A Guide to Christian Theology - Lesson 28


Participate in this lesson and gain a deeper understanding of what it means to be human according to the Bible. Dr. Breshears emphasizes that humans are a unique creation of God, originating from a direct creative act that combines dust (body) and breath (spirit). The lesson discusses various perspectives on human origins, highlighting the common theme that humans are created in God's image. This image of God makes humans blessable, image-bearing covenant partners tasked with working alongside God to establish His rule over creation. The lesson also explores the concept of spirit and soul, referencing biblical passages to support the idea of a three-part human nature—spirit, soul, and body. The lesson provides a holistic and biblically grounded perspective on what it means to be human in the eyes of God.

Gerry Breshears
A Guide to Christian Theology
Lesson 28
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I. Introduction

A. Starting with a verse from Psalm Chapter 8

B. Exploring questions about humanity and creation

II. Creation of Humanity

A. Genesis 2:7 - God's direct creative activity

B. Comparison with different views on human origins

III. Image of God

A. Defining humanness as being created in God's image

B. Theological perspectives on when humanness begins and ends

IV. Biblical Words and Their Meanings

A. Examining biblical terms like "spirit" and "soul"

B. Interpreting the significance of these terms in understanding the human person

V. Interacting Duality of the Human Person

A. Exploring the material and immaterial aspects of human existence

B. How these aspects interact and influence each other

VI. Three Parts of the Person

A. Discussing the concept of three parts: spirit, soul, and body

B. Examining relevant biblical passages (Matthew 22:37, 1 Thessalonians 5:23)

VII. Conclusion

A. Reflecting on the evolving understanding of the human person

B. Mentioning contemporary issues like transgender identity

  • In this lesson, explore the significance of systematic theology, blending academic insight with personal devotion. Learn to interpret biblical texts, understand how theology shapes beliefs, and fortify your faith against deception. This study fosters personal, biblical, and responsible theological growth, vital for spiritual development and discipleship.
  • Learn diverse ways to tackle theological questions, focusing on Holy Spirit baptism. Understand deductive, inductive, and retro-abductive methods. Acts 17:11 and Acts 15 show how community perspectives contribute to nuanced theological discussions, promoting unity amidst differing viewpoints.
  • This lesson provides insights into theological certainty levels, categorizing beliefs into "die for," "divide for," "debate for," and "decide for," highlighting essential doctrines, divisive issues, passionate debates, and less crucial matters, while underscoring the significance of understanding diverse perspectives and theological terms across different Christian tribes.
  • Explore general revelation through creation and conscience (Psalm 19, Romans 1). Responding leads to God, though not salvation alone. Special revelation possible. Diverse salvation views, favoring knowing Jesus. Seared consciences don't always void salvation.
  • Gain deep understanding of special revelation: history, divine acts, and communication revealing God's character and redemptive plan via Messiah. Lesson highlights Bible's key role, conveying God's nature, guidance, and transformative power, emphasizing ongoing divine-human communication.
  • This lesson delves into the concept of divine inspiration in Scripture, citing 2 Timothy 3:15-16 and 2 Peter 1:16-21. It explains "God-breathed" as a term highlighting God's creative influence on words, rejecting mere concepts or dictation. Inspiration involves human authors, their personalities, and styles, conveying God's message to the entire church.
  • In this lesson, you will gain a comprehensive understanding of the characteristics of God, including their definitions, biblical support, and implications and applications.
  • In this lesson you will gain insight into the Bible's clarity, sufficiency, and authority, and the Canon.
  • In this lesson, you'll grasp a deep understanding of God's character. His foremost quality is compassion, like a mother's love. He's gracious, patient, loving, faithful, and forgiving, extending favor even to the undeserving. Yet, He's just, not sparing the persistently rebellious. This lesson dispels misconceptions, urging contemplation of God's profound blend of love and justice.
  • This lesson delves into holiness via Isaiah 6, emphasizing dedication over separation from sin. It challenges misconceptions and calls for church reform.
  • This lesson delves into the fundamental characteristics of God, particularly the Trinity, emphasizing God's essential relational nature within Himself and its biblical implications, while also addressing theological controversies and highlighting the complexity of the Trinity.
