3 Stars – THOUGHT PROVOKING
The sense that life continues after death is universal. From the ancient Egyptians who prepared elaborate tombs laden with possible necessities of the afterlife, to the modern Christians who believe that each person is preparing for one of two possible futures - either with God or not - there are few people either in history or present day who believe we cease to exist at death. But these beliefs have only been intuitive and religiously supported until recently. Now it is indisputably a part of medical research to explore what is commonly called Near Death Experiences. This NDE phenomenon is widely reported and the documentation of such experiences gives us the opportunity to hear the testimony of those who have lived through them. The NDE also give our medical doctors and scientists the opportunity to study them and make reasonable hypothesis about the ongoing existence of human beings and the presence of a consciousness that is not limited to the body’s senses. This is what “The Lazarus Phenomenon” presents.
Weakened by its video-game staging and its over-dramatized reenactment of Jesus’ story of the rich man and the beggar Lazarus, the film nevertheless is worthy of viewing, especially the first-person testimonies of two men who died and came back. The first occurred a few years ago in Nigeria to a Christian pastor named Daniel Ekechukwu.
Ekechukwu explains his experience of being killed in an automobile accident, being placed in a mortuary for three days and yet being brought back to life during a worship service. Convinced that he would live again, Ekechukwu’s wife and church prayed for his resuscitation. Different from the resurrection of Jesus, Daniel regains his life and is returned to continue his earthly life. But what he brings back is a testimony of what he saw. His experience is corroborated by others who have had NDE, a finding which causes the medical doctors researching this to support the validity that what we experience after death is not a hallucination but a reality.
The second testimony is given by a young man named Ian McCormack. Diving on the Great Barrier Reef, Ian is stung by a Box Jellyfish, the earth’s second most deadly organism to human beings. Stung five times and left to his own survival by the locals who had been diving with him, we hear Ian’s first hand account as we watch a reenactment of the events. Although dead for less than a day and therefore not as elaborate as Ekechukwu’s experience, it is clear in both accounts that the choices and relationships each man had here on earth impacted their eternal destiny.
The truth that all of us are going to die is something we often avoid contemplating. But if there is any evidence that we continue after death then the thoughtful person must consider what that means. Such a film as “The Lazarus Phenomenon” is one tool to use in this endeavor.
- The increasing frequency with which people are having Near Death Experiences is giving us a wealth of evidence that our consciousness continue after our physical bodies die. Do you accept this evidence? Why or why not?
- When it is expressed that in an NDE people experience two futures - one with God in a paradise and one without God in self-consumed agony - how do you deal with this? Do you dismiss their testimonies and choose to live as though death is the end, or do you accept their experiences and live a life in preparation for what is to come?
- The difference between Ekechukwu’s experience and McCormick’s experience of hell is one of fire contrasted to darkness. Since the Bible describes hell in both ways, do you believe hell will be suffering or isolation? Is there a difference for you?
- In both testimonies it was clear that the person’s ability to forgive was indicative of where they would spend eternity. Why do you think this would be so? What type of existence would require a forgiving heart?