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What I’m Thinking about the Afterlife

I became interested in writing this book about the afterlife a couple of years ago, when I realized with unexpected clarity – out of the blue (I don’t know what sparked my thinking) – that the views most people have are not from the Bible.  Many people, of course, do not believe in the afterlife at all.  But at least in my parts of the world (both where I grew up, and where I have lived my life, first Chicago, then New Jersey, and now for the past 28 years North Carolina) those people who do believe in an afterlife (with a few, but only a very few exceptions), think that your body dies and your soul lives on.  In the now traditional Christian idea, your soul goes to heaven or hell.

Where did that idea come from?  Most of the Bible, of course, is the Old Testament (it’s about 3-4 times as large as the New Testament).  And the Old Testament teaches no such thing.  Moreover, Jesus himself did not teach any such thing.  And I would argue that the no such thing is taught in *most* of the New Testament – though there are some passages people could appeal to in support of the view, even if the passages in fact appear to be saying something else.

What the Bible *does* teach will be a large part of what I want to talk about in the book.  But what struck me when I first started thinking about it is that what most Christians appear to think is not what Jesus and his followers originally thought; and it is not taught in the Scriptures that Jesus and his followers relied upon;  and in fact it is not directly taught anywhere in the Bible.  And yet, in my context…

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Group Visions and Agnostic Jesus Scholars: Mailbag March 12, 2017
Does the Afterlife Matter for Other Things?



  1. Avatar
    smitch2010  March 17, 2017

    Does your list include, ApostlePauls view of going right to Christ once one dies? Think he said like a twinkling of the eye to be with Christ???

    • Bart
      Bart  March 17, 2017

      You’re confusing two passages (Philippians 1 and 1 Corinthians 15). But yes, I will be dealing with that.

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    sksinks  March 27, 2017

    I have read many many books on all these ideas. I have found that the near death experience tend to come across as being experienced specific to that persons beliefs, so I always look for their religious foundation before consuming the book. Now, on the pre-death experiences I find them entirely uplifting and from a totally different angle. There are 2 that I have found by a Dr. Lerma. He recorded their experiences in a hospice situation and shared them. On reincarnation many were just junk and I quickly put them aside. I found one with the title of the Pheonix a credible offering. As far as believing in life after death, I just have to say I have lived with many of them that has passed but stayed here for some reason. It is not fun, I dont like it, but there is no question that they are there. I keep telling them they have to pay rent to stay in my house but they dont listen very well. There is no question in my mind and in my experience that there IS life after death. If, it were not so, why all this religious bull……….. Any way I come from a German ancestry that has inherited so called physic abilities. We do NOT practice but it can come in handy sometimes. The thing is physic abilities is above the standard 5 senses and EVERYONE has them they just dont acknowledge them. Because of these abilities we can see people that have passed. I have a grandson that could see them at 4 years old and can still see and talk to them. It is as real as you and me. Again, we dont practice, we just acknowledge, and go on. I can get pretty irritated with them as they seem to want to talk to you in the middle of the night while your sleeping. I hate it when they pull the blankets off my bed to wake me up. These are not imaginations, delusions, or hysteria and i am not mentally ill. I am going to suggest another set of books that are totally off the wall and are for entertainment purposes only. Not suggesting you believe it but certainly goes a long way to opening up the mind. 3 books on the journey of the soul by sylvia brown. Now, I don’t hold to her being all that but the information in this set of books takes a big looks at what others are thinking. I think it is interesting, but i can’t claim them to be true. People dont attack me or scream at me, I know her reputation and dont agree with much that she writes and i know she has been proven to be wrong with her predictions and she did most of it for money. These are early books and the thoughts put forth are interesting in the scheme of things. She has an interesting book on the Life of Christ, I dont believe her theory, but she puts forth a theory that He did not die on the cross. How do you know you have a soul? When you study something out, looking for the right answers………if you found what you need for that moment in time…………rite in the middle of you chest you will feel a burning or some sensation like that and that is your soul telling you that you have found a truth. If you are studding something and you go away with more and more question, nothing resolved and you dont feel it in your chest, then your soul is not confirming you found a truth. Your own soul is verification that you have one. Just sharing.

  3. Avatar
    sksinks  March 27, 2017

    Satan does not have a human soul and in my opinion of things i have studied does not qualify for the same outcome as any human. It is my opinion that Satan is dissolved, that is if you even believe he exists. While I believe in evil and in evil spirits I do not believe in Satan. I know that is a problem for me in the Bible but I just cant confirm it with my soul.

  4. Avatar
    Duke12  March 30, 2017

    Regarding the bullet point “The existence of the soul,” let me recommend two articles on the same topic. I won’t preface them so as not to create advanced bias, except to note that this admittedly minority, untestable, and unproveable hypothesis is perfectly compatible with a materialist worldview (i.e. “there is no soul”)
    I do believe a kind of moral ethics could be derived from this.

