"And the Life of the World to Come:" The Metaphysics of Resurrection

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Brown, George Wilcox
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Nicene Creed , Everlasting life , Souls , Resurrection , Life after death
The Christian hope centers largely on what the Nicene Creed calls ''the life of the world to come.'' The Apostle's Creed, moreover, characterizes this life as ''everlasting''. This everlasting life in the world to come is brought about, orthodox Christianity decrees, in some sense by the death and resurrection of Christ. Christians believe that because of and by way of Christ's death and subsequent resurrection, they too will die only to be resurrected at the end of time to spend an eternity in a place called the ''Kingdom of God''. While these sorts of beliefs motivate Christian life and are generally an integral part of Christian doctrine, it is difficult to lend them a precise meaning. The resurrection of the dead is thought to precede man's eternal habitation with God, but it is less than clear what this event entails. The purpose of this paper is to explore various accounts of life after death, resurrection and the persistence of the self through death. In the course of doing this, I will examine competing accounts of (mostly Christian) philosophers in light of the sticky area of personal identity. My goal is to paint a picture of the resurrection that does not blatantly contradict any pertinent passages of Scripture, or any part of the Apostle's or Nicene Creeds. In so doing, I hope to provide what might be considered a coherent, Christian account of ''life after death.'' I should perhaps point out that in this paper I am making certain assumptions and asking my readers indulgently to make them with me for reasons of utility, if they are not prepared to make them outright. I am, for example, not going to argue for the existence of God. I will henceforth be taking His existence for granted. I am also implicitly lending a certain weight to the authority of the Bible. I will not make any claims for its ''infallibility'' or ''inerrancy,'' but I will operate on the general assumption that it is an advantage for a resurrection account not blatantly to contravene any passages of the Bible that have been charitably and reasonably exegized.