95+2 An Immortal Soul?
The theory claiming that mankind has an immortal soul was borrowed from paganism and incorporated into the early Christian church. Martin Luther classed it with the “monstrous fables that form part of the Roman dunghill of decretals” (E. Petavel, The problem of Immortality, p. 255). Had Luther continued his church reforms, addressing the erroneous doctrine of the immortal soul, it would have been on his extended 95-Theses list. There are so many reasons not to believe in man’s immortal soul that it’s hard to know where to start, but here are a few to check out:
Old Testament Scripture
Then the LORD God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being. (It does not say he was given an immortal soul.)
For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing; they have no further reward, and even their name is forgotten.
In the very day when the silver cord is loosed and the golden bowl is broken, man’s thoughts perish. They that go down to the grave are in silence. They know no more of anything that is done under the sun.
But man dies and lies prostrate. Man expires, and where is he? As water evaporates from the sea, And a river becomes parched and dried up, So man lies down and does not rise. Until the heavens are no longer, He will not awake nor be aroused out of his sleep. Oh that You would hide me in Sheol, That You would conceal me until Your wrath returns to You, That You would set a limit for me and remember me! If a man dies, will he live again? All the days of my struggle I will wait Until my change comes. You will call, and I will answer You; You will long for the work of Your hands.
New Testament Scriptures
After he had said this, he went on to tell them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up.” His disciples replied, “Lord, if he sleeps, he will get better.” Jesus had been speaking of his death, but his disciples thought he meant natural sleep. So then he told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead, and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.”
Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep.
For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage one another with these words.
1 Cor 15:52-54
For the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible… so when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.
The resurrection of Lazarus, the bringing back from the dead of the boy by Elisha and of Peter’s mother-in-law, were their souls all brought back from heaven to enjoy this life of pain and suffering? Nothing is said of their experiences. Wouldn’t you expect a few words about their understanding to fill a paragraph or two, in Holy writ, telling of their glorious experiences from the glories above?
Martin Luther’s Exposition
In Martin Luther’s Exposition of Solomon’s Booke Called Ecclesiastes, p. 152, he states, “There is, saith he, no duty, no science, no knowledge, no wisdom there. Solomon judgeth that the dead are asleep and feel nothing at all. For the dead lie there, accounting neither days nor years, but when they are awaked, they shall seem to have slept scarce one minute.”
In summary, the description of man’s creation does not suggest we have a soul, much less an immortal soul. Solomon makes it clear that after death we know nothing. Job asks God to keep him in the grave until after His wrath is poured out. Jesus said death is like a sleep, and Paul and others say we wait in the grave until the resurrection at Jesus’s second coming; we wait in the grave as this mortal puts on immortality. And most convicting of all is Satan’s first lie in the garden of Eden, showing where he stands in the debate: as Satan told Eve, “you won’t surely die;” he preached the first sermon on the immortality of the soul.
0. Others in the series 95 Martin Luther’s 95 Theses
1. Others in the series 95+1 The War in Heaven
2. Others in the series 95+2 Immortality
3. Others in the series 95+3 Two Resurrections
4. Others in the series 95+4 Jesus Father
5. Others in the series 95+5 Wrath
6. Others in the series 95+6 The Mountain Top