Christian mistakes about life after death
Why can one believe that we survive death?
The human mind survives bodily death because subjective consciousness is not part of objective physical reality.
Also, because each mind has the ability to shape itself in a way that transcends the natural effects of “nature and nurture.”
This is possible because human beings have an inner freedom of moral choice that makes us responsible for what we become.
What is life after death like?
Swedenborg and spiritual communicators describe a non-physical realm of consciousness after death.
The environment after death is a projection of inner thoughts and feelings.
Time and space obey psychological rather than physical rules.
The individual awakens in a spiritual body with sensations and movement.
The character of one’s mind determines the quality of one’s environment in life after death.
Individual character does not change upon death
Our individual mind reflects the character we have become before we die.
Our individual character is formed from the pattern of intentions that we choose during bodily life.
The inner character of a person can be seen in the light of divine truth, but it is not recognized in the darkness of self-justification.
Those who have an altruistic character are separated from those who have a selfish character.
During life after death, those with basic good intentions go through experiences that remove their wrong ways of thinking so that they live in the light.
Rational understanding is eliminated in those who are basically egocentric.
In the afterlife, one associates with those who have a similar character to oneself and who will be like-minded.
In the afterlife, the way people want to live limits their happiness
When you yearn for what you want for yourself, there can only be restlessness and frustration because others want the same thing.
When everyone is like this, there is rivalry and there is no sense of shared community.
However, selfish people are only happy when they try to get away with it.
However, a deeper kind of happiness arises from focusing our minds on the needs of others and fulfilling some useful function.
If the light of truth shone on the life that selfish people have chosen for themselves, they would suffer heartbreak and want to hide.
Those of selfish character remain in their selfish state
During life after death, selfish people prefer to continue in the delusions of self-justification.
Only when the light of truth sometimes shines do they recognize his selfish character which is reflected in his ugly distorted features.
So they want to go back to their normal state where they don’t have to honestly face themselves for who they are.
Universal compassion wants to remove such people from their selfish state of life, but not if it means taking away their freedom, they choose the life they want.
If we live after death, then we should live differently in the here and now. By improving our life on earth, we can improve the circumstances of our life after death. The longing for worldly things closes the door to the spiritual. Not indulging in worldly and bodily pleasures opens up more space for deeper experiences. The beyond spirit is not only accessible after death. It is also a real dimension of the here and now that we can become more aware of through meditation and reflection.
What Christian mistakes are made about life after death?
If what we are saying is true, then there are some Christian errors in thinking about the next life.
1: It is a mistake to believe that sometime after death, the existing physical body will resurrect.
Although churches have widely taught this in the past, no geographer or astronomer has ever located a heavenly paradise or a hellish hell. One of the Christian mistakes is to assume that the afterlife is a physical place where one will live in a resurrected physical body from this life on earth.
As I have described, Swedenborg says that after death we wake up in a non-physical spiritual body. This spirit body can see, hear, and smell, as well as think and feel. Consequently, the “spirit world” follows psychological rather than physical rules.
2: It is not true that hell is an eternal punishment for a life badly lived.
The old idea in Europe was that if I had been a bad person, I would ‘rot in hell’. These days, however, the image of a place of endless torture is highly in doubt. However, Christians still view life after death as a reward for good people and eternal punishment for bad people.
I would like to say that this teaching is not strictly accurate. It is true that it has the advantage of showing the importance of how we choose to live our lives. But I think it wrongly involves a process of judgment by a higher divine power; a deity believed to condemn certain people to eternal damnation. I do not see how a God of love could adopt such an attitude distributing rewards and punishments in this way.
An alternative view that I have presented is more associated with the idea of self-determination. The quality of life that will be experienced will not be a reward for good behavior or a punishment for misbehavior throughout life. The state of life after the death of each person will simply be a continuation of the type of life that was led before death. It is we who separate ourselves from the sphere of loving-kindness when we adopt self-centered forms.
3: It is a mistake to assume that hell is for those who lack religious beliefs.
The account of an afterlife that I have given challenges the old Christian idea that entering heaven is simply a matter of believing in God and making a confession when the time comes.
4: It is a mistake to think that an almighty loving God will rescue those who have paid the price for their sins.
A loving God wishes everyone to be at peace, content, and joyful. But this can only result from the generosity of spirit, consideration for others and other virtues of an altruistic person. This is divine hope for everyone. But by giving us the freedom to live as we want, God allows us to sabotage God’s plan and, tragically, many people do. Hence one of the statements about hell from the Roman Catholic Church:
“a state of definitive self-exclusion from communion with God and the blessed.”
Swedenborg claims that, however, God’s compassion will do what it can. The power of love continually tries to turn people away, if they will, from the sadness of selfishness to the heavenly joy of kindness and compassion. However, if they were to hold onto their selfishness, all that could be done is to try to take them from a more painful hellish state to a milder one.
I would say that it is a goodness of a loving God to allow those who are unwilling to give up their selfishness and all related evil desires to escape the light of justice. Because if they were continually exposed to it, the light of truth would cause them continuous discomfort.
The Lord protects those who are not ready to change. If they did, they may revert to their old ways and be worse.
“Otherwise, they could see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed.” (Isaiah 6:10)
In reality, Swedenborg says, in the afterlife, people are as happy as possible given the way they want to live. Sadly, selfish people are only happy when they try to get away with it.