The role of a church teacher is not to tell his audience what to think or believe, but rather to help her (and all the members individually) to think about, to meditate on, and to understand the content of the faith. Of course, the teacher will use what he himself believes and practices in his own life, and will have a great influence. However, in contrast to a pure preacher, his exhortation is based on a coherency that must be both biblical and in line with the principle of reality. The preacher persuades when the teacher convices.
That is why it is a duty for hearers of any teacher to receive the word with eagerness but also to examine the Scriptures to see if things are so (Acts 17,11) and have a berean-attitude so to speak. So you have the right, even after you will have read, to keep a different opinion on the subjects I will teach in these articles as they are difficult to grasp and as they are not a matter of salvation (at least not directly). My hope is to help you think from a different angle than yours, and to give your faith elements to build and/or strengthen.
I will not come back on assumptions that we necessarily share if we are followers of Christ:
- Jesus raised from the dead thanks to the spirit/power of God (Romans 1,4) and according to scriptures (1Corinthians 15,4)
- He is still alive in Spirit (1Corinthians 15,45)
- The Bible should guide our thinking and our interpretation of reality (but should not be a substitute for reality).
This being said, I will talk about : after-life then resurrection and then judgement. You may be surprised by this sequence as popular religious belief would put it on backwards, thinking that resurrection and judgement precede afterlife. Of course it depends on what we mean when talking about afterlife but it will become clearer as I go along.
My approach is to base the reflection on the main biblical passages that speak about these topics, and to draw a global biblical reflection valid for us today.
We cannot answer someone who asks us about salvation, eternal life, heaven or hell simply by saying « the Bible says it, so it is ». The Bible, and above all, the spirit that inspired it and so can emanate from it, who is the Holy-Spirit, gives us arguments for reasoning, if we know how to pick them up.
If a sociologist, a psychologist or a philosopher (who study the human reality of this world) comes to question what we think about these subjects, then we must be able to answer in a coherent way which will not necessarily be in accordance with what they think, but means that their arguments cannot be dismissed out of hand. The easy way, that consists to say that the Bible or Jesus revealed the answer in a simple literal way, is not coherent until we are consistent with what we observe in the world that God created.
If the Bible gives us guidance, entry points and ways of reasoning, it will not provide with ready-made answers out of the oven just hot enough to be swallowed. This is true not only for after-life but for any theological subject.
Let’s try to follow this biblical guidance together for the subject of after-life…