The Pagan Immortal Soul
and "Double Doctrine"
by David Sielaff, January 2006
From an article by Ernest L. Martin Ph.D., March 1963 1
Read the accompanying Newsletter for January 2006
The concept of the immortality of the soul is based on a lie. Modern believers in the immortality of the soul would be laughed to scorn by the philosophers of antiquity for believing that lie. Yet most theologians who claim to believe in the biblical revelation unknowingly derive many of their doctrinal beliefs from pagan philosophers of old (who purposely lied in the name of religion) and not from Holy Scripture. Those same lies continue to be taught in Christianity today.
The false doctrine of the immortal soul and its accompanying doctrine about an ever-burning hell were lies originating from pagan teaching. Early proponents of these doctrines even admitted to the lies. Most Catholic, Greek Orthodox, Russian Orthodox, Protestant, and evangelical Christian churches today derive their teachings of immortality and hell from those original lies. Some pagans told the truth about the origin of these lies. The term used to teach lies to one group while teaching the truth to another is called (by Dr. Martin and others) “Double Doctrine.”
The Greek historian Polybius (ca 203–120 B.C.E.) tells us that the rulers of the Roman Republic deliberately lied to the common people to keep them from being unruly and difficult to manage. They lied to control the people under their rule. It was necessary for the good of the state! Polybius states it was clever and admirable for the rulers of the Roman Republic to blatantly lie to their own people.
The preferred method was for rulers to attain and maintain control without use of direct force by means of religious teaching. Religion was used to terrify the common people by threatened punishments, and to soothe them with the prospect of a future reward in an afterlife beginning immediately after death. In a discussion of how the Roman Republic compares with other states, Polybius describes how Roman rulers maintained the cohesion of the Roman social structure.
“The quality in which the Roman commonwealth is most distinctly superior is in my opinion the nature of their religious convictions. I believe that it is the very thing which among other peoples is an object of reproach, I mean superstition, which maintains the cohesion of the Roman State. ...
… they have adopted this course for the sake of the common people. It is a course which perhaps would not have been necessary had it been possible to form a state composed of wise men, but as every multitude is fickle, full of lawless desires, unreasoned passion, and violent anger, the multitude must be held in by invisible terrors and suchlike pageantry. For this reason I think, not that the ancients acted rashly and at haphazard in introducing among the people notions concerning the gods and beliefs in the terrors of hell [the punishments of hades 2], but that the moderns are most rash and foolish in banishing such beliefs.”
Polybius, Histories, 6.56 3
Polybius encouraged the lies, knowing that the teachings about the gods and terrors of punishment were pure fiction. “Pageantry” by which he meant rituals, holidays, celebrations, games, displays, parades, speeches, etc., all played a role to keep the fickle, lawless, unreasoned, and angry people docile and content, while inspiring in them the desire to sacrifice for the state. Polybius also thought that the educated and the rulers of his day should continue to promote those beliefs of the common people. Most rulers apparently took his advice. The ideas of an immortal soul coupled with the terrors of hell were effective over most people.
About 100 years later, a Roman orator, politician, and defender of liberty in the Roman Republic named Cicero agreed with the ideas of Polybius:
“What think you of those who have asserted that the whole doctrine concerning the immortal Gods was the invention of politicians, whose view was to govern that part of the community by religion which reason could not influence? Are not their opinions subversive of all religion?
… Were not they likewise void of religion who taught that the Deities, at present the object of our prayers and adoration, were valiant, illustrious, and mighty men who arose to divinity after death? Euhemerus, whom our Ennius translated, and followed more than other authors, has particularly advanced this doctrine, and treated of the deaths and burials of the Gods; can he, then, be said to have confirmed religion, or, rather, to have totally subverted it?”
Cicero, The Nature of the Gods, Book 1.42 4
Cicero wonders about the use of religion by politicians, but neither his contemporaries nor historians note that he ever spoke out publicly or condemned the practice. (Note also the dead and buried gods.)
Having the common people fearful of divine punishment for evils or sins was useful for keeping society stable and the masses under control. The people were told that the gods were both judges and witnesses to their actions. By manipulating these beliefs the leaders could rule the unruly and control the uncontrollable. The people were told wild and fabulous tales about the gods to deliberately confuse them and keep them in ignorance of the truth. The initiated, however, were told the truth by degrees, or at least some of the truth.
“Cicero, Seneca, Panaetius, Polybius, Quintus Scaevola (The Pontifex Maximus), and Varro regarded religion as a device of statesmen to control the masses by mystery and terror. …
[There was] one truth for the intellectual classes and one for the common people, the climax reached is the phrase, ‘It is expedient for the state [i.e., the people] to be deceived in religion.’”
Hastings, Encyclopedia of Religion & Ethics 5
This method of controlling the people through religion did not originate with the Romans. It began much earlier. The lie about an immortal soul in each person was one story told to the common people. The truth that everyone who died had ceased to exist was made clear to those “in the know.” This perpetuated and strengthened the control of those in power because only they had the real truth in many areas of life. Such a practice was considered indispensable for the preservation of the state. 6
The use of Double Doctrine came as early as the 6th century B.C.E. with the teachings of the philosopher and mathematician Pythagoras in Asia Minor, and later was practiced by all the major Greek philosophical schools, and then to all the philosophers of the 1st century B.C.E. 7 While Pythagoras did not leave any written works, his philosophy was well known around the Roman Empire. The early Christian scholar Origen says of Pythagoras and his system:
“He divided his disciples into classes, the one he called ESOTERIC, the other, the EXOTERIC. For to those [the former] he trusted the more perfect and sublime doctrines; to these [the latter] the more popular and vulgar.”
