By Keith Ward
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Extra resources for Christianity: A Beginner’s Guide (Oneworld Beginner’s Guides)
So there may be souls in Purgatory, or in Heaven, somehow provided with information and means of action by God. Souls may also come to have different bodies. Very few Christians believe in reincarnation, when a soul takes on a different earthly body. But it is a theoretical possibility, and Christian belief in resurrection seems to suggest taking on a body which is not physically continuous with this earthly one (which decays in the earth). Christians have never believed that the material body is bad, and that the soul is trapped in it, needing to be liberated by fasting and prayer.
On this account, defended in recent years by Richard Swinburne and Thomas Morris, Jesus is God in human form. He has both a divine mind, which is omniscient and omnipotent, and a human mind, which is finite in knowledge and power. The human mind does not have full access to the divine mind, though it is natural to think that it will have an access greater than that of any other human being. The divine mind, however, has full access to the human mind, and ensures that the human mind always thinks and acts in accordance with the divine will.
Perhaps such freedom is necessary if there is to be any possibility of a relationship of freely self-giving love between beings. So freedom might be a condition of there being a true moral community in the universe. But the third response gives God the final sovereignty, so that the divine plan can be guaranteed to succeed in the end. God is not doomed to be always trying to persuade, without any guarantee of success. Freedom is given so that a moral community can come into being. But when it does.