Part 1—What Do the Scriptures Say About “Survival After Death”?
1. Messages a British officer said he received from the war dead stir what questions?
“WE ARE O.K.” “Don’t grieve for us. We’re the lucky ones. We’ve never been so happy as we are now.” These were messages from the invisible, received during World War II. Yet they were not sorrowful messages, but seemingly messages to drive away grief and give comfort. From whom did such strange messages come? From men who died in the service of their country during that war! So averred the receiver of the messages in 1943, the retired Air Chief Marshal of Great Britain, Lord Dowding. He was wanting to spread good cheer to those who had lost friends and relatives in battle and to those who might yet die before the world conflict ended. Said he: “I have the largest number of messages from men who have passed over in this war. The fact I want to stress is that the tone of these messages is ‘We are O.K.’ and ‘Don’t grieve for us. We’re the lucky ones. We’ve never been so happy as we are now.’” Lord Dowding continued: “There is a great organization of Air Force men on the other side and I receive frequent messages from them.” He was thus reaffirming his belief in spiritualism by reading before a public audience in London a letter he believed was dictated by a dead seaman. The report of this was received from London, September 1, 1943, by cable to the New York Times and published in its columns the following day, under the heading: “Dowding Says Dead Send Him Messages.” Doubtless in the minds of many readers the questions were raised: Are those who die in war the lucky ones? Are we who survive the unlucky ones?
2, 3. Why are the war prayer of the priest and the officer’s messages closely related?
2 Somewhat over nine months later, at solemn mass in St. Patrick’s Cathedral, New York city, the following war prayer was offered by the Roman Catholic Father Thomas Lester Graham: “We pray these men making such heroic sacrifice for us will know we are walking with them every step on their way of the cross. We pray for their mothers, fathers, wives, sweethearts, that their burden may be lightened and that they may be reunited with their loved ones and never again separated by the disease of war. For those who have made the supreme sacrifice we pray that Almighty God may receive them into His kingdom as martyrs and grant peace to their souls.” He urged prayer in church for “our martyr dead.”—Reported by the New York Times the following day, Monday, June 12, 1944.
3 Both of these expressions, the message by the former commander of the British Royal Air Force and the prayer by the Catholic priest, were based on one belief held in common, “survival after death.”
4. What belief about the human soul is shared by many?
4 The common belief is that the human soul does not die but is deathless, deathproof, immortal; that since the human body is observed to die and crumble to dust, there must be some part of man that survives the death of the body and it must be an invisible, untouchable something called the “soul” or “spirit.” Since it is believed to survive the death of the body, it must be distinct from the perishable human body and must be separable from it. At the body’s death it separates and, being invisible, it is no longer held down to inhabiting the human body but is free to move about in the invisible or spirit realm and to ascend to planes of life high above the earth. It enters into all the mysteries of the spirit world and so knows more than when it was hampered by the human body, and it will live in the unseen, immaterial world forever.
5, 6. Antiquity and generality of this belief strongly prove what regarding the terms “soul” and “spirit”?
5 Religions of Christendom in general, including the Roman Catholic, hold that the soul and the spirit are many times used the one for the other. But spiritists make a distinction between the two terms: “In spiritualistic terminology ‘SPIRIT’ means the etheric body of an individual having all his characteristics. A clear distinction must be drawn and borne in mind between the terms ‘SOUL’ and ‘SPIRIT.’ The former is vague and intangible without any size or form while the latter is the exact counterpart of the physical portion of the individual.”—Spiritualism in India—Theory and Practice, by V. D. Rishi, page 8, 2d edition of 1946.
6 Regardless of the distinctions drawn or not drawn between the terms “soul” and “spirit,” the believers in survival after death hold that the dead are not dead at all but are more alive than ever, in a spirit world that we cannot see, the so-called “next world”; and we must not be deceived concerning survival after death by the visible death of the human body. Taken as a strong, unshakable proof of this is the widespreadness and the ancientness of this belief. In recommendation of this belief Rishi, on page one of his above-mentioned book, says:
“The belief in the existence of the next world and the possibility of communication with the departed souls is to be found in almost all the sacred books of the East and West, Rig-Veda [or Veda of Verses] the oldest book contains reference about the Pitris [the departed forefathers; semidivine fathers and patriarchs]. In Mahabharata and Ramayana we read how the wives of the Kauravas [the 100 cousins of the Pandavas] had the pleasure of an interview with their departed husbands and how king Dasharath manifested himself after death to Sri Ramachandra. The Bible is full of references regarding survival after death and communion between the dead and the living. . . . To discredit all this testimony about survival after death is gross and rank materialism.”
7. Common practices, earth-wide, of most living humans toward relatives and others who died show what?
7 In all parts of the earth the belief in survival after death explains the conduct and acts of behavior of many persons, as when they set out food, flowers, incense or other gifts on little altars to saints or dead relatives, or as when, on September 3, 1945, the Japanese emperor Hirohito, clad in ceremonial robes and attended by two younger brothers, worshiped at three sanctuaries in the Palace of Tokyo and personally “informed” the Imperial ancestors that Japan had lost the war.—New York Times.
8. How do spiritualists and others answer questions that confront one when he accepts the teaching of “survival after death”?
8 Once the teaching of survival after death is accepted, a string of reasonable questions presents itself: Can we get in touch with the dead? Can we do anything for their benefit? Can they do us any good or harm? Can we get in touch with the “next world,” or, Is there communication between the “two worlds”? Various religions answer these questions to agree with their other beliefs, but the religion known as “spiritualism” answers with a confident Yes. While some spiritualists claim that the Bible of Jews and Christians is based upon spiritualism or teaches and supports it, the spiritualists do not put their main dependence upon the Bible or other reputed sacred writings. They positively assert that the proof of the spirit world and of human survival after death is found in actual hearable, seeable, feelable manifestations from the spirit world and by numberless, regular cases of where the living get in touch with the dead and receive messages from identifiable dead persons. Rishi, on page 7 of his book, lists among the principles of spiritualism this: “The possibility of communication, by mediums between the visible and the invisible, namely, between the living and the dead,” and then adds: “It will be worth while to bear in mind that the above principles are not based on any text, tradition, or institution, but upon observed facts and phenomena.”
9. What is the position of modern scientists on spiritistic manifestations?
9 Spiritualists, sure of themselves, have willingly let their spiritistic manifestations be investigated and put to the test by hard-headed, materialistic scientists of the day. While much that has passed for spiritualism commercially had been exposed as a fraud, science has come away from many investigations baffled by the results of their foolproof tests. It has been obliged to agree that there are living, intelligent forces in the realm of the unseen. In an article entitled “They Never Come Back” by Lester David he quotes Hereward Carrington, director of the American Psychical Institute, as saying: “Despite the illusion, fraud and superstition which have unfortunately associated themselves with this subject, there are genuine psychic phenomena which are unexplained by modern science.” In the following paragraph regarding appearings or apparitions of the dead Lester David says: “The American Society for Psychical Research once received 30,000 replies to a questionnaire it distributed on this phase. After studying the reports, it concluded: ‘Between deaths and apparitions of the dying person a connection exists which is not due to chance alone. This we hold as a proven fact.’”—Mechanix Illustrated, December, 1952, pages 166, 167.
