Home  | The Zodiac Messages | Articles | Services | Visitors Book | Books | Site Map | Contact | Search 

Man and the Spiritual World

II.—Man, after Death, is in Bodily Form.

We advance a stage in our inquiry, and further gather from Scripture, that man after death, while preserving his personality and mind, is in bodily form.

This will appear a startling statement to many excellent Christians who only think of a spirit as a shapeless essence—a vague something without body or parts. It would be interesting to trace the source whence the popular idea of a spirit has been derived.

For some insufficient reason, many have come to the conclusion that the word 'body' can only be applied to creatures that possess a physical organisation, i.e., to creatures living on the earth-plane, or on planets more or less resembling our own. It never seems to strike some persons that it is possible there may exist bodies other than those compounded of material particles.

They can, of course, conceive of man as in bodily form, while as yet encased in a 'tabernacle' of flesh. Very likely they have a dim idea of him as he will be on a distant resurrection day, when (according to a crude idea, but not according to St Paul's teachings) his spirit will be a second time incarnated in a body composed of reanimated flesh that has mouldered in the grave. But it is altogether beyond their power to think of him as in bodily form during that period when he shall have been stripped of an earth-body, and not as yet re-clothed with a resurrection one.

To many Christians, educated and uneducated, it seems a veritable contradiction in terms to speak of a body in relation to a spirit. They can only imagine one kind of body, and that is laid aside at death, and the man (whatever his condition may be in the Spirit-World) is without it then.

Hence the commonly prevailing idea of ourselves as we shall be in the Intermediate Life, is a depressingly abstract one. The Ego that survives the incident of dying is enveloped in a haze of indefiniteness. I do not think I am exaggerating when I state that not one in every ten persons who believe in a Life Beyond has any idea of departed ones other than as formless conscious essences, who are doomed to await the reconstruction of their cast-off physical organisation before they can reassert their claim to be called ' men' and 'women.'

We challenge the accuracy of the idea that bodily form cannot be a characteristic of spirit. Whence came it? Was it borrowed from philosophy and foisted into Christian teaching, as other philosophical notions have been? Very likely it was so. After the Apostolic times, the Church showed a ready disposition to coquet with the schools.

One thing is very certain, the idea was not borrowed from the Bible. In that Book we learn that bodily form is not restricted to earthly matter.

St Paul mentions 'celestial bodies' as well as 'bodies terrestrial,' and a 'spiritual body' as distinct from a 'natural body' (1 Cor. xv. 40 and 44 v.).

Moreover, scores and scores of spiritual appearances are recorded in Scripture. Angels have visited and conversed with men. In all these instances, the spiritual beings have been in bodily shape. Thus, if the testimony of the Bible be reliable, the super-physical is not formless.

Now, it is very curious that persons who find no difficulty in believing that one class of spirits (angels) has bodily form, experience a very great difficulty in thinking of another spiritual class (men after death) as possessing it. The poet who clothes his super-physical creations with beautiful shape, is not generally regarded by religious folk as contributing very much to our knowledge of the Spiritual. He is not credited with being, in any sense, a teacher of actual fact. His pretty conceptions are admired, they appeal to aesthetic taste; but at the same time they take too concrete a form ever to be factors of practical thought to the lovers of theological abstraction. The higher world of spirit-form and reality, to which the mind of the poet soars, is not the World Beyond of the average Christian. It is not sufficiently vague and shadowy to fit in with the 'beatific visions' of ordinary theology. When the departed mother is represented in the Spirit-World, as enfolding in her embrace 'the child of her affection,' how many consider that statement as anything more than a touching figure of speech? To many the 'enfolding' and the ' embrace' mean no more than an attraction of bodiless essences to one another.

And yet the poet is right, and his idea of spirit life is better and truer than the divine's. It is more definite and Biblical. To him, at all events, the super-physical is not formless. That is one reason why the works of the poet are generally held in higher estimation than those of the theologian.

The former is a Seer in a sense that the latter is not.

But it may be said—suppose it be granted that angels possess bodily shape and organisation—does the Bible clearly teach that man possesses it after Death has divested him of his material part, and ushered him into a World of Spirit?

We answer—yes. Scripture has drawn aside the thin veil that hangs between life here and Beyond. We have been given a view of man in his experience after death, and the being disclosed is not a shapeless essence, but a creature of organised form. He is bodily still. Already we have referred to two post-mortem appearances — those of Samuel and Moses.

The prophet seen after death by the woman of Endor, and with whom the unhappy Saul conversed, was in bodily form. The woman's answer to the King's question—'What form is he of?'—was, 'An old man cometh up' (1 Sam. xxviii. 14 v.).

