Bible Inspires Ordinary Christians to Raise the Dead, Just Like Jesus. Are You Ready For the Zombie Apocalypse?

You’ve probably experienced, more than once, the death of a loved one. I have too. We could’ve saved ourselves an ocean of tears and a mountain of grief (not to mention the expense of the funeral) if we’d only called a Christian prayer team to restore our relative or friend to life. Nifty!

Yes, these self-proclaimed resurrection specialists really do exist. Like 75 million Americans (30% of all U.S. Christians), they believe in the literal truth of the Bible. The deadraisers are special in that they concentrate on Matthew 10:8:

Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give.

We’ll return to the Americans in a moment, but this wacky international movement is on my mind today thanks to a Dutch Pentecostal evangelist. I learned through a friend that the Dutchman, Ronald Plat, has been offering his services to the parents of a girl who recently committed suicide. When they declined his entreaties, he turned to a mother whose two pre-teen sons were found brutally murdered earlier this month. She, too, inexplicably refused to let him anywhere near the bodies of her children. Plat stayed positive, musing on social-media sites how the Netherlands will be “turned on its head” once his death-cheating miracles get the “media attention” they deserve.

To fully appreciate the feats Plat believes he is capable of performing through Jesus, you should know that the boys were found after a downpour flushed their corpses from the sewage pipe they’d been stuffed into. The bodies had been decomposing there for almost two weeks.

You have to admire the hubris, and appreciate the clarity of the offer (nonsensical though it is). Usually, when Christians praise the Lord for bringing a dead person back to life after prayer, it turns out that there never was a corpse in the first place; the patient suffered a life-threatening brain swelling or another symptom severe enough to almost snuff out his or her vital signs. Some people come back from near-death. It has everything to do with individual pathology and medical treatment; and as best as we can tell from the data, it has nothing to do with prayer.

It’s a good thing that there’s no wiggle room in Plat’s offer. As someone who’s read Mary Roach‘s Stiff — a blow-by-blow account of what happens to our bodies when we die — I can picture pretty well what the two Dutch boys looked like after two weeks in shallow water. Reviving two putrid, bloated, waterlogged corpses would truly be miraculous; and I promise right here and now that if Plat or anyone else pulls it off, not only will I convert to Christianity, but I’ll whip myself silly for the Lord until my skin hangs in shreds down my backside.

I am making the same promise to anyone who will bring back just one or two of the 156 child victims in the 2004 Beslan school massacre, as Russian faith healer Grigory Grabovoy infamously claimed he could do.

Most of us can probably see how cruel and exploitative it is to try and fill a bereaved parent’s head with promises of a dead child’s bodily resurrection. I laud the wisdom of the families in declining the proffered poppycock, yet for selfish reasons I’m also disappointed that we won’t witness Plat (pictured below) utterly failing to make good on his word.

This is what’s always so riveting about out-to-lunch claims by some Christian bullshit artists that the world will end on a particular day. The creeping of time automatically proves them wrong. It would be nice to have such put-up-or-shut-up certitude about the wannabe deadraisers. What can they really do? And where’s the proof?

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Ronald Plat has no record of resurrectionist accomplishments that I’m aware of, but he takes his inspiration from American evangelists such as Tyler Johnson. Johnson claims real successes: nine dead people brought back to life, so far (unless you believe his Facebook page, which says it’s ten). He has roughly thirty Dead Raising Teams operating in the United States, according to his website. Under Johnson’s flag, there are an additional 13 Dead Raising Teams praying abroad, although their distribution is a little lopsided right now: 12 in the Netherlands, 1 in Canada, and that’s it.

Johnson says it’s not just Jesus who has the power to raise the dead. Any real believer can do it:

Globally, there is a tribe of people being raised up that are not content with sitting in pews. They are inspired to walk as Christ did, in humility, character, love, but also, incredible power. They believe that they are destined to work even greater miracles than those that Christ demonstrated while on earth. They are people that desire to raise the dead. Dead raising is for every believer, not a select few. … God desires that every Christian have the faith to raise the dead. … The trumpet is being sounded. If you desire to pray to raise the dead, contact us.