10, 11. How are some published definitions of ectoplasm linked with the claimed “survival after death”?
10 As a result of its investigations modern science has discovered what it calls “ectoplasm,” that is, human matter that streams forth from various parts of the spirit medium’s body and that produces certain phenomena or takes certain shapes. Because it is protoplasm pushed out from the medium’s body, Webster’s dictionary defines ectoplasm as “exteriorized protoplasm.” Marcus Bach, in his book They Have Found a Faith (1946), describes it on page 112:
“The reason for concealing the medium . . . is because a red light is used during a materialization seance. Even a dim light interferes with the generation of the ectoplasm necessary in building spirit forms. The cabinet shields the medium during the time this force is being assembled and then, when complete, the form can stand the light rays long enough to be seen outside the cabinet by the sitters—from thirty seconds to three or four minutes. The medium entranced is also sometimes disturbing to the spectators. It is not a pleasingly aesthetic sight—especially not during a materialization, for ectoplasm exudes from her mouth and body in the nature of gauzy, foggy, smokelike substance from which figures are formed by the spirit chemists.”
11 Says Rishi (page 3 of his above-mentioned book):
“In Europe and America several scientists have made important discoveries in this science. Some persons are aware of the discovery of ectoplasm, a white snowy matter emanating from the body of the medium. However much the existence of this matter may be denied by ignorant persons and fraudulent people, it is weighed and analysed by great scientists.” (Page 2) “The proof regarding survival after death has been mainly obtained through the inherent psychic power of a medium and hence the phenomena of mediumship have been recognized as the one basic factor of modern spiritualism. It is impossible to define or describe this power as it is not possible to define electricity or magnetism, although we all perceive their effects every day.”
12. Studies made of the mediumship of Mrs. Piper reveal what?
12 Mrs. Leonore Piper performed unexplainable things to make her one of the greatest mediums known. Researchers of psychic phenomena, including the American psychologist William James, Dr. Richard Hodgson, Sir Oliver Lodge, Dr. Walter Leaf and many others, made a study of Mrs. Piper for years. They even had detectives to shadow her to learn if she got her information by normal methods. In vain. They could find out nothing. Mrs. Piper would go into a deep trance and then start writing. She would impart information, such as names, dates and facts of all kinds, which she could not possibly learn by herself. William James wrote she knew things that she could not have acquired by the normal use of her eyes and ears and wits.
13-15. Reported unusual feats, when investigated, have confronted scientists with what evidence?
13 There are other evidences of secret or occult power, enabling ordinary persons to do things superhuman or ordinarily impossible for a human, that science is unable to explain or account for. In the practice of Voodooism (Vodun, as the Haitians call it) extraordinary feats have been performed. The French naturalist Descourtilz, for instance, awed by the manifestation of the occult, describes a woman who, under the seizure of her god, took a live coal in her hand without being burned. In the Gold Coast, Africa, the mediums are called woyei, and profess to act as mouthpieces of the gods and of the dead. There when a medium becomes seized by the occult power, it is said, “she speaks with a voice not her own, and greater than that of any human being.” Under possession of the mysterious power, a medium will jiggle and shake in every limb and will remain on her feet in continual motion for hours. She will often perform feats of endurance that are impossible for ordinary humans.—Religion and Medicine of the Gā People by M. J. Field.
14 Medical science is at a loss to explain such a feat as reported in the New York Times under the date line “Bombay, India, Feb. 19, 1950 (United Press Dispatch)”:
“Huge crowds saw a 45-year-old yogi, Swami [Master] Ramdasji, dug out alive today [Sunday] from an ‘air-tight’ cement crypt in which he had been ‘buried’ for eighty-seven hours [or three days fifteen hours] on a bed of nails. The mystic had been ‘completely submerged’ in water from 4 p.m. Saturday [Feb. 18] until his release at 7:30 a.m. today [Sunday]. He climbed into the wooden coffin at 5 p.m. Wednesday [Feb. 15]. He lay on a bed of nails and the sides of the coffin also had nails jagging into his flesh. The coffin was sealed inside an 8-by-8-by-6-foot cement crypt. Ramdasji’s disciples then sat by the crypt day and night chanting Vedic prayers while keeping a sacred fire burning. Saturday [Feb. 18] his disciples bored a small hole into the crypt, pushed in a hose and immersed the air-starved Hindu in water. Thousands of spectators watched tensely as the disciples hacked the cement away with picks and lifted Ramdasji, still in a trance, onto a dais. The followers massaged Ramdasji’s head, arms and body until he opened his eyes and smiled. Dr. Jal Rustom Vakil, a heart specialist, examined Ramdasji immediately. The doctor said Ramdasji’s respiration was slow, but otherwise he was normal in every way.”
According to medical science, such a feat would have killed an ordinary human within two or three hours.
15 Instances of fire walking, which have been observed in India and elsewhere, have generally been attributed to some occult influence or power, but science has been able to prove with some success that there is a trick about this, dependent upon ordinary laws of nature, thus removing this from the realm of the really occult. But the more science investigates the more it is faced with the evidences of a truly occult power, of invisible forces producing supernatural acts and happenings among men.
16. How extensive are present-day efforts to gain comfort, advance information or guidance by resort to spiritism?
16 Whether superstitious or not, many people have a peculiar fascination for the occult, for powers with a hidden source, for happenings of a supernormal kind. There are also many sorrowful persons who crave to get in touch with dead loved ones. Naturally they are inclined to seek mediums who claim to be able to communicate with the dead, for the seeming comfort that this brings. Increasing numbers of persons are worried about the uncertainties of life or face great problems or are anxious about the outcome of political, commercial, sporting or other developments and desire some guidance for the future. They look to some higher, hidden power, unidentified though it may be, that promises to foretell the future and thus guide them, relieve them of fears, safeguard them from possible dangers or lead them to success. Hence there are many who do not ordinarily claim to be spiritualists or spiritists and who may be members of orthodox churches, yet who resort to spiritistic practices. In America, although some 131,100 profess to be spiritualists or members of spiritualist societies, yet there are far more who dabble with spiritism. An appeal to the spiritualistic or spiritistic has become the fashion, not only of the grief-stricken, comfort-seeking ordinary man or woman or the superstitious theatrical people or the worried, success-seeking businessman, but also of high political circles, world-wide.
