The Episcopal Church and most Christians share similar beliefs in the afterlife. In particular, they share beliefs with “mainline” Protestants such as Presbyterians, Methodists and others. Essentially, Episcopalians believe in life after death, and most share a belief in some sort of heaven and hell. The basic beliefs of the Episcopal Church are stated in the Apostles’ Creed, Nicene Creed and the Episcopal Catechism, all of which emphasize life after death.
The Episcopal Church
The Church of England, or Anglican Church, began during a schism with the Catholic Church in the 16th century, an era knows as the Reformation. The Church of England arrived in North America during British colonization. The Episcopal Church began in the 1780s as an American movement away from the Anglican Church when anti-British sentiment was high following the American Revolution. Episcopal is a term that refers to an “episcopal” form of church government run by bishops.
Protestant churches can be classified into two broad categories: mainline and fundamentalist. The Episcopal Church is one of the larger groups of mainline Protestants. Though mainline and fundamental Protestants share similar Christian beliefs, there are significant differences. Mainline churches have a broader theology that allows for a variety of beliefs. Mainline Protestant beliefs are more uncertain and varied in regard to the afterlife. In contrast, fundamentalist Protestant beliefs are more rigid.
The Episcopal Catechism and the Afterlife
The Catechism is essentially an instruction guide to the Episcopal Church. It contains essential doctrines of faith and the basic Episcopalian belief in the afterlife. According to the Catechism, everlasting life, for believers, is a new existence of being reunited with God. Within the Episcopal Church, believers have a great deal of latitude in interpreting the afterlife. To Episcopalians, much of the afterlife remains a mystery, and specific beliefs about the afterlife vary widely.
Diversity in Afterlife Beliefs
Although accepting that there is an afterlife, Episcopalians hold a diversity of beliefs about life after death. How one thinks of the afterlife is an amalgamation of traditional Catholic, Anglican and mainline Protestant beliefs. Some believe in both a heaven and a hell, but others believe hell is simply an eternal death. Some believe that one goes straight to the afterlife at the moment of death, yet others believe there is a resurrection of all believers at a final judgment.
- The Episcopal Church: History of the Episcopal Church
- The Parish of Saint John the Evangelist, Roslyn: A Beginner's Guide to the Anglican Church
- St. Anne's Episcopal Church: Beliefs
- Society of Archbishop Justus: The Catechism
- Religioustolerance.org: Beliefs by Christian Groups and Religious Skeptics About the Afterlife
- Hemera Technologies/AbleStock.com/Getty Images