Immortal Soul: Eternal Life?

I’ve always been rather weak on the Immortality of the Soul, I couldn’t give many biblical verses, if any, to support it. As a matter of fact, I’m aware of many verses (Old Testament, in particular) that would support Annihilationism.

One argument made against the Immortality of the Soul is this: If the soul is immortal, why is it called “eternal life”? After all, we’d have it anyway. The wording of “killing the soul” makes quite a bit of sense in that regard.

I am confused. :shrug:

Eternal “life” is not the same thing as eternal “existence”.
Every single human being will experience eternal existence (soul - and our bodies as well after the general resurrection). But not but not necessarily will all experience eternal “life” in that eternal existence.

When we have the supernatural life of God’s grace in our soul, we are in a state of “life”.
When the supernatural life of God’s grace is not in our soul, we are in a state of “death”.

The state our soul is in at the time of physical death determines the state it will exist in eternally.

I think this is an excellent explanation. :thumbsup:

The ancient Hebrews did not possess an understanding of “immortality of the soul” as we would know it today. Their conception of the afterlife was an afterthought. The emphasis in the Torah is on this world and on faithful adherence to the commandments enshrined in the Mosaic Covenant, for oneself and one’s progeny. The limited references to the afterlife and to practices concerning it do, nevertheless, indicate quite clearly that the ancient Jews believed that “something” of people lived on after death in a shadowy state of existence known variously as Sheol or Abbadon. They dwelled in this place as “shades”, that is wraith-like, ethereal and limpid “remnants” of their human self: almost like shadows. This is the earliest afterlife view attested to in the Hebrew Bible. It was not believed that the “shades” could rise up or “free” themselves. They were without knowledge, wisdom, love, hate or anything else one would associate with life. Nonetheless, they were capable of being summoned as Samuel’s “shade” was by Saul in the witch of Endor incident. Shades were therefore conscious.

Gradually, a new belief began to develop that there was a differentiation between the state of the blessed dead and the unholy dead. The “blessed” arrived in “Abraham’s Bosom” within Sheol. A limited belief in judgement according to works thus grew.

This worked in tandem with a growing belief in “resurrection from the dead” in a bodily sense, which we can see quite evidently in the Book of Daniel, under Zoroastrian influence apparently during the period of the Babylonian exile.

The doctrine of the “immortality of the soul” is thus implicit in ancient Israel.

It arose, actually, in ancient Greece. Under Hellinistic influences the Jews slowly came to believe in a hell and in immortality of the soul. The deuterocanonical book of Wisdom, which for Catholics is sacred writ, attests to the soul’s immortality and was written under the influence of Greek philosophy.

In Book X of Plato’s"The Republic" (c. 380 BCE), there is an account of the afterlife as the great philosopher views it, known as ‘The Myth of Er’. This is the foundational text of Western philosophy.…eaven-and-hell

Plato’s Myth of Er greatly influenced subsequent religious and philosophical thought, up to and including our very idea of heaven and hell.

Er was slain in battle but came back to life 12 days later to tell the living of that which he had seen. During these 12 days, his soul went on a journey to a meadow with four openings, two into the heavens above and two into the earth below.

Judges sat in this meadow and ordered the good souls up through one of the openings into the heavens and the bad ones down through one of the openings into the earth. Meanwhile, clean and bright souls floated down to the meadow from the other opening into the heavens, and dusty and worn out souls rose up to the meadow from the other opening into the earth.

Each soul had returned from a thousand year journey, but whereas the clean and bright souls spoke merrily of that which they had enjoyed in the heavens, the dusty and worn out souls wept at that which they had endured in the underground. Souls that had committed heinous crimes, such as those of tyrants or murderers, were not permitted to rise up into the meadow, and were condemned to an eternity in the underground

Plato also believed in the transmigration of souls however.

In his Phaedo Plato emphasises that the some souls “never return” to reincarnate again but are cast into Tartaros (Hell) where they return “no more”.

He believed that cycles of birth and re-birth for others could be seemingly endless, however.

