This last month, two beloved friends of mine died. Both knew they were dying. Their family and friends had time to visit and share their love and care — for those who yet lived, it gave them precious memories that would last until the day they themselves would die.
But what about my two friends who died? As they faced death, did they think about the afterlife at all? Even if a person insists that there is no “afterlife” — that when a person dies, nothing then exists or ever will exist — when there’s an opportunity to contemplate the approach of death, considering whether there is or is not an afterlife is impossible to avoid.
Most people, even those who say they have little or no idea what the “afterlife” might be like, still tend toward believing that somehow they will still exist. And in nations whose societies and cultures have historically been entangled with Christian dogma, hell is taught as a reality that is firmly based in the Bible.
Except, traditional church dogma is notoriously incorrect in so many ways that what it has taught on “hell” can’t be taken as being “true” — popular dogma is neither accurate biblically nor authentic spiritually. Doctrines and teachings concerning hell originated historically less from the Bible itself and more from the political need to keep populations under control of the Church and regional governments. The fear of “hell” became a powerful tool to ensure subjugation and control of the people in kingdoms who had so little to live for that only an awful death kept them from rebellion.
There are three reasons why it’s important for people today to understand what the Bible says happens in the afterlife, and what “hell” is, and what it is not:
(1) It matters because too many people claim to be teaching what the Bible teaches — but are instead proposing only their own ideas (mostly traditional, learned from earlier religious instructors.) If people profess to be teaching what the Bible teaches, they need to be accurate — not merely repeating what they’ve been mistakingly taught from the past or teaching what they wish the Bible taught.
(2) In the second place, what someone teaches about hell bears heavily on how they perceive God to be. If they teach, for example, that God is a “loving God” Who gives eternal life to everyone who joins His church but throws billions and trillions of “unbelievers” into the fires of everlasting hell to torment and torture them without remorse for ever and ever — this says quite a bit about the “God” they serve! This certainly does NOT sound like the God and Jesus Whom I know!
As so many others have pointed out, the traditional view of hell is a horrible scandal against the character of God himself.
(3) And last, understanding what really happens when a person dies is a source of incredible comfort… so much so, that it begins to assume the right perspective: that of the Beginning of an Adventure that one can hardly wait to begin!
In my next blog, I’ll explain what does not happen at death and what actually does happen… It’s entitled, Death – The Threshold of Life…
- Is “Proof of Heaven” provable? – Articles (wilmingtonfavs.com)