The Moses, seen on the mount of Transfiguration, fifteen hundred years after his material body had been buried 'in a valley in the land of Moab' (Deut. xxxiv. 6 v.) was not shapeless.

St Luke describes him as a man (Luke ix. 30 v.), and so bodily was he that he could converse with Christ, and was recognisable.

Again, take our Lord's portrayal of two persons after they had died, the Rich Man and Lazarus. It is consistent with the view that they were beings of shape, but altogether inconsistent with the idea of their being mere bodiless essences. The beggar who was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom (Paradise) was not an effluence of the man, as gas or smoke is an effluence of coal. It was his spirit-body that was conveyed thither, which as yet had not awakened from the temporary unconsciousness that attends the separation of the interior spiritual form from its physical envelope. The Rich Man, too, in Hades, could see and hear, and speak, and feel, all of which capabilities presuppose faculties, and, consequently, form.

Further, there are those truth-revealing words spoken by our Lord to the dying robber. Surely they point to bodily shape in Paradise. The two were to be together, which implies recognition. Could the robber have recognised Christ had the latter been formless and borne no resemblance to the Being Who expired on the cross?

Consider, moreover, that glorious statement of St Peter, which reveals such infinite possibilities in regard to the exercise of Divine mercy. I suppose more artifice and word-jugglery has been brought to bear upon this passage, in order to explain away its natural sense, than upon any other passage in the Bible. St Peter, be it remembered, was one of the privileged three who saw departed Moses on the mountain of Transfiguration, and in 1 Peter iii. 18-20 v., and iv. 6 v., he tells us about a work of saving grace that was performed by the Saviour during the brief interval between death on the cross and resurrection.

In the Spirit-World (into which, on Christ's own showing, He went at death), St Peter asserts that Jesus preached 'the Gospel' to persons who for their wickedness had been swept out of the earth-life by the waters of the flood, but who had, evidently, profited by God's judgment, as is seen in the words— 'which sometime' (not then) 'were disobedient.'

The Apostle also declares the object of Christ's preaching to them, viz., that they might 'live according to God in the spirit,' i.e., the spirit-life.

Now, we would ask, do not the acts of preaching and listening presuppose faculties of speech and hearing, and do not those faculties in turn point to an organised body of some sort? Can we, in our wildest flights of imagination, picture a formless Christ preaching to a congregation of formless essences?

Perhaps, we may be told that the word 'preaching' must not be taken literally, but in a metaphorical sense, i.e., to denote merely a mental operation in which neither voice nor ears play any part. If so, are we prepared to apply this principle of interpretation to the statement made by the same Apostle (in the Gospel—that according to St Mark—written under his direction) that he saw and heard Moses talking with Christ on the mount? (Mark ix., 4 and 5 v.). Are we ready to argue that in one place he meant what he stated, and in another place did not? We contend that St Peter's statement as to Christ preaching to 'the spirits in keeping,' is as much a fact as that He preached in the Temple-courts, and in the streets and highways of Galilee.

We need only notice the testimony of one other sacred writer in regard to the point we are considering. It is that of St John, another of those who saw Moses after death. In Rev. vi. 9-11 v., he describes his seeing the souls of the martyrs of the Christian faith 'under the altar.' The phrase is a Jewish one, and denotes 'Paradise.' How does St John represent these servants of the Lord, who were waiting in the Spirit-World for the consummation of redemption? As bodiless entities? Certainly not: he had learned the grand lesson of the mount of Transfiguration too well for that. These human spirits had voices by which they could cry out, and bodies to which white robes could be given.

Thus, in the face of the testimony adduced, we assert that Scripture teaches that man after death is in bodily form, and we account the prevailing idea that a spirit possesses no body nor parts, because without material flesh and bones, to be a philosophical notion having no basis in fact. Apart from the Bible, the notion has been proved to be wrong by the spiritual experiences of mankind.

From these experiences, as well as from the Bible, the world is slowly learning many grand truths which some, by reason of 'the tradition of the elders,' and of 'philosophy falsely so called,' have failed in the past to learn.

To Next Chapter »

Return To Contents of "Man and the Spiritual World"

floppy save button Download "Man and the Spiritual World" (.pdf) floppy save button

Other Books by Rev. Chambers:

"Thoughts of the Spiritual" (1905 American Edition)
"Problems of the Spiritual" (1907 UK Edition)

Rev. Arthur Chambers Returns From "Death" To Speak Through The Zodiac Circle
 Home  | The Zodiac Messages | Articles | Services | Visitors Book | Books | Site Map | Contact | Search