Origen, On Philosophy, see fragments 8
William Warburton, a bishop in the Anglican Church in the late 1700s wrote a 3-volume work called Divine Legation of Moses that was published in at least 10 editions. 9 Warburton’s purpose was to prove the divine nature of the Old Testament by its omission of any discussion of the future state of the dead, even though the rest of the world’s religions all had such beliefs. That lack of information about a future state of the dead proved the divine origin of the Old Testament.
Warburton’s gathered a massive amount of primary evidence to show that ancient philosophers and rulers taught a scheme of Double Doctrine as a method to coerce control over and provide meaning in the lives of their people. Future rewards were promised to promote social behavior, so that soldiers, citizens, and even slaves would willingly sacrifice themselves for the state. This method of gaining obedience was much cheaper than using force. 10
First, Warburton’s evidence led him to conclude that “The idolatry of the Gentile States was chiefly the worship of dead men, … [who were] Kings, Lawgivers, and Founders.” This explains why countries had so many gods similar to gods of other countries. Every city had a founder, a mighty king, a mother of the city, a builder, a developer, a leading landholder, a lawgiver, a military hero, and a savior in their distant past. As city-states became kingdoms, and kingdoms became empires, consolidating larger territories and trade and communication, syncretizing and incorporating the gods of neighboring peoples was a normal process, if done under the auspices of the government of the state. 11
Second, “the attributes and qualities assigned to their Gods, always corresponded with the nature and genius of the government.” If a society and government was warlike, the gods would be warlike. If a society and government was involved with sea-going or overland trade, the gods would reflect those involvements.
Third, the practice of public worship was such that the government and to a lesser extent society as a whole were the major beneficiaries from public religious practice. Individuals gained little. Religion was a state function, not a function of persons. The practice of pagan religion was totally interwoven with the transactions of the State. 12
The Greek historian Herodotus tells us who were the first people to talk about an immortal soul.
“The Egyptians were the first who maintained the following doctrine, too, that the human soul is immortal, and at the death of the body [the soul] enters into some other living thing, then coming to birth; and after passing through all creatures of land, sea, and air, it enters once more into a human body at birth, a cycle which it completes in three thousand years. There are Greeks who have used this doctrine, some earlier and some later, as if it were their own.”
Herodotus, The Histories 13
Pythagoras was thought to have gained many of his philosophical and religious concepts from the Egyptians. One of Pythagoras’ pupils was the renowned Plato, who clearly taught a Double Doctrine in his teaching. Plato is universally considered one of the greatest philosophers of history and his opinion is extremely important, influencing people for thousands of years. A pupil of Plato’s, the revered physician Galen wrote,
“Plato declares that animals have constantly a soul [meaning all animal beings, including man, have an immortal soul], which serves to animate and inform their bodies; but as for stones, wood and what we commonly call inanimate parts of the creation, all these, he says, are quite destitute of soul. And yet in his Timaeus, where he explains his principles TO HIS DISCIPLES AND SELECT FRIENDS, be there GIVES UP THE COMMON NOTION, declares that there is a soul diffused through the universe, which is to actuate and pervade every part of it. Now we are NOT to imagine that in this case he is inconsistent with himself, or maintains contrary doctrines, any more than Aristotle and Theophrastus are to be charged with contradiction, WHEN THEY DECLARED TO THEIR DISCIPLES THEIR REAL DOCTRINES and to the COMMON PEOPLE, principles of another nature.”
Galen, On the Natural Faculties, fragments 14
Plato himself admitted that he did not merely withhold the truth from people, but that he directly lied to them. Plato even arranged a system whereby his friends would understand when he was writing to those who were knowledgeable, or to those who were ignorant. The serious letter meant messages that were to be regarded as true. The less serious meant those which were for the masses:
“Concerning the sign which indicates which of my letters are seriously written and which not. … “God,” [singular] then, is at the head of the serious letter, but “gods” [plural] of the less serious.”
Plato, Epistle 13
Origen, the Christian apologist, wrote a book titled Against Celsus. Celsus was a pagan opponent of Christianity, a philosopher of the system now called Neo-Platonism. Addressing Celsus, Origen writes that the followers of Celsus:
“… have accepted the doctrine of Pythagoras and Plato regarding the soul, that it is its nature to ascend to the vault of heaven, and in the super-celestial space to behold the sights which are seen by the blessed spectators above. According to you, O Celsus, they also who have accepted the doctrine of the duration of the soul (after death), and who lead a life through which they become heroes, and make their abodes with the gods, are won over by vain hopes.
Probably also they who are persuaded that the soul comes (into the body) from without, and that it will be withdrawn from the power of death, … let him meet the arguments, which are not lightly advanced among Greeks and Barbarians, regarding the immortality of the soul, or its duration (after death), or the immortality of the thinking principle; and let him prove that these are words which deceive with empty hopes those who give their assent to them; … [they] give birth to no hope at all, on account of the immediate and complete destruction of the soul (after death).”