THE OCCULT IN POLITICAL CIRCLES
17. What is generally known about the last Russian czar’s attachment to Rasputin?
17 July 17, 1918, the date of Nicholas Romanoff’s execution by the Bolsheviki, is not too long ago for us to remember the last of the Russian czars, Nicholas II. Of him The Encyclopedia Americana (volume 20, page 315) says: “His superstition was shown by his consultation of fortunetellers, spiritualists, mystics and charlatans in his desire to secure a male heir, his first four children being all girls.” He is all too well known for his connections with the notorious Russian Monk Gregor Novikh, nicknamed “Rasputin,” meaning “dissolute, profligate, libertine, licentious,” because such he was. Rasputin came of a peasant family with an inherited gift of mesmerism. He started a new cult, in which dancing and debauchery were mixed in with mystical seances. He was introduced to the Russian Imperial Court, where for years he exercised a powerful influence with Nicholas II, who retained him in his court, even against the protest of others.
18-21. (a) How was astrology involved in public affairs in ancient time? (b) In modern times how is astrology used in public affairs?
18 Today political science alone does not figure in running political government. Astrology does also. “Astrology” first meant the “science of the stars.” Now it means the study of the stars to foretell human and earthly events by the aspect and position of the stars, as though stars exercised some hidden or occult influence upon the inhabitants of earth and upon the earth itself. Astrology was long ago practiced by the Chaldeans, the Egyptians, the Greeks, the Romans, the Arabs and others. It developed from the belief in survival after death, and that the stars were notable humans who had been transported after death to the position of the stars and planets, from there to exercise their influence upon earthly affairs.
19 In the thirteenth century A.D. priests from India introduced astrology into the Siamese court life, since which time both kings and the common people have hesitated to make a move without first consulting their horoscope or the position of the planets with regard to the twelve signs of the zodiac. As his consultant each Siamese king appointed a royal astrologer, with a rank of nobility. King Mongkut was the only monarch who refused the services of a royal astrologer. He was a noted astrologer himself and preferred to read his own horoscope. In 1932 the absolute monarchy over Siam was overthrown, but astrologers continued with even a firmer hold on political matters. Numerous legislators planned their political careers only after secretly consulting astrologers. From their own observations the Siamese say: “Politicians make the best astrologers, and astrologers become the most successful politicians.” Due to spending so much time with the astrologers, such politicians develop the ability to read horoscopes. As a matter of course, by telling from the stars when to take up public activity, astrologers make a success in politics, so it is believed, and so it could be when practically all the people yield themselves to astrology. Astrology has a stronger grip on the Siamese or Thailanders than any science or religion.
20 Astrology exerts a power even on modern Western rulers, and that, too, in the matter of waging war. The January, 1952, issue of Mechanix Illustrated had this to say: “One of the most amazing, and least-known facts of World War II is that the Allies actually waged a counter-astrological warfare against Hitler. Knowing that the Nazi leader took his horoscope mighty seriously [while at the same time being a Roman Catholic], Britain established an agency known as the Psychological Research Bureau and placed at its head a noted astrologer, Louis de Wohl. Captain de Wohl plotted the horoscopes of Hitler and his chief aides, following as closely as possible the ‘good’ and ‘bad’ days. Britain thus knew at all times what Hitler’s astrologers were telling him. It was the first time since the Thirty Years’ War, De Wohl said later, that astrological warfare was waged.” Not that this resort to astrology aided the Allies to win the war against the Nazis and Fascists and their axis partners, but that it shows the willingness, even by rulers who claim to be Christian, to consult the occult powers for selfish advantages. It reminds one of the ancient Chaldean king, Nebuchadnezzar, when marching to conquest over Palestine six centuries before Christ. He came to a fork of the roads, one branch leading to Rabbah, capital of Ammon to the east, the other branch leading to Jerusalem, to the west. Says the Bible: “The king of Babylon stands at the parting of the ways, at the fork of the two roads, practicing divination; he shakes the arrows, he consults the teraphim, he inspects the liver. Into his right hand falls the lot marked ‘Jerusalem,’ calling for slaughter, for the shout of battle, for the planting of battering-rams against the gates, for the throwing up of mounds, for the building of a siege-wall.” (Ezek. 21:19-22, AT) So Nebuchadnezzar marched against Jerusalem. It fell before him.
21 Americans now have on their silver dimes and on their postage stamps the slogan “In God we trust” but the prevalence of astrological fortunetellers and their present prosperity in America bespeak a disturbed and hesitating America. So John R. Saunders, at the nation’s capital, Washington, D.C., has said. As the Associate Curator of Education at the American Museum of Natural History he said, in 1946: “In Washington 10,000 customers weekly consult the capital’s astrologers. . . . Some of our most prominent people have patronized fortune tellers of one kind or another. Evangeline Adams, the astrologer, made $50,000 a year. J. P. Morgan, Mrs. Leslie Carter, Mary Garden and Richard Harding Davis were among her clients. On a horoscope, the Duke of Windsor cancelled a trip, some years ago. Hitler [although a recognized Roman Catholic] kept at Berchtesgaden a teeming nest of fortune tellers. Mussolini, Napoleon, Hitler, Julius Caesar, Alexander [the Great]—each believed in and talked about his Star. It is still told in Washington how President Harding and his wife had a ‘personal’ seer forecast for them weekly at the White House.” Fortunetelling, he continued, “flourishes now in Washington, D.C., where a number of our prominent legislators are reported to have their personal seers. One Congressman has his horoscope cast weekly at his office. By its dictates he votes for this bill, against that.”—The American Weekly, July 21, 1946.
22-25. What other reported instances of psychic or spiritistic practices by American and Canadian civic leaders are seriously noteworthy?
22 There is a widespread reliance of politicians on psychometry or the finding out of certain facts or hidden knowledge about an object or its owners by contact with that object or by nearness to it. On October 19, 1952, the New Haven (Connecticut) Register published this statement by its Fulton Oursler: “I have actually seen reports of psychometrists sent to key officials of our Government, and have been taken by wives of important lawmakers to séances.”
23 Not altogether shocking, therefore, but quite to be expected comes the report of spiritism in the White House by the popular radio commentator Drew Pearson, in his column entitled “Washington Merry-Go-Round,” published throughout the land. In newspaper editions of August 24, 1953, such as that of the Oregon Journal, columnist Pearson reported that a “renowned fortune teller” had been dropping in at the White House during that summer as well as spring equipped with a crystal ball, namely, Mrs. Jeanne Dixon. For ten years she had been telling the future for General Eisenhower’s wife Mamie. So since Mamie moved into the White House, Mrs. Dixon has been called in at times to keep the first lady of the nation up to date on her future and she has even “done some crystal-ball gazing for the president, himself.” Mrs. Dixon said she could use three psychic mediums—the crystal ball, palmistry and astrology. She pointed to a starlike imprint on her own palm and explained it to be the mark of the “true psychic.” However, her usual way is to touch the subject’s fingertips and at the same time peer over her shoulder into the crystal ball. Mrs. Dixon refused to talk about the Eisenhowers or the rest of her clientele. Persons close to the White House, though, say she has amazed President Eisenhower by reading his golf scores in the crystal ball.
