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  #1  
Old Mar 10, '13, 7:05 am
Zeno11 Zeno11 is offline
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Default Catholic Teaching V The Bible on where we go after death.

I am confused about the teaching s of the church on what happens to us after death.

I have always been taught that we are judged at the point of death, and go either to heaven, hell or purgatory. But there seems to be a lot of evidence in the Bible to contradict these teachings.

Starting with Genesis 2:7 ...'And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.' So it is the breath, or spirit of God that gives us life. In reverse, when God's spirit is removed from us at death, we turn back into dust. This is acknowledged in the Lenten practice of receiving ashes on our foreheads: 'For thou art dust, and unto dust thou shalt return'. Doesn't this suggest that we go back to dust, not to heaven/hell/purgatory, until the Day of Judgement?

Then in Job 14:10-12 ...'But man dieth, and wasteth away: yea, man giveth up the ghost, and where is he? As the waters fail from the sea, and the flood decayeth and drieth up: So man lieth down, and riseth not: till the heavens be no more, they shall not awake, nor be raised out of their sleep.' Again,this tells us that we sleep until the Day of Judgement. We also acknowledge this when we pray for the dead after the consecration by saying 'May these, and all who sleep in Christ....'

These seem pretty clear Bible verse about death and what happens when we die. Where is man after the Spirit of God leaves him? He returns to the ground and doesn't arise until when? "till the heavens be no more". When will the heavens be no more? When Christ Jesus returns at the second coming and resurrects His people. Now Job describes death in an interesting way. He says that we will "sleep" when we die. Jesus also taught that death is like sleep:

Matthew 9:24 ...'He said unto them, Give place: for the maid is not dead, but sleepeth. And they laughed him to scorn.'
John 11:11-14 ...'These things said he: and after that he saith unto them, Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep. Then said his disciples, Lord, if he sleep, he shall do well. Howbeit Jesus spake of his death: but they thought that he had spoken of taking of rest in sleep. Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead.'

Job 34:14-15 ...'If he set his heart upon man, if he gather unto himself his spirit and his breath; All flesh shall perish together, and man shall turn again unto dust.' ... With the spirit of God in us, we are living souls, but without God's spirit (breath) we return to dust.

David revealed the same truth about death in Psalm 104:29-30 ...'Thou hidest thy face, they are troubled: thou takest away their breath, they die, and return to their dust. Thou sendest forth thy spirit, they are created: and thou renewest the face of the earth.'
1 Corinthians 15:22-24 ...'For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming. Then cometh the end.'

Paul is saying that it is ONLY at the resurrection of the righteous at the second coming of Christ, that we are raised from our graves and go to heaven. NOT before.

Psalm 115:17 ...'The dead praise NOT the LORD, neither any that go down into silence.'
David revealed the truth about death. When we die, we go to the grave and stay in silence. We sleep until the resurrection day. So who can praise God? ... Psalm 150:6 ...'Let every thing that hath breath praise the LORD. Praise ye the LORD.' ... Every LIVING being, that has breath! The book of Ecclesiastes also confirms this Bible truth ... Ecclesiastes 9:5,10 ...'For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing.


1 Thessalonians 4:13-14 ...'But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.' ...

Also if Christians go to heaven when we die, then we will have received our reward there and then. But Jesus revealed the truth about when we get our reward ... Matthew 16:27 ...'For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.' ... Only at the second coming and resurrection we receive our reward, not before.

The Catholic teaching that we go to judgement immediately at the point of death does not make sense. Would we be sent to heaven and then taken and judged again on the day of Judgement when Christ returns? Conversely, we one be sent to hell after death and then taken out on Judgement Day and judged again and sent back to hell? It doesn't make sense, whereas the Biblical teaching that we sleep until the Day of Judgement and the return of Christ makes perfect sense.

John 5:28-29 ...'Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.' ... Where are we when we hear His voice? IN THE GRAVE. This is where we will be when we die, in the grave.

This is a subject dear to my heart as I have buried quite a few of my family and am currently looking after two more who are very elderly and not long for this world. I also find the Bible teachings much more comforting: that we die, sleep in Christ (if we are Christians) and know nothing more until the voice of the returning Lord calls us from our graves to the Day of Judgement. Why is Catholic teaching so different to these verses found in the Bible?
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  #2  
Old Mar 10, '13, 7:32 am
jonathan_hili jonathan_hili is offline
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Default Re: Catholic Teaching V The Bible on where we go after death.