Origen, Against Celsus, Book III, chapter 80
The Greek historian and geographer Strabo knew about Plato when he discussed Indian religion in his history and descriptions of peoples around the world. He compared Indian beliefs with Plato’s,
“They invent fables also, after the manner of Plato, on the immortality of the soul, and on the punishments in Hades, and other things of this kind.”
There were also religious practices called mysteries, also called mystery religions. The mysteries were different from the “orthodox” pagan state religions, and originally they operated outside of state control. The pagan rites of the mystery religions also had elaborate secret rituals and teachings. They were experiential rites, many involving music, chanting, darkness, sensory deprivation, sexual acts, blood sacrifice, and drugs (given orally, on the skin, or through vapors) that caused altered states of consciousness. Contact with spirits or gods, real or imagined, was encouraged. 15 Occasionally the rituals ended in violent acts requiring suppression by government officials.
The secrets were hidden first to excite curiosity for potential initiates, and second, to keep certain teachings only for initiates. The best known were the Orphic, the Bacchic, the Eleusian, the Samothracian, the Cabiric and the Mithriac mysteries These mysteries each had lesser and greater mysteries attached to them. The secrets of the lesser mysteries were openly taught to all who wished to learn. The uninitiated were told many wild and fabulous tales about the gods in order to confuse them and to keep them in ignorance of the truth. The greater mysteries were only for initiates who became qualified to learn them. The initiates were told by degrees the truth of the mysteries. 16
Double doctrine and immortal soul are also the foundation of all Gnostic thought. Gnosis means knowledge. Gnosticism was a system of occult beliefs that used Jewish and Christian terms. The knowledge was gained either by direct mystical experience or through possession of secret teachings given to initiates. 17 This blending was likely begun by Simon Magus who attempted to buy his way into the mysteries of God:
“Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost [Spirit]. And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Ghost [Spirit] was given, he offered them money, Saying, ‘Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost [Spirit].’”
It was likely that Simon Magus blended pre-Gnostic mystical concepts with elements of early Christianity to begin what historians today call Gnosticism, according to Epiphanius (in Contra Heresies ii.1–6). 18
Double Doctrine is also the basis of all secret political and religious sects, even today. It is the root of all occult and magical teaching almost without exception. In fact the term “occult” itself means “hidden.” Such occult mysteries were thought to have great spiritual power. Double Doctrine was even used by Jewish philosophers and teachers such as Jacob Luria and Maimonides. 19 The organization called the Illuminati established in the late 1700s was structured on Double Doctrine whereby only those at the top of the organization knew the true goals and methods. Communal and secret societies, so popular during the late 1700s to middle 1800s in Europe and in the United States up to the early 1900s, all had forms of Double Doctrine teaching. 20
When Christianity began it was initially a set of beliefs based on the truth of God and not on deception. That was upsetting to rulers everywhere that Christianity took root. Even though Christians were obedient to law, they were considered atheists, not just because they denied the pagan gods, but because Christians exposed religious lies. This exposure directly threatened the political stability of the state.
When the apostle Paul was in Thessalonica the opposing Gentiles accused that Paul had “turned the world upside down” (Acts 17:6) with his teachings. In Ephesus, Paul was accused of exposing idol worship, threatening the livelihood of the idol makers (Acts 19:21–41). In Athens Paul had a good welcome from Epicurean and Stoic philosophers who thought he was bringing them news about strange new gods (daimion, demons in Greek), one called Jesus, that had been resurrected. Apparently the idea of demons being resurrected was acceptable to them. They took Paul to speak to the people at the Areopagus on Mars Hill (Acts 17:18–20). He initially had a good reception. He spoke how all men “are the offspring of God” and not made with “gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man's device” (Acts 17:29).
Then Paul began to teach about the resurrection of a man (Acts 17:30–33), and everyone’s attitude immediately changed. The philosophers and the people laughed and mocked him, and most suddenly lost interest (verse 32). The resurrection of a man was directly contrary to the lie of the immortal soul, and the related lie of the transmigration of souls.
First Timothy chapter 4 discusses the latter times:
“Now the Spirit speaks expressly that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils [demons]; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, ...”
1 Timothy 4:1–4
Previously I understood that the phrase “doctrines of demons” introduced the list of what those doctrines would be. I now understand that the two objects of the verb should be a connected unit:
“Now the Spirit speaks expressly that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and [giving heed to] doctrines of devils [demons]: …”
1 Timothy 4:1
What would those doctrines of demons be? They would not only be the doctrines by demons, but they would be doctrines about demons — falsely applied to human beings. They would include the teachings of (1) a supposed immortal soul, (2) “endless” punishment in hell (hades), and (3) transmigration of souls or reincarnation, as it is commonly termed today.
All three of these teachings are what the pagan philosophers taught the common people, but which they did not believe themselves. These teachings were likely confirmed to the people by evil spirits working within the pagan temples, representing themselves as gods or as dead human beings. Consider the experience of evil spirits in the physical realm:
(1) Spirits are “immortal” in a relative sense, in that they possess a non-physical nature. They do not have a human soul. Angels or spirits were never humans. They neither have a human soul, nor are they immortal in the common understanding of the term. 21
(2) We know that some evil spirits and sinning angels are held captive (1 Peter 3:18–19; 2 Peter 2:4). They experience a confinement that could be considered, to them, a type of “hell.”
(3) They possess different people over generations, sometimes going from persons to animals. This would be a form of transmigration of “souls,” Mark 16:9, 17; Luke 8:2, 27–39.
