Chapter 7: Man
It wasn't until August 24th that Ted again visited Arthur Olson along with Richard and Bob. This delay would be explained to Arthur as the result of illnesses and going in field service on Sundays. The fact, however, was that they decided Ted's insistence on being "born again" would be too upsetting for the elderly man. So they hauled Ted repeatedly before the Judicial Committee of elders who eventually toned down his desire to talk of it continually, and did all in their power to introduce dark doubts in his mind regarding his "mystical experience". Finally, Richard and Bob themselves had made Ted promise not to mention a word about it to Arthur or they wouldn't take him along. When he reminded them that Arthur expected them to always bring him along, they replied that they'd forego the meeting entirely rather than have him speak to Arthur about such nonsense. Ted suspected that what they were really afraid of was that Arthur might not think it nonsense in the least.
But by giving up so much Ted gained something almost as important to him in compromise: they agreed to let him bring Cyn along. Ted and Cyn had been going out in service all the intervening Sundays, and it seemed too great a loss to suddenly be apart this Sunday.
Arthur was reading quietly from the new Watchtower through his lighted magnifying glass as they came in. "Well, hello," he said as he looked up in surprise. His voice conveyed an underlying, "so where have you been all this time?" which Richard quickly explained as planned.
"Who's our new friend?" Arthur smiled, peering intently at the woman joined at the hand to Ted. After introductions were made he extended a hearty welcome to all and started in: "Last time we met, we used the method of formal debate in order to demonstrate its use. But today we shall use a more informal discussion in which I'll sometimes rely on the Socratic method of questioning."
"You didn't teach us anything last time," Bob broke in, "you just told us to be quiet whenever we wanted to make a point. And then you didn't tell us how to deal with an irate minister; you merely posed as one and forced us to put up with you."
Cyn looked in wonder at Bob and then in expectation at Arthur to see if his response might justify Ted's high opinion of him. To her mind Ted had been admiring all the wrong people.
"Did you know," Arthur responded, "prior to my forcing you to figure it out as your only remaining refuge, that Jesus had to be admitted as being God? Isn't that an example of something that you learned last time?"
"No," Bob replied in disgust as if he'd told Arthur this a million times and he still hadn't got it; "Jesus is not God. Jesus is not God."
"Oh dear, how you and I have wasted our time together, dear brother," he said as he turned hopefully to Richard. "You learned that last time, didn't you, Richard?"
"Yes. You must remember, Bob, that the Bible calls the angels 'God' as well. We can't deny that Jesus has this title: we merely have to define what it means. The dictionary defines 'God' as 'one of superhuman powers'. So of course the angels are such as well as Jesus. And from what Arthur showed us, I was forced to the conclusion that Jesus is God. And I think that frank admission will help smooth the way in any conversation with a Trinitarian and save a lot of useless talk."
"Thank you for that vote of confidence, Richard," Arthur responded. "You see, my purpose isn't to give you the answers on a silver platter. If I were to do that you wouldn't appreciate them as much as if you have to work for them yourselves. And 'what is expressed is impressed,' to quote Aristotle."
"You know Aristotle?" Cyn wondered aloud.
"Well, not personally, sister." At this she laughed and Arthur winked and continued, "But I've read some of his more lucid writings, yes. There's very little of importance I haven't read. Are you familiar with him, then?"
"Oh, just his Poetics; I had to read that for class."
"Another poet in our midst, eh?"
"Yes, she's quite good," Ted complimented and got a playful rap on the shoulder from her for supposedly exceeding her modesty.
"Well, Bob," Arthur teased, "maybe this session won't be so boring for you after all, what with your interest in poetry."
"Oh, are you a poet too?" she asked, hiding all her doubt.
"No, not really," Bob replied.
"Well," Arthur said, "perhaps we should get on with today's discussion. Since you are new in the Truth, sister, your ideas and comments will be refreshingly welcome, so feel free to join in. I am going to play the devil’s advocate again by trying to advance a doctrine directly opposed to the Truth so as to sharpen these gentlemen's skills. I'll no doubt need your help more than they, but please support whichever side you feel contains the truth.
"Last time we spoke of God and his essence. Today I'd like to discuss man and his essential nature. As you know, Jehovah’s people contend that man is a soul. The soul consists of the spirit of life from God and the physical body. At death, the spirit of life leaves the body and the soul dies. This means that man is not naturally immortal. Immortality is a gift God only bestows on his true worshippers. In contrast to these truths, I will be contending that man by definition is immortal."
"Good, we'll be out of here in two minutes then," Bob shouted, rubbing his hands together and sitting way forward on his chair until it looked about to tip over. "What is man? That's the same question David asked in Psalm 8:4:
"'What is mortal man that you keep him in mind, and the son of earthling man that you take care of him?'
"You'll notice that the Bible says there that man is mortal, so your idea of him being immortal is already disproved with one Scripture! Are we immortal souls? Abraham admits in Genesis 18:27, 'I am dust and ashes.' And in Romans 7:l8 Paul tells us what he means by the word 'me':
"'For I know that in me, that is, in my flesh, there dwells nothing good.'
"Paul, you’ll notice, parallels 'me' with 'my flesh'. Therefore, we see that man is flesh, mortal, made of dust and ashes. Case closed." With that Bob folded his arms and sat back in his chair once more, a look of triumph and contentment spreading out across his face.
Arthur paused a moment to allow Bob the full pleasure of his imaginary victory. When he perceived that it had soaked through his entire being, he spoke, "Paul went on to say something else of interest in that verse. But don't you think we should ask Jehovah's blessing on our efforts before we begin?"
Bob, startled that he'd forgotten this prerequisite, looked about sheepishly and mumbled something.
But Ted was even more startled when Arthur asked him to do the honor! He'd never before led any brothers in prayer, and wasn't sure he'd say the right thing.
"That's right," Richard remarked brightening, "you're a baptized brother now; you can lead the whole congregation in prayer!" He smiled approvingly as did Arthur.
So Ted bowed his head, shut his eyes tightly, released Cyn's hand to clasp his own, and began, "Our dear, loving, heavenly Father, Jehovah," (he threw in more titles than he meant to), "we thank you for giving us life this day," (he wasn't striving for originality yet), "and we ask that you might help us use it to your glory. We're gathered here," (he felt like saying "as you know" but restrained himself), "to learn more about the Truth as you've given it to us in your Holy Word. So we ask that you might pour out an extra portion of your spirit upon us that we can come to a clearer understanding of your ways. We'd like to also remember all of our brothers and sisters around the world, and ask that you be with them, especially those who are undergoing persecution for your name. And we ask all this in the name of your Son and our Redeemer, Jesus Christ."
After they lifted their heads and saw daylight again, there was a moment in which they all silently agreed that he'd done the job well and according to the norm.
Then Arthur resumed the discussion: "What Paul went on to say in that verse you quoted, Bob, was:
"'For to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.'
"Now, Bob, let me ask you this: can flesh ‘will’ to do something good?"
"I don't understand the question."
"If I cut off a hunk of my flesh and lay it on the night table here," Arthur clarified, "would that hunk of flesh have the ability to ‘will’ to do something good?"
"No, of course not." Bob replied, "Dead flesh can't do anything."
"Well, what about the flesh on my arm. It's living flesh; can it will to do something?"
"No, not unless you direct it to do something," Bob explained.
"In that case it isn't willing anything; I am. But who am I?" Arthur asked. "I thought you said that we were all just flesh, but now you tell me that flesh cannot ‘will’ anything. So how could Paul say 'to will is present with me' if he was only flesh, made from dust and ashes?"
"Because Paul had an intellect: a will." Bob explained.
"Oh, so now Paul is more than flesh according to you. He also has an intellect and will. Would you say that his intellect is in his brain?"
"And since his brain is surrounded by flesh, would you say that his brain is 'in his flesh'?"
