The Evangelical Universalist Forum

--The Afterlife--

My mother and my sister taught me that people go directly to heaven or to hell immediately after they die. They also taught me that there would some day be a resurrection of our bodies. As a young boy, I accepted this and held to it throughout my teen years and into my early twenties, though I often wondered what the purpose was of having our bodies resurrected. Wouldn’t we be perfectly happy in heaven, if our “souls,” which I understood as being our true selves, spent eternity with God and with other people who had been saved from hell? Why have a material body in which to live?

Later on, as I probed deeper into Bible study, I came across this shocking sentence written by the apostle Paul:

What do I gain if, humanly speaking, I fought with beasts at Ephesus? If the dead are not raised, "Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we
die." (I Corinthians 15:32 ESV)

Paul seems to imply that unless the dead are raised, we may as well eat, drink, and be merry. We might as well as enjoy ourselves as much as possible during this brief life, for after we die, there is nothing more for us.

However, many people believe that when we go to heaven after death, THAT IS the resurrection about which Paul was writing, and so that concept does not conflict at all with 1 Corinthians 15:32.

But Jesus was the FIRST to experience a personal resurrection. He was “the firstborn from the dead” (Colossians 1:18). However, HE did not go to heaven immediately after He died. Even after God had raised Him from the dead, He said to Mary:

_“Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” _
(John 20:17)

Also, His body was missing from the tomb, and so He must have experienced a BODILY resurrection. Furthermore it was the SAME body. He showed Thomas the wounds He had received during His crucifixion.

So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.” Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” (John 20:25-27)

Yet, although it was the same body, it was a changed body. For He was then able to enter a room whose doors were closed and locked.

So, as I understand it, we will not go to heaven after we die until we are raised to life in the resurrection. I would be pleased to read any thoughts you may have about these matters.

I know one cannot establish truth by subjective experience, but I would like to share one of mine anyway from a few years back.

In the morning I attended the funeral of the father of a close friend. The speaker at that funeral said, “Mr. H. will live again!” As he said this, a thrill went through my entire being. I went to another funeral in the afternoon. The speaker at that funeral said, “Mrs. K. didn’t die; she just walked through a door.” To me, that statement did not express any reality.

“In Anglicanism, scholars such as the Bishop of Durham N. T. Wright,[23] have defended the primacy of the resurrection in Christian faith. Interviewed by Time in 2008, senior Anglican bishop and theologian N. T. Wright spoke of “the idea of bodily resurrection that people deny when they talk about their ‘souls going to Heaven,’” adding: “I’ve often heard people say, ‘I’m going to heaven soon, and I won’t need this stupid body there, thank goodness.’ That’s a very damaging distortion, all the more so for being unintentional.” Instead, Wright explains: “In the Bible we are told that you die, and enter an intermediate state." This is “conscious,” but “compared to being bodily alive, it will be like being asleep.” This will be followed by resurrection into new bodies, he says. “Our culture is very interested in life after death, but the New Testament is much more interested in what I’ve called the life after life after death.”

"…According to the Summa Theologica, spiritual beings that have been restored to glorified bodies will have the following basic qualities:

Impassibility (incorruptible / painless) — immunity from death and pain
Subtility (permeability) — freedom from restraint by matter
Agility — obedience to spirit with relation to movement and space (the ability to move through space and time with the speed of thought)
Clarity — resplendent beauty of the soul manifested in the body (as when Jesus was transfigured on Mount Tabor)[27]"

"In the recreated new heavens and new earth, of which we read in Revelation, it would be most weird indeed if the pinnacle of creation—the human being—in which the lower material and the higher spiritual realms were united in one, was not fully resurrected. To be half of what we once were, disembodied spirits flitting about would indeed seem odd. The resurrection of the body affirms its original goodness. It’s not a matter of heavenly necessity, but it is most fitting for the plan of redemption.

