Three-fold nature of Man

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by Dr. Walter, May 10, 2010.

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  1. Dr. Walter

    Dr. Walter
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    I may not be able to convince my dichotomist brethren to the trichotomist point of view but it won't be because I did not try.

    I think we must begin in Genesis with the creation of other creatures in contrast to the creation of man.

    Genesis 1:20 "And God said, Let the waters bring forth...."
    Genesis 1:24 "And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature...."
    Genesis 1:26 "And God said, Let us make man in our image...."

    All other creatures were indirectly created by God but man was directly created by God ("let the waters....Let the earth" versus "Let us").

    In the creation of other life no inbreathing into their nostrils was necessary for physical life. Also, no other creature was made in the "image" of God. Of course God had no materialistic image and so the image must be immaterial in nature. God had no physical life and so that is not part of the image passed on to man.

    Included in this immaterial "image" is not merely the superior mental distinctives between beast and man (moral and rational abilities expressed in free agency) but a three fold conscious existence whereby man can interact with the outer world, with the inner world of self and with the spiritual world.

    Moses uses the Hebrew plural "lives" to describe what God breathed (spirited) into man. Like the animals he has physical and soulish life. Animals have physical life but they also have unique soulish life or animated personalities. We all have had pets and one pet's personality is not the same as another. One pet is smarter than another and express themselves in various personality traits. They communicate with each other at various levels. Hence animals partake of more than mere bio-life but in addition have a soul life or distinctive living personality expression. Their soul life is not as advanced as the soul life in man as the soul life of man is a reflection of God's soul as a moral and rational free agent.

    Howevever in addition to bio-life and soul life man is given something unique. Man has been uniquely given spiritual life. That is why he can have both bio-material and soulish life and yet be spiritually dead. Spiritual life is in addition to bio and soulish life shared by animals. The spirit of man enables him to worship and fellowship with God or demons in a spiritual sphere above the material or soulish capabilites that all anmial's share with man.

    Therefore man is created in the image of God in more than just advanced soulish capabilties (moral, rational free agency) but is created with three levels of consciousness in the image of a Tri-une God who is one but exists in three distinct separate conscious expressions.

    1. Outer world consciousness through the five senses -

    2. Inner world consciousness - soul - moral, mental, emotional free agency.

    3. Other world consciousenss - spiritual existence and consciousness

    The Word of God is capable of dividing or distinguishing spirit from soul just as it is capable of distinguishing bone from morrow (Heb. 4:12). The wish of Paul that his readers be set apart by God beginning with the spirit, the soul and finally the Bible is in perfect harmony with the three aspects of salvation -regeneration (what is born of Spirit is spirit); sanctification of the soul/life (as a man thinketh so is he, set your affections on things above, do these things) and glorification of the body in the resurrection (1 Thes. 5:23).
     
    #1 Dr. Walter, May 10, 2010
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  2. go2church

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    You're right, you didn't convince me
     
  3. Dr. Walter

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    Well, the Bible explicitly states that the spirit and soul can be distinguished from each other (Heb. 4:12) and explicitly separates man into three distinctions (1 Thes. 5:23) and these three distinctions are repeatedly expressed throughout scriptures. Soooo it is your loss my friend.
     
  4. go2church

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    You have to deal with the passages that also count the soul and spirit as the same. The thessalonian passage deals with wholeness not making a theological statement about the nature humanity.
     
  5. Dr. Walter

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    The "wholeness" of what? Isn't he speaking about something that possesses a body and sou? What could that be? A potato? A dog?
     
  6. Keazy

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    I have believed Scripture teaches the three fold nature of man ever since I started studying, however, I've never had it explained quite so well!! Thank you Dr. Walter. :thumbs:
     
  7. Dr. Walter

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    Your welcome my friend. However, there are some sources on the internet that go into it much more deeper and broader than what I have shared here.
     
  8. RAdam

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    It sure does, but it says that it is the Son of God that is able to separate the soul and spirit. I'll leave that to Him.
     