Hi Zeno, you've raised some good points here. However, I think you need to be careful with the use of some of the Old Testament quotations, mainly because with the death and resurrection of Our Lord, a new dispensation has occurred, but also because ancient Jews did not have a clear-cut understanding of the separation of body and soul.

Nevertheless, it's worthwhile looking at them

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zeno11 View Post
Starting with Genesis 2:7 ...'And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.'
What we see in the Old Testament is a stark contrast between the life of the soul after death, which is pictured as abiding in Sheol (and variously other places, such as Abraham's bosom), and the body, which is seen as corruptible. Notice the words used in Genesis: "man became a living soul". This means that man is more than just a body, so while the body may decay, something about us, who we are, remains with God.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zeno11 View Post
Then in Job 14:10-12 ...'But man dieth, and wasteth away: yea, man giveth up the ghost, and where is he? As the waters fail from the sea, and the flood decayeth and drieth up: So man lieth down, and riseth not:....'
In a sense, this is also true, as those who die are said to "sleep". However, we have to understand that this is very figurative language. The verb "sleep" is often used because - well, obviously - dead people look like they're asleep! This does not mean "inactive" however. Even you are active in your sleep, and are even conscious to a degree. "Sleep" in the Lord is more to remind us of God's rest rather than our unconsciousness or lack of life.

Job is lamenting here on the transience of life; it is a pessimistic portrayal of the human condition, much like that in Ecclesiastes. These verses need to be balanced with more positive ones found elsewhere in the New Testament.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zeno11 View Post
David revealed the same truth about death in Psalm 104:29-30 ...'Thou hidest thy face, they are troubled: thou takest away their breath, they die, and return to their dust. Thou sendest forth thy spirit, they are created: and thou renewest the face of the earth.'
Again, watch the context, Zeno. David is here meditating on the life-giving quality of the Lord rather than theologically discussing the destination of persons after death. Again, the "return to their dust" is very much a physicalist appreciation of what happens at death.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zeno11 View Post
1 Corinthians 15:22-24 ...'For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming. Then cometh the end.'

Paul is saying that it is ONLY at the resurrection of the righteous at the second coming of Christ, that we are raised from our graves and go to heaven. NOT before.
I don't think so, Zeno. Rather he is discoursing on the resurrection of the body. We know that Paul believed in life after personal death. If not, why would he say that he would rather be absent from the body but present with the Lord?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zeno11 View Post
1 Thessalonians 4:13-14 ...'But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.' ...
Again, the metaphor for sleep. But this does not mean "insensible", rather, again, Paul is stressing the general resurrection. In fact, even though I don't agree with your position here, Zeno, I think you have brought up a great point that Catholics and Christians generally often forget: namely, the general resurrection. This is our hope. This is our future life, not some disembodied state.

I would suggest also balancing quotations you have cited - and cited well, I might add - with those from other parts of the Bible, such as:

Luke 23:43: And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”

1 Corinthians 15:51-57: Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. (Notice the use of "sleep" in this passage.)

2 Corinthians 5:8: Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord.

John 14:1-31: “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms."

Romans 8:35-39: Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Acts 2:27: For you will not abandon my soul to Hades, or let your Holy One see corruption.

Also, remember the Transfiguration: Moses and Elijah were alive with Christ on the mountain.

Also, a very last point: the breath of God which is taken away at death - that breath is the Holy Spirit: if He abideth in us, we have no fear of death but shall inherit eternal life.

Praise be to God!
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  #3  
Old Mar 10, '13, 8:00 am
Fidelis Fidelis is offline
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Default Re: Catholic Teaching V The Bible on where we go after death.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jonathan_hili View Post
Hi Zeno, you've raised some good points here. However, I think you need to be careful with the use of some of the Old Testament quotations, mainly because with the death and resurrection of Our Lord, a new dispensation has occurred, but also because ancient Jews did not have a clear-cut understanding of the separation of body and soul.

Nevertheless, it's worthwhile looking at them...
Excellent explanation.
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  #4  
Old Mar 10, '13, 8:06 am
Jguerra Jguerra is offline
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Default Re: Catholic Teaching V The Bible on where we go after death.

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Originally Posted by jonathan_hili View Post
Also, a very last point: the breath of God which is taken away at death - that breath is the Holy Spirit: if He abideth in us, we have no fear of death but shall inherit eternal life.
.

