What happed to Christ after the resurrection?
April 9, 2004 5:51 PM   Subscribe

According to the Bible (or any other source, I guess), what happened to Christ after he was resurrected on Easter Sunday? I know that now he is in heaven, but did he do anything other than just make an apperance before going there? Did he have to die again?
posted by rorycberger to Religion & Philosophy (42 answers total)
It's refered to as the Ascension, here's a write-up on it.
posted by Mick at 6:05 PM on April 9, 2004

It's probably easiest to read for yourself; the Biblical account of the events after the resurrection is only a few pages long. Luke has the most clear description of the ascension, but you'd also need to look at Matthew, Mark, and John to get the complete set of events.
posted by Galvatron at 6:49 PM on April 9, 2004

Jesus appeared to His disciples on numerous occasions after His resurrection, in a glorified body. He could still eat, but He could also walk through walls and stuff. He still had His nail piercings.

Finally, He was lifted up into the sky in full view of His disciples, till a cloud hid Him from their sight. As the disciples stood looking up, two angels showed up to tell them He had ascended into Heaven, and would come back the same way He left. This particular scene can be found in the first part of Acts.
posted by konolia at 6:49 PM on April 9, 2004

I have a follow-up question:

Did the death of Jesus create heaven? As in, was he the one who was able to make it so all the normal people got to go to heaven? And if so, what happens to the others before him? I assume Moses and Abraham and such would be in heaven as well.
posted by graventy at 7:45 PM on April 9, 2004

Before His death, righteous people were held in a separate section...somewhere...called Abraham's Bosom. The story of the rich man and Lazarus (told by Jesus) is about all we know about it. Jesus' death and resurrection made it possible for all the Old Testament saints to join Him up in heaven.
posted by konolia at 7:51 PM on April 9, 2004

Mormons (members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) believe that when Christ speaks of "other sheep" in the New Testament, that He is referring to the faithful outside of Palestine... and that after His visits with the saints in Palestine, He visited people of faith around the world. One such visit is recounted in the Book of Mormon — the most salient part of which begins in the 11th chapter of the Third Book of Nephi.

We also believe that Christ spent time in the spirit world, organizing missionary work there, and ushering many of the good and faithful who died before Him into paradise... we believe that this is what Peter was refering to in both First Peter, chapter three v 19 and chapter 4, v 6.
posted by silusGROK at 8:00 PM on April 9, 2004

graventy: That's a very big question... and a bit beyond the scope of rorycberger's question. If you want to know what I believe, feel free to e-mail me.
posted by silusGROK at 8:02 PM on April 9, 2004

I kinda like silus' version better...it's more exciting (except why would the spirit world need missionaries? or was he making the spirits into missionaries?)

For the Jewish version of Heaven, and going there, see Albert Brook's Defending Your Life : >
posted by amberglow at 8:11 PM on April 9, 2004

amberglow, my husband used to be a practicing mormon. One of his on-again off-again hobbies is writing down all the mistakes he finds in the Book of Mormon. I would pay good money to watch him and a Mormon missionary have a discussion, but for some reason they only stop by when I'm home and he isn't.

silus, if you ever feel like chatting with him email me and I will set it up.
posted by konolia at 8:42 PM on April 9, 2004

why mistakes? so that's what they believe--they're allowed. (what do those missionary kids do anyway? make more Mormons? I've seen them around but never spoken to one.)
posted by amberglow at 8:45 PM on April 9, 2004

konolia -- thanks for the explanation of the ascention. as a practicing heathen i've often wondered what happened aftter the resurrection but never researched it.
posted by birdherder at 8:54 PM on April 9, 2004

Well, for those christians who believe in evolution & heaven: when did the first human soul qualify for heaven? I mean, where, in the evolutionary transition, did God say - ok, that being is now a human, it will go to heaven when I have enacted the scene on earth where my son is sacrificed for the sins of the race I am about to create through the processes of evolution?

