1IF RESURRECTION OF THE BODY, WHY IMMORTALITY OF THE SOUL?The very title of this essay presupposes that the concept of the immortality of the soul issomehow opposite to the concept of the resurrection of the body. For many in the church,however, the immortality of the soul is precisely tied or bound up in the concept of theresurrection of the body. That being the case, it is possible that many church people would findthe question in the title of this paper puzzling, strange, or perhaps even as theological double-talk.Of course the soul is immortal some would say, and there is also a resurrection of thebody—there is both! To get a feel for what church members may actually think on the subject, Iasked some people in the church to answer a few questions regarding their understanding of theimmortality of the soul. Without hesitation, every single one of them answered that theybelieved in the immortality of the soul. In their view the soul either goes to heaven after death or to hell depending upon the person’s acceptance of the message of the gospel. Some did notknow where the soul was before the person is born, others thought that God created the soulwhen a person is conceived or born. At least in one case, the connection was made between aperson being “saved” and the soul gaining immortality as a consequence. It would appear thenthat the soul is not thought to be inherently immortal for some church people, but only becomesso after one accepts the message of salvation.
This of course creates a problem. If only the souls of the righteous are immortal, whatdo we make of passages that suggest that the wicked will also be raised to stand judgment? Dothe wicked also have an immortal soul? If not, does that amount to annihilation? This is beyondthe scope of this paper, but it does pose an interesting question for further investigation withinthe traditional understanding of soul.