The Essential Nature of Man

Posted: November 6, 2008 in Uncategorized

We will get to why people suck tomorrow but, for today, let’s hit the whole Soul, Spirit, Body thingamujigee.

Everyone but a few whack jobs who have seen The Matrix too many times believe that we all have physical bodies. Christian theologians (and many non-Christians) also agree that we have a soul or immaterial part to our existence that includes attributes like intellect, emotions and will.  Yet, a few theologians have argued that we have a third component that the Bible calls “spirit”, which is “a higher faculty in man that comes alive when a person becomes a Christian…[t]he spirit of a person then would be that part of him or her that most directly worships and prays to God (See John 4:24; Phil. 3:3).” Adherents to this view include Dr. Gary Breshears at Western Seminary in Portland.

Wayne Grudem argues in his Systematic Theology that “Scripture uses ‘soul’ and ‘spirit’ interchangeably.” For example, Grudem compares John 12:27 and 13:21 and many, many, many other passages where it appears that the two terms are synonymous.

Yet, Trichotomists, like Dr. Breshears, would point to passages like 1 Thess. 5:23; Heb. 4:12; 1 Cor. 2:14-3:4; 14:14, etc. Dr. Grudem argues, however, that these are simply instances of “piling up synonyms for emphasis, as is sometime done elsewhere in Scripture.”  For example, see Matt. 22:37.  He goes on to argue that trichotomy can foster anti-intellectualism if we view the Spirit as good but the soul (including rational thought) as distinct from that which relates to God.  Moreover, Grudem quotes the late great Louis Berkhof who asserts that trichotomy is a purely Greek philosophical concept. 

I think the jury is out on this one but it is important to note that we do have an immaterial existence apart from our bodies that can and will function independently  (1 Cor. 14:14; Rom. 8:16) and will live in heaven upon our deaths but before Christ’s return when we will receive eternal bodies. 

Next up–why people suck!

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