Psalm 42: 1-5, various
Dr. S. Lewis Johnson gives the first of a two-part series on the nature of man, Dr. Johnson discusses the concepts of a dichotomus and trichotomus nature.
[Prayer] Father, we are grateful to Thee for the privilege of the study of the word. And we ask Thy blessing upon us again as we turn to a portion of it and seek to understand man and his nature. And we pray that the Holy Spirit may teach us and guide us and may the result of our study be glory to Thee through Jesus Christ, our Lord and our savior.
We thank Thee especially for him who loved us and gave himself for us. And we pray, Lord, that out of our union with him, Thy wilt accept our prayers.
For Jesus’ sake. Amen.
[Message] Tonight our study is the first of two parts on man and his nature, or dichotomy versus trichotomy. And creationism versus traducianism. Since I am sure that several of you may have missed one of those words, I will repeat the title. Man in his nature or dichotomy versus trichotomy and creationism versus traducianism.
In our last lecture, which was a considerable number of weeks ago, in our study of anthropology, we sought to make these points. First of all, our age in spite of its fantastic progress, is in a crisis of anthropology.
Man having lost his grip of God and of himself has become a mystery to himself. Finding God’s redemption irrelevant due to his lost sense of sin, he finds himself in the clutches of anxiety. Man is lost and he demonstrates it in this sense of lostness which he has.
Then we made the point that the Bible sets forth man as created in God’s image, fallen and offered redemption in Christ. Is it true, we ask? Evolution, humanism’s most illustrious products, says no. But we saw that evolution was really a gigantic faith structure, an arid dream that was shattered by thermodynamics, genetics, and the origins of life. Now, in this lecture we want to touch on several very sticky problems, and it is the part of wisdom to avoid dogmatism in their discussion, and so I want to say right at the beginning that it is not wise for us to be dogmatic about dichotomy or trichotomy or creationism and traducianism, but, surprisingly, these subjects, though they may be veiled by the terms that I have used in this outline or introduction, surprisingly these subjects are of great significance for us in reading the Bible. But, nevertheless, I’m going to do my best from trying — and — and not try to be too dogmatic.
The Church of Christ, you may know, has a slogan, when the Bible speaks, we speak. When the Bible is silent, we are silent. In some theological discussions, we might amend the latter part to when the Bible is silent, we still speak and speak and speak, but I’m going to try to keep from doing that.
Now, the first problem we want to try to consider is the problem of dichotomy versus trichotomy, and I think I should, at least in this introduction, define what I mean by the two terms. Dichotomy, as you probably can tell, has something to do with two. And since the word is made up of one little phrase, the di, which means two, and chotomy, which comes from a word that means “the cup”. Dichotomy is the doctrine that man is made up of two parts. And, generally speaking, those who believe that man is made of two parts, think that he is made up of body and soul or spirit. Or man is made up of a material part of his being, and he also has, as his second part of his being, an immaterial part of his being.
Trichotomy, as you now, no doubt, can guess, from the tri related to the word that means three. Trichotomy means that man is made up of three parts. Now, it is, I think, of some importance for us to know our own makeup and, consequently, it is important for us to know that we are body, soul, and spirit, or we are simply body and soul or spirit. But trichotomists believe that man is made up of body, of soul, and of spirit. The dichotomists of body, and soul, or spirit, spirit and soul being somewhat synonymous to them.
The big question that young people ask often today is, who am I, or what am I, and it’s not only young people who’s interested in fundamental things, that is the reason for our existence, why we are here, what we are here for, but even those who are engaged in athletic endeavor like to know what they are, who they are. If they know who they are, what they are, then they are better able to handle themselves even in such a insignificant thing as athletics.
Existentialists don’t linger long over the question who am I or what am I. For the thrust of their approach is whatever I am, I must deal with the situation in which I find myself and vigorously react to it. But most young people are more thoughtful. They look inward attentively, and they seriously ask the question, what am I or who am I?
Psychology tries to help, as does psychiatry. Likely everyone is acquainted with Freud’s approach in terms of our having a hidden depth — depth, an unconscious area where are — located our fundamental drives. He calls this the id.
Jack Par, the other night as I said to you, said he didn’t like psychiatry because psychiatry was a study of the id by the odd. But then Freud said that there is the ego or our reason. And finally he — that is what might pass for our reason. And finally he analyzes human nature in the terms of the super-ego or what might be called the conscience.
Well, we laugh at some of these things, but, nevertheless, as men, we should be interested in who we are, what we are? Are we made up of body and soul or spirit, or are we body, soul, and spirit? What are we?
And the second question is the question of creationism versus traducianism. Now, that’s the problem of the origin of the human soul. Is the human soul created at the moment of birth? Is your human soul created the moment that you are born? Is your human soul created the moment that you are conceived? Is your human soul created the moment that you are born, distinguishing the two? Or is your human soul derived from your parents who are the parents of your physical nature? What is the origin of the human soul?
One of the big questions that men wrestle with today is the question of abortion. And as you can probably see that this question touches the question of abortion. If it is true that the human soul is derived from our parents and at the moment we are conceived there is everything in us that is to be there ultimately, the only difference being that we are later fully developed, then the question of abortion assumes tremendous significance. If, on the other hand, the soul of the fetus is created and joined with the fetus at moment of birth, then the question of abortion is an entirely different question.
So far as I can tell geneticists today are saying that there is nothing that we have that is not inherited from our parents. For example, research has shown that all the genetic information, which is inherited from both parents and which will produce a unique — unique individual, is present from the moment of conception.