"That's a trick question." Bob cautioned. "Sometimes we refer to the flesh in a symbolic way as in Galatians 5:19 with the 'works of the flesh' or Matthew 26:41 in 'the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.'"
"Excellent point!" Arthur exclaimed. "And this, in fact, solves the difficulty: this ‘symbolic sense’ is the way Paul is using the word 'flesh' in Romans 7:18. His flesh is weak, 'nothing good in it,' but his will to do good is there; his 'spirit is willing.' That this is so can be seen from the fact that the only other way to take it would be absurd: since the brain is 'in the flesh' it too must not be good."
"All right already, you've made your point. Paul isn't just flesh, he also has a will," Bob acquiesced.
"And we could call this his ‘spirit’?" Arthur asked with a twinkling eye.
"Only in the sense of its being Paul's dominant attitude, such as we might say 'a spirited horse.'"
"So far we are in agreement;" Arthur commented, "the spirit in man is his will, his intellect, his dominant attitude. All this is located in his brain.
"Since we know, and have just agreed, that matter cannot think, man must be more than physical matter," Arthur reasoned, "more than dust and ashes. When Abraham made a statement seemingly contrary to this thought he was speaking somewhat poetically, not literally (as I'm sure you can well understand, Bob and Cyn). He was addressing God and wanted to show that he was nothing in comparison.
"We must also discount your use of Psalm 8:4 since only your own New World Translation has the audacity to translate the simple word for 'man' as 'mortal man'.
"That takes care of the Scriptures that were meant to take care of me." Arthur concluded. "But now on to more important matters: we just agreed on one major portion of man's being, but man is more than intellect and flesh; he has emotions, he can love, hate, be angered, and so on. Does the Bible assign a location for man's emotions in his body?"
"Yes," Richard said, springing into the conversation much to Bob's relief, "we find the Bible correctly informs us that the source of emotions is the heart."
"And physically what does the heart do?"
"It pumps blood to all parts of the body. Also, we find that it is directly connected to the brain by certain important nerves so that it conveys emotions to the brain."
"And now, Ted, would you please read Leviticus 17:14 for us, providing, of course, that your lovely fiancée will be kind enough to free your hand for our use."
Cyn smiled in embarrassment, and while Ted was searching for the verse, she made bold to comment, "You know, I was taught in my poetry class that the use of the heart is really only symbolic. Poets have used the 'broken heart' and 'bleeding heart' and every other manner of heart as a convenient way of conveying a person's feelings, but it's really not the source of any emotions. A person's emotions, rather, cause her to feel a change in the vessels in and around the heart so that they constrict with anger to prepare for fight or flight and things like that. And we feel the change through our nerves and sometimes mistake this effect of our emotions as the cause of them."
"Science really knows little of such things," Arthur smiled, "we prefer to rely on God's Word for our answers. Have you found that verse, Ted?"
"Yes, it reads: 'For the soul of every sort of flesh is its blood by the soul in it. Consequently I said to the sons of Israel: "You must not eat the blood of any sort of flesh, because the soul of every sort of flesh is in the blood. Anyone eating it will be cut off."'"
"Thank you. Now, according to that, the soul is in the blood. Since the heart is the source of blood to the body, we could say that the location of man's soul is in his heart just as we agreed that his spirit is in his brain. This is backed up by Proverbs 2:10 which we'll have read for us from the King James Bible, if you please, Ted.
"And while he's looking that up, I'll tell you something you perhaps didn't know about Hebrew poetry, sister. Instead of using rhyme or rhythm, they simply said the same thing in two different ways, such as 'Pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.' You see how the same thing is said in a slightly different way?"
"Yes," Cyn nodded. She noticed that Arthur looked absently at Bob while quoting that particular Scripture.
Ted found the verse and read, 'When wisdom entereth into thine heart and knowledge is pleasant unto thy soul.'"
"You see," Arthur explained, "in that verse, soul is paralleled with the heart just as knowledge is paralleled with wisdom. So we can safely agree that the heart is the location of the soul, can we not?"
"No," Bob disagreed emphatically, "the soul refers to the entire person, it isn't just something in the heart. In Leviticus it is being used to mean life. The life is being represented as being in the blood, but the soul (meaning the entire person) isn't literally in the blood."
"Even taking it your way," Arthur concluded, "the heart is still the location of the soul. If soul means life, then it is in the heart; 'Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life,' says Proverbs 4:23.
"Seeing, then, that man's intellect and will is in his brain," Arthur continued, "we might call the brain a container for the mind. The mind is the invisible thought processes and volition inside the visible brain. And, seeing that man's emotional personality is in his heart, we might call the heart the container of this nonmaterial entity of feelings that we shall call the soul.
"Just to get this clearly in your minds, this is my first main contention: man consists of an invisible, immaterial spirit (also known as his ‘mind’) that resides inside his brain and which functions on the intellectual level. He also consists of an invisible, immaterial soul, whose realm is inside the heart and functions on the emotional level of the personality. Finally, man consists of a physical body that houses the soul and spirit till death, when a new spiritual body must be created to house them. So it was, that when Paul spoke to the whole man, he addressed him by all three components: 'And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.'"
"No," Bob exploded, "man is not a spirit, he has a spirit, but the spirit is not him."
"You’re contradicting yourself," Arthur cautioned. "You said that a man’s dominant attitude was his spirit. Couldn’t we say that a man’s dominant attitude is his personality? And isn’t that which contains our personality our person: ourselves? Therefore, the spirit is us."
"Dominant attitude is just one of the definitions of spirit," Bob explained, "the other definition is ‘life principle’. It is what keeps us alive. In James 2:26 we read, ‘the body without spirit is dead.’ The spirit keeps us alive, but it isn’t us."
"In the verse you just quoted," reasoned Arthur, "if the spirit isn’t us, I guess you’d say that the body is us?"
"Yes, that’s right," Bob readily agreed, "we’re bodies of flesh, and when the spirit leaves our bodies we go back to the dust:
"’If you take away their spirit, they expire, and back to the dust they go,’ says Psalm 104:29. We clearly see that by ‘they’ the Psalmist doesn’t mean the spirit, but the body that returns to dust."
Arthur, to the confusion of everyone, agreed: "I couldn’t explain it better! The Psalmist is talking about bodies when he says ‘they’. Persons never enter into his discussion. Just what happens to the bodies? They return to dust; that’s what they do. But what does the person do? We’ve already established that the person is soul and spirit which are trapped inside the body during life. At death the body returns to dust, but where does the spirit go? God takes it away according to Ecclesiastes 12:7:
"’Then shall the dust’ (matter, which could never ‘will’ or think) ‘return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.’ And where is God? In heaven. So the spirit goes to heaven. Paul backs this up by describing heaven and its inhabitants:
"'But ye are come unto Mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels. To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect.' This is from Hebrews 12:22, 23, and you'll notice these ‘spirits of just men’ are seen to be in heaven with God. They, of course, also have their souls in heaven, as we read in John's vision of heaven; 'I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony they held.'"
"First of all," Bob reminded him, "you haven't 'established' that man is body, soul, and spirit. Man is a soul, and a soul consists of a body and a spirit. We could express it mathematically as body plus spirit equals soul."
"You will pardon my confusion," Arthur said, laying back and shutting his eyes wearily. (How he wished Richard would take over from Bob.) "Before you said that man was flesh, mortal, dust and ashes. You clearly said, 'we are bodies of flesh.' Now you say that man is a soul. What is a soul? First you said it was life represented in blood; then you said it was 'the entire person'; now you say it consists of a body plus a spirit. The spirit, you say, is either the dominant attitude or 'life principle'."
"Yes, that's right," Bob smiled devilishly, "Why are you confused? You seem to have grasped it well."
"Okay," Arthur chuckled, "I’ll try to remember all that. You say that the soul sometimes means life, and the spirit 'life principle'?"
