Entering heaven alive

The concept of humans directly entering heaven without dying is a feature of multiple religions and mythic traditions, including the three main Abrahamic religionsJudaism, Christianity, Islam. Since death is generally considered the normal end to an individual's life on earth, entering heaven without dying first is considered exceptional and usually a sign of God's special recognition of the individual's piety.

Judaism

According to the Jewish Midrash, nine people went to heaven (also referred to as the Garden of Eden and Paradise) alive[1].

* Elijah the Prophet "went up by a whirlwind into heaven" (Kings II Chapter 2, Verse 11)
* Serach, the daughter of Asher - one of the sons of Jacob (Midrash Yalkut Shimoni (Yechezkel 367))
* Enoch went to heaven alive (Genesis 5:22-24)[2]
* the Messiah
* Eliezer, the servant of Abraham
* Hiram, king of Tyre
* Ebed Melech, the Ethiopian
* Jaabez, the son of Rabbi Yehudah ha-Nagid
* Bithiah the daughter of Pharaoh[3]

Christianity

Enlarge picture
The Assumption of Mary, mother of Jesus, has been a subject of Christian iconography for centuries.


Since the adoption of the Nicene Creed in 325, the Ascension of Jesus Christ into heaven, as related in the New Testament has been a doctrine of all orthodox Christian churches and is celebrated on Ascension Thursday. In Anglican Church and Roman Catholic Church the Ascension of the Lord is a Holy Day of Obligation. In the Eastern Orthodox Church the Ascension is one of twelve Great Feasts.

In the Reformed churches' tradition of Calvinism, belief in the ascension of Christ is included in the Westminster Confession of Faith, the Heidelberg Catechism and the Second Helvetic Confession (for more information, see Ascension)."[4]

In Catholicism and Anglicanism

The Roman Catholic Church and the Anglican Church distinguish between "The Ascension", in which Christ rose to heaven by his own power, and "The Assumption" in which Mary, mother of Jesus, was raised to heaven by God's power. [5] (Enoch and Elijah are said to have been "assumed" [experienced assumption] into heaven.) However, the matter of Mary's assumption is considered pious legend, and is an optional feastday.

On November 1, 1950, Pope Pius XII, acting ex cathedra, issued Munificentissimus Deus, an official doctrine of Roman Catholicism. In Section 44 the pope stated:[6]

By the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, and by our own authority, we pronounce, declare, and define it to be a divinely revealed dogma: that the Immaculate Mother of God, the ever Virgin Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory.


The doctrine is based on Sacred Tradition that Mary, mother of Jesus, was bodily assumed into heaven (for more information, see Assumption of Mary). For centuries before that, the assumption was celebrated in art (see Assumption of the Virgin Mary). The proclamation leaves open whether or not Mary died and was then resurrected before assumption into heaven.[7]

In Mormonism

Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) believe that Jesus Christ died, was resurrected, and ascended into heaven as a resurrected being.[8] The church teaches that all persons who ever live and die will one day be resurrected, although not all will be resurrected to the same glory and not all will be admitted into heaven.[9] It is also believed that not all will be resurrected at the same time; although Jesus was the first person to be resurrected, since his resurrection some righteous people have been resurrected and have presumably ascended into heaven.[10] (For example, church founder Joseph Smith, Jr. reported that Moroni was sent to him from heaven as a resurrected being to reveal the Book of Mormon to him.[11]) Latter-day Saints thus believe that all persons who go to heaven will eventually ascend there with a living, physical body.

Latter-day Saints also believe that a select number of individuals have ascended into heaven "without having tasted death". Often, these persons are referred to as translated beings; they are said to be "changed so that they do not experience pain or death until their resurrection to immortality."[12] These individuals may be admitted into heaven to await their formal resurrection or they may be permitted to remain upon the earth until that time. The following are a list of persons that Latter-day Saints believe were translated; the individuals in bold script are the ones that have presumably been admitted into heaven as a translated being:

* Enoch[13]
* People of Enoch's City of Zion[14]
* Moses[15]
* Elijah[16]
* John the Apostle[17]
* Three Unnamed Nephites[18]
* Alma, son of Alma[19]


Many Latter-day Saints believe that there are also other persons who have been taken into heaven alive; there is some LDS scriptural support for this belief.[20]

Islam

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The Dome of the Rock
* Muhammad is believed by many Muslims to have ascended into heaven at the site of the Dome of the Rock. (See Kitab al-Miraj).
* Most Muslims believe that Jesus is alive in heaven,[21] but that view is not universal. Tariq Hashmi writes in the Islamic journal, Renaissance: "[W]e see that the Holy Qur’an clearly negates that Jesus (sws) was raised to heavens alive (3:55)."[22] Yet Dr. Ahmad Shafaat writes elsewhere that the Qur'an in fact states that "God raised him to himself".[23]
* Some Muslims believe the Mahdi was taken into heaven.

