Tag Archives: the afterlife

Between Soul Sleep, Ghost Busters and Halloween

I AIN’T AFRAID OF NO GHOST!

Earlier today, Optimistic Chad debunked all of the fundamentalist Christian reasons why we should not celebrate Halloween. One goodie I want to point out from this post,

“Jack-o-Lanterns are an Americanized version of the Irish and Scottish (and very Christian) practice of “souling.” Souling was when a turnip was carved and lit from the inside to remember those souls who were in purgatory. While you may disagree with the theology a bit, there is certainly nothing wrong with remembering the dead.”

In all honesty, I will be right up front. I hate Halloween. No, I really do. It’s not my least favorite holiday, but it’s origins are not it’s problem. It is what Halloween has come to signify: bloodlusting sparkly vampires, people dressed as their favorite politicians, skeletons all over the place, haunted houses, and my least favorite: people putting white sheets over their head and calling themselves “ghosts.” Growing up, one of my favorite movies that became a cartoon series to watch on Saturday mornings was Ghostbusters. Yah! Slimer and Bill Murray! I even imagined someday I would be like this Christian ghostbuster, and I would vanquish all of the apparitions that haunted people. I hate Halloween, not because it’s the Devil’s Birthday, but because I am constantly reminded of one of the many things I do not believe in: ghosts. I just do not believe that people can comeback from the dead, visit you, or stay in this mysterious land of the dead for a time until they find some closure here on Earth. It just does not happen.

Halloween is a celebration of humans being dis-embodied (and all KKK/white hood jokes aside), our society has so much hatred towards our being enfleshed as human beings, I don’t see why Christians (who affirm the Incarnation and Bodily Resurrection of the Son) should be so enthusiastic about this particular holiday. Don’t like the way your body looks? Let’s imagine you were a vampire instead! Oh, your skin creeps you out? How about you become a werewolf? Or maybe a zombie can take care of your skin problem for you by eating you alive!?!? I think there is something to be said for the rise of consumer culture, and certain stories about teenage girls who don’t go to college, and instead opt to become vampires.

From a theological perspective, the human body is the human soul, at least that is how I am informed from a particular reading of the Hebrew Bible. In the Torah, consulting mediums in Leviticus (19:31) and Deuteronomy (18:11) are discouraged not because these feats are impossible, but because these actions disrupt the bodily nature of the dead souls’ restful state. Holy living requires bodily existence. All of our anatomy is necessary, and not by accident or secondary. Halloween is the perfect holiday for a culture bent on depreciating the human body, through its militarized police violence and economic disparity. I guess I choose not to believe the separation of souls from the body, it’s just unscriptural and denies the Resurrection and New Creation. Much like Halloween does.

Xavier on Hell

I came across this quote from Francis Xavier today, written in 1552,

“One of things that most of all pains and torments these Japanese is that we teach them that the prison of hell is irrevocably shut. For they grieve over the fate of their departed children, of their parents and relatives, and they often show their grief by their tears. So they ask us if there is any hope . . . and I am obliged to answer that there is absolutely none. The grief at this affects and torments them wonderfully; they almost pine away with sorrow. . . . They often ask if God cannot take their fathers out of hell, and why their punishment must never have an end. We gave them a satisfactory answer, but they did not cease to grieve over the misfortune of their relatives; and I can hardly restrain my tears sometimes at seeing men so dear to my heart suffer such intense pain about a thing which is already done with and can never be undone.”

So perhaps you believe in Hell. That is orthodox, surely. However, Xavier points out the horror of the way most of Christian America uses Hell as a weapon. To assert that Hell is real is one thing, to assert that there is no possibility of hope for friends and family members, children and parents, because they simply did not have the same opportunities, the same frames of mind, the same upbringing, the same education, the right church, or were simply born to early is cruel and mean. The love and faithfulness of God that we find in scripture is far more vast than any other descriptor. Is God all-powerful? Is God sovereign? Is God all-knowing? Is God Just? You may say yes to any of those, but if you take even a moment to compare those texts with the ones that speak of God’s lovingkindness, God’s mercy, God’s love, God’s faithfulness, it is clear that the attributes which would allow the Japanese of the 16th century to be hopeful about their loved ones far outweigh those which Xavier was taught in order to condemn them. Believe in Hell if you want. Believe that many people suffer infinite conscious torment for a limited amount of sinning. Believe that mental assent to 4 spiritual laws will keep you from it. But please, don’t be an ass and share the “good news” that someone they love is burning in Hell because you didn’t get there fast enough, or worse, because God (who is supposed to love them more than you) didn’t care enough about them to arrange the perfect set of circumstances that would enable them to accept him. “Gospel,” indeed.

Universalist: I am not one. Period.

So, I noticed that there has been a few bloggers who twist my positions on theological issues from time to time and so I will not give them the time to answer their false accusations, but I just wanted to clarify what I said about the afterlife so there will not be any errors or so I will not have to post about it again, since it is just a waste of time, and there are more pertinent issues to blog about:

I am not a Universalist or a Religious pluralist. I find both positions disgusting and imperialist all at the same time.  I do not believe that God forces people who do not love God to love God in the end.  It is God’s choice, and design, to raise up people who believe in the Son from the dead into the new heaven and new Earth.  Our souls/spirits/minds do not leave our bodies; we rest, and then we rise again, either to joy or despair.  Humans choose to go to hell because it is their choice; God will freely choose not to “save” everyone because there are those who will not love God because they do not want to.  God will not force people who rejected God to love God back, since it will not be mutual.  God is love and loves everyone, but not everyone chooses to show love back.   I am not a calvinist or a universalist, as I have mentioned before.  On universalism, I end with a quote by Black Puritan preacher Lemuel Haynes:

“To suppose Satan or any other being aims at universal holiness and happiness by encouraging men in sin or disobedience, is highly preposterous.” (Sketches of the life and character of Reverend Lemuel Haynes by Timothy Cooley, 1839; page 109).

In other words, if the whole world is saved, there would be no reason why sin and evil exist in the world still. With universal salvation must come universal sanctification, and that has not happened.

Truth and Peace,

Rod