Lee Strobel Goes Beyond Theological Understanding of Heaven and Hell
After a brush with death, author and journalist Lee Strobel, said that a theological understanding of heaven and hell was not enough for him. He was compelled to investigate the afterlife in order to “satisfy my heart and soul,” he stated in his latest book, The Case For Heaven.
BY ALEX MURASHKO
THINK ETERNITY/MEDIA ON MISSION
Strobel told Think Eternity during a recent interview that in the process of writing The Case For Heaven, he gained a powerful dose of encouragement.
“What precipitated The Case For Heaven was that although I technically did not have a near death experience, I had a brush with [that kind of experience],” he said. “What happened was that my wife found me unconscious, called an ambulance, and I woke up in the emergency room.
“The doctor looked down at me and said, ‘You’re one step away from a coma, two steps away from dying.’ Then I went unconscious again.”
Strobel explained that he had experienced an unusual medical condition called “hyponatremia,” which included a severe drop in blood sodium, which causes your brain to expand because brain cells are taking in moisture. However, of course, there’s no room for the brain to expand. Strobel’s symptoms, like in other people’s cases, included hallucinations. Seizures and then death are also possible.
“As a believer, I knew intellectually what would happen if I were to die because the Bible’s pretty clear on what happens at death,” Strobel said. “But I’m still a skeptical guy. I mean that’s my background in journalism and law. And so when you’re in that position, nothing becomes more important than what happens when you close your eyes for the last time in this world.”
He added, “I wanted to see how evidence outside the Bible either contradicted or supported what the Bible said. And so that’s the motivation that took me on the journey to write this book.”
The book comes 23 years after his best-selling book, The Case For Christ. The book was the source for a feature film by the same name. The Case for Heaven is the source of a documentary film, also by the same name, coming out in April.
“As a Christian, I believe in heaven. I taught a little bit about it as a pastor. But it wasn’t until I delved beneath the surface, as an apologist, that it really gave me a robust understanding of what the afterlife is really like,” Strobel said.
He said the process of writing The Case for Heaven was much different than for The Case for Christ in which he retraced his original journey of accepting Jesus as his Savior several years earlier.
“I was skeptical about everything and was looking at evidence to try to come to a conclusion whether Christianity was wishful thinking, make believe, legend or reality, and coming to the conclusion that it is reality.”
Interestingly, one of the key commonalities in the two books is the Resurrection, he said.
“When I did my original investigation, as an atheist, I realized that Jesus clearly made transcendent, messianic and divine claims about himself. But so what. I could do that. You could do that. Anybody could claim that they are God. But if Jesus claimed to be God, died, and then three days later rose from the dead, that’s pretty good evidence that he’s telling the truth.
“The Resurrection became the centerpiece. There were a lot of other things I looked at, too, but the Resurrection was the centerpiece of my original investigation,” Strobel said. “When I did the investigation into The Case For Heaven, the Resurrection became equally important because if Jesus was resurrected, then number one, he’s an eyewitness to the afterlife, so we can trust what he tells us about it. And number two, it confirms, therefore, that he is the Son of God, and he created the afterlife, so he has credibility.”
We should pay attention to what Jesus teaches about heaven, Strobel said.
He said that when he was an atheist looking at the evidence for Christ, he found it to be an exciting, intellectually stimulating, and fulfilling experience. It was a culmination of that experience that led him to a faith in Christ and that “changed everything” in his life.
“In a related way, the outcome of the investigation for The Case For Heaven is that it left me with a deep sense of encouragement, joy, wonder and worship, and anticipation for the future,” he said.
THINK ETERNITY WITH MATT BROWN PODCAST: LEE STROBEL SHARES THE CASE FOR HEAVEN
“I think the more we delve into heaven, the more we begin to get a glimpse of the beauty and the wonder and the adventure of what it’s going to be like. Near death experiences like those that are shared in the book, for example, are consistent with Christian theology.
“When you look at the common elements that they have, one of the things that people who have true near death experiences often say is that they didn’t want to come back.” Strobel said. “You know, they got a glimpse of peeking through the door into heaven and then came back into this world.
“As I’ve been somewhat pulled into heaven by doing this research, it not only makes me more anxious to someday enter into heaven, but it also makes me better able to cope with the challenges in this world.”
The above article was originally published at Thinke.
Alex Murashko is the founder and editor of Media on Mission, which highlights the work of media and journalists, working in all platforms, whose Editor in Chief is above all others. Murashko is a contributing writer for Thinke.