RE: Immortality of the Soul

From: Adrian Teo (ateo@whitworth.edu)
Date: Wed Jul 17 2002 - 15:58:43 EDT

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    Hello Allen,

            -----Original Message-----
            From: Allen Roy [mailto:allenroy@peoplepc.com]
            Sent: Tue 7/16/2002 10:15 PM
            To: Adrian Teo; asa@calvin.edu
            Cc:
            Subject: Re: Immortality of the Soul

            Allen: I have no problem with the word soul also being used
    to refer to the
            inner-person, consciousness, thought and emotion. However,
    that does not
            automatically translate into the idea that the
    inner-person/consciousness,
            etc., is an immortal entity. The soul as the being who's
    consciousness of
            the mind is the normal functioning of the brain ceases to
    exist when the
            breath of life ends.

            Allen: The translators of the Septuagint were out to prove to
    the Greeks that the
            Bible did not conflict with pagan Greek philosophy. I'd consider their
            position only with a very large grain of salt.

            AT: As Bob wrote in his response to you, where is the
    evidence that the translators of the Septuagint were out to reconcile
    the Bible with pagan philosophy, and two, what is inherently wrong
    with Christianizing pagan beliefs, if we acknowledge that even pagans
    are made in the image of God and have some inkling of the truth,
    however distorted and incomplete they may be?

            =========
    >Furthermore, the practice of necromancy is assumed to be a
    real possibility
            and occurrence.

            There is no such thing as communication with the dead.

            ECC 9:5
            For the living know that they will die,
                but the dead know nothing;
            they have no further reward,
                and even the memory of them is forgotten. [or, even their memory is
            gone.]

            Allen: What there is, is Satan's confederates masquerading as
    the dead, to promote
            the false concept of the immortality of the soul and to
    support Satan's lie
            to Eve -- "You shall not surely die."

            AT: Read 1 Sam 28 - the witch of Endor incident. All the
    condemnations of communicating with the dead is clearly condemned by
    God, but what is significant is that the OT assumes that it is a real
    possibililty, for otherwise the condemnations would have been moot.
    It is not unreasonable to think that the author of Eccl may have a
    limited understanding of life after death. Revelations in the OT tend
    to be less clear and complete than the NT.

            Also see Rev 6:9-10 where the dead are pleading for God's
    judgment. Even Jesus himself makes a distinction between body and
    soul in Matt 10:28. Yes, the soul can be destroyed, if God chooses to
    do so, but that does not necessarily imply that the soul will be
    destroyed upon death. Souls are immortal as far as they are sustained
    by God, as all things are. They are not inherently immortal, but they
    persists beyond our physical lives. There are just an overwhelming
    number of passages in the bible that suggests the existence of souls
    beyond death, and only a handful, like the one you cited that
    seemingly contradict the claim. Of course, sheer numbers alone is
    insufficient to make a claim one way or another. One needs to look
    carefully into all these passages and evaluate them in the light of
    the bible as a totality. Furthermore, the witness of the early church
    fathers also supports the notion of a soul that persists beyond
    death, such as Justin, Ignatius, Athenagorus, and Irenae!
    us.

            =============
    >Christians since the earliest days have always held that
    there is a soul
            that lives on after physical death. In fact, I think that the
    NT makes it
            even more compelling that there is an immaterial soul that
    survives physical
            death.

            Allen: Granted, you can find some early Christians who
    adopted the pagan Greek and
            Roman concepts of immortality of the soul. The Catholic
    Church is famous
            for "christianizing' all kinds of pagan beliefs and theology. But just
            because some did doesn't make it right or Biblical.

            AT: Nor does it automatically make it unbiblical or wrong.

            ========

            Allen: We don't make our
            choices of theology based on what others have or have not
    believed before.
            Rather, we believe what we believe because the Holy Spirit
    leads us, if we
            let him, to understand what the Bible says.

