You are currently viewing Why Doesn’t God Give Christians “Soul Tickets”?

Why Doesn’t God Give Christians “Soul Tickets”?

The English dub for Bleach: The Thousand Year Bloodwar cour 2 of has finally come out. Those who know me know that Bleach is my all-time favorite anime. Here’s the premise of the show in a nutshell; it’s about a teenage boy named Ichigo Kurosaki who gains the power of the soul reaper and who helps souls pass on to the Soul Society while also defending both the living and the dead from deadly soul-eating monsters called hollows. It started off with a sort of “monster of the week” formula until about 16 episodes in when major plots and story arcs started to pick up. It got canceled in 2012 and came back in 2022 to finish adapting the rest of the manga material into anime episodes.

In the fourteenth episode of The Thousand-Year Blood War arc titled “The Last 9 Days”, Ichigo begins training with Ichibei at The Soul King’s palace. Ichibei has told Ichigo he must “surpass what it means to be a soul reaper.” Meanwhile, Captain Shunsui Kyoraku travels to the World Of The Living to inform Ichigo’s friends [1]the ones not gifted with any sort of Soul Reaper, Quincy, Fullbringer et. al. abilities. about Ichigo’s special training. Kyoraku tells Keigo, Tatsuki, and Mizuiro that there’s a 1 in 10,000 chance that Ichigo might become so powerful that he won’t be allowed to return to the World Of The Living. Why? Because his spiritual pressure might be so intense that it might cause negative effects on The World Of The Living.

Ichigo’s friends are understandably upset at the news. At this point, Kyoraku pulls out three tickets that he called “Soul Tickets” He tells Keigo, Tatsuki, and Mizuiro that if they have these, they can come visit Ichigo in the Soul Society any time they want to. Just in case the worst-case scenario comes about. So they wouldn’t necessarily have to say goodbye to them.

In the world of Bleach, Soul Society is where “good” souls go to the afterlife [2]Unlike Heaven which requires moral perfection which can only be attained through keeping all of God’s commands perfectly, which Psalm 14:2-4 and Romans 3:23 says no one has. The good news though is … Continue reading. Whereas those who have done horrible atrocities against mankind go to Hell, which the fourth Bleach movie explores. [3]But, as explained in the previous footnote, all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. See Romans 3:23. Ergo “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ … Continue reading

I have often wondered why God does not allow us to see our family members who have passed away and have gone to the intermediate state. God loves us and He loves our family members. So, why doesn’t God allow us to talk with our deceased relatives? Why don’t we have “soul tickets”? I mean, if both parties are saved and are in Christ, wouldn’t it be the kind thing to do rather than to force us to be apart for 20, 30, 40, 50 years, or however long it takes for us to die and go to Heaven to reunite with them? Why doesn’t a high-ranking angel come down and give us our own “soul tickets”? This is a question I’ve pondered for a long time, but it was brought home all the more powerfully in September of 2021 when my mother passed away. At the time of writing this, the second anniversary of her death is drawing near. And obviously, I have not spoken to her since.

I once posed this question on Facebook. Some of the Christian commenters were physicalists and answered that the reason is that our loved ones are dead. They are not conscious beings in any sense and they won’t be again until Christ returns and resurrects their bodies. I don’t accept this answer because there is plenty of evidence for mind-body dualism both in philosophy and in scripture. In philosophy, I recommend checking out The FreeThinking Argument Against Naturalism which Dr. Tim Strstton and I discussed on episode 23 of The Cerebral Faith Podcast. There’s also “The Identity Argument For The Soul”, and well evidenced Near Death Experiences (NDEs). These kinds of NDEs involve people with no measurable brain and heart activity describing conversations and events in places far away from their physical bodies. For example, someone who dies on the 5th floor in the ER may recall in vivid detail a conversation their family members were having on the first floor. Or they may describe other things they have no way of knowing unless they really were disembodied souls floating around. Medical Professionals and family members vouch for the accuracy of these reports. These cases are very well documented in books like “The Handbook Of Near Death Experiences: 30 Years Of Investigation” by Farnaz Masunian and Bruce Greyson, and “Beyond Death: Exploring The Evidence For Immortality” by Gary Habermas and J.P Moreland.

