Christianity, Judaism And Buddhism

Read Complete Research Material


Christianity, Judaism and Buddhism

Christianity, Judaism and Buddhism


Jesus took for settled the major beliefs about the afterlife that were prevalent in first-century Judaism and did not set out to offer his own reliable teachings on the subject, as the writers of apocalyptic books were doing in his time. He was interested primarily in this life. The deliverance he offered involved healing (to the woman with the hemorrhage: “Daughter, your faith has made you well [Greek: saved you]; go in peace”; Luke 8:48) and forgiveness (to the “sinful woman”: “Your faith has saved you; go in peace”; Luke 7:50). He said that he came that people might have life and have it abundantly (John 10:10). Indeed, the eternal life of which John speaks frequently is said not to begin at death, but in the present, at the moment of decision. “Very truly, I tell you, anyone who hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life, and does not come under judgment, but has passed from death to life”.

Jesus spoke a few times of rewards and punishments in the hereafter. He said the reward for those who are persecuted for his sake will be great in heaven, continuing the Jewish martyrdom tradition that began in the second century B.C.E. He never described heaven, but did accept the common association of fire with the place of judgment. In a parable, he used the idea of two realms set aside for the righteous and the wicked after death, so as to make possible a conversation between the rich man in Hades and poor Lazarus in the “bosom of Abraham” . The point of the parable is that even if someone were to come back from the dead with a call for repentance it would still be possible for people to disbelieve, so it is not a teaching about what it is like after death. Given that parables sometimes include unrealistic elements to make their points (e.g., a farmer who pays all his workers alike, no matter how long they worked; Matthew 20:1-16), it would be risky to take this as necessarily representing Jesus' own thoughts about the afterlife.

Development Of A Doctrine Of Life After Death

No concept of humanity as bodies temporarily inhabited by immortal souls appears in Scripture, but in post-New Testament literature it is taken for granted. It was the prevailing view throughout the Roman world, and it was assimilated into Christian thinking, apparently without debate, in spite of the fact that it is not found in Scripture and does not fit at all well with the New Testament message concerning resurrection. Much of Christian eschatology has involved efforts to explain how both can be true. Death was assumed by all to be the separation of the immortal soul from the body, so there were no serious questions raised for centuries about whether there is life after death.

In the century after Luther and Calvin, the Westminster Confession of 1647 stated succinctly the beliefs held ...
Related Ads