“But there is a second answer to this question and it addresses each of us on a more personal level. In the Summa, Aquinas writes that the soul without the body is in an unnatural state. To deprive it of a body is to deprive it of its perfection in nature. Citing Job 19:25-26, Aquinas suggests that the body is a sort of clothing or adornment for the soul. Again, the thinking here is rooted in a sense of beauty and fittingness, not bare necessities.”

continued at:

Jesus’ resurrected body was unique:

  1. Christ is the only one both fully God and fully man

  2. Christ is the only one who was promised that His flesh would not see decay

  3. Jesus was virgin born

  4. Jesus never sinned and never became corrupted

The Bible describes our new body as a spiritual body as opposed to a natural physical body. Not quite the same as Jesus. We no longer go to hades to await a resurrection and judgment. Death and hades were done away with in 70 A.D. The dead in hades were resurrected and given new spiritual bodies. In 70 A.D. the righteous went into the presence of Christ the wicked into lasting correction. The Bible describes the destruction of Jerusalem as the days of Vengeance. God’s wrath in the lake of fire is corrective. The days of vengeance and the resurrection of the souls in hades is past. When we die now the righteous go to lasting life, the wicked go to lasting correction as we receive our spiritual bodies. The days of vengeance ended in 70 A.D.

Hi Don, the afterlife is a bit of a mystery, especially to Christians. I will sound like a broken record here but Elizabeth Kubler Ross’s years of study shed at least a small amount of light on the subject. If you research her and study some of what she has found it is quite interesting. Some of it is ‘a bit out there’ as at one point she tried to use mediums. But she does bring forth a thought on life after death. I would recommend her book ‘On Life After Death’ It opened my eyes to other possibilities.



Though Paul does not say - if there is no bodily resurrection, then there is “nothing more for us” & we cease to exist - …instead he argues that if there is no bodily resurrection…

1 Cor.15:13b then is Christ not risen: 14 And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. 15 Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not. 16 For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: 17 And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. 18 Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. (KJV)

18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. (NIV)
18 And those people who died after putting their faith in him are completely lost. (CEV)

If they would have “perished” or been “lost” (v.18, apollumi), could they, then, have all gone to “hell”? To join those in Hades who did not believe in Christ? In the account of the prodigal son, he also was “lost” or had “perished” (apollumi), but at the same time he had not ceased to exist or been annihilated.

The following is quoted from the site below:

For further discussion on this topic there are several posts in another thread beginning here:

Why are you bringing up “soul sleep” in this discussion? I don’t believe in “soul sleep” and I have never heard the groups that you mention make any reference to “soul sleep.” Yet that seems always to be the charge brought against anyone who does not believe we are conscious in heaven or hell immediately after death.

Paidon, it is not a “charge” (or accusation) but a phrase used to identify a certain belief. It was brought it up in the previous discussion that i linked to. The link then opened up here showing that bit from the other discussion. BTW in that discussion the following question was asked that appears not to have been answered:

“How does your POV differ from the “soul sleep” perspective?”

What would you prefer to call your doctrine, if not “soul sleep”? Some other names for it (or synonymous ideas) are “mortalism”, “annihilation”, “materialism”, “conditional immortality,” “soul annihilation”, “soul death”, etc.

“The phrase soul sleep appears to have been popularised by John Calvin in the subtitle to his Latin tract Psychopannychia …Orléans, 1534…Luther’s use of similar language (but this time defending the view) appears in print only a few years after Calvin:…“so the soul after death enters its chamber and peace, and sleeping does not feel its sleep” " — Enarrationes in Genesis [Commentary on Genesis] (in Latin), 1535–45.[32]”

"The doctrine of soul sleep claims that the soul literally sleeps until the time of the bodily resurrection when it is awakened. During this time the person is not conscious, and has no awareness of their condition or state. This teaching also claims that the soul resides in the memory of God until its awakening. Seventh Day Adventists teach this doctrine…Jehovah’s Witnesses teach a variation of this doctrine called annihilation, which claims the body and soul cease to exist at death. This teaching is similar to the Seventh Day Adventists teaching of soul sleep, but different in that the soul lies in a state of death (not unconscious sleep) until it is made alive (not awakened) in the bodily resurrection."

