Interview with Ian McCormack about his exclusively Christian interpretation of near-death experiences.
Join Skeptiko host Alex Tsakiris for an interview with Ian McCormack about his book, A Glimpse of Eternity. During the interview McCormack explains his Christian interpretation of the near-death experience spirt encounters:
Alex Tsakiris:…I will tell you a guy that I really respect and I like came on this show. It was a guy named Dr. Jeff Long and a few years ago he published a book [after] collecting over 1,000, near-death experience accounts. He is a physician so he really knows what he is talking about. But he created this amazing website called NDERF.org – I don’t know if you have ever heard of it. But you can go on there and there are hundreds and hundreds of published near-death experience accounts – traumatic, extraordinary. I have to say they are as extraordinary as yours, some of them, and some of them more.
Here is something I like to do whenever I have questions. I find going to that website and reading these accounts extremely uplifting, spiritually, for me. But I also find it an interesting tool. You can go there – I did it right before an interview, Ian. I went in there and searched for some biblical connections to the near-death experience. I will read a couple – Tanya, she has a near-death experience. She encounters a spirit being and she asks all these questions. Here is what she writes, “I asked about the Bible, Jesus, and she even asked about gay and lesbian as well… and received every answer. I asked what religion is the correct one? They told me I didn’t have to choose.”…
Ian McCormack:And you can have reference to that in scriptures, saying even if a being of light were to come to you and speak anything but Christ crucified. Lucifer himself can come as a being of light.
Alex Tsakiris: Do you really want to go there? Do you really want to say someone else who died, like you did, clinically, had this spiritually transformative experience that changed their life, just like yours did – do you really want to bring Lucifer and Satan into it and say – oh, but those people are being deceived, and I’m not.
Ian McCormack: No, no, I didn’t say that, you just put words into my mouth. I just said that there are experiences where we have spiritual beings that we’re speaking to. It’s not Lucifer – the chances of speaking to Lucifer are about zero, but there are deceiving spirits or lying spirits. Some people have had psychotic experiences too. But most of the people I meet, and I meet over 20,000 of them because I do this every day and I don’t just research it – I actually meet people face-to-face. And there are huge numbers of them who have had genuine experiences with the love of God. They just haven’t been able to reference who that being of light is. And you find that the scripture of the Bible is so clear and so accurate in the understanding that God is love, and forgiving, and compassionate.
Alex Tsakiris: Today we welcome Ian McCormack to Skeptiko. Ian was diving off of the Mauritius Islands in the Indian Ocean when he was stung by box jellyfish and later pronounced clinically dead – only to return with an amazing account of his near-death experience and his encounter with God and Jesus. Ian has written a book about his experience titled A Glimpse of Eternity. He also has a very interesting movie out based on his experience. You can find all that at AGlimpseofEternity.org or on YouTube, where I found some really well-done and interesting videos with Ian in them. So Ian, welcome to Skeptiko. Thanks so much for joining me.
Ian McCormack: It’s a joy, mate.
Alex Tsakiris: Well, I appreciate you coming on because frankly, I really thought I would scare you off with some of those questions that I asked in my email. So I am glad you are here. You had this very amazing near-death experience and I guess that’s probably where we should start. Tell people maybe the shortened, abbreviated version of it.
Ian McCormack: I like that. Well, I was traveling around the world. I was born in New Zealand and raised there. In 1980 to 1982 I decided to do an Endless Summer surfing safari around the world. So I traveled around the world from Australia to Indonesia, and Africa. I ended up on a beautiful island called Mauritius where I was night diving for lobster in 1982 and got stung by five box jellyfish. The toxin of them is enough – well they say it is 100 times more deadly than a cobra, so to be hit in the throat I could be dead in three or four minutes. Fortunately I was hit on the arm, on the extremity. And the fisherman told me to urinate on my arm and that I needed to get to the hospital immediately.
And by the time they got me into an ambulance when I was already paralyzed and had gone through death rattles. As they raced me to the hospital my life flashed before me and I was a complete atheist, so I thought, ‘Oh my God, this happens before you die.’ And I was wondering what would happen. Is there life after death? Or is there just nothing?
And as I was lying there I saw a clear vision of my mom appear in front of me and she was praying for me. It seemed as though God had spoken to her. She is the only Christian in the family. And she said, ‘Our son Ian is nearly dead.’ And my mom began praying. And I saw her in the ambulance and I was absolutely shaken. And she said, ‘Ian, no matter how far from God you are, son, and no matter what you have done wrong in your life, if you call out to God from your heart he will hear you and he will forgive you.’ And I was thinking, ‘Well, is there a God? And if there is one, which one?’ I had traveled through the East and seen so many different people’s beliefs and religions. And I wasn’t convinced on any of them. And I thought, ‘God, if you’re real, show me your face and I will pray.’ And no face appeared except my mom. And I thought, ‘Well, my mother is a Christian and she prayed to Jesus. Could my mother be right? And if she is right, what on earth would you pray as a Christian just before you die?’
And my mom kept saying, ‘Ian, pray from your heart.’ And the only prayer I remembered my mom teaching me was the Lord’s Prayer, the ‘Our Father’ prayer. So I lay there and I couldn’t remember it so my mom said, ‘From your heart.’ And I said, ‘God, if you’re out there – I feel like a hypocrite, but please help me to pray.’ And words appeared in front of my – forgive us our sins. And I said, ‘God, how on earth can you forgive me of all my sins?’ But as I lay there I said, ‘I can’t list them all but if you can hear me, please forgive me.’ And the words of the prayer, the finished words for the Lord’s Prayer, came up – forgive those who trespass and sin against you. And I thought, ‘Well, I can do that.’ I am not a revengeful man by nature, I am not vindictive.
And as I said that, two men’s faces appeared directly in front of me and these men – I certainly couldn’t forgive and I heard God speak to me. He said, ‘Ian, we forgive them for what they have done to you.’ And I thought, ‘You must be joking.’ I don’t know if you have got anyone on your hit list, but I tell you what – it is pretty serious. And I lay there and I said, ‘Well, God, I will forgive them if you can forgive me. It will be an absolute miracle if you can forgive me. So if you will do that I will never touch them and I will never harm them. I forgive them.’
And incredibly, their faces disappeared. Then as their faces disappeared I saw more words come up from the Lord’s Prayer – thy will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven. I said, ‘That must truly mean the Lordship of Christ.’ And I thought, ‘I have never surrendered my life to Jesus. I have been completely denying the existence of a God. And I said, ‘God, I admit I am wrong. I surrender my life to you.’ And as I did, the entire Lord’s Prayer came before me, [inaudible – 00:04:56] into my heart. And I became a Christian right there in the ambulance just before I died.
Alex Tsakiris: Wow, so it’s an amazing experience there. And it gets even more amazing when you get to the hospital eventually. It’s an incredibly complicated – unbelievably complicated story of how you get to the hospital. But then you are eventually pronounced dead and you are clinically dead. They are going to wheel you out. And you’re in that state for 15 minutes and then as part of your near-death experience, like what many people report and you report, you are told to go back and re-enter – or you are allowed, or however you want to put it. But you re-enter your body and then you are healed as well. So not only are you returned and come back alive, but you are healed almost instantly – which is quite incredible as well, right?
Ian McCormack: Yeah, well the entire journey was radical. I mean, the bizarre thing is the doctors throw this into the ‘too hard to understand’ basket and they call it near-death, but that is very bad science. When the person is brain dead, then clinically dead, and then in a morgue. So near-death assumes the person is still alive. As the person has died, then if you experience something outside of that it is called life after death.
Alex Tsakiris: Yeah, and that is interesting that you bring up science. It is also interesting that you bring up the Christian transformation you went through because that is really where I wanted to hone in on. I guess it is my personal question because when I first started investigating the near-death experience I didn’t have an experience to go off of. I just found – I purely approached it from an intellectual standpoint, from a standpoint of could this be true? Could this be really real? And that led me to looking at it scientifically, if you will. And I feel very grateful that there have been many scientists and researchers who have approached it from a very clinical, scientific way. But what they come back and tell us is challenging in a couple of ways. One, to me the first question I wanted to answer Ian was is this real? And I think most people out there who are listening to either your account or any of the many, many near-death experience accounts that have become so public now, that is the first question, right? Is this guy real? IS this guy faking it?
And fortunately for you, I think enough people have gone before you and enough science has gone before you that we don’t have to dwell on that question or too long. The amount of peer-reviewed, solid research that has come out that just mounts up and tells us that unquestionably something is going on here that completely defies our medical, scientific understanding of who we thought we were.
Ian McCormack: Oh, that’s right Alex. I do meetings and I have done for 30-odd years, and each meeting is at least two or three people who have had identical experiences to me. So I might have met over 20,000 people who have actually had this in the last 30 years and talked to them one-on-one.
Alex Tsakiris: And I have talked to so many of them as well. I have talked to them on this show, both experiencers and researchers. And some of them, there is not always an overlap, but most of the researchers into near-death experience – and I really appreciate this – but most of them started out with no experience in the subject. They just appreciated that it is a genuine mystery like in your case when somebody gets up off the table after being dead for 15 minutes and says, ‘Hey, I saw you over my chest trying to resuscitate me.’ And the guy goes, ‘How can that be? You’re not supposed to be able to know what is going on.’
But the second part of that, the Christian transformation thing, is harder for me to take. Because again, I return to the scientific literature and when you ask these NDE researchers about the meaning part and they say, ‘What does this mean?’ Well, they have done a lot of work on that as well and so many of these people have now come back to share their accounts of what happened. And when you go to talk to those people you get a variety of different accounts. You get some similarities but you don’t get this singularly Christian kind of experience that you came back with. I am sure you are familiar with that fact. What do you make of that?
Ian McCormack: Well I know that 90% of the people that I meet have had very similar experiences, either darkness or light or a mixture of the two. And so it’s not that they haven’t experienced it, it is perhaps the interpretation of it or the revelation of it. And I have met people from all different backgrounds who have no belief in God – from Hindus to Buddhists to Taoists – who have had this experience. And they are going, ‘How do you unpackage that?’ And when you look in the Bible Jesus said, ‘I am the light of the world.’ And I am surrounded by a light that is so bright that it covers the heavens and the Earth and the universe. And that light has incredible love. It is the fruit of the Holy Spirit and peace and joy.
And many of these people have experienced the light but very few of them have actually stepped into it. And I said, ‘Well why is that? Why are you revealing yourself to even people who have no belief in God or no reference to that?’ And he said, ‘Because I love people. I love every single person that comes to know me.’ And I said, ‘How can I step in and see you face-to-face?’ And he said, ‘Ian, Jewish people talked about the Holy of Holies, that you can only come into through the blood and through sacrifice.’ And he said, ‘I will pay their sacrifice. And when you prayed in the ambulance, the Lord’s Prayer, you actually gave your life to me. They say that through the blood we can enter into the Holy of Holies.’
And he said, ‘When you stepped in saw me glorified in that radiant form, what did you experience?’ And I said, ‘I felt incredibly purity and holiness emenate from you.’ He said, ‘When you looked into my face, what did you see?’ I said, ‘I saw the light of the universe come out of your face. It was like looking into eternity within eternity.’ And he said, ‘What color was my hair?’ And I said, ‘It was white.’ And he said, ‘Well, in the Book of Revelations, John the Apostle saw that over 2,000 years ago. He head and his hair were white, like snow, his face shining like the sun at full strength.’ And I said, ‘And you stepped aside and you showed me what appeared to be a totally new world.’ And he said, ‘That’s right, Ian. I have created a new Heaven and a new Earth, the river of life and flowers and trees.’ And I said, ‘That’s extraordinary.’
The reference to all that I had seen, and I had never read a Bible before, absolutely showed identically what I had experienced and what a number of people have experienced too throughout history.
Alex Tsakiris: Right, and I can’t do anything other than to hear your testimony, hear your experience. For real. I am not here to judge or anything like that, I am here to really try and understand and understand what that means for me. I can understand how you had a Christian experience, how that was meant to be your spiritual transformation and your path.
Ian McCormack: I could have related to that, Alex, and justified it as literally too and try to box themselves in with if I had been born in Nepal I would see Krishna or if I had been born in Egypt and saw Mohammed. I could have related to all of those intellectual thoughts too. But what struck me, because I was an atheist and a very free thinker and also an intellectual. And when Jesus spoke to me and said, ‘Ian, God is light and in him there is no darkness,’ that didn’t come out of the Koran or the [inaudible – 00:12:55], that came straight from the Bible. And when he stood aside and said, ‘There is a new Heaven and new Earth and you have been saved by my precious blood, that I am the light of the world,’ that came straight out of the scriptures. I had no reference to that.
Alex Tsakiris: Again, Ian, you are kind of defending something that I am not attacking you on. I am not attacking that any of that happened or you didn’t interpret it that way. I will tell you a guy that I really respect and I like came on this show. It was a guy named Dr. Jeff Long and a few years ago he published a book about his collected, over 1,000, near-death experience accounts. He is a physician so he really knows what he is talking about. But he created this amazing website called NDERF.org – I don’t know if you have ever heard of it. But you can go on there and there are hundreds and hundreds of published near-death experience accounts – traumatic, extraordinary. I have to say they are as extraordinary as yours, some of them, and some of them more.
Here is something I like to do whenever I have questions. I find going to that website and reading these accounts extremely uplifting, spiritually, for me. But I also find it an interesting tool. You can go there – I did it right before an interview, Ian. I went in there and searched for some biblical connections to the near-death experience. I will read a couple – Tanya, she has a near-death experience. She encounters a spirit being and she asks all these questions.
Here is what she writes – she asked about the Bible, Jesus, and she even asked about gay and lesbian as well. She all sorts of questions and received every answer. ‘I asked what religion is the correct one? They told me I didn’t have to choose.’ Here is a better one I want to read – I want to read you two more of these.
Ian McCormack: And you can have reference to that in scriptures, saying even if a being of light were to come to you and speak anything but Christ crucified. Lucifer himself can come as a being of light.
Alex Tsakiris: Do you really want to go there? Do you really want to say someone else who died, like you did, clinically, had this spiritually transformative experience that changes their life, just like yours did – do you really want to bring Lucifer and Satan into it and say – oh, but those people are being deceived, and I’m not.
Ian McCormack: No, no, I didn’t say that, you just put words into my mouth. I just said that there are experiences where we have spiritual beings that I am speaking to that is not Lucifer – you can’t even speak to Lucifer about zero, but there are deceiving spirits or lying spirits. Some people have had psychotic experiences too. But most of the people I meet, and I meet over 20,000 of them because I do this every day and I don’t just research it – I actually meet people face-to-face. And there are huge numbers of them who have had genuine experiences with the love of God. They just haven’t been able to reference who that being of light is. And you find that the scripture of the Bible is so clear and so accurate in the understanding that God is love, and forgiving, and compassionate.
Alex Tsakiris: That’s what I would say for the majority of people who have a near-death experience – that is one thing that they consistently say. They say it is not about religion, they say it is about love. It is about loving each other and –
Ian McCormack: No, it is not about religion. Religion can put people off but Jesus as a person is not a religion, he is an actual living being.
Alex Tsakiris: Let me do this. Let me share a couple more of these. Here is someone – her name is Karen. She has published on the NDERF.org an extensive survey, 150 questions, reviewed by a medical doctor. Karen says, ‘She took me and placed me in a crystal-like bed and told me to rest because there were beings who wanted to honor and welcome me. I saw beings cued up to greet me. I spied Jesus among them and immediately felt as though something was wrong. I asked the being who brought me how it was the Jesus wants to honor me. I told her that I was afraid that putting myself at the same level as Jesus would damn me to Hell. She laughed and told me there is no Hell. We are all equal in spirit form.’
Let me read you one more –
Ian McCormack: Yeah, but you can read any of them, people that are involved in new age [inaudible – 00:17:07]. And how many people will interpret that through new-age lenses themselves? So it is all one big happy family, that you can get there without Christ. But Jesus said, ‘I am the only way, I am the light of the world. I am not just man, I am the son of God.’
Alex Tsakiris: But Jesus didn’t say that to Karen when she had a near-death experience.
Ian McCormack: But he has done to 20,000-odd people I have met.
Alex Tsakiris: So how are we supposed to sort this out?
Ian McCormack: If you went through the maze of opinions and the maze of experiences, you will get whichever one you would like to choose or you can actually look at the bulk of them. Then the bulk of them would present Christ glorified.
Alex Tsakiris: The bulk of them do not show Jesus as the central figure of their near-death experience.
Ian McCormack: Well, but it depends which ones you are searching because most of them are in church and there are huge numbers of them that are frightened to talk about it in case they get lodged into the new-age camp that always lead to God.
Alex Tsakiris: So you are maintaining that most near-death experiences are Christian?
Ian McCormack: Have pointed them to Christ, yes. Perhaps your research that you are publishing in books or [inaudible – 00:18:17] getting online, but I have met thousands of people who [inaudible – 00:18:22] because many of them are frightened because of the new-age camp that they will be relegated into when they have met Christ himself and had an incredible encounter of this love.
Alex Tsakiris: And I appreciate that is your opinion, but if we were going to –
Ian McCormack: And I know that is just my opinion, it is your opinion too.
Alex Tsakiris: And that is my point, I guess. If we are going to sort through opinions that is where it is kind of nice to have science. It is kind of nice to have people who do peer review and who try to apply the best methods possible to sort out this data and sort out what people are underreporting and what people are over-reporting, and do all that. And I am telling you that in my experience, Jeff Long, a physician and a guy who is trained in this kind of research, has done the best kind of research of that type and his reading of the data disagrees with yours. So I guess I put that out there.
Ian McCormack: That is fine, but the truth will be found when you actually die of who was right. And that is a scary thought, isn’t it? If you are wrong it can actually have an eternal impact.
Alex Tsakiris: Well I think that is kind of the fear monger – the Christian fear mongering that turns people off all along.
Ian McCormack: No, no, no – that’s not a fear, it’s reality. It is not fear if it is reality. Perfect love [inaudible – 00:19:36] fear, so I [inaudible – 00:19:38].
Alex Tsakiris: I just – what you are instilling is this idea that there is –
Ian McCormack: Not instilling when I actually went to a place called Hell. It is not an intellectual thought, it is actually the reality. So with my experience, which I hope you are looking to listen to, is when I went to a place called Hell. And if there isn’t one, that’s fine, but there would be some pretty serious consequences if I am right, wouldn’t there?
Alex Tsakiris: Right, but isn’t there a way –
Ian McCormack: And if there isn’t, well, there is a 50/50 chance that I am wrong.
Alex Tsakiris: I think this is a tactic that Christian evangelists have used since the beginning of time to coerce people –
Ian McCormack: Yeah, but they haven’t used it, they have just spoken when God has spoken, not what we have spoken. There is a Heaven and a Hell, God spoke it, not us.
Alex Tsakiris: I just published an interview with Pastor Howard Storm – it was an experience similar to yours. He was an atheist who has this incredible near-death experience and is transformed into Christian. Are you familiar with his experience?
Ian McCormack: Yeah, I saw that, yeah.
Alex Tsakiris: I think Pastor Storm, who I just talked to, just published his interview today. I think he has a different take on this than you do. He says that all near-death experiences are idiosyncratic and that they are all different and that all religions have an element of truth to them and that he loves all religions. He just loves Christianity best. He doesn’t see the strict, biblical interpretation of it that you do. So there is a guy who is very much in line with you on a lot of respects who would, I think, take a completely different take on exactly the points that you are making. How do we resolve those?
Ian McCormack: Well Jesus said he is the way to truth and love. It is not whether I am right or wrong, it is whether Jesus is right or wrong. He said there are no other ones to the father – it is not whether I am right or wrong, it is whether Christ is right or wrong because the tunnel leads to my kingdom, if you can find it.
