Re: [asa] Event or process

From: Don Winterstein <>
Date: Sat May 12 2007 - 04:17:52 EDT

The souls under the altar in Revelation 6 and the story of the witch in 1 Samuel 28 are both biblical outliers; it's hard to know how to interpret either of those references, as there's nothing else like them. Furthermore, they're not straightforward teachings on the subject of body and soul; one is forced to draw inferences, and such inferences may be mistaken.

I've already given my views on the souls (see below) and will deal with the witch later; but first let's focus on mainstream teachings (according to NIV):

Psalm 6:5 - "No one remembers you [God] when he is dead. Who praises you from the grave?"

Psalm 30:9 - "What gain is there in my destruction, in my going down to the pit? Will the dust praise you? Will it proclaim your faithfulness?"

Psalm 88:10-12 - "Do you [LORD] show your wonders to the dead? Do those who are dead rise up and praise you? Is your love declared in the grave, your faithfulness in Destruction? Are your wonders known in the place of darkness, or your righteous deeds in the land of oblivion?

Psalm 115:17 - "It is not the dead who praise the LORD, those who go down to silence; it is we who extol the LORD, both now and forevermore."

Ecclesiastes 9:10 - "Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the grave, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom."

Isaiah 38:18 - "...The grave cannot praise you, death cannot sing your praise; those who go down to the pit cannot hope for your faithfulness."

These are examples of straightforward statements about the dead. There's nothing subtle about them, no need for sophisticated interpretations. All of them indicate quite clearly that your "transitional state" is a state of nothingness. There's not the slightest hint than any of these biblical authors has a hope of experiencing anything after he dies.

Jack: "What form was Christ in after he died on the cross, and before he was resurrected, when he 'descended into hell'?

Don: I suppose he was a more or less ordinary corpse. As you're aware, there's no biblical justification for "descended into hell." And no one has the foggiest notion of what Peter was talking about in 1 Peter 3:19f.

Jack: "You are saying they must be bodies, because they speak and wear robes, but that is because you presume that no soul can exist apart from the body."

Don: It's not my presumption, it's the souls' behavior that compels such conclusion. I am surprised at what your idea of a soul seems to be. If you think souls can generate sounds without vocal cords, wear robes and be readily visible to onlookers, I'd be interested in reading your treatise on De anima. (Not really.) (But I'd at least scan it.)

Now to the witch (1 Samuel 28): Who believes witches really can call up the dead? Not I. But let's assume the events of this story really happened. If so, the witch got a quite unexpected result. Her methods actually worked, probably for the first time. (Our contemporaries who "commune with the dead" have been demonstrated to be frauds time and again.) So Samuel actually showed up. But he's wearing a robe, and he's speaking audible words. Obviously, God raised him from the dead and gave him a physical body like the one he used to have. The purpose was to convey a special message to Saul. (A lot of miracle for a little message IMO.)

If Samuel could be brought back in any form at all, surely he could come back as the man he once was. There's no need to buy into the witch's mumbo jumbo about spirits. Also, when Moses and Elijah appeared at the transfiguration, why wouldn't they have appeared as regular men?

Bottom line: Once again, biblical teachings are compatible with the idea that the human soul does not exist apart from the human body.


  ----- Original Message -----
  From: Jack<>
  To: Don Winterstein<> ; David Buller<>
  Cc: asa<>
  Sent: Friday, May 11, 2007 3:45 AM
  Subject: Re: [asa] Event or process

  I think you are the one whose presuppositions are defining your position.

  My point is that the bible clearly describes a transitional state between the physical earthly body, and the final resurrection body.

  I gave you the example of the "souls" in revelation. Another example is the "spirit" of Samuel that Saul talks too.

  Also, what form was Christ in after he died on the cross, and before he was resurrected, when he "descended into hell"?

  You are saying they must be bodies, because they speak and wear robes, but that is because you presume that no soul can exist apart from the body. If you want to call these bodies then ok I cant argue with you, but then there are three types of bodies.

  Sometimes I think that those that are monists make claims about dualist's presuppositions because they think that dualists do not see that the ideas of a seperate body and soul are from Plato, Aquinas, and Descarte. But I have looked at this issue with that in mind, and still have come to the conclusion that the bible teaches dualism.

    DB: "Jack's quote of Revelation 6:9 is another passage that I'd like to hear you respond to."

    DW: If one takes this passage literally, perhaps one stands a chance of making a case. But what is a "soul" here? Of what use would a white robe be to a soul? And how can a soul "cry out with a loud voice"? Eventually, if you take this literally, you must conclude soul is a synonym for human, body included.

    In general it's foolish to try to extract sober doctrines from Revelation. Long ago I read De anima by Tertullian. He went into endless detail about the color, shape, flavor, odor, etc. of the soul. So if he was right, and souls do actually have detectable color or shape, I suppose a person could actually see them crouching under an altar. (But then why is it so hard to see them when they depart the dying?) If the persons referred to had physical bodies, of course, then they'd be easy to see, and they could also put their white robes to good use. So I'd tend to go with the idea that they had physical bodies.

    Unless, of course (which is my real belief), the passage was not intended to convey sober doctrine about the nature of the human person or the afterlife but instead, as most of Revelation, was intended to present larger-than-life images of spiritual forces and events, none of which is to be taken literally but all of which are to be taken seriously. Read Revelation with your emotions, not your mind. It's got lots of great images; just don't try to pin them down to anything in the real world. Except for chapter 12. Portions of that chapter actually mean something specific to me.

    DB: "How can a natural cause (evolution) generate something that cannot be destroyed by natural causes? How can a natural cause generate something that is capable of eternal spiritual existence?"

    DW: For purposes of this discussion I claim that the human body is the sum of all body parts and the human soul is what makes that sum greater than the whole. The soul is real, but it is inseparable from the body and ceases to exist if and when the body dies. This view is wholly compatible with biblical teaching, at least, teaching not controlled by interpreters' philosophical presuppositions. We believe once-dead humans will rise at the resurrection as complete human persons, bodies with souls. Where would the souls have been meantime? Same place as the bodies. The soul once formed does not last forever unless and until God makes it do so.

To unsubscribe, send a message to with
"unsubscribe asa" (no quotes) as the body of the message.
Received on Sat May 12 04:15:13 2007

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.8 : Sat May 12 2007 - 04:15:13 EDT