How to challenge the assumption that 'there is no life after death'

(Rebecca Giuliani) #1

Hi RZIM family
I need some help thinking through how to respond to the statement ‘there’s nothing after death’. Do you think starting with Jesus teaching about eternal life and then the evidence for his resurrection is the best place to start?
Thanks in advance :slight_smile:

(Cameron Kufner) #2

Hi Becky! I would agree that those are both great places to start. The entire Christian faith hangs on the resurrection of Christ. If you prove that didn’t happen, then that’s the ball game. The Christian faith would be completely destroyed and would be futile. Paul references this fact in 1 Corinthians 15:14

I would definitely start with the resurrection and what Jesus has to say about Heaven and Hell. From there, the best advice I could give is to have them investigate for themselves. Introduce them to some great resources, such as these books.

“The Case For Christ”
“Cold-Case Christianity”
“More Than A Carepenter”
“The New Evidence That Demands A Verdict”
“Jesus Among Other Gods”
“Why Jesus?”
“Jesus Among Secular Gods”
“Can Man Live Without God”
“Dinner With A Perfect Stranger”

(Rebecca Giuliani) #3

Thanks Cameron, appreciate the resource suggestions :slight_smile:

(C Rhodes) #4

@becky.giuliani. Questions I have always wanted to ask but never have had the opportunity.

*If a person believes that there is nothing after death, what are the tears about?
*Why do they feel the same grief, spend the same monies to bury a nonessential object?
*Perhaps their grief is for the absence? But if a body has reached an expected end, how could there be grief for a return of nothing to nothing?
*Why doesn’t death elicit a sense of completion?
*How is it possible to miss and long for nothing?
*Doesn’t that grief indicate a belief in a life well loved and well lived?
*And doesn’t that require knowing the purpose and reason for existing?

Seems to me that nothing from nothing would equal nothing.

(SeanO) #5

@becky.giuliani Was the person who made this assertion a seeker (trying to feel their way around various religions) or a skeptic (flat out deny the supernatural)?

I don’t necessarily think that believing in an afterlife is the most critical step in becoming Christian. I think having an encounter with God is more important - encountering Jesus and falling in love with Him. Other questions can fall into place.

You might also find this thread helpful:

  • the resurrection is the best evidence of the afterlife
  • the Spirit of God testifies to believers and gives them assurance
  • near death experiences do not prove Heaven or Christianity, but they may pose a problem for naturalism
(Rebecca Giuliani) #6

@cer7 thank you for the questions, i like the phrase ‘expected end’ - we feel such deep emotions of loss and grief when we lose someone we love to death… if death is natural, why does it feel so wrong to us…

(Rebecca Giuliani) #7

@SeanO it was an off the cuff remark in response to Christianity - I’d say it was a way of not having to engage with the claims of Christianity because if ‘there’s nothing after death’ then the claims of Jesus, the way we live life, the choices we make, etc. don’t matter…

I was thinking about what questions to ask to gain a better understanding of their worldview and why they hold the beliefs they do but then I was thinking once I’ve asked those questions - once I understand where they’re coming from - where to from there?

If they were to ask why I believed there was an afterlife, what would be the best way to approach it…

Will have a look at the threads you’ve suggested, thanks :slight_smile:

(Carson Weitnauer) #8

Hi @becky.giuliani,

I remember how one of my favorite philosophy professors in college used to respond to this kind of claim. If someone attempted to claim that they believed life had no meaning or purpose, he would very gently point out that their continued existence, and their willingness to come to class, and their desire to participate well in the discussion, suggested that they didn’t completely believe what they were saying.

Without knowing this person at all, I see in their comment a spark that can be breathed into a flame by the Spirit of God. They are attempting to cope with a sense of despair that life has no meaning because death is the end. But in doing so, they are protesting with their life itself that there is meaning and purpose to be had.

I would attempt to tenderly connect with their hearts. E.g.:

I think you do believe life has meaning. Look at how you (point out some good things they do). At the same time, given some of what you believe to be true, it is hard to see how life can have meaning and purpose. But what do you have better reason to believe? That your life has purpose, or that your abstract philosophy of life is correct, and that death means there’s no point to what we do? Why not see if there is a way to connect your knowledge that our lives have meaning with a philosophy that matches those desires?"

If they reply, that seems too good to be true… that’s another conversation. :slight_smile:

(Claire N Streb) #9

@becky.giuliani Hi Bec, This might be unorthodox, but if the statement is coming from a non-believer or a skeptic, they might start believing after they read We Don’t Die by George Anderson or Life After Life by Raymond Moody.

