Wednesday, May 27, 2009

What is a Man?

Are people triune beings? I'm convinced we are. Obviously we have a physical body. That part is obvious to the most casual observer. So, what about soul and spirit?

Soul: I believe the soul consists of, but may not be limited to, intellect/mind, will, and emotions. The Bible is clear that man and the animals have souls. The Hebrew word translated into "soul" (nephesh) is first used in Genesis 1:20 for the words translated "creature" and "life." This same word is translated into English "soul" 472 times in its 754 appearances in the Old Testament. My two pet dogs have intellect, will, and emotions too. In fact, Kaydee our pit bull has more intellect, and Sydnee our mix breed has more will. The soul strikes me as being like a sophisticated software program running on a flesh computer (brain) and central nervous system network.

Spirit: In 1Thess 5:23 Paul wrote, "May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." The writer of Hebrews tells us in 4:12, "For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit..." 1 Cor 2:14 makes the distinction between the "soulish" ("psychical" in Greek) person and the spiritual person. Biblically, the spirit is something ontologically different from soul, but how? Spirit is a little more mysterious than soul, at least in my meager understanding.

The Hebrew word "ruach" appears 389 times in the Old Testament, 237 of which it is rendered as "spirit." By looking at how this word is used I get the impression of a supra-natural yet personal force. I'm not talking about the Star Wars "may the Force be with you" force. I reject the dualism. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth (John 4:24), so apparently spirit is an important concept for people who want to worship God. I need to do more study on soul and spirit to develop a clearer understanding, but the above analysis summarizes my current thinking with slight revisions since I wrote about this topic in my journal back in 2007.

Question: Why is this important?
Answer: Because it helps us answer the big questions in life.

The big questions in life are questions like these:

(1) Who am I? Was I designed or evolved?
(2) Why am I here? What is my purpose?
(3) Where am I going? What is my destination?

Most people don't think about these questions very much. I'm not sure why because I think about them all the time. I guess I'm a little weird that way. Life is too short to not think about these questions. Perhaps people are just too busy with the immediate and urgent to contemplate the important. That's a shame. As Ghandi once said, "There is more to life than increasing its speed."

The secular world view is that people are biological machines that came from a cosmic accident called evolution. It is an illogical and absurd world view because machines do not evolve, they are designed. But, the secular religion of scientism does have answers for the big questions of identity, purpose and destiny.  The answers are:  (1) I am an accident of random chance who (2) has no purpose, and (3) my existence is meaningless as there is nothing when I die. No wonder people who really understand the implications come up with wacky ideas to make themselves feel better! If this was the reality we lived in, I'd go crazy too!!

Fortunately, that isn't the truth. I reject the incoherent secular world view and its accompanying religion of scientism and nihilist implications. My view is informed by the Bible. I am a follower of Jesus Christ, and the answers Jesus gave to the big questions are life sustaining, awe inspiring, and thrilling. Jesus is the only spiritual leader who claimed to be God, and then proved it by raising from the dead.  That's what makes the religion Jesus started substantially different than all the other so called "paths to God."

Based on my understanding of the Bible and what Jesus taught, I believe I am a man created and commissioned by God who will ultimately face God and give an account for my life. So, I want to know as much as I can about who I am and what I should be doing with my short life. Ephesians 2:10 says, "For we are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." I want to discover what God prepared in advance for me to do so I can do it to the best of my ability for His glory.


  1. In Cathecism study, I have heard the Holy Spirit described as the love between God and Christ Jesus.

  2. I'd be surprised if this was the full teaching of the Roman Catholic Church (RCC) as I thought they were pretty standard in their Trinitarian dogma. The Holy Spirit, in Trinitarian theology, is a fully equal co-person with the Father and the Son in the godhead. Love is not a person; it is an action. I'm surprised to hear this is RCC teaching. For more of my thinking on this topic, there is a section on the relationships in the godhead in my Truthful relationships paper here: