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Afterlife


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Afterlife Essay, Research Paper

There was a woman who had been diagnosed with cancer and had been given three

months to live. Her Dr. told her to start making preparations to die (something

we all should be doing all of the time.) So she contacted her pastor and had him

come to her house to discuss certain aspects of her final wishes. She told him

which songs she wanted sung at the service, what scriptures she would like read,

and what she wanted to be wearing. The woman also told her pastor that she

wanted to be buried with her favorite bible. Everything was in order and the

pastor was preparing to leave when the woman suddenly remembered something very

important to her. "There’s one more thing," she said excitedly.

"What’s that?" came the pastor’s reply. "This is very

important," the woman continued, "I want to be buried with a fork in

my right hand." The pastor stood looking at the woman, not knowing quite

what to say. "That shocks you, doesn’t it?" the woman asked.

"Well, to be honest, I’m puzzled by the request," said the pastor. The

woman explained. "In all my years of attending church socials and functions

where food was involved (and let’s be honest, food is an important part of any

church event; spiritual or otherwise), my favorite part was when whoever was

clearing away the dishes of the main course leaned over and said, ‘you can keep

your fork’. It was my favorite part because I knew that something better was

coming. When they told me to keep my fork, I knew that something great was about

to be given to me. It wasn’t Jell-O or pudding. It was cake or pie, something

with substance. So I just want people to see me there in that casket with a fork

in my hand and I want them to wonder, ‘What’s with the fork?’ Then I want you to

tell them: "Something better is coming, so keep your fork." The

pastor’s eyes were welled up with tears of joy as he hugged the woman goodbye.

He knew this would be one of the last times he would see her before her death.

But he also knew that the woman had a better grasp of heaven than he did. She

knew that something better was coming. At the funeral people were walking by the

woman’s casket and they saw the pretty dress she was wearing and her favorite

Bible and the fork placed in her right hand. Over and over the pastor heard the

question "What’s with the fork?" And over and over he smiled. During

his message, the pastor told the people of the conversation he had with the

woman shortly before she died. He also told them about the fork and about what

it symbolized to her. The pastor told the people how he could not stop thinking

about the fork and told them that they probably would not be able to stop

thinking about it either. He was right. So the next time you reach down for your

fork, let it remind you oh so gently that there is something better coming. Life

after death must certainly be a prized possession that is well worth the wait.

Something with such tremendous value must be that of hard work, loyalty, and the

utmost dedication to "earning a spot on the list. The afterlife can be a

very confusing topic. If it even exists; What is it? Where is it? When would we

be taken? Is their judgement for separation? Who will go where? Since we are

human beings, imagining or even going as far as entertaining these questions is

nearly impossible. The near idea of an afterlife is far from our grasp. Buddha,

Confucius, and other so-called ‘wise men’ have taught their own ideas concerning

life or ‘occurrence’ at and or after death. Where does this wisdom come from? In

whom may we put our trust to find the truth? With what point of reference does

the truth become truthful? All of us are found looking for life, whether we find

it in the "truth" will decide our eternal existence. After all,

without the truth, we might still have an afterlife; it’s just a matter of

where. ‘Life’, according to Webster’s New World Dictionary, is defined as the

way or manner of living. It is also thereafter described as another chance given

to one likely to lose. ‘Life’, to us, is undeniably existent. On the other hand,

is death undeniable? Will its occurrence be secure in our minds as well as our

hearts? The woman’s heart in the preceding story was one with security on

"a better place". She lived her life in a manner that her faith was

her comforter and ‘gift’ given to her. Life and death could both be considered

mysteries. Yet with a good mystery, good detectives are there. Many authors and

theologians have contemplated and written on the many beliefs of the afterlife.

Let’s look at them now. Can the manner in which we carry out our lives effect

even the occurrence of death? Some of us feel that another chance given to us

would be cherished and not ever lost. Feeble are our minds to believe or even

think this. The Greek doctrine of God’s grace has effected theology in the idea

that "immortality is not inherent in human beings (Pinnock, 252)".

Clark Pinnock, author and theologian, agues from 1Timothy 6:16 that God alone is

immortal. According to Pinnock and Erickson, life is mortal unless God chooses

immortality for you. So what then? Hurry, hurry, be on your best behavior for

God, he’s coming back and we don’t want it to be with vengeance! Just about

anyone who has sought for living eternity most likely has attempted to earn his

or her way into heaven. In Romans 3:22, the bible says "In faith comes the

righteousness from God". We can all be righteous through faith. "Every

human being," says C. S. Lewis, "is in the process of becoming a noble

being; noble beyond imagination. Or else, alas, a vile being beyond redemption (Lutzer,