Biblically, we have passages like 2 Corinthians 5:8 where the Apostle Paul writes “To be away from the body is to be at home with The Lord.” And in the context of this verse, Paul uses the metaphors of a building and a tent for our resurrection bodies and current bodies respectively.

2 Corinthians 5:1-8

For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. Now the one who has fashioned us for this very purpose is God, who has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.

Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. For we live by faith, not by sight. We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord.”

He says we want to move into the sturdier building. And we would rather not be found naked, but would rather be further clothed. But if physicalism is true, we are our bodies. This would mean we’re not in a tent waiting to move into a sturdy building, we are the tent. On physicalism you and your body are reducible in identity. You are your body. Yet, here Paul speaks of the body as though it’s something we inhabit. It also makes no sense to speak of being naked if you and your clothes are reducible in identity. You can’t be outside of yourself. You can’t be away from yourself. If we adopt a physicalist anthropology, Paul is speaking nonsense in 2 Corinthians 5 and The Bible is in error. Given that The Bible cannot err (since it’s the breathed out product of an infallible God), it follows that Paul is not speaking nonsense.

Moreover, let’s not forget what Jesus said to the thief on the cross in Luke 23:43. When the thief told Jesus to remember him when he entered into his kingdom, Jesus said “Amen, I tell you. Today, you will be with me in paradise.”

Did Jesus and the thief rise from the dead and enter the new creation that very day? No. No, they did not. Jesus didn’t rise until 3 days later and the thief is still dead to this very day. The best explanation of Luke 23:43 is that Jesus was telling him that they would go to a good place after dying of crucifixion, a place called Paradise where they would be conscious and able to interact.

Christian Physicalism and its corollary view of Soul Cessationism are problematic for other reasons, but I think I have said enough here for the reader to understand why I don’t accept that answer.

So then, what is the answer? If I were to guess, it’s so that we can feel the full weight of the fall. Being able to talk to those in Paradise anytime we want might make death unthreatening. Perhaps we wouldn’t take it seriously. And perhaps we wouldn’t realize just how great of a salvation Jesus gives us in freeing us from it and promising us a future resurrection. Perhaps it is part of making sure that we don’t take a death-free state of affairs for granted when it comes.

Dr. Tim Stratton has talked about this in his article “3 Circles and ALL The Problems Of Evil”. Basically, he points out how Adam and Eve, and the pre-fallen angels took a suffering-free state of affairs for granted and wrecked it by choosing to fall into sin and evil. Stratton rhetorically asks that if you woke up tomorrow morning and the world was perfect, and all you had to do in order to keep it perfect was follow some rules, would you be willing to keep those rules? I don’t know about you, but my answer is a resounding yes! I hate all the sin around me. And not only the sin around me, but the sin within me as well. And I hate all of the suffering that our sins bring, including death.

Well, the reality is that for Christians, we will one day wake up in such a perfect world. Revelation 21:1-4 talks about the wonderful aspects of the new creation that God will create after Christ returns and vanquishes evil. Having learned how stupid and horrible sin is, having learned how horrible it is to live in a fallen world, we will do everything we can to keep such a world from ever coming to be again. God doesn’t have to remove our free will in order to keep us from sinning in the new creation. Even though we can sin, we won’t. We won’t want to. We’ll be like “Been there, done that.” Although death objectively has no sting due to the work of Christ (1 Corinthians 15:55-57), we are still experiencing the horrible effects of it. It has no sting because, for the Christians, it can only temporarily hold us down. Death means we have to say goodbye to our loved ones even if they will live on as souls and be physically resurrected one day.

Perhaps like a Father showing tough love to his children, God is showing us tough love in letting us taste the bitterness of death. God wants us to see how serious death is. If some high-ranking angel showed up to give us “soul tickets”, perhaps we would come to see death as a trivial thing, not the enemy it really is. Perhaps we’d be like “Oh, my my mom is dying of Stage 4 COPD? No big deal, I’ll still be able to see her anytime I want. I’ve got my soul ticket. I’ll just come to visit her once or twice a week in Paradise.” As such, we would not see death as the enemy to be destroyed and long for its eventual destruction (1 Corinthians 15:26, Revelation 21:4).