  • This lesson explores different approaches to knowing God, inspired by Thomas Aquinas, discusses the doctrine of immutability, and highlights how God can change in his attitude and actions based on biblical evidence, emphasizing the value of in-depth Bible study and open dialogue in understanding God's nature.
  • This lesson covers key theological concepts: sovereignty, election, and free will. It explores differences between Calvinist and Wesleyan-Arminian views on God's sovereignty, impacting God's plan and human responsibility. Emphasis on defining terms to prevent disputes. Speaker is a "Calminian," blending Calvinism and Arminianism for a balanced perspective. Valuable insights into theological complexities and scripture interpretation.
  • Exploring various theological views and problematic issues surrounding the concept of providence, we will gain a comprehensive understanding of the role of prayer in providence, as well as the compatibility of God's sovereignty and human responsibility.
  • You will gain knowledge about anthropology and its biblical foundations, creation of human beings and the image of God in humans, fall and sin and their implications on human nature, redemption and sanctification, and human destiny and eschatology, including views on heaven and hell and the return of Christ.
  • This lesson offers valuable insights into the multifaceted nature of providence and its profound implications for our comprehension of God's role in the world.
  • The lesson touches upon various types of suffering, categorizing them into six different types: moral evil (e.g., rape), natural evil (e.g., cancer), persecution, sharing the suffering of another, punishment for sin, and suffering caused by the devil.
  • Learn to discern God's will by cultivating a Christ-like character, living by moral principles, seeking counsel, embracing uniqueness, and praying. It's about aligning with your long-term happiness and godly desires, offering a balanced approach to life decisions.
  • Explore Jesus' nature and incarnation. Learn how He balanced divine and human attributes, challenging traditional views. Reflect on His mission and ours, empowered by the Holy Spirit, bridging divinity and humanity.
  • This lesson delves into the incarnation of Jesus, explaining his dual nature as both God and man during his earthly mission, supported by Old Testament, Gospel, and epistle references. It acknowledges the complexity of his divinity and humanity, even after his ascension.
  • This lesson explores Jesus' dual nature, divine and human, delving into emotions, knowledge, sin, and his role as the Second Adam, offering theological insights.
  • Learn about Jesus' life and mission, challenging traditional beliefs like the virgin birth. Explore his spiritual journey, resurrection, and more, fostering critical thinking and alternative perspectives.
  • This lesson provides a comprehensive examination of atonement, its various dimensions, and the theological concepts surrounding it.
  • Learn about the Holy Spirit, baptism, and its role in Christian faith. Understand diverse perspectives on its workings in believers' lives, emphasizing its incorporation at conversion and empowering influence, supported by biblical insights.
  • Gain insight into the relationship between spirit baptism and conversion, the various terms used in Scripture, and the importance of ongoing fillings with the Holy Spirit for special ministry tasks, character, and as a command for all believers.
  • This lesson explores the role of the Holy Spirit and spiritual gifts. It challenges traditional definitions, proposing that any ability empowered by the Holy Spirit and used in ministry is a spiritual gift. The primary gift is the Holy Spirit himself.
  • Learn about the theological debate on spiritual gifts like prophecy and miracles. Explore four perspectives: cessationism, continuationism, functional cessationism, and word of faith. The instructor, a continuationist, emphasizes discernment and scripture while promoting respectful dialogue among believers with differing views.
  • This lesson explores the Bible's view of humanity, emphasizing humans as God's unique creation, made from dust and breath, in His image. It delves into human origins, our role as covenant partners, and the interaction between spirit and body, supported by biblical passages, offering a holistic perspective on being human in God's eyes.
  • This lesson redefines humans as image-bearers of God, emphasizing the role of reflecting divine attributes in all work, gender equality, and growth in Christ-likeness. It promotes dignity for all, with potential for deeper reflection as faith matures.
  • In this lesson you will explore the origin of sin, rejecting dualism in favor of a Christian perspective where sin arises from the choices of morally responsible creatures. The lesson introduces the idea of a pre-creation rebellion by Satan, emphasizing that humans are called to engage in spiritual warfare by doing good and promoting Shalom in the world.
  • You will gain knowledge and insight into the nature, marks, purpose, structure, and sacraments of the Church and learn about the different views and definitions used to define it.