  5. Avatar
    rebecasu  March 30, 2017

    1. From your reading of NDEs, how do you explain people seeing details of themselves when they flat-line or learning something about someone else who’s died which they couldn’t have known prior?
    2. What do you think about NDEs? (You mentioned reading 20 books & now know what you think but not sure you’ll include any discussion in your book.)
    3. Why have humans (seemingly from the beginning of time) had a desire/need to worship something? Any idea where that stems from?

    • Bart
      Bart  March 31, 2017

      1. Out of Body experiences are an interesting phenomenon, but not limited to NDEs. They can be replicated through drugs, as it turns out, so I think there’s a physiological explanation involving brains and perception 2. I think they are physilogical events 3. That requires a very long answer!!

      • Avatar
        Apocryphile  July 26, 2017

        I think we need to be careful before dismissing NDEs as simply physiological in origin. We are a long way from understanding the brain, and an even longer way from understanding consciousness (see my post in a separate thread below). Being raised in our Western culture, we are conditioned to look for a rational, scientific explanation for everything, and since Descartes we are intellectual heirs to his mind/body dualism. We automatically put phenomena into one or the other of these two boxes. I think since the Enlightenment, we in the West also tend to view matter as being ontologically primary, and consciousness (mind-stuff) being merely derivative from it. This is a philosophy known as, for want of a better term, ‘realism’, or materialism. I think it’s important to keep this in mind in any discussion of human perception. Are we so certain that our ‘mind-stuff’ – feelings, thoughts, dreams, etc. – proceeds only from the physical? Could it be the other way around, or could they create and inform each other, if in fact they are even separate to begin with? If some of the latest ideas being entertained by theoretical physicists are any indication, I think we have to admit that what is ontologically primary is far from clear.

  6. Avatar
    gwayersdds  April 12, 2017

    An interesting book by Sharon Baker published 2010 titled “Razing Hell” is thought provoking about what happens to us when we die.

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    WSOX1959  April 25, 2017

    Here is a site by Kevin Williams that covers NDE. He does a lot of the groundwork.

  8. Avatar
    Apocryphile  July 26, 2017

    In any discussion of perceptual experience, either in this world or what may lie beyond, we need to deal with the concept of consciousness, and David Chalmers is one of the foremost philosophers in this area. I recommend this short TED lecture by him: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uhRhtFFhNzQ

  9. Avatar
    Simeon  October 6, 2018

    Part I
    Afterlife requires resurrection!
    Resurrection is a very big subject but applies chiefly to the resurrection on the 3rd day, when the children of God will be enveloped in a new and glorified body, (a body which will resemble the body of the one they had in the prime of their lives during the 1st day which is today), these resurrections into a glorified body can be witnessed by the children of God, as they are angelic witnesses and Christ’s in their own right from the 2nd day. The reign of these Christ’s is up to a thousand years, they also witness the children of men as well as angels as they transition in the 1st day to the 2nd days.

    We also have an explanation of resurrection and its counterpart which is reincarnation, from Our Lord when He discussed with Nicodemus the fact that there were two dichotomies regarding salvation, the physical return of a person unfit for the ‘Kingdom of God’ and the spiritual exit of a person who is fit for it. Our lord consolidates this teaching when He spoke to the ‘Rich young Ruler’ stating his salvation was assured because of his following the law of Moses but this salvation was secondary as it involved merely reincarnation. So one is locked into the 1st day, (today), and the other escapes to the ‘Kingdom of God’ as an angelic child, to begin the 2nd day.

    The fact that this realm has existed to our knowledge for thousands of years suggests no one is lost and are in familial groups. Further we can set as a biblical fact that the first millennial people who followed Our Lord are all arisen bodily in their 3rd day, and that the Old Testament people who followed the law of Moses are as well, as recorded in Exodus 20:6.

    • Avatar
      Simeon  October 6, 2018

      Part II
      The teaching of Our Lord is not about reincarnation but how to escape it but he does not deny reincarnation, consider the teaching of the ‘sermon on the mount’ when He said “The meek shall inherit the earth” this is a clear reference to returning to another body (earth or matter) after one life has been spent, and contrasts with the terms required for one to “enter into the Kingdom of God” who has the burden of his own cross. Therefore the meek can inherit only material life, (because of their disposition) but they may not enter the kingdom of God, because it requires great and determined faith.
      We must also consider St John the Baptist and his role as Elijah redivivus, and in so doing call to mind the words used by Jesus to the Jews of is day, “where I am going you cannot come” because those Jews would only achieve reincarnation but Jesus Christ is Lord of the resurrection so His own resurrection on the 3rd day was witnessed on the 1st day and is still being witnessed on this 1st day.
      Yet we must keep in mind the generosity by which the Good Thief was accepted into Paradise.


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