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Christian beliefs


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

horizontal rule


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

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

bulletWe eventually land up in Heaven, Hell, Limbo, Purgatory, Sheol, or some other place, state, or condition.
bulletWe simply disappear and cease to exist in any form.
bulletOur 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. 
bulletWe 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.
bulletInfants 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:

bulletJust 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

bulletBeliefs about the afterlife: Heaven, Hell, Purgatory, Limbo

bulletConservative & 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?


What happens to a person immediately after death?

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

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


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"
bulletBeliefs about Hell:
bulletThe diversity of conservative Protestant beliefs

bulletIs punishment temporary or eternal? (Annihilationism or Traditionalism)

bulletConflicts between secularism and conservative Christianity

bulletBeliefs by the American public according to polls
bulletBeliefs unique to Roman Catholics:


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Related topics elsewhere in this web site:

bulletDivisions within Protestant Christianity
bulletInerrancy of the Bible
bulletBiblical inspiration
bulletAmerican religious beliefs according to opinion polls
bulletComparison of American Christian beliefs with those of other Christian cultures
bullet Who will be saved and thus attain Heaven and avoid Hell? Beliefs of modern and ancient Christians
bulletCan non-Christians be saved?

Site navigation:

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

or Home page > Christianity > Bible > Contents > here

Copyright © 2001 to 2011 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2001-FEB-24
Latest update: 2011-JUN-10
Author: B.A. Robinson

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