Pollock Once Again on Soul Sleep
In today’s excerpt from A. J. Pollock’s booklet HADES and Eternal Punishment he once again states his belief that there is no such thing as soul sleep. I do not believe that soul sleep is a doctrine necessary to support conditional immortality which is what I am trying to stay focused on in this series. Some of Pastor Pollock’s reasoning seems sound to me and some does not. Whenever I disagree with something Pollock says below I have inserted a link to a previous post on the topic.
I also wanted to mention that E. D. Slough who I have quoted from in some of my posts did believe in soul sleep (see Slough’s The Indictment of Eternal Torment). Some of Slough’s arguments are interesting but I do believe that the weight of scripture goes against Slough on this one. However anyone who is interested should read through the electronic version of his book at the link provided above.
Here is A. J. Pollock:
Peter likewise refers to the “spirits in prison,” those who had been disobedient in Noah’s day. He likewise gives no hint of soul-sleeping or the non-existence of the soul, though these spirits had been in prison since antediluvian days.
Then again, Moses and Elias appeared in glory on the mount of transfiguration, showing that they had conscious existence though the body of Moses had been in the grave for hundreds of years.
Enoch and Elijah were translated to heaven without dying at all, no hint of soul-sleep or non-existence being given. The dying thief heard the words, “Today shalt thou be with Me in paradise” (Luke 23:43). I know an effort has been made to prove that “today” refers to the Lord uttering the words, “I say unto thee today,” but the structure of the sentence forbids such a translation. It is evidently a gracious reply to the thief’s request, “Lord, remember me when Thou comest into Thy kingdom” (a time still future). How emphatic is the Lord’s reply, “I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with Me in paradise.”
The apostle Paul said, “I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better” (Phil. 1:23). He did not say he had a desire to depart and enter into soul-sleep or unconsciousness. Surely that would not be “far better” than enjoying the Lord’s love here on earth and being used in His happy service. He says distinctly, “To depart and to be WITH Christ .”
And as if to make it abundantly plain, we read, “We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord” (2 Cor. 5:8). Here it is a question of the soul being parted from the body but present WITH the Lord. No hint of soul-sleep but a distinctly happy intermediate state described.
Further, we have the Lord’s own words:-
“And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; and in hell [hades] he lift up his eyes being in torments” (Luke 16:22-23).
The Lord presents the truth here in unmistakable language. The beggar’s body lay in the grave, whilst his spirit passed into happiness. Abraham’s bosom is symbolic of the happy portion of the departed saints of God in old times. [Ed.: I spent a lot of time analyzing the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus in this series. Please see my concluding post “Final Thoughts on the Rich Man and Lazarus” which contains a summary and links to my other posts on the topic.]
The rich man’s body was in the grave. “Lifting up his eyes,” is, as we have already seen, simply symbolic language describing that his soul was conscious. The simple, graphic language appeals far more to both learned and unlearned than an attempt at describing soul-consciousness in scientific terms, which would be unsuitable to the Lord’s hearers. The fact is, there is not the slightest difficulty in the narrative if taken as it is meant. In our everyday language we are constantly using figures of speech which all understand. Nine-tenths of anti-Bible criticism is dishonest and has a distinct intention to put the Bible in the wrong, and still the Book lives as vital and vigorous as ever.
In the few incidents and passages referred to we have both the believer and non-believer referred to as conscious after death as to their souls.
Further, as to believers, eternal life is theirs and they shall live for ever; as to unbelievers, “the wrath of God abideth upon them,” proving in both cases on another line their eternal existence. With such evidence before us, which could be multiplied if space allowed, we have clear, overwhelming evidence of the never-ending existence of the soul.
Let not eternal life and immortality be confounded.
Eternal life is the present and everlasting portion of every believer in Christ.
Immortality, as presented in Scripture in connection with the believer, is that which he will receive in connection with his body at the Lord’s second coming.
Nor will it do to say that the expression “second death” means annihilation in face of the expression, “the wrath of God abideth on him;” there must be living persons to have wrath abiding on them. .” [Ed.: Please see my post “Pollock on Conditional Immortality: Second Argument” to see why I disagree with this statement.] Again, “the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever.” There must be living persons capable of enduring torment. [Ed.: Please see my post “Pollock on Jude 7”.]
HADES and Eternal Punishment
A J Pollock
[Click on this link to see the next installment in this series: Pollock: Their Worm Dieth Not]