Pat's Paragraphs

May 2018

Dear Friends,

Did you hear the story about the Alabama teenager who says he had visions of walking with God after a severe brain injury almost took his life?

Trenton McKinley, a 13-year-old whose parents signed papers to donate his organs when his survival appeared impossible, remembers walking through a field with a shadowy, bearded figure during an apparent near-death experience (NDE). He says the vision proved to him that God is real. “There is no other explanation but God,” he says, “There’s no other way that I could have come back.” 

Near Death Experiences (NDEs) are not uncommon. Some, like those of Alex Malarkey (“The Boy Who Came Back From Heaven”) have proved to be false. Malarkey, at the age of 6, came out of a two-month coma telling stories of miracles, angels and heaven. His father helped him write a book, which became a best seller. But Malarkey himself blew the story apart when, as a teenager, he admitted to making it all up.
 
“I did not die. I did not go to Heaven,” he said.  In his confession, Malarkey directed people to the Bible, “When I made the claims that I did, I had never read the Bible. People have profited from lies, and continue to. They should read the Bible, which is enough. The Bible is the only source of truth.”
NDE’s are a fascinating subject, much debated among researchers. Some believe there’s a scientific explanation, but no definitive research has yet pinned it down.

Those who have experienced it are often much more interested in the spiritual significance than in the scientific.

What do you think? 
I think the mystery of consciousness is not even close to being solved. I believe that God is well able to reveal Himself to whomever He chooses. But an experience that is of God will establish His word and not contradict it. So if an NDE is a vision from God, it will uphold and clarify the truths of the Bible. So far most NDE’s do not. Many are negative and scary; the good ones have a surprising number of similarities – light, peace, love, acceptance and the presence of deceased relatives.

Maybe NDE’s are akin to mysteries like flying saucers and bigfoot – but whatever they are, Alex Malarkey’s advice is right on: “Read the Bible. It is enough. It is the only source of truth.” And I might add, read it prayerfully, setting aside preconceptions and prejudices, asking God to lead you to all truth.

Do you believe the truth is important? Do you believe we should be teaching people what really happens at death? Do you believe deception will cause the loss of souls? I say “yes” to each of those question. I say it’s crucial that we counter the lies with Scriptural truth in a tasteful, clear and engaging way. We crave your prayers and support for this work. The enemy of souls is not at all shy about propagating his views. Let’s not be reticent to share ours!

We are committed to press on with our social media efforts as funds permit. We’re excited to have Dwight Nelson as presenter in the first two videos in our new Youtube series. We plan to film him in June. Thank you for praying for us. Thank you for your generous support. Don’t stop! 

In Christ,

Pat Arrabito
Seed of Doubt

Sidney Hatch heard the call of God to ministry when he graduated from the University of California. He continued his education at Dallas Theological Seminary, preparing for a career as a Baptist pastor. That’s when he hit a bump! I’ll let him tell you about it in his own words:

“One day in a theology class one of the school’s leading professors was asked if it were really necessary as ministers of the gospel to believe in the eternal hell-fire torment of the lost.

“The gist of the professor’s reply was that, admittedly, there were problems, and the traditional view did seem harsh, but, after all, it was the orthodox view and the most practical one to hold.”

That willingness to rely on “the orthodox view” rather than the words of Scripture troubled Sidney Hatch. “Suffice to say I left the class with a seed of doubt in my heart; small, yes, but it was there just the same.”

That seed of doubt took root and sprouted, nurtured by Hatch’s interest in Old Testament Hebrew. “ Needless to say, it did not take long to see that the Hebrew word for soul, 'nephesh,' was used for all other living creatures as well as for man.”

His study of that Hebrew word convinced him that neither man nor beast have an immortal soul; the traditional doctrine, orthodox or not, was false and based on pagan ideas. Nevertheless, he entered the ministry as a Baptist preacher – in spite of his unorthodox views.

As pastor of a Baptist congregation in Los Angeles he emphasized in his sermons that believers have eternal life only through faith in Christ. He was walking on thin ice. Some parishioners objected to his non-traditional teachings about death and eternal torment.

“Ultimately it led to several things: a change of pulpits, a change of denominations, a change of friends, and the misunderstanding of many people.”

Below is Sidney Hatch’s clear explanation of Conditionalism. See if it corresponds well with what you believe.

“Conditional immortality is a very simple and clear doctrine. It resorts to no difficult theological or philosophical gyrations. It is the belief that man may become immortal on one condition and that is that he believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as his personal Savior. This immortality, or everlasting life, shall then be put on at the second coming of Christ and the resurrection of the believers, not before.”

Conditionalism may still be a minority position among Christians, but it is attracting more and more positive attention from both Protestant and Catholic theologians. Pray that this trend will continue. Conditionalist beliefs are a vital protection against the threat of spiritualism and occultism in all of its forms – and I believe that threat is growing every day.

(Quotations are from Sidney Hatch’s booklet, “Why I Believe in Conditional Immortality.” You can download a copy for yourself right here.)


Jim Wood
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