Describe the teachings and beliefs of Christians about death and what might happen afterwards.

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Adam Hall

R.E Coursework – Death and the Afterlife


Describe the teachings and beliefs of Christians about death and what might happen afterwards.

There are many varied views on the afterlife that Christians hold. Depending on denomination there are many different teachings. The fundamental teaching is that when we die God judges us and depending on that judgement many believe we will either go to heaven or hell. The timing and the manner in which this is done is what varies. Most Christian denominations teach that there is a heaven and a hell. “Heaven”, it has been suggested means “the roof of the world”. This would be backed up by beliefs in ancient Hebrew times that God was found in high places.


“And be ready by the third day, because on that day the LORD will come down on Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people” 

In the New Testament, Heaven is called; “The Kingdom of Heaven” (Matthew 3), “The Kingdom of God” (Mark 9:46) and “The Great Reward (Matthew 5:12).

Christians believe that heaven is a place where your soul goes when you die to spend eternal life with God. The views of heaven as being in the clouds with angels, praying and praising God the whole time doesn’t seem to appealing for 20th century people. The people who wrote it however were trying to explain something that had never been seen so therefore it was down to the individual to interpret heaven how they wanted.  Heaven is referred to as a “white” and God is said to be sitting on “a great white throne” Revelations 20.

“Hell” in the English language comes from Old English, “Hel”, meaning underworld. They teach that hell is place that you spend eternity without God’s presence. Many Christians used to believe that hell is a physical, fiery place where you spend eternity being tortured. They believed this because they associated it with the rubbish dump, Gehenna, outside of Jerusalem where fire was constantly burning. Because it was outside of the holy city, Jerusalem, it was seen as a place that was far away from God. The Jews, The things associated with the rubbish dump – everlasting fire, Dirt and smell – became associated with being away from God and… hell.

Roman Catholics believe in a waiting place between heaven and hell called purgatory. This is where people go because they are not ready to join the sinless people in heaven. They use purgatory as a place to be cleansed and prepare to enter heaven.  Protestants and Evangelical Protestants believe that because Jesus Christ died on the cross, he paid the price to cleanse our sin for eternity. They therefore believe a place like purgatory, used for further cleansing, is not necessary.

It is because of the Sin of Adam, that we are all born sinners. Christians believe that because we are all sinners we must all die. "For the wages of sin is death", Romans 6:23. Since death is certain, it becomes life's most frightening thing. Christians believe that death is frightening is because in the bible it says: “Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son”

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Christians believe that Jesus lived a perfect life for us, after doing this; he then died on the cross for our sins, was buried, and rose again the third day. Christians believe that because God is benevolent he made a way for you to stand un-judged before Him. Christians believe all you have to do to gain this privilege is to: “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved” Acts 16:31.

There are a few differences within Christianity about the timing of when we go to heaven and when we are judged. Some denominations like the evangelical ...

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