So Tyler Johnson, and the possibly hundreds of hard-praying folks working with him, claim to have brought nine or ten people back from the dead. Part of me wants to call that disappointing, considering that they’ve been doing it since 2006 (the results don’t suggest significant repeatability and consistency, nor a high rate of success). On the other hand, every single one of these cases, if real, would be a bona fide jawdropper — I’ll certainly give him that.

Unfortunately, if not unexpectedly, I can’t find any corroboration for the extraordinary claims. The deadraisers’ website offers

  • no videos of the resurrections
  • no names of the lucky zombies newly undead
  • no medical records or coroners’ reports
  • no recorded testimonials by the saved and their awestruck doctors

… and so on.

That’s a bit of a letdown, isn’t it? If you were capable of serial miracles, and you wanted the world to know, wouldn’t you supply all the proof and evidence you could, upfront? I sure would, if only to counter any suspicion of being either an empty braggard or an outright fraud — or both.

(You don’t have to be particular hard-hearted to be skeptical here, considering hoaxes like “16 Dead Bodies Confirmed Resurrected From the Dead” and the cynical Grigory Grabovoy schemes referenced above.)

Despite forgetting to provide proof, Johnson does get props for making it easy to find the links on his website that let you donate money or buy his books, so that you can support his Re-Animator ambitions, and his bottom line.

To be fair, I don’t think that most resurrection-promising Christians are in it for the money. Some may well do it out of misguided altruism, or out of conversionist zeal, or (like Plat) because they look forward to the media attention.

Then again, televangelist Benny Hinn (pictured above) loves the idea of bringing back the dead so that he’ll have more viewers for his Trinity Broadcasting Network show (and more donors, too):

Here’s what I see for TBN. You’re going to have people raised from the dead watching this network. You’re going to have people raised from the dead watching TBN … I’m telling you, I see this in the Spirit. It’s going to be so awesome — Jesus I give you praise for this — that people around the world — maybe not so much in America — people around the world who will lose loved ones, will say to undertakers, “Not yet. I want to take my dead loved one and place him in front of that TV set for 24 hours.”

I submit the following to my Christian friends: All this nonsense is not doing you any favors. I’m not just talking about reaping universal eye-rolling and bad PR, although there’s that. What I mean specifically is that when you try to raise the dead, your failure to produce results will likely make you feel horrible in more ways than one. For starters, you’ll feel extremely crappy (I should hope) about giving a bereaved family false hope. And through your phantasmagorical over-reaching, you may even begin to question the power or validity of your faith. It happened to this nice, sincere guy who prayed loudly for a baby to be resurrected:

“After a moment’s hesitation, I spoke to the mother. I told her I believe there is a God that can raise the dead. I told her there is power in the name of Jesus. I asked her if she believed too and if I could pray for her baby. She said yes. So, with everyone looking on, I knelt before this beautiful, lifeless child and begged God to raise her from the dead in the name of Jesus. You know what happened? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. I was left with only being able to say that no one understands the mind of God or His will…truly empty words in my mouth and heart (not to mention the mother’s).

So, here is where I am.  I’m left with doubts, fears, and even anger. I prayed. I trusted. I put my neck out. What’s more, I put Jesus’ name out there and He didn’t show up. … The baby is still dead. The mother is still lost in hopelessness and despair. And now I look like a fool and the name of Jesus is a joke.

Well, yes. Sorry about that. Rational people require proof.

Perhaps it’ll finally be supplied by a Colorado production company called Mountain Light Cinema, which is working on a documentary about resurrectionist prayer. The film is titled Deadraiser, and it’s described as

resurrection stories from across the nation and an exciting view into the authentic Christian culture of miracles.

I suppose we’ll see just how “authentic” it all is. The movie is set to premiere this October. Here’s a sneak peek:

YouTube Preview Image

Whoops, my bad, wrong flick. Here’s the Deadraiser trailer for real:

I wonder if Deadraiser will include an honest-to-god ‘prayer coordinator’ in the credits (like that other recent Jesus-miracle film, Not Today). Surely there’ll be no dearth of prayer teams to try and bring the movie back from box office hell, should it die an early death.

