Resurrection

The big question: What does Christianity say happens to believers after death?

The big question: What does Christianity say happens to believers after death?

PAULA’S QUESTION:

When people say their loved one went to heaven, why doesn’t the preacher tell them that no-one goes straight to heaven? If they did, what would be the reason for the resurrection?

THE RELIGION GUY’S ANSWER:

Christian doctrine says that after death a believer’s soul enters the presence of God in the blessedness of heaven, and then in the end times will be reunited with a transformed body. Christianity contrasts with Eastern religions’ belief in reincarnation, a long series of rebirths into varied conditions and biological species based upon performance in the prior life.

With typical Presbyterian precision, the Christian teaching is spelled out in the 17th Century Westminster Confession, accompanied by citations of 14 Bible texts:

“The bodies of men after death return to dust, and see corruption, but their souls, (which neither die nor sleep,) having an immortal subsistence, immediately return to God who gave them. The souls of the righteous, being then made perfect in holiness, are received into the highest heavens, where they behold the face of God in light and glory, waiting for the full redemption of their bodies.” Then at “the last day ... all the dead shall be raised up with the self-same bodies, and none other, although with different qualities, which shall be united again to their souls forever.”

The modern-day Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches the same: “In death, the separation of the soul from the body, the human body decays and the soul goes to meet God, while awaiting its reunion with its glorified body. God, in his almighty power, will definitively grant incorruptible life to our bodies by reuniting them with our souls, through the power of Jesus’ resurrection” at “the end of the world” when Christ returns.

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Believe it or not: The New York Times has quietly returned to its 'Jesus is dead' theme

Believe it or not: The New York Times has quietly returned to its 'Jesus is dead' theme

Let's start with a flashback.

Perhaps you remember a 2014 piece at The Federalist by one M.Z. "GetReligion emerita" Hemingway that ran with the headline, "Will Someone Explain Christianity To The New York Times?"

It focused on a travel piece that, once corrected, included the following material about tourism in the tense city of Jerusalem. The crucial passage stated:

On a recent afternoon in the Old City of Jerusalem, while fighting raged in Gaza, Bilal Abu Khalaf hosted a group of Israeli tourists at his textile store in the Christian Quarter -- one of Jerusalem’s tourist gems.
Dressed in a striped galabiyya and tasseled red tarbouche, Mr. Abu Khalaf showed his visitors exotic hand-loomed silks and golden-threaded garments from Syria, Morocco and Kashmir that adorn Israel’s most luxurious hotels and ambassadors’ homes. ...
Nearby, the vast Church of the Holy Sepulcher marking the site where many Christians believe that Jesus was buried, usually packed with pilgrims, was echoing and empty.

Yes, that was what the Times piece said after it was corrected. What did it say before that? Believe it or not, it said, "Nearby, the vast Church of the Holy Sepulcher marking the site where many Christians believe that Jesus is buried, usually packed with pilgrims, was echoing and empty."

In this case, it's easy to discern what the meaning of the word "is" is.

Hold that thought.

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Jump in the WABAC Machine: NYTimes buried Jesus way back in 1997?

Jump in the WABAC Machine: NYTimes buried Jesus way back in 1997?

There has been quite a bit of reaction online, as you would expect, to the GetReligion-esque takedown that the Divine Mrs. M.Z. Hemingway wrote for The Federalist about that New York Times travel piece that -- in the print edition -- said the following:

Nearby, the vast Church of the Holy Sepulcher marking the site where many Christians believe that Jesus is buried, usually packed with pilgrims, was echoing and empty.

The piece was later changed in the online edition, with "is" changed to "was" in keeping with, well, the crucial doctrine at the heart of global Christendom -- the Resurrection. The Times team did not, however, deign to publish a formal correction (and I just checked the online text again).

If you read the comments on several different posts on this topic -- M.Z. and Rod "friend of this blog" Dreher, for example -- you know that many readers were convinced that this was a tempest in a teacup about a mere typo that just slipped past the world-class copy desk at the world's most powerful newspaper.

Here at GetReligion, reader Tom Hanson offered this example of that line of thinking:

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