Entering Heaven alive

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Entering Heaven alive (called by various religions "ascension", "assumption", or "translation") is a belief held in various religions. Since death is the normal end to an individual's life on Earth and the beginning of afterlife, entering Heaven without dying first is considered exceptional and usually a sign of a deity's special recognition of the individual's piety.


Ascension Rock, inside the Chapel of the Ascension (Jerusalem), is said to bear the imprint of Jesus' right foot as he left earth and ascended into heaven.

Unlike the other entries in this article, this paragraph does not, in the view of most Christians, relate to "entering Heaven alive". Jesus is considered by the vast majority of Christians to have died before being resurrected and ascending to heaven. In regard to his mother Mary, Eastern Orthodoxy considers her to have died prior to being assumed (translated) into heaven, while Roman Catholicism gives an ambiguous answer to the issue of her death prior to her assumption, despite her death being "expressly affirmed in the Liturgy of the Church".[1] Protestantism generally believes that Mary died a natural death like any other human being and was not subsequently assumed into heaven, although the Anglo-Catholic tradition of Anglicanism often affirms the assumption.

Most Christians believe Jesus did initially die, but was then resurrected from the dead by God, before being raised bodily to heaven to sit at the Right Hand of God with a promise to someday return to earth. The minority views that Jesus didn't die are known as the Swoon hypothesis and Docetism.

Since the adoption of the Nicene Creed in 325, the Ascension of Jesus Christ into heaven, as related in the New Testament, has been officially taught by all orthodox Christian churches and is celebrated on Ascension Thursday. In the Roman Catholic Church, the Ascension of the Lord is a Holy Day of Obligation. In the Eastern Orthodox Church the Ascension is one of twelve Great Feasts.

In the Reformed churches' tradition of Calvinism, belief in the ascension of Christ is included in the Westminster Confession of Faith, the Heidelberg Catechism and the Second Helvetic Confession."[2]

The "Rapture" is a reference to "being caught up" as found in 1 Thessalonians 4:17, when the "dead in Christ" and "we who are alive and remain" will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord.[3]

Other kind of entering in Heaven alive, with body and soul, are mentioned in the Old Testament: the prophet Elijah (Elia), and the patriarch Enoch (ancestor of Noah)).


The Roman Catholic Church distinguishes between "The Ascension", in which Christ rose to heaven by his own power, and "The Assumption" in which Mary, mother of Jesus, was raised to heaven by God's power.[4] (Enoch and Elijah are said in scripture to have been "assumed" [experienced assumption][clarification needed] into heaven.)

On November 1, 1950, Pope Pius XII, acting ex cathedra, issued Munificentissimus Deus, an authoritative statement of official doctrine of Roman Catholicism. In Section 44 the pope stated:[5]

By the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, and by our own authority, we pronounce, declare, and define it to be a divinely revealed dogma: that the Immaculate Mother of God, the ever Virgin Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory.

The doctrine is based on Sacred Tradition that Mary, mother of Jesus, was bodily assumed into heaven. For centuries before that, the assumption was celebrated in art. The proclamation leaves open whether or not Mary died before assumption into heaven. Some theologians[citation needed] have argued that Mary didn't die, but the dogma itself doesn't say this.[6]

Eastern Christianity

The Eastern Orthodox Church teaches that three other persons were taken bodily into heaven: Enoch, Elijah (Elias) and the Theotokos (Virgin Mary). Similar to the Western "Assumption" of Mary, the Orthodox celebrate the Dormition of the Theotokos on August 15. Unlike Western uncertainty about Mary's physical death, the Orthodox teach that Mary died a natural death like any other human being, that she was buried by the Apostles (except for Thomas, who was late), and three days later (after Thomas had arrived) was found to be missing from her tomb. The church teaches that the Apostles received a revelation during which the Theotokos appeared to them and told them she had been resurrected by Jesus and taken body and soul into heaven. The Orthodox teach that Mary already enjoys the fullness of heavenly bliss that the other saints will experience only after the Last Judgment.

