Pollock on Luke 20:36
We have now made it to page 22 of A. J. Pollock’s HADES and Eternal Punishment where he now begins his proof that the human soul is immortal. He bases much of his case on a study of the Greek words translated “mortality” and “immortality” but he also briefly discusses Luke 20:36. For ease of reading I would like to deal with Luke 20:36 first and then refer to it in passing while dealing with his larger argument.
Here is Luke 20:34-36 in a more modern translation:
34 Jesus told them, “The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage.
35 But those who are counted worthy to take part in that age and in the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage.
36 For they cannot die anymore, because they are like angels and are sons of God, since they are sons of the resurrection.
Luke 20:34-36 Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)
Now, here is A. J. Pollock’s interpretation of this passage:
Our Lord, speaking of those who shall be judged worthy of resurrection from among the dead, that is, true believers, says:-
“Neither can they die any more: for they are equal unto the angels, and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection” (Luke 20:36), that is to say, the angels cannot die.
And further, what is still more serious in using this verse the way the Annihilationists do is that they cut away the ground absolutely from under their own feet, for if God alone hath immortality it follows then that not only no one has it now, as for instance the angels, but also, to be logical, no one can have it in the future.
Scripture tells us plainly that believers will put on immortality at the coming of Christ, so the Word of God contradicts such a use of the verse.
But it clearly tells us God only hath immortality. How then is this true? The answer is plain and conclusive. God only has it inherently. God only has it in Himself. All else who have it, have it as conferred and sustained by Him.
HADES and Eternal Punishment
A J Pollock
I find this section of Pollock’s to be a little confusing. He first says that human souls are immortal and then walks it back a bit when he says that only God is truly, inherently immortal. Pollock does believe that all humans are immortal because God will keep all of us (both believer and unbeliever) alive.
It appears to me that Pollock and those that he is arguing against are defining words slightly differently. Many times this makes for a lot more heat than there needs to be and doesn’t always serve to clarify the issue.
As the counterpoint to A. J. Pollock’s point I would like to come back to Pastor E. D. Slough who was a contemporary of Pollock’s but who took the opposite stand on this passage of scripture. I think his explanation which follows is clear and reasonable. Pollock believes that the annihilationist interpretation of Luke 20:36 is self defeating so please read the quote below and decide for your self.
Here is Pastor Slough:
When the Lord said in Luke 20:37: “Neither can they die any more for they are equal unto the angels,” He did not mean to teach that it would be a physical impossibility to destroy them. He is not talking about the omnipotence of God, as Campbell supposed (see Review of Campbell), but they cannot die any more because the water of life flows to them forever. They cannot die because God is their preserver and through His abundant life and mercy, they share His glory.
But it might be a moral impossibility for God to destroy one who had fulfilled the ends of his creation to his remotest ability, as Enoch, Elijah, Abraham, Moses, or Paul. Because God’s promises are wrapped about these creatures who serve Him devoutly. It is morally impossible for God to do wrong, and in that sense it might be impossible for Him to destroy a righteous person, because of His word. But otherwise God is greater than all His creatures. And one who forfeits the right to live forever, by rejecting the conditions stated will deliver up life to satisfy it.
Hence, immortality will be endless because sinless and for no other reason. And it will be sinless because of no temptation, and the refining fires of experience passed through.
The Indictment of Eternal Torment
E. D. Slough
I do believe that only God possesses true immortality and that anyone who lives forever is kept alive because God keeps them alive. I think both Pollock and Slough would agree with that statement.
[Click on this link to see the next installment in this series: Pollock’s Third Argument – Immortality of the Soul]