Friday, May 26, 2017

A Refutation Of Christian Mortalism (Soul Sleep)

  • Introduction:
          -Soul sleep is the belief that after a person dies, his soul "sleeps" until the resurrection and final judgment. According to this theology, the souls of people who are in this condition are unaware or unconscious of the things taking place around them. Two positions on the nature of the soul would be the dichotomous (i.e. the elements of a man are body and soul) and trichotomous (i.e. the elements of a man are body, soul, and spirit) view. 
          -In the Bible, the word "sleep" is used in relation to the word "death," for a corpse indeed appears to our eyes to be sound asleep. A person's body is "sleeping" while his soul is in the location of his eternal destiny. Man is a unity, but that does not mean the elements of his being cannot be separated. The material and immaterial aspects of man are what make him who he is in his entirety.
          -We face judgment with God the moment we die (Hebrews 9:27). Hence, our fate is eternally sealed at them moment of physical death. While some people enter into the presence of God in the heaven, those who were unfaithful to Him in this life will end up in a state of eternal condemnation by God in hell (2 Thessalonians 1:8-10). References to the "soul" do not always refer to the immaterial aspects of man (Psalm 42:5; 43:5).
          -There is a temporary heaven and hell that exists until the final resurrection (2 Corinthians 12:4; Revelation 1:18; 20:13-14). In the resurrection, each person's "sleeping" body will be "awakened" and transformed into a perfected, permanent body that will be possessed by each individual for all eternity. People who are accepted into heaven after judgment will be allowed into the new heavens and earth (Revelation 21:1-5). Those in Hades will be thrown into the lake of sulfur and fire (Revelation 20:11-15).
  • For Christians, to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:6-8; Philippians 1:23):
           -In 2 Corinthians 5, Paul forms a dichotomy between being away from his body and being eternally with God. He clearly believed that there was an incorporeal aspect of man that leaves the physical body after death.
          -If we do not have a soul that remains conscious after death, then the force of Paul's words in Philippians of being with Christ as "far better" lose their force. He has nothing to look forward to but a long period of unawareness of personal surroundings until the final resurrection. He speaks of "being with Christ" without indication of losing consciousness after death.
  • The parable of the rich man and Lazarus clearly reveals to us that souls will not cease to be conscious in the afterlife (Luke 16:19-31):
          -The references to the "finger" and "tongue" of the rich man in this passage are obviously figurative, since the mentioned individuals are disembodied spirits. The punishment for the rich man and bliss of Lazarus are still very much real. Much concerning the spiritual realm remains a mystery to we who are alive on this earth.
  • Physically dead tribulational martyrs were fully conscious in heaven (Revelation 6:9-11; 7:9-17).
  • Jesus Christ told the unrepentant thief on the cross that he would enter paradise that same day (Luke 23:39-43).
  • Moses and Elijah were spiritually conscious during the Transfiguration of Jesus (Matthew 17:1-9):
          -Elijah was assumed into heaven by God, but the presence of Moses poses a problem for soul sleep. He died thousands of years before Christ, yet is here found to be speaking with Christ.
  • Paul was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words (2 Corinthians 12:2-4):
          -The Apostle Paul did not think leaving the body meant a loss of consciousness. We are given no commentary as to how this out of body experience was. It may possibly be a reference to Paul's conversion on a journey to Damascus. Nevertheless, 2 Corinthians 12:2-4 is problematic for soul sleep proponents because it shows us that a separation of body and soul does not denote a loss of consciousness. He remained aware of his surroundings despite being separated from the body.
  • Biblical prohibitions against necromancy pose a problem for soul sleep (Leviticus 19:26; Deuteronomy 18:1-12; Isaiah 8:19-20):
          -Why even try contacting dead people, if their souls are not consciously existing? Biblical prohibitions against contacting deceased persons presuppose conscious life after death. These prohibitions would hardly be meaningful or necessary in a soul sleep framework.


Glenn E. Chatfield said...

Good refutation of this heretical doctrine. I did a similar post back in March, which I think is complementary to yours:

Anonymous said...

I read it and it was pretty good stuff. I think annihilationism is pretty clearly rebutted in Scripture, but it was good to hear the proofs against soul sleep, that I want to read the article again and look at your scriptural references