Sciences Press, Inc.

These cases are fascinating to me because they are harder to "explain away" skeptically by appealing to naturalistic hypotheses, such as (1) the Dream Hypothesis, (2) Retrospective Reconstruction, (3) Blindsight, and (4) Skin-based Vision (which the aforementioned article mentions explicitly and eliminates one by one).

Having said all this, I would like to know if these sorts of reports are supported by or at least theoretically consistent with the Bible.

Do NDEs find support in Sacred Scripture?

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    It’s impossible to know how a blind from birth person internally visualizes people places things while living. But that would be how they visualized things during a NDE otherwise how would they know what people places or things they saw during the NDE?
    – Kris
    Dec 16, 2023 at 17:01
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    With no frame of reference how could she recognize visually anyone? In fact how would a sighted person recognize Jesus?
    – Kris
    Dec 16, 2023 at 17:14
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    @User14 That, among other things, presupposes that Christian mortalism is true (exegetical wars have been waged on that point alone), and the imagination/hallucination hypothesis you are suggesting would be the "dream hypothesis" discounted by the authors of the paper (feel free to read their rebuttal), but I see where you are coming from.
    – Mark
    Dec 16, 2023 at 19:05
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    @User14 Fabrication is another possibility that is less talked about. We tend to take people at their word so we default to imagination and hallucination. But a large number of these are also very likely simply made up
    – Cruncher
    Dec 17, 2023 at 18:24
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    It's interesting and telling that none of the people who died and were resurrected in the Bible had any stories to tell. The widow's son started talking but what he said wasn't important.
    – B. Goddard
    Dec 17, 2023 at 21:58

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The simple answer to the question is, "No, there is no biblical account that is similar to such modern-day 'near-death-experiences."

In the Old Testament people like Enoch "were taken" by God, never to be seen again. The account reads, "And Enoch walked with God: and he was not, for God took him." Genesis 5:24 Enoch never returned.

Moses' died on the mountain outside of the Promised Land, according to God's word. God disposed of his body so that none of the Israelites could find it. The account reads, "And [God] buried him in a valley in the land of Moab, over against Bethpeor: but no man knoweth of his sepulchre unto this day." Deuteronomy 34:6 Moses was never seen again.

There are several accounts of people being resurrected from the dead, but those are not NDEs given that the people did die. And when the apostle Paul wrote about a person (whether in the body or out of it, he did not know), it was a vision, with no mention of the person having been so close to death that people would say it must have been an NDE (if they could know modern jargon and abbreviations.) There's also the account of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead, but the man had been dead four days, entombed behind a stone. The record, gleaned from eyewitnesses, like the apostles and his sisters, says not a word about Lazarus describing what he experienced while dead. So, on both those counts, it was not an NDE.

There may be people who want to read into some Bible accounts their idea of an NDE, to interpret it that way, but the Bible itself does not say any such thing happened to anybody over the thousands of years of history that it covers.

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  • I must have been composing my answer at the same time as you, because your answer wasn't here before I posted mine. Great minds think alike?
    – Lesley
    Dec 16, 2023 at 16:39
  • Bad minds think alike more often
    – Gigino
    Dec 19, 2023 at 15:35
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The Bible does not speak about near death experiences although some might take 2 Corinthians 12:2-5 to mean that the Apostle Paul had an “out-of-body” experience and a vision of heaven. Paul mentions himself in the third person:

“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.”

According to my NIV Study Bible notes, the “third heaven” is beyond the immediate heaven of the earth’s atmosphere and beyond the further heaven of outer space and its constellations into the presence of God himself. The term “paradise” is synonymous with the third heaven where those believers who have died are even now “at home with the Lord.”

It would be pure conjecture to assume that Paul had actually died or come close to death before having this vision. Paul himself said he was unsure whether he was physically in the body or apart from the body when he experienced heaven. An article I read about the third heaven drew this conclusion:

The Bible does not tell us everything we might like to know about heaven, but we know that it will be a wonderful place where we will dwell with Christ (John 14:3). Paul knew that being with Christ is far better than anything he could experience on earth (Philippians 1:21–23). Until the day we eternally enter God’s presence, we can state with confidence along with the apostle Paul, “For we live by faith, not by sight. We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:7–8).

Christians who look forward to spending eternity with the Lord do not need to speculate about “near-death experiences”.

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There is a possibility that the apostle Paul may have experienced a near death experience (NDE).

Consider the apostle's experience in Acts 14:

Then some Jews came from Antioch and Iconium and won the crowd over. They stoned Paul and dragged him outside the city, thinking he was dead. But after the disciples had gathered around him, he got up and went back into the city [i.e., Lystra]. The next day he and Barnabas left for Derbe (Acts 14:19-20 NIV).

