chapter  XXVI
The Influence of the Ancient Tradition on Modern Conceptions of the After Life
Pages 10

There recently came into my hands a pretentious printed document en­ titled, “Ecclesiastics Indicted-Civilization Doomed.’5 It informs us that it was ratified at a “Convention of Bible Students . . . assembled at Columbus, Ohio, July 20th, 1924,55 which was presided over by Judge Ruther­ ford. It is not very pleasant reading, for it seems sadly lacking in all sense of' Christian charity, and grossly unfair in its sweeping accusations against the clergy of other forms of Christian religion, of whom it is not necessary to declare

THE INFLUENCE OF THE ANCIENT TRADITION. 187 that “they have used their spiritual powers . . . to gratify their own selfish desires” even if one does not agree with what they believe. However, the document is of value as stating in unequivocal terms what this strongly Protestant body considers befalls man at death. In Section (6) of this socalled “Indictment” occurs the following:—

“The Bible teaches that the wages of sin is death; that hell is the state of death or the tomb; that the dead are unconscious until the resurrection; and that the ransom sacrifice is provided that all in time may have an opportunity to believe and obey the Lord and live, while the wilfully wicked are to be punished with an everlasting destruction.” Now this is clear and categorical, and to a student of comparative religions

it is most interesting, for in its general conception it is pure Mahommedan ism. I must admit, however, that I cannot find any foundation for such a view in the Bible, on the authority of which it is supposed to be based, and it seems in direct conflict with Our Lord’s own teaching in the story of Dives and Lazarus (S. Luke 16, verses 19-21), for therein we are distinctly told that the rich man was in hell and was in torment, whereas Lazarus was also fully conscious in “Abraham’s bosom.” Moreover, it is clear that the day of Judgment had not yet come, for the rich man asks that Lazarus may be sent to his father’s house “that he may testify unto them lest they also come into this place of torment” The passage in S t. Peter(fl) wherein we are told that Christ, after his death, “went and preached unto the spirits which were in prison” seems also to contradict completely the view that the souls are unconscious from death until Judgment Day. Nevertheless we are not concerned at the moment with whether such beliefs are truly based on the Scriptures or not, it is sufficient to know that there exists a considerable number of Christians who hold that the soul is not in itself immortal, that at death it sinks into oblivion, and is raised on the Judg­ ment Day, either to enter into bliss or to be condemned to utter destruction.