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Salient: Victoria University Students' Paper. Vol. 30, No. 5. 1967.

Immortality ?

Immortality ?

Sirs,—Most of the talk on Geering's denial of immortal life is based on either a completely wrong usage of terms, or a misunderstanding of one of the most central doctrines of the Church. There seems to be a serious theological shortcircuiting, of the form "Geering says .. but I believe that ...," at large. As a result of this we have heard the airing of misinformed speculations and non-Christian hopes.

Let us get beneath this confusion by changing the grounds of the discussion, by turning to the Bible (strangely enough). Regardless of whether Geering has based his position on scientific discovery, the issue with which we are dealing has nothing to do with the relationship between science and Christianity.

Rather it is concerned with the claims of rival philosophies. About 50 AD Paul was faced with the problem of false teaching in his foundling Church at Corinth. Corinth was the fourth largest city in the Roman Empire and lay on the crossroads of east-west trade and was a meeting place of east-west religions. It was a centre of Greek philosophy. Immortality is a Greek concept. The Greeks believed that man is immortal; that his soul through its intrinsic merit was assured of eternal life. This notion is completely opposed to Christian teaching.

The end of eternal life is a common theme but here the similarity ends. Christian teaching stresses that man is mortal. The thread of Paul's argument runs through the 15th chapter of our first letter from Paul to the Church at Corinth ... v. 47, "The first man is of the earth, earthy; the second man is the Lord from Heaven ... " The Lord from Heaven who triumphed over death through resurrection ... and is a pattern for all believers ... v. 53. "For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality ..." Of himself man is not immortal. He may put on immortality through and only through resurrection and thus gain eternal life as a gift from God.

Anyone who likes may retain the label "immortal." May, but he does so at his own theological peril, particularly if he is not clear on the Biblical facts of the case.

Richard Clancy