Rather, my question is about understanding, from the soul sleep perspective, why God would, in His providence, let a parable like the rich man and Lazarus be part of the canon, knowing in advance that it would mislead so many people to the wrong conclusion (that the dead are conscious). God, being omniscient and all powerful, surely knew that millions of Christians would take elements of the parable at face value and would wrongly conclude that the spirit of a person remains conscious after death.
Why would God let an inspired parable mislead so many people like that?
- Are there theological explanations for why God allowed ambiguity to exist in Scripture?
- How do proponents of Sola Scriptura choose the "correct" interpretation of a key Bible verse?
Similar question, but about a different controversial topic:
- According to non-trinitarians, why did God allow trinitarianism to become the mainstream understanding of His nature?
Am I asking a loaded question?
From Wikipedia: "A loaded question is a form of complex question that contains a controversial assumption (e.g., a presumption of guilt)."
My question certainly has an assumption, namely, that Luke 16:19-31 has led possibly millions of Christians to conclude that the dead are conscious. Is this assumption controversial? I don't think so. Whenever I've asked people for the biblical basis for the dead being conscious, the parable of the rich man and Lazarus is easily in the top 3 most cited passages (see for example here, here and here). Similarly, the Wikipedia article on the parable says:
Most Christians believe in the immortality of the soul and particular judgment and see the story as consistent with it, or even refer to it to establish these doctrines like St. Irenaeus did.
Therefore, the assumption is warranted, and thus the question is not loaded.
UPDATE: user 'Hold To The Rod' has recently made a very solid case here for viewing the setting of the parable as realistic, including supporting quotes from a copious number of ante-Nicene Fathers who openly advocated a conscious intermediate state. In the same line, I also suggest the curious reader to take a look at the questions What did the Apostolic and ante-Nicene Fathers believe about Sheol/Hades? & What did the Apostolic Fathers believe regarding the state of the dead and the afterlife?.
This reinforces the premise of my question: if Soul Sleep is true, then the early Church was MASSIVELY misled.