  9. Dr. Walter

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    I couldn't agree with you more. I certainly can't divide them from each other but I thank God the "Word of God" (Heb. 4:12) does.
     
  10. RAdam

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    The Word of God there is Jesus Christ. He only can differentiate between soul and spirit. Any attempt by man is foolish at best.
     
  11. Dr. Walter

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    My friend, it also says between bone and marrow! Are you suggesting that we cannot distinguish between bone and marrow?

    Furthermore, the fact that Jesus says it can be done means there is a difference and to deny it is to rebuke Christ. If he teaches that distinction here then so does the rest of God's Word (1 Thes. 5:23).
     
  12. webdog

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    The passage in Hebrews is not to differentiate the soul from the spirit, but to show how deep the Word cuts. If anything I feel it supports the dichotomous view as soul / spirit are immaterial, and joints / marrow are material. The trichotomite needs to explain why the Word of God needs to separate joints from marrow if taken so literally. What is the point of that, and what sense does that make?
     
    #12 webdog, May 13, 2010
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  13. RAdam

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    They can't even explain what a soul is.
     
  14. Dr. Walter

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    The text is given to demonstrate the Word of God can DIVIDE (Gr. merismos) and JUDGE between things that differ. The morrow differs from the bone. The spirit differs from the soul. Thoughts differ from intents. There is no thought in this text about how "deep" the Word cuts but how DISCERNING the Word is between things that do differ.

    The term "soul" is also translated life and it is the conscious self and its expression. It is the inner personality of intellect, emotions and will and its expression through the body into the time and space revealed in words and actions.

    Jesus expressed this inner conscious self (soul) and its expression that consists of your life of words and works in these words:

    And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.

    heart = affections
    soul = life
    mind = intellect
    strength = the power or force exerted in and manifested in life actions (words, deeds) due to will.

    So, together we have the complete package of soul/life or inner and outer expression of self. Oh! That is right, I am not supposed to be able to define what a "soul is! Whooops!
     
  15. The Archangel

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    The problem with pointing to 1 Thessalonians 5:23 for a trichotomous understanding of humanity is that this is the only place in all of Paul's writing where he refers to spirit, soul, and body.

    To make this a "proof" for the trichotomous understanding would be similar to reading the end of 1 Corinthians and arguing for baptism of the dead.

    Further, Paul is well-known to get a bit poetic in the endings of his book and given that he never refers to a trichotomy anywhere else, it is likely he is being poetic here.

    Blessings,

    The Archangel
     
  16. The Archangel

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    Dr. Walter,

    First off, let me say that I have enjoyed reading your posts. For the most part, I am in agreement with most of what you have written--with the exception (so far) of your trichotomous understanding.

    The problem with listing the "First commandment" is that it is clearly a restatement of the Shema from Deuteronomy 6.

    The impact of the Hebrew words used in Deuteronomy 6 is lost on the Greek speaker. Therefore each of the Gospel writers, depending on his purpose, explains the impact of the Hebrew--sometimes by adding an additional word.

    This is clearly seen because not all of the Gospel writers report the first commandment the same. Matthew 22 has heart, soul, and mind. Mark and Luke have heart, soul, mind, and strength. The original is, of course, is heart, soul, might.

    The Hebrew understanding of "Heart" has to have "soul" and "mind" added to it in order to convey all that was wrapped up in the Hebrew understanding of "Heart."

    Blessings,

    The Archangel
     
  17. Dr. Walter

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    Context is the key factor. In this context what the Lord is expressing is total committment of the inner self demonstrated in the outer life or manifest obedience.

    In some contexts the term "heart" is a synonym for the whole soul with emphasis upon the affections. In other contexts the the term "mind" is a synonym for the whole soul with emphasis upon the intellect. The Greek has two differen words for "will" (Boulomai and Theloma). The human will is the slave of the affections and intellect but an intricate part of the human soul. When the intellect (mind) is controlling the will the term is "boulomai" but when the affections (heart) are controlling the will the term is "theloma".

    Therefore it is a matter of context. I am glad you are getting something out of my rantings and ravings.


