At a time when people’s curiosity about the afterlife is stronger than ever, Pastor Frank Santora tackles this issue head-on, delivering cultural, scientific, philosophical, and biblical evidence to unveil the truth about the mysteries of the afterlife. Pastor Frank covers issues such as:
* Is there life after death?
* Is there a God?
* Do heaven and hell exist?
* Is hell the torture chamber that it’s been purported to be?
* Are there second chances after we die?
* Do we have a soul, and what does it look like?
* What qualifies a person to get into heaven?
* And what does Jesus have to do with it all?
Written for both nonbelievers and those familiar with the Bible, After You Die gives insightful answers to life’s most probing questions while offering hope to everyone who has ever wondered what happens to us after we leave earth.
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About the Author
Read an Excerpt
Grandpa and JFK Jr.
MY GRANDFATHER WAS a man’s man. I remember him being big and strong, even with the prosthetic leg he had from the knee down. When he put it on, he would say, “It’s time for me to become the Bionic Man,” and back then I believed he really had a super-robot leg like Steve Austin on the TV show.
He adored his grandkids. There were five of us: myself, my sister and brother, and my two cousins who lived next door. Whenever my grandfather came over, he would show up with gifts for all of us. And not just little gifts—he went all out. One day he showed up with Kick ’N Go scooters, the kind with a pedal on the back that you’d stomp to propel the scooter. These were the toys of all toys back in the day and cost about a hundred dollars each. My grandfather bought five of them: one for each kid. I’m sure the neighbors thought he was spoiling us, but he didn’t care. He loved us, and we loved him.
Sometimes I would go and spend the night with Grandpa and Grandma at their home in Brooklyn. On those nights when he came home from work, he’d bring this huge hero sandwich from a deli, the largest sandwich you ever saw, and he’d hold it up in front of the two of us. Then he’d start eating from one end and I’d start eating from the other, and we’d have a race to the middle of that hero sandwich.
As you can imagine, he was my hero. He was Grandpa, and there was nobody more alive than he was.
One morning my parents came into my room and woke me up. But they were not as happy and jovial as usual. They sat down on my bed and told me something I didn’t want to believe, that I couldn’t believe. Grandpa had died.
Grandpa? Big, strong, happy Grandpa? He was gone? It didn’t happen, it couldn’t happen, not to Grandpa.
I was eleven years old and my grandfather was dead. It was the first loss of my life, and a pain hit me that I had never felt before.
But he was only the first.
Over the years I experienced other deaths. My cousin John, who was like a brother to me, died of cancer not two years later. My grandmother, Grandpa’s wife for thirty-eight years and widow for nineteen more.
I know this is sad, but hang on. There’s a point.
I’ve seen other deaths, too. As a pastor, I get called to preach at funerals. I get called to go to hospital rooms and emergency rooms and talk to people who are dying and to the people they leave behind.
Death is a part of my life.
Guess what? It’s part of yours, too.
WHO’S GOT A TICKET?
Remember those ticket machines you see at bakeries and ice-cream shops? The sign says take a number, and when you come in, you grab that little ticket and stand around, trying to find something to do, until the clerk calls out your number. You hand the guy your ticket, give him your order, and then all in a rush you’re done and out of there.
Well, the moment you were born, you grabbed a ticket. And no matter how you spend your time kicking around in this world, finding something to do, at some point you’re gonna have to give up that ticket. You’re done, and you’re out of here.
Just like that.
A few years ago I turned on the TV and saw pictures of a small private plane next to images of John F. Kennedy Jr. “Plane missing, presumed dead,” the caption read. Pretty soon the presumed became fact. The heir to the Kennedy legacy, a handsome young man whose life and political and business future were constantly mused about by media stars and pundits, was dead. Gone. Life over, story over, musing over. All that fame, fortune, and favored-son glory didn’t mean a thing when his plane slammed into the ocean.
You see, it doesn’t matter if you’re a hero to your grandson. It doesn’t matter if you’re a boy who beat cancer as a baby, a grandmother who cooked unbelievable lasagna, or even the famous golden boy of the political world. You are going to die. And you don’t know when.
As they say in the movies, “Nobody gets out of here alive.”
Table of Contents
Part I The Truth We All Must Face
Chapter 1 Grandpa and JFK Jr. 3
Chapter 2 Don't Be a Fool 6
Chapter 3 Religion, Politics, and Death 10
Part II The Soul: Does It Exist?
Chapter 4 Grandma Wasn't There 17
Chapter 5 Outside Evidence 21
Chapter 6 Inside Evidence 28
Chapter 7 Hey That Looks a Lot Like Me 32
Part III God: Does He Exist?
Chapter 8 God or No God? 39
Chapter 9 Big Bang or Intelligent Designer? 48
Chapter 10 Who Made God? 53
Chapter 11 My Right, Your Wrong 58
Chapter 12 Could So Many People Be Lying? 70
Part IV Hell, No! (You Don't Want to Go)
Chapter 13 What We Can't See Is Real 77
Chapter 14 Visions of Hell 84
Chapter 15 So Why Is Hell Hard to Believe? 87
Chapter 16 Why Hell? 90
Chapter 17 Three Bad Words 97
Chapter 18 Hell Without the Drama 104
Chapter 19 The Choice 112
Part V Heaven
Chapter 20 The Scientist and the Little Boy 117
Chapter 21 Chubby Cherubs Playing Harps? 124
Chapter 22 Beyond Our Wildest Imagination 127
Chapter 23 Our Here Affects Our There 132
Chapter 24 Our Dream and God's Dream 137
Chapter 25 What About Kids and Animals? 144
Part VI Me: How Should Eternity Affect My Now?