Alex Tsakiris: But this is your account.
Ian McCormack: And that is what I would travel down and towards those lights. He said light shines in the night and if you are being lured into the kingdom of darkness, pull [inaudible – 00:21:57] his beloved son. He said, ‘I have created a new Heaven and Earth.’ And I have seen it, so it is not what I see, it is how Christ sees it.
Alex Tsakiris: Well anyone can take any experience they have had and then substitute biblical scripture in it and say –
Ian McCormack: Well no, no, they can’t.
Alex Tsakiris: Why can’t they?
Ian McCormack: Well, you can – if you don’t know the scriptures how can you use that if you have never read it. I have never read them.
Alex Tsakiris: Well – what possible – so what you’re saying is that the extraordinary, telepathic link you had to the scriptures therefore validates the scriptures?
Ian McCormack: No, I am just telling you my experience. I met Christ and he told me to read a bible. He said I was a born-again Christian and I had never heard of the term before.
Alex Tsakiris: Ian, I am totally cool with your experience, I am just saying –
Ian McCormack: Well, so am I. It changed my life forever and I can’t wait to go back and see them face-to-face. I am just hoping that people themselves will meet that incredible love of their souls, the man who died for our sins and is risen from the dead and glorified. So in my heart, and I share with anyone, they will find that extraordinary love that will forgive them of all their sins and then he can come into their heart.
Alex Tsakiris: And that love only comes through Jesus Christ?
Ian McCormack: Well, they say that he is the only way. Father, Son, Holy Spirit – you need the spirit to draw us under the father through Christ.
Alex Tsakiris: So all those wonderful people that you encountered in all these other nations, in all these other traditions that come through and are beautiful people, who we look at and saw are beautiful, wonderful, spiritual people – they are somehow lesser because they don’t share your religious belief.
Ian McCormack: No, I wouldn’t say lesser. God wishes everyone to be saved, so you have a humility. It is not out of pride or arrogance that we share. I just was [inaudible – 00:23:53] Christians last night – most of their leaders have been martyred in the 1990s when the government took over from [inaudible – 00:24:03]. They left the [inaudible – 00:24:03] and slaughtered most of these guys and their children, where they were sharing last night and they got the [inaudible – 00:24:09] bible printed into modern Farsi and Iranian. And it was just so moving listening to them. It is not out of pride, it is just out of the place of there is a real evil in the world and there is a real light. And Christ said, ‘I have that light and love and my spirit will set you free.’
Alex Tsakiris: Well man, you’ve got to do what you think is right.
Ian McCormack: So these guys basically were brought up Muslims and they got converted, literally risking their lives by sharing it last night in London.
Alex Tsakiris: Right, and it makes no difference to you that people have near-death experiences and have Muslim or Islamic experiences, have experiences with Allah, or have experiences with Buddha. None of that matters to you, right?
Ian McCormack: Well, I am not saying that it doesn’t matter. I am just saying that most experience the Lord and how they have [inaudible – 00:25:00] look at this the same as what you are doing right now. You are trying as best you can to lens what you have heard and listened to.
Alex Tsakiris: I am trying to what?
Ian McCormack: You are trying to lens and interpret the experiences of people that you have talked to. So I don’t blame you – you are listening, searching, and looking.
Alex Tsakiris: Well Ian, I think you are searching too. I think you have grabbed onto something because it works for you and there are obviously a lot of reasons why you have done that and why it propels you forward. I think that we really all need to take a step back and try and use the best tools that we have to figure out what these experiences are – otherwise people get pulled into by their one experience and that one experience dominates their life and they are not able to look above and beyond in terms of what that means.
Ian McCormack: But it isn’t one experience, Alex. It is 32 years of it and the Lord has taken me back into Heaven hundreds of times. I have seen about 70% to 80% of the Book of Revelations by personal experience. So it is not a one-off experience, it is a daily experience. It is a living experience.
Alex Tsakiris: Right, and there are hundreds –
Ian McCormack: Well I am going these places. It is not just a one-off experience. If it was it basically wouldn’t have converted me.