The spirits pass themselves off as the spirits of dead humans and try to convince unwary people that they too have an immortal soul. The apostle Paul tells us that spirits are the objects of the pagan worship.
“What say I then? that the idol is any thing, or that which is offered in sacrifice to idols is any thing? But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils [daimonion, demons], and not to God: and I would not that you should have fellowship with devils [demons]. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils [demons]: you cannot be partakers of the Lord's table, and of the table of devils [demons].”
Corinthians 10:19–21 22
It is undeniable that Jesus did keep information from the common people to whom He preached. However, the information withheld from them was revealed to the mass of people as soon as possible after Jesus’ resurrection (which proved He was the Messiah) and after the final education of the disciples, who were after all, people designated by Christ to receive the information about the Kingdom of God before anyone else. 23 In His ministry Jesus only spoke to the people in parables, never plainly. He did so because they simply would not have understood His message.
“And the disciples came, and said unto him, ‘Why speak you unto them in parables?’ He answered and said unto them, ‘Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.’
… All these things spoke Jesus unto the multitude in parables; and without a parable spoke he not unto them: That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, ‘I will open my mouth in parables; I will utter things which have been kept secret [hidden] from the foundation of the world.’”
Matthew 13:10–11, 34–35
The apostles themselves had difficulty understanding the teachings of Jesus. They did not understand until after the resurrection when the risen Messiah explained how the Old Testament prophecies were fulfilled in Him (Luke 24:44–48; Acts 1:3), and after the Holy Spirit came upon them at Pentecost. Dr. Martin at the conclusion of his article “The Recognition of Universal Reconciliation – Part 2,” at http://www.askelm.com/news/n020812.htm expressed his understanding that God and Jesus did indeed use Double Doctrine to teach. I would add that there is a difference between “Double Doctrine” as man uses it and as it is used by God. God never lies (Hebrews 6:18). He may withhold information from His children (as any good parent does on occasion) and sometime for long periods, but He never lies.
The pagan neo-Platonist Celsus in fact accused Christians of practicing a secret system of belief, of teaching Double Doctrine. The early scholar and Christian apologist Origen responded:
“Moreover, since he [Celsus] frequently calls the Christian doctrine a secret system (of belief), we must confute him on this point also, since almost the entire world is better acquainted with what Christians preach than with the favourite opinions of philosophers. For who is ignorant of the statement that Jesus was born of a virgin, and that He was crucified, and that His resurrection is an article of faith among many, and that a general judgment is announced to come, in which the wicked are to be punished according to their deserts, and the righteous to be duly rewarded? And yet the mystery of the resurrection, not being understood, is made a subject of ridicule among unbelievers. In these circumstances, to speak of the Christian doctrine as a secret system, is altogether absurd.
But that there should be certain doctrines, not made known to the multitude, which are (revealed) after the exoteric ones have been taught, is not a peculiarity of Christianity alone, but also of philosophic systems, in which certain truths are exoteric and others esoteric. Some of the hearers of Pythagoras were content with his ipse dixit 24; while others were taught in secret those doctrines which were not deemed fit to be communicated to profane and insufficiently prepared ears.
Moreover, all the mysteries that are celebrated everywhere throughout Greece and barbarous countries, although held in secret, have no discredit thrown upon them, so that it is in vain that he endeavours to calumniate the secret doctrines of Christianity, seeing he does not correctly understand its nature.”
Origen, Against Celsus, 1.7 25
Unlike the pagan religions and mysteries, Christianity was not a secret sect or religion, but because of persecution Christians met privately while willing to speak to anyone who would listen. Origen felt that just because some people did not understand or could not accept what he called “the mystery of the resurrection,” that did not itself mean Christianity was a secret religion.
Celsus did have some reason to think that Christianity was a “secret system,” although as Origen pointed out, Christianity was far more open and straightforward than other beliefs. That being said, some Christian teachers did in fact teach a form of Double Doctrine. Surprisingly, after criticizing Celsus, even Origen himself did not teach the full gospel of Christ to the “common” people. Not long after the apostles died some Christian teachers, Origen among others, incorporated the Platonic teaching method of Double Doctrine. Perhaps they even justified it by a misunderstanding of Jesus’ parables.
Origen, who strongly believed in universal reconciliation of all men in Christ, nonetheless himself held back that full teaching from unbelievers. Perhaps it was the influence of the Alexandrian culture where Plato was honored for his wisdom second only to the Bible. In any case, Origen taught Double Doctrine regarding universal reconciliation. Why did he hold back and not teach the full truth to all people? The reason was given by Origen himself, again in his work Against Celsus. He believed that proclaiming the biblical teaching of universal reconciliation to the unconverted might be dangerous for them. Origen held back the truth for the same reason that pagan philosophers told lies to the people. He felt that the teaching of universal reconciliation should be presented guardedly. He writes about the purification of sinners through Christian atonement in light of universal reconciliation:
“But the remarks which might be made on this topic are neither to be made at all, ... [but] for the sake of those who are with difficulty restrained, even by fear of eternal [aeternum, age-lasting] punishment, from plunging into any degree of wickedness, and into the flood of evils which result from sin.”
