Human experience should catch our attention, even when clamorous human philosophy demands otherwise. In the nonfiction Embraced by the Light, Betty Eadie shares her 1973 Near Death Experience (NDE), her spiritual flight from a hospital bed to worlds beyond number and beyond description. I know of nobody who takes this book as scripture or as a writing of pure truth untainted by any aspect of Eadie’s personal philosophy or human frailties; I suspect a few do. But how can any pure truth from those lofty realms of heaven be adequately framed in human language? Nevertheless, we have a choice to follow higher beams of light, and to try to rise above the errors of human philosophy, or to try to become satisfied with something less.
This experience of an average housewife-mother, an experience of life on the other side of what we call death—this deserves better than summary dismissal out of fear of the unknown; EBL also deserves better than careless dismissal of those points seeming to contradict ones personal philosophy, as if Eadie had created her NDE to promote her own philosophy. This was a human experience that changed her life and her philosophy; if demands our attention.
Learn from Eadie’s experience of encountering the love that dispels all fear. When we trust in God first, offering up our imperfect philosophies to be, by God’s hand, molded or replaced by the truth, then we become prepared for those higher truths that many try to obtain out of order. The first step is faith in God; what human stride is long enough, without faltering, to stretch over that first step? When Eadie was encompassed by the love of God, her fears of an avenger-God evaporated in the light; that encouraged her to ask what she otherwise would have feared to ask.
Thoughts and feelings I’ve gained from reading this book several times over several years—that I now relate, for my copy of Embraced by the Light I’ve missplaced. But I offer some thoughts on a few objections I’ve heard and read, and I ask for the open heart that is only possible when we walk into the light, even if it is only a tiny beam of that enormous light that vanishes fear.
To avoid bulverism, Eadie’s personal human frailties, real or imagined, should not be emphasized, but the “Amazon.com Review,” by Brian Patterson, says that her vision of the afterlife is “heavily filtered through Eadie’s Christian worldview.” The problem with that heavy phrase, in that short one-paragraph review, becomes obvious when we ask, “But Mr. Patterson, what is your own worldview?” Each human who has graduated from diapers is old enough to have a worldview, but we don’t usually draw attention to the potential subjective and imperfect nature of foundational beliefs . . . unless somebody says something contrary to our own philosophy.
An objective examination of Betty Eadie’s NDE throws grave doubt on Patterson’s declaration that the vision itself was greatly influenced by her worldview; her present view of the world (and other worlds) was, on the contrary, formed FROM that experience. Thoughtful readers of Embraced by the Light will perceive that Eadie’s prior Christian ideas were turned upside down, in some aspects, by her NDE. Mr. Patterson seems to have gotten the influence-direction reversed in his mind.
I found it strange that Brian Patterson wrote that Embraced by the Light “will undoubtedly raise a lot of questions along the lines of ‘What about reincarnation?’ and ‘What happens to people who are not Christians?’” His statement raises the question, “Did Mr. Patterson read this book with a mind open?” To the best of my memory, EBL answers those questions clearly.
At the beginning of the NDE, Eadie encounters Jesus Christ and learns that she has completely misunderstood him. But the Savior does not condemn her for her ignorance, which came by her being misinformed during her youth; he teaches her with love and acceptance. This makes it clear that those who have innocently disbelieved in Jesus Christ will not be condemned by him, when mortal life ends. Non-Christians do not automatically go to hell after death, for being non-Christians. That answers Patterson’s remark about those who are not Christians.
Eadie was told that reincarnation is a false concept; that answers Patterson’s remark about reincarnation. In fact, Eadie is told one reason why some persons have come to believe in reincarnation, making it clear that the philosophy is fallacious.
Perhaps some reviewers and commenters confuse basic concepts about human equality. We have equal right to choose what philosophy to believe, but that does not make all philosophies equally valid or equally full or truth or equally full of error. Absolute truths about human origins and life after death and the role of Jesus Christ—they do not depend on what human philosophy or religion a person has chosen.