Church of God, New World Ministries

A Deliberate Deception

Modern believers in the immortality of the soul would be laughed to scorn by the philosophers of antiquity. Yet, theologians of today base their doctrines on the philosophers of old who purposely lied in the name of religion.

The truth about the doctrine of the Immortality of the Soul and the doctrine of Hades is startling. There is clear testimony even from the originators of the doctrines themselves that their pagan teachings about Immortality and Hades (with its purgatory, limbo, etc.) were all LIES! Since it is a known fact that Catholic and Protestant teachings about those doctrines have stemmed from the ancient Greeks and Romans, it is time the TRUTH about their origins be more fully known. Frankly, if the ancient pagan originators were alive today, they would laugh to scorn the educated people who believe such nonsense!

Yet, so-called Christianity has been deceived into believing these same lies, lies which the political and religious leaders of antiquity invented in order to govern the unlearned masses of common people. The teachings concerning the Immortality of the Soul were invented to support the idea of immediate rewards or punishments after death. If the people had believed that once a person dies, he was dead, as the Bible teaches, the pagan doctrines concerning instant punishments or rewards after death would have had no basis.

Paul said that those who call themselves the philosophers of the world became fools (Rom. 1:22). Why? Because they held back from the people the general knowledge of God which they knew (v. 18-19). It is no wonder that he condemned the ancient philosophers by saying: “They are without excuse” (v. 20). These so-called philosophers, the leaders of the masses knew the truth, but withheld it from the people, telling them outright lies. “Who changed the truth of God into a lie” (v. 25). These are strong indictments, but Paul knew what he was talking about.

The primary reason for the invention of the doctrines of a terrible and never-ending Hades, and its supporting doctrine of inherent immortality, was clearly that of state expediency. This common people were told falsehoods to keep them subject to the state. This was especially true among the Greeks and pre-eminently among the Romans. We have these judicious remarks by one of the most stable historians of the old world, Polybius. This Greek writer lived in the 1st century B.C., and wrote a history of the Roman Republic. In his section on Roman government he writes:

“But, as the people universally are fickle and inconstant, filled with irregular desires, precipitate in their passions and prone to violence; there is no way to restrain them, but by the dread of things unseen(i.e. the compartments of Hades), and by the pageantry of terrifying fiction. The ancients therefore acted not absurdly, nor without good reason, when they invented the notion concerning the gods and the belief of infernal punishments” (Bk. VI. 55-56. This quote is from Hampton’s translation, vol. II, pp. 405-406).

This is pretty plain, isn’t it? Polybius was wise enough to know that the pagan doctrines of Hell and the heathen gods were plain fiction. However, he thought that such teaching was a good thing so that the passions of the masses could be bridled and that the state could function properly. But, as he states, the educated leaders knew the whole teaching was a LIE!

We have the records of many learned men of ancient Greece and Rome who plainly knew that the doctrines about the Immortality of the Soul, the compartments of Hades, etc. were all falsehoods. They were invented to deceive the common people into a type of obedience to the state. “Cicero, Seneca, Panaetius, Polybius, Quintus Scaevola (The Pontifex Maximus), and Varro regarded religion as a device of statesmen to control the masses by mystery and terror” (Dictionary of Religion & Ethics, vol. 7, p. 61).

Pagan religion and all its ramifications were simply manufactured to control the masses. The doctrines of a hell immediately after death, which signified that people had inherent immortality, were meant to scare the common people into being faithful citizens. Philosophers, theologians and statesmen developed what became known by the first century B.C., AS THE “double doctrine” or the “double truth” teaching.

This “double truth” doctrine was manifested principally through the Mystery religions .Those few who were initiated into the highest degree of the Mysteries were told the truths regarding the Immortality of the Soul, Hades, etc. They were told that the common doctrines were lies, but beneficently given to control the people! This “double truth” doctrine is mentioned in the Dictionary of Religion & Ethics (p. 63) as “one truth for the intellectual classes and one for the common people, the climax reached is the phrase, ‘It is expedient for the state (the people) to be deceived in religion.’”

The populaces were told one thing, a pack of lies and the intellectuals (actually those initiated into the Mysteries as we will see) were told the naked truth. It is no wonder Paul said that the leaders were without excuse, they knew better! “They hold back the truth” (Rom. 1:18). The leaders would not tell the people the facts which they were very much aware of. The Dictionary of Religion & Ethics shows how these men made jests about the credulity of the common people in accepting their teachings. Cicero was an augur (a Roman religious official) yet he quotes with approval Cato’s saying that he wondered how one augur could meet another without laughing (ibid., p. 63).

