Appendix - Annihilationism - 3. W. R. Hart: "Eternal Purpose"

Mr. Hart’s book need not detain us long. He is a disciple of Mr. Morris, whose errors he reproduces, even to the rendering of "living soul" as "vigorous breather," and of basanismos (torment) as "putting to the proof." For him, also, "man, as descended from Adam, consists of a soul and body; the new man in Christ Jesus is body, soul, and spirit" (p. 108). Adam himself had "a ‘pneumatic capacity,’ - that is, he was so constituted as to be capable of receiving a spiritual life in addition to that psychical one with which he was created" (p. 218). He was "created in the ‘lower parts of the earth.’ (Ps. cxxxix.) There his soul formed for itself a body according to the laws of gestation, and when God brought him forth out of his mother earth, He breathed into his nostrils the ‘breath of lives,’ the breath common to all animals." According to the penalty, "he himself, his soul and body, were to return unto the earth from whence he was taken. The personal pronoun is not used of the body alone in Scripture, though it is of the soul. The sin of Adam was willful, intelligent lawlessness, and his doom was utter death. . . . He was a type of Antichrist, according to Rom. v. 14." (!) In the creation of Eve, "God ‘took one (‘rib’ is a fancy of the translators) out of his side, and built it up into a woman; - that is, he took a vital germ - a soul - out of the body of Adam, and built up a material body." (pp. 221, 224.)

Of course all this is to make the soul mortal. The rendering of "living soul" by "vigorous breather" - puerile as it is - is quite needful to this hypothesis. For living, the soul must, of course, have been when it was clothing itself with a body before the breath of life was given. Nay, the body itself must have been also alive, and merely started on a new course of existence when it began to breathe, as a child does when it is born. The new idea, also, as to the creation of the woman is equally necessary. These are the two crutches of a very lame hypothesis.

But first as to the woman: "one out of his side," Mr. Hart would have it, - a singular phrase, it must be owned, and which still requires something very like "fancy" to read "soul" into it. But this is not all by any means; for I suppose that - although he is pleased to translate it as a singular - "side" is really a plural, "sides." Nor can he deny either that, inasmuch as there is in Hebrew a dual number expressly to give the idea of a pair, as of arms, feet, etc., the plural here would indicate that Adam had more than two "sides"

Besides the construction naturally means "one of" rather than "out of," the preposition being undoubtedly so used, and the want of a noun after "one" being supplied by that which follows. It would therefore read "one of his sides," if we are not to prefer what the lexicons give, and all translators probably prefer as an alternative, "one of his ribs."

Moreover, it is a new and rather startling doctrine, (which Mr. Hart seems to derive from Heb. vii. to, but which would seem rather akin to the Darwinian theory of Pangenesis,) that men carry about in their bodies a supply of human souls as he suggests. And to "close up flesh instead of it" would seem to indicate that such souls must be sufficiently material. While that the Lord "builded" this soul into a woman does not seem to agree with any formative power of the soul to build the body, but would rather emphasize still more inert materiality.

On the whole, we prefer the "fancy" of lexicographers and translators in this case, founded as it is upon the requirements of sense and language, to the "fancy" of Mr. Hart founded upon grammatical misconstruction, a questionable doctrine, and the necessities of the cause he advocates.

Nor is the account of the creation of man more favourable to his purpose. For the "living soul" is undoubtedly that which indwells the body even of the beast. And in Gen. i. 30 it would not do at all to translate "every thing in which there was a vigorous breather." But then, if the living soul be this indwelling principle, it is certain that man got it by the inbreathing of God, and that what was made of the dust of the ground is, in opposition to this, simply the human body.

Consequently the soul does not return to the dust, any more than it was taken out of it; and therefore when God says to man, "Dust thou art," Mr. Hart has before his eyes the very thing which he says cannot be found in Scripture. The identification of man with his body is in fact very common in Scripture, as we have long ago seen.

Every way the argument breaks down, and that most undeniably. But there is another result of such views as he enunciates. If man is but soul and body, as the beast is, and has lost even that "pneumatic capacity" which he asserts for Adam, then responsibility is lost also with this. Men are not immoral, but unmoral, just as the beast is. And this suits well with the thought of punishment which he advocates, which will leave still a balance of happiness on the side even of the lost. This he says of the angels that fell (p. 213), apparently forgetting that of one man, at any rate, the lips of truth have said, "Good were it for that man if he had not been born !" (Matt. Xxvi. 24.)

When we come to the question of judgment, Mr. Hart boldly teaches that there will be no resurrection of the wicked. "The teaching of Holy Scripture concerning the resurrection of the body applies only to Christians," he says: "there is not a word anywhere which intimates that the souls of the wicked shall ever again be embodied after death" (p. 313). He could not of course say with the apostle, "I have hope toward God, which they themselves also allow, that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust" (Acts xxiv. i5). Nor does he believe that "the hour is coming in which all that are in the graves shall hear the voice of the Son of Man, and shall come forth, . . . they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of judgment" (Jno. v. 29). "The dead who are cast into the lake of fire," he says, "are disembodied souls. . . . Their souls, revived to consciousness, shall stand naked in the presence of the throne of God, and before the frown of infinite holiness shall shrink back into their original nothingness . . while at the same time the material universe, the garment stained by sin, shall be destroyed by real flame, to make place for the new heavens and new earth in which dwells righteousness" (p. 314).

"This grand conflagration we believe to be the lake of fire, into which all evil persons and things are to be cast. Material fire cannot destroy immaterial life, but the frown of God and the material fire will act simultaneously" (p. 274). But how then can these evil spirits and lost souls be cast into this material fire? Tormented he denies it should be, as Mr. Morris does; but what can the fire do with those whom it can neither torment nor destroy? He forgets also that the lake of fire receives the beast and false prophet a thousand years before, according to him, it exists.

We need not go further, however, with Mr. Hart. The rest is ground which we have trodden sufficiently already.