  • This lecture discusses the leadership offices of a church, including eldership, deacons, and church members, and how they function according to biblical principles of polity, which prioritize following what the Bible prescribes, closely following what it describes, and using wisdom and being Spirit-led in matters it is silent about, all with the aim of effectively sharing the Gospel and achieving unity and focus.
  • In this lesson, you will explore baptism's significance, modes, and theological perspectives, and learn its role in church membership, unity, discipleship, and spiritual growth.
  • This lesson provides an overview of the historical, biblical, and theological aspects of Communion, including practical considerations for its practice.
  • You will gain a good understanding of death and its theological implications, including the biblical view of death, consequences of death, and resurrection and the afterlife. The lesson covers the definition of death, cultural views, and the portrayal of death in the Old and New Testaments. You will also learn about the physical and spiritual consequences of death, as well as the Bible's teachings on resurrection and the afterlife.
  • From this lesson, you gain insight into the biblical concept of God's Kingdom, its significance in Christian theology, and its impact on eschatology, social justice, and the Church's role.
  • In this lesson, you gain insight into eschatology, examine biblical perspectives, explore key events like the Rapture, Tribulation, Millennium, and Final Judgment, and learn the significance of eschatology for today's believers.
  • By studying the eternal state, you gain insights into the new heaven and earth, resurrection, judgment, and eternal life, deepening your understanding of Christian hope and assurance.
  • Through this lesson, you gain insight into the crucial role of church leaders, their essential qualities, and the challenges they face, while discovering the importance of support and encouragement for their growth and effectiveness in ministry.
  • In this lesson, you gain an understanding of the nature of Scripture and learn to interpret the Bible within its historical, literary, and canonical contexts while addressing challenges in biblical interpretation.
  • This lesson delves into the structure and authority of a church, examining different leadership models and emphasizing the overarching role of scripture as the final authority, while also highlighting the need for congregational involvement in decision-making processes and the unique nature of the apostles in early church leadership.
  • Learn Dr. Breshears' local church leadership principles: focus on equipping, inspiring, empowering, unifying, exemplifying, caring for, overseeing, and shepherding members. Rooted in biblical teachings, emphasizes servant leadership. The lesson discusses congregational decision-making, women in church leadership roles with respect for differing views.
  • Learn about church leadership principles, roles of elders and deacons, active membership, mutual commitment, gift utilization, and clear processes in this comprehensive lesson.
  • This lesson explores sacraments, focusing on baptism and diverse theological views. Baptism signifies a profound commitment to Christ within a believer community, emphasizing understanding and promptness post-conversion.
  • In this lesson, you'll grasp the essence of baptism, its questions, and debates. Discover belief's role, its confession, and the link to repentance and faith. Explore diverse views on baptism performers, methods, and locations. Gain insights and wisdom for informed baptism decisions in your faith community.
  • From this lesson, you will gain a comprehensive understanding of Communion, also known as the Lord's Supper or Eucharist. It will provide you with insights into the controversy surrounding its terminology and the theological background of Communion, primarily focusing on 1 Corinthians Chapters 10 and 11. You will learn about various theological perspectives on the real presence of Christ in the Communion elements and explore different viewpoints on the frequency, leadership, eligibility, and practical aspects of Communion. Overall, this lesson will equip you with the knowledge to better understand and participate in the Communion meal.
  • This lesson delves into two ends: individual death and the end of the age. It explores human death, material and immaterial aspects (Ecclesiastes 12:7, Genesis 3), fear, loss of autonomy, cremation, death determination, rewards, and urges preparation to meet Jesus, facing the undeniable reality of death.
  • Learn about the Kingdom of God, its aspects, Christ's return interpretations, and key concepts like inaugurated, Messianic, and millennium kingdoms. Emphasizing humility and mission in theological debates, it prepares you for insightful discussions on Christ's return and tribulation.
  • Learn about Christian views on heaven and hell. Hell is punishment for those who reject Jesus; heaven is eternal bliss with Him on a renewed Earth. Explore differing views respectfully.

