Fong asked:

I have a Jehovah’s Witness friend and they believe the soul and the body are one when you die.

Patrick Madrid replied:

"I think what you’re driving at Fong, is he’s talking about what Jehovah’s Witnesses know to be ... soul sleep. The believe that at death, that when one is buried for example, that’s it. You’re in a state of suspended animation until the end of the world. Then according to Jehovah’s Witness doctrine at the end of the world after Armageddon, all those who have died before Armageddon takes place they’ll be resurrected. They will have been completely inert ... in that state ... until that resurrection. Those who are going to go to heaven, that’s 144,000 they will go to heaven and be with Jesus and God. They don’t believe Jesus is God. And only 144,000 will go there because it says in the book of Revelation ... it talks about 144,000 people.

They believe the others who are destined to live for all eternity will be on earth in a state called Paradise Earth and then everyone else they believe will be annihilated. In essence it’s a return not so much to a state of suspended animation, which the soul had been in before the judgment, but rather annihilation in which case that person no longer exists at all.

So how do we talk about this? I would start with God being love, and God willing things into existence for the sake of loving them. Then I would talk about things for example such as biblical allusions that we see in Revelation chapter 6 ... we see one of several different examples of those who are in heaven who are not in soul sleep, who are very much alive and awake ... beginning in verse 9 when the fifth seal is opened. Saint John says, ‘I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had born. They cried out with a loud voice, ‘oh sovereign Lord holy and true how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell upon the earth? Then they were each given a white robe and told to rest a little longer until the number of their fellow servants and their brethren should be complete who were to be killed as they themselves had been.’ This is referring to the martyrs. There’s a perfect biblical example of human beings who are definitely existing in some kind of suspended animation soul sleep. They’re awake and they’re alive and they’re conversing with God. They’re aware of things going down on the earth because they know that the people who had martyred them are not yet dealt with in justice ...

Or we see in Luke 16, the parable of Lazarus and the rich man and Jesus describes how Abraham and Lazarus were in a place of comfort in the after life and the rich man was in a place of torment. They were not in soul sleep. They’re conversing with one another.

Or on the Mount of Transfiguration where Jesus appears along side Moses and Elijah ... in the presence of Peter, James and John. And they were conversing with Jesus they weren’t in suspended animation.

...the bible, although from time to time might use language that would suggest sleep being or being in a state of not being aware of what’s happening, if you take the totality of all these things are said, a different picture emerges. And we see that after death, our souls are very much awake and aware even though they are separated form our body."


© 2013 Immaculate Heart Catholic Radio

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Show air date: September 10, 2013

Question appeared in show: 27:34

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