An Atheist’s Near Death Experience

A friend of mine and coworker at a downtown LDS branch for the homeless has told me several times about his brother-in-law Scott. He was by all accounts a very nice guy, but he did not believe in a God. If you ever brought up the subject, he would turn it off as quickly as he could. He denied God existed and would have nothing to do with Him.

Scott was a heavy drinker and had developed some liver problems over time. He was on medications to help regulate the problem, but one day it caught up with him and he landed in the emergency room. While he was at the ER, he passed away. They were able to revive him there and when he came to, he had an interesting story to tell.

His spirit had separated from his body, and while he was away, so to speak, he was not met by a glorious being or by a tunnel of light. He did see his deceased aunt, however, who without force took him on a brief tour of hell to show him what it was like. When he came back, he told his family what he had seen and said, “I don’t want to go there.”

That very week he sought out a Christian pastor and decided to accept God in his life and Jesus as his Savior. A week later, he died. The second time, though, he did not come back.

Isn’t our God a generous and merciful God? If there is even a twinge of goodness in a person, there is hope and possibility.

I would like to say that, theologically, I don’t worry about hell. I am grateful to know, by study, faith, and stories like this, that hell is a place reserved for the intransigently evil. Those, I am happy to say, are few and far between in my experience. Take heart, not vengeance. There is a lot of hope for the rest of us.