“Soul sleep is the teaching that when a person dies that his soul “sleeps” until the time of the future resurrection. In this condition, the person is not aware or conscious. The Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Seventh-day Adventists hold to this doctrine as do most conditionalists (those who say that the wicked are judged and don’t exist anymore). But the Jehovah’s Witnesses teach annihilation. This means that after death a person ceases to exist. At the future resurrection, they maintain that the soul is made again. Basically, it is a re-creation of the individual. The Seventh-day Adventists teach at the soul is simply inert and resides in the memory of God.”

If my memory serves, I recommended the book to you at one point. I think you were put off by the correlation with NDE’s. I may be wrong though.

Yes, the book completely allowed me to look at the afterlife in a different manner. The scriptures have very little to say about what happens after we die, IMHO. But many will get behind a pulpit, (or in front of a TV camera for that matter) and promise all kinds of things for heaven. It is for the most part wishful conjecture.

Ross devoted her life to studying this subject and some of her methods (if you do some research) are not without a raised eyebrow or two, but it is a place to start and an alternative to ‘walking hand in hand with your loved one for eternity.’ :confused:

My current thinking is that all creation is still inside a time-space classroom for learning—a lesser reality from which no angel or man has yet graduated into eternity (the greater reality).

At physical death there are two possibilities for humans:

-The unrighteous go below to hell/Gehenna/Hades—the part of Sheol still in existence for the damned, a POW camp for lost souls still under the dominion of Satan (although I don’t believe Satan dwells there or directs it); followed by being cast into the lake of fire (Rev. 20), under the dominion of a loving, healing God.

-The righteous go directly into God’s presence within some lesser dimension of heaven, manifested inside linear time.

(It appears that prior to the Ascension of Christ, the righteous dead also went below, to Sheol, which at that time had two compartments: Paradise / "Abraham’s bosom” for the righteous, and hell/Gehenna/Hades for the unrighteous. Recall that the deceased prophet Samuel was called up from below by Saul and the witch of Endor, 1 Samuel 28. And when Christ ascended, he apparently took with him the occupants of the Paradise side of Sheol, the “prisoners of hope.” See Zech. 9:9-12, Eph. 4:8.)

However, when the very last person—presumably Satan—has finally repented in the lake of fire and accepted Christ as Savior (demonstrated by coming out and going through the open gates into the City to take the freely offered water of life, Rev. 22), then “the end” will come, and we will all graduate together into eternity—the greater reality, the non-linear time-space habitation of God:

“THEN THE END will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. For he ‘has put everything under his feet.’ Now when it says that ‘everything’ has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ. When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all.” 1 Corinthians 15:24-28 (NIV)

The Bible doesn’t have much to say about the greater reality of “eternity,” where everything is safe, joyful, and immortal; but we are assured that, “As it is written: ‘Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.’” 1 Corinthians 2:9. And we know that, “Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end.” Isaiah 9:7. And I certainly believe there will still be animals!

For a thorough treatment of time vs. eternity, consider,
Is Hell Eternal or Will God’s Plan Fail?
by Rev. Charles H Pridgeon (3rd Edition, 1931)

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Then what is the purpose of “the resurrection of the righteous”(Luke 14:14)? Or do you believe, like some, that going “directly into God’s presence” after death IS the resurrection?

As I understand it… one purpose for “the resurrection of the just” was that they might receive their due rewards… the subject of the context. We know also from Luke’s further account in Acts that… “the resurrection of the just and unjust” was on their near expectant horizon — Luke uses the Greek word <μέλλω> mellō commonly rendered… about to.

Thus the resurrection of the just and unjust (Acts 24:15) would equate to and be the culmination of John’s resurrection unto life or condemnation of Jn 5:25, 29. Said life or condemnation are NOT eternal destinies stuff BUT relative to the “rewards” or their loss associated with the parousia… each according to their deeds aka works, i.e., the good or evil they had done.