And what, I wonder, are the salient differences between that first human and it's parents?
posted by dash_slot- at 9:07 PM on April 9, 2004

Speaking of the Ascension, Catholics also believe in the Ascension of Mary

dash_slot: As both a Catholic and strong proponent of evolution (I'm hoping to study the evolution of the brain when I graduate), tha'ts a damn good question to which I honestly have no clue. My gut response would be when the first "true" Homo Sapiens evolved, but even that obviously gets a bit fuzzy. Maybe it's trite, but I think some all judgements of whose going to heaven and hell are best left up to God- though comtemplating the idea is certainly interesting.
posted by jmd82 at 9:15 PM on April 9, 2004

I can't believe any deity would consider an ape less worthy than a human, since we do things like kill and steal from the Tree of Knowledge. All simians go to Heaven.
posted by inksyndicate at 11:00 PM on April 9, 2004

And if so, what happens to the others before him? I assume Moses and Abraham and such would be in heaven as well.

If you want a bit of heavy reading on Catholic theology on the subject, you can start with "Christ Descended into Hell" in The Catechism of the Catholic Church, and once you've digested that, move on to "Christ's descent into hell" in St. Thomas Aquinas' Summa Theologica.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 11:07 PM on April 9, 2004

I can't speak for others of my faith, as little has been said on the subject... but my own feeling on evolution is that God set the world in motion, nudging it from time to time (God as the Great Attractor)... after enough time had passed, the earth was transformed into a habitat fit for His children, as was evidenced by the pre-homo-sapien homonids. At this point, he placed Adam in the Garden of Eden, followed by Eve. The rest of the story you know.

: )

Konolia... thanks for the offer. If I'm ever in the market for a new cross to carry, I'll give you a call. But for your information, I've weathered more than my share of antis... and I'm pretty much immune. Frankly, I'm my own worst enemy.

; )

Amberglow... He was organizing the Church in the spirit world, and sending out missionaries to teach the Gospel, to bring those who knew nothing of Him the Good News. See, Mormons don't believe that God would just let all those that had heard nothing of Him or His Son rot in Hell; everyone gets a chance. Everyone.
posted by silusGROK at 11:52 PM on April 9, 2004

"One of his on-again off-again hobbies is writing down all the mistakes he finds in the Book of Mormon," said the Christian.

Pot, kettle, black.

I'm rather shocked konolia would say such a thing.
posted by five fresh fish at 12:05 AM on April 10, 2004

Do not take Konolia's word for it. Do not just read Luke. Read all four biblical gospels, at least. They all have noticeably different accounts. It is important to understand that they do not all agree.
posted by Hildago at 1:48 AM on April 10, 2004

Well, if you take the Islamic account of events (4:156-159), he was never actually crucified, but rather raised to Heaven, from which he shall return before the day of Judgement to battle the Dajjal (anti-Christ). Interesting that. He'll then die a natural death before being raised up once more (as we all will be) come the Day of Judgement.

Also, heaven is considered to be outside of the standard dimensions and so free of time - ie it already has been created will be created and is being created. The unseen is funny like that.

Are there any good sites that reconcile the differences in the accounts between the gospels of what happened from the tomb to the ascension?
posted by Mossy at 3:41 AM on April 10, 2004

I'm rather shocked konolia would say such a thing.

Ah, but you haven't been married to the man for over twenty years.

Why would you be shocked, anyway? There are incredible incredible differences in Christian and Mormon theology. They do use a lot of the same terminology, but meanings are different-their view on who Jesus IS for instance. Most people only know of the Mormon concentration on strong families and stuff like that, not the deeper stuff. I don't think Silas would disagree.

