Death is the one thing in life we can be sure about and that is why religions have beliefs about what it means! Everything else ‘might’ happen to us: we might get married, be rich, be happy, have children, open our own business or travel the world, but the only real certainty is that we will die.
Faith and death
It is not surprising that people have always asked questions about what, if anything, happens after they die.
Although some people claim to have had ‘near-death experiences’ (NDEs), and others claim to be able to talk to the dead, or to have seen ghosts, there is no scientific proof that such experiences actually provide a glimpse into a possible afterlife. It is possible, therefore, that when people die, they simply stop living and that there is nothing beyond this life.
Ideas about what happens after death, and its connection with how life is lived on earth, is a fundamental part of all religions. The details may differ between religions, but belief in an afterlife almost always:
- helps people to make sense of life, particularly when life seems unfair or at times of suffering (their own, and other people’s)
- gives support and comfort at times of loss and bereavement
- provides a purpose to life
Christians believe there is an afterlife. Although the body dies and is buried or cremated, they believe that their unique soul lives on and is raised to new life by God.
Their belief that Jesus rose from the dead three days after his crucifixion (a Roman method of execution) gives Christians hope that if they follow Jesus’ teaching and accept him as their Lord and Saviour, then this new resurrection life awaits them. By being born as a human being (the incarnation…