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It's the Second Death, Not the First, We Should Worry About

February 02, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 176

I have a problem. I don't think I have an immortal soul. The great majority of Christians, as well as those of other religions, do believe they have immortal souls.

Those of us who reject this view have to contend with the fact that a lot of very popular ideas are based on soul immortality, such as the following: Eternal torment in hell, New Age channeling, seances and such like; near-death experiences (which include out-of-body experiences and meeting deceased persons); intercession by deceased saints in heaven (unless they have been assumed into heaven like the Virgin Mary); and ghost stories. On the plus side, we can avoid some of the heat in abortion debates.

Strangely enough the Bible never mentions our immortal souls. God alone has immortality. (1Timothy 6:16) St Paul said we don't have immortality now, but we can seek for immortality. (Romans 2:7). But the only chance of getting it will be "at the last trumpet" [the second coming of Christ] when the righteous dead will be raised and mortals will be "clothed" with immortality. (1 Corinthians 15:50-54)

There are, of course, biblical passages that appear to endorse soul immortality. I am offering common counter-arguments on three of those passages, with my own twists thrown in.

Firstly, Jesus did say the wicked would finish up in the "eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels". (Matthew 25:41) The torment goes on "day and night for ever and ever" (Revelation 20:10). But Sodom and Gomorrah also suffered "the punishment of eternal fire" (Jude 7), yet there appear to be no fires burning in that area now. Nor is the smoke rising "forever" from ancient Edom. (Isaiah 34:9,10) We could claim that forever lasts just as long as necessary to get the job done. The consequence (that is, the punishment) is eternal; the punishing process isn't.

Secondly, Jesus was crucified on a cross between two thieves. One of the thieves had apparently previously interrupted his day job of robbing people to listen to the itinerant preacher Jesus. He got it clear that nothing much would happen until Jesus' second coming. So he eventually turned to Him on the cross and said "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom". And Jesus said "I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise". (Luke 23:42,43)

That seems plain enough -- no resurrection, no fuss; his soul goes straight to heaven. But if we shift the uninspired comma in Jesus' statement we get this: And Jesus said "I tell you the truth today, you will be with me in paradise."

What Jesus was really saying is: "I don't have to remember you on that far off day when I come into my kingdom. I can assure you this very day that you will be with me in paradise". (In actual fact, it is doubtful that the thief even died that day. The record says the soldiers took the two thieves off the cross before the Sabbath and broke their legs so they couldn't run away.)

Thirdly, the well known story Jesus told about the Rich Man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31) has been understood by many to support and illustrate eternal torment in hell. But there are too many incongruities in the story to read it literally. That the Rich Man in hell could see and speak to Abraham implies that the righteous have a ringside view of the fate of the wicked.

Maybe Hollywood has got it right after all. The viewing of violence is indeed bliss for mortals. If we could add to the mix the Islamic vision of 72 virgins for each male the righteous would have the supreme and ultimate bliss -- a paradise of eternal sex and violence.

I think not! God probably has better thrills than sex for the righteous; and it is inconceivable that any part of a new earth or heaven could be used permanently as torture cells.

Jesus probably just used a popular belief of the time as a framework for sending a pointed message to self-righteous uncaring Pharisees.

Everybody dies. The Bible calls that the first death. The righteous dead are resurrected at the second coming of Christ, which also marks the beginning of the millennium. The wicked aren't resurrected until after the millennium. They then try to storm the Holy City but suffer instead a second death in a lake of fire. (Revelation 20:4-10) The lake of fire may be metaphorical, but death surely means death, not endless torture.

God told Adam and Eve they would die if they ate forbidden fruit. Satan told them they wouldn't die. When they did die, he may have spread the word that humans don't really die but have immortal souls. That the righteous are only "clothed" with immortality might imply they could be disrobed later on if necessary. And angels likewise?

When the devil finishes up in the lake of fire he will doubtless hope he was wrong about immortality.

David Chesney is the author of the book "Virgins, Harlots and Sex" (subtitle "Earthy Beacons of Divine Light"), details of which may be accessed on Comments can be emailed to

Source: EzineArticles
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