Whitney Houston’s remains were laid to rest in her native New Jersey this past Saturday. The mourners and attendees at her funeral service were the “who’s who” of entertainment and the social elite. Portions of the service were broadcasted to millions around the world and those officiating over her service announced with solemn but pompous aplomb, that the Houston family’s decision to return Whitney’s remains to her native New Jersey took courage and as a result of their action they are responsible for bringing the world to church that day (my phrasing and not a quotation).
I watched brief recorded portions of the three and a half hour service on CNN and was most impacted by the comments of Whitney Houston’s co-star Kevin Costner of the 1990’s movie “The Body Guard” who spoke reverently about her roots in the church of her youth and her efforts to achieve a starring role in his movie, but now at the end of her illustrious life has entered heaven triumphantly, escorted by a band of angels (my phrasing and not a quotation).
Sadly, this is the prevailing sentiment and belief of most self-professing Christians today. I myself grew up believing this to be the promised reward for every individual who followed the tenets of John 3:16: “For God so loved the world He gave His only begotten son that whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.” The teachings of the baptist church of my youth were filled with tremendous appellations of triumphal entries into heaven escorted by angels, walking the streets of gold, and gazing upon the face of Jesus throughout eternity served as a source of great comfort for my church family and me. That belief was always there and it was never in doubt. It was reinforced when a member of the church family died and we came together to mourn the loss.
I became a deacon in the baptist church of my youth at 13. It was then that I was introduced to the Westminster Confession of Faith. One of the chapters of that confession talks about the state of man after death and it succinctly addressed the question of what happens to man when he/she dies:
Chapter XXXII – Of the State of Man After Death, and of the Resurrection of the Dead.
i. The bodies of men, after death, return to dust, and see corruption:(1) but their souls, which neither die nor sleep, having an immortal subsistence, immediately return to God who gave them:(2) the souls of the righteous, being then made perfect of holiness, are received into the highest heavens, where they behold the face of God, in light and glory, waiting for the full redemption of their bodies.(3) And the souls of the wicked are cast into hell, where they remain in torments and utter darkness, reserved to the judgment of the great day.(4) Beside these two places, for souls separated from their bodies, the Scripture acknowledgeth none.
This section of the confession goes on to list a number of Biblical references meant to provide support for the teaching. Unfortunately, each passage cited is taken out of context and thus has the tremendous potential of leading the unwary reader astray. The plain and simple truth of the matter is that our Yahweh inspired Word in no way supports or teaches that the soul of man is immortal and that the souls of the righteous go to heaven and the souls of the unrepentant go to hell. Mr. Costner’s comments at Ms. Houston’s funeral in regards to the current state of Whitney’s soul is heavily based upon the above Westminster Confession stance but not based on Scripture. In fact, both Costner’s comments as well as the Calvinistic-Presbyterian-based Westminster Confession’s treatment of the soul of man is actually based entirely on ancient Babylonian-Egyptian beliefs that predate Judaism, Hellenism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam by a number of centuries. Once again, It Is Not as you Perceive. More so, the etiology of the immortal soul can be traced back to the Genesis 3:4 account when the serpent (a.k.a. Lucifer/Satan/Devil) told eve “…In dying, you shall not surely die!” (Coulter-A New English Translation) And it is easy to see that from that point forward the spiritually unwise for thousands of years have sought to deny the mortality of the soul.
Looking ahead in my discussion on this most important subject I can say, without reservation, that Whitney Houston’s soul is NOT in heaven…NOR is her soul in hell. And, please don’t even begin to suggest that her soul is in purgatory or absorbed into the great cosmos to be recycled into another being at some future time. The Bible tells us very clearly where her soul rests and we will go on to discuss at my next posting on this subject.
In the meantime be well my friend, my brothers and sisters in Yehashua our Lord and Savior!