Angels and Death

What happens when someone dies? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

In Final Fantasy X, when a person dies and doesn’t want to go to the realm of the dead, they interact with beings called pyreflies and become fiends. This is a common motif in many Japanese stories involving those who don’t want to go on and become a whole new creature. Many Christians might look at that and think that that is a creative story, but too many will believe something similar.

I say this because recently, my mother’s brother passed away. Today, there is to be a graveside service and many times, I can anticipate really bad thinking going on among people at Christian services about what happens when people die. One of the common beliefs is that people become angels.

This is not to say that the dead don’t remain in service to God in some way. There are many people who have NDEs who claim that they have encountered loved ones on the other side who have kept them from passing a boundary that would put them in eternity forever and saying it is not their time. I have no problem with such a thing happening.

However, when people die, they still remain being people. Humans are a species of a type that are meant to be embodied, although I think Scripture and NDEs both show that there is reality outside of the body. We are creatures that are naturally at home within the body.

Angels are beings that were created most likely at the start of creation and they are not meant to be embodied beings. They can assume a body if need be, though there is no evidence of demons doing so, but that is not how they naturally exist. Angels are by nature immaterial.

When a person dies, they do not become anything else. They remain fully human. It’s worth noting this is what happens with Jesus as well. Jesus to this day remains fully human as well as fully God.

Whenever we are in eternity, there will always be a distinction between humans and angels. Meanwhile with unbelievers, unbelievers do not become demons when they die. There will always be a distinction between unbelievers and demons.

Also, let’s dispense with ideas that are damaging to those left behind. Sometimes people say God needed another angel, which is especially damaging to children who lose a parent. After all, “Why did God have to take my Mommy like that?”

In the same way, people do not die because God needs them in His service in eternity. Why people die is part of the problem of evil and another question altogether that won’t be addressed here, but for now, I am focused on something else. While the question needs a good answer, let’s make sure at least we don’t give it a bad answer.

People have enough to grieve with when a loved one dies. We might want to say something comforting to those left behind, but let’s not say something that’s false and in the long run, won’t comfort, especially as I said, when children are concerned. Also, for those in apologetics, this is also not a time to discuss the problem of evil. Save it for when someone is not in the midst of the pain.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)
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