9)." Lewis describes to us that all humans have immortality, it is just the

matter of where they lead it. There are no ordinary people. It is immortals that

we are surrounded by in every day life; "immortal horrors or everlasting

splendors (Lewis, 18-19)". On the other hand, believe it or not, the

mortality of humans is also a strong belief of many. Annihilation, ‘the act of

reducing to nothing’, is the term we give to the complete cessation of life,

both of the body and soul. Therefore ending life with solely an occurrence at

death (Irving, 15). Many persons of the anti-Christ religion strongly believe in

annihilationism. The living attitude is usually harbored with a lack of

conscience and desire for good. It is not considered an "afterlife",

but is a strong and constant argument against eternal life. B.B. Warfield

claimed that there were three different forms of annihilationism. "Pure

Mortalism" holds that the human life is so closely tied to the physical

organism that when the body dies, the person as an entity ceases to exist

(Erickson, 1237). Due to its pantheistic views, this doctrine hasn’t received

much attention. The second is "Conditional Immortality", man is a

mortal being. Unless God gives you immortality, death is the end. And the third

is called "Annihilationism Proper". "It sees the extinction of

the evil person at death as a direct result of sin (Erickson, 1237)". There

are two types of annihilation proper. "The first sees annihilation as a

direct result of sin. Sin has such a detrimental effect that the individual

gradually dies out. Thus, "the wages of sin is death" (Romans 6:23) is

taken quite literally. Sin is self-destructive. After a certain amount of time,

perhaps proportionate to the sinfulness of the individual, those who are

redeemed wear out as it were. The other type of pure annihilationism is the idea

that God cannot and will not allow the sinful person to have eternal life. There

is punishment for sin. The punishment need not be infinite, however. After a

sufficient amount of punishment has been endured, God will simply destroy the

individual self (Erickson, 1238)." As you may have guessed, the existence

of heaven and hell are not being denied or argued here. The pure

"nature" of them is the debate. Different beliefs and religions call

for various natures of heaven and hell, or thereof. The beliefs of Erickson and

Pinnock seem a little depressing to me. Who would want to just hope for a chance

to be immortal? I’d rather work for it. Many others feel the same way also.

Including religions like Catholicism, Buddhism, Reincarnationism and almost all

other modern philosophized beliefs. They’re all the same things in disguise.

Buddhism is an ancient religion that was philosophized to belief. In ancient

Tibetan Buddhism, there are three "Bardos". Each bardo is like a step

down from the preceding. If the first is not successfully passed, the soul falls

into the second bardo. Starting from the first, the soul has to recognize the

Clear light of the Ultimate Reality and act in a way to remain in that state.

This will ultimately lead to Liberation (www.near-death, first bardo).

Basically, knowledge and meditation on the laws of the bardos is what is needed

to pass into the after life according to Buddhism. Does this mean that every

infant, child, and/or young teen who hasn’t had enough time to learn about the

bardos go to hell? When asked this, denial of this punishment is shown. They are

not really sure what they want to happen with young people (www.near-death,

bardos). Sounds like real mystery to me. Catholicism, to put in a few words, is

the belief that baptism of the holy waters will bring your spirit to heaven

after life on earth. No real perimeters of love are laid down here. If God loves

us he will set down rules for us. And he did. Catholics didn’t exactly like

those laws so they changed them and twisted them so that they were more

comfortable. Their religion is based on the Christian Bible. We all have

probably experienced the beliefs of this religion before, Jehovah’s Witnesses.

They also believe in the same Heaven and Hell as the others do. Frequently known

as JWs, they usually travel door to door like salesmen promoting their product.

Because their religion is just a product, it takes away from the "holiness

of it all". They will tell you to be good because God is coming back soon.

Then they really leave you confused when they don’t really tell you what you

should be doing with your time to be accepted into heaven. It seems that

everyone is so focused on trying to know a lot. This passage below is a good

thought helper on the topic of the afterlife. We get the view of both the living

body and of the deceased one. It also demonstrates the curiosity we should have

on studying such a strong subject. In a secluded cemetery in Indiana, there is

an old tombstone that bears this epitaph: Pause, stranger, when you pass me by

As you are now, so once was I As I am now, so you will be So prepare for death

and follow me An unknown passerby read those words and underneath scratched this

reply: To follow you I’m not content Until I know which way you went (Lutzer,

10-11) A man by the name of Tony Campolo searched all religions and beliefs for

the "truth". The one that seemed the most real yet at the same time

unbelievable was his target. He was going to prove on all accounts that he could

that the Christian Bible was wrong and contradicting. For three years he tried

to prove its falsehood. Today he is an author and religious leader of the

Christian faith. When someone asked him why he now believes this, he replied,

"It isn’t a religion, cult, or even a belief, it’s a personal relationship

with Jesus Christ that has a full written guarantee on it". In conclusion,

the "truth" is in front of us. Let’s take what we are now aware of and

face it, find it, and act on it. We should not be content taking life as a

gamble, Because in the life after life, it is no gamble. Jesus Christ died for

us and tells us all about his love in his own book? the Bible.

Bibliography

Clark Pinnock, The Destruction of the Finally Impenitent, Criswell

Theological Review, pg. 247-278 Clark Pinnock, Essentials: A Liberal /

Evangelical Dialogue, (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1988.) Millard J. Erickson,

Christian theology, Baker Book House, Grand Rapids Michigan, 1985 William C.

Irving, Heresies Exposed, Loizeaux Brothers, Neptune, N.J. 1970 Webster’s New

World Dictionary Simon and Schuster Inc., N.Y. 1995 C.S. Lewis, "The Weight

of Glory and Other Addresses", Rev. and Exp. Ed., (New York and Macmillon,

1980) Erwin W. Lutzer, "One Minute After You Die", Moody Press,

Chicago 1997 Jesus Christ, The Bible CEV

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