Origen, Against Celsus, 6:26
Origen wrote and taught this to unbelievers. Universal reconciliation was not part of the Gospel of Christ for Origen even though he taught strongly within the church that all men would be saved. He also knew that most Christians held to the same doctrine of universal reconciliation. 26
Jerome was an irascible but productive 4th century C.E. scholar, translator and father of the church. Although he wrote contradictory statements about his own belief, it is clear that like Origen, Jerome felt that universal reconciliation should not be promoted to unbelievers. He thought that the terrors of punishment would keep people in line and that unrepentant people might react badly if they understood the full extent of God’s grace:
“All of which nevertheless they allow should not now be openly told to those with whom fear yet acts as a motive, and who may be kept from sinning by the terror of punishment. But this question we ought to leave to the wisdom of God alone, whose judgments as well as mercies are by weight and measure, and who well knows whom and how long, He ought to judge.
Jerome, Commentary on Isaiah, Book 18, chapter 66
The patriarch Job asked an important question that goes to the heart of the matter regarding the supposed immortal soul. He asked this question while undergoing intense suffering. The question involves you and all humanity: “If a man die, shall he live again?” (Job 14:14). The answer to this question is yes, but the obvious inference is that the dead are not alive. One is either alive or dead. 27
All have sinned (Romans 5:12) and come short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). The soul that sins shall not remain alive in another state of existence or state of being, it shall die: “the soul that sins, it shall die” (Ezekiel 18:4). In light of this, let us enlarge the context and look at the Job passage again:
“So man lies down, and rises not: till the heavens be no more, they shall not awake, nor be raised out of their sleep. O that you would hide me in the grave, that you would keep me secret, until your wrath be past, that you would appoint me a set time, and remember me! If a man die, shall he live again? all the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come. You shall call, and I will answer you: you will have a desire to the work of your hands.”
This passage in Job is not describing an immortal soul. It is a statement that the dead are dead. They are unconscious, nonexistent — for a period of time — until God calls them and changes the death state like “sleep” to be “awake.” The dead are not immortal. They do not have an immortal soul. Immortality only comes from God, when He chooses to give it.
At the time Job expressed his thoughts, written after his experience of great loss and suffering, he understood that the resurrection would not occur until the heavens cease to exist. He was content to wait “until my change come.” It is doubtful that he understood details about the new heavens and new earth, we cannot tell from what he wrote. To be sure, for the vast percentage of humanity their resurrection will not occur until after the Kingdom of God has been on earth for 1,000 years, the new heavens and the new earth are created, and the Great White Throne judgment begins. This fits precisely with what Job wrote.
“Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead?”
1 Corinthians 15:12
About 150 C.E., Justin Martyr writes of those whom he does not consider not to be Christians:
“… who are called Christians, but who do not admit this [truth of resurrection], and venture to blaspheme the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob; who say there is no resurrection of the dead, and that their souls, when they die, are taken to heaven; do not imagine that they are Christians.”
Justin Martyr, Dialogues with Trypho, 80 28
Not long after Justin wrote those words, the first church father openly declared a belief in an “immortal soul.” It was Athenagoras of Athens in about 177 C.E.:
“Our belief rests on a most infallible guarantee — the purpose of him who fashioned us, according to which he made man of an immortal soul and a body. …
For if the whole nature of men in general is composed of an immortal soul and a body which was fitted to it in the creation, ...
… men, in respect of the soul, have from their first origin an unchangeable continuance, but in respect of the body obtain immortality by means of change.”
Athenagoras, On the Resurrection 29
After Athenagoras I will not bore you with the litany of Christian believers and leaders who clearly incorporated non-biblical Platonic and neo-Platonic concepts into their Christian beliefs. Then after Christianity became legally recognized and even protected as an acceptable religion by the Roman government during the reign of Emperor Constantine, and Christianity became politically and socially acceptable, then political opportunists became church leaders and incorporated the popular and familiar Platonic concepts into their teaching about the nature of the soul and rewards. The teaching of Double Doctrine for the purpose of social control accompanied the doctrine of the immortal soul.
One attraction of the immortal soul doctrine is the supposed promise of immediate reward. God promises rewards also, but in His own good time. God will reward those who seek Him. In order to gain that reward, one must first believe that God exists, and then express faith in Him, all as a prerequisite for that reward. That reward will come with the resurrection from the dead.
“But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that comes to God must  believe that he is, and  [believe] that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.”
This verse is embedded within a larger text that talks about those of faith in the Old Testament who had not yet received their reward. None yet have been resurrected to their reward. Moses and the others to this day have not yet gained his future reward since their death (Hebrews 11:26). All rewards after death are in the context of the resurrection (Matthew 5:12, 6:1, 4, 6, 18). Remember, Scripture makes clear that even our will to believe comes from God (Ephesians 1:11; Philippians 2:13).
We have seen that Jesus held back teaching from the people, temporarily. God the Father also uses the method of “Double Doctrine.” He withholds teaching from the great mass of humanity and gives it to a select few that He has called out to receive the truth of God in this age. God still keeps secrets, such as the day of Christ’s return, which Jesus refused to reveal to His closest associates, the apostles:
“But of that day and hour knows no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.”
Matthew 24:36 (Mark 13:32)
“When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, ‘Lord, will you at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father has put in his own power.”
Some day in the future the waiting will be over for all of us.
“But of the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I write unto you. For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night.”
1 Thessalonians 5:1–2
“That in the dispensation of the fullness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him: In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who works all things after the counsel of his own will.”
