Friend Thinks No One is in Heaven Yet

I have a protestant friend of mine who laughed when I told him Catholics ask those who have gone before us to pray for us. He proceeded to explain that no one is in the Kingdom of Heaven at this time. He said Heaven will be opened after Jesus’ second coming. All of us, living and dead, will go to our final destinations at that time. Is this true? If it’s not, how can I disprove him? I understood that all the saints are in heaven.

Did you ask him for his proof?

I hope this helps…
catholic.com/tracts/praying-to-the-saints

You don’t need to disprove anything. He is not a Catholic, and has his own opinion.

I would charitably just say that intercessory prayers of the saints is part of the historical Christian faith. After all, all the apostolic churches historically that exist today (Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, Oriental Orthodoxy, Assyrian Church of the East) all believe in this. This is one of the teachings handed down to us from the apostles.

Furthermore, depends on what you mean by heaven. Technically Orthodox do not say that the saints are in heaven (they differentiate the current “pre-taste” of heaven/hell vs. the full heaven/hell after the second judgement). However, this is a matter of perspective than conflict as the Catholic Church and Orthodox church don’t really have much issue with their different theologies concerning heaven/hell. It is largely just a different view of the same reality of the after life.

However, coming from a protestant background (for your friend) with the belief that they are not in heaven, it gets a little bit more tricky on whether their view is within the confines of orthodox christian belief (like the beliefs of Eastern Christians/Catholicism) or if it’s just downright in conflict with the Eastern belief by “not being in heaven yet.” For all we know, he could mean that they are “asleep” or who knows what. Unless we have more information on the specifics on what he means that they are not in heaven yet, I don’t think we can make a clear judgement yet.

I would say… have humility.

“The heart of the proud man is like a stormy sea, never at rest: ‘Like the raging sea which cannot rest [Isa. lvii, 20] … The more the heart is filled with self-love, so much the greater will be its anxiety and agitation. This maxim is indeed true; for whenever I feel myself inwardly irritated, disturbed and angered by some adversity which has befallen me, I need not look elsewhere for the cause of such feelings than within myself, and I should always do well to say: If I were truly humble I should not be disquieted. My great agitation is an evident proof which ought to convince me that my self-love is great and dominant and powerful within me, and is the tyrant which torments and gives me no peace. If I feel aggrieved by some sharp word that has been said to me, or by some discourtesy shown me, from whence does this feeling of pain proceed? From my pride alone. Oh, if I were truly humble, what calm, what peace and happiness would my soul not enjoy! And this promise of Jesus Christ is infallible: ‘Learn of Me, because I am meek and humble of heart, and you shall find rest to your souls.’” [Matt. xi, 29] – Fr. Cajetan

The reason I say this is that if we lack humility, we will be resistant to the idea that we could be WRONG… When you hear contrary ideas, you become “disturbed and angered.” This is a sign of a lack of humility. I am not accusing you of not having humility–that is something between you and God. In fact I see humility in you, as you ask whether your friend could be right, rather than simply asking how you can prove him wrong.

“Truth will have no Gods before it.—The belief in truth begins with the doubt of all truths in which one has previously believed” (Nietzsche, "Human, All too Human Part I. Miscellaneous Maxims And Opinions, aphorism 20).

“He who begins by loving Christianity [insert whatever belief/religion/worldview you hold] better than Truth, will proceed by loving his own sect or Church better than Christianity, and end loving himself better than all” (Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Aids to Reflection aphorism 25).

Never keep back or bury in silence that which can be thought against your thoughts! Give it praise! It is among the foremost requirements of honesty of thought. Every day you must conduct your campaign also against yourself. A victory and a conquered fortress are no longer your concern, your concern is truth – but your defeat is no longer your concern, either! (Friedrich Nietzsche-Daybreak, aphorism 370)

ANd all of the above applies to your friend as well. He must be willing to accept that he is wrong, if he is.

And you might like to investigate the ideas of your friend more, just as you would want him to investigate your ideas, and see what sort of refutations of the following arguments you can come up with (if any). So, I recommend the following website and all it has to say on the immortality of the soul from a Christian perspective, as well as the implications of this on heaven and hell.

hobbes15.wix.com/the-second-adam#!is-the-human-soul-inherently-immortal/cqk2

This is the “Non-Catholic Religions” board, right?

That’s actually a rather standard teaching for many denominations. Per Paul, we sleep until the second coming… then we are resurrected and live in peace on the new earth with Jesus as lord. Humans require both physical bodies and souls otherwise we would not be humans. Jesus is human (and also God) so it is required that he ascended, plus (catholic teaching) we also have the Assumption of Mary body and soul. If the soul was enough why would they need to be both body and soul in heaven? Believing that Jesus is only spirit is a gnostic teaching that none of the mainline christian churches teach.

In both the Nicene Creed “We look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come.” and the Apostles Creed “the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting.” we attest to the hope of resurrection, but nothing is said about human disembodied souls going to heaven…

:shrug: but then there is Jesus on the cross telling the thief that today he would be in paradise… gotquestions.org/today-paradise.html

Anyway… I obviously don’t believe in any of this mythology… but it is fun to read and talk about…

Paul also said:

“For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. 22 If it is to be life in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. 23 I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better” (Phil 1:21-22)

He believed that dying was better than living because the dead person would ‘‘be with Christ.’’ If he actually believed that humans are unconscious until the end of time, I find it hard to see why he would call that better. So I don’t think it’s accurate to say Paul believed no one is in heaven yet.

