(Reformed Bob) **I’m reading an anti-Catholic book by Mary Walsh titled “Wine of Roman Babylon.” She’s a former Catholic, but became SDA or something like that I guess. Anyways, there’s 3 chapters in the book that were unexpected for me to see.
One chapter on how man is not created with an immortal soul, and part of the chapter on “invocation of the saints” was spent on a related topic. About how all the dead people are dead, so they can’t hear our prayers. Then there’s a chapter against eternal torment of the reprobate in Hell.**
(jmt) SDA’s (and JW’s) deny the immortality of the human soul and affirm the doctrine of “soul sleep” which (as best as I understand the doctrine as it was taught by the late Joe Crews of “Amazing Facts Ministry”) affirms that the human soul = the body + a breath of life from God. When a human being (who is “a human soul”) dies - then the breath of life (which is not consciousness and has neither intellect or will) returns to God and the body returns to dust. In other words - the particular human soul “dies” and no longer exists. It “sleeps” in the sense that the soul that did exist awaits the Resurrection of the body and the return of the breath of life from God at which time the just are rewarded with eternal life and the damned punished with annihilation.
It follows that if you affirm such a doctrine then there’s no room for asking for the intercession of the saints in heaven (no one’s there yet).
(Reformed Bob) …would anyone here care to give what the Church teaches on the matter?
(jmt) The Church dogmatically teaches that the human soul is the spiritual life principle of the body. A human being consists of a material body and a spiritual soul and it is the spiritual soul which has intellect and will - the seat of consciousness and personality. Death of a human person involves the separation of the soul from the body - a breakdown of a whole into it’s parts. The human body continues disintegration into the many parts which it is composed of but since the soul is spiritual it is not composed of parts and thus does not undergo any further disintegration. Human consciousness thus survives the death of the human person (separation of body and soul) and does so for all eternity. It would take an active act of God’s will to cause the annihilation of the human soul and such, the Catholic Faith affirms, is not what God will do. With the General Resurrection the just receive back their bodies and are glorified while the unjust also receive back their bodies but suffer eternal separation from God (ie., spiritual death).
(Reformed Bob) The view that Mrs. Walsh presented, well, you run into problems with passages like Elijah ascending into heaven, the Transfiguration, Christ’s words to the thief on the cross, not to mention all the saints and prayers in the book of Revelation!
(jmt) Yes, the doctrine runs into many problems (but indeed, a good SDA will do his best to explain the “hard passages” within the framework of his particular belief system - the same as we all do)…
As I understand the issue, I think the clearest indication of the human soul’s immortality comes from our Lord’s teaching as recorded in Matthew 10:28
“Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”
…here Jesus makes a clear distinction between “body” and “soul” and affirms that if men “kill the body” they are not thereby “killing the soul” - which contradicts the teaching of those who affirm that “the human soul is simply a body with breath” such that when “the breath” is separated from the body (killing the body) “the soul” ceases to exist (thus, according to this teaching, the soul is killed)…that God “can destroy the soul” is not an affirmation of “annihilation” as the Greek which is translated “destroy” means “to utterly ruin”, not, “to cease to exist”…a damned soul is surely ruined…to say that a damned soul “ceases to exist” runs counter to the whole idea of retribution/punishment which the NT affirms is “eternal”…a soul that ceases to exist ceases to be punished…if Judas, who betrayed our Lord, would be better off if he had never been born - then to say that Judas will ultimately be annihilated would simply make his end state the same as his beginning state: non-existence, which again would contradict the import of our Lord’s words.
Hope this is helpful.
Keep the Faith