42. Is it true Adventists believe Christians won’t go to heaven after they die?
No. Adventists do believe Christians will go to heaven after they die; however, they believe this will only occur following the physical resurrection of their bodies at Christ’s Second Coming, not immediately following death in some spirit-form. As noted in SDA fundamental #26:
“26. Death and Resurrection:
The wages of sin is death. But God, who alone is immortal, will grant eternal life to His redeemed. Until that day death is an unconscious state for all people. When Christ, who is our life, appears, the resurrected righteous and the living righteous will be glorified and caught up to meet their Lord. The second resurrection, the resurrection of the unrighteous, will take place a thousand years later. (Rom. 6:23; 1 Tim. 6:15, 16; Eccl. 9:5, 6; Ps. 146:3, 4; John 11:11-14; Col. 3:4; 1 Cor. 15:51-54; 1 Thess. 4:13-17; John 5:28, 29; Rev. 20:1-10.)”
The notion of the immortal soul was first introduced into both Christianity (and to a lesser extent Judaism) by Greek pagan philosophy, notably Platonic-dualism and Gnosticism. As noted by Cross, F in The
dictionary of the Christian church, the theories of Plato (b428 - d347 BC) greatly influenced Western Civilization, including Christianity (especially in the Latin West). Oxford
Plato claimed there was an immortal and spiritual soul, which was said to exist prior to, and as separate from, the material body. As admitted by the Catholic Encyclopaedia:
“It is clear, however, that Plato holds the spiritual nature of the soul as against the materialistic Atomists, and that he believes the soul to have existed before its union with the body.” (emphasis added)
This philosophy was contrary to traditional notions as found in the Bible, which reserved immortality for God alone (Ex 33:20, 1 Tim 6:16); thus, which rejected belief in a separate immortal soul outside of the physical body (Eze 8:4, Eccl. 9:5,6; Ps. 146:3,4) and only recognised an afterlife within the context of a physical resurrection (1 Kin 17:17-24, 1 Thess. 4:13-17; John 5:28, 29; Rev. 20:1-10).
As noted by famous Jewish theologian Abraham Heschel in The Prophets (1962):
“One of the major intentions of Plato’s philosophy was to show that the soul is best by a duality… The former is identified as the rational and immortal component, and the latter as the irrational and mortal (p320).
…The ideas that dominate the Hellenistic understanding of the emotional life of man must not affect our understanding of Hebrew thinking. The Bible knows neither the dichtonomy of body and soul nor the trichotomy of body, soul, and spirit, nor the trichonomy of the soul” (p331) (emphasis added).
As also observed by Roman Catholic theologian John F. Haught in ‘Christianity and Science’ (2007), citing with approval the views of famous Catholic theologian Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, said:
“If the immortal human soul can break out of its material prison, the demise of the physical universe should have no bearing whatsoever on our hope for immortality. This approach to the problem of death appeals to many religions…
…To many of its proponents metaphysical dualism – an ancient worldview that allows for the separation of mind, soul and spirit from matter – may still seem the mot efficient way to accommodate both the requirements of science and the hopes of religion. Unfortunately, however, from the point of view of Christian faith such dualism is objectionable. Christians believe in bodily resurrection, and bodies are inseparable from the material universe.” (p154,155) (emphasis added)
As finally admitted by German Protestant theologian Jurgen Moltmann in Spirit of Life (1992):
“In the degree to which Christianity cut itself off from its Hebrew roots and acquired Hellenistic and Roman form, it lost its eschatological hope and surrendered its apocalyptic alternative to “this world” of violence and death. It merged into late antiquity’s Gnostic religion of redemption. From Justin onwards, moth Fathers revered Plato as a “Christian before Christ” and extolled his feeling for the divine transcendence and for the values of the spiritual world. God’s eternity now took the place of God’s future, heaven replaced the coming kingdom, the spirit that redeems the soul from the body supplanted the Spirit as “the well of life”, the immortality of the soul displaced the resurrection of the body, and the yearning for another world became a substitute for changing this one”. (p89) (emphasis added)
Thus, Adventists would claim their understanding of life after death is more consistent with the proper Biblical model, especially as found in the Old Testament, as modern scholarship now also increasingly supports:
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