In these last days perilous times will come (2 Timothy 3:1), which require us all to hold fast to our faith,
“until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ: Which in his times he shall show, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords.”
1 Timothy 6:14–15
God will reveal all secrets which He truly calls mysteries (musterion is the Greek root word). 30 Keeping secrets is not lying. The greatest and final Mystery was revealed to the apostle Paul and others some time around 61 to 63 C.E. They in turn presented them to the world. At present that greatest mystery is available to everyone.
The apostle Paul makes direct reference to those rulers and philosophers, the wise, who promoted and perpetuated great falsehoods, such as the immortal soul, hell, and trinity doctrines. Keep in mind that what Paul is expressing applies to the “wise” today, just as much as it did in his own day:
“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold [back] the truth in unrighteousness; Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God has shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, [how?] being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools.”
By holding back truth, as in Double Doctrine, the wise of the world, become fools, and as a result are left to their own lusts by God. This means that they purposely give up truths they know and then falsely declare those truths to be lies. Paul says they are “without excuse” as they “changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator” (Romans 1:25). How foolish. They do this to maintain power over other people. This is staggering in its implications. Let us unpack these verses to the end of Romans chapter 1 about the wise of the world:
They understand the nature of His Godhead (verse 20).
They therefore have no excuse (verse 20).
Their hearts become darkened [unintelligent] (verse 21).
They began to consider the creatures as part of God. They convinced themselves of that stupidity and began to imagine that the glory of God was manifest within man, animals, and even small creatures. They imagined that they were all part of God (verse 23). They imagined that God was everywhere and everything was God. So God acted and gave them over to their own lusts which led to uncleanness of dishonoring their own bodies (verse 24).
What a sordid mess! This comes about all because they did not wish to retain the knowledge of God in their hearts. Note that evil progresses worse and worse. Such is the description of the apostle Paul. He described the past (particularly the immediate post-flood world), his own day, and it applies to our day.
Note that all through the process of decline and degeneracy they knew the truth! Note also that most all the verbs in this latter part of the chapter are present tense in Greek. The progression is occurring with the wise, the rulers, and the philosophers of the world today. Human nature does not change without God’s intervention, without His giving of His Holy Spirit.
Of course none of this should surprise anyone because lying to others and to ourselves is a common human fault. Rulers lying to their subjects is seen almost as a prerogative of officials around the world and throughout history. Nonetheless it is a great evil that shall increase in intensity in the future:
“Now the Spirit speaks expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron.”
1 Timothy 4:1–2
The Bible is unambiguous and straightforward about immortality. No Double Doctrine on this subject! Scripture clearly declares who possesses immortality at present, and who will have it in the future. At this present time just prior to Christ’s return to this earth only one human being has attained and presently possesses immortality.
“I give you charge in the sight of God, who quickens all things [literally ‘makes all alive’], and before Christ Jesus, … That you keep this commandment without spot, unrebukeable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ: Which in his times he shall show, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords; Who only has immortality [Greek root word athanasia], dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man has seen, nor can see: to whom be honor and power everlasting. Amen.”
1 Timothy 6:13–16
Note that at present only Jesus Christ has immortality. No other human being has immortality (verse 16) — not now, and not until Jesus returns to this earth! Yet eventually all shall be made alive in the future (verse 13), just as all shall be saved (1 Timothy 2:4–6, 4:9–10, and 2 Timothy 2:11) and gain immortality. First Timothy 6:13–16 specifically answers Job’s question: “If a man die, shall he live again?” Yes. All shall die, but all shall live again, all shall be quickened. Christ alone has immortality at this present time, but the apostle Paul states precisely when more people will receive the same immortality that Christ has now:
“For this corruptible must put on incorruption [Greek root word aphtharsia], and this mortal must put on immortality [Greek root athanasia]. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption [aphtharsia], and this mortal shall have put on immortality [athanasia], then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.”
1 Corinthians 15:53–54
Paul states twice that immortality must be “put on.” It is not a possession at present for anyone except Christ. It is an event to come in the future. For more details read all of Paul’s description of the resurrection body in 1 Corinthians 15:35–58. 31 Immortality at the resurrection will be “put on” like a coat or a garment.
“And if Christ [Messiah] be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ [Messiah] from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwells in you.”
Evil spirits for millennia have lied to people around the world, and they continue to do so today. Pagan religious and political leaders lied about the immortal soul for the purpose of maintaining some control over the “common” people (who often ran amuck, acting like animals, or worse). Early church leaders also saw the necessity to keep the masses in fear so that they could be more easily controlled.
God does not do such things. God does not lie. It is impossible for Him to do so (Hebrews 6:18). However, God does hide information from His children (Proverbs 25:2) until He sees fit for them to know His secrets. 32 God holds to Himself mysteries that He reveals to His children, again at the proper time.
Paul as a servant of God stated plainly the example he expected the Corinthians to follow, and they had problems with morality. We also should follow Paul’s example in speaking honestly and making the truth plain to everyone. There should be no hidden truths among us, no mysteries.
“Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God.
1 Corinthians 4:5
“Therefore seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not; But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty [shame], not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully [not adulterating it]; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God. But if our gospel be hid [and it is not], it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world [age] has blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ [the Messiah], who is the image of God, should shine unto them.”
