Tag Archives: Life After Death

Heaven and Hell: by Bart Ehrman, An Extended Review

What happens after we die? Is there a “heaven?” Is there a “hell?” If so, what does either of these look like?

The historical development of these ideas is the subject of Bart Ehrman’s Heaven and Hell: A History of the Afterlife. Bart Ehrman is perhaps the world’s best known critic of evangelical Christian faith, having grown up in the evangelical world until he deconverted out of it in graduate school. His New York Times best selling Misquoting Jesus has made him one of most widely read biblical scholars in our day at the popular level, sought after by the media almost every time a major story arises within Christianity.

With such a title, Heaven and Hell: A History of the Afterlife really peaked my interest. As you will read in this review, I really got into it and made dozens of notes. For over the past few years during the COVID pandemic, I have known of several friends who died of the disease, some of whom were at a relatively young age. I, myself, had a close brush with death about four years ago, after an automobile slammed into my bicycle on a busy road, throwing me back into the driver’s windshield. Thankfully, the only major injury I had was a concussion, that knocked me out cold for about an hour. The paramedics told me that I could have easily died, if the driver had hit me at a higher rate of speed. So, the topic of the afterlife is pretty pertinent to me, a lot more urgent than when I was a teenager, when I thought I was invulnerable to death.

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Life After Death (Part 3)

Lighthouse Stairs

Grays Harbor Lighthouse Stairs, photo by Joe Mabel

Our summary and review of the Life After Death issue of the Areopagus Journal (Fall 2011) concludes with the paranormal.  If this topic makes you uncomfortable, welcome to the club—that’s probably true for the vast majority of rational beings like you and me.  But like it or not, some people do claim to experience things that are beyond the range of our normal experience or scientific explanation.  Should we believe them?  Are there good apologetic arguments to support Life After Death that make sense based upon paranormal claims?

Areopagus Journal

Areopagus Journal, Life After Death, Fall 2011

The Life After Death issue of the Areopagus Journal addressed two paranormal topics: near death experiences (NDEs) and ghosts.  Rather than redact the articles by Dr. Gary Habermas and Dr. Ron Rhodes—as I did in Part 1 and Part 2 of this series—I will link in external material and do more of a paraphrased summary of the points they make (for details get the Areopagus Journal).

Near Death Experiences and Worldview Concerns: Addressing Difficult Questions

Dr. Habermas touched on this topic earlier this month at the 2013 National Conference on Christian Apologetics.  Two things strike me about his approach to apologetics.  First, he makes minimalist arguments—reducing a debate to the minimum number of elements that he needs to make his point, without overreaching.  Secondly, he is very conservative in drawing conclusions—which is a hallmark of credibility.  Here is a quick synopsis of his views on NDEs, from the One Minute Apologist.

After hearing him relate specific cases he has researched, I was enthusiastically thinking those cases would make self-evident apologetic arguments.  After all, a few of them are amazing, and very reliably documented.  But as my co-blogger is quick to point out, we should consider both the affirmative and negative sides of the debate to develop an informed opinion.
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Life After Death (Part 2)

“Just as we are now like the earthly man, we will someday be like the heavenly man.”
1 Corinthians 15:49 (see Dick Woodward’s post)

Rene DescartesHave you ever thought about your thoughts? This may seem like a ridiculous question, but it turns out there is a powerful apologetic argument for life after death that derives from simply understanding that humans have a body and a soul, and that the immaterial element (the soul) is spectacularly different from the material element (the body).

Continuing our review of the Areopagus Journal issue dedicated to Life After Death (Fall 2011), in this post we will explore what apologetics can bring to bear on the subject using philosophy, logic, and history.

The blog text below in italics is entirely the writing of Chad V. Meister.  I have edited out quite a bit of material to fit this format, without (I hope) misrepresenting his beliefs and positions.

Mind, Body, and the Possibility of Life After Death

Various conceptions of the human self have been held in the West, the two foremost being dualism and materialism.  Historically, dualism has been the more prominent of the two.  There are different conceptions of dualism as well, but on one main account the human person consists of two substances, one material (the body) and the other immaterial or mental (the soul or mind).  Rene Descartes (1596-1650) is perhaps the most widely recognized defender of substance dualism.  On his account, sometimes called the Cartesian view of the soul, the soul is an unextended, non-spatial substance, and it is contrasted with the body, an extended, spatial substance.  The soul and body are (somehow) connected to one another, but how an immaterial substance can connect to and interact with a physical substance is a bit of a mystery—a mystery which has often been castigated as the problem of the “ghost in the machine.” Continue reading

Life After Death (Part 1)


Serenity by Henri Martin, 1899

Have you ever tried to share the concept of Heaven with someone who doesn’t understand much about the Christian faith?  The theology of Heaven can be a stumbling block to those who have haven’t thought much beyond caricatures of floating angels and harps in an afterlife.  How can something that every reasoning adult must process be so subject to myth and misconception? Can an apologetic approach help?

Yvonne Brendley recently gave me back issues of Bill Brendley‘s Areopagus Journal, published by the Apologetics Resource Center. The Fall 2011 edition addresses the topic of life after death.

So is there evidence for life after death?  This journal will address biblical, historical, philosophical, and scientific evidences that support the reality of life after death as well as refute false ideas about it.
Craig Branch, Senior Editor, Areopagus Journal, Fall 2011

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