The bestseller, Embraced by the Light, is one that needs to be dealt with. It has been on the New York Times Bestseller List for over a year now and has sold more than two million copies thus far.
Betty Eadie is a woman on a mission and her mission is to introduce the "Jesus" she met in her near-death experience to as many people as she can. She has been on a variety of national television programs and hundreds of local programs. According to her publicist she has spoken in a significant number of churches, and Christians make up a large portion of those who purchase the book. That is scary.
Ms. Eadie has become somewhat of a guru for many. When she was in Dallas in February, 1994, the Dallas Morning News carried a lead story expressing the adoration of her new-found followers. One woman said that Ms. Eadie gave her a kind of inner peace and that without it she would have lost her mind. Another woman said that she cried all the way through the book the first time she read it. A man said that the book validated a lot of things he had believed and that he now looks at things differently.
According to the Dallas Morning News article the book's greatest appeal "stems from the description of eternal life, a comforting notion for people who have survived a loved one or for those pondering their own fate."
The popularity of Betty Eadie and her book Embraced by the Light in Christians' lives raises some important questions for us to ask ourselves. Why is her message so readily accepted by Christians? How has the church failed in its mission, thereby creating an atmosphere where such heresy could flourish?
Ms. Eadie says that she was shown in the spirit world that we were with God in the beginning and that we helped him to create the earth. She tells us that Eve's "initiative" made it possible for mankind to have children, that sin is not our true nature, and that we are inherently divine.
She continues by saying that we are all God's children and that we are here on earth to learn the lessons we need for our own spiritual evolution. Our key lesson is to remember our divinity and return to heaven. Eadie embraces the idea that all religions and faiths are equal in God's sight and that they are essential in our development. Likewise, spirits from the other side will also help us learn the lessons of life and aid in our progress.
Ms. Eadie says that death is a spiritual "rebirth" as we simply make a "transition" to another state of being. There will be no judgement day and we will judge ourselves regarding our spiritual evolution.
Before we can fully understand Ms. Eadie's world view and theology it is important for us to recognize that she is a Mormon and has been exposed to new age paganism. She has, in fact, been a member in good standing of the Mormon Church for the past fifteen years or more.
Betty Eadie's background is a mixture of native American Indian spirituality, Catholicism, and Mormonism. Her mother was a full- blooded Sioux Indian and as a young child Betty attended a Catholic boarding school.
This spiritual syncretism helps us recognize the source of her close encounter with "the Light." As we take a closer look at her new-found belief system we are able to not only see Mormon ideas but beliefs that are found in the occult.
On page 57 of her book Betty tells the reader, "within our universe are both positive and negative energies, and both types of energies are essential to creation and growth. These energies have intelligence--they do our will. They are willing servants."
You may remember "The Force" of Star Wars and its "light" and "dark" side. The Force was both "good" and "evil". One simply chose which side of "The Force" one wanted to utilize for his evolutionary development. There was no "right" or "wrong" choice; it was a matter of personal preference.
The Force is similar to "magic." In the occult world magic has a "good" side and an "evil" side. It is also considered to have a "light" side and a "dark" side.
Magic is an attempt by man to gain equality with God. To become a part of the creative process. God spoke the universe into existence by His word. The magician, sorcerer, or witch attempts to speak things into existence by words based on their occult knowledge.
The Christian desires to obey the will of God, not to force God to do his bidding. This is the essential difference between occult practice, magic, and Christianity.
Another example of Ms. Eadie's new age belief is the account of her being in a garden while she had her out-of-body experience (OBE). She saw a rose and was struck by its beauty and as she looked at it she felt that she had become "one" with it. She states on page 81 of her book, "I felt God in the plant, in me, his love pouring into us. We were all one!"
"At-one-ment" or the interconnectedness of all things is a primary tenet of new age thought and philosophy. Betty Eadie, through her OBE, experienced the greatest deception Lucifer plays on humanity-- that we are a part of the divine, that we are indeed deity. The idea that we are divine beings opens our understanding that we have all that we need "within" us to progress toward our full potential as a god or goddess.