Alan E. Bernstein notes therefore in his book, “The Formation of Hell”:

“…Plato makes the same argument in his Phaedo. A soul that dies cannot pay for the evil it has wrought, and so the mortality of the soul would be a boon to the wicked, who would escape with lighter punishments than they deserve. Justice, therefore, demands the immortality of the soul; and the immortality of the soul makes eternal punishment possible. It seems, then, that Plato is the earliest author to state categorically that the fate of the extremely wicked is eternal punishment…”

The Formation of Hell: Death and Retribution in the Ancient and Early … - Alan E. Bernstein - Google Books

Interestingly Plato also came to the awareness in his Timaeus of a single divine creator.

The teaching is that everyone who is created or born into this world will live forever. No one is going to be annihilated. Eternal life in the scriptures just means you are going to live with God. Those who do not want God are also going to live forever as well. Yet the scriptures tend to call this kind of existence as death. Yet this can be misleading because everyone is going to live. The problem though with some Christians is this. How can God allow an eternal punishment to go on forever? Why can’t the people after death be able to repent? Is there something here we need to come to understand. Some of the saints of the Church have discussed this and they came out with an answer that might give us a clue on why we cannot repent after death. The will which is part of the immortal soul is naturally free before death. At the moment of death the will becomes naturally fixed. God does this for us so that He would not have to deal with us sinning eternally. It is a matter of fact that you will not sin after death if what these people have said is true.

The problem with those people who are in a state of hell is that at the moment of death if they do not choose the mercy of God or resist it completely they sadly will have this condition for eternity. The reasoning is two fold. Whatever grace God will give to them is totally rejected and secondly the fixation of their wills puts a permanent closure to whatever repentance is possible. In these cases I assume their own resistance to whatever grace God wants to give to them becomes unnecessary for God to grant them graces because they will only get worse if He does give them graces so He gives them what they want not what He wants which is this hell.

Everyone is going to live forever. However it is your disposition that is inside you that will determine whether you are going to live forever with God or live forever without God. When St. Maria Faustina asked the Lord Jesus about how He could tolerate so many sins and crimes and not punish them He said to her that He has eternity for punishing these sins and so He has given them a great grace for the sake of sinners by prolonging the time of mercy.

The sad thing about certain people is whatever Grace God would give them is never accepted and in fact they just get worse. Some people just turn their backs on God and His grace. Whatever He gives just makes them worse so sadly He leaves them to their own condition. God needs your will and your heart to be opened to His grace so that you are transformed within.

Excellent explanation!

The strongest argument for “annihilationism” I heard was based on the KJV Bible using OT verses that “souls died”. However, corresponding verses from other translations used the words “people” or “men” and the like. So, knowing what a translation MEANS when it uses a particular word is important.

Also, these have to be taken in the context of the fact that we are made in God’s Image and Likeness. If all the world, just like us, is “material”, then how was man made differently…“in [God’s] image and likeness”? Dogs, trees, and other animated things are what? Material nature, different from rocks only in that there is animation (growth) via a “soul”. How are men different? We are made in God’s likeness [God Who is “spirit”] in that our soul is “spirit”. It is by the fact that He “breathed” into us a “spirit” that we are in His likeness. That’s what we have in common with God…we have a spirit. And it is our “spirit” (which our soul is) that is immortal. A spirit that is alive is alive in God…God is present. A spirit that is dead is dead from an absense of God…but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.

Excellent responses all. Thanks for the education.
God Bless:thumbsup:

Personally I believe our souls are immortal,( we never really die…dust to dust, only our physical bodies die), and it is said many times in the bible that ‘we’ have free will, I often wonder if this refers to our physical bodies or our souls…Many seem to think once we die, that is it, we are no longer able to choose anything or change our minds, but that would mean our free will was only temporary and only applicable when we have our bodies.

I tend to think our free will is also immortal, if a person ends up in hell, and after awhile, they see the error of their ways and call out for forgiveness, why would God not save them? I just dont see our free will only existing for the VERY short time we are alive in our bodies.

I realize many on here have a different opinion on this though.

Whether or not your opinion differs from others on CAF is unimportant. What is important is that your “opinion” regarding hell differs from Scripture and Church teaching/doctrine. (Sentence that I bolded in your post.)

You are right about our free will continuing to exist after physical death.