Understand the core topics of systematic theology, from what we know about God to the future state of humankind. Special emphasis is given to such topics as Christ, salvation, the church, and the future.

A Guide to Christian Theology
Dr. Gerry Breshears
Lesson Transcript

So I want to take another topic here today and that topic is the whole issue of humanity. So the verse I'd do here is from Psalm Chapter 8, "What is man that thou art mindful of him?" To keep the King James phrasing, what is man that thou art mindful of him? And that's a question I want to ask coming into that, and that question of what is human? What is it that God has done in creating humans? What's our purpose for being here? There are a lot of questions far more than we can go into here in this short study, but there are some things that are really important here, I think.When you talk about human, the first thing we want to say about human is, if you go back to Genesis chapter 2 verse 7, talks about God who has...

Now, this is the second look at the creation narrative. The first looking from a cosmological perspective, now it's focusing particularly on humanity. So verse 7, the Lord God formed a man, that's Adam. Not the man, Adam, the name, but Adam, a particular man, and then Adam can be humanity. So it can be all those meanings. He formed man from dust from the ground, breathed his nostrils of breath of life and man became a living being. If you do that literally you'd say it's a living soul. So what we're saying here fundamentally is God is creating a living person and that living person has two components, dust plus breath or body plus spirit, something like that. When I think of key aspects of humanity, what I wanted to say, first of all, is that humans come from the direct creative activity of God.

Again, I'm looking at the notes here that you have available to you. Humans originated from the direct creative activity of God. And the picture that's here is the God who created heaven and Earth is now getting his hands dirty in the dust and forming a body and then breathing life into it, and man becomes a living person. So humans originated from the direct creative activity of God and not from random application presently operating natural law. This is the big point of difference. This is the huge difference between what we can call evolutionism, which rules God out, and it comes through common descent and things get more and more complex until you finally have human. Frankly, it doesn't work scientifically. But what scripture is saying here is God is the direct creative act. Now, there's a difference between evangelicalism, going back to what we talked about in true creation.

I believe that God actually took dirt and breathed life into it. I think the picture here is a fairly literal picture of what God did. I think humans are a de novo creation, something brand new and categorically different in many ways than other animals. But I also have to say there's a real continuity with animals, because the term here in 2:7, nefesh haya in Hebrew, if you go back to chapter 1 verse 21, this is Genesis 1:21, "God created the great creatures of the sea and every living thing." Well, that phrase living thing is nefesh haya. It's exactly the same word as Genesis 2:7, though it's disguised in the translation. God created the creatures of the sea and every nefesh haya, living soul, if we translate it the same way we did King James in 2:7, which water teams and moves about according to their kinds, and God said it's good. God blessed them and said, "Be fruitful and increase."

And then down in Genesis 1:24, "Let the land produce living creatures." Guess what? Nefesh haya. Living souls, according to their kinds. So this is that commonality as nefesh haya, living beings, is common to sea creatures, whales and such, perhaps maybe could salmon be nefesh haya? I said it as I'm looking at the Columbia River out here. Animals, cattle, dogs, maybe even cats, are nefesh haya, and humans are nefesh haya. As living beings, beings with life in them, that's common to all of us. The differentiation that's huge between human nefesh haya and cow nefesh haya or dog nefesh haya... I'm thinking of dogs because I was driving over this morning and there was a traffic jam and I think, "What is going on up here?"

And I couldn't quite see, I got up a little bit closer. And there's a guy who had stopped his car and he's out beside his car and there was a pitbull on the street on a leash and the guy was trying to pull the pitbull and it was not pulling. And the entire traffic stopped in favor of this dog. I don't have any idea I was able to get around it and get on over to recording time. But do we treat dogs with respect? I hope we do. They're living beings. Are spiders living beings? Are they nefesh haya? No. My pretty wife murders spiders, if you can imagine that. My pretty wife murders spiders instead of exercising dominion over nefesh haya. What should you do with nefesh haya? You should treat them with respect. What should you do with a spider? You should exercise dominion and relocate it to its proper domain, which is outside, in Sherry's estimation. But she murders spiders.

