Thursday, November 13, 2008

23 Minutes in Hell...or 120 Minutes in Hell Reading It! is the promised review of Bill Wiese's book, 23 Minutes in Hell- several bloggers were asking for a review and I've finished the book and watched one of Mr. Wiese's presentations as well. In the review below I will put page numbers that correspond to where I found the info in his book.

For those of you who aren't familiar with the book. Mr. Wiese's claim is that the Lord sent him to hell for 23 minutes with the following purposes:

  • "The reason I was shown this place was to bring back a message of warning" (p. xiv)

  • The Lord Jesus supposedly told him he was sent there, "Because many people do not believe that hell truly exists." (p. 33)

  • Lastly he says, "I believe the only reason God took me to hell was to draw attention to His Word on this subject...He is imploring people to listen to His Word." (p. 98)

So here is a summary for why this book is on the shelves, "God is imploring us to listen to His Word and is warning us about hell since many don't believe in its existence." The author claims that he's added nothing to Scripture and that everything he experienced is backed up 100% by the Word of God.

OK. So here's my first issue. If this adds nothing to God's Word, why do we need this revelation to convince us about the reality of hell? Is God's Word not enough to do that? I believe it is...but I'll get to my real refutation toward the end regarding that matter.

First let me say that there are many things in the book that are true...the author rightly says that many today don't believe in God and eternal judgment. For example, "Our culture has become desensitized and conditioned to accept various forms of demonic creatures, caricatures of Satan, and glimpses of hell as simply 'entertainment.'" (p. ix). Very, very true, I couldn't agree more. In addition, I watched one of the author's video presentations on the Web (you can listen and watch at the following link, The author seems sincere and he seems to believe what he's saying.

Here is my purpose for writing. I am also warning people about something...and it's the dangers of this book and what the author is doing. I am not questioning his sincerity and I am not belittling the dangers of eternal punishment at all. I believe in a literal hell and the lake of fire, I believe that God will pour out His wrath on all unbelievers, the devil and his angels...I believe eternal punishment is forever (duh!) and that it is literal flaming torment. Here's what I don't believe; I DON'T BELIEVE MR. WIESE'S "VISION" WAS FROM THE LORD!

Now I know that I'm goint to be attacked as not being open, limiting God, etc etc, yada, yada. Hear me out. The author rightly makes the following claim that I wholeheartedly agree to: "It is not my experience that is important for you to believe, but what the Word of God has to say about the matter." Yes, but when I'm through I wonder if this statement will still hold true for the author? What if it can be shown Scripturally that the entire premise the book is written upon is a flawed and unscriptural foundation? Would the author admit that he received a vision from someone other than the Lord? Is it possible that this revelation is Satanic? Consider the following:

  • Matthew 24:24- "For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect."
  • Ephesians 4:14- "That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;"
  • 2 Corinthians 11:13-14- "For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. 14 And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light."
My point is simple, just because we see or hear of a vision doesn't mean it's from the Lord...just because someone says "I'm Jesus" doesn't mean it's true...even if they appear as an angel of light. Aren't we supposed to try (test) the spirits to see if they're of God?

  • 1 John 4:1- "Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world."
Those who read the book or watch the presentation may say, "But he reads very many passages of Scripture! How can it be wrong?!" This brings me to my first point of contention:

#1- Death by Cross-Reference: To put it mildly, the book and presentations drown you with quoted Scripture verses...given in rapid machine-gun succession. To the casual (or lazy) it may be convincing. This abundance of Bible verses seems to give it credibility. My beef is that many of the supposed support verses are out of context and that there is very little actual contextual exegesis (explanations in context) to support the assertions. Since this is not my main focus for this article I'll only quote a few examples:

Example 1: (p. 95) "Now the Lord gave visions to these great men [he's speaking of the prophets and Apostles], and, although my experience is not in any way to be compared to them, the Bible says that 'God shows no partiality' (Acts 10:34)" Now let me ask you a Acts 10:34 dealing with God's impartiality in choosing prophets? NO! It's about Peter's revelation that God is not partial to just the Jews...but also to the Gentiles with respect to His redemptive plan. This is horrible eisegesis (reading your meaning into the text).

