Wednesday 16 May 2012

What happens after death? Insights from Tolkien


Death, for men , involves the severance of soul from body - and to be a dis-embodied soul is a horrible state (it is indeed, when regarded as an eternal situation, actually Hell).

Thus the state of a disembodied soul is not 'life' - there is loss of personhood. The disembodied soul always survives death, but this survival is in a partial, maimed and suffering state (Hell).

Men were not 'meant' to suffer this severance of soul, they were meant to undergo an assumption directly into Heaven (like the Virgin Mary) - but death and severance were a product of The Fall.

This is why Men fear death - what they fear is the loss of personhood and the pain of being a disembodied soul, with no hope of relief.

Elves also suffer the severance of soul from body at death, but are (usually) reincarnated (restored) in the 'same' body and in the world (in this world) - either on Middle Earth or the Undying Lands.

The work of Christ enabled each Man's soul to be given a new and perfected body after death and to dwell outside of the world in Heaven - indeed, more than this, after death each Man's soul may be perfected as well as being given a perfected body.

Each man may then become a Son of God - something qualitatively superior to a mortal Man, yet still the same person

But this is only possible via death - and Men need faith to hope that this will happen.

So death became (by Christ) a Gift to Men - so long as there is faith and hope; while elves could (perhaps) only look forward to 'more of the same' and to be destroyed when the world ended.

Or elves might hope to join Men beyond of the world in Heaven, but (presumably, since they will not have been resurrected) as un-perfected and lower beings than the Sons of God...?




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