Choose a topic from Vol 3:


Reason proves God's existence
Primitive monotheism
Mystery of God's inner nature
Personality of God
Providence of God and the problem of evil


Immortal destiny of man
Can earth give true happiness?
Do human souls evolve?
Is transmigration possible?
Animal souls
Freedom of will
Free will and faith


Religion and God
The duty of prayer
The mysteries of religion
Can we believe in miracles?

The Religion of the Bible

Historical character of the Gospels
Canonical Books of the Bible
Original Manuscripts
Copyists' errors
Truth of the Bible
New Testament "contradictions"

The Christian Religion

Christianity alone true
Not the product of religious experience
Compared with Buddhism, Confucianism, Mahometanism, Bahaism, etc.,
Rejected by modern Jews
The demand for miracles
The necessity of faith
Difficulties not doubts
Proofs available
Dispositions of unbelievers

A Definite Christian Faith

One religion not as good as another
Changing one's religion
Catholic convictions and zeal
Religious controversy
The curse of bigotry
Towards a solution

The Problem of Reunion

Efforts at the reunion of the Churches
The Church of England as a "Bridge-Church"
Anglicans and the Greek Orthodox Church
The "Old Catholics" of Holland
Reunion Conferences
Catholic Unity
The Papacy as reunion center
Protestant hostility to Catholicism
The demands of charity

The Truth of Catholicism

Necessity of the Church
The true Church
Catholic claim absolute
A clerical hierarchy
Papal Supremacy
Temporal Power
Unity of the Church
Holiness of the Church
Catholicity of the Church
Catholic attitude to converts
Indefectible Apostolicity
Necessity of becoming a Catholic

The Church and the Bible

Catholic belief in the Bible
Bible-reading and private interpretation
Value of Tradition and the "Fathers"
Guidance of the Church necessary

The Dogmas of the Catholic Church

Dogmatic certainty
Credal statements
Faith and reason
The voice of science
Fate of rationalists
The dogma of the Trinity
Creation and evolution
The existence of angels
Evil spirits or devils
Man's eternal destiny
The fact of sin
Nature and work of Christ
Mary, the mother of God
Grace and salvation
The sacraments
Holy Eucharist
The Sacrifice of the Mass
Holy Communion
Marriage and divorce
Extreme Unction
Man's death and judgment
Resurrection of the body
End of the World

Moral Teachings of the Catholic Church

Catholic intolerance
The Spanish Inquisition
Prohibition of Books
Liberty of worship
Forbidden Socieities
Church attendance
The New Psychology
Deterministic philosophy
Marriage Legislation
Birth Prevention
Monastic Life
Convent Life
Legal defense of murderers
Laywers and divorce proceedings
Judges in Divorce
Professional secrecy

The Church in Her Worship

Why build churches?
Glamor of ritual
The "Lord's Prayer"
Pagan derivations
Liturgical symbolism
Use of Latin
Intercession of Mary and the Saints

The Church and Social Welfare

The Church and Education
The Social Problem
Social Duty of the Church
Catholicism and Capitalism

Man's eternal destiny

607. What happens when a man dies?

Death means the separation of body and soul. The body thereupon disintegrates and returns to dust. But the soul survives in a state of separation from the flesh, to experience either pleasant or unpleasant consequences according to the good or evil accomplished in this life.

608. Please tell us from the Bible what the soul is.

The Bible tells us that the soul is the principle of life; that it is made in the image and likeness of God who is a Spirit possessing intelligence and will power; that the created spirit of man, although united with a material body, is not to be identified with that body, but that it differs from the body in its very nature. For the soul is spiritual, not material; it is immortal, not mortal. Thus Scripture declares that at death "the body returns to the dust from which it came, and the spirit to the God who gave it." If the soul simply perished with the body, it could not go back to the God who gave it. It would simply cease to be.

609. Thousands of Christians can quote texts which unmistakably prove the soul to be, not immortal, but mortal.

There is not a single text in Scripture proving the soul to be mortal. And certainly no Christian who understands his religion can deny immortality. Christ's reference to those who can kill the body, but who cannot kill the soul can mean only that the soul survives the fate of the body. Again, Christ refuted the Sadducees, who denied the immortality of the soul, by quoting the Scriptures where God said, "I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob." And He added, "He is not the God of the dead, but of the living." St. Paul desired that the union between his soul and his body might be dissolved that he might be with Christ. He knew quite well that his soul would not become simply nonexistent. St. Peter tells us that the spirit of Christ, after His death on the Cross, went to preach to the souls of the departed-souls which had certainly survived the death of the body and were conscious of the doctrine manifested to them by our Lord. So clear is the evidence of the Bible in favor of immortality that those who profess belief in Scripture yet deny immortality must be accused of doing so merely because they do not want to believe that the soul survives.