"Can life principle die?"
"So the spirit in man is immortal?"
"Yes, in a sense," Bob cautiously agreed, "It is God's holy spirit and cannot die. That's why it's spoken of as returning to him at the death of the body."
"And when the soul means life -- life can't die, can it?" Arthur reasoned. "I mean, when Jesus said, 'Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul,' you must take 'soul' to mean 'life' which therefore cannot be killed. If so, then it follows that the spirit and soul somehow survive the death of the body because they are life and cannot die."
"You're all wrong. You're looking at it all wrong." Bob sighed. "'Soul' in that Scripture means 'future life prospects'. Men cannot destroy a person's prospects for future life. But when speaking of the soul as the entire person, we find that the Bible speaks of it as eating and fasting (Leviticus 7:20; Psalm 35:13) weeping and fainting (Jeremiah 13:17; Jonah 2:7) swearing, craving, fearing (Leviticus 5:4; Deuteronomy 12:20; Acts 2:43) and so on. It seems that the soul is not an invisible thing inside a person's heart, but the person himself, doesn't it?"
"I have a quote here," Richard announced, rifling through his notebook, "from The New Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume 13, page 467:
"'The soul in the Old Testament means not a part of man, but the whole man -- man as a living being. Similarly in the New Testament it signifies human life: the life of an individual, conscious subject.'
"So even the theologians of the Catholic Church are forced to admit it, so why don't you believe it? Do you have better scholarship than they?"
Arthur, eyes still tightly shut as if concentrating, replied oddly: "We find the Bible speaks of the Holy Spirit as: knowing and willing (1 Corinthians 2:10, 11); creating and giving life (Job 33:4; Psalm 33:6); striving, commanding, forbidding, and appointing (Genesis 6:3; Acts 13:2; 16:6, 7; 20:28); he speaks, teaches, and can be grieved (1 Timothy 4:1; John 14:26; Ephesians 4:30). I have a quote here from the Catholic theologian Thomas Aquinas from his Summa Contra Gentiles:
"'Sacred Scripture manifestly speaks of the Holy Spirit as of a subsisting divine person.'
"So even the theologians of the Catholic Church are forced to admit that the Holy Spirit is a person. So why don't you believe it? Do you have better scholarship than they?"
"What are you talking about?" Bob asked, not catching on like the rest of them.
"I just wanted to show you how inconsistent your reasoning is," Arthur replied. "The argument that you use to prove that the soul is the person is the very same argument a Trinitarian can use to prove the Holy Spirit is a person. You just use a certain type of argument when it suits you, and regard the same argument as unreasonable when it doesn't. You use authorities when they agree with you, and condemn them for letting preconceived notions interfere with their scholarship when they disagree with you."
"Well, let's stick to the subject at hand, shall we, and not jump all around. We discussed the Trinity last time and disproved it, remember?" Bob retorted.
"It's not really off the subject," Arthur explained, "You say it is the same Holy Spirit in all things that's keeping them alive, don't you?"
"Yes we do," Richard answered.
"Well, if you proved that the soul is the person, then I proved, by the same reasoning, that the Holy Spirit is a person. Now if this Spirit is in man, it must be a person still, and not all of a sudden a mindless 'life principle'. If, then, the spirit in man has personality, intellect, and will -- to correspond to God's Spirit (since we are made in his image) -- and since this spirit, we already agreed, cannot die but goes to heaven, it follows that when our bodies die, we go to heaven."
"But you haven't proven that the spirit in man is man." Richard argued. "The spirit, we might allow, 'goes to heaven', but even if the holy spirit were a person, it certainly isn't the person that the spirit was in prior to death. Otherwise you'd be saying the holy spirit changes its personality within each individual."
"Very well," Arthur said, "let me endeavor to prove that man is, at least in his higher mental faculties, this 'spirit' of which we speak. We likened the spirit to the mind that is contained in the brain, and in one of your definitions of spirit you agreed with this. Now, if such a thing as a brain transplant were possible, would we say that the body which received another's brain was the same person?"
"No," Richard answered, "it would be more like the person who donated his brain would have a new body. We should maybe say that the one person is donating his whole body to the other person since the latter's brain would possess the former's body."
"And so it follows," Arthur continued, "that man lives inside his brain since we can imagine him moving from one body to another by moving only his brain. But how are we ‘inside’ our brains? You may recall from our last discussion how we said that what things we understand are inside our minds, and that we ourselves consisted of an idea of ourselves inside our minds. This fits in well with our present discussion. We know that our bodies are constantly changing so that if you were to see a photograph of me going back some eighty years, you wouldn't know that it was me; there's not one single cell in my physical being now that constituted my body then. And that goes for brain cells too. They've all died and been replaced by new ones. So how can I be said to be the same person? There are things I knew back then which I've long since forgotten, and I look at life very differently today. So if you could've had a conversation with me back then and could compare it with a conversation with me today, you might very well conclude, again, that I was not the same person at all. Yet I am the same person. Even if I get amnesia and can remember none of my past, I'm still the same person. So obviously, my personhood is not dependent on my body or my thoughts or memory or anything else save one thing: my conception of myself as the same person in my mind: my mind's understanding of myself. That, then, is what I am: an idea, an invisible, immaterial thought in my mind, and this I call 'me', or 'my spirit'.
"Why, though, you may wonder, do I insist on distinguishing an immaterial 'mind' apart from the material 'brain'? Because thoughts are not like any other sense which is material in nature. After a particularly loud noise, you'll have noticed it's difficult to hear, and so we speak of such noises as 'deafening'. Likewise, after seeing a very bright light, such as the sun, we find it difficult to see; we call such a 'blinding light'. And after an unusually spicy meal we find everything tasteless, just as over-stimulation of the sense of touch, say by freezing, can numb our feeling. But, on the other hand, when a particularly vivid thought sparks in our minds, there is no corresponding deadening. Quite the contrary, it spurs us on to further thought, and for a particularly engrossing new idea, we think upon it constantly and cannot get enough thought about it. There is no depletion of thought; it extends to infinity with always more room for more thought. This argues strongly for a difference between thought and the other senses and indicates that the one is nonphysical: spiritual. All our physical senses are severely limited to one specialty and perform crudely through nerves. You can't see with your sense of touch or hear through your eyes. But the mind receives all things from all the senses and even out of the senses in dreams and revelations and visions from God. But to receive all things one must be devoid of all things since one can't receive what one already has. Just as the pupil of the eye receives all color and is itself devoid of all color, so too the mind receives all things and must therefore be devoid of all substance; hence spiritual.
"But let's corroborate this from Scripture. Is it true that you Jehovah's Witnesses teach that since man is only dust and ashes, when God resurrects a man, he creates a new body and brain and inserts into it the memories of the man?"
"Yes, that's so," Richard responded.
"And the man who is thus resurrected is the same man?" asked Arthur.
"The very same."
"Can man then be a body?"
"No," replied Richard, "he must be the contents of his mind: his memories and thinking patterns."
"And his dominant attitude?"
"Yes, that too," Richard agreed.
"And could we call this man's ‘spirit’?"
"Yes, that's been established."
"And are there any Scriptures that refer to the resurrection as the restoring of the spirit to a body?"
"Yes there are," Richard replied and added proudly, "and I know them by heart too: Psalm 104:30 says: 'If you send forth your spirit they are created.' And Revelation 11:11 tells how God's two witnesses are brought back to life when 'spirit of life from God entered into them.'"
"Do you see, then, that the spirit is the person?" Arthur inquired.
"No!" Bob blurted out. "We see what you mean, but we can't believe it because it isn't true according to a million other Scriptures that we're anxiously waiting to show you as soon as you're done philosophizing."