If, what I read in Genesis 2:7 and based on the Hebrew term for 'breathed' (ruah) it is at that point when Adam became a living being. Adam received his soul from the Lord and it is the soul which "is taken away at death."

The Holy Spirit, on the other hand, we receive at the moment of Baptism. He, the Holy Spirit, dwells in us as the third person of the Holy Trinity. He does not replace the soul but lives within us. After death the Christian soul experiences the Triune God fully and perhaps sees the guidance of the Holy Spirit throughout its earthly life.

I did enjoy your biblical exegesis.

Joe
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  #5  
Old Mar 10, '13, 8:21 am
Zeno11 Zeno11 is offline
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Default Re: Catholic Teaching V The Bible on where we go after death.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jguerra View Post
.

If, what I read in Genesis 2:7 and based on the Hebrew term for 'breathed' (ruah) it is at that point when Adam became a living being. Adam received his soul from the Lord and it is the soul which "is taken away at death."

The Holy Spirit, on the other hand, we receive at the moment of Baptism. He, the Holy Spirit, dwells in us as the third person of the Holy Trinity. He does not replace the soul but lives within us. After death the Christian soul experiences the Triune God fully and perhaps sees the guidance of the Holy Spirit throughout its earthly life.

I did enjoy your biblical exegesis.

Joe
Thank you!
But I'm still not convinced. There is nothing in any of these responses that shows me that we do anything but 'sleep in Christ' until the Day of Judgement. Yes, we have the promise of eternal life if we are true Christians and die in a state of grace, but where does the idea come from that we are judged immediately after our death? Where in the Bible does it suggest that we fully experience the Triune God before the Day of Judgement? Why then do we pray for those who 'sleep in Christ'? Why would we be judged twice? Why did Jesus refer to the dead as 'asleep'? How would he raise Lazarus if Lazarus had already gone to his eternal reward - that would seem a bit unfair!
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  #6  
Old Mar 10, '13, 8:35 am
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carlos19 carlos19 is offline
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Default Re: Catholic Teaching V The Bible on where we go after death.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zeno11 View Post
Thank you!
But I'm still not convinced. There is nothing in any of these responses that shows me that we do anything but 'sleep in Christ' until the Day of Judgement. Yes, we have the promise of eternal life if we are true Christians and die in a state of grace, but where does the idea come from that we are judged immediately after our death? Where in the Bible does it suggest that we fully experience the Triune God before the Day of Judgement? Why then do we pray for those who 'sleep in Christ'? Why would we be judged twice? Why did Jesus refer to the dead as 'asleep'? How would he raise Lazarus if Lazarus had already gone to his eternal reward - that would seem a bit unfair!
Why did Jesus say today you will be with me in paradise? Is he contradicting himself? Why did dead moses come to him at the transfiguration? Is he contradicting himself? Why did Jesus tell the parable of Lazarus where both Lazarus and the rich man were very much awake after death? Was Jesus contradicting himself?
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Old Mar 10, '13, 8:40 am
Zeno11 Zeno11 is offline
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Default Re: Catholic Teaching V The Bible on where we go after death.

[
I would suggest also balancing quotations you have cited - and cited well, I might add - with those from other parts of the Bible, such as:

Luke 23:43: And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”

1 Corinthians 15:51-57: Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. (Notice the use of "sleep" in this passage.)

2 Corinthians 5:8: Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord.

John 14:1-31: “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms."

Romans 8:35-39: Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Acts 2:27: For you will not abandon my soul to Hades, or let your Holy One see corruption.

Also, remember the Transfiguration: Moses and Elijah were alive with Christ on the mountain.

Also, a very last point: the breath of God which is taken away at death - that breath is the Holy Spirit: if He abideth in us, we have no fear of death but shall inherit eternal life.

Praise be to God![/quote]


Thank you for your interesting response. I'm still not convinced that anything you have said points to us being judged at any time before the second coming, which begs the question where are we until then? The general resurrection is indeed our great hope, and that seems to be the time stated in the Bible for our judgement, not at the moment of death.