610. Is there any reference in the Old Testament supporting the idea that the soul is immortal?

Yes. When Christ quoted the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as being the God of the living, and not of the dead, He drew His reference from the Book of Exodus, III., 6. In Deut. XVIII., 11, God forbids the Jews to seek knowledge from the spirits of the dead. The text supposes the continued existence of departed souls, and merely forbids attempts to enter into communication with them. 1 Kgs. (Sam.) XXVIII., 15, narrates the fact that the soul of Samuel appeared to Saul, which could not be were the human soul not immortal. The Book of Wisdom describes the wicked as denying immortality for themselves but affirming it for the good. "For they have said, reasoning with themselves, but not rightly ... we are born of nothing and after this we shall be as if we had not been . . . our body shall be ashes, and our spirit shall be poured abroad as soft air, passing away as the trace of a cloud. . . . But the souls of the just are in the hands of God; and the torment of death shall not touch them." Wisd. c. II. & III. Again, we read in the Old Testament, "It is a holy thought to pray for the dead that they may be loosed from their sins." 2 Machabees, XII., 46. If the souls of men are nonexistent after death, they could not benefit by our prayers.

611. Do Jews, who accept the Old Testament, believe in the immortality of the soul?

Yes. The most eminent of German Jewish Rabbis, Leo Baeck, in his book, "Das Wesen des Judentums," declares that the immortality of the soul is a doctrine of Judaism, and that "this life receives its meaning from the next." Dr. Kohler, Principal of an American College for the training of Jewish Rabbis, in his authoritative work, "Jewish Theology," says, "We all close our lives without having attained the goal of perfection towards which we strive." And he adds that our very nature demands a future life, and that the doctrine of immortality corresponds with the belief in God who cannot deceive the human heart. Another Rabbi, Morris Joseph, in his book, "Judaism as Creed and Life," writes, "The doctrine of immortality is an integral part of the Jewish creed. The transgressor who has not worked out his atonement here must complete it hereafter; whilst the Just, who can but have imperfectly realized their possibilities in this life, will realize them to the full in the life to come." In an essay on the subject, published in London in 1934, the Rabbi C. G. Montefiore writes, "The modern Jewish hope of immortality is sound and pure. The essence of our belief is this: With all the imperfections, the evil, the agony, the horrors, which have ever existed among men, and which still exist today, immortality seems to us to be the inseparable corollary or 'sequitur' to a belief in a ruling, a righteous, and a loving God. To that belief we wistfully cling because, hard as the world is to explain with God, harder still, as it seems to us, is it to explain the world without God. Into the character and nature of that immortality, Jews inquire seldom and little; yet whilst they do not depreciate this life because of that other life, it is just as false to say that, at the expense of that life, they unduly magnify this life." Such quotations prove the Jews to know that belief in immortality is quite in accordance with the teachings of the Old Testament.

612. You quote the Bible where it suits you, but you ignore all those sections of the Bible which exclude the idea of immortality.

There is not a single text in Scripture opposed to the Catholic doctrine of immortality.

613. Genesis tells us that God guarded the Tree of Life lest men should eat of it and "live forever." Man cannot, therefore, have immortality by nature.

The reference in Genesis is to preservation from that natural death of the composite human being which results from the dissolution of the union between soul and body. It is true that death in that sense is natural to man. For, although the soul is a spirit and immortal by its very nature, the body is by nature material and mortal. God gave our first parents the special privilege by a supernatural gift of immunity even from the law of natural death. The reference you quote merely indicates that, after sin had been committed, such immunity was lost irrevocably to humanity. We are all subject to the law of death, and to the necessity of separation between soul and body when the body is no longer fitted for the purposes of life. But the soul survives this dissolution; and nothing in the passage you quote suggests that it does not.

614. In Gen. II., 17, God told Adam that he would die if he ate the forbidden fruit.

That is true. But when God spoke, Adam possessed the natural life of body and soul, and also the supernatural life in the spiritual order of God's grace. He was also, by special privilege, immune from that natural death which results from dissolution of soul and body. When he sinned, Adam lost the grace of God, his soul dying immediately to the supernatural life it gave; and also he at once forfeited any right to the privilege of immunity from natural bodily death in due course.

615. In Gen. III., 4, Satan said, "Ye shall not surely die."

Correct. Our first parents, therefore, had either to believe God, treating Satan as a liar; or else to believe Satan, treating God as a liar. They preferred the word of Satan, and became subject to the penalty of death in the sense I have explained.

616. Did not Rome get its doctrine of immortality from the word of Satan?

No. Such a conjecture would be as erroneous as that of the enemies of Christ who accused Him of casting out devils with the help of the devil.