Chapter 26 All About You 149
Chapter 27 Monopoly Money 152
Chapter 28 Live Now 157
Chapter 29 Live Legacy 168
Chapter 30 Live People 171
Chapter 31 Live Loved 182
Part VII Jesus: Is He the Only Way?
Chapter 32 The Ultimatum That Isn't 189
Chapter 33 Can All Paths Really Lead to God? 192
Chapter 34 Profiling God 196
Chapter 35 The God Gauntlet, Part I 201
Chapter 36 The God Gauntlet, Part II 215
Chapter 37 Christ the Myth 224
Chapter 38 Free to Choose 226
Chapter 39 What About Those Who Have Already Died? 231
Part VIII Hope
Chapter 40 Heavenly Oxygen 237
Chapter 41 The Only Man of Hope 246
Chapter 42 The Greatest Hope of All 252
Reading Group Guide
This reading group guide for After You Die: Unveiling the Mysteries of Heaven and the Afterlife includes an introduction, discussion questions and ideas for enhancing your book club. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.
No one likes to talk or think about death. It’s the ultimate reality of life; however, it is a topic often ignored or pushed aside. In After You Die: Unveiling the Mysteries of Heaven and the Afterlife, Pastor Frank Santora tackles head-on the issue of death, offering cultural, scientific, philosophical, and biblical evidence to unveil both the truth about the afterlife and the key to living a life with greater purpose.
Topics & Questions for Discussion
1. What’s your immediate response when the topic of death comes up? How would you describe our culture’s attitude toward death?
2. Before reading After You Die, what were some of your default assumptions about what happens after you die? Were any of those assumptions challenged or changed as a result of reading this book? If so, which ones? 3. Have you experienced the death of someone close to you? How did the reality of death impact you? Did it raise any questions that you hadn’t considered before? If so, what were they? How did you address or respond to those questions?
4. In chapter 6, Santora describes the difference between our body, soul, and spirit. How would you describe a “soul”? How is it different from your physical body? What about your “spirit”?
5. Santora quotes Genesis 2:7 where God breathes life into Adam: “And then [he] breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.” Read this verse out loud. What does this say about life and death? Who is giving life? Who is receiving life? What questions or struggles does this verse raise for you, if any?
6. In your opinion, what is the difference between evidence and proof of God’s existence? What pieces of evidence does Santora provide for God’s existence?
7. Have you ever known anyone who reported being dead for a brief period and then came back to life? What was your response to the claims of near death experiences (NDEs) described in After You Die? Santora quotes findings from a 1982 survey that over eight million people in the United States reported near death experiences. Were you surprised by this statistic? Why or why not?
8. What comes to mind when you hear the word hell? Do you think hell is a physical place? What does Santora describe in pages 98-99 as the ultimate purpose of hell? Do you agree or disagree?
9. Do you think it’s possible to experience hell before death? Why or why not?
10. Santora quotes C. S. Lewis: “There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, ‘Thy will be done,’ and those to whom God says, in the end, ‘Thy will be done.’ All that are in Hell, choose it.” How did you respond to this quote?
11. What images come to mind when you think of heaven? In chapter 23, Santora describes heaven as a place of responsibility—a place where we are each given things to do. How does this contrast with your view of heaven? What implications does this viewpoint have for our attitude toward life on earth? What does it say about the ultimate purpose of work?
12. When you imagine meeting God face-to-face after you die, what do you feel? What is the first thing you want to say or do when you see him? How does this desire impact your communication with him now?
13. Santora also describes heaven as the place where God’s dreams come true. What are God’s dreams for the world? What are God’s dreams for your life? Have you ever had a conversation with God about his dreams for you?
14. How do your beliefs about your life source and what happens after death affect the decisions you make today? If God is your life source, are there things you can know with confidence about death? If so, what are they?
15. What is the significance of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection when we consider our own life and death? According to Santora, what makes Christianity different from every other religion, especially as it relates to death (page 234)?
16. Santora says that “what oxygen is to the lungs, hope is to life.” What is hope? Why do you think there has been such a fascination with the topic of hope in recent years, both in the media and in political debates? What creates hope?
17. Has reflecting on the topic of death impacted your day-to-day life? If so, what specific changes or decisions have you made? What will you do to sustain those choices?
Enhance Your Book Club
1. Spend part of the book club meeting looking through magazines and cutting out advertisements that either encourage or discourage engaging with the reality of our mortality and death. Create a collage of the pictures, words, and images you and your book club select. What are the themes of the messages you observe? Discuss the impact of living in the midst of these messages.
2. Take a field trip to a cemetery with your book club. Walk through the grave markers and read the names and epitaphs. Have a conversation about what you hope your grave marker says about your life. What choices are you making today that move you in the direction of your own epitaph?
3. Consider reading a book that offers personal accounts of near death experiences for your next book club meeting, such as Heaven is for Real by Todd Burpo and Lynn Vincent, 90 Minutes in Heaven by Don Piper with Cecil Murphey, or The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven by Kevin and Alex Malarkey. Discuss your reactions to these personal accounts of life after death. How did these accounts compare to what you read in After You Die?