Author Topic: In What Sense, if any, can the Soul be Described as Mortal?  (Read 1484 times)

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Offline Pravoslavbob

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In What Sense, if any, can the Soul be Described as Mortal?
« on: March 29, 2008, 12:01:39 PM »
Dear All,
        In the interests of fostering an environment where debate may flourish, I have decided to create this separate thread in order to discuss the concept of soul death, instead of letting it fester in the inappropriate forum of the Theology of Metropolitan John Zizioulas thread.  Please remember that, as always, discussion should be direct and to the point and that references for arguments should be provided when appropriate or requested.

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« Last Edit: March 29, 2008, 12:26:13 PM by Pravoslavbob »
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Offline minasoliman

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Re: In What Sense, if any, can the Soul be Described as Mortal?
« Reply #1 on: March 29, 2008, 05:43:17 PM »
I saw the other thread briefly.  I don't think there is much of a discussion.  "Death" is simply a loss of life.  And as one sees it, there is biological life, there is a meaningful life, and then there is the divine life.  Death does not lead to non-existence.  We know that when one describes death, one can describe a certain type of "separation."  It's not wholly accurate though.  One can speak of biological death as "separation" of "soul and body" or a hopeless life as a separation from family or a depressing "life".  But can you say the same about divine life?  Can one truly separate from God.  Perhaps, it's an "attempt at separation" that can explain "death."  But more accurately, death is a disease.  We know that in biology, certain biochemical processes continually fail, and this leads to the weakening and aging of the body.  As the failures accumulate, the process of death increases.  Likewise, a death to a meaningful life is a process:  loss of job, family deaths, no children, divorce, community ostracizing, etc.  All leads to a depressing life in someone.  Then there's the divine death, a constant and perhaps consistent refusal of God's grace working in your life.

Now, when one points to death, one can get a sense or feeling that we can cease to exist.  If you are someone who has no religious beliefs or any spiritual beliefs, you are inclined to believe only what science teaches, that we do indeed cease to exist after death.  A depressed person may feel that he doesn't even exist in society and wishes he may have never been born.  And then the theological argument made by a particular person:  that because we did not exist before, and that we were made from non-existence into existence by the grace and power of God, we can return to non-existence by our refusal of the grace and power of God.  True, one can get a logical deduction from St. Athanasius' "On the Incarnation" to conclude this, but he forgets St. Athanasius' other quote about God's love:

It would, of course, have been unthinkable that God should go back upon His word and that man, having transgressed, should not die; but it was equally monstrous that beings which once had shared the nature of the Word should perish and turn back again into non-existence through corruption.

The solution to this problem of non-existence was the Incarnation of the Word.  If then the solution was to not allow their natural "non-existence" to take place, then wouldn't the Incarnation, according to people who believe Hell is a state of utter non-existence, a failure?  Why should God have created them in the first place if He knew the end result was of no avail?  Unless one is to believe that God is nothing but a Life Force, and forgets about the personal aspect of God, that it is possible to have a relationship with Him.  All too often, we mistake theosis for a God that is impersonal, and those who do good and bad will experience the same God with different effects, but we forget that God is a personal God; despite our weak natural tendencies, he pursues compassionately our salvation.  Otherwise, this "impersonal force" should have annihilated just about each and everyone of us on this earth with whatever the slightest mistake we might do.

Souls can lead to "non-existence", but according to St. Athanasius, it is against God's good personal nature that He would allow humanity to do so.  Therefore, death is in a sense a disease and a loss in humanity, and it is at best an attempt at separation and non-existence, but it is also something that God Incarnate destroyed and will not allow to happen to all people even those in the divine fires of Hell.

God bless.
« Last Edit: March 29, 2008, 05:44:42 PM by minasoliman »
Vain existence can never exist, for "unless the LORD builds the house, the builders labor in vain." (Psalm 127)

If the faith is unchanged and rock solid, then the gates of Hades never prevailed in the end.

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Re: In What Sense, if any, can the Soul be Described as Mortal?
« Reply #2 on: March 29, 2008, 10:55:02 PM »
You know, I didn't want to stick my head in this...

But just because the scripture says "the one who can destroy both soul and body" doesn't mean "will destroy both soul and body."  Ability /= intent, ability /= destiny.  And it doesn't actually say that the Devil has the ability to destroy what only God made and what we believe only God can actually destroy.  Instead, the metaphorical interpretation of "destroy" is favorable in this place: it is "destroyed" through sin and participation in sin, through blackening, through separation from God.  Only God can destroy the soul, though, in the sense of destroy as "annihilate" or "end existence."
I just went over this one more time and you are right on. This is a gentle way of not getting in trouble as I often as I do.   ;) Are you sure you aren't Greek. LOL
« Last Edit: March 29, 2008, 11:11:57 PM by Demetrios G. »