Read my last few posts and you will know I recently lost my sister, Kathy. The question no one asks after a funeral, at least in public, is where is she now? What happens to our loved ones after they die? What happens to us when it’s our turn?
The atheist will tell you the person is gone. There is no soul and there is no other dimension for it to inhabit. Islam says that disbelievers are headed for Jahannam (hell) to endure appropriate punishment for eternity. Adherents of Eastern and New Age religions believe in reincarnation, but they’re not able to say if Kathy will come back lower or higher on the food chain.
I hold to the Christian worldview, but even Christians have various answers. A Catholic has the option to say Kathy is in purgatory—a place I don’t think exists. A Calvinist would insist it depends on whether she was among the “elect.” If not, she’s in hell. A less strict Evangelical would nonetheless agree, if she hadn’t put her faith in Jesus. If she did, she is in heaven. (She did, but not without some serious questions.)
I believe the self/soul/spirit survives physical death. I believe there is an afterlife. What I no longer believe is the Orthodox doctrine of hell. This change hasn’t come about because I don’t want my loved ones to be in a lake of fire but because I think the overall teaching of the Bible overrules the few verses that conjure up an eternal torture chamber.
I just lost a bunch of readers right there.
If you’re open to at least examining my reasoning, I spell it out in my book, We Will Be Landing Shortly: Now What? Read the section, “Surviving Death: What Lies Beyond?” (Email me if you want a copy.)
You don’t have to wait for a funeral to jar you out of your daily routine to think about the future. Sit alone with this question and review what you believe. Go deeper and ask why you believe it. Look at your answer from another perspective (mine, or other writers you trust) and see what you might learn.
The reality of what comes next will overtake us all soon enough, and speculation will give way to a reality we can’t even begin to imagine.