Defense of Immortal, Conscious Souls (vs. Lucas Banzoli): #12

Defense of Immortal, Conscious Souls (vs. Lucas Banzoli): #12 November 29, 2022

12. Paul Affirms Three Times That Souls Continue Outside of the Body / Banzoli Claims That Angels Are Material Beings

Lucas Banzoli is a very active Brazilian theological writer, who denies that Jesus is immutable in His Divine Nature (i.e., judging by the standard of trinitarian classical theism, he denies that Jesus is God; hence cannot be classified as either a trinitarian or a Christian). He has a Master’s degree in theology, a degree and postgraduate work in history, a license in letters, and is a history teacher, author of 25 books, as well as blogmaster (but now inactive) for six blogs. He’s active on YouTube.

This is my 48th refutation of Banzoli’s writings. From  5-25-22 until 11-12-22 (almost half a year) he didn’t write even one single word in reply. Since then he has counter-responded three times. Why so few and so late? Well, he says it’s because my articles are “without exception poor, superficial and weak . . . only a severely cognitively impaired person would be inclined to take” them “seriously.” He didn’t “waste time reading” 37 of my first 40 replies (three articles being his proof of the worthlessness of all of my 4,000+ articles and 51 books). He also denied that I had a “job” and claimed that I didn’t “work.” But he concluded that replying to me is so “entertaining” that he resolved to “make a point of rebutting” my articles “one by one.” I disposed of his relentlessly false personal insults in Facebook posts dated 11-13-22 and 11-15-22 and 11-23-22.

My current effort is a major multi-part response to Banzoli’s 1900-page self-published book, The Legend of the Immortality of the Soul [A Lenda da Imortalidade da Alma], published on 1 August 2022.  He claims to have “cover[ed] in depth all the immortalist arguments” and to have “present[ed] all the biblical proofs of the death of the soul . . .” and he confidently asserted: “the immortality of the soul is at the root of almost all destructive deception and false religion.” He himself admits on page 18 of his Introduction that what he is opposing is held by “nearly all the Christians in the world.” A sincere unbiblical error (and I assume his sincerity) is no less dangerous than a deliberate lie, and we apologists will be “judged with greater strictness” for any false teachings that we spread (Jas 3:1).

I use RSV for the Bible passages (including ones that Banzoli cites) unless otherwise indicated. Google Translate is utilized to render Lucas’ Portugese into English. Occasionally I slightly modify clearly inadequate translations, so that his words will read more smoothly and meaningfully in English. His words will be in blue.

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See the other installments:

 #1 Preliminaries [11-1-22]
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See also the related articles:

Seven Replies Re Interceding Saints (vs. Lucas Banzoli) [5-25-22]

Answer to Banzoli’s “Challenge” Re Intercession of Saints [9-20-22]

Bible on Praying Straight to God (vs. Lucas Banzoli) [9-21-22]

Reply to Banzoli’s “Analyzing the ‘evidence’ of saints’ intercession” [9-22-22]

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Revelation 11:11-12 But after the three and a half days a breath of life from God entered them, and they stood up on their feet, and great fear fell on those who saw them. [12] Then they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, “Come up hither!” And in the sight of their foes they went up to heaven in a cloud.

Note that the prophets’ souls are not said to have departed from their bodies at the time of from death and returned at the resurrection, but that a breath of life entered into them from God, who raised them up before all. This breath is precisely the spirit that came from God and returns to God in death (Ecclesiastes 12:7). It’s not a personal being with conscience and personality. It wasn’t the prophets themselves that returned to the body, but only the divine breath of life that animates the body, allowing them to come back to life. (p. 308)

As long as there is only body, there is no life. While there is only spirit, there is no life. There is only life when there is a body animated by a spirit. Just as there is no life in the body that perishes alone under the earth, there is no life in a “spirit” alone apart from the body. (p. 310)

Ecclesiastes 12:7 [is] one of the most quoted (and most shamefully distorted) by the immortalists. The text in question says that at death “and the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it.” For advocates of the immortality of the soul, . . . the spirit is a little ghost that leaves the body taking with it the consciousness and personality of the person straight into the presence of God in heaven. (pp. 317-318)

How interesting, then, that St. Paul teaches directly contrary to Banzoli:

2 Corinthians 12:2-4 I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven — whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows. [3] And I know that this man was caught up into Paradise — whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows — [4] and he heard things that cannot be told, which man may not utter.

