Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Biblical Prohibitions Against Necromancy Pose A Significant Problem For Soul Sleep

  • Discussion:
          -The Jehovah's Witnesses, Christadelphians, Seventh-Day Adventists, and other unorthodox sects teach that the human soul ceases to remain conscious upon physical death and entering into the intermediate state (which is usually termed soul sleep). Yet, one tremendous difficulty for that view arises as Scripture emphatically condemns necromancy:

          "You shall not eat anything with the blood, nor practice divination or soothsaying." (Leviticus 19:26)

          "There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, one who uses divination, one who practices witchcraft, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who casts a spell, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead." (Deuteronomy 18:10-11)

          "And when they say to you, “Inquire of the mediums and the necromancers who chirp and mutter,” should not a people inquire of their God? Should they inquire of the dead on behalf of the living? To the teaching and to the testimony! If they will not speak according to this word, it is because they have no dawn." (Isaiah 8:19-20)

          Why even try contacting dead people if their souls are not consciously existing? Certainly, the Jews would have known that the souls of the deceased were no longer aware of anything at all. Such efforts at communication would have already been known to be guaranteed failures (not that it works anyway). So it is obvious that biblical prohibitions against contacting the dead presuppose conscious life after death. If soul sleep is true, then such commandments from God would be meaningless.

          In addition, such a teaching (no conscious life after physical death) violates the clear witness of Scripture:

          "Nevertheless I am continually with You; You have taken hold of my right hand. With Your counsel You will guide me, and afterward receive me to glory. Whom have I in heaven but You? And besides You, I desire nothing on earth. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever." (Psalm 73:23-26)

          "For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead." (James 2:26)

          "I consider it right, as long as I am in this earthly dwelling, to stir you up by way of reminder, knowing that the laying aside of my earthly dwelling is imminent, as also our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me." (2 Peter 1:13-14)

8 comments:

  1. Jesse, congratulations! Very interesting your web site. And, also, very interesting what you wrote here:

    " Why even try contacting dead people if their souls are not consciously existing? Certainly, the Jews would have known that the souls of the deceased were no longer aware of anything at all. Such efforts at communication would have already been known to be guaranteed failures (not that it works anyway). So it is obvious that biblical prohibitions against contacting the dead presuppose conscious life after death. If soul sleep is true, then such commandments from God would be meaningless"

    I am very near to believe about the soul sleep doctrine.

    Don't you think that contact made with dead people could be contact with evil spirits instead?

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  2. Hello Al Franco,

    Thanks for stopping by.

    Concerning your question, the texts very clearly speak against trying to have contact with deceased people (although God would obviously forbid His people from communicating with fallen angels). Those prohibitions would hardly be sensible or necessary in a soul sleep framework.

    While the doctrine of soul sleep (formally termed psychopannychia) is not philosophically objectionable, it does not in my opinion conform to Scripture.

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  4. Al Franco,

    Your English is just fine.

    Again, the Scripture says plainly that we are not to contact the dead:

    "When they say to you, "Consult the mediums and the spiritists who whisper and mutter," should not a people consult their God? Should they consult the dead on behalf of the living?" (Isaiah 8:19)

    "Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, SORCERY, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God." (Galatians 5:19-21, emphasis added)

    Practices like consulting the dead and sorcery are what constitute necromancy. Such was forbidden by God because it involves the occult and not placing our trust in Him.

    There is no reason to doubt the validity of a doctrine if it is clearly taught in Scripture.

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  5. Thanks once more, Jesse.

    By the way, which version of the scriptures are you using?

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  6. I primarily use the New American Standard Bible. Sometimes I cite from the English Standard Version, New English Translation, and other reputable translations.

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  7. Al Franco,

    I should have added to this article the example of Saul contacting Samuel at God's allowance, and being punished for that attempt (1 Samuel 28).

    Additionally, you might find these resources helpful for study:

    https://rationalchristiandiscernment.blogspot.com/2017/03/annihilation-refuted.html

    https://rationalchristiandiscernment.blogspot.com/2017/05/a-refutation-of-soul-sleep.html

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