By Arthur W. Adams
A. few evenings ago I witnessed one of the most cunningly devised distortions of facts that I have ever seen. I saw “Beyond and Back,” a documentary movie which claimed to tell the stories of those who died and were restored to life. No doubt the gullible public will accept those flings’ presented as truth, further distorting their concepts of Bible truth. Lest any Christian be deceived by this farce, I would like to make a few observations about it.
The greatest fallacy of this production was the persistent redefining of “death.” It was difficult to determine whether clinical death or true death was being discussed at various points in the movie. Clinical death is the point at which man’s machines fail to register vital life signs. True death, as the Bible depicts it, is the separation of body and spirit (James 2:26). This event happens once, not twice. Hear the Hebrew writer, “It is appointed unto man once to die . . .” (Heb. 9:27). The only exception would be if a miracle was performed to raise the dead, but no miracle was claimed in this movie. Even if it had been, the claims would have been false, because the age of miracles has ended (consider 1 Cor. 13). I conclude, then, that these people were not truly dead.
The stories (presented as truth) told of those who were clinically dead seeing bright psychedelic lights and feeling they had left their bodies. Without exception these people were either in a state of shock or heavily drugged. Any person who has been high on drugs is able to tell the same story. Have we not all experienced similar feelings of seeing light flashes when we get up too fast or just before we faint? Lack of oxygen has a lot to do with this. When one is in a state of shock, either mild or severe, does he not experience a feeling like he is not sure he is himself? I have heard people in this condition say, “I don’t feel like this is me . . . I feel like someone else,” or “This isn’t happening to me.” These people were not anywhere near death, though. So, is it not reasonable to say that people who claim these “death” experiences were having their normal reflexes modified by drugs, shock, or even fear of death?
The really interesting thing about the movie was that people of all religions (Protestant, Catholic, Mohammedan, Buddhist and even Atheists) claimed to have had an experience with Deity. They were either sent back or allowed to come back to try again. Perhaps someone should tell the rich man of Luke 16:19-31 that God has now become a “respecter of persons” (see Rom. 2:11) and is giving some “dead” people a second chance. All of these in the movie claimed or implied approval by this Divine Presence. That denies everything God said about who is saved; baptism, the one true church, and even about having to believe on Jesus in order to have God’s approval (see in. 1:lfr; Matt, :16:18; Acts 2:38; Eph. 4:1-16, etc.). The people who claimed this have let their, imaginations and fantasies run away with them. God is no respecter of persons (Rom. 2:11) and He gives a second chance. Further, He gives no hope or comfort to those who pervert His teachings or follow false teachers (Matt. 15:13,14; Gal.1:6-10).
The movie further indicated, that disembodied spirits may go into a time warp or another dimension here on ‘earth with no reward or punishment except in cases of suicide. It would do anyone good to read Luke 16:19-31 if he really would like to know what happens to the dead. God says some are comforted, in Paradise (Abraham’s Epsom) and others are tormented in Hades. Every dead person is in one state or another and no one is in-between in a “time-warp.” Such ideas as a time warp or another dimension are as opposed to God’s word as darkness is to light.
The closest account of “Beyond and Back” which we have recorded in the Bible is found in 2 Cor. 12:1-5 where Paul seems to be speaking of himself. This is in connection with a special revelation to an inspired man in the days of special Divine intervention. (Those days are now past according to 1 Cor. 13:9-13.) The one told of in this passage did not know whether he was “in the body or out,” but he did know he was caught up into the third heaven. However, this man was forbidden to repeat his experience. The point is this: even if one does go beyond and back (which those in the movie did not) he cannot tell it, according to the Bible.
Shouldn’t the viewer, also, find it strange that those who claimed these experiences waited from a month to as late as 20 years to reveal them? How accurately can one relate an experience that occurred during sedation or shock? Is it not increasingly more difficult as months and years pass? Prejudices and superstitions are bound to color one’s thinking as he meditates on those things about which he is puzzled.
The producers left the impression that their evidence was absolutely irrefutable. As a Christian, I have no problem refuting such evidence. I am sure that many doctors, scientists arid psychologists will have no problem either. This movie was a thinly disguised attempt to approve any religion and any lifestyle. The message came across clearly. It was this: You will have nothing to fear about death and afterlife unless you commit suicide.
The Bible teaches no such thing as going beyond life and coming back. These producers have gone beyond the Bible and they had better get back to it before they face the Lord in judgment. We, as Christians, must remember this and not be taken in by cunningly devised fables which are designed to destroy our faith in the Bible!
Truth Magazine XXIII: 14, p. 226
April 5, 1979