How Do Near-Death Experiences Help the Mopologists?

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Doctor Scratch
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How Do Near-Death Experiences Help the Mopologists?

Post by Doctor Scratch »

I think it's common knowledge by now that one of the obsessions of the Mopologists at "SeN" is the idea of near-death experiences. You've probably heard about these, or seen them depicted in movies like the 1990 Joel Schumacher flick, Flatliners. Basically, the idea is that there are some people who've been close to death--perhaps they were in a coma, or a vegetative state--but then they wake up, and say that they "saw" things during the ordeal.

There are, of course, multiple ways to interpreter these. More naturalistic explanations have to do with brain function, and the bizarre things that the human mind can do when stressed or out-of-whack. But the explanation that fascinates the Mopologists is the religious explanation: people are seeing these things because there is a real afterlife. And the Mopologists very frankly and openly believe that there is an afterlife: they've said so many times, such as when reminiscing about departed loved ones, or when Midgley complains about his "probation." Appropriately, Dean Robbers has mocked them for this: "this is the whole enchilada," he once said.

But I wonder how valuable NDEs are to the Mopologists. What's the point here, really? Let's say that NDEs are "real," and that they prove there's an afterlife. Is it not a problem that they merely show *an* afterlife--i.e., an afterlife in general? How does that demonstrate that the LDS Church is true? And even if it is a point in their favor, it also means that there are *real* three-tier kingdoms, and that there really is a "spirit prison," and "outer darkness," and real, actual human beings will go there. So, who will be sent to outer darkness? John Dehlin? Jeremy Runnells? Is Gerald Bradford in "spirit prison"? Hitler? Pol Pot? If the Mopologists sincerely believe that NDEs prove their theology, then they should be able to answer--or at least speculate on--these questions.

The alternative is the more general notion--i.e., that, yes, there is an afterlife, but they aren't sure how it looks, exactly. I.e., they are unwilling to positively affirm that NDEs prove that Mormon theology is correct. (I, for one, would applaud an Interpreter article that laid out the ways that Added Upon lines up with LDS scripture--sort of like how, re: the LGT, Brant Gardner or whoever shows how the Book of Mormon lines up with actual Yucatan geography, or how chiasmus can be found in both the Book of Mormon and in ancient texts.) And if they truly do believe this--i.e., they think that, yes, NDEs prove an afterlife, but, no, it's not 100% positive that this also proves that LDS theology is correct. This means that there could be a very real version of Hell, per other denominations, or that things work out in a very different sense--e.g., there is reincarnation, and Dr. Midgley will come back in the next life a sailor's wooden peg leg.

So, I have to ask: How do the Mopologists benefit from NDEs? Is this little more than pandering to the lowest of the lowest common denominator of Chapel Mormons who turn up on the "Comments" section? I would dismiss this all as Gemli-bait, except that Dr. Peterson, Kiwi, and the others seem to genuinely believe that the NDEs are real, and that they are faith-promoting.
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Re: How Do Near-Death Experiences Help the Mopologists?

Post by Res Ipsa »

It’s always seemed odd to me.
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Re: How Do Near-Death Experiences Help the Mopologists?

Post by Doctor CamNC4Me »

Well. Betty Eadie was pretty big in the 90's, and Embraced by the Light made its rounds through Mormondom. <- my parents and quite a few acquaintances were really into her. Maybe the Mopologists were deeply influenced by her.

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Re: How Do Near-Death Experiences Help the Mopologists?

Post by Gadianton »

Doctor Scratch wrote:So, I have to ask: How do the Mopologists benefit from NDEs? Is this little more than pandering to the lowest of the lowest common denominator of Chapel Mormons who turn up on the "Comments" section? I would dismiss this all as Gemli-bait, except that Dr. Peterson, Kiwi, and the others seem to genuinely believe that the NDEs are real, and that they are faith-promoting.
Well, on the one hand, they changed their focus years ago from EV to secular critics. Why this happened is a good question that I'm not sure Mopologetic studies has an answer for. A lot of the counter EV guys like Stan Barker had bailed and wars with street ministries had faded. Brent Metcalfe and others were turning up the heat.

But it's idiosyncratic however you want to look at that transition to secular critics, and the heart of it is an unusual streak in Dr. P himself. Dr. P has an odd fascination with the occult that's just really out of place for an LDS apologist or scholar. The junior apologists have rallied around this, looking to contribute their own experiences with the occult to the cause, but even while Kiwi and Midgley fully support it because Dr. P is the boss, none of these folks would be spending any time on this subject whatsoever if it wasn't for Dr. P's influence. Every once in a while you get a whiff that Midgley is annoyed by Dr. P's turn to New Age Evangelicalism.

It's kind of an apostasy, to tell you the truth. It was many years ago that "Added Upon" was plugged as the definitive guide to the next world, and over the years Dr. P has renounced all kinds of distinct LDS doctrines about the next life, and I'm not claiming this is so, but it's possible he's lost his testimony of the three degrees of glory. Well, you know the obvious stuff, walking back sex in the next life. He made an odd claim once on FAIR that exaltation and becoming God' didn't need to mean getting a planet but playing supportive roles in the present kingdom. That already flattens the kingdoms quite a bit right there. His "social trinitarianism" easily extends to make deification much less literal.

So to tie it all up, the game changed from EVs to secular, and secular critics would be the target of basic propositions of belief. But that doesn't really explain it beyond Gemli, with notable apostates like Vogel or Metcalfe totally off radar. What really drives it is DCP's odd fascination with New-Age / occult subjects. Finally, you are correct that it's too general to really establish Mormonism but again a) the fight against atheists only require proof of the basics b) it's possible that DCP's afterlife beliefs have become more general over time.
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Re: How Do Near-Death Experiences Help the Mopologists?