617. Satan said men would not die.

The doctrine of immortality is not a denial of death in the sense Satan intended. The death God had threatened was the separation of the soul from His grace and friendship, and the later separation of the soul from the body. He did not threaten such a radical change in the very nature of the soul that it would cease to be immortal. Our denial that the soul will cease to exist is in no way based on Satan's denial of God's threat, and has no connection with it at all.

618. Job, c. XIV., declares that man is mortal.

Man, consisting of body and soul, is certainly subject to death. No one denies that man, as a composite being in this life, is mortal. All must die. But whilst we bury the body from which the soul has departed, the soul lives on in a state beyond our control. And the continued life of the soul does not render Job's statement false, nor does Job's statement render the doctrine of the soul's immortality false.

619. Job, XXXIII., 18-30, speaks of the soul as in danger of destruction.

The word "soul" is there used as a general expression for the complete living man still in this life; much as the distress signal S. O. S. is sometimes popularly interpreted as "Save Our Souls," meaning, "Save Our Lives." Or, again, as we might say, "There were 150 souls on board when the vessel sailed." To describe a complete thing by a part is quite a common figure of speech, as when we say, "So-and-so took sail for Europe." The passage you quote, therefore has no reference to the nature of the soul in itself; and no application whatever to the question as to whether it is immortal or not.

620. Psalm XXXIII., 19, says that the soul is subject to death.

The verse you mention says that the eye of the Lord is upon them that hope in Him, to deliver their souls from death and "to keep them alive in famine." The last words should have shown you that the reference is to continued bodily life in this world, requiring the presence of the soul in the body. The text does not refer to the condition of the soul after death has separated it from the body.

621. Ecclesiastes, IX., 10, says, "Whatever thy hand findeth to do, do it with all thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom in the grave whither thou goest."

That is true. But the Sacred Author is warning us simply that death ends all our activities in this world. He is referring in no way to what occurs beyond the grave. He speaks as any normal man would speak in similar circumstances. Thus, immediately prior to those words he says, "This is thy labor which thou takest under the sun." He intends, therefore, that death will end all opportunities of activity so far as life this side of the grave is concerned. How true this is you will discover by going to a cemetery and inviting those buried there to assist you in some enterprise, or to benefit you by their advice and instruction. But to the condition of the soul in the next world to which it has gone, the text has no reference whatever. And any ambiguity you might like to imagine is removed by the very author you quote, for in Ch. XII., 7, of the same Book we read that, when a man dies, the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the "spirit to God who gave it." It is against all sound principles of interpretation to forsake passages quite clear in themselves for fantastic opinions based upon strained and forced meanings read into texts which fit in quite well with the clearer passages if taken reasonably.

622. The words in the text, "Whither thou goest" indicate that more than the body goes to the grave. It means man's whole being.

The personal pronoun is quite legitimately used without any implication concerning the future lot of the soul. If I were to say, "When I die, bury me in the family grave," no reasonable person could argue from that that I did not believe in the immortality and survival of the soul.

623. It seems to me that the dead lie unconscious in the grave until Christ's Second Coming.

St. Paul tells us that the thought of death was most attractive to him. Why? Was it that he might lie unconscious in the grave? No. It was that he might "be with Christ," which is far better than living on still in this world.

624. Isaiah X., 18, says that the glory of the forest shall be consumed "from the soul even to the flesh."

That is a typical Hebraism intending no more than the complete destruction of living things from the face of the earth in a given area. The text has no reference to the immortality of the soul of man. Without any notion of the sense of a passage some people have but to see the word soul, and at once they conclude that they have further evidence of what they want to believe. It is useless to quote passages whose sane and normal explanation does not touch the question of the soul's immortality against others which admit of no other explanation save that the soul is not subject to death as is the body.

625. Isaiah LIII., 12, says that Christ's soul "was poured out unto death."

Correct. But you will notice that His death is described as due to the separation of His soul from His body. When He had poured out His soul, His body remained lifeless on the Cross. If at the moment His soul left His body it ceased to exist, it was nothing. One does not pour out nothing. Also, when dying, Christ said, "Father, into Thy hands I commend My spirit." He was commending something to His Father which was not suffering the fate of His body. It was His human and immortal soul.

626. Matt. X., 28, speaks of the destruction of both soul and body in hell.

In the passage you quote, Christ says, "Fear not them that kill the body and are not able to kill the soul; but rather fear them that can destroy both body and soul in hell." The first part of this text shows clearly that the death of the body inflicted by men does not involve the death of the soul. The soul, therefore, survives the death of the body, and is immortal. The second part of the text refers to the eternal and living death of all bodily comfort and of all the soul's fondest aspirations, which God will inflict on the wicked at the last judgment. According to Christ, this will mean continued consciousness in a never-ending state of misery where the worm of remorse dieth not, and the fire is not extinguished. No wonder He warns us that this is the evil fate we should fear rather than a temporal death which affects the body only, and cannot wreck our eternity. The passage justifies, and does not militate against the doctrine that the soul is immortal.

