What is the Soul?
It seems to be accepted by most people that the difference between man and beast is that man has a soul and the beast does not. There probably are some differences of opinion as to what the soul is but it would probably be defined by most people as a part of each person that doesn't die when the body dies.
The purpose of this page is to make the assertion and try to verify it that this idea is not from the Bible but is purely the product of man's imagination.
First all should know that the Bible does not contain the term "immortal soul". In Genesis 2:7 (KJV) it says "And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul". The NIV Bible uses the word "being" instead of the word "soul". The Hebrew word that this is taken from is "nephesh". In Gen.1:21 this word is translated creature in KJV. "And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good". It is obvious that the Bible makes no distinction between the soul of a man and the soul of a beast. In fact it doesn't say that either "has a soul" but that "they are a soul". The NIV is a better translation because it doesn't use the word soul in either place. It is interesting to note though that the NIV translates the Hebrew word "nephesh" by the word "soul" in many places. For instance Psams35: 9 "And my soul shall be joyful in the LORD: it shall rejoice in his salvation". It should be noted that in none of these places is it referring to the soul as a separate part of the person or being. Some try to interpret it that way. Why then has it become so common to believe that one has a soul? And why is it believed that it is immortal?
It is interesting to note that this idea that man is made up of two things soul and body did not originate with the Christian religion.† That should be of interest to any one that looks to the Bible for religious instruction.† Plato who was credited in the World Book Encyclopedia ďas one of the most important thinkers and writers in the history of Western cultureĒ is said to have believed it. He is thought to have lived between 427 and 347 B.C. His ideas were probably quite well know at Christís time and it seems very likely that his ideas got into the teachings of the Catholic Church when it was developing. I maintain that it didnít come from the Bible. †I suspect that the idea did not originate with Plato although it may have.† As I understand it the Egyptians had elaborate burial rites to prepare the dead for the hereafter.† They must have had some notions of that kind.† It should be noted that none of those things made it so.† Unless one can find verification in the Bible any ideas should be held in suspect.† I think this is a grand example of the Devilís efforts to deceive mankind. It has been a tremendous success for him.† †
There are scriptures that are used by those who believe that the Bible teaches that man has a soul. For instance, 1 Thessalonians 5:23 (KJV) "And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ". One might say, "See it says spirit, soul and body, it makes a distinction and they must be three different things". I have never heard anyone explain what the spirit is if it is interpreted that way. Also we know that the body is not preserved.† There must be another interpretation of that scripture.† C.T. Russell in his book "The Atonement Between God and Man" on page 353, he interprets it as referring to the Church of Christ collectively. We know that ďthe Church is the Body of ChristĒ1Cor.12:27.† He felt it was that body this scripture is talking about.† In the chapter mentioned he gives an exhaustive study of the subject of the soul. I would recommend one reading it.
†In Ezekiel 18:4 (KJV) it says "Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth, it shall die". It seems that one would have to ignore this scripture if he takes the position that the soul, whatever it is, is immortal. In Matthew 10:28 (KJV) Jesus is here speaking, "And fear not them, which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell". It doesn't sound very immortal. Also in this scripture Jesus brings the question of hell into the picture. I thought that it was the common thought that souls were kept alive and in agony in hell. Jesus here didn't seem to think so. In 1Timothy 6:16(KJV) here speaking of Jesus it says "Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honor and power everlasting. Amen". It should be noted that when it says about Jesus that he only has immortality that God is excepted. I Cor.15: 27. In 1 Corinthians 15:53 (KJV) Here speaking of the followers of Jesus it says, "For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality". It doesn't sound as though one is born with it. This is not an exhaustive study of this subject but hopefully it will cause anyone that might read it to think and search for truth.
It does seem that the main reason to believe that man has an immortal soul is because everyone believes it. That isn't a very good reason.
It should be noted here that there is some discussion of this subject going on within Protestant Orthodoxy. Some there are presenting a view, which they term "Annihilationism". This view is that unbelievers will be finally annihilated rather than suffer eternal torment. This is causing a stir amongst "traditionalists". There is another term they use "Conditional Immortality". This view holds that human beings are not naturally immortal. These thoughts go together. This has been going on for several years. I wasn't aware of it until recently. Although Traditionalists are in the majority, there's quite a battle going on. The Evangelical Alliance has gotten in the fray. This is a group organized in 1846 and been around ever since. To try to calm the waters the have come out with a book called The Nature of Hell. I haven't read it but I doubt that it clarifies much. You can get this information on the Web by going to the magazine Christianity Today's site on the Web. This is a magazine that was founded by Billy Graham.
It is interesting to see that everyone really doesn't believe that man has an immortal soul. I have a page in this site about Hell. The question of eternal torment and immortal soul stand or fall together. If you have people that canít die, what do you do with the bad ones?