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Christian beliefs


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

horizontal rule

Five quotations:

  • 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."

  • Niccolo Machiavelli's last words when he died at the age of 58:

    "I desire to go to Hell and not to Heaven. In the former I shall enjoy the company of popes, kings and princes, while in the latter are only beggars, monks and apostles.

  • Anon:

    "It is said that you die three times:

    'The first is when the body ceases to function.

    The second is when the body is consigned to the grave.

    The third is that moment, when your name is spoken for the last time'."

  • Mitch Alborn, an American author, journalist, screenwriter, dramatist, radio and television broadcaster, and musician:

    "As long as we can love each other, and remember the feeling of love we had, we can die without ever really going away."

and, on the same theme:

    "Love is how you stay alive, even after you are gone."

  • Tommy Wong, from his book, "Wisdom on How to Live Life - Book 3")
  • "Guru: Okay, what is the spiritual solution to death?

    Tom: The solution is to believe that we’re souls and not bodies.

    Guru: And then?

    Tom: Then, souls do not die. They live forever. So we actually cannot die.

    Guru: How does this belief help the living?

    Tom: By believing that we cannot die, we don’t fear death. And by not fearing death, we don’t fear life.

    Guru: Yes, splendid answer. And by not fearing life, you can really be alive in your life."

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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 being woken up for a Final Judgment, when we learn whether we will go to Heaven or Hell. 
bulletWe are reincarnated into new bodies to live another lifetime on Earth, either as a human or animal.
bullet Infants who die go to Limbo, where they are comforted 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 "near death experience" (NDE) when people have claimed to have died, gone to heaven or hell, and returned to llfe 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 above question:

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 through prayer is unreliable.

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. 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.

Even worse, if the teachings of many faith groups within Christianity and many sections of Islam are correct, then those people who die without having accepting those specific sets of beliefs completely will end up being torturted in Hell -- not for a hour, day, week, month, year, century, or millenium, but forever!

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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)

bullet Alleged beliefs of Pope Francis

bulletConflicts between secularism and conservative Christianity

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

bullet Essay 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:

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 2018 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2001-FEB-24
Latest update: 2018-OCT-14
Author: B.A. Robinson

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