Monday, June 10, 2013

The state of the dead

The Intermediate and Final States of the Dead1
Dr. Paul Manuel—1999

Where does a person go when he dies?2 The body, his material part, ends up in the grave, but, as we noted earlier, man has an immaterial (or non-material) part as well.3 What happens to his spirit or soul? Theologians call this the "intermediate state" because it concerns man's condition after death and before the resurrection. The Bible uses primarily five terms to describe "where" man goes upon physical death.

I. Biblical Destinations
A. Sheol
  • The abode of the dead4
a. For the wicked
Ps9: 17 The wicked return to the grave, all the nations that forget God.
b. For the righteous
Ps 16:10 because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay.
The main Hebrew term is a general designation for the abode of the dead, wicked and righteous alike. Because the body goes into the ground, the assumption is that Sheol is under the earth as well.5 It is probably best to regard Sheol simply as a synonym for grave (so Harris 1980 2:892).6

Sunday, June 9, 2013

And when I die

The Disposition of the Dead1
Dr. Paul Manuel—2004

What does the Bible say about the disposition of the dead? Several passages speak about man's origin from dust at creation and about his return to dust at death. They include no command or instruction about how to deal with the body, simply the observation that, upon death, the body breaks down into its elemental parts.2

In the Bible, the normal disposition of the dead was burial, generally in a marked grave3 after preparing the body.4 The affluent purchased plots with ground or a cave5 sufficient to accommodate the remains of several family members.6 Abraham, for example, acquired a parcel of land for that expressed purpose, where he and several relatives were interred.7 Whenever practical, the survivors would transport the body to those sites.8 If distance was not a problem, burial outside the family property was a sign of disgrace.9 Those who could not afford their own plot were often buried in a community cemetery or in a common grave.10

Other ways to dispose of the dead, such as cremation, were acceptable but not common.11 If there was any stigma, it attached not to the manner of disposition but to the neglect of disposition.12 It was disgraceful to leave a body unburied, to expose it to wild animals and the elements,13 or to desecrate it in any way.14 To leave a body unburied was also defiling to the land.15

In most cases, the living did not abandon the dead but gave them the respect of interment.16 Nevertheless, even the most respectful treatment of the body upon death would not improve a person's state after death. Ultimately, it was his decision in life that determined his disposition in death.

For the Endnotes see the pdf here.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Why do you exist?

Your Raison D'etre1
Dr. Paul Manuel—2003

What is your raison d'etre? Why do you exist? The Westminster Shorter Catechism (1647) says: "Man's chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever." Apart from that, though, why did God put you on this earth? Later, when your time here is over, what will you be doing in Heaven? Will you be sitting on clouds, strumming harps and eating Philadelphia Cream Cheese? What can life in Eden tell us about life in heaven?

Before the fall, God gave man an assignment: to care for the garden that God created as man's residence.
Gen 2:15 The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.
After the fall, that assignment changed venues and became considerably more difficult, but it remained essentially the same.
Gen 3:18 It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. 19a By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food.... 23 So the LORD God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken.
While giving glory to God is paramount, evidently, work—engaging in productive activity—was part of God's original design for man. Hence, heaven may include further opportunity for productivity,2 albeit without the curse of "thorns and thistles" and without the need for arduous, sweat-producing labor.

One could make a similar observation about companionship. Before the fall, God said that man should not be alone and made a partner to enjoy life with him.
Gen 2:18 The LORD God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him."
After the fall, man's need for companionship remained essentially the same, and Jesus reiterated the abiding nature of the marital relationship.
Matt 19:5 ...a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh
God has also placed us "in families" (Ps 68:6a), marked both by physical and spiritual commonality. Likewise, in heaven, man will not be in isolation but with those who are also part of God's family.3 While having a relationship with God is paramount, He designed us to relate to others as well, others with whom we will experience and enjoy eternity.4

Understanding these similarities of life on earth and life in heaven, there are two purposes (in addition to glorifying and enjoying God)5 that He intended for man since creation.
  • God created man to be productive not idle.6
  • God created man to be interactive not isolated.7
How these purposes will be manifest in the new creation remains to be seen, but at that point you will finally realize fully the purpose for which God created you, your raison d'etre.

For the Endnotes see the pdf here.

Friday, June 7, 2013

The Fall

The Fallen State of Man1
Dr. Paul Manuel—1995

When Adam and Eve disobeyed God's command, the effect of their action went far beyond them. It had ramifications for the entire human race. The Fall, as it is known, brought sin and death into the world God had called "very good" (Gen 1:31a). In what ways, though, do we, Adam's descendants, suffer for his sin? What do we inherit as a result of the Fall?