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P.S.:  For an example of how not to present footage about pulling a Lazarus, consider Melissa Fisher at Christian XP Media, whose multiple failed attempts to raise the dead haven’t dimmed her enthusiasm for the exercise one bit.

“The dead aren’t going to be raised if we don’t pray for them. So this is just an encouragement for you to go out there. Now we haven’t seen any dead raised yet. But we know, we have been pressing in, it’s going to happen eventually. In fact, me and one of my team members actually got resurrection dreams where he saw an old man that was an alcoholic and I saw a baby getting raised from the dead. So we know that God put that in our heart. So we’re going to keep going at it.”

Hear her talk herself breathless, starting at 1:18:

YouTube Preview Image

Shouldn’t there be a line somewhere between optimism and delusion?

About Terry Firma

Terry Firma, though born and Journalism-school-educated in Europe, has lived in the U.S. for the past 20-odd years. Stateside, his feature articles have been published in the New York Times, Reason, Rolling Stone, Playboy, and Wired. Terry is the founder and Main Mischief Maker of Moral Compass, a site that pokes fun at the delusional claim by people of faith that a belief in God equips them with superior moral standards.

  • Philip Smith

    I have a way he can impress me and make himself a million dollars as well. Take James Randi’s Challenge: http://www.randi.org/site/index.php/1m-challenge.html

    • Michael W Busch

      It’s up to 1.3 million USD now, thanks to many years of accumulated interest as nobody has managed to demonstrate anything supernatural.

      • Derrik Pates

        I’ll bet there have been a lot of excuses produced, though. :)

        • Michael W Busch

          A fun one is when the failed testee accuses Randi of having supernatural-power-killing supernatural powers.

  • Greg G.

    Do Tyler Johnson’s Dead Raising Teams practice on each other? Do they actually kill a team member before the raising? Why not? You can’t raise the dead if you lack faith. There’s a reason for that. It’s not a matter of faith, it’s just that prayer doesn’t work.

  • decathelite

    This makes me think of the Ray Comfort video a few pages back. If a hypothetical priest were to offer Comfort $10 million to tell a wealthy and influential widowed atheist that her husband would be raised from the dead in this life – that is, to lie to her to convert her to Christianity – would he do it? I think on video he would say no, but without cameras rolling, I don’t think he would resist that offer. So much for Christian morality.

  • Crystal Bandy Thomas

    This is just moronic.

  • MikeInOhio

    How odd that the testimonies of “resurrection from the dead” always seem to involve someone who is in a coma and not quite dead yet. But hey, they are “in the process of dying”, right? Hell, we’re all in the process of dying. One would think, given the fact that millions of people are dying every day in hospitals that it wouldn’t take a person long to have a few hundred resurrections on their resume. How many thousands and thousands of graveyards are there with fresh mounds of dirt covering recently deceased bodies? Damn it, people, just pick one and show us the wondrous power of your god!! I never ceased to be amazed at how gullible and delusional people can be.

  • Anon

    Ahhh but if they offered proof that they could do this then you couldn’t take it on faith any more.
    And as we know, the christian god loathes giving anybody any shred of evidence that he might exist (unless they already believe in him) apart from a 2000 year old book that is a less-than-legitimate historical source, even though performing some kind of miracle like reviving somebody who’d been dead for two weeks into a perfectly healthy living human would undoubtedly cause mass conversion and thus (if you accept the basic premise of christianity) lots more souls would go to heaven.
    Which is supposedly what god wants in the first place.
    I don’t even.

  • http://absurdlypointless.blogspot.com/ Tanner B James

    “In the Tibetan philosophy, Sylvia Plath sense of the word, I know we’re all–we’re all dying, all right? But you’re not dying the way Chloe back there is dying.” Narrator – Fight Club.

  • Space Cadet

    If the whole point of heaven is for us to spend an eternity glorifying god, don’t you think god would get pissed if people were basically stealing others from heaven, even if it’s only 10 so far?

    I wonder if Pat Robertson and others like him will blame things like the OK tornadoes on these people taking away gods playthings.

  • Renshia

    Holy shit. It’s delusional thinking like this that makes religion so dangerous.
    They should start with baby steps, say drinking poison.