"Well, I'm almost done." Arthur smiled. "But I want to answer the interesting objection Richard brought up in regards to the holy spirit having to change in every individual's mind. This is getting into a very complex subject as it has to do with God (who, being a Trinity is incomprehensible to begin with) and with mankind's emergence with him. In our Trinity discussion you'll recall how we used such Scriptures as Romans 12:5 and 1 Corinthians 6:15,19 to show how the Spirit helps us merge with Christ into the Godhead. Good men attain this by attuning their minds to the Spirit that is in them. Subordinating all fleshly desires till their thoughts (their selves) are brought in line with the Spirit's will so that they are one with the Spirit that is in them and in us all. Then when the spirit leaves the body at death, they truly are that spirit and so they go to heaven as that spirit. On the other hand, those who concentrate on the body and seek out fleshly pleasures all their lives really become one with their bodies. And when the Spirit returns heavenward, they, having never associated with it, lose it.
"It would be good to point up the difference between soul and spirit along this line here. The soul, we've said, has to do with the emotions, and in the fleshly man it is overcome by the baser passions. Such a man lives in his heart and not much in his head. At death the soul goes to what the Bible calls ‘Hades’ or ‘Sheol’: the common waiting place for all souls, good and evil. But the good man leaves only a very small part of himself there in Hades since he has associated more with his spiritual nature that is in heaven now. The wicked man, being all corrupted soul, however, is completely engulfed in Hades and feels the pangs of remorse because he's separated from God and realizes his foolishness.
"I have purposely strayed from my subject to tell you all that this is the way many modern ministers conceive hell to be: the fire and brimstone being merely symbols of anguish, and Hades being a common waiting ground for all souls till the resurrection. Fewer would agree, however, with my division of soul and spirit. I'm just trying to make as reasonable a stand out of their dichotomies and trichotomies as I can. Anyway, with that little aside finished, on to the question at hand.
"The Holy Spirit, then you see, needn't change with each individual: each individual needs to change with the Spirit. This doesn't mean that all godly people have to be exactly alike. Their personality relies more on their souls, remember. It only means that they'll have 'the mind of Christ' and that 'the Holy Spirit will bring to mind all the things (Christ) has taught us,' they’ll have the 'fruits of the spirit,' and will 'think on whatever is chaste and upbuilding.'
"Let me concentrate for a moment now on the soul. We agreed that when a person has a brain transplant he's no longer the same person. Therefore, the person is in the brain and further, in the mind. But what if a man has a heart transplant?"
Richard replied: "I've read in the Awake magazine that heart transplant patients have a total change of personality; they take on the personality of the donor, and this even happens in blood transfusions."
"Very good," Arthur said, "then it would seem that the personality of a man is in his blood, or more particularly, his heart. The Bible says that the soul is in the blood, and we might add, 'just as the spirit is in the brain.' Now when a person is resurrected I'm not suggesting that his blood is put into the new body anymore than the same brain is put into it. I am suggesting that just as the mind or spirit is put into the new body, the emotions, personality, or 'soul' is also. Are there any Scriptures which show the soul being restored to the body at resurrection?" Arthur asked.
"Yes there are," Richard responded, "one of them is here at let's see… 1 Kings 17:22: 'Finally Jehovah listened to Elijah's voice, so that the soul of the child came back within him and he came back to life.'"
"My conclusion, then," Arthur said, "is that the body is a container for the spirit and the soul. A moment's consideration will reveal why this is necessarily so. If we divide God's creation into two parts, the spiritual and the physical, and further divide those within these two groups as to the highest and lowest, we end up with a picture of all God's creation in a continuous progression from the lowest physical thing through the highest physical thing, and from the lowest spiritual thing to the highest spiritual thing. It is man that bridges the gap between our two groups; he is the highest of the physical beings and the lowest of the spiritual ones. We know that the highest of the lower group and the lowest of the higher group must touch, and that is why our soul and spirit touches our fleshly being. It is obvious that Paul had some such idea in mind when he said in 2 Corinthians 4:16, 'though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.' And Peter must've held the same notion judging from what he says in 2 Peter 1:13, 14 about being 'in his tabernacle' and 'putting off his tabernacle to be with the lord.'"
"What you've done so far," Bob stated, "is confuse the definitions of soul and spirit. We have to keep them separate to avoid just the type of confusion you're now into. In answer to the question, 'What is man?' we agree that he has emotions and a mind. But he doesn't have a soul; he is a soul, and when he dies he is a dead soul. The soul is the person, the total person, consisting of the spirit of life and a body.
"Let's examine this definition of yours," Arthur responded. "If man consists of the spirit of life and a body, that would mean if either ingredient were taken away it would no longer be a man, doesn't it?"
"Yes," Bob agreed, "the body without the spirit is dead. The life force outside a person's body could not be a man. It takes both together to comprise a man or 'soul'."
"That's an interesting theory," Arthur replied, "but Paul seems to contradict you in 2 Corinthians 12:2, 3. He begins by saying:
"'I knew a man in Christ about fourteen years ago --'
"What does Paul say he knew?" Arthur asked.
"A man -- a Christian," Bob replied.
"Remember you said that now," Arthur advised, "for Paul goes on to say, 'whether in the body I cannot tell; or whether out of the body I cannot tell: God knoweth.' And he repeats it for us in the next verse: 'And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth).' How could Paul have mistook him for a 'man' if he was out of his body? It seems that Paul is not aware of your supposedly Biblical definition of a man; he calls a disembodied man a 'man'. It would seem then that a man is a man even outside his body, and therefore, your formula is incorrect. Man can exist independently of his body."
"No," Bob replied, "Paul is speaking of himself here in a modest way. He is telling of a vision he had of the third heaven. He is not sure whether he was actually carried away bodily to the third heaven, or whether he just had a vision of it. That's why he says he's not sure if it was 'in the body' or out of it."
"Ted," Arthur said, "Bob seems to think that Paul was speaking of himself here. Would you please read verse five for us?"
Ted, who'd been following along in his Bible all this while, read, "’Over such a man I will boast, but I will not boast over myself, except as respects my weaknesses.’"
Arthur smiled and commented sarcastically, "Paul seems to be under the delusion that this man he is speaking about is not himself. Too bad you weren't there when he wrote this, Bob, you could've straightened him out on the matter."
"Paul knew it was himself," Bob insisted, "but he was writing modestly; he didn't want to point to himself as the one having this great vision. It's just like how John wrote of the 'disciple that Jesus loved' when he meant himself."
"In any case," Arthur continued, brushing the matter aside, "if Paul just had a vision and didn't go bodily to the third heaven --"
"There's no 'if's' about it," Bob broke in, "the Scriptures tell us that 'flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of heaven.'"
"Very well then," Arthur allowed, "since he didn't visit heaven with his flesh and blood, you'd say that Jehovah just let him see the third heaven in his mind?"
"Yeah, that's right."
"In that case, Paul is calling his mind a ‘man’ out of or independent of his body -- all of which proves my point: Paul's mind apart from his body is 'a man'. The body is not a necessary ingredient."
"Not at all," Bob argued, 'Paul had our understanding that the man is the soul and vice versa. Notice what he says about the man Adam in Corinthians 15:45-47:
"'It is even so written: "The first man Adam became a living soul." The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. Nevertheless, the first is, not that which is spiritual, but that which is physical, afterward that which is spiritual. The first man is out of the earth and made of dust; the second man is out of heaven.'
"Paul here is likening Jesus to Adam," Bob explained, "Jesus is the 'second Adam'. The first Adam was out of the earth and made of dust. He was not spiritual but physical according to Paul; he didn't have a soul inside him, he was a soul."
"Richard," Arthur said, "Bob seems to think that Paul said man doesn't have a soul inside him. How he gathered that from the Scripture he read is beyond me. But would you please read Acts 20:10?"
Richard had it in a flash and read: "’Paul went downstairs, threw himself upon him and said: 'Stop raising a clamor, for his soul is in him.'’"
"It's too bad you weren't there, Bob," Arthur taunted, "you could've explained to Paul that the soul is not inside a person but is the person himself."