I. Two Theological Descriptions

As theologians have wrestled with these questions, they have explained man's fallen state using the concepts of "original sin" and the "imputation of sin" (Hodge 1972:325, 357).
A. "Original sin" concerns the moral effect of Adam's disobedience.
  1. It is the corrupt nature we inherit from Adam.
  2. When Adam sinned, he introduced a defective gene into the moral DNA of the species, a propensity to sin that was not part of the original genetic code.
B. "Imputation of sin" concerns the legal effect of Adam's disobedience.
  1. It is the judicial guilt we inherit from Adam.
  2. When Adam sinned, he implicated the entire race, making all his descendants guilty by association.
These ideas derive chiefly from Romans 5,2 a series of statements in which Paul explains how Adam's sin affects us, his descendants. Rather than examining the many different positions theologians have taken on this subject, we will just look at the biblical source and try to determine what we can safely say.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Created in His image

The Image of God in Man1
Dr. Paul Manuel—2001

Several passages in scripture state that, from the beginning, God made man in His image.2
Gen 1:26a Then God said, "Let us make man in our image in our likeness...." 27 So God created man in his own image in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
Gen 5:lb When God created man, he made him in the likeness of God.
Was that image limited to Adam, and did he lose it as a result of the Fall? Do only those whom God regenerates get it back? ...No, God's image is inherent in man, even in unregenerate man. After the Fall, he still bears that divine impression (distorted but not demolished, defaced but not destroyed).
Gen 9:6 "Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for in the image of God has God made man.
1 Cor 11:7 A man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of man.
Jms 3:9b been made in God's likeness.
All men possess the image of God, but all may not reflect that image with equal clarity; that is, to the same extent as when God originally impressed it.

What constitutes the image of God? Is it corporeal or incorporeal? The answer may include elements of both aspects. The Hebrew term for "image" appears 34 times, and its Greek counterpart appears 15 times. A synonymous Hebrew term "likeness" appears 25 times, and its Greek counterpart appears 7 times.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Theology Series Chapter 6: Anthropology

Chapter VI: Anthropology
Dr. Paul Manuel—2013

In A Reader's Digest Approach to Theology, we looked first at what the Bible says about itself, because that is the chief source of information on spiritual issues. Then we examined what the Bible says about God, Christ, the Holy Spirit, and angels. Today, we begin to see what scripture says about us, in particular, about our nature. Much of it will probably be familiar to you, but the purpose of a study like this is to provide a summary of doctrine as well as a frame on which you can hang more specific information.
Weekly World News: "How to Tell If You Are Double-Souled" (Floori 2010)

What happens when two souls are reincarnated in a single body? That is the provocative question Dr. Sankar Khan, who has been conducting reincarnation studies in Mumbai, India, for the past 26 years, is attempting to answer. He says, "Some individuals are not truly one person, but two." According to Dr. Khan, a reincarnated soul enters its new body when the fetus is at an early stage of development.
Usually a single soul enters the embryo — but sometimes two spirits, eager to be reborn, both elbow their way into the child. When this occurs, the body responds by splitting the embryo, leading to the birth of twins.
This explains why many identical twins, though raised in the same environment, are polar opposites in personality.
When the spirits are very different in nature this can lead to the tragic condition known as 'multiple personality disorder.' In these cases, there are two radically different persons trapped in one body, taking turns controlling it.... A telltale sign of such individuals is their tendency to talk to themselves, as they consult their inner companion.... Typically, double-souled individuals tend to be full of inner conflict. They find themselves torn between two lovers, two career goals, two dreams of the future. Each of their souls pulls them in an opposite direction.
According to Dr. Khan, you are likely to be double-souled if...
  • You have difficulty making important decisions.
  • You talk to yourself often throughout the day.
  • You are ambidextrous.
  • You often "can't believe" what you did the night before.
  • You alternate between using your real name and a special nickname.
  • You sometimes sign your name so differently, it is almost unrecognizable.
  • You love a song one day and can't stand it the next day.
What is the main problem with this hypothesis? ... Scripture dismisses the idea of reincarnation.
  • Death only goes in one direction.1
Heb 9:27 ... man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment,
  • God alone can reverse that direction.2
Rom 7:24b Who will rescue me from this body of death? 25a Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!

A. The nature of man

1. Man is a created being.
 [The end notes can be found in the linked pdf]