Liked it? Take a second to support Evan Minton on Patreon!
Become a patron at Patreon!


1 the ones not gifted with any sort of Soul Reaper, Quincy, Fullbringer et. al. abilities.
2 Unlike Heaven which requires moral perfection which can only be attained through keeping all of God’s commands perfectly, which Psalm 14:2-4 and Romans 3:23 says no one has. The good news though is that Jesus kept the law we couldn’t keep (Matthew 5:17, Romans 10:4) and died the death that we deserve as our penal substitute (John 3:16, 1 Corinthians 15:3, 1 John 2:2, 1 Peter 3:18). He suffered the punishment for our sins in our place. If we place our faith in Him, our sin will be imputed to Him and His righteousness will be imputed to us (2 Corinthians 5:21). Jesus a.k.a God The Son suffered the wrath of God the Father in our place. We will see Heaven not because we are righteous or because we’re not as bad as Hitler, but because of Jesus’ righteousness imputed to us
3 But, as explained in the previous footnote, all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. See Romans 3:23. Ergo “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord.” – Romans 6:63.

This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. Sam Harper

    “Even though we can sin, we won’t. We won’t want to.”

    If we have libertarian free will in heaven, what difference does it make whether we want to sin or not? According to libertarian free will, our desires are not sufficient to determine our choices. Nothing prior to and up to the moment of choice are sufficient to determine what that choice will be. So the fact that we may always want to do what is right and never want to do what is wrong is no guarantee that we will always do right and never wrong.

    If our antecedent desires are not sufficient to determine our choices, then we may have nothing but the desire to do what is right in any given situation, but there’s still a non-zero probability that we will do what is wrong. If there are billions of people in heaven with libertarian free will making choices all day every day forever, isn’t it inevitable that at some point somebody is going to do something wrong? I mean if there’s a non-zero probability of that happening, no matter how small that probability is in any given instance, it’s eventually going to take place given enough chances, isn’t it?

    I mean if there was a 100% chance that I would do right simply because I desire to do right, then my desire to do right determines my choice. If it doesn’t determine my choice, then I might have something like a 99.999% chance of doing right because of my desire. That means I’ve got a 0.001% chance of doing wrong, in spite of my desire to do right. If I desire to do right in each of the next 10^500 choices I make, then given the odds, it’s pretty much guaranteed that I’m going to do wrong in many of those instances. It’s just math.

    1. Evan Minton

      I might agree with you if our choices were left up to chance, but they’re not. My choices aren’t the result of the roll of a dice. They’re the result of my volition. My volition is the cause. And while, yes, our desires don’t determine our choices, they do influnence them, sometimes slightly, at other times heavily. Have you ever been so utterly traumatized by some life event as a result of a bad choice that you swore to yourself “I am never going to make that mistake again”? I have, and I have stayed true to my word. When a child places his hand on a hot stove top and gets burned, he learns not to touch stove tops ever again. It’s extremely painful, and we all hate pain. Sometimes the hard way is the only way we learn things, sadly. Sometimes a child won’t listen to a loving father who says “Don’t touch that. That’s hot.” We have to actually touch it and feel the horribly painful consequences of our actions.
      I don’t know about you, but when I’m eventually freed of this disease called the sin nature, and it’s actually possible to stop sinning completely, I will! I know what horrible ramifcations sin has, both in my personal life and in the lives of others. And we know the horrible ramifications Adam’s sin had on all humanity (Romans 5). I’ve suffered terribly from living in this fallen world. Sin affects every part of my life and being. Sometimes I suffer at the hands of others, sometimes I reap the consequences of my own bad choices. Once I reach glorification, I’d rather die than redo this.
      Also, by this reasoning, since God is libertarianly free and will endure forever, He will inevitably make all choices that aren’t contradictory to His nature. So eventually God WILL create pink polkadotted unicorns that know how to talk and sound like Elvis Presley. Eventually, God will create a Spanish speaking Charizard. Eventually, God will command the angels to loudly sing one of the openings to Naruto. Why not? God has the freedom to do lots of alternative possibilities compatible with his own nature. And there’s a non-zero probability, right? Are you going to bite the bullet and say that eventually, at some point trillions of trillions of years into new creation, God will perform these ridiculous acts?
      So, in conclusion, the flaw of your reasoning is in thinking there’s some chance element to our choices. Moreover, if I accept your logic, it would lead to absurd consequences I’m not willing to embrace (though hearing the angelic host singing “Shillouette” by KANA-BOON would be amusing).

