Afterlife, etc


Ok guys, let me give you some background before I ask my question. I have an uncle (a very kind, good uncle) who converted from Catholicism to Seventh Day Adventism a long long time ago. He and I have had a religious dialogue going since I was in 9th grade at a Catholic High school. I am twenty-one now, and yet I still struggle with one of his arguments against the Catholic faith.

He, as with all Adventists, do not believe in the afterlife as we do. It’s not your typical “there’s no such thing as Purgatory” stuff that you get from regular Protestants. Instead, he subscribes to ‘soul sleep’, i.e. the idea that the soul “sleeps” after death and does not reawaken til the Resurrection.

My problem is not so much that I cannot prove that there’s a heaven and a hell after death (though I do sometimes have trouble with hell). My problem is that I don’t understand how it all fits in. If we go to heaven, what is the point of being ressurrected again? I know this seems like a question that a cradle Catholic should’ve settled a long time ago, but I’m stuck. I cannot figure how, if God and heaven are outside of time, it is that we are in heaven for a while and then are ressurrected again. Would it not be pointless to be resurrected? We’d already be in eternal bliss after all. Is my conception of heaven wrong here?

I’m terribly stuck here, and I need your help. If I can just understand how the afterlife fits in with the resurrection, then I can put the lynchpin in my argument against my uncle’s “Christian” understanding of the afterlife, and not have to look like such an idiot when he asks me such a simple question.

Thank you!


The point of the resurrection is–you get your body back! Human beings, even in heaven, are not complete without their bodies.


There two separate judgments:

**#1 **

At the time of our death we will face our particular (personal) judgment as the following Catechism paragraph teaches:

*1022 Each man receives his eternal retribution in his immortal soul at the very moment of his death, in a particular judgment that refers his life to Christ: either entrance into the blessedness of H**eaven - through a purification or immediately, or immediate
and everlasting damnation. *

Our particular (personal) judgment happens immediately after death, and we live in spirit only until the time when Jesus returns for the final or last judgment (see #2 below).

The final judgment for all souls takes place when Jesus returns, as the following paragraph from the Catechism teaches:

1040 The Last Judgment will come when Christ returns in glory. only the Father knows the day and the hour; only he determines the moment of its coming. Then through his Son Jesus Christ he will pronounce the final word on all history. We shall know the ultimate meaning of the whole work of creation and of the entire economy of salvation and understand the marvelous ways by which his Providence led everything towards its final end. The Last Judgment will reveal that God’s justice triumphs over all the injustices committed by his creatures and that God’s love is stronger than death. The message of the Last Judgment calls men to conversion while God is still giving them “the acceptable time, . . . the day of salvation.” It inspires a holy fear of God and commits them to the justice of the Kingdom of God. It proclaims the “blessed hope” of the Lord’s return, when he will come “to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at in all who have believed.”

At the time of the Last/Final judgment, we all shall receive resurected bodies, as the following paragraphs teach:

997 What is “rising”? In death, the separation of the soul from the body, the human body decays and the soul goes to meet God, while awaiting its reunion with its glorified body. God, in his almighty power, will definitively grant incorruptible life to our bodies by reuniting them with our souls, through the power of Jesus’ Resurrection.

998 Who will rise? All the dead will rise, “those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of judgment.” How? Christ is raised with his own body: “See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself”; but he did not return to an earthly life. So, in him, “all of them will rise again with their own bodies which they now bear,” but Christ “will change our lowly body to be like his glorious body,” into a “spiritual body”: But someone will ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body do they come?” You foolish man! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. And what you sow is not the body which is to be, but a bare kernel. . . .What is sown is perishable, what is raised is imperishable. . . . The dead will be raised imperishable. . . . For this perishable nature must put on the imperishable, and this mortal nature must put on immortality.

*1001 When? Definitively “at the last day,” “at the end of the world.” Indeed, the resurrection of the dead is closely associated with Christ’s Parousia: *For the Lord himself will descend from heaven, with a cry of command, with the archangel’s call, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.

I hope this helped.


Hi Nik___,

[size=3]If we go to heaven, what is the point of being ressurrected again? I know this seems like a question that a cradle Catholic should’ve settled a long time ago, but I’m stuck. I cannot figure how, if God and heaven are outside of time, it is that we are in heaven for a while and then are ressurrected again. Would it not be pointless to be resurrected? We’d already be in eternal bliss after all. Is my conception of heaven wrong here?[/size]

Humans are made up of body and soul. This is what makes us what we are. The soul, without the body, is not complete. Christ resurrected whole, divinity and humanity, body and soul. He is the first fruit and we shall follow in his footsteps. Has not our body struggled in life to lead a Christian life. It is just that it should share in the reward. You will find in Revelation that God wants a New Heaven and a New Earth. How can we enjoy a New Earth without a body?

As for the whole S.D.A. thing about “sleep”, it is derived from the fact that in several passages of the Bible, people who have died are said to have “gone to sleep”.

Here is a site that disprove “soul sleep” :

However, don’t expect to convince your relative. Pray for him every day. God will take care of him.



Thanks guys, this is extremely helpful.

One other question. Another difficulty I have in placing heaven and the ressurrection is the question of time. I’ve always heard that God is outside of time. We have a mode of consciousness that is limited to seeing events happening in order; God on the other hand sees everything happening in an unbounded Now.

So, If God is outside of time, I would guess heaven is. So, if heaven is outside of time, then what is the point of going there at all? Wouldn’t it be instead that as soon as you died you’d be ressurrected again? This has bothered me greatly. Perhaps I’m wrong about this. The more I think about it, I can see us retaining our mode of consciousness even after death.

Perhaps our heaven will be different from God’s? Didn’t Paul say there’s 7 layers of heaven? In The Great Divorce, though it is purely a symbol for the Glories of heaven, Lewis makes it seem as though Heaven has an antechamber before you get to ‘deeper heaven’ as he calls it.

What do you guys think about this?


TPJ Catholic gave a great reply right out of the CCC. I’ll add one point, that an Adventist won’t consider that valid as many other religions do. The only thing you can do then is one of two approaches - (1) refute/create doubt in whether it’s valid to just believe the Bible, vs. Jesus’ other teaching passed down (in other words, are we saying that out of Jesus’ whole life, whence John said “if I wrote down everything He did it would fill volumes and volumes, this is sufficient for you to believe” (paraphrased <g), which then you can discuss the verses in the Bible where Jesus passes the authority to Peter for the Chruch, and to pass down from him, the teachings. Or (2) , there are verses in the Bible, OT and NT (Daniel, Jeremiah, Revelation amng others) that back up the CCC statements that TPJ cited.

As for Heaven, I don’t think we have any revelation from God on that - I may be wrong (I for one spend my life trying to get there and unite with Jesus, I don’t think much about what it is like because I don’t have a vote as far as I know anyway!). The Bible and CCC are also pretty clear that there is a huge amount about God and his internal Self that he has not chosen to reveal to us.

If someone else knows about Heaven, I’ll stand corrected and assume I was chatting that day in catechism class :confused:

Take care!



I am not clear as to what your questions are from post #5.

We live in a realm of time…God is outside of time, yet He created time as part of His plan for us. The souls in Heaven will “wait” until God’s plan has been fulfilled and Jesus returns for the Final Judgment. At that time, the era of time ends.

A day has 24 hours…it is a finite period. God’s plan for us on earth is similar, it has a beginning and an end–which is the very essence of time. Once the beginning and the end is fulfilled, time ceases to matter.

closed #8

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