I say that a little bit lightheartedly. She actually does murder spiders, that's true. But see, nefesh haya is a living being, humans are living beings, there's a continuity there. So my friends who work in the BioLogos area, they're saying that God took high order hominids and did something special in that high order hominid so it became the image of God. That's the distinguishing point. And so they're saying that through common descent, God guiding providential and working through common descent or what we might call evolution, though that always carries an anti-God connotation to it, that God used that common descent and created humans, but then the breathing of life somehow God puts image of God's status into them. And so that's a different way. But whether you're a BioLogos person that says there's an evolutionary history behind the human or as I'm inclined to think that's a brand new creation, we both agree it's a direct creative act of God and there's a unique personhood associated with the image of God that comes out of that.

That's the heart of what we're saying here. And so I think of human, that's the fundamental thing. It's not random application present operating natural law. It's God's creative activity. Whether it's de novo as I think, or whether it's by him doing common descent and doing something special on Howard or hominid, we still believe it's there. And the key thing to sin is we're created in God's image and likeness in Genesis 1. And then we get into another point of debate. And when does humanness begin? And I'm absolutely deeply committed to the idea that humanness begins at conception, and I'm absolutely deeply committed to the idea that humanness ends at natural death, the separation of body and spirit. And I think all the way in between, humans are to be treated with respect and dignity. And that's part of the reason I'm so strongly pro-life, from conception to natural death, I want to support humans in all of those places.

Now there's details in there. I don't think that human souls preexist and then get a body, as Mormons would say. I don't think that there's a cycle of reincarnations as you would see in Eastern religions and some of the new age stuff. And the question there that comes out of that is, what is that point of uniqueness? And so that's where I want to take us back again. And we're in Genesis chapter one. And when I look at Genesis chapter one, "Then God said, let us make mankind in our image." And we've already looked at that us, and I think the us is a tiny little seed that's going to flower into full bush of trinity later on, but it's not here yet. This is not Trinity, but it's a seed that will say that Trinity's buried inside there as the bush flowers later on.

So I think just as the Trinity is three persons in one essence inherently relational, it says, "Let us make mankind in our image." This is not Adam the man, this is humankind. Why do I believe that? Because going on, it says that they may rule over the fish of the sea. So in this point there is a corporateness to that image of God, not just an individualness. So the ruling over. And you get this little poem down here in verse 27. "So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created," It should be him there in NIV. This is a place where I disagree with NIV. The Hebrew is a singular. God created him talking about the unity of the race, and then male and female he created them. That's plural. That's the diversity that comes in. And that image of God is at the center of things. We'll look at what that means in just a minute.

But that's a key thing is this image of God. And so in verse 27, God blessed them. So humans are blessable and different than animals. Animals get blessed too, but to be fruitful, fill the earth, rule over. And that ruling work that's part of image of God is unique to humans. So the image of God is a blessable, image bearing covenant partner to work with God and establish his rule over all of creation. So that's a key part of what we're talking about. What is the unique point in a human is that we are image of God, we're blessable, image bearing covenant partners with God to work with him, to do his ministry in the world. And that's true from the beginning of creation all through the new heavens and new earth. I think that's common all the way through. There are some attendant questions in there, and in your handout I have several biblical words.

And just really quickly, I want to do just a look at some of these biblical. Words because this is a place where the English meaning of these words and the biblical meaning of the word that's trended with that English word, is significantly different. So if I look at the term spirit, which is ruach in Hebrew and pneuma in Greek, if I look in the Greek or Hebrew and I see how the word spirit is used there in relation to humans, it's what you see... Well, let's look at some passages. I've got them noted here for you. If you look at Romans 8:16, "The spirit testifies with our spirit that we are God's children." Now if we're God's children, we're co-heirs, we share in his sufferings or we might share in his glory, and he goes on there. What is the word spirit there? It seems to me that the word spirit there is the whole. Person because it's not just our immaterial self that suffers, it's not just some God oriented part of me that suffers, it's all of me.

I think that this is a place where if we think about this, the spirit is the entire person, not just a piece of the person. If I go back to Romans chapter one, he begins at verse eight, Romans 1:8. "I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you because your faith is being reported all over the world. God whom I serve in my spirit in preaching gospel, his son is my witness, he'll come to remember you." What does spirit mean there? Does that mean some immaterial substance within Paul? I don't think so. He doesn't preach with his immaterial spirit, he preaches with his whole person. And I think we misinterpret things many times because you read the English and you read an English meaning of spirit, which is immaterial substance of some sort, and miss the point that he's talking about the whole person. Why does he use that?