  2. Sam Harper

    Hi Evan!

    Thanks for the response. Don’t worry. I’m not going to drag this out in endless debate. I do want to push back a little, though.

    First, you are right that I think there’s an element of chance when it comes to libertarian free will, but I don’t see how you’ve avoided it. You said that rather than your choices being a roll of the dice, they are caused by your volition. I’m guessing you mean that your volition is a sufficient explanation for why you choose the way you do.

    I’m a little confused about that since volition is the faculty of choice. Choosing is an ACT of volition. So I’m not sure what you mean by distinguishing them and saying one causes the other.

    But let me let that slide a minute, and let’s look more closely at what you’re saying. If I’m understanding you right, you are saying that your choice is not random because it is caused by your volition. I would agree that takes the randomness out of your choice so long as your volition is a SUFFICIENT cause of your choice. The problem, though, is that while taking the randomness away from your choice, you have now placed the randomness in your volition. So you haven’t escaped the element of chance. You’ve just re-allocated it.

    If you say your choice is determined by your volition, and your volition is determined by something else, then you’re a determinist. If you subscribe to libertarian free will, then you’re going to have to remove the determinism somewhere. If your choice is determined by your volition, then you’re going to have to say your volition is not determined by antecedent conditions. While you may have removed the roll of the dice from your choice, you have now placed the roll of the dice with your volition. So you haven’t escaped the the fact that libertarian free will contains an element of chance.

    Your argument from God appears to be an attempt at a reductio ad absurdum. If my reasoning is sound, it would allegedly follow that God will inevitably do evil because God has libertarian free will. Since it’s absurd to suppose that God will inevitably do evil, there must be a flaw in my reasoning.

    But what is the flaw? If your reductio is sound, it would follow there’s a flaw in my reasoning, but it wouldn’t identify what the flaw is. Can you explain what the flaw is in my reasoning? If antecedent conditions can influence our choices (or volition, or wherever you want to place the indeterministic aspect of the whole thing), but they are not sufficient to determine our choices, that means they can only attach a probability to our choices. They cannot guarantee any of our choices. If antecedent conditions (including our own desires) cannot guarantee our choices, then it’s inevitable that we will occasionally act contrary to our desires. The fact that we will always desire to do good in heaven doesn’t mean we will always do good. Where’s the flaw in that reasoning? It seems to follow inescapably from libertarian free will.

    The flaw I see in your attempt at an ad absurdum argument is in the assumption that God has libertarian free will. I’m not sure libertarian free will is even coherent, so I doubt God or anybody has libertarian free will. If God had libertarian free will, I think you’re right that it WOULD inevitably result in God doing evil at some point. Of course we’d have to also stipulate that God exists in time, which is controversial. But this is one reason I reject the notion that God has libertarian free will–because it results in absurdity.

    I have many other reasons for thinking God does not have libertarian free will, but that would take this conversation in a different direction. If you’re familiar with the literature on compatibilism, you can probably guess what the reasons are.

    Anyway, thanks for your thoughts and for hearing me out.


