Eschatology is a term used to describe religious ideas or beliefs about death, judgement and the afterlife. While most Christians believe that there is some form of life after death, there are various Christian interpretations of this belief.

Christianity teaches that:

  • Heaven is a perfect place where they will be united with God.
  • Heaven is a place of eternal life.
  • Every person will be accountable to God for their deeds and actions in this life and that, although no person can live a perfectly righteous life, Jesus’ death and resurrection made it possible for people to be saved by God’s grace and to enter the Kingdom of Heaven in the afterlife..

Catholic beliefs about life after death

The Catholic Church teaches that after death, people who have been perfectly purified will go to Heaven. Catholics who have died with unforgiven sins will go to Purgatory. Those whose sins remain unforgiven and who are not remorseful for their sinful acts will go to Hell. These are likely to be people who committed hideous crimes against humanity and humankind, and whose evil actions had a wide-reaching impact.

Most Catholics believe that all Christians will eventually go to Heaven and that the good followers of any religion are able to go to Heaven.

Protestant beliefs about life after death

Protestants do not believe in Purgatory. Article 22 of the 39 Articles of the Church of England states that there is no such place. The justification for this is that Purgatory is not mentioned in the Bible. Some Protestants also believe there is no such place as Hell, only levels of Heaven, and that everyone will eventually reach Heaven.

Some Evangelical Protestants believe in the resurrection of the body and the idea that everyone will be raised on the Last Day to be judged by God.

Liberal Protestants believe that the soul lives on eternally after death in a spirit world. They believe that a person’s afterlife will depend on how the person lived their life on Earth.

Biblical teachings

Corinthians 5:1–10 is a key passage in understanding Christian beliefs about the afterlife. It states that Christians will have a non-physical home in Heaven, and it also states that because Christians should be aiming for Heaven, they should do all they can to please God on Earth. They will be judged by God on the good and bad deeds they have done on Earth.

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.Corinthians 5:1–10