Our "looking" or "going" within is an attempt to discover our inner allies and gain "deep" learning so we further evolve mentally and spiritually. These allies or inner teachers, helpers, or guides are available to all of us, according to the new age mystics.
This inner teacher is also known as the "Higher Self" or the "True Self" and is in constant battle with our cognitive or conscious self. The focus of knowledge is transferred from the objective and cognitive to the subjective and intuitive or experiential. It is my contention that the greatest danger Betty Eadie represents for the Christian is that Truth is based on or in experience rather than the Word of God.
Betty Eadie never mentions the crucifixion or the atonement for sin. In her worldview they simply are not needed. According to her belief we are at-one with God. Likewise, she never mentions the cross of Christ; evidently her "Jesus" is too positive to mention something as negative as the cross or the need of redemption.
There is no mention of evil or victory over sin. There is no resurrection. Ms. Eadie is almost evangelistic in her declaration that "all religions upon the earth are necessary because there are people who need what they teach. People in one religion may not have a complete understanding of the Lord's gospel and never will have while in that religion." (see Gal. 1:8 and 2 Cor. 11:13 along with Matt. 24:24)
Eadie continues by saying "as an individual raises his level of understanding about God and his own eternal progress, he might feel disconnected with the teachings of his present church and seek a different philosophy or religion to fill that void. When this occurs he has reached another level of understanding and will long for further truth and knowledge."
She says, "Having received this knowledge, I knew that we have no right to criticize any church or religion in any way. They are all precious and important in his sight."
Another concern of Ms. Eadie's is her unbiblical teaching regarding the person of Jesus. On page 44 of her book Ms. Eadie recounts her meeting the Jesus of her out-of-body-experience:
I understood that he was the Son of God, though he himself was also a God, and that he had chosen from before the creation of the world to be our Savior.
Ms. Eadie's statement regarding the person of Jesus is legitimate with the exception of one word that causes us to think of how the Jehovah Witnesses translate John 1:1. The article "a" becomes very important when it precedes "God." However, for Ms. Eadie the use of the article "a" indicates that she views Jesus as another distinct deity rather than the second person of a triune god--thereby exposing her Mormon understanding of the trinity. The Mormons believe in three separate beings who are each divine rather than three persons comprising one God as the Bible indicates.
The Bible is explicit in its affirmation of the Trinity. Deuteronomy 6:4 is clear in its declaration of one God. Elsewhere in Scripture we see God the Father (Matthew 6:9), God the Son (John 1:1), and God the Holy Spirit (Acts 5:3-4) as three distinct Persons who are equal in every aspect of their being.
In John 10:30 Jesus says that He is one with the Father, thereby leaving no doubt of their oneness regarding their essence and that they are not two separate beings or gods as Ms. Eadie would have us believe. Ms. Eadie refers to "the Spirit of God," although she does not mention the Holy Spirit as the third Person of the Trinity by name. The Bible, likewise, is clear regarding the stature of the Holy Spirit. In John 14:26 the Holy Spirit is seen as the enabler in helping God's people understand divine truth.
Betty Eadie's view of Jesus comes into focus once Biblical light is shed upon it. It becomes perfectly clear that she does not hold a trinitarian view of God.
The new-age world view of Betty Eadie is evident:
In other words, we were with our heavenly Father in the spirit world and eventually came to the point where we were spiritually dry and realized that the only way to get beyond our dryness was to jump start our spirituality. Thereby, we chose to leave our heavenly home and incarnate on this earth where we might further develop our spiritual essence and advance our possibilities in the spirit world.
Ms. Eadie states that prior to our leaving our spiritual home and incarnating in this world we perfected a plan for growth before we took on this physical shell. She says on page 47 of her book that "the Father explained that coming to earth for a time would further our spiritual growth. Each spirit who was to come to earth assisted in planning the conditions on earth, including the laws of mortality which would govern us."