2 Corinthians 4:1–4
The light of the truth of the Gospel of the Messiah, who is the Image of God, is what must be communicated to the world. Every mystery that God has revealed is now available to be proclaimed and understood by you and by everyone. 33 It is God’s responsibility to preserve and unveil mysteries, not ours. Our responsibility is to make available and to teach the full Gospel of Christ and God. No biblical teaching today can justifiably be hidden from our fellow human beings. We should be willing to proclaim to every human being: “you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free!” (John 8:32).
David Sielaff, January 2006
1 Read the Newsletter for January 2006 for an explanation why this article has a dual authorship. All footnotes are mine unless otherwise indicated. DWS
2 See Polybius, Histories, Shuckburgh 1889 translation (London, New York. Macmillan. 1889. Reprint Bloomington 1962) at www.perseus.tufts.edu/cgi-bin/ptext?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.01.0234&layout=&loc=6.56.
3 The Histories of Polybius, Loeb Classical Library (Harvard University Press, 1922–1927), fragments from chapter 6, at http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Roman/Texts/Polybius/6*.html.
4 Cicero The Nature of the Gods (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1877), at http://trisagionseraph.tripod.com/Texts/Cicero.html.
5 James Hastings, ed., Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics, vol. 7 (New York: C. Scribner's & Sons, 1908), pp. 61, 63.
6 Hastings, Encyclopedia of Religion & Ethics, vol. 7, p. 63.
7 As Ernest L. Martin, notes in his article “Pagan Doctrine of the Soul” in The Good News, vol. 12, no. 3, March 1963 (Pasadena), pp. 5–6, 12, at www.godstruthfortoday.org/Library/martin/PaganDoctrineOfTheSoul.htm.
“One of the most important observations to be made regarding the teachings of the pagan philosophers and/or theologians is that they ALL adhered to the ‘double doctrine’ method teaching. Pythagoras in the sixth century B.C., [later] Plato, Aristotle, and even those of the first century always had two doctrines! Invariably, their disciples were told the truth (as much as the philosophers understood), and the common people were told as many bold-faced LIES as was necessary to control them and render them governable.”
In his book The People That History Forgot (Portland, OR: ASK, 1994), Dr. Martin shows that not only did the major mystery religions originate from the area of Babylon, but the philosophical school of Stoicism also originated from Babylon. See Chapter 17, “Eastern Philosophy Conquers Rome” at http://www.askelm.com/people/peo019.htm.
8 In Martin, “Pagan Doctrine of the Soul,” p. 6.
9 William Warburton, Divine Legation of Moses, 3 volumes, 10th edition (London: Tomas Tegg, 1846).
10 For example, during a crucial time in the siege of Jerusalem in 70 C.E. the Roman general Titus inspired his troops to move forward and fight, in full recognition that the first ones attacking would surely be killed:
“… what man of virtue is there who does not know, that those souls which are severed from their fleshly bodies in battles by the sword, are received by the ether, that purest of elements, and joined to that company which are placed among the stars; that they become good genies, and propitious heroes, and show themselves as such to their posterity afterward? while upon those souls that wear away in and with their distempered bodies [meaning, by disease], comes a subterranean night to dissolve them to nothing, and a deep oblivion to take away all remembrance of them. … but since fate has determined that death is to come of necessity upon all men, a sword is a better instrument for that purpose than any disease whatever. Why is it not then a very lowly thing for us not to yield up that to the public benefit which we must yield up to fate?”
Josephus, Jewish Wars, 6:46–49
In other words, Titus is saying to them, since death is inevitable, it is better and more noble to die for the good of the state, than simply to die. Of course, Titus was not leading the charge. As the general he was too essential to the battle.
11 Warburton, Divine Legation of Moses, vol. 1, pp. 170–171.
12 Warburton, Divine Legation of Moses, vol. 1, pp. 170–173.
13 Herodotus, The Histories, A.D. Godley, ed., Book 2, chapter 123 at http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/cgi-bin/ptext?lookup=Hdt.+2.123.1. The Egyptians were also the first to build statues and temples to the gods (Boo
14 In Martin, “Pagan Doctrine of the Soul,” p. 6. Plato in Timaeus: “We may say that the world became a living creature truly endowed with soul and intelligence by the providence of God.” This is panentheism, that the universe contains everything that is God. This is clearly not biblical.
15 Warburton, Divine Legation of Moses, vol. 1, pp. 193–202.
17 James Webb, The Occult Underground (LaSalle, IL: Open Court, 1974), p. 199.
18 See Dr. Martin’s The People That History Forgot, at http://www.askelm.com/people/index.asp, chapters 4, 8, and 17. See also chapter 19 of Dr. Martin’s Essentials of New Testament Doctrine (Portland, OR: ASK, 2001). Epiphanius in G.R.S. Mead, Simon Magus (London: 1892; reprint London: Ares Publishers, 1985).
19 The Jewish philosopher Maimonides in the 12th century used Double Doctrine teaching to lead Jews away from a desire to rebuild their Temple. Attempts in doing so had been disastrous to Jews throughout their history. Maimonides also strove to get his Hellenistic and atheistic religious beliefs accepted by fellow Jews. During his lifetime his beliefs were not widely accepted. See Dr. Martin’s articles “The Greatest Revolution in Human History” at http://www.askelm.com/doctrine/d000101.htm and “Maimonides – Saint and Heretic” at http://www.askelm.com/doctrine/d010301.htm.
