IT WAS A NIGHTMARE: Refuting "23 Minutes in Hell" by Bill Wiese

It Was a Nightmare

Bill Wiese, a former real estate salesman, is now a fire and brimstone preacher who has made a name for himself in his church community (Calvary Chapel) in California. He is the man who claims that on the early morning of November 23, 1998, at 3.00 am, he was catapulted out of bed and transported to hell for twenty-three minutes, and came back to tell people about his experience there.

Nearly eight years later, in 2006, Wiese published details of his story in a book entitled "23 Minutes in Hell" and it soon became a New York Times Best Seller, selling a million and a half copies, mostly purchased by the 25 million strong members of the Church, who believe in the same fire and brimstone hell that he believes.

In this critique of his book, I prove that all the experiences that Wiese claims to have happened to him in the early hours of that morning are completely consistent with nightmarish hallucinations brought on by the phenomenon of sleep paralysis. The evidence is simply overwhelming, and that is why he spent so much time trying to convince people (and himself) that what happened to him was not a nightmare but real.

Sleep Paralysis

Click this link to see the Evidence for Wiese's Sleep Paralysis

Being a nightmare this explains why the story he tells is full of anomolies, ambiguities, and contradictions, because it is difficult to assemble any dream in a logical manner when seen in the real world. This has led Wiese to take some drastic steps over the years to alter several notable parts of his story, such as being capulted out of bed to hell, but now he sermonises that he was in the living room getting a glass of water when it happened.

To convince people that his story has credibility, Wiese embeds numerous biblical verses in his storyline in order to show in his own words that what happened to him was experienced by Bible characters and that hell is a literal place where the damned suffer eternal painful punishment. Those verses, however, are almost always only partially quoted, and when examined in context, none of them support what he was saying at the time of the quotation. Not one!

To give further weight to his story, Wiese provides testimonies from various authorities, but don't be fooled. They are pastors from their own churches or other evangelical groups, not academic Bible scholars. Some of them have made some really significant boo-boos about the future coming of Christ, including Calvary Chapel's founder, Chuck Smith. He is the same Chuck Smith who predicted that the generation of 1948 would be the last generation, and that the world would end by 1981 at the latest. Or, Chuck Missler, who brought the Year Two thousand bug (a.k.a. the "Y2K bug") to the attention of the Christian community and predicted the chaos that would result when computerised electronic systems get the date wrong and malfunction. Need I say more?

Then there is the matter of the mysterious woman who plays a major role in Wiese's story, but you would never know who she is because he does not mention her by name or the book that she wrote. Once you know who she is, you will understand why Wiese neglected to name her or the book she wrote. There are also numerous monologues that have nothing to do with his story, such as quoting the founding fathers of America endorsing the Bible's authenticity. Why does he do this when his target audience are Christians who already believe in the Bible anyway?

Described in his literature and by the media as THE MAN WHO WENT TO HELL, this thorough investigation leaves no stone unturned to prove that this never happened. By the time you have read through this analysis and seen all of the misapplied scriptures, ambiguities, and contradictions I have pointed out, you will be wondering how anyone could believe what occurred to Bill Wiese is true. But many people have and believed. To them all I can say is, "May the truth set you free." (John 8:32)


Sleep Paralysis