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Christian beliefs

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A key topic: beliefs about life
after death, mainly in
Christianity

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A Quotation by Epicurus, in a Letter to Menoeceus, during the third century BCE:

"Therefore death, the most terrifying of evils, is nothing to us, since for the time when we are, death is not present; and for the time when death is present, we are not. Therefore it is nothing either to the living or the dead since it is not present for the former, and the latter are no longer."

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Overview:

Is there life after death? What form does it take?

Various Christian denominations and leaders have taught conflicting answers to those two questions:

bullet We eventually land up in Heaven, Hell, Limbo, Purgatory, Sheol, or some other place, state, or condition.
 
bullet We simply disappear and cease to exist in any form.
 
bullet Our souls separate immediately from our body and go to Heaven or Hell while our bodies remain on Earth to decay.
 
bullet We sleep for a long time after death before waking up for a final judgment. 
 
bullet We are reincarnated into new bodies to live another lifetime on Earth, either as a human or animal.
 
bullet We go through a number of steps after death before we end up in our final destination.
 
bullet Infants who die go to Limbo, where they remain in an infant state forever.

Unfortunately, the Bible seems hopelessly ambiguous on matters related to life after death. This can be shown by the great variety of scenarios, covering the above options and more, which have been proposed by different Christian faith groups and writers over almost two millennia.

Each group has based their beliefs on what they regard as true interpretations of key biblical passages, supported by church tradition, reason and the occasional personal experience when people have claimed to have died, gone to heaven or hell, and returned to lilfe on Earth.

Most faith groups teach that their beliefs are correct, while all others are wrong. It is obvious that most or all of the tens of thousands of faith groups around the world are mistaken in their beliefs.

To answer the original questions:

bullet Just about every devout churchgoer is absolutely certain that there is life after death and that they know what form it takes. Generally, these beliefs match the teachings of their faith group.
 
bullet Any priest, priestess, pastor, minister, etc. would probably be happy to fill you in with the details of what their particular faith group teaches.
 
bullet One might try to determine the truth via prayer to God. However, a pilot study that we conducted some years ago indicated that getting such answers from God througy prayer is unreliable.
 
bullet No human may really know where the truth lies. If life after death exists, it might be necessary to die first before we learn the truth. Even worse: if there is no afterlife to experience, then we will never know, because -- after death -- we will not have a functioning brain to realize that there is no afterlife.

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Topics in this section:

bullet Introduction

bullet Beliefs about the afterlife: Heaven, Hell, Purgatory, Limbo

bullet Conservative & liberal interpretations of Biblical passages.

bullet Beliefs of specific denominations:

bullet Diverse Christian beliefs in salvation: Who gets to go to Heaven; who to Hell?

bullet Comparing the strengths & weaknesses of belief systems about salvation. Do any make sense?

bullet

What happens to a person immediately after death?

bullet A personal essay donated by Cary Cook, titled: "After Pascal. Thoughts on an afterlife"
 
bullet Hell:
bullet About Hell itself:
bullet

Descriptions of Hell in the New Testament (location and temperature)


bullet

Descriptions of Hell's other torments. A Catholic publication about Hell. Hells in other religions


bullet Is Hell endothermic or exothermic. Is Hell hotter than Heaven?
 
bullet A personal essay donated by "Alan J", titled: "My Journey to Hell"
 
bullet Beliefs about Hell:
bullet The diversity of conservative Protestant beliefs

bullet Is punishment temporary or eternal? (Annihilationism or Traditionalism)

bullet Conflicts between secularism and conservative Christianity

bullet Beliefs by the American public according to polls
 
bullet Beliefs unique to Roman Catholics:
bullet Purgatory

bullet Limbo
bulletEssay donated by Contributing Editor, Susan Humphreys:
bullet Dissecting logical arguments about life after death and God.

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Related topics elsewhere in this web site:

bullet Divisions within Protestant Christianity
bullet Inerrancy of the Bible
bullet Biblical inspiration
bullet American religious beliefs according to opinion polls
bullet Comparison of American Christian beliefs with those of other Christian cultures
bullet Salvation
bullet Who will be saved and thus attain Heaven and avoid Hell? Beliefs of modern and ancient Christians
bullet Can non-Christians be saved?

Site navigation:

 Home page > Christianity > History, beliefs... > Specific beliefs > here

or Home page > Christianity > Bible > Contents > here

Copyright 2001 to 2018 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2001-FEB-24
Latest update: 2018-FEB-08
Author: B.A. Robinson

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