     
  18. The Archangel

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    Context is indeed important. However, I think you've missed the entire context of my argument.

    I am arguing that the context Deuteronomy 6 is what is brought to bear in the New Testament passages dealing with the first commandment. The meaning of the Hebrew word for Heart לבב is what is in question and what the New Testament writers use other added words to translate and clarify into Greek.

    So, the context of the particular Greek word for heart is not so important as what is used in the Hebrew and the Gospel writer's attempts to translate the meaning.

    As it is, the Septuagint uses καρδία for the Deuteronomy 6 passage and Jesus uses the same word in Matthew 22, Mark 12, and Luke 10.

    As such, the Gospel writers (and perhaps Jesus Himself) explains the intent of the concept of "Heart" in Hebrew by adding words to clarify and translate the Hebrew concept into Greek.

    The Hebrew concept of heart is this: the inner nature. Almost every non-physical function of man is due to his heart. Certainly, the heart and its condition comes out in one's actions. The heart, however, is the underlying cause.

    So, according to the Deuteronomy passage, we are dichotomous beings. The New Testament gospel writers are not intending to speak to a trichotomy. Rather, they are translating the Old Testament concept for their Greek-reading and understanding audience.

    Blessings,

    The Archangel
     
  19. Dr. Walter

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    I do not deny that the Hebrew as well as the Greek term translated "heart" has to do with the inner conscious self. Neither do I deny that the term "mind" also is used for the inner conscious self. As such they are synonyms for the Old Testament term "soul."

    The New Testament in many things (Trinity, man, salvation, future state, etc.) is further expansion and clarification of Old Testament concepts so you cannot simply rely upon the Old Testament and ignore the New Testament or interpret the New by the Old but rather the Old must be interpreted by the New. This is the proper hermeneutic - New interprets the old not vica versa.


    The Great Commandment is expressed in the New Testament in fuller sense. The idea is that it demands obedience by the whole conscious self. Note that the term "spirit" is missing in all uses!

    The New Testament expands and explains the soul of man in much fuller way than in the Old. This is why you have problems with Hebrews 4:12 and 1 Thes. 5:23 and other terms.

    However, what I was trying to demonstrate was that the inner conscious self (mind, heart, soul) in the New Testament is expressed in one of three ways. In regard to the inner conscious expression the human will is either dominated by thinking (boulomai) or by the affections (theloma) - the distinction is one of dominance not one of exclusion as in both cases the other element is always present. In regard to the outer expression of the conscious self that is where the KJV translates it "life."

    It is not a proper hermeneutic to correct or repudiate New Testament clarifications and expansions by Old Testament limitations. What if we followed that hermeneutic on the intermediate state of man or salvation or justification or the Trinity, etc. Indeed that is exactly the hermeneutic of unitarians when it comes to the deity of Christ or the Trinity and Deuteronomy 6:4 is their cheif text.


     
  20. The Archangel

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    Are you lecturing me on hermeneutics? I would re-think that, brother. I might just as well have said "it is not a proper hermeneutic to base your interpretation on a particular passage while completely discounting the correlating passage in the Old Testament and the author's intent in using the said passage."

    There are areas where the New Testament authors expand the meaning of the Old Testament. Thank God these passages are clear expansions!

    The greatest commandment passage, however, is not one of those passages. It is clear, because of the variation in the synoptics, that it is not the intention to expand this. Further more in Matthew, Jesus says that the two commandments are the summary of the Law and Prophets. So Jesus is not attempting to nor is He intending to expand the specific meaning or to argue for a trichotomist understanding of humanity. He is merely giving to commands that summarize the Law and the Prophets--because of the question that was given to Him.

    For all your hermeneutical lecturing, you are ignoring one over-arching and very important principle: The author's main point must become our main point. Therefore, since the context of the greatest commandment is a question about Law and commandments and since Jesus refers to the Law and Prophets, it is clear that our hermeneutical understanding must be in line with His--and it is clear that He is not expanding the understanding.

    Blessings,

    The Archangel
     
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