Example 2: How about Job 31:3 &12 which he uses to support the idea of eternal destruction? Verse 3 says, "Is it not destruction for the wicked, and disaster for the workers of iniquity?" ; Verse 12 says "For that would be a fire that consumes to destruction" This passage is not talking about eternal flaming torment, it's talking about the destructive dangers of adultery, etc.

Many other verses are suspect...even the author admits this several times.

#2- Demons torture people in hell: The author goes to great length depicting demons sadistically ruling over hell and torturing people. Here's the discussion on pages 130-132. First the author acknowledges that demons will be tormented in the lake of fire (Rev 20:10)...then he says "However, I believe Scripture indicates that currently in hell (Sheol or Hades), God does allow the demons to torment lost souls ...this may not be absolutely conclusive in Scripture, and some theologians may disagree; however, I believe there are enough verses to consider this torment to be more than conjecture. What Scripture says is all that matters, not what I have to say. I am simply reporting the events." (p. 130-131) BUT HE SAYS HE WAS THERE and he says that the demons were torturing him and others. Scripture doesn't teach this theme...and the supporting verses don't either!

#3- Denial of the Sufficiency of Scriptural Revelation: Flat out- the author, intentionally or not, denies the sufficiency of scriptural revelation. On page 83 he says "truth if found in the pages of the Bible. But there are many who do not want to recognize God's Word as truth because of the light it sheds on our sin." On page 34 Jesus Christ supposedly tells him "Go and tell them about this place. It is not my desire that any should go there." Well according to this book God's Word and God's Spirit are not sufficient...we need someone to come back from the dead, from hell itself, to validate the truths of Scripture. The idea is that they won't believe unless there's proof.

There are many other issues I have that time will not permit a thorough discussion- for example, his views that God's presence is not in hell (isn't God omnipresent and isn't he the focus of the outpouring of wrath and torment?...not demons!), the hugely Arminian, man-centered focus on God and man (God is basically begging people to be saved and He can't accomplish His will to save them...unless they are talked into believing Hell is real), huge charismatic overtones (I felt, I sensed, my experience, etc, etc).

If you've rejected all I've said, please pay attention to my main rebuttal of the entire book. One particular passage came to mind when I heard of the book. What's sad is that the passage I'm going to mention is never mentioned in the entire book...although verse around it are "cherry-picked" with great precision...and apparent understanding. Read this passage very clearly and do it a couple times:

Luke 16:23-31- "And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. 24 And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. 25 But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. 26 And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence. 27 Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father's house: 28 For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment. 29 Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. 30 And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. 31 And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead."

The author loves to quote verses 23-24 to support his experience...isn't it curious that he omits and never, ever references verses 26-31? I can't help from believing this is intentional and the reason is obvious; the author's whole experience is not biblical and the verses almost speak specifically against the notion!

Why would God tell him to warn us of the reality of eternal torment by sending someone back from the pit of hell to try and persuade us when the Lord Jesus in Scripture vehemently denied the notion and instead, affirmed the sufficiency of the SCRIPTURES ALONE?!

If you are a believer you have "Moses and the Prophets"- you have the Word of God to warn people of the dangers of eternal judgment if they don't repent of their sins and helplessly turn in faith to the God-ordained Redeemer, the Lord Jesus Christ. You need nothing else...the Scriptures, opened by the Holy Spirit, are the tools with which a blind and dead sinner are brought to life, not in a personal testimony of experience. If you want your loved ones, friends, coworkers to repent and believe then preach the Word of God to them!

