A2 Philosophy - Life after Death

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Life after death

Christian beliefs

Christians, Jews and Muslims all hold the similar belief in the afterlife.

Many people wrongly assume that official Christians believe in the immortality of the soul depending on judgement in hell or heaven.

Official Church teachings speak of the resurrection of the body (a teaching that is often overlooked by modern Christians)

All Christian beliefs about the afterlife depend on the resurrection of Jesus and his death – the single most important event for Christians.

When Jesus is brought back to life he is not described as a ghost or a vision. His resurrection is described to be physical but his body is different in some way as Mary does not recognise him.

The physical nature of Jesus after his resurrection is highlighted in John’s gospel with the story of doubting Thomas who demanded to see physical proof before he would believe in the resurrection.

“Now since our message is that Christ has been raised from death, how can some of you say that the dead will not be raised to life” – this means that St Paul was teaching as many Christians believe today that as a result of Christ’s resurrection humans who have faith will also be raised from the dead.

Harrowing of hell – after his death Jesus descended into hell so that the sins of humanity could be forgiven. However, on account of Jesus’ innocence the devil had no rights to his soul which in turn led to the gates of hell bursting open and allowing all souls that were trapped there to escape.

This idea has been lost in recent years due to the fact that it seems to suggest that God has some obligation to be fair towards the devil.

Most Christians believe that after death the soul will continue to exist until judgement when the second coming of Jesus happens. Once judgement comes there are three places where your soul will finally come to rest.

Heaven – This is seen as communion with God. In order to get into Heaven Christians must confess their sins.

Purgatory – Catholics hold this belief. This is the place where people who have died without confessing their sins go. Once the soul has been purified, often by fire, it is free to pass into heaven.

Hell – Emphasis is placed on the fact that hell is an alternative to heaven where people who have not confessed their sins will go. It has two aspects; the separation from God, and punishment.

Judgement – Christians believe that at the moment of their death particular judgement takes place and their soul will go to either heaven or hell based on the actions they have taken in their life. At the end of the world Christians believe that Jesus will return in an event known as the second coming. Where he will come to judge the living and the dead. After this event the good will be raised up ad inhabit the earth whilst the wicked…


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