Alex Tsakiris: But it’s your experience, Ian.
Ian McCormack: Yes, but you have asked me to share my experience. My experience is eternal life, the presence of God’s love, and –
Alex Tsakiris: I got you, buddy. I got you, buddy – I just –
Ian McCormack: – to those spirits and meeting Christ glorified. That is my experience. People will share their own experiences and they need to, they need to share it. Whether they are right or wrong, Jesus said, ‘The truth will set you free. All my word is truth. And my blood will wash his [inaudible – 00:26:40].’ And I have experienced that.
Alex Tsakiris: Right on, brother. So hey – I got you.
Ian McCormack: I have experienced death on a daily basis for 32 years. I just experience the light and love for the miracles and healings, the same things that Christ talked about. I mean, my life is radically changed.
Alex Tsakiris: I am not going to deny any of that, Ian, I just think a broader look at it can be kind of useful. There are a lot of people whose lives have been dramatically changed who are beautiful, spiritual people who come through and see it as not a Christian experience or not singularly a Christian experience.
Ian McCormack: But I am not saying they are wrong, that is fine. That is their right. They are going to have to walk it through and they will find out again whether that experience that they have interpreted is right or wrong.
Alex Tsakiris: As will you, my friend. The confidence –
Ian McCormack: Of course, I am not unaware of that, mate.
Alex Tsakiris: But it doesn’t – the humility isn’t there, Ian. The confidence is there, being so sure of yourself and your way is there, but not the humility of saying there are a lot of beautiful people out there and there are a lot of spiritual experiences that are far beyond –
Ian McCormack: [inaudible – 00:27:54] by humble people. He was the most humble person in the universe. He humbled himself to the point of death. So you relating me to be like Christ – well I am trying to, but I am not. So humility is the humility to accept a lie detection or falsehood. I don’t see that as humility. I see that as it is wrong. Humility is actually a character of who Christ was. He laid himself down and he loved us so much that he laid his life down.
Alex Tsakiris: Yeah, just a lot of what you say sounds like the same old fundamentalist bullshit that we have had to endure for hundreds of years with Christianity and I don’t know – I think you’ve got to get past that because I think that really drags –
Ian McCormack: Well you don’t have to swear just to get your point across. Look, either Christ is alive and risen or he isn’t. Either Jesus isn’t the son of God, or he is.
Alex Tsakiris: Either you’re with us or against us, that’s what your version of Christianity sounds like.
Ian McCormack: Oh no, man, I meet a lot of people and I meet heaps of people. It is amazing how whenever you preach Jesus the antagonism of the spirit that can come up in people’s hearts. They have either been hurt or wounded and I understand that by church.
Alex Tsakiris: No, mate, I just read you all these near-death experience accounts of people who also encountered Jesus and have a totally different interpretation of it. And you dismiss them out of hand.
Ian McCormack: I didn’t say that, I just said read the Bible. I am not dismissing anyone out of hand. I haven’t met them, I haven’t talked to them.
Alex Tsakiris: You did dismiss them. Just because you said, ‘Read the Bible,’ doesn’t mean you didn’t dismiss their experience.
Ian McCormack: How can I dismiss them, I am just saying the fact was that the scripture is true.
Alex Tsakiris: These people had a valid spiritual experience and encounter when they were dead, too. Yours doesn’t trump theirs.
Ian McCormack: I am not saying they didn’t. I am not saying they didn’t, mate.
Alex Tsakiris: Well you’re saying, ‘Just read the Bible,’ and they’re saying, ‘No, you don’t have to read the Bible.’ So one of you is right and one of you is wrong. And you keep saying you’re going to be against Hell, so you’re going to burn in those flames – that’s not very convincing to me.
Ian McCormack: I am not saying I am burning in flames. I went to darkness. Where did you get flames from?