This is not "23 minutes in hell", it's 23 minutes in heresy. This is dangerous folks! If you watch his presentation you realize how dangerous it can be. Here is the formula:

Emotion/Fear...overwhelming death by cross watching a horror film clip (shown at the churches) and then shallow, man-centered, ABC-repeat-after-me psychologically tainted and decisional regeneration-type techniques equals what? Many decisions by man and very few salvations by the Lord. Disagree all you want, but when did the Lord Jesus Christ ever do this? When a presentation's main thesis is totally unbiblical should be just say "but people are making decisions" comfort us and make us think it's OK. A presentation based on a lie is nothing but a lie. If anyone gets saved at these meetings you can be assured it's not because Bill Wiese came back to us from's because someone heard Scripture and the Lord used it despite what man attempted to do.

Think folks, be careful, we need to be accurate and truthful (BIBLICAL!) in our presentations.

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> posted by Jim Leavenworth at


Anonymous Margot Murray said...

Thank you Jim for your clear, concise evaluation of Bill Wiese's experience. I had many friends and family attending the particular church presentation linked to your article. The sad thing is that they will believe all those that went forward at the end of the service are saved (and I pray that God in His divine predestination perhaps saved some.)

It's interesting to note that the morning service at that church was about heaven and the senior pastor chose not to do a bible study on the subject but thought it was more effective to share someone's "experience" of going to heaven!

November 13, 2008 at 9:48 PM  
Anonymous Jim Leavenworth said...

As with any of these type of man-centered presentations...God can, and does, use the Scriptures to bring some to salvation...despite man's foolish games. Unfortunately this type of presentation also makes others the two-fold children of hell that cling to a "decision" in the past rather than the Christ of the present...and they often live like the devil.

Let us know if any of this helps in your discussions. I think Pastor Hammack might do a webcast on some other issues I didn't cover.

In Christ,
Bro Jim

November 13, 2008 at 9:59 PM  
Anonymous Nathan W. Bingham said...

@Jim: Thank you for your review. I trust the Lord will use it to expose the erroneous foundation Bill Wiese is working from, and drive people to the the Word of God for evangelism and not 'experience' and 'testimony'.

November 13, 2008 at 11:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As I read your review, Luke 16:31 popped into my head as the single most flat-out refutation of the claim of this book...and then you pointed that out exactly!!!

It is flabbergasting how anyone, like Mr. Weiss, can try to sell something like this (with tons of scripture) yet leave out Luke 16:31. It's equally flabbergasting how anyone can buy into something like this...unless they simply are not aware of Luke 16:31. Yet I know how easy it is to be moved by feelings and experiences...

To me, Luke 16:31 is clear as crystal. It makes no sense for God to say in scripture that someone coming back from the dead (heaven or hell) can convince the living to avoid hell, and then for God to send someone to hell in order to come back from the dead (hell in this case) to convince people to avoid hell. It's ludicrous!

This is a simple reminder then...Christians need to know their Bible! The truth! Then, when a lie comes along, you'll recognize it.

Jim, your review sounds fair and balanced and calm. You did a good job of pointing out the error of the book in a good way. You did not attack the author's character by name calling or anything like that. Well done.

I say that as an example. It's easy to get fired up against heresy. And we must deal with it. But we must always do so in a gentle loving way. I think it helps to remember that we can all equally fall prey to error, and do sometimes. So it's good to show grace and mercy towards those who are in error while trying to correct their error.

Galatians 6:1.

November 14, 2008 at 12:39 PM  
Blogger Nancy Standlee said...

I've enjoyed my visit to your blog and reading your comments about the "23 Minutes" book. I've sent the link on to other friends that are reading the book.

January 4, 2009 at 8:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I thought about Luke 16:31 as well, but isn't it possible that there are many who don't have moses and the prophets in this day and age? Wouldn't it be like the mercy of God to save some who have NOT Moses and the prophets? So many haven't ever read the bible and wouldn't begin to because there is so much innoculation against it these days.
I didn't know about the bible growing up, and decided to read it just because I heard it was the year of the bible. (83) That's when I had my eyes opened. It was real and I felt it was like a personal letter to me.
But the whole world in these last days is all about entertainment and hedonistic pursuits. I think that it might wake up some people at the last - in God's mercy. Whosoever calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved.

February 7, 2009 at 4:43 PM  
Anonymous Jim Leavenworth said...

