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Title: Theology and the near-death experience : an analysis and constructive approach
Author: Steyaert, Thomas Henry
ISNI:       0000 0004 2709 916X
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 1997
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There can be no doubt that the Near-Death Experience (NDE) has become a highly influential factor shaping the contemporary Western spiritual perspective. However, it has yet to receive the serious theological attention such a phenomenon calls for. The aim of this thesis is to investigate the nature of this situation, based on a rigorous examination of the NDE research as well as a critical analysis of the interpretative context(s) which ground the existing theological treatments of the NDE. The work begins with a presentation of the predominant theological presupposition that the significance of the NDE, or lack there of, is to be located within eschatological, or pareschatological, boundaries exclusively. The philosophical prolegomena related to this presupposition are then established in anticipation of their use as criteria with which to investigate the actual NDE research data. Hence, the most extensive, reliable phenomenological research done to date is used to produced a detailed NDE typology based on both qualitative and quantitative NDE data. The NDE typology is then analyzed in reference to the philosophical criteria previously established. In the next stage of the work, again, the most relevant research-based information relating to the NDE's "context" is gather in order to gain a firm understanding of the NDE's after-effects as well as the etiologically significant points which the researchers' themselves and the "skeptics", or reductionists, have proposed. With the completion of this task it is asserted that not only is the predominant theological interpretative contextualisation of the NDE unjustified, but that, in the course of the investigation, one which is ontological has proven itself to be extremely convincing. Using a phenomenological method to re-interpret the NDE as an ontologically significant phenomena, the NDE reveals itself to be an "Imperative of Vitality" (IV), a phenomenon have to do, profoundly, with life and not death. Finally, the theological significance of the NDE as an IV is fruitfully explored within two different Christian Reformed contexts, manifesting striking ontological correlations and leading to highly informative, though, ultimately, negative theological conclusions. The work ends by calling for further explorations of the ontologically remarkable NDE within other spiritual/religious contexts.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available