24 In the political field Mrs. Dixon forecast the partitioning of India, President Harry S. Truman’s surprise victory over Thomas E. Dewey in 1948 and the Republican sweep in the presidential campaign in 1952 putting General Eisenhower into the White House. A real estate broker by profession, Mrs. Dixon does not charge for her psychic service. She takes no credit to herself for her occult powers, but says: “The Bible says that all events are foreshadowed. I am just the means of communication.” The published report of the invasion of the presidential White House by spiritism by means of this psychic has never been disputed, denied or disproved.
25 Now cross America’s northern border into Canada. There, too, spiritism has made inroads into the prime ministry. It was not generally known that the late W. L. MacKenzie King, one-time prime minister of Canada, was a secret spiritualist, although till his death July 22, 1950, a member of the Presbyterian church like President Eisenhower. In a biography of King entitled “The Incredible Canadian” by Bruce Hutchison (1953), the author lays open King’s deep spiritualistic convictions. Even as prime minister of Canada King consulted spirit mediums, and felt sure of “direct communion with the dead.” He approached every problem, personal and political, dominated by his belief in human immortality as taught by religion in general and now apparently confirmed by spirit mediumship. As he neared death, he patronized mediumship, especially over in England, to consult the dead. At a séance a year after President Franklin D. Roosevelt had died, King made contact with the dead Roosevelt by a medium and was told to stay in political office and that Canada and the world could not yet spare him. But at his frequent séances King would not consult the spirits on the affairs of government and told the mediums that he preferred to decide government matters for himself. Yet his handling of political matters could not but be influenced by his private spiritualistic convictions. By his seeming contact with the dead he increasingly convinced himself by such kind of proof that his earthly journey was nearing its end but his real journey was only beginning and then he in his real self would be free to take on his true shape. When he died, says author Hutchison, King “had completed one pilgrimage to begin, as he believed, a second.”—Pages 86-88, 423, 424, 450.
26. (a) By their actual experiences what do spiritualists claim to prove about “survival after death”? (b) Such claim should properly stir what sensible questions?
26 Though by no means everything has been told, yet from all the foregoing it is plain that spiritualism is spreading and already has a greater hold on human society than most people may realize. The groundwork for such spread of spiritualism still farther has been laid, as we shall show. Some spiritualists are very hopeful about their religion, as betrayed in the title of a book by Arthur Findlay, “The Rock of Truth or Spiritualism the Coming World Religion.” (Thirteenth impression, 1949) The spiritualists seem to produce the proof of their belief in their actual experiences and in the phenomena they are able to show, apart from all trickery. That they really get in touch with an unseen world and with intelligent spirits there can be proved by them and is not to be doubted. But the question arises, Is it really with the spirits of those who once lived on the earth and died that they get in communication? Is it truly “survival after death” that their getting in touch with the spirit world proves? Does it uphold “immortalism,” that is, the belief in and the doctrine of the immortality of the human soul? So is it possible for those living on earth to talk with the dead? Is it a genuine source of comfort for people who have lost loved ones, relatives or cherished friends, to go to spirit mediums in the hope of getting in touch with such dead ones or to make use of such other spiritistic means as table tipping or the planchette or the Yes-yes board or Ouija (Oui, French for Yes, and Ja, German for Yes)?
27. How shall we learn the safe, true and satisfying answers to these questions?
27 How shall we learn the safe, true and satisfying answers to these questions? By going to a book with ancient historical accounts and descriptions that are constantly being proved correct, a book of prophecy that has had its many marvelous predictions come true throughout the centuries and find fulfillment also in world events and conditions of our own day, particularly since A.D. 1914; by going to a book to which even spiritualists refer and in which many spiritualists claim to find support for their teachings and beliefs. What book is that? It is the Bible, the Holy Scriptures.
28. What unsteady position of spiritualism’s foremost advocates should every prudent person keep clearly in mind?
28 From Sweden we have the report: “Spiritists here seldom use the Bible to prove their belief; their ‘experiences’ are given as proof of what they claim as the death state.” However, in the book Spiritualism for the Busy Man, page 14, W. H. Evans has the subheading: “Spiritualism confirms Biblical facts.” V. D. Rishi, as already quoted, states: “The Bible is full of references regarding survival after death and communion between the dead and the living.” Adding to such argument Ernest Thompson, in The Teachings and Phenomena of Spiritualism, pages 115-120, has this to say:
“All religions are based upon the conception of an ‘after life,’ for without the hope of a spiritual future, the idea of God would never have evolved in man’s mind. The Christian Religion is based upon the evidence of survival which is contained in the Bible, particularly of course upon the evidence of the return of Jesus from the dead . . . The principal figure in the New Testament is Jesus, . . . his works can be classified as the achievements of a highly developed medium and healer. . . . Jesus was certainly the most remarkable medium that ever lived. From his period of ‘trial’ in the wilderness up to his resurrection his story is mainly impressive because of his ‘supernormal powers.’ The fact that he was clairvoyant and clairaudient was indicated when, ‘angels came and ministered unto him.’ He was not only clairaudient to the spirit people, but to those about him, for he often received their thoughts telepathically. . . . He apparently used Peter, John and James as materialisation mediums as in the instance of the materialisation of Moses and Elias. . . . Like D. D. Home, Jesus permitted himself to be levitated. ‘In the fourth watch of the night, Jesus went unto them walking on the sea.’ . . . It is notable too that he made certain that his ‘conditions’ were favourable for the specific phenomenon desired. . . . Conditions in the upper room were favourable when, with the mediumistic aid of his disciples, Jesus ‘appeared unto the eleven’ after his crucifixion, and ‘and upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart.’”
WHY BRING IN THE SCRIPTURES?
29. What basic questions must be faced by every fair-minded and thorough investigator of spiritualism’s claims?
29 Since spiritualist authors themselves bring the Bible into their argument and interpret it as they do, we are all the more compelled to turn to the Bible and examine directly the questions, Does it uphold spiritualism? May it be used as a handbook of spiritualism? Or does it hold out another hope and comfort for bereaved, sorrowing, distressed, perplexed, groping, imperiled mankind? We cannot get to the truth of the matter any quicker than by examining first and at once the really one foundation upon which spiritualist teaching rests. What? Immortalism. As stated by Rishi: “The knowledge regarding life after death is commonly called Spiritualism. Its principles though as old as humanity are being proved by new methods. As affirmed by the International Congresses in Europe [of spiritualists] they are:—1. Existence of God, supreme Intelligence and first cause of everything. 2. Existence of the soul, linked during earthly life to the physical corruptible body by an intermediary element called perispirit or fluid body. 3. Immortality of the soul and its continual evolution towards perfection by successive stages. 4. The possibility of communication, by mediums between the visible and the invisible, namely, between the living and the dead.” The question that faces us, then, is, Does the soul survive the death of the human body? Is the human soul immortal? What do the Holy Scriptures of the Bible say?
30, 31. Why do we rightly consider with care the Bible record of the contest staged in ancient Egypt by its magician-priests and Jehovah’s representative, Moses?
