The belief in the human soul's ongoing existence after death has been a very consistent position held by the Christian church (as well as its continued consciousness, albeit with minimally less consistence as far as the earliest centuries of the church are concerned.) St. Justin Martyr and his disciple Tatian are the only ones, as far as I know, who raise some sort of dispute about it (and the issue with Justin, I believe is just a misunderstanding.)
So, here are some select quotes from the Early Church Fathers who testify in favor to the human soul's aeviternity:
The soul is imprisoned in the body, yet preserves that very body; and Christians are confined in the world as in a prison, and yet they are the preservers of the world. The immortal soul dwells in a mortal tabernacle; and Christians dwell as sojourners in corruptible [bodies], looking for an incorruptible dwelling in the heavens.
St. Justin Martyr, First Apology, c. 155
And whatever both philosophers and poets have said concerning the immortality of the soul... they have received such suggestions from the prophets as have enabled them to understand and interpret these things. And hence there seem to be seeds of truth among all men; but they are charged with not accurately understanding [the truth] when they assert contradictories.
St. Athenagoras, On the Resurrection of the Dead 13, c. 180
Confident of these things, no less than of those which have already come to pass, and reflecting on our own nature, we are content with a life associated with neediness and corruption, as suited to our present state of existence, and we steadfastly hope for a continuance of being in immortality; and this we do not take without foundation from the inventions of men, feeding ourselves on false hopes, but our belief rests on a most infallible guarantee— the purpose of Him who fashioned us, according to which He made man of an immortal soul and a body, and furnished him with understanding and an innate law for the preservation and safeguard of the things given by Him as suitable to an intelligent existence and a rational life: for we know well that He would not have fashioned such a being, and furnished him with everything belonging to perpetuity, had He not intended that what was so created should continue in perpetuity.
St. Irenaeus of Lyons, Against Heresies V:7:1, c. 180
What, then, are mortal bodies? Can they be souls? Nay, for souls are incorporeal when put in comparison with mortal bodies; for "God breathed into the face of man the breath of life, and man became a living soul." Now the breath of life is an incorporeal thing. And certainly they cannot maintain that the very breath of life is mortal. Therefore David says, "My soul also shall live to Him", just as if its substance were immortal. Neither, on the other hand, can they say that the spirit is the mortal body. What therefore is there left to which we may apply the term mortal body, unless it be the thing that was molded, that is, the flesh, of which it is also said that God will vivify it? For this it is which dies and is decomposed, but not the soul or the spirit.
Tertullian, Treatise on the Soul 22, c. 205
The soul, then, we define to be sprung from the breath of God, immortal, possessing body, having form, simple in its substance, intelligent in its own nature, developing its power in various ways, free in its determinations, subject to be changes of accident, in its faculties mutable, rational, supreme, endued with an instinct of presentiment...
St. Hippolytus, Refutation of All Heresies 10:30, c. 230
And you shall possess an immortal body, even one placed beyond the possibility of corruption, just like the soul.
St. Methodius of Philippi, Discourse on the Resurrection 1:XII, c. 300
But it is the flesh which dies; the soul is immortal. So, then, if the soul be immortal, and the body be the corpse, those who say that there is a resurrection, but not of the flesh, deny any resurrection; because it is not that which remains standing, but that which has fallen and been laid down, that is set up
St. Athanasius of Alexandria, Against the Heathen 33, c. 318
But that the soul is made immortal is a further point in the Church's teaching which you must know, to show how the idols are to be overthrown. But we shall more directly arrive at a knowledge of this from what we know of the body, and from the difference between the body and the soul. For if our argument has proved it to be distinct from the body, while the body is by nature mortal, it follows that the soul is immortal, because it is not like the body.
St. Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechetical Lectures 4:18, c. 350
Know also that you have a soul self-governed, the noblest work of God, made after the image of its Creator: Immortal, because of God who gives it immortality; a living being, rational, imperishable, because of Him who bestowed these gifts, having power to do what He wills.
|Christ is Risen from the dead, trampling down Death by death, and upon those in the tombs bestowing life.|