Wednesday, May 14, 2008

A Different Kind of Book

Though it is not my normal type of book, curiosity caused me to buy and read 23 Minutes in Hell by Bill Wiese. It tells of his experience of spending 23 minutes in Hell after which time Jesus removed him from Hell and restored and comforted him and allowed him to ask some questions as to why he was allowed to have this experience before putting him back in his home. It is different from some other accounts of "Hell experiences" that I have heard of before in that Bill was a Christian already and he wasn't dead when he went. This wasn't a near death experience, rather he believes that God allowed him to be taken there in order to warn people that it is real and that time is short to come to Christ and avoid Hell forever.

There were several things about this book that I liked. First, Bill writes from a very humble point of view. He does not try to elevate himself because of his experience. Second, he provides scripture references to show where his experiences are supported by what is written in the Bible. Last, he includes excerpts from other people's accounts of similar experiences to show where his experience was the same or different from his.

But there were a few things about this book that leave me feeling skeptical. I wonder about God allowing one of His children to experience the horrors of Hell. He didn't get into scriptural references about that. It makes me wonder if the Bible ever talks about God temporarily abandoning one of His to Hell. Job comes to mind, but although Job was allowed to be tested by Satan for a time, he was never sent to Hell. I don't know if that makes a difference or not. The other thing is that there is no way to verify his experience. There were no lasting physical marks on his body, even though he describes his body being thoroughly broken by demons during his time in Hell. Granted, there is no physical proof of my salvation either. Hopefully there is a visible change in me that is obvious to those I come in contact with, but it is not like God tattoos each of us when we begin a relationship with him. So I am not sure that is a valid complaint.

Anyway, I am glad I read the book. It was a very fast read and it was interesting, too. I would recommend it, but maybe as more of a springboard into personal research in the Bible rather than as an authority on what Hell is actually like.

10 comments:

Joanna said...

Wow, that's interesting. I agree that it's hard to not be skeptical because even with Job, did he actually descend into hell? Wasn't it just "hell on earth?" I'm not sure I've read biblical evidence that God is willing to send you to hell without making you stay there.

You're flying through the books! When do you find time to read?

I think my problem is that I have no "for fun" books to read right now. I'm trying to read "Total Money Makeover" and it's interesting, but...

I need to go to the library and get some of the books on my list.

Johanna said...

I do most of my reading while I eat breakfast and lunch. I also read any time I have five minutes here or there. I read before bed, and during commercials when I watch live TV. It is a sickness. If you give me a book by one of my favorite Christian fiction writers such as Lori Wick or Francine Rivers, I'll read the full 300+ book in 24 hours. I cannot put a book I am interested in down. Now, non-fiction is generally a different story. That is why I am so proud of myself that two of the books I have read since starting that list in February are non-fiction! Go me! Jerry also wants me to read a book he read called Blue Like Jazz, but he loaned it to a lady at work first. It is non-fiction too, so I am going to get lots of practice. Now that the next three books on my list are children's literature, those will go super fast too. That's what you need to do Jo - shop in the children's section at your library!

Mrs. Amy Brigham said...

This book sounds fascinating and quite different from what I usually read. You have convinced me to check it out, Johanna. :o)

Johanna said...

Glad to have influenced you, Amy! :) Hope you enjoy it!

Stacey said...

I'd haveta encourage you to stay skeptical! The Bible doesn't support any experience like that - in fact, remember the story Jesus told of the beggar Lazarus going to "Abraham's Bosom", and a rich ruler who always ignored him in life, going to Hades. He sees Lazarus up in Heaven and he asked that L. go back to earth to warn his family that Hell is real, but Abraham basically said God's Word has revealed it to them; if they won't believe His Word (Moses and the prophets) they won't believe even if one comes back from the dead.(Luke 16:19-31)
This fella's reason of why God supposedly let him go to Hell contradicts this.
I don't know what he experienced, but experiences never trump God's revealed Truth in His Word! So good for you, using that book to dive deeper into Scripture!

Joanna said...

Stacey - Wow, that is an excellent reference. Thank you for pointing it out!

Joanna said...

Oh my gosh, Jacob Have I Loved??? That's an excellent book. I have fond memories of my mom reading us that book on vacations while driving to Michigan. Have you read it before?

Johanna said...

I've never read it. I am six chapters in and really enjoying it so far. It'll be fun when I post my critique since you have read it - you'll be able to add your $.02 worth! Today, though, I cannot read it yet because we have our church small group and I haven't finished the chapters in Love and Respect that I have to lead a discussion on with the ladies...I really need to work on my procrastination tendencies!

Johanna said...

Oh, and not to mention I need to do some cleaning before I read more because of said small group coming into my home tonight! Oops...

Grandma said...

Okay, there's a book I'd love you all to read and us talk about. It's called The Shack by William Young. (You started it, Jo, but left it and now Pastor Ronnie has it.) It is a very interesting book and read it all the way through before saying anything. Our pastor's wife and another member of our church also read it and were intrigued. It is certainly worthy of discussion.