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

    Why does Mr. Plat need the permission of the deceased’s relatives? Does he have to touch the corpse, or might it have something to do with a non-refundable up-front fee?

    He would have much better success if he just did some pro-bono demonstrations. Unclaimed dead bodies can be found every day in the seedier parts of Amsterdam or any other major city.

    Difficulty getting a corpse is not the problem. It’s the difficulty of getting cash first.

  • Cattleya1

    Maybe raising the dead is over reaching a little without practice… How about praying up a regrown leg or arm for an amputee? I would have to rethink my lifelong atheism if they can document that one.

  • Leonard Kirk

    I have some questions for the brain dead whack-a-doodles out there who think they can raise the dead……..

    1) What happens to all the money and possessions passed out when they read El Stiffo’s will? Do we have to give them back? What if I already hocked those treasured LP’s for booze money because I don’t have a record player? (uuuuhhhhh…. hypothetically speaking, of course.)

    2) What if the surviving spouse remarried? Is the second marriage rendered null and void?

    3) Can we get some kind of partial refund on the casket? (I suppose this question would be better directed to the funeral home)

    4) When sticking candles on the cake, do we count the birthdays missed when he was dead?

    5) He’s not gonna stink, is he? I mean, yeah, he won’t smell too pretty after not showering for years and then crawling up through the dirt and, naturally, we’ll hose him off. But, after that, we’re not gonna have to buy a pallet of Febreze, right?

  • Amor DeCosmos

    OK, that last video, the XP Media, Melissa Fisher thing was crazy. That totally won my award of the Internets for the week. They mapped out all the mortuaries in the Phoenix area and then started going to them to try and raise the dead – really? WTF?

  • Amor DeCosmos

    East Gate Alliance Church, the church of Canada’s Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, believes in physical, bodily resurrection – “There shall be a bodily resurrection of the just and of the unjust; for the former, a resurrection unto life; for the latter, a resurrection unto judgment.” http://www.eastgatealliance.ca/index.php?page=beliefs

    • Dan F.

      Just an FYI – most traditional forms of Christianity believe in a bodily resurrection but (it’s in the Creed) but that belief has more to do with ‘end times’ than with this sort of crazy fundie nonsense from the post.

  • RowanVT

    About 33% of the dreams I remember involve me physically turning into a dragon. Is this a message then from God that it’s actually going to happen? Her response would doubtless be “No, of course not. How silly!”… without a single moment of cognitive dissonance.

  • Mick

    Terry Firma wrote: “Reviving two putrid, bloated, waterlogged corpses would truly be miraculous; and I promise right here and now that if Plat or anyone else
    pulls it off, not only will I convert to Christianity…”

    Not me. I’d just say, “My eyes deceive me,” and carry on being an atheist.

  • Mick

    Terry Firma wrote: “I submit the following to my Christian friends: All this nonsense is not doing you any favors.”

    The mainstream Christians are either gullible or gutless.

    Gutless because they dare not speak too harshly against the fundies for fear that people hearing their criticisms may recognise the idiocy of their religion and leave the church.

    Gullible because deep down they believe that a well-placed prayer may just be enough to raise the dead – Jesus raised Lazarus, so who knows?

  • http://www.sugarpiesfood.com/ Buck

    Here’s what I don’t get. All of my christian friends claim when anyone dies that they are “back with Jesus” and “their suffering is done.” If that’s the case, why do folks want to raise them from the dead. For that matter, if this Jesus dude thought heaven was so grand (or that it was an actual place one goes to upon death) then how come he was so all fired hip on giving people the power to bring ‘em back?

    Oh well. why let logic stand in the way of a good magic trick.

  • Steve UK

    It’s like shooting fish in a barrel, taking the mickey out of these people is too easy, those what more can be said? Sad and delusional, like all those who believe..

  • David S.

    An otherwise quite skeptical volume I read said that Jim Jones raised a man from the dead. I think they meant claimed to raise a man from the dead, but even after the mass suicide, there were apparently still witnesses fully convinced that Jim Jones had done it. I’ve had that on my list of miracles for when pointing out that the logical chain does not go creator(s) -> God -> speaker’s brand of Christianity; I didn’t realize Christians were still claiming to raise people from the dead.