I think what he's doing there is he's saying a person is related to God and carrying out God's command. So in filling the blanks there, I think a meaning of spirit is the whole person in relation to God. Sometimes it's the inner person as opposed to the outer person, so spirit versus body, and it can be used in similarity to the soul or spirit. I'm not going to unpack all these for you. But I want to bring in the idea of the word spirit, pneuma or ruach, can be the whole person and don't just assume when you see spirits immaterial substance. Same thing with soul, nefesh or psuche. If I look at the word soul in English, I almost always mean in contemporary English, an immaterial substance. So we think body and soul. Body is physical, soul is immaterial. But in the Bible it's talking, many times, most of the time about the living person. So Genesis 2:7, body plus breath is living soul, nefesh haya. That's the whole person.

And the word nefesh almost always means a living person or a living being. It only occasionally is referring to a immaterial part of the person. Matthew 10:28, "Don't fear human kill your body only, but fear human kill, body and soul." At that point the psuche is referring to an immaterial or part of the person. But usually it's a whole person. So again, we get some of these things and we get really into it. I'll not read through the rest of these there in front of you, I'll just tell you a couple of stories. I was with a couple last night and in our conversation, my friend Joel was talking about, I had it in my head, but I didn't have it in my heart. I had it in my mind, but I need to get it down to my heart. Well, what's the distinguishing between mind and heart at that point? Well, mine means I cognitively get it, in a factual sense, but I don't emotionally, deeply get it.

I left my heart in San Francisco and the heart is the seat of the emotions, all that kind of stuff. But see, biblically mind and heart are almost synonymous. Think of Romans 12. "I urge you brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice. Don't conform to the past world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind." Is that just as factual cognitions that are being renewed? No, no, that's fundamental. And heart is the same kind of thing. Proverbs 4:23, "Above all, guard your heart for from it flow the wellsprings of life." Heart and mind biblical are the control panels of your life. They're the fundamental values, assumptions, allegiances, that guide your life. And mind and heart are virtually synonymous in scripture. But in English, we made them cognition versus emotion. And so our English translations actually distort some of the meanings that come up. I'll show you my favorite one.

Matthew 22:37, "Teacher, what's the greatest commandment in the law? And Jesus said, you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind." He's quoting from Deuteronomy chapter six. So Deuteronomy 6:5, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your strength." Let's look at that Deuteronomy thing. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your strength. If you go back and do the study in the Hebrew words, the word heart, you've got on your handout there, except you guys probably don't have the handout. But you do. What is heart on the handout there/ heart is the control panel. It's the inner allegiances, the inner values, the inner assumptions that guide your heart. So Proverbs 4:23, "Above all, guard your heart for from it flow the springs life."

So it's talking about the inner control panel. And then with your soul, well biblically, what is nefesh? Nefesh is the whole person, body plus spirit. So now he's saying love the Lord God only with your inner control panel, your fundamental values and assumptions, both with your whole person, all of your speech, all of your actions, all of the things you do. It's talking about with my whole person as an individual. And then with all of your strength, what in the world does that mean? Well, again, if you look at it in Hebrew, the word would translate literally as your muchness. What in the world does that mean? Well, it means all your relationships all around you and all the relationships that you have in your community. Now you see the English doesn't do well at all, because heart and soul are usually pretty much synonymous, and strength is weird. Do I need to go do some weightlifting or something?

But see, if you look at it biblically, it's my control panel, it's my body plus spirit, it's my relationships, are all to be demonstrating the love of God. And this is why I think we need to take a look at those biblical words and take the biblical definitions of the words rather than the English definitions of the words because it comes out to some very different kinds of things. A related question, how many parts to a person? And see what I want to say. First of all, I want to say one person. The first thing I say is one person. I always want to begin there. Not pieces of a person because I'm not a pieced person. I hope I'm a peaceful person, but not a pieced person. Begin with one person. So I serve the Lord with everything I am. My control panel, my whole person. So I begin with one person as a thinking, deciding, feeling, relating being. Then the next thing I want to say is there are two essences to a person.