30 Take the first five books of the Bible. The prophet Moses wrote them. Whether as a prophet he was a spirit medium, as spiritualists claim of Bible prophets, we shall let our discussion go on to show. But right here we note that this Moses was “instructed in all the wisdom of the Egyptians,” because he was reared at the king of Egypt’s court in the sixteenth century before the Christian era. He was acquainted with the wise men and wonder-working men of Pharaoh the king. When Moses appeared before Pharaoh with the demand that Pharaoh let the enslaved people of Jehovah God go free and backed up his demand by turning his shepherd rod into a big snake by God’s power, then, as we read Moses’ own account, “Pharʹaoh also called for the wise men and the sorcerers, and the magic-practicing priests of Egypt themselves also proceeded to do the same thing with their magic arts.” When Moses later turned water into blood, these men seemingly duplicated the miracle. When Moses miraculously produced frogs Pharaoh’s men did the same. Ah, but when Moses turned the dust of Egypt into lice or into gnats, “the magic-practicing priests tried to do the same by their secret arts, in order to bring forth gnats, but they were unable. And the gnats came to be on man and beast. Hence the magic-practicing priests said to Pharʹaoh: ‘It is the finger of God!’”—Ex. 7:10, 11, 20-22; 8:6, 7, 17-19, NW.
31 So Pharaoh’s wise men, sorcerers and magicians admitted that Moses was able by his God Jehovah to do wonders that they themselves with their secret or occult power were unable to do. Now it is this Moses who under the power of God’s spirit or under inspiration gives us the first definition to be found in the Bible of the human soul. Also from the opposition between this Moses and the men of occult power in Egypt we can begin to form correct ideas as to whether Moses was a spirit medium or not.
WHAT THE HUMAN SOUL IS
32, 33. As to the human soul, how do definitions of it by Christendom’s spokesmen and by the Bible differ?
32 Religious teachings of Christendom surround the human soul with mysteries that philosophers need to explore. Differently from them, Moses calls all the fish, birds and land animals that God created before making man “souls,” “living souls.” (Gen. 1:20, 21, 24, 30; 2:19, NW; Ro; Da) So, long before man’s creation, billions of animal souls or earthly souls had died. Moses then tells how the first human soul came to be, saying: “Then Jehovah God proceeded to form the man out of dust from the ground and to blow into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man came to be a living soul.” (Gen. 2:7, NW; AS; Da) This flatly disproves what is stated about the wherefrom of man by the spiritualist author, Arthur Findlay, in advertising his book On the Edge of the Etheric or Survival After Death Scientifically Explained. He states: “We retain in the Etheric, to which we pass at death, our bodily appearance, our memories, and our affections. . . . As we are now so shall we be hereafter; as we sow so shall we reap. We have come from the Etheric; we return to the Etheric. Our physical life is but a small part of our life, which, coming from the Etheric, returns to it at death. There it continues to function in a world both real and tangible.” Moses says nothing about “the Etheric.”
33 Nor does Moses’ inspired account of the creation of the human soul agree with V. D. Rishi and say anything about an “intermediary element called perispirit [surrounding spirit] or fluid body.” The Creator, Jehovah God, gave the first man just one body, made from the different elements in the dust of our earth. What made that material body come to life? It was God’s blowing into man’s nostrils, thus into man’s lungs, the “breath of life.” It was not by his breathing into man an invisible soul and connecting that soul with the material body by a fluid body or a surrounding spirit of the same form as the earthly body. God breathed, as it were, into the lifeless body his life-giving force, which was to be sustained by man’s breathing. What resulted? The body came to life. What did that mean? It meant a soul, a visible, touchable, feelable human soul, came into existence. “The man came to be a living soul.” That living soul did not come from “the Etheric,” so called, for it had never existed before. By God’s combining body and breath of life it now came to life. Thus the explanation of what a human soul is may be reduced to this simple, unmysterious “soul equation”:
human soul = body + breath of life from God.
34. How does the Christian writer Paul’s definition of the human soul harmonize with that contained in the Hebrew Scriptures Moses wrote?
34 This is not just the thought of the pre-Christian Hebrews or Jews; it is also the true Christian thought. The Christian apostle Paul, writer of fourteen books of the Bible, supports Moses’ writings, saying: “It is even so written: ‘The first man Adam became a living soul.’ . . . The first man is out of the earth and made of dust.” (1 Cor. 15:45, 47, NW) Thus the first living human soul was the first man Adam. The living human soul is the living human creature. For that reason Young’s English translation of the Bible (1862) uses the word “creature” instead of “soul” here.
35-37. How does an outstanding modern translation aid users of that Bible version in gaining accurate knowledge and understanding about the soul and its Creator?
35 The Bible is the final authority on the soul. In the Hebrew part of the Bible the word nephʹesh (translated “soul”) is found about 800 times; in the Christian Greek part of the Bible the word psy·cheʹ (also translated “soul”) is found 102 times. In each case the New World Translation renders this Greek word “soul.” This yet uncompleted translation is also consistently rendering the Hebrew word nephʹesh “soul.” Thus the readers of the Bible may see how the Creator of the soul uses the word in his inspired Bible.
36 Since the Bible recognizes and teaches that the living human creature himself is the human soul, it is perfectly reasonable that the Bible should state that the human soul has blood—“the blood of the souls of the poor innocents” (Jer. 2:34)—God himself saying: “Your blood of your souls shall I ask back.” (Gen. 9:5, NW) In fact, God the Creator of souls shows the dependence of the human soul upon the blood stream to be so heavy that he says: “The soul of the flesh is in the blood.” More than that: “The soul of every sort of flesh isa its blood.” “The blood isb the soul and you must not eat the soul [yes, not eat the soul] with the blood.” (Lev. 17:11, 14 and Deut. 12:23, NW) Human souls can eat blood and fat, but God’s law forbids it: “For anyone eating fat from the beast from which he presents it as an offering made by fire to Jehovah, the soul that eats must be cut off from his people. Any soul who eats any blood, that soul must be cut off from his people.”—Lev. 7:25, 27, NW.
37 A human soul can also eat an animal body: “As for any soul that eats a dead body or something torn by a wild beast.” (Lev. 17:15, NW) The human soul craves material food: “Because your soul craves to eat meat, whenever your soul craves it you may eat meat.” (Deut. 12:20, NW) Also fruit: “You must eat enough grapes for you to satisfy your soul.” (Deut. 23:24, NW) Or a honeycomb.—Prov. 27:7.
