Recently Newsweek Magazine profiled an amazing journey into the afterlife as experienced by Dr. Eben Alexander. This article and experience will be of interest to many either as a curious phenomena or as a journey of faith. Below is the article and related video, following that I offer a contemporary thought on the afterlife.
I am fascinated with how the emerging knowledge of our universe is impacting the way we grapple with ancient theological mysteries. I have been fascinated with the dueling laws of order (General Relativity) and chaos (Quantum Mechanics) in our Cosmos and the current hope that perhaps with String theory we may uncover the ultimate theory of everything. This new cosmological framework has so far uncovered some amazing concepts including the idea that there are various dimensions of existence outside of our own four dimensional reality.
Our Christian faith tradition asserts that there are supernatural dimensions of life that go well beyond what we experience and understand. When St. Paul the Apostle attempted to explain the resurrection of the dead in 1 Cor. 15:42-54 the best he could do was to say that we will be changed or transformed from that which is perishable, mortal and dishonored to another form of existence that is imperishable, immortal and glorified.
In his book, Jesus of Nazareth, Pope Benedict XVI takes up this other dimensional way of thinking about the afterlife and the resurrection of the dead. Here is an excerpt from his book that resonates with the experience that was shared by Dr. Alexander above.
We could regard the Resurrection as something akin to a radical “evolutionary leap”, in which a new dimension of life emerges, a new dimension of human existence. Indeed, matter itself is remolded into a new type of reality. The man Jesus, complete with his body, now belongs totally to the sphere of the divine and eternal.
This is what is meant by those passages in Saint Paul’s prison letters (Col. 1:12-23 and Eph. 1:3-23) that speaks of the cosmic body of Christ, indicating thereby that Christ’s transformed body is also the place where men enter into communion with God and with one another and our thus able to live definitively in the fullness of indestructible life.
Pope Benedict XVI, Jesus of Nazareth: Holy Week, pp. 273-274