"Soul there," Bob replied, "means 'life'; his life was in him."
"Come to think of it," Arthur continued, "you could've been instructive to Job and Jonah as well. Job said, 'But his flesh upon him shall have pain, and his soul within him shall mourn.' And Jonah said, 'my soul fainted within me.' You could've told them that the soul is not within the person; it is the person. You could have told them that the only thing in a person is life, and life can't mourn or faint. Yes, I'm sure they would've been appreciative of your instruction, but I doubt that they would've taken you as an authority over the holy spirit."
"In those instances," Bob explained, "soul seems to mean the emotions of the soul."
"Another definition!" Arthur exclaimed.
At this, Richard spoke up to help out the faltering Bob: "The books of Job and Jonah support our view that man is a soul that return to the dust. Job 34:14, 15 says:
"'If he sets his heart upon anyone, if that one's spirit and breath he gathers to himself, all flesh will expire together, and earthling man himself will return to the very dust.'
"In Jonah 4:8 we read, 'and he kept asking that his soul might die, and he repeatedly said: "My dying off is better than being alive."'"
"If you had been there, Arthur," Richard said, imitating Arthur’s sarcasm, "you could've corrected Jonah and told him that his dying off did not require his soul to die. You could've told him how the soul continues living after the death of the body."
"Arthur smiled broadly and said, "Touché! But since I've allowed you about four definitions of the word ‘soul’, perhaps you'll be good enough to allow me two. I would agree that in some instances soul just means the body, such as in the common expression 'poor old soul'. But do you see how futile this makes our discussion? We'll never be able to pin each other down since we have so many different definitions of the soul! So it's useless for us to talk anymore about the soul. Whenever you bring forth a Scripture about the soul dying, I'll give the definition of soul in that instance as the body. And when I show you Scriptures about the soul being separate and apart from the body, you'll give the definition of soul as life."
"But the basic definition of soul," Bob said, reentering the conversation, "is 'a breather'. So every breathing thing is a soul, and when it stops breathing it's a dead soul."
"According to that definition," Arthur asked, "wouldn't it be improper to call something that has stopped breathing a 'dead soul'? I mean, how could a non-breathing thing be called a soul in any sense if soul means breather?"
"In the same sense," Bob replied, "that we use the term 'dead person' when someone who's dead is no longer a person. The word 'dead' qualifies the use of ‘person' just as it does the word 'soul'."
"I disagree," Arthur announced, playing the minister role to the hilt, "A dead person is still a person just as a dead body is still a body and a dead soul is still a soul."
"At death," Bob again stated the formula, "the spirit leaves the body. Since body plus spirit equals soul, when the spirit leaves the body it is no longer a soul."
"And that brings us back to my bone of contention:" Arthur stated, "according to your recipe for soul it would be improper to speak of a 'dead soul'. You could speak of a dead body, but never a dead soul if soul means a body with a spirit in it (because if it had a spirit in it, it wouldn't be dead). But since the Bible speaks of dead souls in such Scriptures as Leviticus 21:11 and Numbers 6:6, it must be that the Bible holds an entirely different definition of soul from yours.
"But in order to prove that the soul is still a soul after the death of the body, I'd like Ted to read Psalm 16:10."
Ted complied: "’For you will not leave my soul in Sheol. You will not allow your loyal one to see the pit.’"
"What is this verse referring to?" Arthur asked.
"This was David," Richard replied, "speaking prophetically about how God wouldn't leave Jesus in sheol but would resurrect him."
"But what was Jesus' soul doing in sheol?" Arthur asked. "If sheol is the grave and the soul is the body plus the spirit (as you hold they are), then Jesus was buried alive! But, really, John 19:30 tells us that Jesus delivered up his spirit when he died, therefore his spirit was not buried in the grave, just his body was. Do you agree?"
"Yes," Richard agreed, "just Jesus' body was in sheol."
"But then how can it be that Jesus' soul was in sheol?" Arthur asked. "Your definitions are, of necessity, wrong. Since a dead body is not a soul by your definition, the soul cannot be the body, and sheol cannot be the grave. Jesus' soul went consciously to sheol where he preached to the spirits in 'prison' there. He must've been conscious during this time in order to have raised up his body by returning to it. (You will remember that he said, 'destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.' And John tells us, 'he was talking about the temple of his body.')"
Bob sighed, but not deeply, and answered, "Soul in this instance means future life prospects. God didn't leave Jesus' prospects for future life in sheol. Jesus didn't raise his body, as I think we explained last time. He was not raised by his soul reentering his body either. The body that was put to death on the torture stake was never again brought to life. It was given in sacrifice and couldn’t be taken back. God resurrected Jesus by creating a spirit body and putting Jesus' memories and personality into it, 1 Peter 3:18 supports this view, saying, '(Jesus) being put to death in the flesh, but being made alive in the spirit.'
"The soul ceases after death; it no longer exists," Bob continued. "The soul does not continue living in sheol; the soul dies. 'The soul that is sinning, it itself will die,' says Ezekiel 18:4. How you can read such a statement and glean from it that the soul that sins lives forever is beyond me."
Arthur smiled his "I've got him now" smile and said, "First you told us that future life prospects returned to God (when you explained the meaning of 'the spirit returns to the true God who gave it'). Now you say future life prospects are in sheol (in explaining the phrase 'soul in sheol'). Which is it? Or are you just making up any excuse not to agree with me? Jesus said that he would raise his body. Why do you refuse to take him at his word? When he was resurrected, the body was gone from the tomb. Was this deception to make people believe he had resurrected the body when he hadn't? When Jesus appeared to his disciples, did he lead them to believe that he was a spirit or a physical body? To answer this, let's listen as Ted reads Luke 24:37-39."
Ted, daydreaming about Cyn whose hand had crept back to his, was startled by his name and had to ask for the verse to be repeated. When he had it he read: "’But because they were terrified, and had become frightened, they were imagining they beheld a spirit. So he said to them: 'Why are your troubled, and why is it doubts come up in your hearts? See my hands and feet, that it is I myself; feel me and see, because a spirit does not have flesh and bones just as you behold that I have.’’"
"This is another instance where it's unfortunate you were born too late, Bob," Arthur taunted. "If you had been there you could've told them that they weren't imagining that he was a spirit; they were right and Jesus was fooling them when he said he wasn't a spirit.
"Hebrews 13:8 tells us that 'Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.' When he rose from the dead three days after his crucifixion, was he the same Jesus?"
"Of course," Bob answered.
"But aren't you saying that Jesus was nonexistent those three days and God made a new spiritual body that had never existed before and injected into it the memories of Jesus?"
"Yes, his memories and personality."
"Then it was a new being and not the same old Jesus," Arthur insisted. "It was an imposter: a new being with all the memories of someone who had lived before but could never live again having once ceased to exist. The Jesus who died, according to your view of things, was never resurrected at all! I wouldn't object so much to your interpretation if you said that Jesus' mind or spirit remained in existence during those three days and then was restored to the same body or a new one. But in your interpretation you leave the real Jesus dead forever and create a new one! And this is the same prospect you hold out for all of us who die: to have some new being in the future take over our memories and personality. Some hope! As Aristotle says in his Ethics:
"'For existence is good to the virtuous man, and each man wishes himself what is good, while no one chooses to possess the whole world if he has first to become someone else (for that matter, even now God possesses the good, but as no one gains by God's now having the good, he would not gain if a new person which was no longer himself were to possess it).’
"Finally, you say that a soul dies and wonder how I can think anything else since the Bible is so clear on this point. Well, I don't think anything else. I know it dies. What I'm trying to establish is not that it doesn't die, but what it's dying means. And my hypothesis is this: its dying means its separation from the body. And its resurrection is the giving of a new body to it (or, in rare cases, the same body).
