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If God exists outside of time and space, he isn't bound by their physical laws. In particular, he may be able to ignore the flow of time, experiencing different places and times in non-sequential order.

Now suppose that when a person dies, God immediately takes their human spirit (or whatever one calls the essence that defines what they are) and transports it to the time of one of the general resurrections.

Both for that person, and in reality, their resurrection really is within seconds of their death. There would be no supernatural "place of the dead", no "intermediate state"; the physical parts are decomposing in the grave, and the spirit parts have jumped into the future. Those other concepts have become meaningless.

For "soul sleep" advocates, this would mean that they are wrong about people "sleeping" between death and resurrection, but correct that the dead have no awareness between death and resurrection.

For "consciousness after death" advocates, this would mean that they are wrong about the dead being aware of the present time, but correct that, except very briefly, the dead never really lose awareness.

Is there any biblical scripture that would disprove such a process, or at least present a conflict with it?

(Note that I don't want a rehashing of why one side or the other is wrong; I want to know why the Bible says that my specific scenario must be wrong.)

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    I understand what you are trying to say but if angelic entities, spirit-beings (good and evil) are somewhere and not totally outside of both space and time, then should it not also be the case that disembodied souls are somewhere (not in three dimensions, but somewhere) and are within time.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Jan 31, 2022 at 10:56
  • "For "soul sleep" advocates, this would mean that they are wrong about people "sleeping" between death and resurrection" You misunderstand what "soul sleep" advocates believe. But no wonder, after all it is called "soul sleep". It's a really unfortunate term. "Christian mortalism" is much better. They think that "sleep" is only a metaphor; not literal. The dead do not literally sleep.
    – Rajesh
    Commented Jan 31, 2022 at 17:21
  • The advocates of soul-sleep doesn't have to be completely wrong, because there is apparently something called micro-sleep, which lasts 5-10 seconds. Commented Jan 31, 2022 at 23:03

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I will attempt to answer this question from both viewpoints.

1. What's wrong with instantaneous time traveling for 'soul sleep' advocates?

For a 'soul sleep' advocate, if instantaneous time traveling were a thing, then many passages in the Old Testament that describe death as a state of silence, darkness, devoid of wisdom, thought, worship, etc. would not make much sense.

For example, David dreaded death in a number of occasions:

What profit is there in my death, if I go down to the pit? Will the dust praise you? Will it tell of your faithfulness? [Psalm 30:9 ESV]

4 Turn, O Lord, deliver my life; save me for the sake of your steadfast love. 5 For in death there is no remembrance of you; in Sheol who will give you praise? [Psalm 6:4-5 ESV]

If David would be instantaneously moved through time to the day of the Second Coming of Christ, to be instantly in the presence of God, then why did he dread death so much? He should've been happy instead, knowing that he would be moved in a matter of seconds to the presence of the Lord.

Other passages convey a similar idea:

The dead do not praise the Lord, nor do any who go down into silence. [Psalm 115:17]

18 For Sheol does not thank you; death does not praise you; those who go down to the pit do not hope for your faithfulness. 19 The living, the living, he thanks you, as I do this day; the father makes known to the children your faithfulness. [Isaiah 38:18-19 ESV]

More passages here, here and here.

2. What's wrong with instantaneous time traveling for 'intermediate state consciousness' advocates?

If death instantly teleports us to Jesus' Second Coming, there should be no conscious intermediate state. Therefore, for an intermediate state consciousness advocate this would be at odds with the evidence that supports consciousness in an intermediate state.

To the best of my knowledge, the passages that most clearly support a conscious intermediate state are:

  • Luke 16:19-31 (the Rich Man and Lazarus)
  • 1 Samuel 28 (the spirit of Samuel being invoked from the realm of the dead, most probably Sheol).
  • 1 Peter 3:18-20 (Jesus preaching to the spirts in prison, i.e., in Sheol)

Regarding the last point, there is supportive evidence for this interpretation from the teachings of the Apostolic and ante-Nicene Fathers (e.g. see this answer), so if you hold the opinions of the direct (and no so direct) disciples of the Apostles in high esteem, belief in a conscious intermediate state should be worth considering.

Furthermore, if you are open to other forms of extra-biblical evidence, many intermediate state advocates find additional assurance in the endless stream of testimonies from people who have had near-death experiences (NDE) and out-of-body experiences (OBE). I recently found an insightful article making a case from many such reports here. If one is instantly transported to Judgement Day as soon as the spirit departs from the body, most of these testimonies wouldn't make sense at all. In fact, we could raise similar objections in the case of testimonies of resurrections (you may find many of such reports in Craig Keener's 2-volume work on miracles). If a person is instantly moved to Judgement Day upon death, then what happens when that person is resurrected in this life (like Lazarus in John 11)? Does the resurrected person travel back in time from Judgement Day to the present? What if they were dead for several days? What happens to the judgement they already received in the future, before they were resurrected?

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  • You raise valid points in the last few sentences. Of course, I never advocated for "time travel"; I don't even know what it means for God to instantaneously moves people from one time to another. It doesn't make much sense. I advocated for seeing things through the perspective of a dead person. To them, it seems like time travel, but it isn't actually time travel. The OP might have gone a little overboard with this question.
    – Rajesh
    Commented Jan 31, 2022 at 2:48

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