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Where Do We Go When We Die?

Gregg Ten Elshof

What the Christian tradition has to say about our eternal destiny

CCT Scholar-in-Residence and Executive Board Member / Professor of Philosophy, Biola University
January 15, 2013

Just last night my 11-year-old son, Silas, asked me where we go when we die. He was not asking whether or not we survive death. He was asking the location question. Where exactly are all of these disembodied souls? I told him that we go to be with God and that the location didn’t matter much. It was a half-hour past his bedtime and I thought I’d give at least one attempt at a short, discussion-ending answer. The attempt failed. The discussion evolved into one about the relationship between the soul and the body. Where is my soul now? And how can we be so sure that my soul doesn’t die when my body dies? Good questions! And alarmingly more difficult to answer when asked by an 11-year-old than when asked by an adult skeptic against whom can be brought to bear all of the nuanced distinctions of contemporary academic discussion.

Christianity is, among other things, a wisdom tradition that stretches back thousands of years and which has had much to say about these and countless other questions of perennial human interest. Biola University’s new Center for Christian Thought exists to facilitate the best contemporary expression of that tradition in the form of cutting-edge Christian scholarship. Further, we aim to make available and accessible the riches of this Christian wisdom tradition to non-academic audiences. On our website is a rapidly growing collection of resources for thinking deeply, from a Christian perspective, about the questions that matter most. And this bulletin offers a glimpse of the work currently underway at CCT on questions having to do with our 2012-2013 theme, Neuroscience and the Soul.

I’m so delighted that this bulletin has made its way to you. We’re excited to offer a regular publication that is of lasting value. Its native digital format makes it accessible not only in print but also smartphones, tablets, and other electronic devices and we’ve loaded it up with original pieces on the topic “Surviving Death” from contemporary Christian thought leaders.

I was so grateful to have at my fingertips the fruit of this year’s work at CCT as my discussion with Silas unfolded. My hope is that you’ll continue to track with the ongoing work at CCT and that you too will find it helpful and relevant.

So what kinds of things did I say to Silas? Flip through this issue to find out…