"1 Corinthians 15:35-38 tells us, 'That which thou sowest is not quickened except it die: and that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that shall be, but bare grain, it may chance of wheat, or of some other grain: But God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him, and to every seed his own body.' What is this 'bare grain'? It must be none other than the soul and spirit. We have to die before these can really live, according to Paul here. Why is that? Because spirit and soul separate from the body at death: 'The body without spirit is dead'; 'Her soul was in departing, (for she died)' (James 2:26; Genesis 35:18).
"The Greek scholar Thayer defines death as 'separation of the soul from the body.' A dead (separated) soul must still be alive or it couldn't rightly be called a soul (since the word implies activity: breathing). Therefore, a dead soul is a separated soul free from the dead body. After this separation God gives the soul and spirit a new body: a spiritual one in most cases."
"I concede none of these points to you," Bob announced melodramatically. "Jesus was not resurrected into the same body; the very Scripture you just quoted from Corinthians proves that: Jesus did not 'sow the body that shall be'. The 'bare grain' was his memories and personality that God gave a new spiritual body. What the disciples saw wasn't a spirit because Jesus materialized physical bodies in order to appear to them. (No one can see a spirit unless it materializes a body in this manner.) This is backed up by the fact that they often didn't recognize him. They naturally would've recognized him if he'd been in the same body. We also read that he walked though a locked door, so he must've been a spirit. As for your ideas on 'dead souls' --"
"Just a moment, please," Arthur interjected, "I’d like first to reply to your last statements before you go on. In the instances where the disciples didn't recognize Jesus, in each case there were good reasons for their lack of recognition. Mary didn't perceive that it was him immediately because 'there was still darkness' according to John 20:1. The two disciples on the road to Emmaus also failed to appreciate his identity, not because he had a different body, but rather because 'their eyes were kept from recognizing him' (Luke 24:16). This could've been done supernaturally or simply by Jesus keeping his face hidden by the hood of his clothing. The verse implies that Jesus was so recognizable that some step had to be taken to prevent them from recognizing him immediately. The other account where he wasn't recognized was when the disciples were at sea fishing and he was on the shore. Why didn't they know him? They were 'three hundred feet away, hardly close enough to discern a person's features.
"And though I hate to disagree with you --"
'No you don't," Bob muttered, "you love it."
"The Bible nowhere says that Jesus walked through a locked door," Arthur continued. "It says that the door was locked and he came in. It would be more fitting of the one who 'opens so that no one will shut' (Revelation 3:7) that he miraculously opened the locked door and walked in. But even if we suppose him to have walked right through a closed door, it doesn't prove him a spirit. You'll recall how he walked on water with his physical body. Can we say there's much difference between a solid body not passing through a nonsolid like water, and a solid body that passes though another solid body like a door?
"Finally, as to Corinthians proving that Jesus was not resurrected in the same body: you can't really apply the one to the other. If you do, then you must take what Corinthians says as a universal principle applicable to all cases of resurrection. But is it? Was Lazarus, for example, resurrected to a new body or to the same one he had prior to his death? Or how about the Shunammite woman's son whom Elisha resurrected; was not that the same body? If you go down the list of every resurrection in the Bible, you'll see that they were all to the same body because they were all special cases just as Jesus was a special case. But you and I and every other typical case will be resurrected to a new body God will give us as Corinthians says."
"May I continue now?" Bob asked impatiently, and Arthur nodded him on. "Your ideas on 'dead souls' are mere sophistry. If you read the accounts in the Bible you'll see how wrong you are. In Numbers 19:13, for instance, ‘Everyone touching a corpse, the soul of whatever man may die…’ That shows us that the dead soul can be touched and so is, in fact, the corpse. So Jesus' soul (his corpse) was in hades or 'hell', the common grave of mankind. Sealed in the tomb, Jesus' life-less body could not preach to anyone. The incident where he preached to the 'spirits in prison', namely, the fallen angels, happened after his resurrection when he was made alive (indicating that he was dead prior to being made alive) as a spirit."
"Before," Arthur smilingly noted, "you said that 'Jesus' soul being in hades' meant his 'future life prospects were there' but weren't left there by God. Now you say 'Jesus being in hades means his corpse in his tomb.' Well, hopefully you'll drop the first notion entirely now that you've adopted my own second definition of the soul, namely the body. You will remember how you once held that a soul was a body plus a spirit and that both these ingredients were necessary at once to have a soul. Now you say a soul is just a body without a spirit!" Arthur paused here to chuckle to himself for several embarrassing moments before he continued, "I hope you don't think -- any of you -- that I'm trying to confuse Bob and make a fool of him. I'm just trying to get a hold of what it is exactly he thinks man is and I'm having an awful time of it. I really want to know. If I can't get a clear idea out of him, I’ll have nothing to attack in his view -- I have to know just what his view is (and so does he) before we can get anywhere. Otherwise we could go on like this forever and not solve a thing. We need to define terms so we can speak the same language before we can get anywhere. But maybe the fault's all mine. Let me ask you, Cyn, do you understand what Bob means by soul?"
"No, not at all," she said, clearing her throat, "he's said it's so many different things that I can't keep track of them or even begin to agree with him because I don't know what he's talking about."
"Glad to see I'm not the only one. Let's run down the list and see if we can't make some sense of it all." Arthur was fully in his element as he counted the following off on his fingers. He'd planned this moment from the beginning, and smiled with satisfaction to think that he'd made Bob admit to every last one. "So far we've heard that the soul is:
"With that list I can see how you can wriggle out of any Scripture that seems to refute your view. But I’ll stick to my two:
"You see, you agree with me sometimes," Arthur noted. "We both agree that the Scripture in Numbers about touching a corpse or 'soul' means the body (your first definition and my second). But you disagree when I say that the soul (emotions, as in your fifth and my first definitions) remains alive after the death of the body. The reason you disagree is that when the Bible says that the soul dies, you conveniently forget your six other definitions and remember only that the soul is the body, and since the body is totally dead, you assume the person is nonexistent. I, on the other hand, while acknowledging that the dead body may still be referred to as a dead soul (my second definition), don't forget my first definition of soul as an immaterial, emotional personality which was never dependent on the body for life, and so continues alive after its separation from it.
"That the 'dead soul' refers to more than the corpse is evident from the following two examples:
"The first is Enoch," Arthur said as Bob audibly sighed. "We can speak of death from two vantage points: it either means separation of spirit and soul from body, or separation from God. I realize this leaves me with two definitions of death to your one (namely, nonexistence), but I feel justified in this from my two examples. Hebrews 11:5 tells us that Enoch did not see death because God took him. Genesis 5:24 is the source for this statement. In that chapter, it says of every individual mentioned 'and he died' with the exception of Enoch. How is it that Enoch did not die? If we took your definition of death and soul, we'd expect to see Enoch still with us in the flesh! But I can't think that even you people would entertain such a notion.
"So what does that leave? Evidently God took his spirit and soul right out of his body and transferred him to the paradise part of sheol where he wasn't separated from God. Though his body died by the removal of spirit and soul, Enoch did not die because he was the spirit and soul and was not separated from God. I'd like you to try and explain the case of Enoch without saying 'it doesn't really mean he didn't die when it says he didn't see death.'
"The second example is Jesus' words in John 8:51 where he says, 'If a man keeps my saying he shall never see death.' He could not have meant death of the body since those who kept his saying died bodily. So he must've meant spiritual death: believers in him will not be separated from God but will go instantly to paradise. This is backed up by the language of Paul at Philippians 1:21-24 and 2 Timothy 4:6 where he speaks about being released from being in his flesh to be with the Lord. This releasing of his spirit and soul from his body brings him instantly to the Lord’s presence in heaven. As he says in 2 Corinthians 5:8, 'to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.'
