Travel in the Spiritual Worlds
Resurrection of the Body Versus Immortality of the Soul
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Christian Resurrection of the Body Versus Immortality of the Soul

This expectation of entering heaven immediately following one's death is associated with the popular belief that the soul undergoes some form of judgment prior to the "last judgment" (which occurs at the end of time) and can then go to heaven immediately after death. The other approach is that the soul goes into a state of "soul sleep" in "the grave" (Hebrew: Sheol, see biblical passages Psalm 16:10 and Acts 2:27). In IS 26:19, it is clearly stated that the dead will live again: "their bodies will rise again" and the "long dead" ones and "those who sleep in the earth will awake and shout for joy".

Sheol is often translated as "hell" but is actually the grave that holds the body of the dead person. Since there will be resurrection at a future time, they are considered to be unconscious or sleeping but the dead are actually fully dead rather than simply unconscious. When Christ returns, the "sleeping" faithful will rise from the dead (be resurrected), be judged, and ideally be given glorified bodies and eternal life.

This older resurrection of the body approach is a more orthodox position based on the Hebrew view of the afterlife that was supported in the Nicene Creed ("I believe in the resurrection of the body and the life of the world to come."). This Hebrew doctrine opposes the "immortality of the soul" doctrine where the soul remains conscious after death and goes to heaven immediately. This is a Greek view of the afterlife that became popular and accepted by many Christians and even some modern Jews.

From a scriptural point of view, when Jesus says to the repentant criminal next to him on the cross, "Truly I say to you today you will be with me in paradise" (Luke 23:42), there are two interpretations. One interpretation is, "I say to you today that one day [i.e., at the end of time or after the Last Judgment] you will be with me in paradise". This is consistent with the resurrection of the body argument. Another interpretation is, "Today you will be with me in paradise". This supports the immortality of the soul (Greek) interpretation.

However it is obvious that there is a confused notion of death and afterlife in Christianity though theologians have tried to bridge the gap and offer different explanations as to how these seemingly incompatible approaches can be reconciled. The so called "double judgment" permits a particular judgment immediately after death and a general judgment that occurs at the end of time. The first judgment appears to be a Christian notion devised to explain their acceptance of the Greek view of the afterlife along with the more biblical Hebrew one.

Introduction | The Geography of Spiritual Travel | The "Travel" Analogy | Leaving the Body in Spiritual Travel | Spiritual Travel Versus Dreams | Sacred Light | Sacred Sound | Psychic States | Spiritual Travel in Western Religious Scripture | The Self in Spiritual Travel | Returning to the Physical Body | Near-Death Experience | Navigation During Spiritual Travel | Spiritual Matter | Method and Techniques To Induce Spiritual Travel | Shamanism and Spiritual Travel | After-Death Experience | Spiritual Travel as a Rehearsal for Physical Death | Beyond Spiritual Travel | Conclusion


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