There's one person as you see in the handout you all have, there's a single person. There are two aspects, material and immaterial. And those are what I'm going to call an interacting duality. So one person, a thinking, feeling, deciding, acting person. But there are two essences to a person, material and immaterial. And that's what you see in Genesis 2:7, is we see that dust plus breath becomes living person. And I think that humans are both material and immaterial substance. So the whole mind body distinction, if you studied some philosophies, is significant. The place where this is becoming a huge point of controversy right now... And I'm saying they're interacting duality, both essential, both influencing the other. So when Jesus is in the garden and it's late night, it's been a long day and he goes off to pray and says, "Watch with me." He comes back to Peter and James and John and they're asleep.

And he says, "Gosh, I needed you guys." And then he gives this thing, the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. What's he saying here? Your desire is there but you just don't have the energy left to do it. So your body affects your desires and you can't do what you want because your body won't let you do that. In other places, I'm tired but I just do it so I can go both directions, each influencing the other, both important, and the person is a combination of the two. The place for this becomes a dispute these days is in the whole issue of transgender and that sort of thing. And that's a very big controversy and I think by the time you see this, it'll still be a very big controversy. And the question is, what defines a person? And if you're in the trans world, what defines the person as how I perceive myself. I see myself to be a woman, therefore I am a woman. And so the desires are the fundamental aspect of a human.

When I grew up in the church, it was a similar kind of thing. The spirit was the real person, the body was a tool of the person. The body was a bad thing that actually held back my spirit. My spirit loves God, but my body is full of sexual, physical, covetous desires. And so the body is a bad thing. And what I want to do is leave the body behind and go be a spirit person. That was common teaching in my context for a long time. See, that's not interacting duality. The spirit is the person, the body is a piece of the person that's actually a problem. Same thing in the transgender today. The desires, the self-perceptions are the person, the body is a tool. So in the trans world, if my desire to be a woman doesn't relate to my body, which is male, fix my body.

And same thing, one Christian, one non-Christian largely, but it's not interacting duality, it's the spirit, the immaterial central. If you typically go to the doctor, they're going to be materialists. Your body is everything. So you've got a problem, we're going to shock you, we're going to cut you, or we're going to chemical you. How many doctors end up praying with you? Well mine does because he's a believer and that's why I picked him to my primary care physician. And we have a spiritual connection as well as a physical connection. But see typically, well what's coming up a lot now is in the psychological community. We have a really good counseling program at Western. And in much of the counseling material, the DSM, it's more and more moving toward physical and things are looked at as disease to be dealt with.

Medication and talk therapy is becoming less and less significant in the mainstream counseling world because people don't believe the reality of the immaterial, self. So you go to the physical self, and you certainly go to the religious self in the secular counseling community. And where I'm going to, again, come out is interacting duality. There's material. So your hormones are really important. If they're off, it's going to really mess you up. But your spirit is important too. And if you've got trauma in your life, that can mess up your body. If you're living a stressful life, you can respond very negatively with your physical self. Interacting duality. That's where I come from. I think that's the best way to do things. Two essences. One person, two essences in interacting duality. But now go down one more level. How many parts to the person? Well, let's open our Bibles and look. 1 Thessalonians 5:23. "May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through." Now what did he say?

May your whole what? Spirit, soul, body. And if you look back to the Greek, spirit has the article, soul has the article, and body has the article. So I translated it, literally I'd say, may the spirit, the soul, and the body be kept blameless till the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. How many parts to the person? Well, it's really simple. There are three. Here it is. And it's talking about your whole person is made up of spirit's, soul, and body. And that was really critical to my theology for a long time. Well, is that always true? Well, if you look at Luke chapter one, this incredible song of Mary. Luke 1:46 is where it starts. "My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior." So there she's got a soul and she's got a spirit, and with both of them she glorifies God. Luke 1:46, 47. The Magnificat. So she's saying with her soul and with her spirit, and they're different things.

I could go further with this, but let's stop there. I had that and from my understanding, the spirit was good because that's where God dwells, the inner holy holiest of the temple. The soul and the body are bad. The soul is my emotions, my thinking, and it always bad. Never trust your thinking, never trust your emotions because they're irredeemably sinful. Body, full of passions and such. It's a mess. It's bad. Go with the spirit and lead the spirit controlled life. So the Holy Spirit lives in my spirit and that's where the good stuff is. Soul and body. So if you come into counseling, why worry with your damaged emotions? Of course they're damaged. But trying to mess around with your damaged emotion isn't going to solve anything. Get to the spirit and then let your spirit control your soul. And I could go a lot further where that went in the theology I embraced deeply for a long time. But here's what happened.