38. What various experiences of human souls further help us to understand the consistent Bible teaching about the soul?
38 The human soul is the living, intelligent creature himself, the material, visible, tangible person, and not an invisible, untouchable, ethereal something inside the human body. Hence the human soul can tear its own self or can be torn by a lion, can be delivered from a threatening sword, can fall into a pit dug for it, can be brought back again from a pit, or can be brought out of a prison. (Job 18:4, margin; Ps. 7:2; 22:20; Job 33:18, 30; Jer. 18:20; Ps. 142:7) The human soul can be bought for money; it can be kidnaped and sold; it can be hunted like a wild beast. (Lev. 22:11; Deut. 24:7; Ex. 4:19, NW) After the creation of the first human souls on earth, Adam and Eve, all other human souls have been born. They have not come out of “the Etheric.” They have come out of the bodies or loins of fatherly human souls and from the wombs of motherly human souls. Of Jacob’s wife Leah we read: “In time she bore these to Jacob: sixteen souls. All the souls who came to Jacob into Egypt were those who issued out of his upper thigh, aside from the wives of Jacob’s sons. All the souls were sixty-six.” (Gen. 46:18, 26, NW) “And all the souls who issued out of Jacob’s upper thigh came to be seventy souls.” (Ex. 1:5, NW) The soul is, therefore, not something separate and distinct from the human body that can leave the body in dreams and at death or that can transmigrate or pass at death into another body, to be thus reborn at death into another body.
39. Does the Bible show a difference between body and soul, and how?
39 Now a question; Does the Bible itself show a difference between body and soul? Indeed it does, and that right at the beginning, at Genesis 2:7, at man’s creation. The man’s body that Jehovah God formed out of the dust from the ground in Eden was not a human soul; it was just a lifeless, inactive body that neither saw, heard, tasted, smelled, felt nor thought. To make the body live and use all its sense organs and powers, God combined the perfect human body with the breath of life that he blew into the body. Thus there came to be a living human soul that had never existed before. So the human body is a necessary part of the human soul, and the human soul cannot exist apart from the human body. Many times the Bible speaks of the life that we human creatures enjoy as “soul.” Jesus said: “If anyone comes to me and does not hate . . . even his own soul, he cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:26, NW) “He that is fond of his soul destroys it, but he that hates his soul in this world will safeguard it for everlasting life.” (John 12:25, NW) “They did not love their souls even despite the danger of death.” (Rev. 12:11, NW) “I am the right shepherd; the right shepherd surrenders his soul in behalf of the sheep.”—John 10:11, NW.
40. What are some examples of the Bible’s use of the word “soul” to refer to the person himself?
40 In harmony with this unseparableness of the soul from its body, when a speaker uses the expression “my soul,” he really means “I myself,” or, “me myself.” Jesus gave an illustration of a rich man, who, after storing up his increased good things, said: “I will say to my soul: ‘Soul, you have many good things laid up for many years; take your ease, eat, drink, enjoy yourself.’ But God said to him: ‘Unreasonable one, this night they are demanding your soul from you.’” Without soul or life as a human creature, how could the rich man enjoy the good things he had stored up? (Luke 12:16-21, NW) Even God himself uses the expression “my soul,” saying: “Look! my servant whom I chose, my beloved, whom my soul approved!” (Matt. 12:18, NW; Isa. 42:1) “‘My righteous one will live by reason of faith,’ and, ‘if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him.’” (Heb. 10:38, NW) “Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hates.” (Isa. 1:14, RS) Likewise, the expression “your (thy) soul” is used to mean “you yourself,” and “his soul,” “him himself.” For example, “Yahweh of hosts hath sworn by his own soul.” (Jer. 51:14; Amos 6:8, Ro, margin) “So it shall be well unto thee, and thy soul shall live.” (Jer. 38:20; Isa. 55:2, 3) Thus the word “soul” is used to refer to the person himself.
41, 42. By the reported acts of Elijah, Elisha, Jesus and his apostles in restoring dead persons to life, how are spiritualism’s false claims further exposed for rejection?
41 What the prophet Elijah said regarding the child whom he was used to restore to life is no Biblical proof that the human soul is distinct and is merely linked to the human body by some element called a “perispirit or fluid body,” and that at death it carries on a separate, independent, outside existence in the immaterial, spirit world. We read: “The son of the woman, the mistress of the house, fell sick, and his sickness came to be so severe that there was no breath left in him. And [Elijah] proceeded to stretch himself upon the child three times and call to Jehovah and say: ‘O Jehovah my God, please, cause the soul of this child to come back within him.’ Finally Jehovah listened to Elijah’s voice, and the soul of the child came back within him, so that he came to life.” (1 Ki. 17:17, 21, 22, NW) Does the Bible here say the child’s soul was alive in an invisible, spirit world and that the child was lucky that it had died and that it had never been so happy on earth as it was then in the spirit world? No! Did the child’s mother ask Elijah to act as a male medium and put her in touch with her dead son so that she could talk with the departed soul through Elijah? No! If the child was better off for having died, then it was an injustice and extreme selfishness for Elijah to pray as he did and for him to restore the child to life in the human body.
42 The same holds true for the Shunammite’s son whom Elijah’s successor, Elisha, restored to life. It holds true also for the dead whom Jesus and his apostles restored to life in the flesh on earth: Jairus’ daughter, the widow of Nain’s son, Lazarus the brother of Mary and Martha, Dorcas (Tabitha) of Joppa, and Eutychus of Troas. (2 Ki. 4:8-37; Matt. 10:1, 8; Luke 8:41-56; 7:11-15; John 11:1-44; Acts 9:36-41; 20:6-12) What the prophet Elijah really prayed for was, not for a departed soul to return from the spirit world into the child’s body, but for the child’s life as a human creature to return by Jehovah God’s power that his dead body might become alive again and the child might come to be a living human soul again. In agreement with this An American Translation reads here: “May this child’s life return into him again.” “So the LORD hearkened to the voice of Elijah; and the life of the child came back to him again, so that he lived.” “‘See, your son is alive,’ said Elijah.” (1 Ki. 17:21-24, AT; also Mo) Hence it is no more difficult for us in English to say a human soul has soul than it was difficult for a Jew to say in Hebrew that a nephʹesh has nephʹesh or that nephʹesh is in a nephʹesh (“soul”).—Lev. 17:10-14, NW.
THE SPIRIT IN MAN
43, 44. How, in contrast with Rishi’s definition, does the Bible identify the human spirit?
43 But in this case does not the scripture, Ecclesiastes 12:7, apply: “Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it”? Yes. And does not the report, at Luke 8:54, 55 (RS), of Jesus’ raising Jairus’ daughter to life say: “But taking her by the hand he called, saying, ‘Child, arise.’ And her spirit returned, and she got up at once”? Yes. Are we, then, to reason from this that, before Elijah raised the widow’s dead son to life, and before Jesus raised Jairus’ girl to life, their spirit was alive in a spirit world and that it had returned to God who gave it and was living with him? No; for the “spirit” is not, as Rishi describes it, “the etheric body of an individual having all his characteristics. . . . the exact counterpart of the physical portion of the individual.” According to the Bible the spirit (ruʹahh, Hebrew; pneuʹma, Greek) is God’s invisible active force that causes life or makes alive.
