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Dr Giles Fraser on survival of death

Today's Thought for the Day was contributed by the Revd Giles Fraser, who has a background in philosophy. He was talking about death, and told us that he doesn't believe in personal immortality. Christians, he said, are popularly supposed to believe that when they die they go to some other realm and continue to exist in some disembodied form. "Just to be clear, I believe nothing of the sort." He is no Platonist, believing in a soul that persists after death. "When you die, you die."

This seems to contradict the last 2000 years of Christian teaching. So is Dr Fraser a Christian in the same sense as Don Cupitt? Is he, in other words, an atheist who still maintains he is a Christian? I don't think so. He doesn't believe in personal immortality but he does believe in eternity. Augustine and Boethius, he said, described entering eternity outside time. What, if anything, this means I have no idea. Dr Fraser's reference to Blake's "seeing eternity in a grain of sand" doesn't really help much. It needs more than a five-minute talk to introduce ideas like this. I have to say that invoking eternity, which by definition we can't understand or imagine, is something of a cop-out.


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Jon on :

Dr Giles Fraser quoted a verse from the Bible "only God is Immortal". I have to ask him what was the point of Christ's death and resurrection then?

John 3 16: God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whosoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life".

Paul McCabe on :

John 11:25,26 anyone? "Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die;" and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” - Jesus then goes on to to raise Lazarus from the dead. I am really struggling to understand why a senior figure in the Church of England does not believe in eternal life throug belief in Christ. I initially thought Rev. Giles Fraser was making some philosophical point about eternity not being subject to time and therefore it can't be conceived of as being 'eternal', i.e. you just exist rather than it being thought of as existing eternally from a time perspective...he might still have meant that but on the face of his comments he does appear to be denying eternal life?

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