  • Geoff Boulton

    I’m surprised Melissa’s team didn’t all rush over to Oklahoma recently. What a coup that would have been for them. Rescue workers working around the clock to pull the fortunate few from the wreckage and Melissa and her gang standing around doing nothing, sorry, I mean praying, and taking full credit for ‘raising’ the ‘nearly’ dead/would have died if they hadn’t been found.

  • Researcher

    Those who believe they can raise the dead are probably not faking. They are having a bizarre episode similar to those who practice QiGong and Kundalini Yoga who believe they can overcome gravity and levitate through meditation and the will of their minds.

    Engineers designing the first examples of close-spaced office workstations, 1964, discovered a problem of human physiology when it caused mental breaks for office workers. The cubicle was designed to block peripheral vision to stop it by 1968. It is so simple that anyone can create the special circumstances for it. If they maintain exposure long enough they will begin to have psychiatric symptoms such as the belief that they have the ability to raise the dead.

    NOT MENTAL ILLNESS, explained in first semester college lectures about peripheral vision reflexes, Subliminal Distraction did not begin when it was discovered in 1964. It had always been present to cause psychotic-like beliefs and strange behaviors that we today would believe is mental illness.

    The belief that they can raise the dead is just another bizarre behavior installed by Subliminal Distraction exposure that did not rise to a level to cause the full mental break it is known to cause.

    There were others beside Jesus who could raise the dead in biblical times. It was all probably cases of persons who had a Subliminal Distraction episode with a short period of coma, then awoke. Too-small single-room living arrangements held families close together to allow Subliminal Distraction exposure. (See the Culture Syndromes section of the site outline page at VisionAndPsychosis.Net.)

    When it happened to my wife, Connie heard voices and had depressive crying episodes about impossible situations she hallucinated. ___ I discovered this simple problem is unknown in mental health services. Only one doctor in nine years searching said he had seen the believed-harmless episode from offices when he was in residency. (Hospital records on VisionAndPsychosis.Net.)

    It appears from time to time in TV segments such as 20/20 Downtown, 1990′s. I am searching for video of that or any other such segment. VisionAndPsychosis.Net

  • Gus Snarp

    I would be happy to let him try to raise my deceased family from the dead. He’ll have to do it on camera, in a setup monitored and devised by me, and he’ll have to do it for payment to be rendered only upon a successful resurrection, which must include my dead loved one walking out of the room under their own power and having lunch with me.

    If he fails, he’d have to promise to never tell anyone he can raise the dead again and to dedicate the rest of his life to exposing the frauds who continue to do so.

  • Sam Black

    Hey, I’ve met Melissa Fisher in that XP Ministries video. She’s actually like that 100% of the time. My in-laws are involved in XP and I sometimes find myself in their midst. I just keep my head down and try to avoid any but the lightest conversation.

    The last time I had contact with the XP crew was at a wedding held in Patricia King’s back yard. Patricia wasn’t around but her husband was. He’d just had knee surgery and was limping around. I had to wonder why he was suffering when his wife runs an organization that claims prayer can heal his wounds.

  • Without Malice

    Well, the Good Book says that the followers of Jesus will be able to raise the dead and perform all kinds of other miracles, so the question is: why aren’t more Christians doing this? The truth is that most believers talk a good game but know in their heart of hearts that trying to put their supposed faith to work will lead to nothing but failure.

  • Unko

    Do men really need miracles to believe in GOD?

  • kirkdickinson

    2 Thessalonians 2:9
    Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, And
    with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because
    they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.

  • hellbindercda

    This was the cognitive dissonance that finally after over 20 years of faith and ministry I hung up my cross, put away all my bibles and started educating myself about reality. Once I faced the music that Jesus is a no show every single time according to the bible He should be there for sure… it opened the door of my mind to really examine things like eternally tormenting millions of people because the greatest being in existence gets permanently offended about every minor fault a person has, Or creating some kind of fruit that permanently corrupts an entire species and then getting pissed off about the outcome.
    Christianity is a system of belief with far to many negatives and no payoff.

  • Jason henderson

    Has anyone seen the movie yet? It’s rentable through vimeo (expensive). Thoughts on the content?


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