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What Happens After We Die?: Academic and Author Explores the Christian View of Death, Judgment, Heaven, and Hell.

NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. -- Death is the one inevitable reality all humans share. Just the thought of complete finality could dominate every free thought in one's mind. Such contemplation always leads to one ultimate question: What happens after we die?

For Christians, the scriptures and Church teachings outline the possibilities for the destination of one's soul. When facing certain death, the belief is that the materialistic goes away and we are faced with only four last "things" - the actual physical death, judgment, heaven, and hell.

Dr. Joseph T. Kelley, provost of Merrimack College and author of the recently published book The Four Last Things (Paulist Press, 2006), aims to answer one hundred and one questions regarding what Christians view as the souls destined journey after leaving this Earth.

"The topic of life after death, particularly when considering Christian beliefs, is a topic often surrounded by misunderstanding, misuse, and even fanaticism," said Kelley. "This book aims to help people to see how careful, and even restrained, Church teaching is on a topic that can be sensationalized in both religious and secular media."

Questions & Answers

The Four Last Things is separated into four sections: death, judgment, hell, and heaven; it is further segmented within the specific topics. In the book, Kelley responds to a variety of questions where he relies on Biblical scriptures, Church teachings, and modern views to provide honest responses to some extraordinarily difficult questions. The following are samples of some of the questions addressed in the book.


Death in Scripture and Theology

--What has the church taught about death over the centuries?

--At what point does the soul leave the body?

Resurrection From the Dead

--How did the apostles know that Jesus rose from the dead?

--Where will my soul be after I die and before the final resurrection from the dead?

Survival of the Person

--Will I still be me after I die?

--Will I meet my loved ones and friends who have died before me?


Judgment in the Bible

--Will my judgment after death be like a trial?

--What will I be judged on?


--What is purgatory? Is it a place?

--Can we help the souls in purgatory with our prayers?


--What is Limbo?

--Does the Catholic church still believe in Limbo?

The End of the World and The Last Judgment

--Can we know when the end of the world will be?


Hell in the Bible

--Is hell mentioned in the Hebrew Scriptures? The Christian New Testament?

Catholic Teaching About Hell

--Is hell a place?

--Are Catholics required to believe in hell?

The Devil and the Fallen Angels

--What does the church teach about the devil?

The Fate of the Damned

--Can we be certain that someone who lived decidedly evil, like Hitler, is in hell?

--Will people in hell know each other?


Heaven in the Bible

--Is there a difference between heaven and the kingdom of God?

Catholic Teaching About Heaven

--Isn't heaven a physical place like the scenes depicted in religious art?

--Will all people who have lived good lives go to heaven?

The Risen Body

--What will my risen body be like?

--Will infants, children, even fetuses be full human beings once they reach heaven?

The Communion of Saints

--Will all persons of every faith or of no faith be together in heaven?

--Will there really be angels in heaven like you see in religious pictures?

Dr. Joseph T. Kelley is provost and vice president for Mission Effectiveness at Merrimack College in North Andover, Massachusetts, where he has taught theology and religious studies for three decades.

MEDIA CONTACT: If interested in arranging an interview with Dr. Joseph Kelley, contact: Heather Notaro, Public Relations at Merrimack College, 978-837-5195/
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Publication:Business Wire
Date:Feb 6, 2006
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