Life after Death
Traditional Christian doctrine about life after death is quite different to the tradition I grew up in. Here I will summarise the foundation belief structure of traditional Christian doctrine as to life after death. In a sub-article, I will summarise the tradition that I grew up with. Then I will endeavour to unpick the whole argument and seek to arrive at a resolution.
Immortality of the Soul
This doctrine asserts that human souls are immortal and continue to exist after the body dies. Upon death, the soul departs the body and enters either a state of eternal bliss in the present of God in Heaven or a state of separation from God and eternal punishment in Hell.
The dead are liable to bodily resurrection at the end of time. This doctrine asserts that there will be a general resurrection where the bodies of believers will be resurrected and transformed into glorified bodies to be reunited with their souls in Heaven.
There will be a final judgement where all individuals will be held accountable for their actions and decisions in this life. Those who have accepted Jesus Christ as their saviour and have lived according to His teachings will be granted eternal life in Heaven. Conversely, those who have rejected Christ and lived in disobedience will face eternal separation from God in Hell.
Heaven is a place of eternal joy, peace and communion with God for those who have accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour. It is the ultimate destination for believers, and they will experience the fullness of God’s presence and love.
Hell is a place of eternal punishment and separation from God for those who have rejected His grace and forgiveness. It is a state of suffering and separation from everthing that is good and Godly.
Some Christians believe that after the final judgement, God will create a renewed and perfected Earth where believers will dwell eternally with God.
Amillennialism, Premillennialism and Postmillennialism
This is probably one of the more technical discussions there are.
Have a look at this discussion for more detail. I will attempt to summarise the difference between the three views of the Kingdom of God as briefly as I can.
Fundamentally, this discussion arises out of the interpretation of the book of Revelation and eschatology or end times concerning the reign of Christ. At this point, my theology on eschatology is that somewhat aligned to that of a Dispensational Premillennialist being closest to what I have grown up with. As always, I am trying to come into this entire discussion with an entirely open mind.
Amillennialists believe that there is no literal thousand year earthly reign of Christ (Rev 20). In essence they believe that the thousand years is symbolic and is in fact an indefinite period with Christ currently reigning in heaven. Amillennialists assert the spiritual nature of Christs Kingdom. They claim that believers are currently partaking in the blessings of His kingdom. They pursue the expansion of the gospel throughout the world.
Premillennialist hold that Christ will return before the thousand year kingdom described in Rev 20. The second coming of Christ will be followed by a literal and visible reign of Jesus on Earth for a millennium. Historical Premillennialists sees this current “church age” as distinct from the future millennium. Dispensational Premillennialists divides history into distinct dispensations. They hold that the saints will be removed from the earth for a period. In this period the earth is in tribulation. Then will be the establishment of the millennium kingdom and followed by a final judgement.
Postmillennialists hold that the Church, through the preaching of the gospel and the work of the Holy Spirit will progressively influence and transform the world. So this gradual process will result in the golden age of righteousness, peace and prosperity on Earth. Once global christianity has been achieved, Christ will return and the final resurrection and judgement will take place. Postmillennialists emphasise the power of the gospel to influence this world incrementally.
I think that the key underpinning discussion here is to identify the purpose of God. Therefore, how is God’s purpose fulfilled in life after death for His servants? I anticipate that this will be an interesting exploration of His purpose in creation.
As with my doctrinal review related to the Trinity, I will endeavour to hold my own views in check initially.