See Adam Weishaupt, Apologie des Illuminatum (Frankfurt, 1789).
George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Thomas Paine all discuss the
Illuminati in private letters. A large third political party, the
Anti-Masonic Party, was organized in the United States between 1827 and
1838. It considered Freemasonry with its hidden traditions to be a
threat to society. For the role of secret societies in politics see
James H. Billington, Fire in the Minds of Men: Origins of the
Revolutionary Faith (New York: Basic Books, 1980). In America, a
large percentage of the urban male population during the last part of
the 19th century and early 20th century belonged
to fraternal organizations that had secret traditions and rituals, most
of those were harmless. The attraction of secret knowledge is still
powerful to many people in the modern world.
Modern military, intelligence, and security organizations have a structure of information dissemination called compartmentalization. Only those who “need to know” something have access to relevant information. As a person’s security clearance and “need to know” is higher, that person is allowed access to more and more information relevant to their function. It is an excellent means of keeping secrets, and an effective way to control both information and people. It also minimizes damage if persons holding a portion of secret information is compromised or reveals what he or she knows.
21 When the Bible states that every soul that sins shall die, that includes spirit entities such as demons and angels. See the biblical explanation in chapter 15, “Can Sinning Angels Be Saved?” in Dr. Martin’s Essential of New Testament Doctrine at http://www.askelm.com/essentials/ess021.htm.
22 Paul is making reference to Psalm 96:4–5 & Isaiah 65:11 both in the Greek LXX.
“For the Lord is great, and greatly to be praised: he is to be feared above all gods. For all the gods of the nations are idols [demons in the Greek LXX]: but the Lord made the heavens.”
Psalm 96:4–5 (cf. 1 Chronicles 16:25–26)
“But you are they that forsake the Lord, that forget my holy mountain, that prepare a table for that troop [the demon in the Greek LXX], and that furnish the drink offering unto that number.”
The future also will see people worshipping demons and idols. See Revelation 9:20.
23 The article “The Real Meaning of Biblical Words” (http://www.askelm.com/doctrine/d040201.htm) explains how Jesus used parables to keep information from the people. See Matthew 13:13–15 (citing Isaiah 6:9–10); John 6:44, 65, 8:43, 12:37–40. This temporary withholding of information was done to serve them, not to rule over them.
24 Ipse dixit is a Latin term, for an unsupported assertion. Here it is used to refer to Pythagoras’ exoteric or plain but unsupported statements about the gods.
25 “Early Church Fathers,” Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. IV, The Fathers of the Third Century. Origen, Against Celsus 1.7, at http://ccel.org/fathers2/ANF-04/anf04-55.htm#P7633_1767606.
27 See my article “Pope John Paul II Is in Hell” at http://www.askelm.com/doctrine/d050601.htm. From there all the various articles on the ASK website are listed that discuss issues related to immortality and salvation.
29 See www.monachos.net/patristics/athenagoras_res.shtml. Trans by B.P. Pratten, Ante Nicene Fathers, vol. 2. Chapters 13, 15 and 16 respectively. In chapter 20 Athenagoras again states that the soul remains immortal after the body dissolves to dust. In chapter 24 he writes “For such an end as this, I suppose, belongs to beasts and cattle, not to men possessed of an immortal soul and rational judgment.”
30 See Dr. Martin’s article, “The History of the Revelation of the Mystery” at http://www.askelm.com/doctrine/d040101.htm. Study all the instances of “mystery” to understand the things God chooses to hide and then reveal at the proper times: Matthew 13:11; Mark 4:11; Luke 8:10; Romans 11:25, 16:25; 1 Corinthians 2:7, 4:1, 13:2, 14:2, 15:51; Ephesians 1:9, 3:3f, 9, 5:32, 6:19; Colossians 1:26f, 2:2, 4:3; 2 Thessalonians 2:7, 1 Timothy 3:9, 16; Revelation 1:20, 10:7, 17:5, 7.
31 Note the difference between the two Greek roots aphtharsia (incorruption) and athanasia (immortality). Athanasia occurs 3 times in the New Testament. Aphtharsia occurs 8 times: 4 times as “incorruption,” 2 times as “immortality,” and 2 times as “sincerity.” The two verses in the King James Version translated “immortality” should be translated “incorruption.”
“To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honor and immortality [athanasia, incorruption], eternal [eonian] life.”
“But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who  has abolished death, and  has brought life and  immortality [athanasia, incorruption] to light through the gospel.”
2 Timothy 1:10
While incorruption is an attribute within immortality and is related to eonian or age-lasting life (Romans 2:7) and the abolishment of death (2 Timothy 1:10), these verses tell us that the “incorruption” is something to be sought and is not the present possession of the believer. Accuracy in translation is important and always yields useful information.
32 God allows people to deceive themselves, sometimes with assistance from evil spirits. Look at the incident where God commissions a spirit to deceive the Kings of Israel and Judah (1 Kings 22:13–26) resulting in their defeat in battle by the King of Syria (1 Kings 22:29–40). See Chapter 3 “Progressive Revelation” in Dr. Martin’s book Essentials of New Testament Doctrine, available at: http://www.askelm.com/essentials/index.asp.
33 Romans 16:25; 1 Corinthians 2:7, 4:1; Ephesians 1:9, 3:3–4, 9, 5:32, 6:29; Colossians 1:26–27, 2:2, 4:3.
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