Post by Moksha »

Could it be that extending belief to NDE experiences helps to extend belief to Mormonism? Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross of hospice fame eventually felt moved by NDE stories. These stories have affected others besides Drs. Kubler-Ross and Peterson.

I bet Dr. Ross was not into dowsing rods, seer stones, or satanic rainbow lights mysteriously appearing on the Y.
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Re: How Do Near-Death Experiences Help the Mopologists?

Post by Shulem »

Near Death Experiences as reported by so many people of different faith and background do not provide support to the authority and peculiar doctrines of Mormonism. In fact, the many experiences reported by those who have had out of body or near death experiences document an understanding that is directly opposed to many of the theologies of Mormonism and the judgmental justice system promoted by the CULT. Mormonism is just another cult to have spread its influence on this earth during a long history of man's development.

For those who have an interest in this subject, I've introduced my essay up in the Celestial forum and invite my friends to take a peek and glean what you can from Near-Death Experiences
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Re: How Do Near-Death Experiences Help the Mopologists?

Post by kairos »

Some members like to cite NDE's or dreams/visions of the after life by apostles as showing how close these guys are to the Lord thus affirming their legitimacy. One apostle? said he encountered Jesus in the SLC temple and kissed Jesus feet in adoration. This guy even wrote or spoke about it - i don't know whether mopo's could have used this in fighting off the critics, but maybe they did. As stated above Betty Eadie's NDE was all about LDS theology and doctrine so mopo's could claim the lds church is the one true church.

if i were a mopo i would socially distance and stay at least a mile away from using any Mormon NDE's!

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Re: How Do Near-Death Experiences Help the Mopologists?

Post by Dr Moore »

Doctor,
I have seen a few such posts in recent years. Not all of them, to be sure, but enough to take away an impression. In my view, a few roles are served by writing about NDEs.

First, and foremost: parallelomania. Something wonderfully undeniable that happens after death. We each have a spirit. We take memories with us. We don't just vanish. You fill in the gaps. Second: science. NDE stories offer an extremely rare body of evidence through which science and notions of revealed gospel principles can safely coexist in the same conversation. And third: mien. The Mopologists want to be perceived as academics with a curious character and open-mindedness to explore the frontiers of evidence.
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Doctor Scratch
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Re: How Do Near-Death Experiences Help the Mopologists?

Post by Doctor Scratch »

Gadianton wrote:
Thu Apr 08, 2021 5:18 am
But it's idiosyncratic however you want to look at that transition to secular critics, and the heart of it is an unusual streak in Dr. P himself. Dr. P has an odd fascination with the occult that's just really out of place for an LDS apologist or scholar.
Yes: you're absolutely right about that. He's downright Alastair Crowley-esque, in fact, what with his dowsing rods and what have you.
It's kind of an apostasy, to tell you the truth. It was many years ago that "Added Upon" was plugged as the definitive guide to the next world, and over the years Dr. P has renounced all kinds of distinct LDS doctrines about the next life, and I'm not claiming this is so, but it's possible he's lost his testimony of the three degrees of glory. Well, you know the obvious stuff, walking back sex in the next life. He made an odd claim once on FAIR that exaltation and becoming God' didn't need to mean getting a planet but playing supportive roles in the present kingdom. That already flattens the kingdoms quite a bit right there. His "social trinitarianism" easily extends to make deification much less literal.
I think you're right, and of course, this just adds more ammunition to the Heartlanders' cause. The Mopologists are dumping deification overboard? Then what's the point? Should we be quoting Milton--"better to rule in Hell than serve in Heaven?" In any case, I've never seen any of the Mopologists expound in any detail on LDS theology. They will talk endlessly about Mormon origins--about the witnesses, and JS, about the gold plates--but they don't have a word to say about anything that supposedly comes after. Why the "probation," then? What do they hope to gain?

In any event, barring any clarification from them, I think we have to assume--just as you suggest--that they've abandoned belief in things like the tripartite heaven, or the doctrine of eternal progression.
"If, while hoping that everybody else will be honest and so forth, I can personally prosper through unethical and immoral acts without being detected and without risk, why should I not?." --Daniel Peterson, 6/4/14
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Doctor Scratch
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Re: How Do Near-Death Experiences Help the Mopologists?

Post by Doctor Scratch »

Dr Moore wrote:
Thu Apr 08, 2021 5:30 pm
Doctor,
I have seen a few such posts in recent years. Not all of them, to be sure, but enough to take away an impression. In my view, a few roles are served by writing about NDEs.

First, and foremost: parallelomania. Something wonderfully undeniable that happens after death. We each have a spirit. We take memories with us. We don't just vanish. You fill in the gaps. Second: science. NDE stories offer an extremely rare body of evidence through which science and notions of revealed gospel principles can safely coexist in the same conversation. And third: mien. The Mopologists want to be perceived as academics with a curious character and open-mindedness to explore the frontiers of evidence.
Interesting thoughts, Dr. Moore. To follow up, though: which "revealed gospel principles" are allowed to "safely coexist" here? Merely the idea of an afterlife? With all due respect, that doesn't seem very "scholarly." What is this "afterlife" like? How do the NDE folks' anecdotes help to bolster LDS theology? If the Mopologists truly do possess the characteristics you described, wouldn't they want better answers to these questions?
"If, while hoping that everybody else will be honest and so forth, I can personally prosper through unethical and immoral acts without being detected and without risk, why should I not?." --Daniel Peterson, 6/4/14
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