Herbert W Armstrong Library
Sign In  |  MyHWA  |    
Search:  
Magazine
RESEARCH REVEALS Pagan Doctrine of the Soul - Deliberate Deception!
Good News Magazine
March 1963
Volume: Vol XII, No. 3
QR Code
RESEARCH REVEALS Pagan Doctrine of the Soul - Deliberate Deception!
Ernest L Martin   
Church of God

Born: April 20, 1932
Died: January 16, 2002
Member Since: 1955
Ambassador College: 1958
Ordained: January 2, 1959
Office: Elder

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 about 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 invited 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 Condemns Those LIES

   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 and 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 the people 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 Ancients ADMITTED They Lied

   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. The 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 first 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 [ix. 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. The quote is from Hampton's translation, vol. 11, 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 Statement to control the masses by mystery and terros" (Dictionary of Religion & Ethics, vol. 7, p. 61).
   Pagan religion and all its ramifications was 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 populace 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 6 Ethics continues:
   "The latter-day philosophies of Greece proved to the Roman 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 treatises, embodying advanced sceptical 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.

Double-Doctrine Manifested in ALL Philosophical Schemes

   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 sixth century B.C., Plato, Aristotle, and even those of the first 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 boldfaced 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.)
   Dr. Warburton who quotes this section about Pythagoras says: "This, we may be sure, would incline him to a more than ordinary cultivation of the DOUBLE DOCTRINE" (Divine Legation, vol. l, p. 434). It is Warburton who proves that ALL the philosophers used the DOUBLE DOCTRINE teaching it was simply the common thing to do (ibid., p. 444).
   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 human mind is (Jer. 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. Notice it:
   "Plato declares that animals have constantly a soul [i.e. all animal beings, including man, have an immortal soul], which serves to animate and inform their bodies; but as for stones, wood, and what we commonly call inanimate parts of the 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 (On the Natural Faculties, fragments).
   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.
   Listen to Strabo, who knew what Plato really taught. He is speaking about the religious doctrines of the Indians.
   "They INVENT FABLES also, after the manner of PLATO, on the immortality of the soul, and on the punishments in Hades, and other things of this kind" (Bk. XV, Ch. 1, 57, Bohn Translation).
   Plato plainly lied to the common people and he knew that he was lying. Read 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).

Lying Necessary!

   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 thoroughgoing Platonist, "that philosophy, when it has attained the truth, allows the use of LIES and FICTIONS" (Synesius, Epistle 15).
   These are well-known facts. Lies and fictions were regularly employed by the ancient philosophers.
   The ancient pagans believed that the people, especially in the realm of religion, NEEDED to be deceived. They felt it was expedient fur 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).
   Augustine further tells us that:
   "Varro, speaking of religions, says plainly, that there are many TRUTHS which it is NOT EXPEDIENT the common people should know, and that many FALSEHOODS which yet it is useful for the people to receive as truths" (ibid).
   It is striking that the Bible says just the opposite to this. We are told that God is sending us His Spirit in order that we can be led into ALL the truth (John 16:13).
   There can be no doubt that Pythagoras, Plato, Aristotle and the rest taught deliberate LIES about the Immortality of the Soul, and that they laughed among themselves at the doctrine of punishment in HADES immediately after death. These people knew better.
   Dr. Warburton, a thoroughly trained classicist especially in the field of pagan religion remarks:
   "It is very true, that Plato in his writing inculcates the doctrine of a future state of rewards and punishments: but this, ALWAYS IN THE GROSS SENSE OF THE POPULACE: that the souls of ill men descended into asses and swine [by virtue of their immortality]; that the uninitiated lay in mire and filth; that there were three judges of hell {over purgatory, limbo, etc.), and talks much of Styx, Cocytus, Acheron, etc. and all JO seriously, as shows that he had a mind to be believed. Gut did he indeed believe these FABLES; WE MAY BE ASSURED HE DID NOT" (Vol. 1, p. 452).
   Plato and all the rest KNEW BETTER!!!
   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 bath shown it unto them... so that they are without excuse."
   Why? Because they "changed the truth of God INTO A LIE" (Romans 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).

Back To Top

Good News MagazineMarch 1963Vol XII, No. 3
|  Fundamental Doctrines of the Church of God  |  Comments or Suggestions?  |  FAQ  |   Holy Day Information   |   Site Map   |   Donations   |
|  Sabbath & Holy Day Services   |   Weekly Bible Study Services  |
Follow Us: HWALibrary - Mobile Site
   | Copyright © 2017 Herbert W Armstrong Library | Terms of Use |
Important Notice

Please Note:

The address and phone number for the Worldwide Church of God given for material are no longer valid for obtaining the material offered in booklets, magazines, telecast and radio broadcast.

HWALibrary.com has all material offered on this site 100% free. You do not need to call or mail your requests, simply do a search for the material offered on our site.

The Worldwide Church changed their name and beliefs after Mr. Armstrong's death.

Visit our FAQ page for instructions on downloading audio and video files.

Sabbath Services

Sabbath Services:

Hello, and welcome to our Sabbath and Holy Day service tab. The services provided are selected from the recorded library of this website HWALibrary.com.

Services are posted every Sabbath or Holy Day. Our service consists of 3 hymns, a Sermonette, a hymn, the Sermon and a final hymn.

Continue to the Sabbath Service page.

Bible Study Services

Bible Study:

Hello, and welcome to our Bible Study service tab. The services provided are selected from the recorded library of this website HWALibrary.com.

Bible Study services are posted each Wednesday. Our service consists of an opening hymn, a Bible Study and a final hymn.

Continue to the Bible Study Service page.