There just seems to be too many verses that contradict this idea:
Matthew 27:52 ...'And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose.' ... At Jesus' resurrection He gave gifts to some and resurrected them also from the dead. But what were they doing before they were resurrected by Jesus? They were sleeping. In other words they were in their graves not knowing, anything awaiting the resurrection.
1 Thessalonians 4:13-14 ...'But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.' ... Now if Christians went to heaven when we die, then Paul would have encouraged these with this truth, but no, Paul knew that you don't go to heaven when you die, and therefore he is encouraging the people with the promise of the resurrection when Christ returns. Let's face it, Paul could have said "hey don't worry about death, you will go to heaven as soon as you die and be with God". But no, he told them the Bible truth about death, in that you sleep in the dust until the resurrection.

I agree that the Old Testament verses that I quoted are more open to different interpretations than the one I gave, but the NT verses seem very clear. Our hope is that we die in a state of grace, and that with the second Coming we will be resurrected and brought to heaven. It would seem to make more sense to me. After all, if Lazarus had died, been judged and gone to heaven, raising him from the dead again wouldn't make much sense, would it? I don't think he would have been too pleased! However, if he just been in the 'sleep' of death, that would be very different.

However, I take your point about Jesus' words to the Good Thief, the Transfiguration etc. So it seems I am still confused!
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Old Mar 10, '13, 8:41 am
68Crystal 68Crystal is offline
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Default Re: Catholic Teaching V The Bible on where we go after death.

Thank you so much for sharing this with us. My son was killed, in my heart I have always known Nicholas is with Jesus....people have tried to tell me different. The moment he died in my arms I looked up crying and told Jesus, "Jesus I know why you wanted Nicholas he was so special...I know you will take care of him now..He will be happier with you than on this earth with all it's troubles. But I cry for him still...
Thank you Lord for giving me the chance to raise Nicholas..I will love him forever...(Nicholas someday we will be together again, until then.....I love you my sweet boy!!!
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Old Mar 10, '13, 8:58 am
Zeno11 Zeno11 is offline
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Default Re: Catholic Teaching V The Bible on where we go after death.

Quote:
Originally Posted by carlos19 View Post
Why did Jesus say today you will be with me in paradise? Is he contradicting himself? Why did dead moses come to him at the transfiguration? Is he contradicting himself? Why did Jesus tell the parable of Lazarus where both Lazarus and the rich man were very much awake after death? Was Jesus contradicting himself?
Yes, these points give me food for thought.
As far as I can see, the story of Lazarus and the rich man cannot be talking about the time before the Day of Judgement. If the rich man had "eyes" and a "tongue" and Lazarus had a "finger" then it would mean at death they went BODILY to their rewards. But scripture clearly does not teach this, as at death our bodies go to the grave. So Jesus is telling a story to illustrate that once we are dead, our destination is already either heaven or hell. After all, if this is a real event, then it means that those in heaven and those being "tormented in flames of fire in hell" can see each other, which doesn't sound very heavenly at all. So surely Jesus is telling an imaginative story to illustrate his point that no-one can pass from being 'lost' to being 'saved' after his death? At least that is how I would read this story. Of course it also shows that we are guilty of sin by omitting to help as well as actually sinning ourselves, because the rich man didn't really do anything actively sinful, he just 'didn't notice' the poor man at his gates. So I don't think Jesus was contradicting Himself, but he was talking about what happens after the Day of Judgement.

About the others, I don't know. I think it is entirely possible some blessed souls go straight to heaven, but that that is not the case for the rest of us; but I don't know. I still can't see any evidence for us being judged immediately upon death, and I can find a lot of evidence that points to us being judged at the Second Coming.
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Old Mar 10, '13, 9:07 am
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Default Re: Catholic Teaching V The Bible on where we go after death.

Zeno, our faith is not based on Scripture alone but on Scripture and Tradition, and is authentically taught and explained by the Magisterium. With a Scripture alone mentality you can arrive at just about any set of beliefs you want to read into Scripture.
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Old Mar 10, '13, 9:18 am
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Default Re: Catholic Teaching V The Bible on where we go after death.

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Originally Posted by 68Crystal View Post
Thank you so much for sharing this with us. My son was killed, in my heart I have always known Nicholas is with Jesus....people have tried to tell me different. The moment he died in my arms I looked up crying and told Jesus, "Jesus I know why you wanted Nicholas he was so special...I know you will take care of him now..He will be happier with you than on this earth with all it's troubles. But I cry for him still...
Thank you Lord for giving me the chance to raise Nicholas..I will love him forever...(Nicholas someday we will be together again, until then.....I love you my sweet boy!!!
Lord Jesus, Good Shepherd, gather your sheep,
keep them in your loving care, and may all of us in paradise
find again our family united in Thy most Sacred Heart.

