|Universal Life Church |
Some reverent of Christ believe in the constant immortality of the soul, such that souls will go to Heaven or Perdition even if a resurrection occurs at a later date re the body; others believe they must reject the idea of constant immortality of the soul, citing the Apostles' Creed reference to the resurrection of the body…they believe the soul stops existing together with the body until some far-off resurrection and judgment.
It is said by some scholars that the root cause, of such opposing views, is vested in one school of thought believing original Greek Scriptures use the word (phonetically) "soma" which implies but not necessarily means "whole person" re death and resurrection; such school believes the more definitive word (phonetically) "sarx", meaning "flesh" or corpse", would have been used if writers meant to say a body alone dies…this view further does not believe in construing
Scriptures as a whole, rather as a line-by-line collage of several revelations, instructions, or non-parabolic revelations.
The other school simply doesn't interpret "soma" so literally and narrowly.
The early Christian faith first met such doctrinal dispute through a movement known as the Averroists, who vested themselves further on the text of "De Anime" (The Soul) by Aristotle. Aristotle therein makes plain that he does, at least, believe that the intellect…which he
considers to be a part of the soul claimed to die with the body…is eternal and separable from the body.
Perhaps the most important if obscure argument in "De Anime" is Aristotle's demonstration of the immortality of the thinking part of the human soul, in the book's Chapter V. Taking a premise from his "Physics", that as a thing acts so it is, he argues that since the mind acts with no bodily organ, it exists without the body (or brain). And if it exists apart from matter, therefore it cannot be corrupted, and therefore the human mind is immortal.
What seems a difficult salient in the Averroist position, admittedly basing itself upon Aristotle, is that neither they nor their relied-upon philosopher can explain why, then, if even the tiniest part of a soul is immortal it concurrently rots into nothingness together with other earthbound remains, or then why one shouldn't believe a non-earthbound element goes forward despite no resurrection yet occurring.
Now, some could resort to the vibrant and time-consuming relevant
essays of: Plato, "Phaedo"; Aristotle, "Physics", 'generation And
Corruption", "Metaphysics", "De Anime", inter alia; St. Augustine Of
Hippo, "Confessions", "City Of God", "On Christian Doctrine"; Thomas
Aquinas, "Summa Theologica"; or any number of works through to modern
times which either glaze over the ancient Averroist glitch about the
immortality of intellectual souls, pressing the point on new twists on
old if misplaced reasoning, or in the alternative simply run with the
propriety of belief in the immortality of souls with or without
But where non-believers in Christianity or just non-believers in
constant soul immortality challenge traditional Scripture on
resurrection…and anyone who wants has an absolute right freedom of
religion or non-religion to challenge peaceably…it seems enough o
direct any such third party inquiring to long-established tomes giving
such reasoned Christian point/counter-point, and let such seekers
choose as they will.
As for those professing otherwise acceptance of the known sayings of Jesus Christ, whether such people believe in soul apart from body or soul rotting with body pending resurrection…congratulations, at least we all agree on Jesus and believe IN resurrection!
That said, perhaps we ought not so much see which, if any, of us is the greatest disciple due to our knowledge of ancient Greek, Aramaic, Latin, Hebrew, dialectical reasonings of our forebears, or ability to discern proportions of pre-resurrection death; maybe we should spend more time on using such gifts to bring Christ's intentions intact to modern times, remembering in all matters it is not the nature of what we do, but our reasons for and manner of doing anything, that make what we do either praiseworthy or blamable.
May Christ continue to walk with us as our light as we seek to make as many on earth our partners in peace, justice, and use of God's diverse gifts in honoring His will for infinite positive creation and fellowship.
Daniel C. Arendt/ULC Minister,Modesto "Branch"
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