Friday, November 12, 2010

Religion and Heaven

In my religion class this week we have been studying the idea of heaven and it gave me a curiosity as to what different religions believe regarding heaven.


Latter-day Saints

As Latter-day Saints, we believe in what are called Kingdoms of Glory. These are different levels of glory that we obtain based off our obedience in this life. LDS.org teaches us, “Through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, all people will be resurrected. After we are resurrected, we will stand before the Lord to be judged according to our desires and actions. Each of us will accordingly receive an eternal dwelling place in a specific kingdom of glory. The Lord taught this principle when He said, ‘In my Father's house are many mansions’ (John 14:12)…There are three kingdoms of glory: the celestial kingdom, the terrestrial kingdom, and the telestial kingdom. The glory we inherit will depend on the depth of our conversion, expressed by our obedience to the Lord's commandments. It will depend on the manner in which we have ‘received the testimony of Jesus.’”


I have a strong testimony of these teachings, but I also think it is fascinating to see what others believe and by so doing, come to understand a little about their core beliefs and behaviors.


I decided to research popular 19th century religions and what their beliefs were/are and how they differ from the beliefs I hold sacred. The first of these is Catholicism.


Catholicism

According to catholic.org, “There is a heaven, God will bestow happiness and the richest gifts on all those who depart this life free from original sin and personal mortal sin, and who are, consequently, in the state of justice and friendship with God…Man is created for eternal happiness; and he will infallibly attain it hereafter, unless, by sin, he renders himself unworthy of so high a destiny…In heaven the just will see God by direct intuition, clearly and distinctly.”


Quakers

The second religion is the Quakers. This religion was a bit more difficult to research because they are so friendly and loving so they do not put out declarations of beliefs, but accept many different Friends into their religious sects. They actually seemed like a very peace loving religion. So to find a simple answer as to what they believed I had to go to beliefnet.com which said, “Few liberal Quakers believe in direct reward and punishment, heaven and hell, or second coming of Christ. The primary focus is nondogmatic: God is love, love is eternal, and our actions in life should reflect love for all of humanity.”


Other popular religions of the time were more difficult to find their beliefs on the afterlife. Religions like the Church of England and Puritans. But I did find some other religions that I thought had interesting views on heaven.


Judaism (from Wikipedia)

The Torah has little to say on the subject of survival after death, but by the time of the rabbis two ideas had made inroads among the Jews: one, which is probably derived from Greek thought, is that of the immortal soul which returns to its creator after death; the other, which is thought to be of Persian origin, is that of resurrection.


Buddhism (from Wikipedia)

In Buddhism there are several heavens, all of which are still part of samsara (illusionary reality). Those who accumulate good karma may be reborn in one of them. However, their stay in the heaven is not eternal—eventually they will use up their good karma and will undergo a different rebirth into another realm, as humans, animals or other beings. Because heaven is temporary and part of samsara, Buddhists focus more on escaping the cycle of rebirth and reaching enlightenment (Nirvana).


Jehovah’s Witnesses (from Wikipedia)

Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that heaven is the dwelling place of Jehovah God and his spirit creatures. Rather than the traditional view that all Christians go to heaven, they believe that only 144,000 chosen faithful followers will be resurrected to heaven to rule with Christ over the majority of mankind who will live on Earth.


Islam (from Wikipedia)

The Qur’an ontains many references to an afterlife in Eden for those who do good deeds. Islam rejects the concept of original sin, and Muslims believe that all human beings are born pure. Children automatically go to heaven when they die, regardless of the religion of their parents. The highest level of heaven is Firdaus (فردوس)- Paradise (پردیس), to which the prophets, martyrs and other pious people will go at the time of their death. Heaven is described primarily in physical terms as a place where every wish is immediately fulfilled when asked.


It was so fascinating to learn about other religions and their beliefs and I really appreciate the diverse groups that make up this world and all of the amazing things we can learn through the beliefs of others. The prophet of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has said, "I plead with you to have the courage to refrain from judging and criticizing those around you, as well as the courage to make certain everyone is included and feels loved and valued (Liahona, May 2009, 123–27)." It is important that although our values may differ from others, we should not judge one another, but embrace the differences found in others.

2 comments:

  1. I just wanted to commend you on your accurate summation regarding Jehovah's Witnesses. Whatever reference you used was truthful, for a change. It IS an intertesting question and you answered it well. Thanks.

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  2. devin. this is my favorite of your posts, perhaps because it's something i am passionate about! for something really crazy, study the afterlife myths regarding Islam and the unfaithful or non members (for lack of a better word), and also that of the Norse. it is harsh! i'm sure you're already familiar with them though. afterlife myths are some of my favorite things to study about religions because it really gives you a great idea what is held of value and what is intolerable in those cultures.

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