New York Times bestseller. A kayak accident during a South American adventure takes one woman to heaven—where she experienced God's peace, joy, and. Editorial Reviews. Review. Q&A with Mary C. Neal, M.D.. Mary C. Neal. Q. How did you feel when you died? Did you know what was happening?. author of To Heaven and Back. How did you feel when you died? Did you know what was happening? I was acutely aware of everything that was happening.

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of Her Death, Heaven, Angels, and Life Again. A True Story. To Heaven and Back .indd 1. 5/17/12 PM. Excerpted from To Heaven and Back by Mary C. Neal. Reviews of: To Heaven and Back by Mary C. Neal PDF Book 1st Review – As most stories of this nature the end result for Mary C. Neal in To Heaven and Back . Because I was either going to Heaven or Hell, there wasn't anything else. love to tell about the wonderful experience they had after they died and came back.

But is such an irreversibly bad moral character even metaphysically possible? Not according to the second answer, which implies that a morally perfect God would never cease providing those in hell with opportunities for repentance and providing these opportunities in contexts where such repentance remains a genuine psychological possibility.

All of which points once again to the need for a clearer understanding of the nature and purpose of moral freedom.

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This is not a problem for the Augustinians because, according to them, the damned have no further choice in the matter once their everlasting punishment commences. But it is a problem for those free will theists who believe that the damned freely embrace an eternal destiny apart from God, and the latter view requires, at the very least, a plausible account of the relevant freedom.

Note, however, that his sentence in parentheses implies only that PAP is a necessary condition of the relevant freedom; and even if that should be true, it would hardly follow that PAP provides a complete or even an adequate description of it. For consider again the example, introduced in section 2. Why suppose that such an irrational choice and action, even if not causally determined, would qualify as an instance of acting freely? It is hardly enough to point out that the young man has acted in accordance with his own will in this matter.

For that would be true even if his will were the product of sufficient causes that existed in the distant past.

Or suppose, if you prefer, that someone should be at least partly responsible for having become cognitively impaired—as when, for example, a teenager foolishly experiments with powerful drugs and ends up with a scrambled brain and an utterly deluded and irrational set of beliefs. Whatever the explanation for such cognitive impairment, at some point moral freedom is no longer possible, not even in cases where someone retains the power of contrary choice. Either our seriously deluded beliefs, particularly those with destructive consequences in our own lives, are in principle correctable by some degree of powerful evidence against them, or the choices that rest upon them are simply too irrational to qualify as free moral choices.

For not just any uncaused event, or just any agent caused choice, or just any randomly generated selection between alternatives will qualify as a free choice for which the choosing agent is morally responsible. Moral freedom also requires a minimal degree of rationality on the part of the choosing agent, including an ability to learn from experience, an ability to discern normal reasons for acting, and a capacity for moral improvement.

With good reason, therefore, do we exclude small children, the severely brain damaged, paranoid schizophrenics, and even dogs from the class of free moral agents. For, however causally undetermined some of their behaviors might be, they all lack some part of the rationality required to qualify as free moral agents.

Lewis and many other Christians concerning the bliss that union with the divine nature entails and the objective horror that separation from it entails, and suppose that the outer darkness—a soul suspended alone in nothingness, without even a physical order to experience and without any human relationships at all—should be the logical limit short of annihilation of possible separation from the divine nature.

Within the context of these ideas, two consequences seem to follow. The first is a dilemma argument for the conclusion that a freely chosen eternal destiny apart from God is metaphysically impossible. For either a person S is fully informed about who God is and what both union with him and separation from him entail, or S is not so informed. Therefore, in either case, whether S is fully informed or less than fully informed, it is simply not possible that S should reject the true God freely see Talbott , ,.

A second consequence of the above ideas is an obvious asymmetry between heaven and hell. According to Benjamin Matheson see section 3 above , a libertarian freedom to escape from hell is possible only if a libertarian freedom to escape from heaven is likewise possible. But even if one should accept that claim, an important asymmetry would remain.

For suppose that some person S meets the minimal degree of rationality that moral freedom requires. But Walls also contends that, even if those in hell have rejected a caricature of God rather than the true God himself, it remains possible that some of them will finally make a decisive choice of evil and will thus remain in hell forever.

To Heaven and Back by Mary C. Neal

He then makes a three-fold claim: first, that the damned have in some sense deluded themselves, second, that they have the power to cling to their delusions forever, and third, that God cannot forcibly remove their self-imposed deceptions without interfering with their freedom in relation to him Walls , Ch. For more detailed discussions of these and related issues, see Swinburne Ch. See also section 4. Consider the two kinds of conditions under which we humans typically feel justified in interfering with the freedom of others see Talbott a, We feel justified, on the one hand, in preventing one person from doing irreparable harm—or more accurately, harm that no human being can repair—to another; a loving father may thus report his own son to the police in an effort to prevent the son from committing murder.

