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Soul Sleep in Luther's writings

Discussion in 'Theologia Crucis - Lutherans' started by Humble_Disciple, Jun 12, 2021.

  1. Humble_Disciple

    Humble_Disciple Well-Known Member

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    While I don't necessarily subscribe to the doctrine of soul sleep, it answers to objection of materialists for belief in an afterlife. If human consciousness ends at the moment of death, that means nothing to an all-powerful God who can raise us on the last day.

     
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  2. Tigger45

    Tigger45 Adherent of the Augsburg confession Supporter

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    I’m not an expert on this topic but I have heard that at least some point Luther taught on soul sleep. I appreciate most of Luther’s writings but on this he surely missed the mark. All we have to do is point to Lazarus and the rich man, martyrs in heaven beckoning God to intervene in heaven and particularly the mount of transfiguration in scripture where believers who have transcended the veil are very much coherent and active.
     
  3. anna ~ grace

    anna ~ grace Newbie Supporter

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    I remember hearing that Luther actually taught this when a Lutheran, and that this is technically what Lutherans *ought* to believe, from a Lutheran scholar who was visiting our church. I was horrified, and repelled, and could see that many others listening to him seemed weirded out and repelled by this concept, too. It just doesn’t *sound right*, somehow. Even to folks who love and embrace everything else Luther taught.
     
  4. Tigger45

    Tigger45 Adherent of the Augsburg confession Supporter

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  5. Humble_Disciple

    Humble_Disciple Well-Known Member

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    What is horrifying about it? If we are "asleep" until the resurrection of the dead, it will feel as if no time has passed whatsoever, and we will receive glorified bodies that endure forever.
     
  6. Humble_Disciple

    Humble_Disciple Well-Known Member

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    I believe that these passages of scripture can be interpreted in a way consistent with the doctrine of soul sleep, because Luther wouldn't have otherwise written favorably of it.

    For example, when Moses and Elijah appear with Jesus in the Transfiguration, this could be their resurrected, glorified state, which would transcend time and therefore could appear in the first century.
     
  7. Tigger45

    Tigger45 Adherent of the Augsburg confession Supporter

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    The thing I appreciate about confessional Lutheranism is that it recognizes the importance of Luther but even Luther’s teachings are subject to scripture.
     
  8. Humble_Disciple

    Humble_Disciple Well-Known Member

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    I think that's why it's important to see whether or not there's evidence for the doctrine of soul sleep in scripture. For example, is there mention of an afterlife anywhere in the Old Testament other than the resurrection on the last day?

    Luther wrote of soul sleep when quoting Ecclesiastes 9:5, "The dead know nothing." Luther used this partly in order to defend his rejection of purgatory and of praying to Mary and the saints.

     
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2021
  9. Tigger45

    Tigger45 Adherent of the Augsburg confession Supporter

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    Here’s another Lutheran source on soul sleep from the LCMS.


    (psychopannychism). View that the soul of a dead person exists in a state of sleep. Scripture does not speak of soul sleep, but of souls after death in a state of awareness (Rv 6:10; cf. Lk 16:22–31; “rest” in Rv 14:13 does not imply sleep; cf. Heb 4:9–11). When we speak of the dead as sleeping, this refers to the body.
     
  10. Humble_Disciple

    Humble_Disciple Well-Known Member

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    I'm more concerned with what Luther himself had to say and what passages of scripture he used to support his position.

    One thing is for certain, our hope for the afterlife should be in Christ alone, whether it be at the very moment of death or awaiting the last day, and not in spiritual mediums and stories of near-death experiences.

    If our hope is in Christ alone, it shouldn't worry us that we might be asleep until the Lord's return. It will feel like no time passed at all.
     
  11. Tigger45

    Tigger45 Adherent of the Augsburg confession Supporter

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    And that’s pretty much what I see Luther referring to is the perception on or passage of time more than being aware of their existence in paradise. We see that it other places he makes mention of scripture showing their activity that seemly contradicts what was his perceived teachings on soul sleep.
     
  12. Humble_Disciple

    Humble_Disciple Well-Known Member

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    The point I am making is that it's not scary, there would be nothing to be afraid of if our soul slept until the resurrection. It would feel like the blink of an eye.

