As some of you know I am a Religious Studies major and I’m working on a project for one of my classes on death in religion. My project specifically is on the notion of life after death in Christianity. I was hoping you guys might be able to give me some information. More than just simplistic definitions though, I’m looking for more astute theological frameworks and explanations the paper has to be at least 15 pgs. So everything from when one happens to die is what my paper will cover.
p.s. i posted this in a couple different sections of the website, sorry if it is in the wrong spot. I really didn’t know where to put it.
In the end, there are only two possible eternal locations, Heaven or hell. In hell, there shall be everlasting torment and fire. In Heaven, we shall enjoy the Beatific Vision. This is the ultimate partaking of the divine nature and life. In it, we shall see God as He is (1 John 3:2). We shall, by grace, be elevated in nature to behold God in one vision.
Death is considered the separation of the soul from the flesh, the body proper being composed of flesh, soul, and spirit [of God] (1 Thess 5:23). The body is incomplete when the flesh and the soul are apart: thus the Christian belief that the resurrection, and our glorified bodies, denotes a reunion of the flesh and the soul. Catholics believe that there are two ultimate destinations for the body: Heaven and Hell. Purgatory is the state of purification for the soul after death, to cleanse from it the temporal effects of sin, because nothing unclean shall enter heaven (Rev 21:27). Purgatory is only for the souls of those who are to receive Heaven.
Catholics also believe that the soul apart from the body is not in a “holding pattern” or otherwise drifting around waiting. There is a particular judgment received upon death, at which point the soul goes to Heaven (or Purgatory first) or Hell: 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 heaven-through a purification or immediately, – or immediate and everlasting damnation. (CCC 1022) At the general resurrection at the end of time, when our flesh is raised and reconstituted and joined with our souls, there is the Last Judgment, when our entire bodies receive reward (Heaven) or punishment (Hell): The resurrection of all the dead, “of both the just and the unjust,” will precede the Last Judgment. This will be “the hour when all who are in the tombs will hear [the Son of man’s] voice and come forth, those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of judgment.” Then Christ will come “in his glory, and all the angels with him. . . . Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate them one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will place the sheep at his right hand, but the goats at the left. . . . And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” (CCC 1038)
CCC 1020-1065 cover the part of the Apostles’ Creed which states “I believe in Life Everlasting” (Particular Judgment, Heaven, Purgatory, Hell, Last Judgment, the New Heaven and New Earth).