Death, Judgment, Heaven and Hell in Christian and Islamic Perspectives

heavenThe Catholic University of St. Thomas hosts a Muslim-Christian Dialogue Center.  Their website includes good summations of contrasting Christian and Islamic views on various topics, including key theological concepts.  Here is one of their postings in this case contrasting the Muslm and Christian views on death, heaven and hell. The article begins with the Christian perspective followed by the Muslim perspective.  Makes for interesting reading.

Death, Judgment, Heaven and Hell: A Christian Perspective

In Christian tradition, death is the end of individual life on earth, but not the end of personal consciousness, which survives the death of the body as the soul.  Death, then, is the separation of the soul from the earthly body. However, the whole Christian tradition hopes for reunification of the soul with a resurrected and transformed body at the end of history, so the soul will, once again, be embodied in the resurrection.

The process of death is difficult for most people. Not only does it entail pain, but increased dependence on others. Consequently, many people hope for a quick and painless death. But in Christian tradition, a sudden and unexpected death is not a good death. This is because Christians believe that at death one comes into the presence of God, and therefore of judgment. For this one needs to be prepared. Jesus teaches that we must repent (Mark 1:14), learn to love one another (Matthew 22:36-40) and forgive those who have wronged us, otherwise we ourselves will not be forgiven (Matthew 6:14-15). The time of dying therefore is an extremely important period in which to forgive others, say goodbye to loved ones, settle one’s material affairs, and most importantly make one’s peace with God. Death is the end of our earthly journey, but is the beginning of the much longer journey in the afterlife. In Christian teaching, this afterlife journey can be a beautiful and fulfilling experience or it can be traumatic (see Matthew 5; 25: 31-46).


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