I don't know how to personalize exactly, but I went to Matthew 22, my theology book took me there. It worked well being like that until I went to seminary. And my theology text, I'm going to personalize it because Louis Berkoff's book... So Dr. Berkoff said, "Gary, would you open your Bible? How many parts to the person?" I opened my Bible, went to 1 Thessalonians 5:23, "May your whole spirit, soul, body." It's so simple. He said, "Good. Could you turn over to Mark 12:30?" "Oh sure. Love the Lord your God with all your hearts, all your soul, with all your mind and all your strength." It's a great passage, second to love your neighbor as yourself. I've meditated on it deeply, I've taught it. It's amazing verse. Love it. He said, "How many parts to the person?" I said, "Three. 1 Thessalonians 5:23." "No, no, in this verse, how many parts to the person?" I said, "I didn't talk about parts of the person. This is talking about loving the Lord to God is everything you are." "Yeah. How many parts to everything you are?" Oh, look at that.

Heart, soul, mind strength. Huh, four parts. Well, that's weird. I got the thing of it. Wait a minute. Spirit, soul, body, heart, soul, mind, strength. They're both whole person. Well, okay, let's put them together. The common one is soul. How many parts do I have now? Because if I have three, it's trichotomy, if I have two, it's dichotomy. If I put the two verses together, I get six. What is that? That would be [inaudible]. That's not going to work in a Baptist church. We do not do sex in a Baptist church. And six of course is the number of imperfection. I'm being more than slightly sarcastic here. But see, that passage, even though I knew it really well, never occurred to me as relevant to the passage, never occurred to me as relevant to the discussion. I had already blocked 1 Thessalonians 5:23, and I looked at this and it's an irrelevant passage. It's not irrelevant. It's actually the same thing. He's saying whole person and he's listing three in 1 Thessalonians, he's listing four in Mark.

If you go back to Deuteronomy, it's three and the teacher comes back and says, "Love the Lord with all your heart, understanding and strength." And Jesus is okay with that. If you go to the Luke passage, Luke 1:46, the Magnificat, where you've got soul divided from spirit. I didn't know about Hebrew poetry. Hebrew poetry is characterized by parallelism. You say the same thing with different words. And what I took to be that soul and spirit are different, when I learned about Hebrew parallelism, I realized that's saying the same thing with different words. Now I do this in part to talk about the theological method I'm trying to palm off on you. Talk to people who have different views and try to understand them because you might learn something. And what I learned at this part is there's not just two parts of the person, there are not just three parts of the person, there's not just dichotomy. There are two essences, but there are more aspects. So I now call myself a polycotomist.

There are many, many aspects of a person. So what I put here is that there are many aspects or perspectives of person. So when I use the term spirit, I'm talking about the whole person, basically from a God side, if I talk a person, use soul, I'm talking about the person's living, thinking, mortal being. If I use the term heart to refer to the whole person, I'm talking about the person, the aspect of their control panel. If you use the term body to whole person, I'm talking about them more as an active being. So when I'm the body of Christ, that's talking about me and my actions, I actually act in a way that shows God. So I'm a polycotomist. And they're different words, but all these words, many times mean the whole person. So body means the person turned outward in action. Spirit means a person relating to God. They're not three parts to the person, they're one person, two essences interacting duality, many aspects or perspectives of person, and we're very complicated beings.

So that's where I come out on basic humanity. We're proud of God's creative activity, we're unique in the image of God, we have commonality with animals that we're living beings, but distinction in the worship side of our life. But many commonalities. And I think all living beings should be treated with respect. But humans have a unique role, and that would be from conception to natural death in my judgment. A lot of complications on both of those. And that the whole person needs to be looked at. And I can't take part of my person and say that's central and negate the other part, which I did for 40 years in my theological thinking. The spirit is a real person because that's what departs to go be with God. The body goes to the grave and is always sinful. I'm now looking at all of those as things that are being renewed as a whole person. So that's basic stuff of humanity.


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