Christian apologetics is more than being ready to give an answer to anyone who asks a reason for the hope in us (1 Peter 3:15). Sometimes it means asking tough questions of those who deny — or sincerely misunderstand — the Christian faith.
A case in point is Eben Alexander, a celebrated neurosurgeon who recently granted an interview with FoxNews.com’s online magazine. Alexander knows a great deal about the human brain, and for years he used that knowledge to refute claims by those who said they visited heaven during near-death experiences (NDEs).
He believed NDEs were fantasies the brain produced under extreme duress. But as the magazine interview reveals, all that changed when Alexander had his own near-death experience, which he outlines in his book, “Proof of Heaven.”
Three-year-old Colton Burpo had a near-death experience (NDE) while on the operating table. When it was over, he described his “three minutes in heaven” in vivid detail, including encounters with Samson, John the Baptist, and Jesus, who had sea-blue eyes and owned a rainbow-colored horse.
Colton’s father, a Wesleyan pastor, believes the lad’s experience was real because he shared it with “the simple conviction of an eyewitness.”
You may read Colton’s story in Heaven is for Real: A Little Boy’s Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back, which ruled the best-seller list for 44 weeks. Millions of people have devoured the book and watched the youngster’s appearances on TV shows.
Less popular but equally intriguing are books about NDEs in which people “die” for brief periods and experience the horrors of hell. To Hell and Back by cardiologist Maurice Rollins, for example, tells us that hellish NDEs have to be recorded and verified immediately after the person “returns” or the horrifying memories will be repressed.
In any case, stories like Colton’s appeal to our desire to know more about the afterlife.