    1. Evan Minton

      Of course, my volition is the cause of my choice. It’s simple; I will my hands and feet to do something, and then they do it. I do it on purpose. When I go to the kitchen to get a cup of coffee, it’s something I decided to do on purpose. An accident didn’t happen in my brain that just happened to cause me to perform a certain way. I don’t see any reason to provide an explanation other than that. My mind’s decision is why I choose what I choose.
      To insist “Well, what caused your volition?” begs the question in favor of determinism. It presupposes that there must be endless string of determinate causes that can’t just stop in a person’s will.
      Determinists like yourself seem to see libertarianly free choices as like spontaneous bursts. At one moment, I just spontaneously run outside and scream or something like that. And that’s not accurate. It is true though that many things can influence our decisions. I don’t do what I do without any reasons. When I get something to eat, it’s because I’m hungry. When I get something to drink, it’s because I’m thirsty. Yet hunger and thirst don’t determine my actions. Indeed, I can recall times when I’ve elected NOT to eat, and I had reasons which supersceded my immediate need to satisfy my hunger. This is called deliberation. I have two choices and there are reasons for me to choose both, and I must deliberate between those reasons and use my will to pick one of the options. Sometimes reasons between picking two opposing courses of action are equally strong which result in me either being paralyzed with indecision or leaving my choice up to a coin flip. But in any case, I have the ability to choose A or non-A, and whichever I choose, I could have chosen otherwise. Nothing other than my own mind made me do what I do. This is why I’m morally culpable when I do something morally wrong. Because no one made me do the morally wrong thing but me.
      \\”Your argument from God appears to be an attempt at a reductio ad absurdum. If my reasoning is sound, it would allegedly follow that God will inevitably do evil because God has libertarian free will. Since it’s absurd to suppose that God will inevitably do evil, there must be a flaw in my reasoning.”\\ —That wasn’t my argument. My argument never said God would do evil. I assumed we were both operating under the assumption that God is incapable of doing evil. So my examples were morally neutral things God could do, but would be nothing but divine clowning around. There’s nothing evil about having angels sing an anime opening or create unicorns that sound like Elvis Presley. And that’s another thing; I’m wondering if you’re under the common misconception that libertarian free will implies that a personal agent can just do anything at any time. But as libertarian philosophers have pointed out; this isn’t necessary for LFW to obtain. Not every circumstance is a “freedom permitting” circumstance. A common illustration is someone standing on top of a building who decides to plunge to his death. While he’s standing on the ledge, he has the freedom to (A) jump or (Non-A) not jump. However, once he jumps, he has no choice but to fall to his death. He can’t choose anything other at this stage. To use a personal example, I am obsessive compulsive. I had no freedom to NOT do my obsessive compulsive rituals. The urge to do them was too overpowering. And yet, I did have the freedom to (A) Seek treatment or (Non-A) let the OCD get worse and worse until I was completely non-functional as a human being. I chose the latter, and Jeffrey Shwart’s and Beverley Beyette’s book “Brain Lock” was just what I needed. So even within my constraints, there was still freedom of choice to an extent. In the moral realm, I can’t choose to torture kittens for fun. It’s not JUST that I don’t want to, I would be incapable even if someone tried to coerce me under threat of death. Some sins and some virtues are beyond my character’s ability. However, as I’ve said in other articles, one can deform or reform their characters through a series of choices so that eventually, they can choose something they previously weren’t able to. Preachers refer to the former as a “seared conscience”. We as Christians experience the latter in sanctification. Given this, there is no issue with saying God has libertarian free will because we’re not committed to saying God can do just anything and everything (like morally wrong things). I called these “Free Will Bridges”. As Kenneth Keathley said in his book “Salvation and Sovereignty: A Molinist Approach”, “We make choices and our choices make us.”
      I’m surprised to see that you don’t even thing GOD has libertarian free will. I knew there were determinists who held to this view, but I didn’t think I’d ever talk to one. I honestly find this equally as theologically problematic than even humans lacking it. For if God is a slave to other causes and is not the uncaused cause of his own actions, capable of choosing between a wide range of choices compatible with his morally perfect, Maximally Great Nature, then he just simply isn’t a Maximally Great Being, and we ought to start spelling his name with a lowercase g. Because he’s just a slave to causes other than himself. Moreover, It also means humans (not just humans but specifically, all the humans ever to exist) are just as logically necessary as God! He had no choice but to create you and I! He couldn’t have refrained from doing so! The actual world then, becomes the only possible world! Removing libertarian free will from the mind of God results in a modal collapse!
      When forming paragraphs on this blog, just separate them with a period in between like I do. I don’t know why WordPress is like this, but there isn’t anything I can do about it as far as I can tell. A simple period will space out the paragraphs and make them more readable.

  3. Sam Harper

    Sorry about the paragraph formatting issue. I tried putting two spaces between my paragraphs this time, and I still have the same problem.

Leave a Reply