Even these two were pagan theologians sponsored by the State, yet they were well aware of the nonsense they were so sincerely and reverently teaching the common people.

The Dictionary of Religion & Ethics continues: “The latter-day philosophers of Greece proved to the Romans that the foundations of his religion were baseless, yet its existence was indispensable for the preservation of the State. This, conflict between private belief and public conduct can be seen, for example in Ennius. He wrote treaties, embodying advanced skeptical doctrines, and he also wrote patriotic poems in which the whole cycle of Roman gods was exhibited and most reverently treated” (ibid., p. 63). Ennius used the familiar Double Doctrine method of teaching.

One of the most important observations to be made regarding the teachings of the pagan philosophers and /or theologians is that they all adhered to the double doctrine method of teaching. Pythagoras in the 6th century B.C., Plato, Aristotle, and even those of the 1st century always had two doctrines! Invariably, their disciples were told the truth (as much as the philosophers understood), and the common people were told as many bold-face lies as was necessary to control them and render them governable.

Notice the teachings of one of the first of the heathen philosophers: Pythagoras. Origen says of him and his system:

“He divided his disciples into two classes, the one he called Esoteric, the other, the Exoteric. For to those (the first) he trusted the more perfect and sublime doctrines; to these (the latter) the more popular and vulgar.” (On Philosophy, see fragments).

One of Pythagoras’ intimate disciples, Timaeus Locrus said, speaking about the Immortality of the Soul and punishments immediately after death:

“As we sometimes cure the body with unwholesome remedies, when such as are most wholesome have no effect; so we restrain those minds (of the common people) by false relations, which will not be persuaded by the truth. There is a necessity therefore of instilling the dread of those foreign torments” (World Life, near the end).

In other words, it was perfectly all right to use as many lies as was necessary in order to teach the people! How perverse the natural mind is (Jere. 17:9).

Pythagoras, in his teaching about the Immortality of the Soul, was followed by another of his disciples, the renowned Plato. We have the clearest testimony of Galen on Plato’s double doctrines:

“Plato declares that animals have constantly a soul (i.e. all animals beings, including man, have an immortal soul), which serves to animate and form their bodies; but as for stones, wood, and what we commonly call inanimate parts of creation, all these, he says, are quite destitute of soul. And yet in his Timaeus, where he explains his principles to his disciples and select friends, he there gives up the common notion, declares that there is a soul diffused through the universe, which is to actuate and pervade every part of it. Now we are not to imagine that in this case he is inconsistent with himself, or maintains contrary doctrines, any more than Aristotle and Theophrastus are to be charged with contradiction, when they declared to their disciples their real doctrines and to the common people, principles of another nature.”

All these philosophers told fables, outright lies to the general population, but they told the truth (the truth that they lied to the people) to their own disciples. Notice how Galen says that Plato told the masses about the Immortality of the Soul, but to his real friends he rightly said that one universal spirit pervaded the universe to give life to all. There was nothing about the Immortality of the Soul to the latter group! It is as clear as it can be that Plato, himself, did not really believe such nonsense, even though he taught it to the laymen.

“They invent fables also, after the manner of Plato, on the immortality of the soul, and on the punishment in Hades, and other things of this kind” (Bk. XV, Ch. 1, 57, John Translation). Plato plainly lied to the common people and he knew that he was lying. Here is Plato’s bold admission: As for the symbol on the private note, you desire to know my serious letters and which contain my real sentiments from those letters that do not, know and remember that (the word) God (i.e. God singular) begins a serious letter, and (the word) gods (i.e. gods plural) begins one that is otherwise” (Epistle 13).

It is well known that Plato’s teachings on the Immortality of the Soul and about the punishments in Hades were his exoteric teaching, meant for public consumption. It was clearly fable. But what is strange, Plato, and the other philosophers, felt no wrong in teaching such things. They thought that lies were necessary!

We are told by Synesius, a thorough-going Platonist, “that philosophy, when it has attained the truth, allows the use of lies and fictions” (Synesius, Epistle 15).

The ancient pagans believed that the people, especially in the realm of religion, needed to be deceived. They felt it was expedient for the State. Even the Roman Pontifex Maximus Scaevola frankly declared “that Societies should be deceived in religion” (Augustine, City of God, bk. IV., ch. 10).

No wonder Paul strongly rebukes these men. They were the ones “who hold (back) the truth in unrighteousness; because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shown it unto them, so that they are without excuse?”

Why? Because they “changed the truth of God into a lie” (Rom. 1:18-25) and then the only “truth” they had was that they themselves were liars!

Remember, it is not lies which make God’s people free, but the truth – “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32)!

For more information on the Immortal Soul enroll today in our new series, “Traditional Christian Doctrines.”

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