Humans require both physical bodies and souls otherwise we would not be humans. Jesus is human and so he ascended and (catholic teaching) we also have the Assumption of Mary. If the soul was enough why would they need to be both body and soul in heaven?

Human beings are not complete without both their body and soul, but that doesn’t mean the soul can’t live without the body.

Believing that Jesus is only spirit is a gnostic teaching that none of the mainline christian churches teach.

True. But I don’t see what that has to do with whether or not souls are in heaven right now.

In both the Nicene Creed “We look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come.” and the Apostles Creed “the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting.” we attest to the hope of resurrection, but nothing is said about human disembodied souls going to heaven…

The Nicene creed was never meant to be an exhaustive list of Christian belief. Just the basics. Christians have from the beginning believed that souls were in heaven already.

:shrug: but then there is Jesus on the cross telling the thief that today he would be in paradise… gotquestions.org/today-paradise.html

Anyway… I obviously don’t believe in any of this mythology… but it is fun to read and talk about…

Glad you are here. :thumbsup:

To the OP:

I would point your friend to Revelation chapters 5, 6 and 7. In those chapters, John has a vision of heaven as it is right now. In chapter 5:5-8, he sees 24 elders (human beings) worshipping God in heaven and presenting the prayers of the saints on earth to Him. In chapter 6:9, he sees the souls of those who were martyred asking God how long it will be until their blood is avenged. In chapter 7:9-10, John sees in heaven:

"a great multitude which no man could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, 10 and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits upon the throne, and to the Lamb!”

All this is before the end of the world and the resurrection of the dead.

Hope that helps.

The OT constantly speaks of going down to the grave, soul sleep, etc. Even Peter states that David is still dead and buried. Even as a Catholic, I read tons of stuff to suggest that the early church fathers were HEAVILY influenced by Greek mythology and almost all pagan nations believed in the soul’s immortality while it was unheard of by the Jews.

Really makes me think.

What about Matthew 27:52-53 “the tombs also were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised, and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many”

Do you reckon after these bodies were raised they went around terrorising the city like zombies or they went to heaven eventually?

Jesus replied, ‘The children of this world take wives and husbands, *but those who are judged worthy of a place in the other world and in the resurrection from the dead do not marry -because. they can no longer die, for they are the same as the angels, and being children of the resurrection. they are sons of God. .And Moses himself implies that the dead rise again, in the passage about the bush where he calls the Lord the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob. *Now he is God, not of the dead, but of the living; for to him all men are in fact alive.’

This should answer your questions. We believe that in God all are alive. Being united to God is very powerful even if they are awaiting the day of resurrection. We would be calling Jesus a liar if we were to say that God “was” and “will be” the God of Abraham when He clearly uses the fact that He “is” the God of Abraham even after his death and before his resurrection.

It’s a safe bet that your friend doesn’t believe in purgatory either. Just where does he think these people are, since God is the God of the living, not the dead?

This isn’t very accurate. The Jewish understanding of the afterlife developed over time. In the Old Testament, especially when Ecclesiastes and the Psalms were written, they did indeed believe in a sort of “soul sleep.”

But by the time of Jesus, their understanding had progressed to the point that most (not all) believed there was a place of reward after death for the good and punishment for the bad. That’s why Jesus references the “bosom of Abraham” in the parable of Lazarus and the rich man. It was a common belief at the time that that was where the righteous souls went.

Even before the time of Christ, in 2nd Maccabees, Judas sees a vision of Jeremiah and Onias the high priest - who both were dead - in heaven, PRAYING for the Jewish soldiers about to head into battle. This clearly demonstrates that the Jews at the time DID indeed have a belief in the immortality of the soul. (And the communion of saints)

Whoever said the Jews had absolutely no concept of the immortality of the soul is simply mistaken.

jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/13933-soul

Maccabees was written under the influence of Hellenistic Jews influenced by Greek Pagans.

So you agree at least that Judaism did teach the immortality of the soul by the time of Christ then? Originally you said the Jewish people never heard of or taught the doctrine, so Christians must have taken the idea from pagans. I guess now we have to say it was actually the Jews that were the ones that took it from paganism.

But really, truth is truth no matter where it originates. I think the fact that the Jews embraced the idea of life after death and that Jesus explicitly endorses it is enough proof that the teaching is fine for Christians to believe in. It’s not a strictly pagan belief, anymore than a belief in a divine creator is.

There is nobody in Heavens now. People will get in paradise after day of reckoning. Even some people (if died as a martyr) raised with their bodies but still they are not in Heavens.

You are absolutely right and I was wrong. In fact, I have read some of 2 and 3 Esdras as well (Canon in Orthodox but not Catholic, but still a great read) and it’s amazing what God showed Ezra as it pertains to the end of days, Judgement, etc. Let’s just pray that we are on the side of the sheep entering the gates of Heaven.

Where does he think everyone has been queuing up all this time?

There are many who believe the dead are “asleep” and will awaken when Christ returns.

Hi, Rita

Where do they say they are sleeping? We know their mortal bodies are decaying into dust. They must be somewhere? If not purgatory, heaven, or hell then where are they?
IMO they haven’t really thought this through.

Peace.

Steve

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