44 As it is described in Revelation 11:8-11 (NW): “And their corpses will be on the broad way of the great city . . . And after the three and a half days spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet.” Also as it is described in Ezekiel’s vision of the valley of dry bones: “Thus saith My Lord Yahweh, unto these bones, Lo! I am about to bring into you spirit, and ye shall live; . . . And when I looked then lo! upon them were sinews, and flesh had come up, and there had spread over them skin above, but spirit was there none within them. Then said he unto me, Prophesy unto the spirit, prophesy, Son of man, and thou shalt say unto the spirit, Thus saith My Lord Yahweh—From the four winds come thou, O spirit, and breathe into these [breathless] slain that they may live. And when I prophesied as he commanded me, then came into them the spirit and they lived and stood upon their feet, an exceeding great army.”—Ezek. 37:5-10, Ro; also Yg; Le.
45, 46. (a) For continuing or restoring life of human creatures, what does the Bible show to be Almighty God’s part? (b) How is this fully shown in the case of Jesus?
45 Jehovah God is the source of the life-imparting spirit or invisible life-giving active force. Hence when the dead body returns to the earth as it was, that spirit or active force that animated that body returns to its source; it quits operating in that body. So the power to make that human creature live again rests with God, the Source of life. By the sentence of death that God pronounced upon Adam and Eve he has subjected all their offspring to condemnation and at the limit of their condemned lives he requires of them their life force, for they are condemned to death through inheriting the sin from Adam and Eve. God’s just law requires that life force or spirit of them, and thus it returns to him. When God lifts that condemnation or removes it, then he can make the relieved offspring of Adam live again by his spirit or invisible activating force. Hence the inspired Psalm says to God: “Thou hidest thy face, they are dismayed, thou withdrawest their spirit, they cease to breathe, and unto their own dust do they return: thou sendest forth thy spirit and they are created, and thou renewest the face of the ground.”—Ps. 104:29, 30, Ro; also Yg; Le.
46 This life force sustained by breathing is what returned to Jairus’ daughter when Jesus took her by the hand and commanded: “Child, arise.” God heard Jesus and caused His life-imparting active force to make her body alive and breathe again and keep it from returning at that time to the dust of the earth. Jesus referred to such spirit or life force when, at his death on the stake at Calvary, he said to God: “Father, into your hands I entrust my spirit.” (Luke 23:46, NW) On the third day afterward God restored that spirit or life force by resurrecting Jesus from the dead. (Acts 2:22-28, 32-36) So Ecclesiastes 12:7 cannot be used to teach that immortal spirits of the human dead are in a spirit world enjoying greater life, knowledge and freedom than ever before and that they have all, good and bad alike, returned to God. Instead, it proves that all mankind are under condemnation of death and hence must grow old and approach death and that when they die the body will return to the dust, for God’s righteous law requires their life force of them.
47. As to life, why, according to the Bible, are humans superior to earth’s lower animals?
47 In this respect, mankind, because of the condemnation to death that they inherited from Adam, are like the lower animals that die, not because animals are condemned to die for sin, but because their Creator did not decree that they should live forever. Showing that thus man’s spirit is just now like that of the lower animals, the inspired wise man says: “I said in my heart concerning the speaking of the sons of men, that God might make it clear to them, and that they might see that they by themselves are but beasts. For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts; even the same thing befalleth them; as the one dieth, so dieth the other; yea, they have all one kind of spirit: so that the preeminence of man above the beast is nought; for all is vanity. Every thing goeth unto one place: every thing came from the dust, and every thing returneth to the dust. Who knoweth the spirit of the sons of man that ascendeth upward, and the spirit of the beast that descendeth downward to the earth?” (Eccl. 3:18-21, Le; also Yg; Ro) We see, therefore, that the spirit or invisible, activating life force that makes animals live is the same as that which makes mankind live, and hence the only thing that can give man any pre-eminence above a lower animal is God’s decree or God’s arrangement concerning man’s future. By God’s undeserved kindness man does enjoy such a pre-eminence over lower animals, for God has willed and provided that believing, obedient mankind may enjoy everlasting life in a righteous, death-free new world. So the enjoying of such life does not begin when the body returns to the dust at death, for the spirit that then returns to God is not an invisible, immortal counterpart of that mortal body, having all its characteristics. Such an idea of the spirit in man is simply an imaginary theory that spiritualists invent to support their teaching of “survival after death.” Their “next world” is not God’s righteous new world.
IS THE HUMAN SOUL IMMORTAL?
48. Why do spiritualism’s claims now require that we accurately determine whether the Bible does or does not teach the immortality of the human soul?
48 For a human soul to live there must be (1) a human body and (2) the invisible, active force or spirit from God combining with that body to make it breathe and live. The human creature thus brought to life is the human soul. (Gen. 2:7) Now since the human soul must breathe earth’s atmosphere and must eat material food here on earth, and since it may be torn, be imprisoned and be laid in irons or be reached by the sword and may be brought down to the pit (Ps. 105:18, Da; Yg; Jer. 4:10; Luke 2:35), is the human soul deathproof, immortal? Spiritualism rests mainly upon the belief in the immortality of the human soul; it bases its teaching of “survival after death” upon the soul’s immortality, and it says that the Bible is full of references to survival after death and the communicating between the living and the dead. Consequently the claims of spiritualism require us to examine the special question, Does the Bible teach the immortality of the human soul, making survival after death possible?
49-53. How many are the Bible references to immortality, and what does each mean?
49 Immortality is of course mentioned in the Bible, but does the Bible say the human soul has it? Look it up and surprise yourself to find that the word “immortality” does not occur once in the Hebrew Scriptures of the Bible; and in the Christian Greek Scriptures the Greek word a·tha·na·siʹa, which is translated “immortality,” occurs only three times. Here are the three times:
50 “For this which is corruptible must put on incorruption, and this which is mortal must put on immortality. But when this which is corruptible puts on incorruption and this which is mortal puts on immortality, then the saying will take place that is written [at Isaiah 25:8]: ‘Death is swallowed up forever.’” (1 Cor. 15:53, 54, NW) Here the apostle Paul is discussing the Christian resurrection from the dead and he shows how the faithful Christians are raised from the dead and with what body. He does not say they now have immortality any more than they now have incorruptibility, for in Romans 2:6, 7 he tells Christians that God “will render to each one according to his works: everlasting life to those who are seeking glory and honor and incorruptibleness by endurance in work that is good.” (NW) Incorruptibleness as well as immortality is a future reward that is to be bestowed upon faithful Christians at their resurrection from the dead. The apostle showed that this resurrection and putting on of incorruptibleness and immortality was not to take place at death but at the second coming and presence of Jesus Christ when he raises his faithful followers from the dead. “For just as in Adam all are dying, so also in the Christ all will be made alive. But each one in his own rank: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who belong to the Christ during his presence. So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption, it is raised up in incorruption. . . . and we shall be changed.”—1 Cor. 15:22, 23, 42, 52, NW.
51 Notice no mention here of the human soul. Instead of the inherent immortality of the human soul, the above two mentions of a·tha·na·siʹa or immortality teach directly the contrary.
