The Glorious Church


On October 14, 2010, at our recent conference in Carlisle, papers were presented in favor of the immortality of the soul and the mortality of man. Formal responses were presented to both papers. After all papers had been read, we then opened things up for questions and discussion. You may read the paper favoring the position that man does not have immortal soul and the response by clicking the files below. Please post your thoughts on this discussion board. You can listen to audio recordings of these papers being read and the discussion that followed by going to the Audio Library on


Man Does Not Have an Immortal Soul by David Huston.pdf


Response to Man Does Not Have an Immortal Soul by Tom Ryerson.pdf


Please limit your comments on this discussion board to the topics presented in these papers. We have set up other discussion boards for the other topics presented at the conference.

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It must be remembered that the resurrection of the dead is one of the foundation doctrines of the Church. If indeed the dead are already alive having an immortal soul it would seem like that would warrant a place among the foundation doctrines.

The resurrection is vital because man is mortal. He dies. At the resurrection he will live again if he is faithful to Christ at his coming. There would be no need for a resurrection if the dead were already alive.

Brother Dave, this paper/primer is indeed thought-provoking and causes one to re-examine preconceptions traditionally handed down to us without much investigation. Indeed a change in thought is first necessary. As the response states, it does have serious implications about the nature of hell/lake of fire and how punishment is conferred. In Matthew 18, in the parable of the unforgiving servant, The Lord expressed that the servant was handed over to the jailers to be tortured, UNTIL he should pay back all he owed. This seems to have a last days feel to it. From a non-immortal soul punishment perspective then, is it reasonable to speculate that some persons will take a longer time to be destroyed than others in the lake of fire depending on their quality/quantity of sins?

Hi Laronne,

I would like to hear what you think about eternal judgment. It is a very important foundation truth. I believe that the Lord showed me 22 years ago I was wrong in my belief of eternal torment. My initial break with that doctrine came upon seeing the meaning of Jesus words in Matt. 10:28, that we should fear God who is able to destroy both soul and body in Gehenna.


Jesus indicated that some will be deserving of more severe punishment than others (Luke 12:47-48). This is difficult to comprehend if everyone suffers for eternity. But if the final punishment is actually divine retribution for each person's individual guilt, then it make sense. 

Hi Bro Mike

At the very onset, I must admit that i probably have a relatively vast personal wealth of ignorance regarding eternal judgement, specifically of unbelievers. Mostly what I've passively learned is that which I grew up hearing, which is what i would consider traditional Pentecostal teachings on eternal torment in a lake of fire. It is clear that the Bible teaches on Eternal judgment. And it is equally clear that an important aspect of salvation is the need to know what exactly it is that we're being saved from. What is not so clear to me is the explicit details of eternal judgment of unbelievers, whether such punishment is given based on quality or quantity. It wasn't until reading this paper a couple of years ago, and doing some personal study that i saw the fallacy that occurs when we look at the soul as a thing that is distinct from someone's body. 

I therefore do agree that the destruction of a person occurs in the lake of fire, and by virtue of being destroyed, it doesn't suggest an eternal conscious tormenting in flames. 

What struck me though is that if the book of Revelation declares that the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honor into New Jerusalem, and the bodies reflect such, then is it possible for the same to apply in the lake of fire? In the sense that do the works that someone does in their body prior to judgment determine how long their body remains in the lake of fire?

Rev 20:10 says "And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever." While forever does not always mean unending, I find it interesting that 1000 years later, the beast and the false prophet were still burning. Their works would definitely warrant burning for a long time, and therefore one can see why their destruction would not be immediate if it's a given that some punishment is more severe than others.

Just as everyone suffering for eternity doesn't bring much relevance to Jesus declaring some judgement being more severe than others, everyone immediately being destroyed at the same time may also seem to have the same implications. I've heard some persons argue for different degrees/quality or intensities of hell but I don't know if that is a line that should be followed especially given that hell was created for the devil and his angels, which seems to suggest one level. So if not quality then quantity. And seeing eternity is out of the pic then perhaps persons may be punished in the fire until the time fits the crime. 