We also feel justified, on the other hand, in preventing our loved ones from doing irreparable harm to themselves; a loving father may thus physically overpower his daughter in an effort to prevent her from committing suicide.

Harm that no human being can repair may nonetheless be harm that God can repair. It does not follow, therefore, that a loving God, whose goal is the reconciliation of the world, would prevent every suicide and every murder; it follows only that he would prevent every harm that not even omnipotence can repair, and neither suicide nor murder is necessarily an instance of that kind of harm. So even though a loving God might sometimes permit murder, he would never permit one person to annihilate the soul of another or to destroy the very possibility of future happiness in another; and even though he might sometimes permit suicide, he would never permit his loved ones to destroy the very possibility of future happiness in themselves either.

But whatever the resolution of this particular debate, perhaps both parties can agree that God, if he exists, would deal with a much larger picture and a much longer time-frame than that with which we humans are immediately concerned. So the idea of irreparable harm—that is, of harm that not even omnipotence can repair—is critical to the argument concerning permissible freedom. It is most relevant, perhaps, in cases where someone imagines sinners freely choosing annihilation Kvanvig , or imagines them freely making a decisive and irreversible choice of evil Walls , or imagines them freely locking the gates of hell from the inside C.

But proponents of the so-called escapism understanding of hell can plausibly counter that hell is not necessarily an instance of such irreparable harm, and Raymond VanArragon in particular raises the possibility that God might permit his loved ones to continue forever rejecting him in some non-decisive way that would not, at any given time, harm them irreparably see VanArragon , 37ff; see also Kvanvig , He thus explicitly states that rejecting God in his broad sense requires neither an awareness of God nor a conscious decision, however confused it may be, to embrace a life apart from God.

Accordingly, persistent sinning without end would never result, given such an account, in anything like the traditional hell, whether it be understood as a lake of fire, the outer darkness, or any other condition that would reveal the full horror of separation from God given the traditional Christian understanding of such separation. But here is perhaps the most important point of all. For consider this. Although it is logically possible, given the normal philosophical view of the matter, that a fair coin would never land heads up, not even once in a trillion tosses, such an eventuality is so incredibly improbable and so close to an impossibility that no one need fear it actually happening.

Or, if you prefer, drop the probability to. Over an indefinitely long period of time, S would still have an indefinitely large number of opportunities to repent; and so, according to Reitan, the assumption that sinners retain their libertarian freedom together with the Christian doctrine of the preservation of the saints yields the following result. We can be just as confident that God will eventually win over all sinners and do so without causally determining their choices , as we can be that a fair coin will land heads up at least once in a trillion tosses.

But either the hardened character of those in hell removes forever the psychological possibility of their choosing to repent, or it does not. Beyond that, the most critical issue at this point concerns the relationship between free choice, on the one hand, and character formation, on the other.

Our moral experience does seem to provide evidence that a pattern of bad choices can sometimes produce bad habits and a bad moral character, but it also seems to provide evidence that a pattern of bad choices can sometimes bring one closer to a dramatic conversion of some kind. So why not suppose that a pattern of bad choices might be even more useful to God than a pattern of good choices would be in teaching the hard lessons we sometimes need to learn and in thus rendering a dramatic conversion increasingly more probable over the long run?

The Universalist Rejection of Everlasting Separation Theists who accept the traditional idea of everlasting punishment, or even the idea of an everlasting separation from God, must either reject the idea that God wills or desires to save all humans and thus desires to reconcile them all to himself see proposition 1 in section 1 above or reject the idea that God will successfully accomplish his will and satisfy his own desire in this matter proposition 2. But a theist who accepts proposition 1 , as the Arminians do, and also accepts proposition 2 , as the Augustinians do, can then reason deductively that almighty God will triumph in the end and successfully reconcile to himself each and every human being.

From the perspective of an interpretation of the Christian Bible, moreover, Christian universalists need only accept the exegetical arguments of the Arminian theologians in support of 1 and the exegetical arguments of the Augustinian theologians in support of 2 ; that alone would enable them to build an exegetical case for a universalist interpretation of the Bible as a whole. If a mother should love her child even as she loves herself, for example, then any evil that befalls the child is likewise an evil that befalls the mother and any good that befalls the child is likewise a good that befalls the mother; hence, it is simply not possible, according to this argument, for God to will the best for the mother unless he also wills the best for the child as well.

That argument seems especially forceful in the context of Augustinian theology, which implies that, for all any set of potential parents know, any child they might produce could be one of the reprobate whom God has hated from the beginning and has destined from the beginning for eternal torment in hell.

