Ken Yeo 杨全荣的个人网站
Ken Yeo 杨全荣的个人网站

Personal Eschatology

            In this paper, I will respond to a friend’s question related to the biblical teachings of life after death for Christians. First, I will answer with my view on personal eschatology, then support it with biblical, theological, and historical arguments. Next, I will differentiate my view from heterodox opinions about life after death. Finally, I will then argue the orthodox view of resurrection is the resurrection of the body.

            Biblically, when a believer dies, his body will be separated from his spirit. His body will decay and return to the earth, but his spirit will immediately be with Christ in heaven (1 Cor 5:6-8; Phil 1:21-24). When Christ returns to the earth in His second coming, the believer’s body will be resurrected and reunited with his spirit (1 Thes 4:14-18). The believer will then be judged by Christ, not for eternal destiny, but eternal rewards according to his works during his lifetime as a believer (1 Cor 3:11-15; 2 Cor 5:9-11). He will then reign with Christ starting in the millennium and continue to the new heaven and new earth (2 Tim 2:11; Rev 20:4-6).

            However, you must beware of heterodox views like purgatory, conditional immortality, and annihilationism. The Romans Catholic doctrine of purgatory teaches that believers who died with imperfection will undergo purification to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven. However, this heterodox doctrine is based on incorrect interpretations of 1 Cor 3:15 and 1 Pet 1:7[1].

            Conditional immortality teaches human souls will cease to exist after death, but believers will receive immortality from God as a gift. This heterodox teaching is based on the wrong interpretation of Gen 3:19; Eccl 9:5, 10[2]. Annihilationism teaches that the souls of unbelievers will be annihilated after death with temporary or no suffering[3]. They argued that the language of destruction and imagery of fire imply annihilation.

            The proponents of conditional immortality and annihilationism failed to see that OT passages like Isa 66:24 and Dan 12:2 portray unbelievers would face eternal suffering as a just punishment for their sins. Furthermore, intertestamental Jewish literature continued these OT teachings. In NT, Christ and His disciplines also teach eternal judgment (Matt 25:46; Rev 14:9-11; 20:10). Additionally, the eternity of damnation had a broad consensus in the church’s history[4]. The heterodox proponents judge the classical orthodox view of God’s goodness and justice by the moral standards of depraved humans. Additionally, those who grow tired of life would consider annihilation a blessing instead of a judgment of sins.

            The orthodox view of resurrection is bodily resurrection. It is supported by the OT (Isa 26:19; Dan 12:2), the NT (1 Thes 4:14-18; John 5:25-29), the apostles and the Nicaea-Constantinople creeds, the reformers like Calvin, and the Confessions like Westminster[5]. On the other hand, the heterodox view that resurrection is only spiritual without physical resurrection is influent by Gnosticism[6], inconsistent with the Bible and classic Christianity. Therefore, the bodily resurrection gives great hope to believers because the resurrected body is an imperishable, glorious body (1 Cor 15:42-44).

            In conclusion, I have discussed my view on personal eschatology and have given biblical, theological, and historical support for it. Then, I discussed a few heterodox views and gave reasons for their errors. Finally, I argued that bodily resurrection is the orthodox view.

[1] Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2nd Ed, 1030.

[2] Michael Svigel, “ST5106 Course Notes Unit 03b” (Dallas, TX, 2022), 140.

[3] Proponents include Seventh-Day Adventists, John Stott, Clark Pinnock, Edward Fudge, see Svigel, 140–41.

[4] Lexham Survey of Theology (Lexham Press, 2018), sec. The Judgment of the Wicked.

[5] Nathan D. Holsteen and Michael J. Svigel, eds., Exploring Christian Theology: The Church, Spiritual Growth, and the End Times, vol. 3 (Minneapolis: Bethany House Publishers, 2014), 221–22.

[6] Svigel, “ST5106 Course Notes Unit 03b,” 142–43.

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