Intermediate state


Intermediate state

"This article is about the Christian doctrine of this name. For the Buddhist doctrine of the same name see Bardo."

In Christian eschatology, the intermediate state or interim state refers to a person's existence between one's death and resurrection. This period is "intermediate" between death and the last judgment.

As long as Christians looked for an imminent end of the world, they had little interest in an interim state between death and resurrection. Later, the Eastern Church came to admit of such an intermediate state, but refrained from defining it, so as not to blur the distinction between the alternative definitive fates of heaven and hell. In the West there was much more curiosity about the intermediate state, with evidence from as far back as the "Passion" of Saints Perpetua and Felicity (203) of the belief that sins can be purged by suffering in an afterlife, and that the purgation can be speeded up by the prayers of the living. Eastern Christians too believed that the dead can be assisted by prayer. [Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (Oxford University Press 2005 ISBN 978-0-19-280290-3), article "purgatory"]

East and West, those in the intermediate state have traditionally been the beneficiaries of prayers, such as requiem masses. In the East, the saved are said to rest in light while the wicked are confined in darkness. In the East, prayers are said to benefit even pagans. ["Dead, prayer for the." Cross, F. L., ed. The Oxford dictionary of the Christian church. New York: Oxford University Press. 2005] In the West, Augustine described prayer as useful for those in communion with the church, and implied that every soul's ultimate fate is determined at death. ["Dead, prayer for the." Cross, F. L., ed. The Oxford dictionary of the Christian church. New York: Oxford University Press. 2005] In the West, prayer came to be restricted to souls in purgatory. ["Dead, prayer for the." Cross, F. L., ed. The Oxford dictionary of the Christian church. New York: Oxford University Press. 2005] In the Middle Ages, the Western church offered indulgences for those in purgatory. ["Indulgences." Cross, F. L., ed. The Oxford dictionary of the Christian church. New York: Oxford University Press. 2005] Protestants largely ceased praying for the dead.

Protestants denied the Catholic purgatory. Luther posited "soul sleep", in which the soul is asleep, yet "lives before God" and "experiences visions and the discourses of the angels and of God". ["Salomon judgeth that the dead are a sleepe, and feele nothing at all. For the dead lye there accompting neyther dayes nor yeares, but when they are awoken, they shall seeme to haue slept scarce one minute." - Martin Luther, "An Exposition of Salomon's Booke, called Ecclesiastes or the Preacher" (translation 1573). "It is certain that to this day Abraham is serving God, just as Abel, Noah are serving God. And this we should carefully note; for it is divine truth that Abraham is living, serving God, and ruling with Him. But what sort of life that may be, whether he is asleep or awake, is another question. How the soul is resting we are not to know, but it is certain that it is living." - E.M. Plass, "What Luther Says", Vol. 1. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1950. p. 385 (cf. [http://www.wlsessays.net/authors/S/ScheweSoul/ScheweSoul.PDF Harold A. Schewe: "What Happens to the Soul after Death?"] ). "But the soul does not sleep in the same manner (like a person on earth.) It is awake. It experiences visions and the discourses of the angels and of God. Therefore the sleep in the future life is deeper than it is in this life. Nevertheless, the soul lives before God." - J Pelikan, ed., "Luther’s Works", Vol. 4. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1964. p. 313 (cf. [http://www.wlsessays.net/authors/S/ScheweSoul/ScheweSoul.PDF Harold A. Schewe: "What Happens to the Soul after Death?"] ).] Calvin depicted the righteous dead as resting in bliss.

Jewish background

The ancient Hebrews had no resurrection [Belief in the resurrection "first became prevalent in Judaism during the time of the Maccabees, after 168 BCE." Harris, Stephen L., Understanding the Bible. Palo Alto: Mayfield. 1985. p. 415] and thus no intermediate state. As with neighboring groups, they understood death to be the end. Their afterlife, "sheol" (the pit), was a dark place from which none return. By Jesus' time, however, the book of Daniel ( to torment the wicked who are doomed to be cast into it. Prayer for the dead, especially as a mass, dates back to the early Church. Two martyr stories describe the martyrs as praying for the dead to improve the conditions of the dead in an intermediate state.). Those who die unrepentant will experience torment (perhaps in hell) while they await final condemnation on the day of judgment (bibleverse|2|Peter|2:9|NIV).

"Soul sleep"

A minority of Christians, including Martin Luther"Christian Song Latin and German, for Use at Funerals," 1542, in Works of Luther (1932), vol. 6, pp. 287, 288] and smaller denominations such as Seventh-day Adventists [28 fundamental beliefs of Seventh-day Adventists [http://www.adventist.org/beliefs/fundamental/index.html] , number 26 "Death and Resurrection".] , deny the conscious existence of the soul after death, believing the intermediate state to be unconscious "sleep". In this case, the person is not conscious of any time or activity and would not be aware even if centuries elapsed between their death and their resurrection. They would, upon their death, cease consciousness, and gain it again at the time of the resurrection having experienced no time lapse. For them, time would thus suspended, as if thy moved immediately from death to resurrection and the General Judgment.

Hades

The intermediate state is sometimes referred to by the Greek term "hades", even in other languages. The term is equivalent to Hebrew "sheol" and Latin "infernum" (meaning "underworld").

Purgatory

The Roman Catholic Church teaches that all who die in God's grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, undergo "purification" so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven, a final purification to which it gives the name "purgatory" [ [http://www.vatican.va/archive/catechism/p123a12.htm#III Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1030-1031] ]

Limbo

Roman Catholic theologians have given the name "limbo" to a possible fate of infants who die without baptism. The just who died before Jesus Christ are also spoken of as having been in limbo until he had won salvation for them.

References

ee also

* Bardo
* Barzakh
* Gehenna (disambiguation)
* Nakir and Munkar
* Particular judgment
* Prayer for the dead


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