The Rich Man and Lazarus

Question 128, from Ron, USA

I have read that Jesus only spoke in parables. I would like to know your thoughts on the subject of “The rich man and Lazarus”. I would just like to know if it is a true story or just a story to make a point.

‘The Rich Man and Lazarus’ is a parable of Jesus which is only found in Luke’s gospel (Luke chapter 16, verses 19 – 31). The basic thread of the story is that a rich man and a beggar, Lazarus, both die. The rich man goes to hell and sees Lazarus in “Abraham’s bosom” (a phrase equating to paradise or heaven) and begs Lazarus to come and bring him water. Lazarus can’t help him because he cannot cross the gulf between heaven and hell.

This parable has sometimes been cited as evidence that Jesus taught a ‘literal’ doctrine of hell – a place of eternal torment for the wicked – which, the theory goes, Jesus, as the pre-existent son of God would be able to describe from a position of knowledge. However, despite the popularity of this story as ‘evidence’ for hell, the fact remains it is a parable and no definite conclusions to its literal truth can be drawn. (more…)

Would a clone have a soul?

Question 127 from Joy, UK
Do clones have souls?

The Christian idea of a ‘soul’ is itself an example of an ‘evolving doctrine’. In the Old Testament there is a concept of a ‘shade’ dwelling in ‘sheol’ (often translated as ‘the grave’), hinting at some undefined continuance of human life. In the New Testament, life after death is described predominantly in terms of bodily resurrection, with virtually no sense of a ‘soul’ existing apart from a physical body.

As Christianity spread throughout the Roman Empire, a belief in souls as a part of a human being, distinguishable from the body, was soon assimilated into Christian thought. Souls, in pre-Christian philosophy were regarded as immortal, and some Christians have taken a view that when a person dies their soul continues to exist, in a diminished capacity, until it is reunited with its body at the resurrection.

Technically, whether the soul is accepted as immortal or not, the Christian view of humanity is (more…)