For that matter, there are differences in Catholic and Protestant theology that are fairly major, such as Mary and whether or not she ascended.
posted by konolia at 7:56 AM on April 10, 2004

So basically, he went to all that trouble and nobody got him an Easter egg? (Or maybe they only had mini-eggs left in the shop?)
posted by biffa at 7:56 AM on April 10, 2004

Because, konolia:
"Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye.
Also, please quit saying you're married to Christ. It demeans the institution of marriage. That, or start supporting gay marriage. Well, polygandrous ones, at any rate.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:25 AM on April 10, 2004

Amberglow... missed your other question: Mormon missionaries teach interested people about Jesus Christ and about the teachings of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — with an eye toward eventually bringing those people into the Church; missionaries also perform myriad acts of community service — during my own years of missionary service (almost a decade ago), I worked in the Meals on Wheels program, helped out in a child care center for low-income families, took alzheimers patients for walks, et cetera... in areas where folks live at the edge of survival, missionaries are strictly there for humanitarian aid — hosting hygiene classes, distributing care packages, teaching life skills, and the like; finally, as actual representatives of the Church, missionaries are also called on to organize congregations in newly "opened" areas, perform baptisms and other rites, bless the sick, bury the dead.

Hope that helps.
posted by silusGROK at 9:27 AM on April 10, 2004

I suppose that you won't get the gist of the reference to Matthew. I'll state it plainly: You shouldn't be pointing fingers. "Mistakes" in the book of Mormon, indeed: that's rich, coming from a Christian like you.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:28 AM on April 10, 2004

(fff: I think konolia was referring to an actual flesh-and-blood husband... at least I hope she was.)
posted by silusGROK at 9:29 AM on April 10, 2004

thanks, silus--as long you help people even if they don't want to convert or pray with you or become Mormons too, then that's cool. : >

And this is interesting (I didn't know, and it's very different): See, Mormons don't believe that God would just let all those that had heard nothing of Him or His Son rot in Hell; everyone gets a chance. Everyone. Of course, if the chance is that you have to convert after death, then that kinda sucks too. (BTW: Have you seen South Park about Mormons? You guys are the only ones that get into Heaven, but it's so boring it's more of a punishment than a reward or blessing.)
posted by amberglow at 9:42 AM on April 10, 2004

Amberglow: you're right, the idea that everyone get's a chance is fairly novel... but only if you're talking to adult Christians. Talk to any child that believes in Heaven, and they won't blink at the idea: if you believe God is loving, then it's hard to believe He's capricious.

Also, that South Park about Mormons in Heaven (there are actually a couple of episodes with Mormons in them) is hilarious... apparently the creator of South Park dated a Mormon girl when he was younger. Needless to say, he got a kick out of our faith.

: )
posted by silusGROK at 9:54 AM on April 10, 2004

posted by silusGROK at 9:58 AM on April 10, 2004

I have been married to my HUSBAND for 20 years. (The church is called the bride of Christ, not the individuals in it. Sorry for any confusion.)

As to mistakes, I think that the story in the book of Mormon about a band of individuals crossing the sahara for eight years is one that sticks in my memory. Supposedly the wives NEVER complained. On a diet of raw meat, yet. Any of you married men would know THAT was in error. ;-)
posted by konolia at 10:35 AM on April 10, 2004

he died, and then came back later as the mysterious stranger in Theodore Sturgeon's Godbody, and then he died again.
posted by th3ph17 at 10:40 AM on April 10, 2004

(konolia: it wasn't the Sahara, and everyone is said to have complained... I'm sure you just pulled that from the top of your head — so no foul : ) — but if we're talking details then details are important.)
posted by silusGROK at 11:50 AM on April 10, 2004

Do not take Konolia's word for it. Do not just read Luke. Read all four biblical gospels, at least. They all have noticeably different accounts. It is important to understand that they do not all agree.

Hildago, those who go looking for disagreement will of course find it. I hope you at least consider the possibility that the four gospels, written by four different people, relate events that occurred at different times but were witnessed by different subsets of Christ's followers. According to Acts, Jesus was around for about 40 days after the resurrection; there was plenty of time for lots of interactions between Jesus and many different groups of people. Frankly, I would be more skeptical if the four gospels related identical accounts.
posted by Galvatron at 12:05 PM on April 10, 2004

silus: what's up with this? baptizing holocaust victims after their death !?!
posted by amberglow at 12:39 PM on April 10, 2004

Sorry, konolia. Although I must admit I'm deeply confused as to what your husband has to do with my shock with what you said. I'm shocked you'd be openly critical of another's faith.
posted by five fresh fish at 2:47 PM on April 10, 2004

Amber, fff, these have nothing to do with the question asked. Take it to email or MeTa.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 2:55 PM on April 10, 2004

Hildago, those who go looking for disagreement will of course find it... Frankly, I would be more skeptical if the four gospels related identical accounts.