Just a thought that was going through my mind while re-reading that I wanted to bring up. I wouldn't defend such a stance staunchly and so I'm still open to something better.

This is a logic inquiry only.  No disrespect, ill will, or distemperment is intended.  I am merely trying to explore this thought more deeply.  :-)

At what point do we disconnect the idea of the soul/spirit from being equivalent with the body?  For example, if my hand is cut off, did I lose a part of my soul/spirit?  Is that dismembered hand lying on the ground "me" in some way?  Did I lose a part of my identity/mind/self-awareness/soul/spirit when I lost my hand? 

I think we can all safely believe that the answer to these last few rhetorical questions is a resounding "No!"  But let's keep going to the logical conclusion.  At what point can we finally cut something off where we then have to say, "I lost a part of me!"?  This is the particular point of dualism that must be overcome before we can say that the body and soul/spirit are inseparable in all respects.

I can hold my hand in front of me, and I know that it is my hand.  It doesn't belong to anyone else; it is my hand.  I know my body, my thoughts, my memories.  But the fact that I know something about myself doesn't require that I be that something.  Rather, the fact that I can know something about myself that is somehow external to my self indicates that I am not that something of which I know--my existence is not defined by that of which I am comprised. 

Therefore, I (my self, my existence) am somehow separate from that which I know.  I exist apart from the stuff of which I'm made.  My brain isn't me.  My head isn't me.  So if my brain dies, or I lose my head (physically), then do I cease to be?  Paul would seem to indicate otherwise.  He speaks of being "in the body" and "out of the body" (2 Cor.); but whatever it is to which he refers, being "in" or "out" of the body did not negate his existence.

And what of the "souls under the altar" (Rev. 6:9)?  Whether these persons are in physical or spiritual form is unknown, but their existence is understood to be true.  It seems safe to assume that these persons have somehow died through martyrdom because of the response to their question: "and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellowservants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they [were], should be fulfilled" (KJV).  If these were dead, yet "living", how can we reconcile this but by either 1) assigning this passage to mere allegory, or 2) accepting dualism as a valid truth?

I always enjoy thoughtful and engaging discussion among godly brethren -- even (and especially) if we may disagree on various concepts.  Iron sharpens iron!  I firmly recognize that I can be completely wrong in my perspectives, so I ask questions in the hopes to thoughtfully explore such issues more deeply.  Please do not take my words as a personal attack on anyone.  Communication through text doesn't always carry the actual tone the author wishes to convey.  Please know my tone in this reply is peaceful, respectful, and honestly looking for good answers.

Blessings to everyone!  Michael Frazier

Bro. Michael, could you expound on this statement: "The fact that I can know something about myself that is somehow external to my self indicates that I am not that something of which I know--my existence is not defined by that of which I am comprised." It seems like a non sequitur.

Bro. Dave,

I guess it can seem like a non sequitur, and I may have expressed myself unclearly or used incorrect wording.  All in all, I believe the concept lies deeper than what most people will consider.  (And that is not saying that you don't think deeply... au contraire to be sure!)  :-)

Breaking the thought down to the most basic concepts, we either exist, or we don't.  If we do not exist, then how are we holding a conversation?  That we are holding a conversation indicates that we are communicating in coherent thought; and that we can process a coherent thought indicates that we exist.  Indeed, as the expression goes, I know I exist because I can rationally think about it--cogito ergo sum.

Adding to that, knowing that we know that we are thinking further expands the reality that we exist.  But knowing something about something else requires that each thought be separate from the other.  We have one thought, and then we have another thought about the first thought--two thoughts--connected and related but still separate.

We could go on into the mysteries of whether or not the world around us is real, but I will just stick with the assumption that we can perceive genuine reality. I don't think any of us questions that premise.  LOL.

If we can perceive the world around us, then we can know something external to ourselves.  The keyboard on which I type is separate and external to myself.  Since it is external, I realize that it isn't a part of me, especially in the sense of identity and existence.  I am not my keyboard which I am typing on. 