    Here's an Adventist teacher on the doctrine of soul sleep:


    Please notice that he's not making any reference to Adventist teachings, but is instead quoting the Bible from beginning to end, allowing the verses to speak for themselves. This is likely what Luther did as well.
     
  13. Tigger45

    Tigger45 Adherent of the Augsburg confession Supporter

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    Here is the crux of the matter. The title of your thread in a Lutheran forum is Soul sleep in ‘Luther’s’ writings. I post from confessional Lutheran sources and you reply with “ I'm more concerned with what ‘Luther’ himself had to say and what passages of scripture he used to support his position.” (Referring to your post #10) and then you turn right around and post a SDA video on the topic.
     
  14. Humble_Disciple

    Humble_Disciple Well-Known Member

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    I'm not an Adventist. But I would say that the main theologian that I base my understanding of the Bible on might be Martin Luther. I try to take what he has to say seriously, even when I might disagree with it.

    It just so happens that the Adventist church agrees with what Luther taught on this particular subject. What matters is the Bible verses involved that led Luther to his conclusion.
     
  15. Humble_Disciple

    Humble_Disciple Well-Known Member

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    IMMORTALITY OF THE SOUL - JewishEncyclopedia.com

    According to the Jewish Encyclopedia, there is no concept of the immortality of the soul in the Old Testament. In the Book of Genesis, for example, the word translated for soul means "breath," and is given to both animals and humans.

    The Old Testament's hope for an afterlife, like in the writings of Martin Luther, is in the resurrection on the last day.
     
  16. Humble_Disciple

    Humble_Disciple Well-Known Member

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    I'm sorry if I am offending anyone. Martin Luther is one of my heroes. He's the reason why I am Protestant.
     
  17. Tigger45

    Tigger45 Adherent of the Augsburg confession Supporter

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    Just so ya know, you’re not offending me at all. I tend to state my case without getting into long conversations. It’s just not my style.

    Luther is also highly influential to me but he is neither my pope or prophet. What helped authenticate the Bible for me was how authentic the characters were portrayed with their faults in full view. Which is how I see all people including and especially my fathers in the faith and my pastor not withstanding.

    The statements that Luther did make on so called soul sleep falls way short of the highly developed teachings of the SDA especially when you take into account the contradictory statements Luther made against soul sleep-that if he was teaching soul sleep, as SDA do, it just wouldn’t be a cohesive doctrine which doesn’t fit Luther’s M.O.

    Take heart the Lutheran forum has been slow as of late but there are a few well articulated posters here that should wander by sooner or later that you probably would enjoy the exchange with.
     
  18. Daniel9v9

    Daniel9v9

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    Yeah, as already said, the Lutheran Church rejects Soul Sleep (Psychopannychism). When we refer to the dead as asleep, we refer to the body that rests in the ground, not to the soul, which doesn't sleep. The souls separated from their bodies are either in hell which God's Word describes as a place of torment and a prison, or in heaven which is to be with Christ in paradise. So the departed soul is neither asleep nor unconscious.

    It's not a perfect comparison, but we can perhaps think of death as sleeping in the sense that the body is resting, whereas our dreams may still be active. And we have a knowledge that according to God's grace, we do wake up with both body and soul in the morning. In the same way then, the natural body rests in death, but our soul is living in bliss in heaven, with the promise of a resurrected body.

    I actually checked 5 different Dogmatics books on this, and interestingly, none of them talks about Luther's views on this in any extensive way. There's one reference to Luther saying something along the lines that there is a beauty in that Scriptures sometimes refer to death as sleep, in that it is a divinely revealed promise of an awakening — a resurrection.
     
  19. Humble_Disciple

    Humble_Disciple Well-Known Member

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    Well, I definitely disagree with what Luther had to say about the Jews, and with his support of the nobility against the peasants.
     
  20. tampasteve

    tampasteve ✞ Christian ✞ Staff Member Administrator CF Senior Ambassador Angels Team Supporter

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    In Lutheranism, you are free to believe in either option. It is not a mater of outlined doctrine or dogma in any Lutheran denomination that I am aware of, but I could be wrong on that. Luther was not infallible, but made some valid points on soul sleep. Alternatively, there are good reasons to not believe in it. In the end we just don't know for sure, but we do know that it does not affect salvation.
     
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