"During their physical lives the early Christians had been living spiritual lives, ignoring the desires of the flesh to the cultivation of the spirit. They had as little to do with the body as possible. We might say, along with Socrates, that they'd been 'practicing dying' all their physical lives (at least since their conversion) because their actual dying was the complete separation at last of spirit and soul from body -- their releasing. If there were no 'inward man', no 'spiritual man', as Paul calls it, then they would've been 'fools' to ignore the 'outward, physical' man (2 Corinthians 4:16; 1 Corinthians 15:44). I contend that such language simply would not exist in the Bible unless my viewpoint were correct," Arthur concluded.
"He wasn't speaking literally," Bob argued, "he spoke of the old personality passing away in favor of the new personality. This is what he means by inward and outward and physical and spiritual men: his desire for fleshly things is in conflict with his desire for spiritual things."
Richard took over from the frustrated Bob: "Your idea that when people die they instantly go to heaven is grossly mistaken. It's true only of the 144,000. The vast majority do nothing after death, as Ecclesiastes, chapter nine reiterates: 'they are conscious of nothing at all… their love and their hate and their jealousy have already perished… there is no work or devising or knowledge or wisdom in sheol, the place to which you are going.' So much for your emotions surviving the body's death.
"As for anyone being instantly with God in heaven at death," Richard continued, "Jesus had this to say: 'no man has ascended into heaven but he that descended from heaven, the Son of Man.' (John 3:13) So where was Enoch? Not in heaven, and I don't think you'd say he was in hell; therefore, he was unconscious in his grave. In fact, that's were Jesus said all the dead were in his day: 'the hour is coming in which all those in the memorial tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who did good things to a resurrection of life, those who practiced vile things to a resurrection of judgment.' (John 5:28, 19) He said the good and wicked dead were in the tombs: not in heaven or hell.
"As to your notion of soul and spirit," Richard went on, "we need only to look at the creation of a man to see just what he's composed of. To do that Jehovah has provided us with a beautiful description of his creation and the fate of the first man. God's Word says that man was formed from the dust of the ground, breath of life was infused into him (what we call 'spirit') 'and the man came to be a living soul.' Notice that it doesn't say he was given a soul or one was put inside him, but that he was a soul. That's what his entire being (body plus spirit) added up to: a soul.
"When God spoke to Adam," Richard continued, "it was a 'living soul' he was speaking to. Jehovah said to that living soul: 'As for the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you must not eat from it, for in the day you eat from it you will positively die.' Was it actually possible for the living soul to die? Satan disagreed. He said, just as you are saying, that the soul could not die: 'You positively will not die, for God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes are bound to be opened and you are bound to be like God.' (Genesis 3:4, 5).
"Who was right: Jehovah or Satan?" Richard asked. "Fortunately we don't need to ponder the question; the account answers it for us. Adam ate the forbidden fruit, and Jehovah pronounced the sentence, 'In the sweat of your face you will eat bread until you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken. For dust you are and to dust you will return.' Do we naturally gather from Jehovah's words that he believed Adam to be immortal and deathless? Is that what he meant by 'you will positively die'? Did Jehovah mean that this soul was immaterial, spiritual, and invisible when he said to it 'dust you are'?
"God was right, you know," Richard concluded, "Adam did die. In Genesis 5:5 we read, 'So all the days of Adam that he lived amounted to 930 years and he died.' He lived 930 years. After that he didn't continue to live; he was dead. So there's no life after death."
"To answer that," Arthur began, "I merely have to refer you to my second definition of soul; it refers to Adam’s body in these instances.
"As for anyone being in heaven," Arthur explained, "I didn't say that had occurred with Enoch or anyone before Christ. I said they went to the paradise part of hades if they were in tune with the spirit, or the other part of it if they weren't. So we agree as to everyone going to hades, it's just that I divide it in two and make its inhabitants conscious as Jesus did in his tale of the rich man and Lazarus going consciously to the paradise part of hades and that other part symbolized by fiery torments of separation from God's favor.
"But since you yourselves say that a new body must be given at the resurrection (since the old one will be decayed and become parts of plants and animals and fertilizer), how can you take Jesus' words about them all coming from the memorial tombs literally? He just means all those who've died, not that they're literally going to dig their way out of the graves, don't you agree?"
"Yes," Richard nodded, "I'd have to agree with that."
"There's another thing you should ask yourself," Arthur said, "in regards to your example of Adam and his 930 years. It's what I said before about how we shed all our body cells every few years. If Adam was only the formed dust that made up his physical being, there would've been some 132 different 'Adams' by the time he died, and the sentence passed on the first one couldn't be justly executed on the last one. So there must've been some spiritual Adam inside all those physical ones, and so I believe there was.
"Your use of Ecclesiastes is wrong," Arthur proclaimed. "You can't use that book to settle any issue like this."
"Why not?" Bob demanded, "it's an inspired book of the Bible, isn't it?"
"Yes," Arthur replied, "but Solomon is giving his earthly-wise observations in it, and these are dangerous to follow. It is only at the end that he concludes that all that goes before is the height of man's wisdom and is paltry in comparison with God's. So it's foolish for you to go to his earthly wisdom for spiritual doctrines like this. Or do you think it's a godly attitude to hate work?"
"Certainly not," Bob responded, "the Bible says we should work hard at whatever we're doing and do it as to Jehovah."
"Well, do you hate life?" Arthur asked.
"No, we love life; it's a gift from God."
"Then, if I were to say that I hated life and hard work, could I be speaking under inspiration?"
"No, because that contradicts the Bible."
"Then, Bob, would you read Ecclesiastes 2:17, 18 for us, please?"
Bob opened up his Bible and read, "'And I hated life, because the work that has been done under the sun was calamitous from my standpoint, for everything was vanity and a striving after the wind. And I, even I, hated all my hard work at which I was working hard under the sun.'"
"That proves my point," Arthur beamed, "that Solomon was presenting what man in all his wisdom concluded apart from the wisdom of God. So when he says that the spirit of man is the same as the spirit in a beast and that they all share the same fate, and all the other things he says along these lines, we know enough to value God's thoughts on these matters more highly.
"And God the Son's own thoughts were that the dead still existed consciously in hades. Would you read us his words in Luke 20:37, 38, Ted?"
"'But that the dead are raised up even Moses disclosed, in the account of the thornbush, when he calls Jehovah 'the God of Abraham and God of Isaac and God of Jacob.' He is a God, not of the dead, but of the living, for they are all living to him.'"
"Is God mistaken," Arthur asked, "or are they all living? Jesus says they are raised, not will be raised."
"In order to explain that," Bob replied, "we turn to Romans 4:17 and read, 'God, who makes the dead alive and calls the things that are not as though they were.' They are alive to God in his memory of them. Since he is going to resurrect them by putting his memory of them into a body, it is as if they are already living from his standpoint.
"If I were to tell you things that aren't true as if they were true, what would I be?" Arthur asked.
"A liar," Bob replied.
"Is God a liar?"
"Of course not."
"Then how can we understand it when it says he calls the things that are not as though they were? It must be referring to God's ability to prophesy an event yet future. But you will notice that it does not say that God calls the dead alive. No, it says he makes the dead alive and also prophesies. So it can hardly be used to mean that Abraham is dead when God says he's alive.
"We also know that Moses and Elijah were alive in Jesus' day because the apostles saw them on the mountain with Jesus as recorded in Matthew 17:3, 4. Were they really there or did Jesus trick them into thinking they saw someone living who was really dead? If it was part of Jesus' teaching, as it is of yours, that the dead are nonexistent, it certainly wasn't in his best interests as 'the great teacher' to show them two dead people talking with him, especially without explaining to them that it was all a hoax."
"It wasn't a trick or a hoax," Bob protested, "It was a vision."
"And a vision is a lie?"
"No, it's putting a sight into your mind rather than seeing it with your eyes."
"And God puts wrong thoughts in our minds?"
"Then when the apostles saw Moses and Elijah alive, it was correct to think of them this way?"