But fingers are typing on the keyboard.  Those fingers are connected to me (somehow) because I am the one controlling them; yet, I realize those fingers still aren't me; that is, my existence isn't defined by my fingers.  If, somehow, my fingers were disconnected from the rest of my body, I wouldn't lose a part of my identify or existence. 

But notice,  I know my own fingers.  I realize they belong to me.  Even if they were detached, they would still belong to me and no one else.  And the fact that I know these fingers belong to me, I also understand they are separate from me in regards to my identity and existence.  By definition, something possessed isn't that which possesses.  (Wow, that's a mouthful!)  My shirt belongs to me, but I am not my shirt.  My house belongs to me, but I am not my house.  My wife belongs to me (in a sense), but I am not my wife.  Nothing that belongs to me is me.  This is supported by the the law of identity and the law of non-contradiction.

A = me.

B = my physical flesh; i.e., body

The fact that I can identify each requires a separation (at least in thought) between the two.  B cannot be A at the same time in the same respect.  Since B is not A *all the time in all cases*, there exists a separation between the two; and we can therefore say that B is external/separate from A.

Again, I am me (yep, same identity, all the time in all senses).  Symbolically, I am A.  Therefore, I am not B--I am not my body, and my body is not me.  My body is external to me.  KEYPOINT: *I know something about myself which is somehow external to me.* 

Since my flesh is not me, that which makes me me is not defined by my flesh.  KEYPOINT: *My existence is not defined by that of which I am comprised.* 

Since I (me, myself) can know that I have a body (an object of possession), that knowledge alone indicates that I am not that body (in the sense of existence) of which I know.  This is what I was attempting to express in my original post.

Some may argue, "Wait a minute!  If I touch your body, wouldn't you say that I touched you?"  Strictly speaking, no, I couldn't say that.  You would have indeed touched my tangible flesh, but you would not have touched my very essence. In normal, everyday speaking, we skip all the logical gymnastics and simply identify the body with the person, but we aren't speaking in general parlance here.  We've moved into theological/philosophical issues which define our perceptions of reality, and that requires more precise thought and definition.  What do we mean by self, body, personhood, existence?

If we deny that that we are both physical and spiritual creations (dualism), then we are left with pure materialism, and that would raise a world of logical difficulties!  :-)

I hope I clarified myself a bit better this time.  God bless!!!

I am interested in your line of thought, so I would like to probe deeper by asking these questions. First, are you saying that the only choice is between dualism and materiaism? Second, since the thoughts that I think are "my" thoughts, does that mean that they are not really a part of me? What about "my" feelings or "my" attitudes?

To the first question, I guess I am not sure I can definitively say that the only choices are dualism and materialism.  Perhaps it would be better to say that we must view reality as comprising (at least) both the physical/material and spiritual/non-material.  The word dualism is just a way of expressing that aspect.  Could there more to reality that these two?  I suppose, but I am not sure our finite minds could conceive of such.  Do you have any suggestions?

Now, just the fact that thoughts, emotions, feelings, etc. exist, at least conceptually, requires that there be a dualistic aspect to reality.  Materialism requires that everything be physical. But thoughts and feelings aren't.  I can't open the cupboard and take out a box of feelings.  Likewise, I can't pour a glassful of thoughts.   But I know they exist.  I can think of my mother and visualize her as she was when I was a child.  I can "see" the color of dress she wore while washing dishes at the sink.  I can "hear" the music that was playing on the radio at the time.  All these thoughts can exist literally in my mind because I perceive them.  Yet they are all immaterial.  You couldn't crack open my skull, swish around the brain matter, and pull out that image of my mom. 

Materialists are unable to explain the reality of the immaterial.  Thus, it fails as a viable sense of reality.  Dualism, at least, makes more sense of the world around us, but beyond the material/immaterial dichotomy, I cannot personally think of any other state of reality.