When four different accounts of the same events disagree in their accounting of specific facts, such that fact 'a' could not be true while fact 'b' was also true, it raises certain red flags for me. Now, I read and study the bible as a work of literature, and when I look at these discrepancies I say, "ok, I want to figure out why the author told the story this way," and it's fine, even useful, to have contradictions there. But I also realize that the bible is taken by many to be the perfect and infallible word of God, which I find at odds with its very nature as a disparate and mythologized cultural and genealogical record.

So, when I tell someone to note the contradictions, I am doing it for two reasons: to urge them to ask questions about what meaning the author gave to the story by making the decisions he did, and also to get the word out that the bible is a work of fiction, to be taken literarily, not literally.
posted by Hildago at 4:20 PM on April 10, 2004

FFF, honey, don't be shocked. I am a believer. That means I believe certain things. Because I am a Christian believer, it also means there are things I do NOT believe. I order my life and my conversation accordingly.

Perhaps I should not have brought it up here, but I am married to a FORMER mormon who has rejected totally things he USED to believe in. When I met him, he had already rejected LDS and was already a Christian-the same variety of Christian that I am.

Apologies to the offtopicness, but the truth is whenever questions are raised about the Bible, these sorts of issues come up as well. Just goes with the territory, and nothing to get too worked up over. Silasgrok and I believe different things. He does not expect me to agree with him and I do not expect him to agree with me. But I do think it is important for people to know that there ARE differences, as many people are not that familiar with Mormon theology. I won't speak for Silasgrok but I suspect he might feel the same.
posted by konolia at 5:58 PM on April 10, 2004

Hey amberglow... devilsadvocate is right: we should probably take this to e-mail if you have other questions. But as you raised the point here, I should answer it here — or at least try to. It's a complex issue, and I can't do it justice here, but I hope to at least sketch out some of the issues:

1) Covenant Making as a Path to Salvation/Redemption/Exaltation

Mormons believe that making and keeping covenants with God is an essential part of pathway back to live in God's presence. There are many covenants that Mormons make along the way, but several key covenants are solemnized/formalized through ritual. One such covenant is BAPTISM — this, and a handful of other coventants/rites/ordinances/sacraments are also mandatory... this is not new, per se, in Christianity as the idea that one must be baptised is central to many Christian sects.

(It may be of interest, here, that the concept of baptism on behalf of the dead is even Biblical — see First Corinthians, chapter 15 v 29.)

2) God is Benevolent and Loves All of His Children.

I made the comment above that Mormons believe that there is missionary work going on ... so it follows that there are spirits who may choose to accept the Gospel. Accepting the Gospel requires that a covenant be entered into and that the covenant be solemnized through baptism.

Of course, that's the zinger: how can a spirit be baptized?

3) Proxy Ordinance Work

Mormons believe that God provides a way for spirits to make the covenant and for the ordinance/sacrament to be performed... and it's through the proxy ordinances performed in Temples around the world.

In the case of baptisms, an individual enters the baptismal font and is baptized "for and in behalf of" another — once the ordinance has been performed, it is squarely within the hands of the departed to accept the ritual or not... beyond the fact that the ritual was performed, no one assumes that the person on whose behalf the work was performed accepted that work.

That last point is important, because many of the folks complaining about the proxy work being performed mistakenly believe that we think that such work somehow robs the departed of their free agency. These folks then take justifiable umbrage at our perceived hubris.

Of course, sensationalist headlines like the Yahoo one distort the practice — conjuring imagery of Mormons breaking into crypts, stealing bones, and baptizing the bones in occult rituals in the basements of their temples and neighborhood churches.

