Soul Service

Soul Service, mass for the departed. Soul sleep is the name given to one among the many conceptions entertained by the human mind with respect to the state of the soul after the death of the body. It assumes that the soul sleeps so long as the body lies in the grave, and that it will arise together with the body at the Resurrection. The term psychopannychism (q.v.) has been applied to this doctrine because it teaches a continuous night for the soul "until the day dawn and the, day star arise" (2Pe 1:19), or until the eternal day shall begin in which there is no more alternation of light and darkness (Re 21:25; Re 22:5). The doctrine of psychopannychism originated in the East among the Arabian and Armenian sects and from thence spread into the West of Europe. Traces of it are found with several of the Church fathers. It was condemned by the Councils of Ferrara (1438) and of Florence (1439), earlier by that of Lyons (1274), and later, in the 16th century, by the Council of Trent (sess. 6, 25). Pope John XXII (died 1304), however, held the doctrine of the soul's sleep himself, and openly promulgated the view that the souls of the pious dead do not see the face of God until after the body has been raised. Later, after the rise of Protestantism, certain of the Socinians and also of the Arminians showed themselves inclined to hold an indefinite, not thoroughly apprehended, psychopannychism; and the Anabaptists (q.v.) allowed the doctrine to attain to its complete development among their adherents. Calvin repeatedly rejected it, first in his treatise De Psychopannychia (1534), and afterwards in his Tractatus Vat. 2, 449 sq. etc. Luther, on the other hand, was inclined to accept the doctrine of the soul's sleep as correct. A related error is that of the soul's death, which was taught as early as A.D. 248 by the Arabian Thetopsychites (q.v.). Peter Pomponatius (died 1525) became especially prominent among the advocates of this doctrine, and his activity led pope Leo X to condemn this and other similar errors disseminated since the time of Averroes.

The errors in question are based in part upon certain expressions in the Scriptures (see Job 14:11-12; Ps 6:5; Ps 88:11; Ps 115:17-18; Isa 38:18; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-15; 5, 10). The exposition of such passages by which soul sleep is proved certainly rests on a misconception, since the New-Test. language does not refer to the soul's sleep nor to the soul's death, but simply to the soul's rest (see Re 14:13, where the dead are described as blessed). The Old Test. language usually referred to in behalf of this theory merely regards the life of this earth as a period of gracious opportunity and privilege which comes to end at death (see Heb 9:27;. Joh 9:4). It must be conceded that the Old Test. revelation was incomplete; it does not disclose everything with reference to eschatological questions, as in other departments of inquiry, and much is left for the New Test. revelation to perfect. But the earlier revelation contains no error that might contradict New Test. truth.

The principal basis for the soul sleep view is found, however, not in the Scriptures, but in the assumption that death causes a complete disintegration of the constituent parts of the human being. This point has been met by regarding the living soul (Ge 2:7) as. a concrete real, and not simply abstract being; but more satisfactorily by the scriptural statement of the blessedness of the soul after death, from henceforth (Re 14:13) in other words, by the intermediate state, which is to continue until the final reintegration of the entire man and of the race at the day of the general resurrection. This latter doctrine is expressly taught by Calvin, Institutes, 3, 25. (See also Ursinius, Mittelzustand der Seelen; Delitzsch, Bibl. Psychol. [Leips. 1859], p. 389-394.)

The idea of soul sleep has, nevertheless, a measure of truth belonging to it, inasmuch as death may really be likened to sleep as it stands related to a future resurrection. It actually does lead pious souls to a sabbatism of rest, i.e. to the katapausis (Heb 4:9-11) and the anapausis (Re 14:13). Nor is it accidental that the God man rested in the grave on the Sabbath, and arose on the first day of the week. Finally, the soul sleep theory claims in its behalf the idea that the night of death is to the sleepers but as a moment, however long it may seem to us who have not entered on its experience. The views entertained by the adherents of the theory are not constant, however, and they are found sometimes to postulae a distinction between soul and spirit (Ec 12:7), and at other times to ignore it.

Bordering on the errors of soul sleep and soul death is the monstrous doctrine of a soul migration, or metempsychosis (q.v.), accompanied by no recollections of any former state, inasmuch as it postulates a previous sleep, or even death (see Lange [J.P.], Positive Dogmatik, p. 1258, etc.). This conception transcends the limits of Christian thought. Sleep and night, death and Sheol, are rest compared with such a migratory state. The theory, associated with that of pre-existence, occurs chiefly, however, in Gnosticism and the CabaIa.

In addition to works already mentioned, see Backer, Mittheilungen aus Lescher's Sanml. aus d. 17ten u. 18ten Jahrhundert lib. d. Zustand d. Seelen nach d. Tode (1835, 1836), 1, 2; Frantz, Gebet fur d. Todten im Zusammenhang mit Cultus u. Lehre (Nordh. 1857); Hahn, Lehre d. christl. Glaubens (1858), p. 20, 425 sq.; Goschel, Lehre v. d. letzten Dingen (Berlin, 1850); Id. Der Mensch, nach Leib, Seele, u. Geist (Leips. 1856). SEE INTERMEDIATE STATE; SEE METEMPSYCHOSIS.

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