To the second question, I think we may be creating the beginnings of an equivocation.  I suppose the answer to your question may derive from what you mean by "being a part" of you.  Also, perhaps I am not being clear on my choice and usage of the word define.  When I say that our bodies do not define us, I am meaning that our bodies are not the basis, the foundation, the essence of our individual being/existence.  Our bodies "define" us in the respect that each person's physical appearance helps to distinguish one "person" from another, but that does require that our flesh becomes the necessary foundation for our personal being.

Although we can express the concept of "our thoughts" and speak of them in that symbolic respect, we still inherently know that they do not comprise or make up our existence.  Your thoughts are not you, but you think.  Your feelings are not you, but you feel.  Thoughts, feelings, attitudes, emotions, etc., issue/emanate from our being, but they themselves aren't our being.  These are surely a "part" of us in the sense that they issued from us, but we are not "made of" our feelings/thoughts/attitudes.  That they exist helps justify the evidence of our own personal existence (cogito ergo sum), but they aren't the necessary grounding of our existence.

We can also consider the being of God.  By the Word, we know that He thinks, feels, expresses emotion, etc., but we understand that all those are merely attributes of His Nature.  His feelings, emotions, and attitudes help us understand His Nature, but those attributes aren't Him.  We establish a relationship with God's Person.  We don't establish relationships with His emotions.

Perhaps another way to consider this is from the basis of language itself.  Thoughts require a thinker.  Emotions require one who emotes.  Thoughts and emotions cannot exist without there first being a person from which they flow.  Michael (person) thinks (action) thoughts (objects of the action).  The thoughts that I think belong to me, but they aren't me because I had to first think them.  They are a part of me in the sense that they belong to me, but I would still exist even if I had never thought of anything.  I do not require my thoughts in order to exist.  My thoughts are somehow external to my personal being.  Similarly, my body is also external to my personal being.  If my thoughts ceased or my physical body was destroyed, there is still something about *me* that I know exists.  Call that something a soul, spirit, mind, or whatever, but there still seems to be something immaterial which exists separately from the physical body.

If thoughts only exist in the brain, then how are they formed?  The brain is understood to function by series of electrical stimuli.  So are my thoughts nothing more than electrical impulses?  Is my existence nothing more than neurons firing?  If scientists ever discovered the exact sequences of electrical stimuli, would they then be able to "create" thoughts on the fly?  Could they then learn to "read" minds?  All these philosophical issues are raised if we relegate everything to materialism.

Now, of course, this does not even begin to get to the origin of your original thesis.  God is certainly able to destroy both body (material) and soul (immaterial) if He chose.  But therein is the real question, will God choose to do so?  I haven't come to a firm decision.  Your original thesis has warranted nearly three years of thought.  :)  Still thinking...


Bro. Michael, you wrote, "Your original thesis has warranted nearly three years of thought." Wow! That's really something. I had no idea. But...back to the topic. 1. If we are something other than our bodies and the fruit of our intellectual/emotional activities, then what are we (in any meaningful sense of the term "existence"). God initially revealed Himself as I AM (i.e. I exist), but later revelealed Himself more fully as Jesus (I exist as salvation). In other words, He intricately connected His existence to His purpose and actions. This suggests that existence must have purpose for it to be real existence, something more than a mere statuary existence. The reality of God's existence is not that He simply hangs there as a sort of divine glob, without thought or action. It is that He is Creator, Savior, and Lord. I don't see how we can separate these divine roles from divine existence. This is who God is, isn't it?

2. Another thought perhaps you could respond to is, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." I believe the Greek is, "And God was the Word." Isn't this statement tying God's Logos (His thoughts, ideas, plans, etc.) to God's existence? God "is" (exists as) the Logos. Then we read, "And the Word became flesh." If this is saying that the idea of God's existence has became manifested in humanity, can we then separate the humanity of Christ from the existence of God? If Jesus is "alive forevermore," were He (for the sake of discussion) to ceased to be alive at some point in the future, would God continue to exist? I guess where I'm heading in all this is that perhaps you are defining existence too narrowly? Perhaps it is more than the orginal cause. Perhaps existence, from a biblical perspective, means to be alive and that the sum of all that springs forth from being alive is what constitutes true existence. Hmmmmm, I now have a felling I'm in way over my head!  


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