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I provide the above map simply to show how determined the Jews from Antioch and Iconium were to kill Paul. Earlier in Chapter 14, Paul barely escaped being stoned by the Jews and some Gentiles in Iconium, and he and Barnabus fled to the Lycaonium cities of Lystra and Derbe. Not to be deterred,the Paul-haters from both Pisidian Antioch and Iconium traveled to Lystra to finish the job of killing Paul.

After being stoned, Paul was believed to be dead. During the time Paul's body was being dragged outside Lystra, he may well have been nearly dead. Perhaps--PERHAPS--at that point he may have had an NDE, which he revealed to the Corinthian church in his second letter to them. We read in 2 Corinthians 12:

I must go on boasting. Although there is nothing to be gained, I will go on to visions and revelations from the Lord. 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 (vv 1-4).

In conclusion, I am clearly speculating about the possibility of Paul's having had an NDE, but frankly, I do not see anything wrong, unbiblical, or impossible about my speculation.

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  • To nearly die is not the same thing as a near-death-experience where the unfortunate person becomes aware of having left their corpse-like body, looking down on it, or traveling out of the location to somewhere else, before suddenly realizing they are back in their body and alive. Paul did not say he was the person who had that vision, though it could have been him. I do agree that there's nothing unbiblical about having an NDE, given that the person does not actually die.
    – Anne
    Dec 19, 2023 at 18:13
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Is there biblical support for near death experiences?

There seems to be no biblical basis similar to what we call in our modern times a near-death-experiences.

That said the closest I could possibly think of would be in the Gospel narratives of the raising of Lazarus from the dead. More so We are unsure as to where Lazarus was between his death and when Jesus rose his from the dead.

John 11:1–44 gives the account of a man named Lazarus being raised from the dead. Lazarus was a friend of Jesus, along with his sisters, Mary and Martha. He had grown sick, and his sisters sent for Jesus to come to Bethany. Jesus delayed His arrival, and Lazarus died. Jesus did not arrive in Bethany until four days after Lazarus passed away.

After Lazarus was raised from the dead, he returned to the home he shared with Mary and Martha (John 12:1–2). He was present when Mary poured expensive perfume on Jesus’ feet and wiped them with her hair. Knowing the miracle Jesus had recently performed, we understand why Lazarus’ sister was so overcome with gratitude that she would go to such extravagant lengths. Lazarus may have been his sisters’ only provider, and his death could have meant poverty for them both. Jesus had returned to them not only the brother they loved but the protector and provider they needed to survive.

The Bible gives us no further information about Lazarus. Any additional details stem from church history and may or may not be accurate. One tradition holds that, after Jesus’ ascension back into heaven, Lazarus and his sisters moved to Cyprus where Lazarus became the bishop of Kition and died of natural causes in AD 63. Another theory claims that Lazarus and his sisters moved to Gaul to preach the gospel, and Lazarus became the bishop of Marseilles, where he was beheaded under the tyranny of Emperor Domitian. Whatever happened to Lazarus is unknown. But we can be certain that his physical body died a second time. And we know that, according to 1 Corinthians 15:51–53 and 1 Thessalonians 4:14–17, Lazarus will be raised again from the dead to join all God’s saints in eternity.

What happened to Lazarus after Jesus raised him from the dead?

In any case the Spanish celebrate the annual Festival of Near Death Experiences every year on the Feast of St. Martha (July 29) the sister of Lazarus in the small town of Las Nieves.

This Festival is more in tune with Spanish pop-culture than its’ religious beliefs.

Festival of Near Death Experiences – Romeria de Santa Marta de Ribarteme is held every year on July 29th. This is the feast day of Santa Marta, patron of the small city As Neves (La Nieves) which is located in Galicia region In northwestern Spain.

According to Catholic tradition, Santa Marta was the sister of Lazarus who was brought back from death by Jesus. As such she is considered as saint that protects the city from all evil.

At the festival, which is marked by death and resurrection, the city’s residents and many tourists thank the saint for having saved from death and survived the 12 months that have passed since their previous visit and their participation in this Thanksgiving festival.

The highlight of the festival’s events is a strange “festive” procession, which is topped by an image of the saint. The statue symbolizes her return from the dead. The surrealist parade is followed by real coffins. Inside the coffin lies a living person pretending to be dead. The coffin is carried, with great effort, by his family throughout the procession along with dozens similar coffins.

The strange parade reaches the church that is dedicated to Santa Marta, where a religious ceremony is held with loudspeakers for the benefit of the large crowd outside the small church.

In addition to the procession of the dead, the visitors can taste traditional local dishes, listen to singing and playing of Gypsy bands and more.

Those who present at this unique and unconventional festival are guaranteed a unique and exciting cultural experience. - Festival of Near Death Experiences – Romeria de Santa Marta de Ribarteme 2024

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