            AT: Faith is not about what I choose to believe, but about
    what is handed down from the Apostles through Christians who came
    before us. The early Christians handed down to us the faith.
    Therefore, the weight of their testimony has to be taken seriously.
    Anybody can claim the leading of the Holy Spirit, even folks like Rev
    Moon and Jim Jones.
            =====
    > But for me, the heart of the matter is how the monist view affects
            Christology. What happened to Jesus between the death and the
    resurrection?
            Did He cease to exist as God-man, or do we confess that after the
            incarnation, the Son as Jesus is forever the God-man?

            Allen: According to the on-line American Heritage¨∆
    Dictionary, monism is the
            doctrine that mind and matter are formed from, or reducible
    to, the same
            ultimate substance or principle of being. I do not believe
    that what I am
            promoting is monism or anything remotely resembling it. I
    believe that the
            brain is a physical organ of the body composed of matter that
    decays to dust
            upon death. And, that the mind is the consciousness of the person that
            results from the normal functioning of the physical brain. A living,
            breathing body that is functioning as it was designed to do
    results in a
            living, conscious being or soul. When the person dies, consciousness
            ceases, the mind no longer exists and the body and brain
    decay. The mind is
            different that the brain. The brain is composed of matter. The mind,
            although it is the result of the proper functioning of the
    physical brain,
            is the consciousness of the living being. It cannot exist without the
            brain, although the brain can exist without a mind. Unlike,
    Monism, the
            mind is not composed of or reducible to any ultimate
    substance or principle
            of being. The mind either is or is not. We are alive or we
    are not. The
            soul is or it is not.

            AT: What you are proposing is not different from what Nancy
    Murphy has proposed, that the mind is an emergent property, arising
    from the complex arrangement of molecules we call the brain and the
    body. That is why she uses the term Nonreductive Physicalism.
    However, it is nevetheless broadly classified as monistic, as opposed
    to dualistic.

            =======

            Allen: Nothing happened to Jesus between the moment of death
    and resurrection. He
            simply ceased to exist as God and Man. His dead body was in Sheol, the
            grave. He died the second death of complete annihilation,
    taking the place
            of everyone who chooses His life in place of their own though
    deserving the
            final annihilation. He was raised from the dead the same as
    before, the
            God/man incarnate with a body and the breath of life, i.e., a
    living being.
            Jesus became incarnate to die for us. He was incarnate
    before His death,
            He was incarnate after his death. While he was dead, he was dead.

            AT: What you are proposing seems like a novel idea, although
    it probably isn't. You may not realize this, but you have a big
    problem in this argument because it claims that the divine nature of
    Christ can actually cease to exist. Christ is therefore not the
    eternal Son, because He ceased to exist even for a short few days.
    The Trinity is therefore meaningless. The denial/distortion of the
    Trinity is one of the most persistent heresy of Christianity.
            ====
    > I don't have the time now, but there are also philosophical
    objections to
            monism that even Nancy Murphy, esteemed philosopher at
    Fuller, was unable to
            respond to at a conference on human nature. There are also moral
            implications of monism are troubling, to say the least. In
    the preface to
            Whatever happened to the Soul by Brown, Murphy and Maloney, the authors
            described the soul as "a functional capacity of a complex
    physical organism,
            rather than a separate spiritual essence." Whenever the human person is
            defined in terms of functions, we set the stage for the
    justification of
            horrible crimes against humanity. But this is the logical
    implication of
            monism.

            Allen: How one can possibly justify any type of crime against
    humanity because of
            logical implications of monism is beyond me. But then, I am
    not promoting
            monism.

            AT: You are Allen, the way monism is used by philosophers of
    mind, the idea that the mind and body are related in an inextricable
    way, such that one cannot exist without the other.

            My final comment is that I think that the reason why a number
    of Christian scholars have abandoned the traditional dualistic
    understanding is because of the deep desire to force theology to be
    consistent with neuroscientific discoveries. Theology is no longer
    the Queen of the sciences, but the subject of them.



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