May our Lord bless you and comfort you.
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Old Mar 10, '13, 10:32 am
jonathan_hili jonathan_hili is offline
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Default Re: Catholic Teaching V The Bible on where we go after death.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jguerra View Post
.

If, what I read in Genesis 2:7 and based on the Hebrew term for 'breathed' (ruah) it is at that point when Adam became a living being. Adam received his soul from the Lord and it is the soul which "is taken away at death."

The Holy Spirit, on the other hand, we receive at the moment of Baptism. He, the Holy Spirit, dwells in us as the third person of the Holy Trinity. He does not replace the soul but lives within us. After death the Christian soul experiences the Triune God fully and perhaps sees the guidance of the Holy Spirit throughout its earthly life.

I did enjoy your biblical exegesis.

Joe
Oh sorry for the confusion, Joe, I meant it spiritually - that the Holy Spirit gives us spiritual life. Adam after the Fall, while having physical life and a "spirit" (soul) was dead spiritually because his sin had separated him from the Spirit. I should have been clearer.
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Old Mar 10, '13, 10:43 am
jonathan_hili jonathan_hili is offline
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Default Re: Catholic Teaching V The Bible on where we go after death.

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Originally Posted by Zeno11 View Post
Paul knew that you don't go to heaven when you die, and therefore he is encouraging the people with the promise of the resurrection when Christ returns. Let's face it, Paul could have said "hey don't worry about death, you will go to heaven as soon as you die and be with God". But no, he told them the Bible truth about death, in that you sleep in the dust until the resurrection.

I agree that the Old Testament verses that I quoted are more open to different interpretations than the one I gave, but the NT verses seem very clear. Our hope is that we die in a state of grace, and that with the second Coming we will be resurrected and brought to heaven. It would seem to make more sense to me. After all, if Lazarus had died, been judged and gone to heaven, raising him from the dead again wouldn't make much sense, would it? I don't think he would have been too pleased! However, if he just been in the 'sleep' of death, that would be very different.

However, I take your point about Jesus' words to the Good Thief, the Transfiguration etc. So it seems I am still confused!
Hi Zeno,

Jewish people during the first century generally believed that when you died your soul went to Sheol, that's why St Peter writes that Jesus, after his death, preached to those in Hades (1 Peter 3:19). Again, the idea of "sleep" I think is to highlight entering God's "rest" rather than unconsciousness. Jews certainly believed in praying for the souls of the dead and that one could communicate with the dead - which would make little sense if they were oblivious to everything until the resurrection. We can also look at the parable of Lazarus and Dives in Luke, or else what Jesus says to the Sadducees: He is the God of the living, not the dead.

Why the emphasis on resurrection then? Remember who Paul was preaching to - often Greeks who denied physical life after death. His emphasis on resurrection is not only to refute their Platonism but also to point out the important fact that Christ is the first: he is our brother and we will be like him.

A final point. I also think - once again - you are right to highlight what you do. Our Catholic faith develops over time as we learn more. I think it was providential that the faith should spread through the Greek language and throughout the Greco-Roman world. The interface between Christianity and Greek philosophy has helped us to understand more about God, ourselves and the afterlife, and this is where a greater understanding of the soul after death has developed.

BUT!!!!

There is resurrection - we must never forget that!

Praise be to God!
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Old Mar 10, '13, 10:47 am
jonathan_hili jonathan_hili is offline
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Default Re: Catholic Teaching V The Bible on where we go after death.

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Originally Posted by 68Crystal View Post
Thank you so much for sharing this with us. My son was killed, in my heart I have always known Nicholas is with Jesus....people have tried to tell me different. The moment he died in my arms I looked up crying and told Jesus, "Jesus I know why you wanted Nicholas he was so special...I know you will take care of him now..He will be happier with you than on this earth with all it's troubles. But I cry for him still...
Thank you Lord for giving me the chance to raise Nicholas..I will love him forever...(Nicholas someday we will be together again, until then.....I love you my sweet boy!!!
God bless you, Crystal.

And God bless you for mourning - but just as you raised him, God too will raise him!

No matter how much you love your son now, he will love him more and more and be more intimate with him than you could ever have imagined.

"Eye has not seen, ear has not heard, nor has it entered into the heart of man, what God has prepared for those who love Him."
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Prayer Intentions

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