There is a teaching among the Orthodox that the "Two Witnesses" referred to in the Book of Revelation 11:3–13 are Enoch and Elijah,[citation needed] who will be sent back to earth to preach the Gospel in the time of apostasy, and will be the last Christian martyrs before the Second Coming. According to Revelation, they will be resurrected and ascend again to heaven.

Hellenistic religion


Yudhishthira of the Mahabharata is believed he was the only human to cross the plane between mortals and heaven in his mortal body.[8] But before him, his brother Arjun had been to heaven and lived there for 5 years in his human body. His grand-uncle Bhishma had lived and studied in heaven. His ancestor, Puru had been to heaven. Indeed, many kings, including Nahush were admitted to heaven in their human body. [9]

Sant Tukaram

Sant Tukaram was taken to Vaikunta on Garuda Vahan which was witnessed by all the village people.[10]

Chaitanya Mahaprabhu

Chaitanya Mahaprabhu disappeared after entering the temple deity room of Lord Jagannath.[11]

Swami Ramalinga

Ramalinga Swamigal (Swami Ramalinga), a great Sage revered by his teaching. Ramalinga supposedly attained the Supreme Body of the Godhead when Divinity itself merged with him. He was reported to have disappeared after deciding to de-materialize his immortal body by his own free will, his body was never found.[12]

Mirra Alfassa

The Mother (Mirra Alafassa), the foremost disciple of the Hindu philosopher and guru Sri Aurobindo, attempted the physical transformation of her body in order to become what she felt was the first of a new type of human individual by opening to the Supramental Truth Consciousness, a new power of spirit that Sri Aurobindo had allegedly discovered. She believed that she could create for herself a new kind of “light body”. However, she died and was cremated.

Meera Bai

Meera Bai the devotional poet also disappeared when she entered the inner sanctum of Dwarikadheesh Temple and supposed to be in vaikuntha.


The Dome of the Rock

Islamic teaching states that Muhammad ascended into heaven alive at the site of the Dome of the Rock. However, this ascent was temporary and he came back to Earth. It is ascribed to the exact descriptions presented in both the Quran and the Hadith.

Islamic texts deny the idea of crucifixion or death attributed to Jesus by the New Testament.[13] The Quran states that people (i.e., the Jews and Romans) sought to kill Jesus, but they could not crucify or kill him, although "this was made to appear to them". Muslims believe that Jesus was not crucified but instead he was raised by God unto the heavens. This "raising" is often understood to mean through bodily ascension.

Some Islamic scholars have identified the prophet Idris to be the same person as Enoch from the Bible. This is because the Qu'ran states that God "raised him to a lofty station", and that has been taken to be a term for ascending, upon which it is concluded that "Idris" was "Enoch".


In the Hebrew bible the word for "heavens" is shamayim. This is plural - it means "heavens", not "heaven" - but seems nevertheless to have a singular meaning: i.e., the older parts of the bible speak of "heavens" in the plural but evidence for a belief in more than one heaven from the bible is lacking. Shamayim also meant "sky", the atmosphere, as it does in modern English. The blue dome of the sky was called the raqia, and was believed to be a solid shield between the atmosphere and the true heaven where God lived.[dubious ] Heaven was the realm of God, earth of mankind, and the underworld was for the dead, and travel between them was generally impossible, although God and his messengers frequently appear on earth and the dead can be summoned up from the underworld as the Witch of Endor summons the shade of Samuel.

There are two possible exceptions to this general rule that humans could not go to heaven, Enoch and Elijah, but neither is clear. The Book of Genesis mentions Enoch as one who "was no more" because "God took him", but it does not explicitly say whether he was alive or dead, and it does not say where God took him. The Book of Kings describes the prophet Elijah being taken towards "shamayim" in a whirlwind, but the word can mean both heaven as the abode of God, or the sky (as the word "heavens" does in modern English), and so again the text is ambiguous.

According to the post-biblical Jewish Midrash, eight people went to heaven (also referred to as the Garden of Eden and Paradise) alive:[14]


It is believed in Zoroastrianism that the Peshotanu was taken up into Heaven alive[citation needed] and will someday return as the Zoroastrian messiah.