4) Who

Proxy work is supposed to be performed by family members on behalf of their own ancestors: I do research in my family tree, find ancestors for who the proper ordinances have not been performed, then visit the temple to perform the ordinances on their behalf...

The problem, here, though, is that as we go farther back in time, the number of folks needing such work quickly becomes unmanageable... this is when the family member then asks for help — ideally from close friends or from members of their congregation. As a last resort, family members may submit the names of _their_ ancestors to a general roll of names for whom work needs to be done.

5) The Problem in the Article Linked

Unfortunately, some folks have made quite the hobby of doing all sorts of genealogical work outside of their own family tree, then submitting the names found to the general roll... and a prime target for such hobbyists are important figures from history — the Holocaust victims being one such group (and a very large one at that).

Had these hobbyists not taken it upon themselves to do for others what they should have been doing themselves, I don't think any of this would have been an issue: it would have been difficult, for example, for anyone (outside of the family in question) to deny a son the conviction of his own faith with regards to the eternal disposition of his mother or father.

6) The Agreement

I don't know the details of the agreement (as I'm not descended from Jews, I never thought it relevant), but it doesn't surprise me that the Church made an agreement with the state of Israel, or the families of the Holocaust victims: the Church has always been very careful to respect its relationships with the People of Israel. Because of this, I find it hard to believe that anything was done by the Church to break the agreement... and I'd wager that it was (again) the actions of a few hobbyists (who should know better).

7) Why

The whole concept of proxy ordinance work raises the question of why ordinances are essential if all of this work has to be done in order for it to be efficacious... couldn't there be a simpler way? Say: no ordinance work necessary — just a proclamation of intent or faith? It's a valid question... and various members of the Church may answer you differently, but this is my take:

No one really knows what the next life is going to be like, or what we'll be doing... but Mormons believe that families somehow play an important role. Our own family experience, however, is often limited to two or three generations on either side of us — hardly a dent given the enormity of our own personal family trees.

It's my belief, then, that this practice was worked out by God so that those on either side of death could begin building lasting relationships with each other. If this is indeed the reason for the current schema, then it is even more important that one do work for ones own family.

A case in point: I grew up the son of two fathers — neither of who I was close to... both of whom have passed on. As I have come to terms with my relationship with them, I have begun the work necessary to perform work on their behalf in the temple. Doing this has begun to heal the bad feelings I've harbored for so long, and has even engendered a certain love above and beyond anything I felt while they lived. Some time in the next year, I will go to the temple and I will perform the work — and in performing this act of service, bring our relationship full circle.

8) Conclusion

Amberglow... that's more than you bargained for, I'm certain. I hope, though, that it sheds some light on the news headlines and the doctrines behind the controversy.
posted by silusGROK at 7:10 PM on April 10, 2004

Oh, it's all going to end in tears now...
posted by five fresh fish at 7:23 PM on April 10, 2004

not tears, fff, just shock, but....

It is more than I bargained for, and I personally find it incredibly and deeply unethical--immoral even, as I believe no one can ever ever ever do anything "by proxy" when it comes to religion, and that the people this was done for didn't ask for it, nor would they have welcomed it by any stretch of the imagination, even if done out of a sense of love or a good deed or anything.

That said, it's really meaningless to them, and to me, when it comes right down to it, since they're in no need of anyone doing anything except remembering them, and have long since moved on. They didn't share your beliefs about the afterlife, nor the rituals you perform. They have found peace, and whether you guys think that it helps them get to heaven or not is a moot point. The living do all sorts of weird things concerning the dead in all cultures. This is one more of them.
posted by amberglow at 8:19 PM on April 10, 2004

Amberglow, I have to say I agree with most of what you just said.

If I could pick only five people to have coffee and one-on-one conversation with on Mefi you would be one of them. I think it would be an interesting and respectful discussion.
posted by konolia at 4:08 AM on April 11, 2004

likewise, konolia : >
(i feel that way about lots of people here--I know you do too--MeFi's great that way)
posted by amberglow at 9:32 AM on April 11, 2004

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