What this passage shows is that Paul was in heaven. He believes it is possible to be there as a “man” either “in the body” or “out of the body.” He remains himself in either scenario. If he’s in his body, it’s him (Paul). If he is out of his body, it’s still him (Paul). The logic of this passage doesn’t permit any other interpretation. And it viciously, fatally contradicts Banzoli’s soul sleep. Paul expresses the same notion at least two other times:

2 Corinthians 5:8 . . . we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord.

Philippians 1:23-24  . . .  My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. [24] But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account.

If Paul was nonexistent after death, since a soul supposedly can’t exist apart from a body, how could he be “home with the Lord” and “be with Christ” while “away” from his “body” and “flesh”? When he says “we” would be “away from the body and at home with the Lord” this proves that he is still referring to himself as a soul, who would be with the Lord. This is dualism and immortal souls, folks. Again he says that he would “depart and be with Christ” which is in contrast to “remain[ing] in the flesh.” This absolutely proves that he is talking about himself as a continuing conscious entity who can “be with Christ” outside of his flesh or body.

If what returns to God is a living, conscious personality in heaven, this implies that a living, conscious, and personal spirit was in heaven with God before he came into the world, which is a glaring heresy of the worst kind, known as the pre-existence of souls (believed by spiritists and other reincarnationists). (pp. 319-320)

This doesn’t follow. Christians believe that each man’s soul or spirit is a supernatural creation of God at the time of their conception. That’s when it begins (just as it did with Adam). Human beings can’t create souls through procreation: only bodies. There is no implication at all that such a return to God means that the soul or spirit pre-existed in heaven. That’s made up out of whole cloth by Banzoli, in order to create yet another straw man that he can shoot down: foolishly thinking that he defeats the immortality of the soul in so doing.

The entire Old Testament  is unanimous in saying that both the righteous and the wicked descend likewise to Sheol in death, instead of going up to God’s presence in heaven. (p. 223)

Exactly! That’s how it was before the death and resurrection of Christ, and Jesus referred to it:

Luke 16:22-23  The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom. The rich man also died and was buried; [23] and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes, and saw Abraham far off and Laz’arus in his bosom.

Then He proceeded to teach that the rich man and Abraham were both quite conscious and carried on a conversation (16:24-31). Other Old Testament verses show the same consciousness, as I documented in past installments of this series.

[I]mmortalists assume a priori that the spirit in the Bible is that which reflects Greek thought, which leads them to pervert any text where they find the slightest loophole to shove Platonic dualism into Scripture. . . . immortalists would be quick to answer “in heaven”, “in hell”, “in the Bosom of Abraham”, “in limbo”, “in purgatory”, “in the world of spirits” or in any other conscious intermediate state that they created, . . . (p. 325)

That would include our Lord Jesus in Luke 16. He’s perverting true doctrine because (apparently) He was also “ignorant” of Scripture, as Banzoli claims all “immortalists” (i.e., orthodox traditional Christians) are.

If the translator does not feel comfortable translating a text in the contained in it, he takes the liberty of changing the text, suppressing the ideas of the author for his own ideas. (p. 329)

More conspiracy theories, that Banzoli constantly asserts throughout this ridiculous book. I have noted it many times before. We expect atheists to argue like this, but not alleged Christians (who really aren’t) like Banzoli. But wacko conspiratorialism and the heretical mindset fit together very well.

Even angels do not have a spirit in the same sense as immortalists claim we possess. They are spirits, in the sense of being spiritual beings of a superior dimension and therefore invisible to our eyes, but, as previously explained, they’re far from being untouchable “ghosts” that walk through walls in the spirit world; otherwise no battle with Satan and his angels would be possible (Dan 10:12-13, 20; Rev 12:7-8). In other words, angels evidently have a nature distinct from ours because of being created in a superior dimension with its own rules that transcend our knowledge, but they’re not disembodied ghosts, like the immortalists imagine our soul or spirit to be. They are called “spirits” because they are beings of a spiritual dimension, not because they are intangible in their relationship with each other and with their own world. (p. 334)

This is yet more heresy. Angels are immaterial spirits, just as God the Father and the Holy Spirit are. It’s not surprising that Banzoli doesn’t know this. He may also think that God the Father has a body, as Jehovah’s Witnesses believe. We’ll see! That may turn up later in his contemptible book.

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Photo credit: Saint Michael the Archangel and Another Figure Recommending a Soul to the Virgin and Child in Heaven, by Bartolomeo Biscaino (1629-1657) [public domain / Wikimedia Commons]

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Summary: Part 12 of many responses to Lucas Banzoli’s 1900-page book, The Legend of the Immortality of the Soul: published on 1 August 2022. I defend historic Christianity.

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