Ascended Master Teachings

Francis Bacon is believed to have undergone a physical Ascension without experiencing death (he then became the deity St. Germain) by members of various Ascended Master Teachings, a group of New Age religions based on Theosophy. They also believe numerous others have undergone Ascension; they are called the Ascended Masters and are worshipped in this group of religions. The leaders of these religions claim to be able to receive channeled messages from the Ascended Masters, which they then relay to their followers.[17][18][19][20][21]

Fictional portrayals


  1. ^ Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, Ludwig Ott, Book III, Pt. 3, Ch. 2, §6, ISBN 0-89555-009-1
  2. ^ Quotations as cited by Redman, Gary, article/Web page titled "A Comparison of the Biblical and Islamic Views of the States of Christ/ Part 2: The State of Exaltation", at "The Muslim-Christian Debate Website". Retrieved March 29, 2007.
  3. ^ 1 Thess 4:16–17 "For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord."
  4. ^ Brumley, Mark,. "Mary's Assumption: Irrelevant or Irreverent?". Catholic.net. Retrieved March 29, 2007. 
  5. ^ "Apostolic Constitution of Pope Pius XII / Munificentissimus Deus / Defining the Dogma of the Assumption". Vatican.va. Archived from the original on September 4, 2013. Retrieved March 30, 2007. 
  6. ^ Brumley, Mark. "Mary's Assumption: Irrelevant or Irreverent?". Catholic.net. Retrieved March 29, 2007. 
  7. ^ Lendering, Jona. Apollonius of Tyana. Retrieved March 28, 2007.
  8. ^ Ramnarayan Vyas (1992). Nature of Indian Culture. Concept Publishing Company. p. 31. ISBN 9788170223887. 
  9. ^ http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/index.htm#maha
  10. ^ Manabendra Nath Roy (2001). The Radical Humanist, Volume 65. p. 21. 
  11. ^ Prabhat Mukherjee (1981). The History of Medieval Vaishnavism in Orissa. Asian Educational Services. p. 159. 
  12. ^ Roshen Dalal (2010). Hinduism: An Alphabetical Guide. Penguin Books India. p. 332. 
  13. ^ Shafaat, Dr. Ahmad, Islamic View of the Coming/Return of Jesus" article dated May 2003, at the Islamic Perspectives Web site: "In 4:159, after denying that the Jews killed or crucified Jesus and after stating that God raised him to Himself, the Qur`an says ...". Retrieved March 29, 2007.
  14. ^ Derekh Erez Zuta (post-Talmudic tractate) cited in Encyclopedia Judaica New York 1972
  15. ^ "Enoch". JewishEncyclopedia.com. Retrieved 2014-03-05. 
  16. ^ "Bithiah". JewishEncyclopedia.com. Retrieved 2014-03-05. 
  17. ^ I AM Ascended Master Dictation List Saint Germain Press Inc., 1995, Listing of those who are claimed to be Ascended Masters by The I AM Activity
  18. ^ Schroeder, Werner Ascended Masters and Their Retreats Ascended Master Teaching Foundation 2004, Listing of those who are believed to be Ascended Masters by The I AM Activity and The Bridge to Freedom
  19. ^ Luk, A.D.K.. Law of Life – Book II. Pueblo, Colorado: A.D.K. Luk Publications 1989, Listing of those who are claimed to be Ascended Masters by The I AM Activity and The Bridge to Freedom
  20. ^ Booth, Annice The Masters and Their Retreats Summit Lighthouse Library June 2003, Listing of those who are believed to be Ascended Masters by The I AM Activity, The Bridge to Freedom, and The Summit Lighthouse
  21. ^ Shearer, Monroe & Carolyn I AM Adorations, Affirmations & Rhythmic Decrees Acropolis Sophia Books and Works 1998, Listing of those who are claimed to be Ascended Masters by The I AM Activity, The Bridge to Freedom, The Summit Lighthouse, and The Temple of The Presence


  • Encyclopedia of Religion s.v. Ascension; Eliade, Mircea, ed. in chief. New York, Macmillan 1987
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