"It was a correct thought, having come from God, but they weren't really alive."
"Then it was wrong to think of them as alive. You have a paradox."
"I don't know how to answer that, exactly," Richard offered, "but I do believe we've been neglecting a lot of solid Scriptures in support of our view which I'd like to introduce now if I may.
"1 Timothy 6:16 tells us that this immortality that you would have us bestow upon all mankind as a naturally inherent thing belongs to only one: Jesus, 'the one alone having immortality.'"
"Doesn't Jehovah have immortality?" Arthur asked.
"Yes, of course."
"So then, at least one other person has immortality besides Jesus. How, then, can it say that only Jesus possesses immortality?"
"The verse is speaking in reference to kings. Jesus is the only king that has immortality."
"Isn't Jehovah the 'king forever' according to Psalm 10:16?"
"Then all that this verse must be saying," Arthur concluded, "is that of all the earthly kings, none of them is an immortal king like Jesus; his rulership won't ever be ended by death as all theirs will. I can't disagree with that: all rulers and kings die, and when they do they're no longer kings, so they can't be immortal kings, but they're still immortal souls; all they lose is their kingship. Pray continue."
"All right," Richard went on, "the Bible says of Abraham and the ancient men of faith: 'In faith all these died, although they did not get the fulfillment of the promises.' (Hebrews 11:13) Yet you say that they didn't die and were living in Paradise when Paul wrote this! You insist the soul is immortal, yet Paul said, 'This which is corruptible must put on incorruption, and this which is mortal must put on immortality. But when this which is mortal puts on immortality, then the saying will take place that is written: "Death is swallowed up forever."' (1 Corinthians 15:53, 54) What would you say 'puts on' immortality? Certainly not the body. What then? You'd say the spirit and the soul, and thereby you would be admitting that the spirit and soul are mortal and are only immortal if and when they put on immortality. So you'd agree with us that man is mortal and it's only through earning God's favor that one earns immortality.
"Man, then is inherently mortal," Richard concluded. "He doesn't fly off to heaven as a spirit when he dies, neither does anyone descend to hell fire. Since only those God favors are granted the gift of immortality, the wicked certainly won't be hanging around after death in torment. When they die, they're totally dead."
"Ted," Arthur began, "Richard seems to think that even though the spirit flies away to God at death, man doesn't. This stems from his inability to see that man is the spirit. To help him would you read Psalm 90:10 for us?"
"’In themselves the days of our years are seventy years; and if because of special mightiness they are eighty years, yet their insistence is on trouble and hurtful things; for it must quickly pass by, and away we fly.’"
"Moses, here, seems to disagree with you, Richard," Arthur taunted, "he says 'away we fly', not 'away something that isn't us flies' when we die."
'He was speaking poetically, not literally," Richard observed.
Arthur took a deep breath and said: "That's where the whole problem lies, as I'm sure we've amply demonstrated today. Do we take something literally or symbolically; do we apply the right definition to the word in question or make up a new one for each difficulty; do we allow our preconceived notions to interpret each verse or listen for the spirit's guidance? It's impossible to decide any matter this way. We are both right and both wrong, as our dear Brother Ted so aptly pointed out last time about the Trinity. In the end, when all is said and done, there is no clear-cut victory. We aren't dealing with intellectual matters, and so no amount of discussion, no matter how reasonable, can present us with a rational choice between the two views. In desperation we almost wish there were some alternative -- not a synthesis of the two, but something entirely different. But we must fight off such a fatalistic view and choose by faith rather than mere reason. That's what it comes down to in the end.
"We can't say that it makes any difference in anyone's life whether he believes God is a Trinity or not; it doesn't make him a better person. We have to look further then. Are the people who believe this way living better lives and making a better contribution to society, even though it may have very little to do with this particular belief we're trying, in vain, to decide upon? If so, that's the thing that should ultimately influence our choice since there is no other way of choosing rationally other than flipping a coin."
"That's not rational," Richard commented.
"No, that's a joke," Arthur replied, looking very tired. "I feel like joining Mr. Jandle now in a nap, so let's wrap this up. Is there anything anyone would like to say in conclusion? How about you, Cynthia, what do you think of all this bickering?"
"Well, it was interesting but rather futile, as you say. I believe in the immortality of the soul because I want to live forever. I guess you could call that wishful thinking, but really, Ted told me one of the reasons for believing in the Bible is that God has seen to it that all our desires are fulfilled. When he created thirst and hunger in us he had already provide water and food in abundance. And since he put in us the desire to know, to be curious, and search for meaning in life, he provided us with the answers in his written word. So why couldn't you use the same argument and say that since people desire to live forever, God has provided for that too by making us immortal?"
She was looking into Ted’s eyes as she said these things since Arthur's were closed in exhaustion.
"Life would seem so futile and vain if it ended -- so unjust! Think of all the wicked people who make out well in this life getting all they want while the honest people can't make ends meet. No meek person inherits the earth in this life: we must be immortal in order for these injustices to be taken care of in the next, like the rich man and Lazarus story points out.
"But the most beautiful explanation of immortality I read in Plato, whom I consider a poet in his own right, where Socrates asks whether or not opposites come from opposites."
"What did he mean by that?" Ted asked.
"Get my copy of Plato off the shelf, Ted," Arthur instructed, "You will find the passage she's referring to in Phaedo around section 71."
Ted did as he was told and handed the opened book to Cyn who said, "Yeah, here it is. Socrates says, 'I want to show that in all opposites there is of necessity a similar alternation; I mean to say, for example, that anything which becomes greater must become greater after being less.' 'True,' says his friend.
"'And that which becomes less must have been once greater and then have become less.' 'Yes.'
"'And the weaker is generated from the stronger, and the swifter from the slower.' 'Very true.'
"'And the worse is from the better, and the more just is from the more unjust.' 'Of course,'
"'And this is true of all opposites? And are we convinced that all of them are generated out of opposites?' 'Yes.'
"Let's see," she said, getting nervous, "let me skip some of this here, although it's all really good, and just read the last part.
"'Then suppose,' Socrates says, 'that you analyze life and death to me in the same manner' (as he just analyzed sleeping and waking as one coming from the other). 'Is not death opposed to life?' 'Yes,' his friend answers.
"'And they are generated from each other?' 'Yes.'
"What is generated from the living?' 'The dead.'
"'And what from the dead?' 'I can only say in answer -- the living.'
"'Then the living, whether things or person, Cebes, are generated from the dead?' 'That is clear,' he replied.
"'Then the inference is that our souls exist in the world below?' 'That is true.'"
"I have to disagree with all that," Richard responded, though Ted wondered how it was possible to disagree with something so obviously true coming from Cyn's delicious lips.
"If you take your formula away from carefully selected examples, it falls apart. For instance, fire generates cold ashes, but cold ashes don't generate fire. And that's how it really is with our lives."
Bob, emboldened by Richard's comeback, commented, "Yeah, and if you say that God had to provide for everyone's desires, you'd have him creating pornography and dope as well."
Bob's combativeness against the gentle Cynthia got her dander up, and she trounced them all: "That other alternative you almost wish you could grasp since you can't make head or tail out of what the Bible says on any given subject is obvious. The Bible is a mass of contradiction, supporting and denying all."
She sighed nervously, looking toward Arthur for a reaction -- she'd come to respect him as much as Ted had -- but there was none. So she quickly concluded, "Some of the Bible writers evidently thought the soul was immortal, and others didn't. And now you're both stuck trying to deny half the Bible and make it agree with the other half. No wonder you're all so frustrated and depressed! You listen to some antique puzzle-book instead of to your own hearts."
Ted frowned at her and she gulped an "I'm sorry," though she wasn't really.
All eyes turned to Arthur who'd long since dozed off, permitting them to show themselves out quietly without another word to ring in their ears but Cyn’s petulance.