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Conditional Immortality

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by Samuel M. Ohmart

The choicest blessings of God are all conditional. The small word "if"—so big in import—stands between us and all that God has promised. Salvation is conditional. Pardon and peace are conditional. Divine help in time of need is conditional. Growth in grace and knowledge is conditional.

The following is a table of other outstanding promises of God that are conditional:

  • CONDITIONAL MERCY (Ezekiel 33:9-19)
  • CONDITIONAL ESCAPE (Luke 13:3-5)
  • CONDITIONAL ENTRANCE (2 Peter 1:5-12)
  • CONDITIONAL BLESSINGS (Deuteronomy 28)
  • CONDITIONAL REIGNING (Revelation 2:26, 27)

Scores of others could be added. In fact, ALL God's promises are attached to CONDITIONS. Then why not CONDITIONAL IMMORTALITY also?

What do we understand by "Conditional Immortality?" We understand by this expression that immortality is not a present possession of man – that man is wholly mortal – and that God has promised immortality to man on certain conditions laid down in Scripture, which are the same as the conditions of salvation generally.

Mankind is now in a probationary state — we are candidates for immortality – required to demonstrate character fitness to live forever. Why should not man be required to develop a spiritual FITNESS to LIVE FOREVER before being granted immortality?

The doctrine of Conditional Immortality would have commended itself to men of intelligence and of reason as the most reasonable solution of the problem of the MEANING of this present life and of HUMAN DESTINY, if the unscriptural theory of the natural immortality of the soul– borrowed from the heathen world, and based wholly upon inference and superstition –had not been read into the word, since no scripture saysthat the soul is immortal.

The notion of soul immortality is a fruitful source of error and delusion in the Church. Take away the doctrine of the immortality of the soul, and you have destroyed the one foundation of Spiritualism, Christian Science, Romanism (with its Purgatory), Mormonism (with its teaching that God is continually begetting vast numbers of immortal spirits,thereby making polygamynecessary in order to provide bodies for them all) and Universalism,as well as many others. All these derive their sustenance from the tap-root of natural immortality.

The doctrine of the immortality of the soul has led many to reject the resurrection of the body as wholly unnecessary to a future life. No doubt it was their belief in a present immortality of the soul that led 33% of five hundred ministers and 69% of two hundred theological students, in a recent canvass, to declare their unbelief in a resurrection of the body.

Doubtless, also, this same doctrine of the immortality of the soul, upon which alone rests the doctrine of endless torture in an eternal hell for the lost, was directly responsible for the 34% of the five hundred ministers referred to above, and the 76% of the same two hundred theological students, rejecting the doctrine of hell, not because they denied just punishment for sin, but because their sense of justice revolted at such a fiendish conception of future punishment as endless torture in fire.

But there is another side to this – a side not seen by those who do not think a thing through,whose name is Legion. This is God's part in CREATING immortal souls – for it will hardly be claimed that mortalmen can beget immortalsouls – and in what light does God appear as the CREATOR of IMMORTAL SOULS IN SIN?

If, as traditional theology teaches, God is constantly creating BILLONS of immortal, never-dying souls – creating them without any voice or choice on their part – and with no reference to their fitness to LIVE FOREVER – if, as traditional orthodoxy teaches, God so creates these billions of souls that they can neverdie – so that God himself cannot deprive them of being – so that he cannot unmake what he has made, thus revealing

him to be the victim of his own creative power, he having madesomething that even he cannot destroy when it dishonors him – THEN indeed is God the CHAMPION BLUNDERER OF THE UNIVERSE.

IF, as tradition teaches, the vast majority of these "immortal souls" are headed for an eternal hell of endless torture,and God – God! – GOD, mind you, not Satan, as one might reasonably expect – but God, who knew the end from the beginning – KNEW it, and yet MADE them – yes, and is constantly making immortal souls, deathlesssouls, foreknowing their DOOM – THEN, indeed, would SUCH A GOD BE THE MOST CALLOUS BEING IN ALL THE UNIVERSE!

If, as tradition teaches, though countless billions of ages swell a measureless eternity, the unspeakable agonies of these "immortal souls" will never be lessened or cease – God will never be appeased – will forever be unrelenting – and his justice will never be satisfied – THEN, indeed, would such a God be the MOST VINDICTIVE BEING IN THE UNIVERSE!

We thank GOD that SUCH a God is not our God!

Many who hold the error of the naturalimmortality of the soul, but who yet revolt at the HORRIBLE INJUSTICE of an eternal hell of conscious torment for the lost, have in desperation swung to the other extreme of universal salvation, which is only another error nourished by the same tap-root of natural immortality.

Others, by the thousands, through their extreme revulsion against the dogma of eternal, conscious torment – based on the assumed immortality of the soul, which they have been taught to believe the Bible teaches – have swung to open and complete INFIDELITY.

Many such have been won back to belief in God and the Bible – some from Universalism, and some from Infidelity – by the reasonableness and Scriptural nature of Conditional Immortality.

Conditional Immortality teaches that only those who, under trial,in response to their moral probation,become spiritually fit to live forever will be made IMMORTAL in the resurrection; and that all not fit will be utterly DESTROYED in the "second death."

"For the wages of sin is DEATH, but the GIFT of God is ETERNAL LIFE, through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Romans 6:23).

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