The afterlife as seen from the beforedeath

I have such mixed feelings about the current refugee issue, as I’m sure many do. Even before this latest crisis, as we in the U.S. have struggled with and debated the competing values of safety and compassion regarding our neighbors to the south in particular, I have only been able to hover and never land on one side or the other. I’m just glad I don’t have the responsibility of making those decisions. I pray for those who do.

But what I am sure of is that we already have men within our borders enjoying our freedoms who are willing and even eager to die in the commission of a terrorist act. None of us are ever 100% protected from deranged or deceived armed fanatics…although there’s never been a better time to be a lonely farmer in the Midwest plains.

72 VirginsThese men who intentionally join their victims in death have expectations for what awaits them on the other side. They believe they will receive eternal, mostly sexual, rewards available only to those who die as martyrs for the faith. But I am as sure that those Paris attackers have begun an eternity of punishment as they were that they would be entering an eternal paradise of physical pleasures.

We can’t both be right. Some believe we’re both wrong, which is certainly possible. Unfortunately, none of us will know for certain until we die. And if what Muslims and Christians agree on is true, that there is an afterlife and what we believe in this “beforedeath” determines our eternal destiny, it will be too late then to affect it.

Muslim jihadists are trained from a very early age with the afterlife and all its promises in mind. USA TODAY published an eye-opening story in the months just previous to the 9/11 attacks that gives a frighteningly unbelievable account of how young boys and men are being trained for suicide missions and the pride of their parents when they accomplish them. “My son has fulfilled the Prophet’s (Mohammed’s) wishes. He has become a hero! Tell me, what more could a father ask?” says one man of the suicide bombing that vaporized his son and killed 21 others.

And this site, written and run by “nontheistic humanists” who are former Muslims, has more explicit information about what these young boys and men are taught that is captivating enough to drive them to literally propel themselves and others into the great beyond.

So even if we believe this life is all there is, the heavenly expectations of others may play a part in the untimely discovery of the truth or falsehood of our belief. Though if we do simply cease to exist, we won’t know that we were correct. Only if naturalists are mistaken about the supernatural and the immortality of the soul will the truth be known to them.

With that in mind, in the increasingly dangerous world we live in, it seems prudent to me that each of us seriously struggle to discern what is the most plausible description of reality beyond the grave. None of us knows how close we are to it. As a follower of Christ of course I commend the Christian worldview as that most plausible description. But I am confident enough in it to simply recommend a sincere search for the truth. Because I firmly believe that a humble, open-minded, fervent seeking after truth will lead to the One who is the Truth.