Intro

This blog gains its name from the book Steele's Answers published in 1912. It began as an effort to blog through that book, posting each of the Questions and Answers in the book in the order in which they appeared. I began the project on Dec. 10, 2011. I completed it on July 11, 2015. Along the way, I began to also post snippets from Dr. Steele's other writings — and from some other holiness writers of his times. I still do that every once in a while.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Jonah in the Belly of the Fish

QUESTION: Having heard a Methodist preacher make the statement from the pulpit recently that Jonah was dead in the belly of the whale three days and nights, I wish to ask if, in your judgment, there is anything in the Bible to back up such a statement, and if there is, does it not prove that the Roman Catholics are right in their claim that we have a chance to get right with God after death? If God gave Jonah the privilege of repenting after he was dead, have not we a right to expect the same privilege?

ANSWER: The day after this question was laid on my table, my daily paper of May 17 reported that a vessel called the Octopus, sunken near Newport, R. I., was raised, after a submergence of twenty-four hours, the whole crew of fifteen men being found alive and as well as they ever were. They voluntarily went down in a water-tight submarine war vessel, well supplied. with food and fresh air condensed in vaults which they let out from time to time after expelling that which had become foul. They testify that they could have been very comfortable several days. If men using only natural means could prolong life under the sea, could not God, who has both the natural and the supernatural at his command, keep a runaway preacher alive in the Octopus, which he prepared for him in the Mediterranean Sea? The sailor at masthead cries "There she blows," when he sees a stream of spray arising from a whale expelling the foul air from his lungs, preparing to inhale several cubic yards of pure air. So you see, there was a good chance for Jonah to live without any great draft upon the supernatural. Moreover, we have a historic proof that Jonah did not die, in the fact that he made a long prayer, in answer to which he was permitted to go ashore without a gang plank. Judging by the length of their prayers, Jonah was more alive than Peter was, who had only breath enough to say, "Lord, save me." Jonah dead is a very shaky foundation for the Romish doctrine of a post-mortem purgatory, with its back door opening heavenward. But it is the best they have. There is but one purgatory, for sin, the blood of Jesus Christ (I John 1:7), applied in this life.

Steele's Answers, pp. 228-230.