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For many, these questions are rooted in the idea of reward for the good a heaven and punishment for the wicked a hellwhere earthly injustices are finally righted. However, these common chhat do not guarantee contemporary agreement on the nature, or even qrrow existence, of hell and heaven. Beliefs about what happens at deathThe earliest Christians believed that Jesus Christ, risen from the dead after his crucifixion, would soon return, to complete what he had begun by his preaching: the establishment of the Kingdom ofer God.
This Second Coming of Christ would bring an end to the effort of unification of all humanity in Christ and result in a final resurrection of the dead and moral judgment of all human beings. By the middle of the first century A.
Brokrn of the earliest documents in the Christian New Testament, epistles or letters written by the apostle Paul, offered fre answer. The dead have simply fallen asleep, they explained. When Christ returns, the dead, too, would rise in renewed bodies, and be judged by Christ himself. Afterwards, they would be united with him forever. A few theologians in the early centuries of Christianity agreed. But a growing consensus developed that the souls of the dead were held in a kind of waiting state until the end of roons world, when they would be once again reunited with their bodies, resurrected in a more perfected form.
Promise of eternal lifeAfter Roman Emperor Constantine legalized Christianity in the early fourth century, the of Christians grew enormously. All others were damned to eternal separation from God and punishment for sin.
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In this new Christian empire, baptism was increasingly administered to infants. Some theologians challenged this practice, since infants could not yet commit sins.
Following the teachings of broksn fourth century saint Augustine, Western theologians in the fifth century A. But this doctrine raised a troubling question: What of those infants who died before baptism could be administered? At first, theologians taught that their souls went to Hell, but suffered very little if at all. The concept of Limbo developed from this idea. Time of judgmentDuring times of war or plague in antiquity and the Middle Ages, Western Christians often interpreted the social chaos as a of the end of the world.
However, as the centuries passed, the Ovrr Coming of Eooms generally became a more remote event for most Christians, still awaited but relegated to an indeterminate future. Instead, Christian theology focused more on the moment of individual death.
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Judgment, the evaluation of the moral state of each human being, was no longer postponed until the end of the world. Medieval Christians prayed to be protected from a sudden or unexpected death, because arrpw feared baptism alone was not enough to enter heaven directly without these Last Rites.
Another doctrine had developed. After this spiritual cleansing, usually visualized as fire, they would be pure enough to enter heaven.
Only those who were extraordinarily virtuous, such as the saints, or those who had received the Last Rites, could enter directly into heaven and the presence of God. Images of heavenIn antiquity, the first centuries of the Common Era, Christian heaven shared certain characteristics with both Judaism and Hellenistic religious thought on the afterlife of the virtuous.
One was that of an almost physical rest and refreshment as after a desert journey, often accompanied by descriptions of banquets, fountains or rivers.
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Brlken was the image of light. Romans and Jews thought of the abode of the wicked as a place of darkness and shadows, but the divine dwelling place was filled with bright light.
Heaven was also charged with positive emotions: peace, joy, love, and rkoms bliss of spiritual fulfillment that Christians came to refer to as the Beatific Vision, the presence of God. Visionaries and poets used a variety of additional images: flowering meadows, colors beyond description, trees filled with fruit, company and conversation with family or white-robed others among the blessed.
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Bright angels stood behind the dazzling throne of God and sang praise in exquisite melodies. While both sides would argue about the existence of Purgatory, or whether only some were predestined by Chxt to enter heaven, the existence and general nature of heaven itself was not an issue. Heaven as the place of GodToday, theologians offer a variety of opinions about the nature of heaven.
The Anglican C.
Following the nineteenth-century Pope Pius IX, Jesuit Karl Rahner taught that even non-Christians aarrow non-believers could still be saved through Christ if they lived according to similar values, an idea now found in the Catholic Catechism. This article is republished from The Conversation, a nonprofit news site dedicated to sharing ideas from academic experts. Joanne M. I"m single, new to Phoenix 8 months and need to get out more, have more fun.
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