RS/RE Revision Notes - Death and the Afterlife


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Death and the Afterlife
Christian Beliefs about the Soul
Christians believe each person is made of 3 parts ­ the MIND, BODY, and SOUL. The soul is immortal
and cannot be seen. The soul is what makes people different to animals, who the bible says are just
made from the Ground. Christians believe that people were made in God's image:
So God created man
in his own image,
in the image of God
he created him;
Male and female
he created them.
People have different interpretations of what it might mean to be made "in the image of God". Many
Christians believe that it means God put something of his own divine and everlasting nature into each
person, and this is called the "soul" (or sometimes spirit).
When other animals were made, they were just formed "out of the ground", whereas humans were
given something extra from God.
"The Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath
of life, and the man became a living being. (Genesis 2:7)
As Christian doctrine developed and became interwoven with the ideas of Greek philosophers such
as Plato, the idea was formed that people have souls that are separate from the body, which cannot
die or be seen. This is why Christians believe human life is sacred, and is also why Christians have no
problem with eating meat (As animals do not have (sacred) souls).
St Paul, an early Christian who was a leading figure in the development of the church after Jesus'
death, taught that the body and soul were often in conflict. The soul wants to do right and be with
God, but the body demand pleasure (luxuries such as food or wealth). This means the soul sometimes
does not meet its aims.
St Paul also taught that when people die, their body is gone but the soul lives on. St Paul believed
that the resurrection of Jesus was proof of life after death. Christians can expect that they, too, will
be raised back to life by the power of God, because of what happened to Jesus.
Paul also said that our physical bodies are imperfect and so will die, but our spiritual bodies, or souls,
will be raised from the dead/live on.

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Heaven, Hell and Purgatory
Hell
Christians think hell is a poetic way of describing and eternity without God
Christians in the middle ages were every preoccupied with hell, and thought it was
a place of everlasting torture (represented usually by fire) for people who turned
their back on the Christian church, or who had committed wicked deeds. People
encouraged people to join the church, and if they refused they were forced by
threatening them with an eternity of suffering.…read more

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Purgatory
Roman Catholic idea (in Roman Catholic Teachings)
A state after death for people who are not completely ready to go straight to
heaven
Souls stay in purgatory until they are free from sin.
Roman Catholics often pray for the souls of those who have died, in the hope that
they will not have to spend too long in purgatory.
God as Judge
Christians believe that God knows people better than they know themselves, and will judge their
actions.…read more

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Christ. When Paul wrote to the new churches in the early days of Christianity, he assured
them that their faith meant that they would not be harshly judged:
Therefore, there is now no
condemnation for those who are in
Christ Jesus, because through Christ
Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me
Free from the law of sin and death.
This means Christians believe there is a relationship between moral behaviour and life after death.…read more

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More prayers will be said, asking God to be merciful to the dead person's soul and reminding people
that all life is given by God and that God decides when to take it away.
A wreath may be laid on the person's coffin.
After the funeral, those who attended the service may go to the house of the closest relative to
express their sympathy and for refreshments.…read more

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