Post-Death Consciousness

8th issue in series (find the other parts here.)

Post-Death Consciousness (Leg 6)

(Ghosts, witches, and corpse abuse)

 (. . . Dear Mark . . .)


And on to ghosts, assuming we all take the meaning to be disembodied human spirits. “The 12” [give or take one apostle] twice set Jesus up to tell them, “Silly apostles, ghosts, don’t exist,” but He “failed” to do this. In the second instance,[1] He might even be said to have affirmed their existence, saying the equivalent of, “Such don’t eat and have palpable flesh as you see and feel of me.”[2] But I throw that in as more of a random thought than a strong argument. Except:

I did not find your argument persuasive that the witch at Endor summoned up some other entity than departed-Samuel (who therein remonstrates against the interruption of his pleasant rest). At this point I would ask you: Do you find other examples in the books of Samuel where what presents itself as straightforward expository content is otherwise?

By your assertions that God would not possibly work in this way, I suspect you also take exception to the seemingly clear-cut reading of 1 Kings 22:7-28? Both seem perfectly legitimate to me as straightforward expository Bible passages. They are, from the Bible reader’s perspective, unusual, but only unusual. In them, God has allowed glimpses into hidden things. Your refusal to take them at face value sounds slightly like Habakkuk telling God that He,[3] being the Righteous Judge, will surely not allow Giant, Foreign Evil to come in judgment of relatively Small, Local Evil. But God’s thoughts and ways are not Man’s thoughts and ways; often extremely distinct if not diametrically opposed.[4]

I wonder if your need for the Omnificent (All-Creative)[5] to not have done as stated in the passage is akin to the “God is a gentleman” heresy, wherein, anything you[6] find to be other than gentlemanly, you simply disallow God to do or have done—“No gentleman would!” I find that many who say, “You can’t put God into a box,” simply mean their box for God is bigger than yours.[7] I may find personal objection for many of the things God does, even visceral repulsion, but He seems to feel He’s a free agent, and has, to date, never once put something on hold to ask my counsel or permission.

The passage ought to be considered all the more nothing too far out of the ordinary when bearing in mind that Samuel was a prophet. Why? Because of God’s interesting relationship with His prophets. He sends lions to kill gullible prophets, lions to kill squeamish prophets, prophets to marry prostitutes, prophets to strip naked in public as they prophesy, prophets to walk naked on the roadway for a three years.[8] He is a God who hurtles the prophet fleeing from His Presence into stormy seas, while sending bears to avenge the honor of the prophet who obeys Him. All this because He didn’t consult with Martin first! [9]

Seriously, though, God is so vast and creative in His doing that our biggest God box has come back ruptured once again. Consider how zealous Saul was to rid the land of witches! Might God have protected one for this very occasion? Why should God not surprise a fraudulent soothsayer by giving her the real entity she was intending to pretend to summon?[10]

(Abrupt switch of topic angle:)

The great cloud of witnesses from Hebrews 12:1[11]? I don’t know. I suppose I could be as intimidated as encouraged to vividly “imagine” a (ghost) host of witnesses watching my every move. If God forgets my confessed sins, do these spectators also? Not going to make much of this, but I suppose these “departed” witnesses could literally be observing those who come behind them. (After all, Abraham was able to tell the rich man about how he had lived, and, by contrast, how Lazarus had lived.)

(Abrupt switch of topic angle:)

In Amos 2:1 (ESV) we get to see judgment rendered for a surprising thing: “Thus says the LORD: ‘For three transgressions of Moab, and for four, I will not revoke the punishment, because he burned to lime the bones of the king of Edom.’ “ According to the Living Translation, the sin is “desecration.” Moab is not guilty before God for killing his/their enemy, but for a hatred that doesn’t relent with the corpse of one’s enemy laying at one’s feet. To perform corpse abuse beyond battlefield victory is gross wrongdoing in God’s sight. This has to mean that a (conscious) dignity is being violated.

(Leg 6 conclusion:)

Your paper did not prove to me, so much as assert, that a physical body plus God’s breath are required for Man—or a man—to have consciousness. I don’t mean I didn’t enjoy your reasoning from boards and nails. That was a very fine way of expressing your point, but it was not, in my eyes, anything rising near the level of conclusive proof. I feel that if I knew the various (labeled) fallacies, I could point up an eloquent argument more neatly. Perhaps I should rather point out that that which is born of flesh is flesh, and that which is born of spirit is spirit.



Martin D. Carlson




[1] Let us also remember that, according to Peter, Judas had by this time already gone “to his rightful place (Acts 1:25 Berean Study Bible).”

[2] The Scriptural references for this paragraph may be found in Mark 6:48-50 and Luke 24:37-42, respectively.

[3] Habakkuk 1:12-2:1

[4] I am convinced you have perceived my allusions to Isa 55, 5, 26 and 45; as well as Eze 18 & 33 as to the extent that God’s thoughts and ways are distinct; no, maybe even the opposite of Man’s.

[5] Did I just define omnificent as all-creative? I take a bit of a liberty here, as I am wanting to point out God’s creativity in solutions, as opposed to the word’s true meaning, which may be more like unlimited creative power.

[6] You, that is, any given person who states that God wouldn’t do X because He is a gentleman.

[7] Yours, again, not an address to Mark, whose monologue I am answering, but the given person being addressed by the protestor against putting God in a box.

[8] This episode of Post-Death Consciousness brought to you by Ezekiel bread. (Not!)

[9] The Scriptural allusions for this paragraph may be found (in order) in 1 Kings 13:16-25 (go ahead, read the whole chapter: You know you want to); 1 Kings 20:35-36; Hosea 1:2-3; 1 Samuel 19:23-24; Isaiah 20:2-5; Jonah 1:7-15; and 2 Kings 2:23-25.

[10] “I’m sorry; you’ve reached the right number; Samuel on the line!” Would God do such a thing? According to David in Psalm 18:26 “ . . . to the treacherous (literally, crocked) You show Yourself shrewd (literally twisted).”

[11] Hebrews 12:1? Yes, read the whole of Chapter 11, though, to find out who this cloud includes.

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