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Social Issues: New Age


a review of "Embraced By The Light"

"EMBRACED BY THE LIGHT" by Betty Eadie has been a sensational best seller. Eadie claims to have seen heaven and hugged Jesus after apparently hemorrhaging to death. Many have accepted her story completely and have also found great comfort in her words. A Neurologist commenting on a recent "20/20" broadcast, however, thought it was merely the electrical spasms of a dying brain. Hugh Downs and Barbara Walters, while affirming that no conscious fraud had been perpetrated, agreed.

For the tender hearted materialist, who desperately wants hope, it is a powerful story portraying a beautiful afterlife for everyone, regardless of their decisions or actions on earth. From that perspective it is seen as an astounding yet believable experience because it answers an inner longing. It is then accepted at face value and left relatively unanalyzed.

For the hard nosed materialist, who already "knows for sure" that the supernatural does not exist, there naturally must be another explanation... a natural explanation. Since the whole thing is by definition bunko, there is no reason to look further than the surface.

The truth, I am convinced, is a bit more complex. Eadie's story fits well with the "near death experience" genre and many of those stories have been bolstered as objective experiences by the "nearly deceased" describing things that happened after they were "dead," or at least unconscious, by clinical standards. Some have accurately reported certain events that happened at a distance or hidden behind walls and doors from their physical bodies during the event.

Eadie talks about what she saw her family doing when they knew nothing of what was going on at the hospital, although it was not rigorously investigated at the time by anyone forensically inclined. It is not my purpose to nail down the reality of the experience for one who is determined to doubt it. That would require not only a review of the whole subject, but also a deep philosophical discussion on the nature of reality.

Rather, I need to point out how this vision, although described with Christian trappings, is not in its details compatible with the Biblical picture of life after death. Actually it can be explained within the Biblical framework as bearing the fingerprints of the master deceiver. It is a beautiful counterfeit, created by one who excels in that craft... hard to distinguish for one without spiritual insight. Yet it clearly lacks the key elements of the Christian gospel. Instead, we find a fantastically detailed caricature, a veritable spiritual Disney World.

The divergence from orthodox understanding begins to become apparent when Eadie meets Jesus, whom she describes as Creator, Savior and friend. (p. 53 of 1992 Gold Leaf Press Edition) He is found, contrary to her "Protestant upbringing," to be a separate person from God who is the Father of all. (p. 47) He also is not the sole creator in that "each spirit who was to come to earth assisted in planning the conditions on earth, including the laws of mortality that would govern us." (p. 47)

Also, it is not at all clear in what exact way he is a Savior, because sin is not portrayed as really bad. Rather sin is seen as a breaking of the natural law with natural consequences. (p. 55,56) And, eventually, all those consequences become part of the growth process. (p. 115)

In fact, Eve is described as having made a rational choice to sin, and then get Adam to come along, so that she could have children and eventually die, allowing spiritual progression to take place. Although it is pointed out that her restlessness can sometimes have bad effects, she is actually commended for seeking the conditions "necessary for her progression." (p. 109) Does anyone see a resemblance to the attitude of a famous spiritual being who wanted to "be like the most high?"

Some spirits were said to choose coming to earth as derelicts in this life in order for others to be humanitarians and philanthropists. (p. 98,99) Jesus responded to Eadie's guilt about hurtful things she had done as she re-experienced them in panoramas of her life. He did not say she was forgiven, much less that he had taken the penalty with his blood on the cross, but rather told her, "You're being too harsh on yourself." (p. 113)

Eadie wanted to know why there were so many churches in the world, "Why didn't God give us only one church, one pure religion?" She was answered with an inner, pure understanding that we are each "at a different level of spiritual development and understanding." "All religions upon the earth are necessary because there are people who need what they teach." (p. 45) There may be a kernel of truth here, especially if this is referring to different worship styles of various Christian denominations. Yet is stated in a way that would easily include Buddhism and Witchcraft.

Both positive and negative energies are essential in Eadie's vision. They were created by God, subject to him and have intelligences. Thus "light, goodness, kindness, love, patience, charity, hope, and so on" as well as "darkness, hatred, fear (Satan's greatest tool), unkindness, intolerance, selfishness, despair, discouragement, and so on" "do our will." "They are willing servants." (p. 57) "We create our own surroundings by the thoughts we think." (p. 58) For those who recognize the Eastern mysticism and New Age flavor in these statements, please remember that they have appeal because of their close proximity to the truth. Our attitudes do change a great deal of what happens around us, yet we cannot create reality.

It is interesting to me that while there is a great deal of detailed description of the nature, motivation and appearance of most spiritual entities mentioned, the treatment of Satan seems strangely superficial. He is not totally absent from the discussion, yet there is no real coherence or plausibility to his existence. For example, although all other intelligent beings seem to become good and wonderful through their experiences, Satan is painted as just plain evil. Yet there is no indication why.

Maybe, in keeping with the rest of the book, he has actually chosen to be the tempter so that others will grow by their dealing with the negative energies. We are given no direct statements, but that option would allow him to be discovered later as a good guy in disguise. After all, he tempted Eve and her "sin" turned out to be a good thing.

Why is fear described as the greatest tool of Satan? In a sense it is true that for the Christian, Satan need not be feared, although he can never be taken lightly. But in Eadie's other descriptions, the negative elements of any experience are seen as ultimately leading to perfection. Why is fear singled out as a really bad thing and not just another experience? In real life, fear sometimes keeps us out of danger. If the heaven Eadie has seen is a false one, she and her followers are in great danger. Fear and doubt might lead them to deeper reflection and ultimate rejection of the vision.

Finally, when returning to her body, Eadie is visited by several beings, "half human half animal -- short, muscular beings with long claws or fingernails and savage, though human, faces. They were full of hate, and I knew that they intended to kill me." ( p. 126) In her fear there is an incongruity because for the next several years she actually wanted to die and go back to the beautiful place she had to leave. But anyway, she ended up being protected by a dome of light. Then her guardian angels come, in the form of three monks, and tell her that she will be protected by the dome for the rest of her life. (p. 127)

This gives a picture of demons as evil but easily recognizable and relatively weak. It is very different from the Biblical descriptions. For example, see 1 Timothy 4:1, "The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons." This points out incredible deceptive powers. Also, note Revelation 16:14, "They are spirits of demons performing miraculous signs, and they go out to the kings of the whole world, to gather them for the battle on the great day of God Almighty." This does not sound like the work of a stereotypically creepy variety of demon.

And finally, the nature of the leader of those demons is described in several scriptures. For example, 2 Corinthians 11:14 states, "And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light." Also, 2 Corinthians 4:4, "The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God."

The vision of Betty Eadie points to the reality of life after death, but deceives the unwary about the nature of that life. I am convinced that Eadie tells the truth about what she was shown, but also that she was not shown the truth and did not meet the real Jesus.

The Apostle John did see the real Jesus as recorded in Revelation 1:12-18, "I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me. And when I turned I saw seven golden lamp stands, and among the lamp stands was someone 'like a son of man,' dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest. His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, and out of his mouth came a sharp double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance. When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: 'Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.'"

John also wrote, in 1 John 5:11 - 12, "God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life." John clarified the reality of sin in 1 John 1:9, "If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness." Then, in John 3:16 he quotes Jesus, "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." Then again John quotes the resurrected Jesus, "Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city. Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood."

Ross S. Olson MD

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