(Jimmy Sellers) #10

I think it depends on where this person is coming from, i.e. world view. If they are on the fence between belief and unbelief and the afterlife is in question I thing the resurrection is the Gospel, no resurrected Jesus no church. You would help them sort thought that with pray and a review of what Jesus has to say about eternal life.
If this person has no definable worldview I am not sure that the Bible is the best place start. Please understand that I am not suggesting that the word has no power to save I am simply suggesting that this person might be better helped to the cross if we could dig a little deeper into what this person believes about the life they have.
If there is no life after death does that mean that this life has no purpose?
If life has no purpose should we get married or have kids? Should we care for people we don’t know?
Is it possible that there is life after death? Why or Why not?
If there was that possibility would you be interested in pursuing it for yourself and your loved ones?

So depending on which condition you are facing one will begin with the Bible (the believer on the fence) and the other (no definable worldview) will end with the Bible.

Hope that helps.

(Kathleen) #11

Hi, @clairestreb! It is a little unorthodox indeed to recommend a book by a psychic medium (George Anderson), so now I’m intrigued. :smirk: What drew you to recommend those two books? Have you read them yourself?

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(Claire N Streb) #12

Yes, I read them. Up until I was 10 years old, I loved Jesus with all my heart and thought of Him as my Shepherd and friend. Serious things happened to cause me to lose/abandon Him, and it wasn’t until I was 35 and seeking that I read those books. They started me back on the road to believing again.

I later became born again, Spirit-filled, and attended Bible college. (I know now that all psychics are fakes and the evil one tricks many so-called psychics. Dr. Raymond Moody is not a psychic as far as I know.) The LORD works in mysterious ways, and He sure has a sense of humor!

I have met a few new agers and atheists who wanted nothing to do with Christianity, but after reading these books and similar ones, their stubbornness was broken and through many subsequent conversations, they got saved, praise the LORD!

I try to help people anyway I can. For example, years ago, my sister-in-Christ and I were handing out Jesus Film videos to neighborhoods. One woman was a Buddhist and said, “I will only watch this if you watch my Buddha movie.” My sister refused, but I accepted. That broken woman did not get born again to my knowledge, but I know I planted a seed that the Holy Spirit could sprout, because she told me I was the first Christian who ever loved on her. Can you imagine!?!

(Kathleen) #13

That’s so amazing! Thanks for sharing a bit of your story with us. I do love how God can use absolutely anything to speak into our lives. (He does indeed have a sense of humour!) :slightly_smiling_face: What was it about the books that spoke to you at that time? Was it their description of the spiritual world/afterlife?

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(Claire N Streb) #14

Those books and also Embraced by the Light by Betty Eadie broke my stubbornness that this earthly 4-dimensional life is all there is.

Please be clear that I am not recommending these books to Christians. I wouldn’t read them now. That is why I asked whether the statement is coming from a non-believer or a skeptic.

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(Claire N Streb) #15

@becky.giuliani Hi Bec, I’ve been thinking more about your post. I want to add that I pray before I challenge assumptions like this, because the Holy Spirit might want me to say something I haven’t thought of myself or He might want me to stay silent. Sometimes I like to use Permission Evangelism and Good Soil techniques. In my previous replies I offered books for nonbelievers. Another technique I sometimes use is just to state what I believe (actually, what I know), and if they still don’t want to be open to Life after Death, I simply ask them, “But, what if you’re wrong?” Woah. That usually hits home. Many times they will not let on that it did. Years/Decades later they tell me it was their turning point, Praise the LORD!!!

(Claire N Streb) #16

@KMac Hi Kathleen, I want to add another thing. Before I was born again, I thought that maybe God did exist, but that I had done so many bad things He wouldn’t want me. This is because I was not taught that God is Love, so I had no idea at the time. When I read those books, they started to open my eyes not only to the existence of God and Life after Death, but also to a God who wants a relationship with us.

Betty Eadie said that while she was in Heaven, she was shown a scene down on Earth of a homeless man sitting on the sidewalk. “Betty, what do you see?” She said, “I see a dirty, homeless man sitting on the sidewalk.” A few moments later, a lawyer passed the man, turned back, tossed some money in his cap, and their eyes locked. “Betty, the homeless man as you call him, was placed on Earth for exactly this moment.” Pause. (Let it sink in.) “Betty, what do you think of the man now?” She said, “I think he is an angel.”

(Rebecca Giuliani) #17

Thank you @clairestreb for the book recommendations (and your clarifying comments :slight_smile:), really appreciate you taking the time and sharing how they changed your thinking. I love the way God breaks down our thinking and reveals the truth to us using even the most unlikely sources.

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(Rebecca Giuliani) #18

Thank you @CarsonWeitnauer, I hadn’t thought of stressing the connection between meaning and life after death. I really like the way you’ve framed the conversation… Thanks again!

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(Rebecca Giuliani) #19

Thanks @Jimmy_Sellers very helpful - I understand where you’re coming from in terms of understanding more before starting to present a case… definitely need to have a conversation (or a few) first to better understand what they believe. Great questions to ask, thank you.

(Kathleen) split this topic #20

A post was split to a new topic: The nature of our souls and what happens when we die