Death and the Afterlife

Key terms:

  • Eschatology – discussion of the end times, including battle between good and evil and God’s judgement of the world
  • Parousia – Greek for arrival (Christ’s second coming)
  • Purgatory – where those who have died in a state of grace continue to seek forgiveness and received punishment awaiting Final Judgement
  • Mortal sin – sin deliberately in defiance of God’s law
  • Venial sin – errors of judgement that can be forgiven
  • Predestination – teaching that God chooses and guides some people to eternal salvation
  • Double predestination – God elects the righteous for Heaven and condemns sinners to Hell
  • Single predestination – God predestines some to Heaven but the people send themselves to Hell

Christian teachings on the afterlife are based on Jewish beliefs on life after death, as well as influenced by the Pharisees and Greek teachings on the soul and immortality. Jesus sacrificed his life in order to create a route for humanity to reach heaven.

Heaven may be something which is imminent after death, it could be a physical or non physical place. It could just be a spiritual state or it could be a state of mind/being.

Read the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats here.

Task: What does this parable teach us about what the afterlife may be like?

Read 1 Corinthians 15 here. Most Christians use this passage, in conjunction with the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats to understand what is meant by the afterlife.

Task: Think of there problems with belief in the afterlife based on these passages. (For example, ‘Where is this new kingdom? Is it on earth or some other place?)

Look at the image below. This is a painting inspired by the poet Dante on what he perceived Hell to be like. Dante wrote a narration in the early 1300s, based on what he thought it would be like to travel through Purgatory and Hell.

Watch the video:

Task: What are your thoughts on what Hell would be like? Are these in conflict with the wider Christian theology?

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