Almost any bookstore sells works on the "near-death experience" (NDE). Actually a collection of experiences reported by individuals who have approached death, or undergone death and then returned to life, the NDE is widely interpreted as a genuine, representative experience of the afterlife. Elements of the NDE include a "life review" in which all the events of one's life on Earth are recapitulated; visions of the future; and a meeting with a mysterious, luminous being (commonly called the "being of light") that is said to express great love for the individual, without passing judgment on his or her life and deeds, no matter how sinful they may have been.
Anatomy of the NDE
Hallucinations, hoaxes and oxygen
A confusing picture
1. All souls will stand before Christ at a final judgment.2. Souls not saved by the Orthodox Christian Faith, repentance, Holy Baptism, a life in the Church, and good works will be condemned, together with the devil and his angels, to the lake of fire (Revelation 20:14) and to everlasting separation from God.3. Souls characterized by the Orthodox Christian Faith, repentance, Holy Baptism, a life in the Church, and good works will be saved but also will be judged according to their deeds.
Beliefs and consequences
1. One's beliefs and actions have (or should have) no lasting consequences, and2. "Love" justifies virtually any deed or misdeed.
A vision in Northumbria
The amazing Ueksuell case
Angels to the rescue
A bag of gold
The direct way to heaven
'There is no other way'
Father Seraphim explains the NDE
1. One need not fear death. Perceptions of modern NDEs indicate that death is not something to fear. Father Seraphim argued that there is no reason to presume these happy visions truly indicate what the soul will experience, on a permanent basis, after the death of the body.2. Judgment and hell are nonexistent. Anecdotal evidence from NDEs depicts the "being of light" as a non-judgmental entity that views one's deeds, even evil actions, with equanimity and humor. Father Seraphim responded that this presumption of avoiding judgment was not supportable. He pointed out that certain NDE investigators appeared to overlook completely the possibility that the evident absence of judgment in the initial moments after death might be an erroneous impression; or that judgment might indeed occur, but later.3. NDEs are themselves preparations for the afterlife. Father Seraphim described as "tragic" and "ill-founded" the naive view that faith, repentance, spiritual struggle and participation in the Sacraments were less important than the so-called understanding and love supposedly engendered by NDEs and other such experiences. Father Seraphim traced these doctrines back to the teachings of 19th-century spiritualists. The spiritualist movement arose in Europe in the 1850s and was based partly on the notion that souls can progress to higher levels of existence. Spiritualists also taught that "advanced" souls should welcome death joyously, because death held the promise of greater "enlightenment."