This may be a factor in the writer of Heb 11:35better resurrection” as in that of the firstfruit martyrs who were promised specific rewards, e.g., Rev 2:10; 6:11.

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No, that’s not my current understanding. I understand the resurrection to have to do with the physical body (our “earthsuit”) coming back to life; immediately followed by the transformation of the physical body from perishable to imperishable in order for it to be able to enter heaven, at the last trumpet:

1Co 15:42
So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable;

1Co 15:50-52
I declare to you, brothers and sisters, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep [die physically], but we will all be changed—in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.

My understanding is that at physical death, the believer’s spirit / and soul / and awareness do not stay dead or asleep with the perishable physical body.

Would you not agree there is an expectancy implied in the following passage of an immediate ascension of the spirit to Christ, although without the body?:

Act 7:56, 59-60
“Look,” he [Stephen] said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”
…While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” Then he fell on his knees and cried out, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this, he fell asleep [physically died].

In distinguishing between body and spirit, Paul seems to indicate that the spirit does not require the body for awareness of others, nor for awareness and enjoyment of the Lord:

Col 2:5
For though I am absent from you in body, I am present with you in spirit and delight to see how disciplined you are and how firm your faith in Christ is.

2Co 5:8
We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord.

Philippians 1:23-24
I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be [immediately] with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body.

Hrmano said:
No, that’s not my current understanding. I understand the resurrection to have to do with the physical body (our “earthsuit”) coming back to life; immediately followed by the transformation of the physical body from perishable to imperishable in order for it to be able to enter heaven, at the last trumpet:

Good, The problem is that the Parousia (your idea of the last trumpet or the second coming) has already happened in some of our views. Good luck.

I am a futurist and not a preterist. Because, for example,

-I don’t believe the seventh/last trumpet has yet sounded; after all, my natural body has obviously not yet become an immortal spiritual body, it is still flesh and blood:

1Co 15:42
So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable.

1Co 15:44
It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.

1Co 15:50-52
I declare to you, brothers and sisters, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep [die physically], but we will all be changed—in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.

-I don’t believe the seventh/last trumpet has yet sounded: after all, “the kingdoms of this world” have obviously not yet become “the kingdoms of our Lord and His Christ”:

Rev 11:15
Then the seventh angel sounded [his trumpet]: And there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!”

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There are those that have posted above that could well be full of bovine feces… :roll_eyes:

We die… And we realize God, and God has all kinds of great things for us to experience and understand.

Plain and simple as that. :smiley:

Get after it if you want to deny my position…

Origen, why are you talking about “soul sleep”? I have never met anyone during all the 80 years of my life that believes in “soul sleep.” However, I have met many people who believe your “soul” or “spirit” is the “real you,” that you inhabit your body until you die, and then you go somewhere after your death. These people seem to think that those of us who believe that when you die, you REALLY die; you’re dead, and you’ll stay dead until Jesus raises you to life again at the last day, believe in “soul sleep.” We don’t. We believe that when you die, you no longer exist until you are raised from death at the last day. And it won’t be a copy of you. It will be YOU. That’s what it means to be raised from death.

When Jesus died, His “soul” or “spirit” didn’t go to heaven. After God raised Him from the dead, He said to Mary, "“Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” (John 20:17). If Jesus’ “soul” didn’t go immediately to God in heaven—if He had to stay dead in the grave for 3 days, why do we expect to go to heaven immediately after we die. Indeed, if this were true, why bother with a resurrection at all? Why not live happily in heaven forever as disembodied spirits?

In your view Paidion what is your understanding or position on Paul’s words here relative to what you’ve just shared above?

2Cor 5:6, 8 So we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord. — We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.

Or perhaps Jesus’ words here…

Mk 12:26-27 But concerning the dead, that they rise, have you not read in the book of Moses, in the burning bush passage, how God spoke to him, saying, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not the God of the dead, but the God of the living. You are therefore greatly deceived.”