According to a recent ComRes survey commissioned by the BBC, 85% of ‘active’ Christians (those who attend religious services at least monthy) ‘believe that there is life after death (e.g. reincarnation, heaven, hell)’.
Leaving aside the other 15%, what do the 85% believe about life after death?
Do they believe in ‘the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting’, as the Apostles’ Creed puts it?
Do they ‘look for the resurrection of the dead’, as the Nicene Creed puts it?
Do they believe that ‘the dead will be raised’ ‘at the last trumpet’, as the Bible puts it (1 Cor 15:52, NIV)?
Here’s what they believe (NB: it seems they were able to select multiple answers. See table 3 in the data tables):
You mentioned that you believe that there is life after death. Which of the following forms, if any, do you believe this takes?
Another life where your soul lives on (e.g. Heaven/Hell) 86% Reincarnation (e.g. starting a new life in a different physical body or form after death) 16% You become a ghost/a spirit 2% I believe there is something but I do not know what 2% A combination of reincarnation and another life where your soul lives on <1% A bodily/physical existence in another world 1% I believe in The Rapture/Judgement Day/Armageddon - I believe in the resurrection/second coming of Christ - Other answers 1% Don’t know 4%
Yes, that’s right: 99% of active Christians apparently do not believe in the resurrection of the dead!
I say 99% because ‘bodily/physical existence in another world’ (1%) at least mentions having a body (though not a body that has been raised from the dead), and I don’t know what the ‘other answers’ were (1%). No one selected ‘the resurrection/second coming of Christ’, which is somewhat worrying. The choices are poorly worded, and there were too many of them, so that could have skewed things (I’ve omitted several wacky options which no one selected). But the first two answers are clearly inadequate: an immortal soul is not the same as a resurrected body, and reincarnation is not a Christian concept. So we have to look at the remaining answers for any hint that Christians believe in the resurrection of the body.
I’ve written on this topic before. For example:
- The resurrection of Christ and the resurrection of his people
- What if it were still Holy Saturday?
- What if Jesus’ body were still in the tomb?
But, for now, can you see the agony on Tom Wright’s face?