I always hate to take issue with some brethren, especially when it is in opposition to many of them. But when I do, it is with sincere respect and love for the brotherhood and I try to always encourage readers to compare both views on a subject against that which is written in the Bible. We all know that we can't go wrong there.
I suppose that over half of the brotherhood preachers contend that the subject story found in Luke 16: 19-31 is a record of a true event while many others, including myself, feel that it is a parable. Some may say that it does not matter which is right because it is not a matter that is likely to condemn our eternal souls to torment. While this may be true, we still are always in a better position to defend the truths in God's word if we understand them.
So, let us begin with the reason many say it is a factual event concerning real people. He called the poor beggar by name (Lazarus) and also refers to Abraham. So, that clinches it? Why? I see nothing here to prove anything at all. The fact that He normally specified "a certain woman", "a sower", etc. does not give proof that He could not, or would never give a name to one of these. If He was speaking of a real occurrence, I wonder why He chose not to identify which "certain rich man" He was referring to. But I contend that the naming of Lazarus, and especially Abraham, are needed to properly establish the intended scenario. Would he have said "the poor beggar afar off in a certain heavenly resident's bosom"?
The reasons I contend that this is a parable are even stronger than that. First, it seems incredible to me that a man in torment and one in paradise would be within view of each other! And within talking distance. Are the people who reside in paradise suddenly so hardened that they can talk back and forth with people in torment and yet not weep and be exceedingly sad? I asked a fellow that once, and he said that it was only Abraham who could see and do the talking!! Where did he get that? So Abraham is the only one who can watch the torture. What if he saw Ishmael over there?
Second, the scene portrayed here is a physical, literal one. Why is a literal fire causing a physical body to cry out for a literal drop of water to cool a physical tounge? The physical bodies of Lazarus and the rich man are actually rotting in the tombs where they were placed.
This discriptive account is of a literal scenario with a spiritual (heavenly) meaning, just as all such parables were. And it depicts Lazarus as being in Abraham's bosom, a place recognized as one of a favored position while partaking of food. Spirits don't eat food!!! They have no physical benches to recline upon even if they were not eating. No, this parable is only attempting to show us the contrast between everlasting life in Glory with the Father and that of eternal torment, both in the spiritual realm, which we cannot fully understand, but we do know that "in the twinkling of an eye" we shall be changed.