In the spirit world Ms. Eadie was told "that we had all desired to come here, that we had actually chosen many of our weaknesses and dificult situations in our lives so that we could grow." She continues by saying, "to my surprise I saw that most of us had selected the illnesses we would suffer, and for some, the illness that would end our lives . . . we were very willing, even anxious, as spirits to accept all of our ailments, illnesses, and accidents here to help better ourselves spiritually."
According to Betty Eadie we are basically good. On page 49 of her book Ms. Eadie says "that sin is not our true nature. Spiritually, we are at various degrees of light--which is knowledge--and because of our divine spiritual nature we are filled with the desire to do good." She continues by saying "that there is a vital, dynamic link between the spirit world and mortality, and that we need the spirits on the other side for our progression."
In the above statement Ms. Eadie is allowing her god's eclectic world view show. The idea that man is basically "good" is commonly held in the field of humanistic psychology rather than in Christian Scripture. The Bible indicates that man is in need of redemption and forgiveness. Her belief that we, in the mortal world, are in need of the spirits from the other side to aid us in our spiritual progression is taken directly from her Mormon background. We find this teaching in the Doctrine and Covenants (128:15), one of the Standard Works of the Mormon Church.
The Biblical indication is that in the last days many will be deceived. The gospel writer of Matthew seems to agree. Not only will unbelievers be deceived but also those who have trusted Jesus for their salvation may be equally deceived. The Scripture says, "For false christs and false prophets will arise and show great signs and wonders, so as to deceive, if possible, even the elect." The problem that many have in our day is that they seek "signs" and "wonders" rather than Jesus. Experience has become their teacher rather than the Word. Our response is simply, Jesus--the only begotten Son of God. There is salvation in no other. Our hope is not in our experiences, but in a person.
Ms. Eadie offers another example. She relates an experience during her heavenly visitation where she "traveled to many other worlds- earths like our own but more glorious, and always filled with loving, intelligent people." She continues by saying, "I knew that I had been to these places before." She had an experience that she could not deny.
Some have said that a man with an argument is always at the mercy of a man with an experience. A growing problem in our society is the willingness to accept one's experience over the protestation of the facts. As Christians we need to be careful that we do not fall into this trap. Our responsibility is to consider the Word of God and allow it to validate the experience or not. We must be extremely careful not to allow our or anyone else's experience to mold our belief system.
Another example of Ms. Eadie's pre-mortal experience was an encounter with those in the spirit world. She said, "I saw again the spirits who had not yet come to earth, and I saw some of them hovering over people in mortality. I saw one male spirit trying to get a mortal man and woman together on earth--his future parents." (I had a brief moment of deja vu and thought of Marty McFly in Back to the Future).
A growing number of Christians are accepting Ms. Eadie's account of the after-life, and the church is allowing her beliefs to take root by their lack of biblical teaching. The Bible is very clear regarding the individual's moment of existence (Psalm 139:13-16). Nowhere in Scripture does our Lord offer a possibility that we pre- existed with Him in the spirit world. The burden of proof is on the one with the experience and not the objective Word of God.
What can we learn from Betty Eadie and her near-death experience? First and foremost is that near-death experiences tend to alter one's world view. Raymond Moody in his book The Light Beyond offers evidence for such a concern. He states that those who experience a near-death episode
...emerge with an appreciation of religion that is different from the narrowly defined one established by most churches. They come to realize through this experience that religion is not a matter of one 'right' group versus several 'wrong' groups. People who undergo an NDE come out of it saying that religion concerns your ability to love--not doctrine and denominations. In short, they think that God is a much more magnanimous being than they previously thought, and that denominations don't count.
This idea, that doctrine is of no importance but we should only be concerned about love, is parallel to the teachings found in the New Age world view. Ms. Eadie is in agreement with Dr. Moody's statement that "love" is our ultimate goal and that religion is simply a vehicle to get us to the party. It makes little or no difference whether we get there in a Ford or a Chevrolet. As warm and cozy as this idea sounds, it does not take into account the words of our Lord in John 14:6: "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me." Jesus was very clear that He wasn't offering one of many ways, but that He was The Way and The Truth. He was very confident that salvation was found in no other.
© 1995 Probe Ministries