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Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory: What Can We Expect When We Die?

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Heaven:  John 14:2  In my Father's house are many mansions: if [it were] not [so], I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.  Revelation 22: 1-5  And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb.  In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.  And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him:  And they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads.  And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever. 

Hell:  Is a place of punishment, an abode of the dead located under the surface of Earth (Hades).  Modern understandings of hells often depict them abstractly, as a state of loss rather than as fiery torture literally underground. 

Purgatory:    according to Catholic doctrine, is an intermediate state after physical death in which those destined for heaven "undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven".  Only those who die in the state of grace but have not in life reached a sufficient level of holiness can be in Purgatory, and therefore no one in Purgatory will remain forever in that state or go to hell.  This theological notion has ancient roots and is well-attested in early Christian literature, but the poetic conception of Purgatory as a geographically existing place is largely the creation of medieval Christian piety and imagination.

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