In any event, Arminians and universalists both regard an acceptance of proposition 1 as essential to a proper understanding of divine grace. They therefore reject the doctrine of limited election on the ground that it undermines the concept of grace altogether. Or, to put the question in a slightly different way, which position, if either, requires that God interfere with human freedom or human autonomy in morally inappropriate ways?

As the following section should illustrate, the answer to this question may be far more complicated than some might at first imagine. But in fact, no universalist—not even a theological determinist—holds that God sometimes coerces people into heaven against their will.

For although many Christian universalists believe that God provided Saul of Tarsus, for example, with certain revelatory experiences that changed his mind in the end and therefore changed his will as well, this is a far cry from claiming that he was coerced against his will. If God has middle knowledge, moreover, then that already establishes the possibility that God can bring about a universal reconciliation without in any way interfering with human freedom. Is that true? Not according to one of the more surprising arguments for universalism, which has the following conclusion: only by interfering with human freedom in morally inappropriate ways could God protect us from those metaphysical realities that will inevitably teach us, provided we are rational enough to qualify as free moral agents, the true meaning of separation from God.

But to understand this argument, one must first come to appreciate two very different ways in which God might interfere with human freedom. Suppose that a man is standing atop the Empire State Building with the intent of committing suicide by jumping off and plunging to his death below.

So one is not free to accomplish some action or to achieve some end, unless God permits one to experience the chosen end, however confusedly one may have chosen it; and neither is one free to separate oneself from God, or from the ultimate source of human happiness as Christians understand it, unless God permits one to experience the very life one has chosen and the full measure of misery that it entails. Given the almost universal Christian assumption that separation from God in the outer darkness, for example would be an objective horror, it looks as if even God himself would face a dilemma with respect to human freedom: Either he could permit sinners to follow their chosen path, or he could prevent them from following it and from opting for what he knows but they may not yet know is an objective horror.

If he should perpetually prevent them from following their chosen path, then they would have no real freedom to do so; and if he should permit them to follow it—to continue opting for what he knows will be an objective horror—then their own experience, provided they are rational enough to qualify as free moral agents, would eventually shatter their illusions and remove their libertarian freedom in this matter.

So in neither case would sinners be able to retain forever their libertarian freedom to continue separating themselves from the ultimate source of human happiness.

For an expanded statement of this argument, see Talbott b, —, and Talbott , — If this argument should be sound, it would seem to follow that, no matter how tenaciously some sinners might pursue a life apart from God and resist his loving purpose for their lives, God would have, as a sort of last resort, a sure-fire way to shatter the illusions that make their rebellion possible in the first place.

To do so, he need only honor their own free choices and permit them to experience the very life they have confusedly chosen for themselves. If, as a last resort, God should allow a sinner to live for a while without even an implicit experience of the divine nature,[ 11 ] the resulting horror, they believe, will at last shatter any illusion that some good is achievable apart from him; and such a discovery will in the end elicit a cry for help of a kind that, however faint, is just what God needs in order to begin and eventually to complete the process of reconciliation.

Because the Arminians and the universalists agree that God could never love an elect mother even as he, at the same time, rejects her beloved baby, they both agree that the first alternative is utterly impossible. But because the issues surrounding the idea of free will are so complex and remain the source of so much philosophical controversy, perhaps they can also agree that a free—will theodicy of hell is the best philosophical account currently available for a doctrine of everlasting separation from God.

Heaven: Two Critical Issues Rarely are theists very specific about what heaven will supposedly be like, and there are no doubt good reasons for that. For most theists, even those who believe in revelation, would deny that we have much information on this matter. But two issues have typically arisen in the relevant philosophical literature: first, whether the misery of loved ones in hell would undermine the blessedness of those in heaven, and second, whether immortality of any kind would ultimately lead to tedium, boredom, and an insipid life.

When a reporter asked the mother of Ted Bundy, a serial murderer of young women, whether she could still support a son who had become a monster, her answer provided a poignant illustration of the problem.

I love him. It's a bit of a slog through the first half. She spent a lot of time talking about her family, her job, and her experiences as a Christian. It wasn't until she finally talked about her near death in South America, that things got interesting.

There isn't a lot of memory for her concerning her visitation to heaven Neal talks about her continuing talks with either an angel or God about why things happened, and what she should do. She apparently was comforted when her own son passed away after her own accident. This book really doesn't spend a lot of time with information about heaven, if that's what you are looking for.

But if you want a book that adds to your own understanding about our relationship with God, this book is a good read. She writes well, and the last half of the book made it worth it for me. One takeaway from this book, is our Heavenly Father is very aware of us as individuals, and that He cares about us.

