Theologians, Bible scholars ask: Is there life after death?
Every November 1 and 2, Christians worldwide celebrate All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day—offering prayers for their loved ones’ eternal and peaceful rest and asking God to forgive their sins of commission and omission while still living.
And each time they attend Mass on holy days of obligation they hear somewhere during the liturgical celebration the priest asking God to remember those who went to their sleep in the hope they would rise again.
Many have been set face to face by questions about death: What really happens after death? Is there hope for those who go to their sleep? Can we really be sure there is hope for the dead rising again?
These are questions that many theologians and Bible scholars – from the different denominations that believe in Jesus Christ – try to answer.
They stress that there is resurrection, the most important of which is that of Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God.
Some refer to the lines in Eclesiastes 9: 5, 10, where the Bible says the living know that they will die.
The grave is a symbolic place or condition where any consciousness or human activity or concerns stop.
Some also refer to inspired Scriptural records regarding at least eight people who returned to life from the dead.
They are: The son of a widow who lived in Zarephath in the north of Israel who was resurrected by the prophet Elijah (1 Kings 17: 17-24); a boy was resurrected in the town of Shumen and was restored to his parents by Elijah’s successor Elisha (2 Kings 4: 32-37).
The Bible (2 Kings 13: 20, 21) also narrates that a man who had recently died was resurrected when his body touched Elisha’s bones.
The Bible also has an account (Luke 7: 11-15) when Jesus interrupted a funeral procession outside Nain to bring back to life a young man and restore him to his grieving mother.
Jesus, according to the Bible (Luke 8: 41, 42, 49-56), implored by Jairus, an officer of the synagogue, to help his sick daughter, resurrected her shortly after she died.
Then Jesus’ dear friend Lazarus, who had been dead for four days, was restored to physical life by Jesus before a crowd od spectators (John 11: 38-44).
The apostle Peter (Acts 9: 36-42) also resurrected Dorcas, a woman, for her many acts of kindness.
And then the apostle Paul (Acts 20: 7-12) raised back to life the young man Eutychus who died when he fell from a high window.
No one among the eight ever spoke about a place of happiness or excruciating anguish.
It would appear, some scholars suggest, that if those who were brought back to physical life had gone to either place when they died, they would have told those around them about it.
But it seems the eight had nothing to say on the subject because, some religion scholars argue, they had been unconscious like they were in deep sleep.
Then the question re-emerges: Can the dead then hope that they would rise again from their deep sleep?
The Bible (John 5: 28, 29) talks again, where it says the grave would be emptied.
“Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out – those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned.”
The line has given hope to many, particularly those who have read the Biblical passage, and have since become optimistic about the future – after death had gobbled up the mortal flesh.
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