Thanks for the comment. You said "I thought about Luke 16:31 as well, but isn't it possible that there are many who don't have moses and the prophets in this day and age? Wouldn't it be like the mercy of God to save some who have NOT Moses and the prophets?"

Not 100% sure what you mean...are you saying that God will save someone apart from the Word of God? The whole purpose of the Word of God (as seen in Luke 16 as well as a bunch of other places) is that it takes the Word of God, applied by the Spirit of God, to enlighten someone to their lost condition. It wouldn't change anyone's mind if someone returned from the dead...only the Word can open someone's eyes to their lost and depraved condition, and the holiness of God and the wonderful atonement applied to the lost sinner's account.

Just because many reject the Word or are ignorant of it today doesn't mean God will now bypass it and use an unscriptural account such as 23 Min in Hell. His whole books is based on an unscriptural idea...that someone coming back from hell can convince people to be saved.

Thanks again for your post, please post again and let me know your thoughts.

February 11, 2009 at 2:09 PM  
Anonymous Y. Landreneau said...

I found this site looking for what others had to say about this book. I want to tell you that I have been through much of what this man describes. AS A LOST, DEMON FILLED PERSON. After I listened to only the first 10 minutes of his story on CD I knew exactly what I was hearing. I believe this man has had this terrable experiance,.. but it definitly was not the Lord God who did it. That was a demonic, out of body experiance and there is no way that man knows the Lord Jesus as his Saviour yet. I am just a Born again, saved by the blood of the Lord Jesus, middle aged Keeper at Home by the love and grace of my precious Lord Jesus Christ,.. but I know what I'm talking about because I've been there,.and I know there are others that the Lord delivered out of that sort of evil as well that can attest to what I'm saying. It was awful to hear him talking of very real things that I can remember clearly but I can praise God and give Him the glory for delivering me and making me a new creature in Christ! Demonic possesion and activity were rampent throughout the Bible,. why do Christians think it's not so today,.. that poor man needs Jesus Christ and people need to be warned,..
Saved FROM Hell,
Y. Landreneau

March 3, 2009 at 3:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was scanning YouTube and ran across Bill Wiese's testimony of allegedly going to hell. The more I listened, the more I could tell something was wrong. It's hard to find refutations on the Net of Bill's alleged trip, but I'm glad I ran across your blog because many of the things I saw that were wrong with Bill's claims were confirmed in your blog. The main problem, of course, being that his experience does not line up with the Bible accurately interpreted.

Anyone can quote lots of Scripture out of context and claim that what he says is backed by the Bible. Cults like the Jehovah's Witnesses do that all day. But we don't give them large forums in our churches. So I'm glad to see that someone else can see the heretical claims of Mr. Wiese for what they are - heretical.

One of the things that immediately caught my attention was his claim that demons were tormenting people in hell. Problem. Hell was made FOR the devil and his angels (demons) according to Matt. 25:41. Therefore, they are not "rulers" in hell but subject to torment and anguish themselves. Wiese apparently made things up based on false, pop cultural notions, not the Bible. That much was obvious to me.

Thanks for standing up for the truth and exposing the deception with clarity and sound Biblical exegesis.


April 22, 2009 at 1:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Praise God for the fact that you had enough spiritual discernment to detect the problem here.

Abide in the word and walk in the Spirit so that your discernment can increase to the glory of God.

April 22, 2009 at 1:54 PM  
Anonymous Jim Leavenworth said...

Thanks for the comments, glad we could be of some help and encouragement. Unfortunately today there seems to be a serious lack of spiritual discernment amongst "Christians." If people would start studying the Scriptures, trusting in the ministry of the Holy Spirit to open their eyes and guide them, we'd not have this problem.

Good points in your note! Keep it up and feel free to post anytime. I just wish the thousands of people who flock to Mr Wiese's talks and who buy his book would trust what the Lord said about "hell" instead of trusting in either a fairy tale...or at the least some demonically-given vision.


April 22, 2009 at 4:37 PM  

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