I think right now with everything that is happening in the world people need to understand this It always strengthens my faith to read of people's experiences of heaven and then coming back and telling what they've seen and heard.

Mary seems to be a very humble person as she tells us of visiting with angels and Jesus. I was also very touched as she tells about the loss of her son, Willie.

I have also lost a child. The emotions she shared as they were healing their grief were so real to me.

I look forward so much to seeing my son, Ian when it is my time to go to Heaven to be with our Lord. Paperback Verified download. I just finished To Heaven and Back by Dr. Mary Neal. I have read several books on NDEs and found Dr. Because Heaven is accessible to everyone, regardless of faith or belief.

God has many faces and many names. And before the thought enters your mind, I am not in any way a follower of New Age philosophy. In fact, I avoid such material.

I shook my head at many of the critical reviews; people professing to be Christians, basically calling Dr. Neal deceptive, a liar and a shameful exploiter.

I admit, I am very curious how you came to such conclusions; beside the fact you did not like her story. Do you know Dr.

Neal personally? I find it quite interesting that many negative commentators mention the Bible and scripture. Sadly, I have to wonder if they have forgotten John 8: Regarding the complaints of her brief description of her NDE, Dr.

Neal offers an explanation that is a common thread of many NDE accounts; the words available to us do not adequately describe the experience.

The colors, the music, the light, the emotions, everything of that rapturous tableau, earthly words can NOT describe.

To Heaven and Back

You may want to visit Dr. Both Ms. Moorjani and Dr. Neal refer to the tapestry; each author describes it in a similar fashion. Before reading additional NDE accounts; many which are not Christian based, I advise my fellow Christians to drop your stone or remove the log lodged in your eye. Peace be with you. Stories of near death experience really intrigue me; they also give me hope. I received both within just a few days, which was nice. As I read through this first book her story was very compelling but not what I had imagined.

And, since she seemed to have a very religious frame of mind from a young age; the stories of her connections she wrote about with the afterlife came across as unsurprising.

And, although the book is well written making for an easy read, her writing, in general, had a tone of born-again Christian preachy.

Yet, I found her inner strength to her personal tragedies remarkable. I agree with her in an afterlife but I am not a church going person. She believes that God has a hand in our daily lives. I look upon God as an omnipotent being. To think that God, with powers of eternity, would allow the ugliness so prevalent in this world he created and not in seven days mind you!

Even so, I pushed onward as I had invested in the book and found it captivating, never-the-less. When I got near the end of the book I came to a paragraph on page that baffled me. It reads: Perhaps it is.

What I find more remarkable, however, is how readily many people in our society believe outlandish and unsubstantiated urban myths and conspiracies Pop Rocks and Coke, JKF sic assassination, AIDS is man-made, etc.

Or, opening and reading her follow-up book. Apparently, Ms. Neal has spent too much time in the thin air of Wyoming with her face in medical books or the Bible. This book was beautiful, positive, uplifting, and inspiring.

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Absolutely love this book. It really changes the way I think about my own life and its perspective. The first intern was right. It was a ruptured appendix 11 days ago. She has a serious bowel blockage and all her organs have started to disintegrate. He told them she had a slim chance of survival.

Shortly after his dismal news, Betty lapsed into a coma that lasted 44 days. She was also very aware of the people who visited her in the room and what they said. She had little interaction, however, with other churches and admitted to harboring some prejudice toward them. She stopped breathing twice and doctors revived her. Then she contracted pneumonia and her lungs began to fill with fluid. Doctors informed her family that she was not expected to live, and a steady stream of family and friends came in to say their goodbyes.

It was the first glimmer of hope that she might be healed. Not long after Art left the room, Betty breathed her last lungful of air. Doctors declared her dead and her body was covered by a sheet as her family grieved. But during the next 28 minutes Betty experienced something far removed from grief.

The sensation in her body at the point of death she compared to a thrill ride atDisneyland, when a rollercoaster crests over a peak. He was playing in a meadow with animals and children and he had both his legs. He had been guarding and protecting me. She heard marvelous music and began to sing along. As Betty approached a large gate, an angel stepped forward and touched it. The gate swung open and she beheld a dazzling golden light.But other sources include such non-moral evils as natural disasters, sickness, and especially physical death itself.

I died and went to heaven. Nurses were horrified by the mistake, and insisted they pump her stomach before her surgery, scheduled that day. One wonders if, by the same token, the present earth is set on pillars. Or, if you prefer, drop the probability to.

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The pews were wellworn and made of a rich and deeply-colored wood. My love remained unchanged and everlasting. Thus, revelation received through him—unlike revelations received through modern revelators—may be deemed reliable and binding on the body of Christ.