52 The remaining or third mention of a·tha·na·siʹa or immortality is found in the following quotation: “Observe the commandment in a spotless and irreprehensible way until the manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ. This manifestation the happy and only Potentate will show in its own appointed times, he the King of those who rule as kings and Lord of those who rule as lords, the one alone having immortality.” (1 Tim. 6:14-16, NW) The apostle Paul is here telling Timothy that of all the earthly potentates who rule as kings and as lords and who claim immortality none really have it, but the “happy and only Potentate” Jesus Christ, the King of kings and Lord of lords, has it exclusively since his own resurrection from the dead. We grant you that the pagan Babylonians, Egyptians, Greeks, Romans and Hindus taught their heathenish doctrine of the inherent immortality and incorruptibility of the human soul. But Jesus Christ, who is the first one upon whom the immortal, ‘incorruptible God’ bestowed immortality and incorruptibility when raising him from the dead, is the first one that brought the truth concerning these to light by his preaching of the good news about God’s kingdom. “Now it has been made clearly evident through the manifestation of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has abolished death but has shed light upon life and incorruption through the good news.”—2 Tim. 1:10 and; 1 Tim. 1:17, NW.
53 From this it is seen that this third Scriptural mention of a·tha·na·siʹa or immortality flatly denies that any humans, even earthly potentates, dictators, kings and lords, have inherent immortality of the human soul. In the Roman Catholic version of the Bible, in the apocryphal or deuterocanonical books of its “Old Testament,” the words “immortality” and “incorruption” do occur, but even these references do not show or prove that the human soul is inherently immortal. For instance, Ecclesiasticus 17:29 (Dy) plainly says: “For all things cannot be in men, because the son of man is not immortal.” See also Ecclesiasticus 6:16 and The Book of Wisdom 1:15; 2:23; 3:1, 4; 4:1; 6:19, 20; 8:13, 17; 15:1, 3, all of which, if showing anything, show that immortality is a prize to be gained in the future and is not possessed inherently.
DOES THE HUMAN SOUL DIE?
54. To what extent does the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures show that the human soul dies?
54 If, now, the Bible does not teach the inherent immortality of the human soul, it ought to say that the human soul is mortal, that it dies! Does the Bible do so? Directly so, in plain language that even a child can grasp. Since spiritualists, Roman Catholics and other religions of Christendom cannot produce one Bible verse saying or proving that the human soul is deathless, immortal, it ought to be enough if we produced just one Bible verse in witness that the human soul is mortal, dies. But we can produce many verses in witness, and the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures, which regularly translates the Hebrew word nephʹesh and the Greek word psy·cheʹ as “soul” from Genesis 1:20 onward, shows more fully than any other translation that the Bible says the human soul dies.
55-57. What are four basic elements of the Bible teaching about the death of the first human soul?
55 In the original garden or paradise of Eden the perfect human souls Adam and Eve did not have to die. Those two perfect human souls could have lived on forever in their earthly paradise. How? By sustaining their human, material bodies with the natural food that Jehovah God there provided and by obediently nourishing their hearts and minds with the spiritual food that he provided when he talked to them out of the invisible. But God warned them that the human soul, despite its ability to live on earth forever by God’s provisions, was mortal, able to die. Genesis, chapter two, after describing God’s creation of the first human soul Adam, goes on to say: “And Jehovah God proceeded to take the man and settle him in the garden of Eden to cultivate it and to take care of it. And Jehovah God also laid this command upon the man: ‘From every tree of the garden you may eat to satisfaction. But as for the tree of the knowledge of good and bad you must not eat from it, for in the day you eat from it you will positively die.’” (Gen. 2:15-17, NW) If Adam the soul disobeyed God, then Adam the soul would die. If Adam the soul obeyed God and ate of all the trees in Eden except this forbidden one, then Adam the soul would continue living as long as his obedience kept up. This offered the opportunity for the human soul to live eternally, not in a spirit world, but in human perfection in the earthly paradise of Eden.
56 When God pronounced the sentence of death upon Adam after he disobediently accepted some of the forbidden fruit from the hand of his wife and ate it, God said: “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.” (Gen. 3:17-19, NW) Note that God did not say to Adam, ‘Your body will return to the dust but your spirit will be freed from the body and will live on consciously in the unseen world where I dwell, because your spirit is immortal and I cannot destroy it.’ No, but God said, ‘You [not your body, but you, the soul] were taken from the ground and to the ground you will return, for you [the soul] are dust and to the dust you [the soul under death sentence] will return.’
57 As a living soul Adam was just some animated, quickened, enlivened or vivified dust molded together in a man’s form, just the same as the other land animals. To put the death sentence into force God drove the man out of the paradise of Eden. Why? “Jehovah God went on to say: ‘Here the man has become like one of us in knowing good and bad, and now in order that he may not put his hand out and actually take fruit also of the tree of life and eat and live forever,—’ With that Jehovah God put him out of the garden of Eden to cultivate the ground from which he had been taken [and to which he must now return]. And so he drove the man out and posted at the east of the garden of Eden the cherubs and the flaming blade of a sword that was turning itself continually to guard the way to the tree of life.” (Gen. 3:22-24, NW) God did not keep him away from the tree of life that Adam might die only as to his body but pass alive in spirit to a spirit world, beginning an immortal journey there, knowing more and being freer there and thus really benefiting by his having disobeyed his Creator and dying. God drove him out of the paradise of Eden away from the tree of life that the human soul Adam might not live at all anywhere but cease to exist, “positively die,” just the same as a brute beast.
58. How is Adam’s reported death at the age of 930 explained?
58 Because he fell from human perfection, the human soul Adam lived many centuries even on the cursed ground outside the paradise of Eden. “Meanwhile he became father to sons and daughters. So all the days of Adam that he lived amounted to nine hundred and thirty years and he died.” (Gen. 5:4, 5, NW) On the very day that Adam sinned and God condemned him and drove him outside Eden’s paradise, Adam was dead from God’s viewpoint and so was dead in sin. He became a father of disobedience and produced sons of disobedience. For this reason the apostle Paul told the Christians: “You were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you at one time walked according to the system of things of this world, according to the ruler of the authority of the air, the spirit that now operates in the sons of disobedience.” (Eph. 2:1, 2, 5, NW) From that standpoint, too, Eve as well as Adam was “dead though she [was] living.” (1 Tim. 5:6, NW) Now being dead in sin was not the full measure of death for Adam and Eve, but when they ceased to breathe and when the spirit or life-causing active force returned to God who gave it to them, then the first two human souls, Adam and Eve, died. Adam lived seventy years less than a thousand years. So, if we take the apostle Peter’s time measurement, “One day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day” (2 Pet. 3:8), then Adam as well as Eve positively died “in the day” that he ate from the forbidden tree. He died in the first thousand-year day of humankind’s existence.
(To be continued in our next issue)
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Science has discovered what it calls “Ectoplasm.”
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MON TUE WED THU
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