John 3:16, “Eternal Life,” part 2
Animals: Tradition - Philosophy - Religion Article from


Stephen Kaufman, M.D., Christian Vegetarian Association (CVA)

John 3:16, “Eternal Life,” part 2

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believe in him should not perish but have eternal life.”
Prior essays have been pointing to the question: How can the Realm of God be tantamount to “eternal life”? Jesus repeatedly described the Realm of God (often translated as Kingdom of God) with parables, which I think reflected the difficulty of articulating this state with ordinary language.
The problem with language is that it is inherently dualistic. Words have meaning by virtue of what they do and do not describe. For example, the meaning of “chair” is determined not only by its distinctive physical features and functions but also how it differs from other things, including other kinds of furniture. One of the most crucial distinctions is between our own sense of self and that of other people. We experience our own lives, and we do not experience the lives of anyone else. This fundamental divide between ourselves and others underlies fears of mortality, because, from our own perspective, our death is tantamount to the end of everything.
That being said, we do care about what will be the state of the world after we die. On the one hand, this concern reflects how we feel concerned for the future wellbeing of other individuals. On the other hand, it also involves imagining ourselves viewing this world after our death, and there is little credible evidence that this is going to happen.
As mortal creatures who (like all creatures) fear death, we seek a sense of immortality. However, our science indicates that death signals the complete end of our existence. I think Jesus offered a solution to this human predicament by focusing on “eternal life,” which is bound by neither time nor space. If we have a sense of connection to others, then we become part of a timeless string of life. How might we gain such a sense of connection to others? I’ll explore this next essay.

Go on to: John 3:16 “Eternal Life,” part 3
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