Alex Tsakiris: Ian, I just read you somebody who had a near-death experience and said there is no Hell – and you say there is a Hell, right? So one of you is right and one of you is wrong. Both of you had a near-death experience, both of you had an out-of-body experience, both had an encounter with Jesus. One of you is right, one of you is wrong. Or, what I think Ian, is both of you are right because both of you are interpreting that experience, incorporating it into the rest of your life, doing the best you can. I am not saying you are not doing the best you can, but then trying to move forward with your life and figure it out. But you are so damn certain that it is your way and that anyone else who has had this encounter with Jesus – they have to be discounted if they don’t come to the same conclusions you do. I find that offensive.
Ian McCormack: Well how can you say that? You are putting words in my mouth.
Alex Tsakiris: It is what you said, Ian. It is what you said. Go back and listen to the interview. I will publish the interview and you can go back and listen to it.
Ian McCormack: Whether I am right or wrong is not the issue, it is whether God’s word is right or wrong and whether God himself is wrong and whether the scriptures are wrong. It is not whether I am right or wrong.
Alex Tsakiris: It is interpreted through an individual.
Ian McCormack: And that is what I just said. It is my experience by God leading me – he said, ‘Read the Bible.’ So I did and that is my experience.
Alex Tsakiris: But that’s your version of it, to read the Bible.
Ian McCormack: But that is my experience, so I am just sharing my experience. You rang me to get me to share my experience. I didn’t ring you. I did pursue you, you pursued me.
Alex Tsakiris: That is fair enough. I will – yes, that is true.
Ian McCormack: Okay, right – therefore if you are pursuing me, then either you are trying to convince me that I am wrong or you want to hear my experience.
Alex Tsakiris: That’s fine, Ian.
Ian McCormack: Well, it’s the truth mate. You can back off, but that is the truth. You pursued me to get my experience. But then when I shared my experience you didn’t like it.
Alex Tsakiris: Right, but Ian you agreed to be on a public –
Ian McCormack: That’s right, but you pursued me for it.
Alex Tsakiris: Are you going to interrupt me again? I mean, I can shout over you too – but you agreed to be in a public forum to discuss these issues and that is exactly what I am doing. So in terms of pursuing you, I didn’t come stalk you and knock on your house. I shared with you the questions that I was going to ask and I think –
Ian McCormack: That’s right, and I have answered them.
Alex Tsakiris: Well you can decide whether you have answered them, I can decide whether you have answered them, and our audience can decide whether you have answered them, Ian. It is not just so cut and dry the way you – it is just Ian’s way or it’s the highway. That’s the way it comes through again and again.
Ian McCormack: It is not my way. Just again, you keep saying that. I have experienced the Lord. He led me to read a Bible. I met him when I died.
Alex Tsakiris: All right – I think all that is good. Ian, I encourage people to check you out, check out your website, AGlimpseofEternity.org, and your book at the same name. These are hard conversations to have but I think it is really – I commend you for agreeing to come on and answer these kinds of tough questions.
Ian McCormack: Thank you for asking me, Alex, I just hope it is of some use to people listening.
Alex Tsakiris: I do too, whatever they come away with. So with that enjoy the rest of your evening and thanks again.
Ian McCormack: Well, God bless you mate. Bye.
Alex Tsakiris: Bye. I rarely cut off interviews, if you have listened to this show. There are over 250 episodes and I have cut off maybe one that I can remember, but I am going to cut this one off here because there isn’t much to debate about with someone who claims to be speaking the words of Jesus, the ultimate authority on everything.
But I have to say at another level that this show gets to one of the points that I think is central to what we have been investigating on Skeptiko. I brought it up on the last episode in my interview with Howard Storm, but I will bring it up again here with a slightly different twist. What are we to make of the reality of the strangeness of the near-death experience? See, I don’t question whether Ian did have an encounter with Jesus, with Christ consciousness. I just don’t know what the heck that means. And at the same time I am really pretty darn sure that his strict, biblical interpretation of that account is, in some way, wrong if we can say it. And the reason I say that is because I have spent a lot of time on Christian apologetics and I think if you go back and try and trudge through that history, like we have a little bit on this show, at the very least you come to the point that the “Bible” is far from infallible and is filled with so many contradictions, mistranslations, reinterpretations, that it would be impossible for anyone to say that this is the word of this historical being called Jesus.