Here is the section in the Catechism that speaks of the immortal soul’s powers of intellect and will. (#1704 - 1711)

Many on here say that a person sends their self to hell, if this is true, then it would also be possible for them to take themselves out as well…(If they were sincere)

No, that doesn’t follow. The choices that send us to hell/heaven are permanent. That does not conflict with having free will after death, since we won’t want to do what sent us to heaven/hell in the first place.

Oops. Think you meant “undo” or “do contrary to”.

True. :slight_smile:

So you are saying it would be impossible for someone to end up in hell and regret their choices in life and wish to save/ change themselves, by asking God for forgiveness?

I tend to think if our souls (what we truly are) are immortal and eternal in nature, then our free will and ability to be forgiven by God would also be eternal and not just when we are alive in our bodies.

Judaism’s viewpoints on the immortality of the soul have significantly more latitude than those of Christianity, including Catholicism. Some Jews believe in the annihilation of the souls of truly evil people who never repented of their sins and cannot even be redeemed by prayer. Others believe in the reincarnation of the souls of those who have not completed an important task, in particular the studying of the Torah, during their life on earth. Still others, consistent with the beliefs of the Sadducees and contrary to those of the Pharisees and the articles of faith proposed by Maimonides, do not believe in an afterlife of the soul or the body. There have been other perspectives as well in Judaism throughout the ages regarding the immortality of the soul and the afterlife. Likewise, the notion of hell has been defined in Judaism in a variety of ways, separation from G-d being one of the main descriptions. Whether this separation is permanent, given the awe-inspiring merciful nature of G-d, has also been open to discussion. But, in any case, not too much discussion since one thing almost all Jews do agree upon is that the purpose of (earthly) life is living according to G-d’s Will rather than speculating about the afterlife.

I repeat: Hell is eternal, as is Heaven. We get no second chance, and the state we are in at the very end of our lives determines our destiny. If we do not repent even in the very last moment before death, that choice sends us permanently to Hell, just as repentance at the end would get us to Heaven.

It is theoretically possible even for Satan to change his mind, I understand, yet it will not happen because he made a permanent choice. Our state of soul at death is analogous to that.

God creates body and soul at the moment of our conception. The body is mortal. It has a beginning and an end. The soul is immortal, it has a beginning but no end. It has memory intellect and will fully functional for all eternity. It doesn’t sleep it doesn’t die. We will experience everything in the next life. When the body dies, the soul leaves the body and is judged immediately by Jesus. At that point the soul knows whether they will be in heaven or hell for all eternity. Souls who go through purgation first, are still going to heaven. When the end of the world occurs, whenever that is, it could be a billion years from now or it could be tomorrow, that’s the time for the resurrection of all the bodies who have ever lived. That’s the final judgement for those still alive at the end of the world. Everyone else has already been judged and are either in heaven or hell already or maybe still going through purgation… If a soul is currently in heaven, they are now in heaven body and soul. If a soul is in hell, they are now in hell body and soul…forever. All those still going through purgation at the 2nd coming, go to heaven.

One only has to look at the richman and Lazarus example. Both have memory intellect and will fully functional. And depending on where one is, one can experience happiness or torment. And not forget, the one who will judge all the living and dead is telling the story. And He can’t lie or deceive.

What you stated above implies Gods forgiveness and love is ONLY applicable to us while we are alive and thus, NOT eternal.I have debated this before on here and IMO, it is hard to believe Gods love and forgiveness are ONLY available to us when we are alive and breathing, since ‘we’ are basically immortal souls in a body made for the earthly world, in your post, Gods grace, love and forgiveness would only be an option for us while alive and breathing (in our worldly bodies).

It is also important to remember in the afterlife, there is NO TIME, so I imagine it will be quite different than we experience the passage of ‘time’ when we are alive…it wont be like this once we die, however I dont think its even possible for us to guess about what an existence may be like without time…that is just something we cannot comprehend.

On this side of eternity is when we make all our choices.

If one is in heaven, there is no need for forgiveness because one is perfect in heaven. That’s why faith and hope are no longer needed, one sees God as He is. As Paul says, Only love remains…forever

otoh, If one is in hell, there is no forgiveness, and no hope…forever

I agree

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