edited December 1969 in Faith Issues
Please!! Tell me about the afterlife.  I want to know the view of the Church about what is the afterlife and I'm guessing we get there through following the teachings of the Church and especially through the Grace of God.

But, how does the Coptic view of Heaven and the afterlife differ from other Christian understandings?


  • Dear Taylor,

    You ask how our view of the afterlife differs from that of other Christians; I am not sure any of us will have the answer you might want, since we can really only say what our Church teaches, which is, indeed, that the way to salvation is through the Incarnate Lord and His Church.

    Fundamental to our understanding of the Christian life is something which the western Churches have lost, that is the idea of Theosis. This is the idea that through living the Christian life in the Church and its sacraments, we begin the process of erasing the stain of sin which is part of our fallen nature: "We shall be as (or like) He is" (1 John 3:2) ; " ... by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature ... (2 Peter 1:4). Of course, no one can know God, but we can know His energies.  The following quotations from the Church Fathers provide some illustrations of this:

    In the preface to Book 5 of his Against Heresies Irenaeus writes of:

    Jesus Christ, who did, through His transcendent love, become what we are, that He might bring us to be even what He is Himself.


    In his Exhortation to the Heathen chapter 1, Clement of Alexandria writes:

    And now the Word Himself clearly speaks to thee, shaming thy unbelief; yea, I say, the Word of God became man, that thou mayest learn from man how man may become God. 

    In the Stromaeis he writes:

    so he who listens to the Lord, and follows the prophecy given by Him, will be formed perfectly in the likeness of the teacher — made a god going about in flesh.


    In his On the Incarnation 54, St. Athanasius writes:

    For He was made man that we might be made God;


    For the Orthodox we are not 'saved' in a moment, nor do we need to wait until death to start of become one with Him. This is why Orthodoxy is an experiental religion; it is through our personal encounter with the Risen Lord through His Church and its sacraments that we are redeemed.

    As to the afterlife, we can say no more than Our Lord and His Church have taught us, which is that in it we shall be one with Him, if we have repented of our sins, worked in His name and received His Grace through the Church, and walked in His way in this life. His love for us is shown by the fact that He sent His only-begotten Son to die that we might have eternal life; but He gave us free will, and we have the right to reject His love and to choose damnation for ourselves. He is the only Just Judge, but Judge us He will.

    But, again unlike some of the Churches with which you will be familiar, the Orthodox Church, whilst accepting that we will all be judged, is more comfortable with non-juridicial concepts, using the notion of the Church as a spiritual hospital for the spiritual sickness which besets all mankind. Here we can find the healing we need; but, of course, we can reject the treatment prescribed, decide we know better, go to another hospital, or just check ourselves out and say we're not ill at all. All of this Our Loving Heavenly Father allows us, His children. For Orthodox Christians the Church is our mother, and through Her we learn aright how to worship and how to live the Christian life.

    That is a key point, that for us our Faith is a lived reality, not something we do on a Sunday, or when we remember; it is our life.

    May you be guided aright, Taylor, and find here what is needful for you.

    In Christ,

  • I think u might get a little bit of ur answer in the bible. from the book of revalation.
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