627. Do you think the soul of David has survived and is in heaven?

I have no doubt at all as to that fact.

628. In Jn. III., 13, Christ says, "No man hath ascended into heaven."

That was strictly true when Christ spoke. By the sin of our first parents, heaven was closed against human souls. Christ Himself was the Eternal Son of God, who came to redeem mankind, and who opened heaven to men by His death, resurrection, and ascension. At His ascension He was the first in human form to enter heaven. With Him at the same time went the souls of the just who had died previously in God's grace and friendship. And good souls now who go from this world find their heavenly reward quite accessible to them. Thus Christ said, "I go to prepare a place for you that where I am you also may be." St. Paul, therefore, longed for death saying, "I desire to be with Christ, which is far better."

629. St. Peter said, "David ascended not into heaven."

The soul of David did not, and could not, enter heaven until Christ had paid the price of sin on Calvary, and had Himself entered heaven in His own glorified human nature. The fact that the soul of David did not go to heaven immediately when he died does not exclude his admission to heaven after Christ had opened heaven to men. Until then the soul of David was amongst those spirits to whom the still living soul of Christ went after His death on the Cross. 1 Pet. III., 18-19.

630. Rom. II., 7, tells us to seek for immortality. One does not seek for what he already possesses.

If you read the context from which you have taken your words, you will notice that St. Paul is speaking of God's judgment. He tells us that God is going to render to every man according to his deeds. And as this judgment is to take place after death, it follows that every soul, good or bad, will survive to experience that judgment. In verse 7 we are told that eternal life will be the reward of those who have sought "glory and honor and immortality." In verse 8 and verse 9 we are told that the unrighteous will meet with indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish. The eternal life and the immortality, therefore, which will be the reward of the good, will be a share in the very happiness of God and in that life of glory which alone is fully deserving of the name of life. St. Paul takes the ordinary immortality of the soul for granted, and warns us to seek an immortality of happiness by a life of virtue, rather than prepare for ourselves an immortality of tribulation and anguish by our sins and vices.

631. Rom. VI., 23, tells us that eternal life is the gift of God.

The reference is to the life of eternal happiness as opposed to a life of eternal misery. The text has no application in a discussion of the soul's natural survival.

632. 1 Cor. XV., 53, tells us that "this mortal must put on immortality."

That text refers explicitly to the resurrection of the body. No one denies that the body is mortal. But it will rise a "spiritual body," says St. Paul, "and put on immortality" in order to share once more the life of the soul which is immortal by nature.

633. 1 Tim. VI., 16, says that "God alone hath immortality." The Catholic Church teaches that man is immortal. Who is right?

The difference you imagine between the two teachings does not exist. The text you quote from the Bible means that God alone is immortal by a supreme and uncreated right, and that He is the source of any immortality possessed by others. In the same way Christ said, "God alone is good." That cannot be used as an argument that no man can possibly be "good." As regards the teaching of the Catholic Church concerning man, you are again inaccurate. The Church teaches that man, in his present composite state, is mortal; and that every man will surely die insofar as the present union of soul and body is concerned. But, whilst death will mean the separation of soul and body, the soul will persist in existence in accordance with its own spiritual nature; and precisely because, as the Bible teaches, the soul is made in the image and likeness of God, one of whose characteristics is immortality. He, the Uncreated Immortal, creates souls immortal like unto Himself. He owes His own immortality to no one; we owe the immortality of our souls to Him. So it is quite true that God alone has immortality both in Himself, and to confer it on others by His creative activity. The passage you quote also refers to that supernatural destiny of a heavenly immortality, which makes men happy with the very happiness of God when they attain to the very Vision of Him. Thus St. Paul promises the sight of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, who alone has immortality of Light inaccessible, and whom no man by his own natural powers has seen or could see. Such immortality in the sense of never-ending happiness is to be found in God alone.

634. 1 Jn. V., 12, says, "Only he that hath the Son hath eternal life."

All who attain to an eternal life of happiness will owe it to the merits of Christ and union with Christ. The text has no reference to the question of the soul's inherent and natural immortality.

635. Rev. XVI., 3, says that "the souls that were in the sea died."

The passage refers explicitly to troubles to come upon the earth and, therefore, to men still in this world. People are called souls by synecdoche, or a figure of speech by which a complete being is described by a principal part. So one will say that he intends "to take sail" for a distant place, intending the complete boat on which he will travel. The death referred to was the dissolution of soul and body, even as we say the 18 souls perished in a railway accident. Your text has no application to the question of the soul's immortality.



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