Exchange Propositions and "Do the Dead Know Anything"

(The following pertains to "Death and the State of the Soul,"  read first)



Resolved:  The scriptures teach that the spirit of man upon departure from the physical body enters an unconscious state where it has no memory, no emotion, and no awareness to either comfort or torment.

Max Burgin, affirms [16 December, 1999]

Don Martin,denies (dated: 12/15/99)

Resolved:  The scriptures teach that the spirit of man upon departure from the physical body is in a conscious state where it has memory, emotion, and awareness to either comfort or torment.

Don Martin, affirms (Dated: 12/15/99)

Max Burgin,denies [16 December, 1999]



Do the Dead Know Anything?

(Material containing error my Max Burgin)


     Don Martin of the Holly Street Church Of Christ, Denver, Colorado, USA, teaches on the Internet [, and,] that the dead are conscious, that they have a memory and are aware of others who are still alive..... This assumption is based on a figurative passage, a parable, Luke 19:19-31. While it is not called a parable - neither are the others, in the context, it is not possible that it could be an actual account, and taken literally. If it is taken literally, it proves too much, for it shows that the dead still have their physical bodies, when in fact they are buried, or cremated.  Death is said to be the separation of the soul, or spirit, and body James 2:26.

     The whole point of the parable is stated in verse 31, that a person needs to respond to the Scriptures while he is alive, when he is still able, when it will still be able to do some good. Any application beyond the stated meaning, is to stretch the passage and its purpose, and places it in conflict with other Scripture. Let us notice some.

     The dead are said to be "asleep" Acts 7:60, 1Thessalonians 4:14, to name just two. When a person is asleep, he is unconscious, he knows nothing, he is totally unaware of his surroundings and of anyone else. Time means nothing. If this is not clear enough Ecclesiastes 9:4-10 states in much detail the condition of the dead. There are many things said that cause much conflict if the verses in Luke 16:19-31 are to be taken literally. Jesus did not teach an untruth here, any more than He did in any other parable, and we should not try to make it mean more than the reason He gave. Among the things this passage says are: 1."the dead know nothing" 2. "they have no further reward" 3. "the memory of them is forgotten" [this does not mean OUR memory of them, but THEIR memory] 4. Their emotions have vanished 5. "never again will they have a part in anything that happens under the sun" 5. "there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom" among the dead. We must put an interpretation on the passage in Luke that is consistent with all these other passages, which are not figurative. None of these things can be said of those mentioned in Luke.

     The rich man is pictured in "hell" where he is "tormented in this flame", while Lazarus is "comforted", if it is a true and literal account, that is a "reward", that the dead are said not to have - certainly not the case in hades. That wont happen prior to the judgement Matthew 25:46, Romans 14:11-12, Hebrews 9:27 which hasn’t happened yet. And it wont happen in hades - the abode of the dead. The dead cannot be contacted, neither do they contact others.

     In the resurrection of the dead John 5:28-29, they will again have a memory, "there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth", but this will be the end of the world, and the judgement - and the results,eternal.

     I asked this question repeatedly but have been ignored on each occasion, if he argues that whatever we believe on this subject has no import on what is required for salvation, and therefore should not be made a test of fellowship, there will be no problem from me - so I ask why did he teach on a subject that has no relevance to what one must do to be saved? Is this a license to teach error?

     The Bible is not silent on this subject, so if we are concerned with the truth of the matter, it is not found in a figurative passage, over a plain one. Keep the matter in context - and remember the purpose for which Luke 16:19-41 was written - there is no chance after death.

     The simple truth is, the dead know nothing.

Max Burgin