Other religions and traditions

Notes

1. ^ Derekh Erez Zuta (post-Talmudic tractate) cited in Encyclopedia Judaica New York 1972
2. ^ [1]
3. ^ [2]
4. ^ Quotations as cited by Redman, Gary, article/Web page titled "A Comparison of the Biblical and Islamic Views of the States of Christ/ Part 2: The State of Exaltation", at "The Muslim-Christian Debate Website", accessed March 29, 2007
5. ^ [3]Brumley, Mark, "Mary's Assumption: Irrelevant or Irreverant?", article at Catholic.net Web site, accessed March 29, 2007
6. ^ [4]Web page titled "Apostolic Constitution of Pope Pius XII / Munificentissimus Deus / Defining the Dogma of the Assumption" at the official Web site of the Vatican, accessed March 30, 2007
7. ^ [5]Brumley, Mark, "Mary's Assumption: Irrelevant or Irreverant?", article at Catholic.net Web site, accessed March 29, 2007: "Some theologians have argued (rightly or wrongly) that Mary didn't die, but the dogma itself doesn't say this."
8. ^ Guide to the Scriptures: Resurrection
9. ^ Guide to the Scriptures: Resurrection
10. ^ Guide to the Scriptures: Resurrection
11. ^ Guide to the Scriptures: Moroni, son of Mormon
12. ^ [6]Guide to the Scriptures: Translated Beings
13. ^ Genesis 5:24; Hebrews 11:5; Doctrine and Covenants 107:48-49.
14. ^ Moses 7:21, 31, 69; Doctrine and Covenants 38:4; Doctrine and Covenants 45:12.
15. ^ Deuteronomy 34:5-6; Matthew 17:3; Guide to the Scriptures: Transfiguration; Doctrine and Covenants 84:25; Alma 45:19. Latter-day Saints do not believe that Moses "died", as is reported in Deuteronomy; see other references for clarification.
16. ^ 2 Kings 2:11; Matthew 17:3; Doctrine and Covenants 110:13; Guide to the Scriptures: Transfiguration.
17. ^ John 21:20-24; Matthew 16:28; Doctrine and Covenants 7:1-8. John the Apostle was not taken to heaven alive, but was given power over death that he might live until the Second Coming of Christ, when he will be resurrected.
18. ^ 3 Nephi 28:4-9; 3 Nephi 28:36-40; 4 Nephi 1:14; Mormon 8:10-11. Like John the Apostle, the Three Nephites were given power over death that they might live until the Second Coming of Christ, when they will be resurrected.
19. ^ Alma 45:18-19
20. ^ Doctrine and Covenants 49:8; Hebrews 13:2; 3 Nephi 1:2-3.
21. ^ This statement, taken from the Wikipedia article Islamic view of Jesus ("Second Coming" section) is only part of a paragraph which ends with the following citations, and without going back to the sources, it is impossible to say whether they are citations for this particular statement. These are the sources cited: Geoffrey Parrinder, Jesus in the Quran, p.121, Oxford: Oneworld Publications, 1996. ISBN 1-85168-094-2; Javed Ahmed Ghamidi, Qur'anic Verse regarding Second Coming of Jesus; Islahi, Amin, Tadabbur-i-Qur’an publisher: Faran Foundation, Lahore 1st edition, vol.2, p.423. OCLC 60341215
22. ^ Hashmi, Tariq, "The second coming of Jesus" Renaissance: A Monthly Islamic Journal (published in Pakistan) September 2004 issue, Vol. 14 No. 9, accessed March 29, 2007
23. ^ Shafaat, Dr. Ahmad, Islamic View of the Coming/Return of Jesus" article dated May 2003, at the Islamic Perspectives Web site: "In 4:159, after denying that the Jews killed or crucified Jesus and after stating that God raised him to himself, the Qur`an says ..."; accessed March 29, 2007
24. ^ Lendering, Jona. Apollonius of Tyana, accessed March 28, 2007
25. ^ I AM Ascended Master Dictation List Saint Germain Press Inc., 1995, Listing of those who are claimed to be Ascended Masters by The I AM Activity
26. ^ Schroeder, Werner Ascended Masters and Their Retreats Ascended Master Teaching Foundation 2004, Listing of those who are believed to be Ascended Masters by The I AM Activity and The Bridge to Freedom
27. ^ Luk, A.D.K.. Law of Life - Book II. Pueblo, Colorado: A.D.K. Luk Publications 1989, Listing of those who are claimed to be Ascended Masters by The I AM Activity and The Bridge to Freedom
28. ^ Booth, Annice The Masters and Their Retreats Summit Lighthouse Library June 2003, Listing of those who are believed to be Ascended Masters by The I AM Activity, The Bridge to Freedom, and The Summit Lighthouse
29. ^ Shearer, Monroe & Carolyn I AM Adorations, Affirmations & Rhythmic Decrees Acropolis Sophia Books and Works 1998, Listing of those who are claimed to be Ascended Masters by The I AM Activity, The Bridge to Freedom, The Summit Lighthouse, and The Temple of The Presence

References

  • Encyclopedia of Religion s.v. Ascension; Eliade, Mircea, ed. in chief. New York, Macmillan 1987
Heaven may refer to the physical heavens, the sky or the seemingly endless expanse of the universe beyond. However, the term is often used to refer to a plane of existence (sometimes held to exist in our own universe) in religions and spiritual philosophies, typically described as
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In spiritual terminology, piety is a virtue. While different people may understand its meaning differently, it is generally used to refer either to religious devotion or to spirituality, or often, a combination of both. A common element in most conceptions of piety is humility.
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Midrash (Hebrew: מדרש; plural midrashim) is a Hebrew word referring to a method of exegesis of a Biblical text. The term "midrash" can also refer to a compilation of Midrashic teachings, in the form of legal, exegetical or homiletical commentaries
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Elijah (Hebrew: אליהו, Eliyahu ; also known as Elias) was a prophet in Israel in the 9th century BC.
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Serakh bat Asher was, in the Tanakh, a daughter of Asher, the son of Jacob. She is counted among the seventy members of the patriarch's family who emigrated from Canaan to Egypt,[1] and her name occurs in connection with the census taken by Moses in the wilderness.
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Midrash (Hebrew: מדרש; plural midrashim) is a Hebrew word referring to a method of exegesis of a Biblical text. The term "midrash" can also refer to a compilation of Midrashic teachings, in the form of legal, exegetical or homiletical commentaries
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The Twelve Great Feasts

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