Dr. Paul Ramsey, who is one of the outstanding professors of religion at Princeton University, has written, “Thus, it can be said that the individual is whoever he is going to become from the moment of impregnation. Thereafter, his subsequent development may be described as a process of becoming the one he already is. Genetics teaches that we were from the beginning what we essentially still are in every cell and in every human attribute.” Well, if that is true and if traducianism is correct, that is, if we do receive our souls from our parents, then abortion is very nearly legalized murder. So I think it should be of great significance to us to ask the question, are we creationists or are we traducianists, or, better still, what does the Bible have to say about these important questions?
Now, we want to look, first of all, tonight at the Scriptural account of man’s creation. Now, I’m having a little difficulty writing on this particular machine tonight for two reasons: one, I guess my writing and the other the instrument. But, also, you’ll notice that underneath there is a little dirt, but you can, I think, read it. The Scriptural account of man’s creation — and we want to take a brief look again at Genesis chapter 1, our texts that we are wrestling with here for a few times, and I want you to notice, again, a couple of things that I said about a month or so ago.
So turn with me to Genesis chapter 1, verse 26 through verse 28, and let’s read these verses again. I’ll read and you follow along in your text. And remember, I’m reading from the New American Study Bible, not because it’s inspired, not because it’s the best version, but because I just happen to be reading it now. So Genesis chapter 1, verse 26.
“Then God said, let us make man in our image, according to our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth. And God created man in his own image. In the image of God, he created him. Male and female, he created them. And God blessed them and God said to them, be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
Now, we said the last time that we were looking at this text that it is evident from reading Genesis chapter 1, that the creation of man is the climax of God’s creative activity. This is what he does on the sixth day of the week before he rests. And everything in Genesis 1 seems to move toward this climax of the creation of man.
The divine plans are referred to in verse 26. If you are trying to outline what I’m saying, this is Arabic 1 in the outline. Then God said — that is the divine plans. Then God said, let us make man in our image. And I commented upon the fact that man is the product of the consultation of the Triune God. That this us is not a reference to the angelic beings, though there have been some who have sought to see in the us, a reference to God and the angelic hierarchy. But I turned you over to Isaiah chapter 40 in verse 14 and pointed out that in Isaiah’s account, in that 40th chapter, the 14th verse, he’s speaking for God says that there was no one of his creation that consulted with him in the creation of man.
In Isaiah chapter 40, verse 14, we read, with whom did he consult and who gave him understanding and who taught him in the path of justice and taught him knowledge and informed him of the way of understanding?
Now, you’ll notice that he is speaking in the context of the creation. For in Isaiah chapter 40, verse 12, we read,
“Who has measured the waters and the hollow of his hand and marked off the heavens by the span and calculated the dust of the earth by the measure and weighed the mountain in a balance and the hills in a pair of scales? Who has directed the spirit of the Lord or, as his counselor, has informed him? With whom did he consult and who gave him understanding?”
It is evident that Isaiah’s point is that when God created his creation, he did not have any advice from anyone else. And so the idea of referring this us in Genesis 1:26, let us make man in our image to the angelic hierarchy is contrary to the teaching of the Old Testament Scriptures.
I suggested to you, although we have not tried to prove this, I have tried to do this in other lectures in this series, that the us is a reference to the Triune God. We cannot, of course, prove from Genesis 1:26 that God is a trinity. We can, at least, prove, I think, that he is a plurality. And from the rest of the Old Testament, we can come to the general conclusion that there are three persons in the Old Testament who are called, the Lord. In Isaiah chapter 48, there is specific proof, I think, of three who are called “God” or “the Lord.”
But when we come to the New Testament, it is all very, very clear. In the New Testament, references made to the Triune God. And so what we have here implicitly is the doctrine of the trinity, though not explicitly. And the result of them, our exposition of this text and the us, particularly, is that we conclude then that man, in his creation, is the product of the consultation of the persons of the Trinity, one with another. Let us make man in our image. So the divine plans encompass the creation of man.
Now, secondly, the divine pattern. Now, we’re going to devote an entire time to the image of God and man because it is so important. But let’s just notice, again, verse 26. This is Arabic 2, the divine pattern. It’s not on the board, the Arabics. Verse 26, then God said, let us make man in our image. God’s image then is man. I think that we can gather from this that man is not only the image of God, but since there is a time during which man is alone on the earth with God — man is not only the image of God, but he existed for a considerable period of time under the tutelage of God.
I have no doubt in my mind, but that Adam was the most brilliant man who ever lived. He was a man in the image of God, outside of our Lord, Jesus Christ, of course. But he was the most brilliant man who ever lived. He was a man made in the image of God, and that image had not been marred by sin. Furthermore, he was instructed by God, taught by God. And one of the evidences of the wisdom of Adam is the fact that God paraded all of the animal creation before him and said give them names. And Adam had the intelligence to give the whole of the animal creation the names that he did. And I think if you will study that, you will discover that that was an amazing feit of intellect for a man. And so the divine pattern is the image of God.
What does that mean, by the way? Does that mean that he was the image of God in his body? Does God have a body? Some kind of body, some kind of structure? Does it mean that God is composed of intellect, emotions, will? What is the image of God? Well, we’re going to consider that a few weeks from now.
And, third, Arabic 3, the dominion position. Notice, verse 26 and verse 28 both say that man is to rule. We read in verse 26, and let them rule over the fish of the sea. Verse 28, be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it. In other words, man is created by God. He is created by God in the image of God. He is there under the tutelage of God. He has the unique status of being a vicker or a vicegerent of God. Think of that. From a lump of clay, he comes to the position of ruler of the universe. From a lump of clay, from a piece of dust, to royalty. Now, that’s Genesis 1:26 through 28, and the comments that I made last time. I added a little tonight, but, after all, you expect me to learn in a month, don’t you, a few things?
Chapter 2, verse 7. And here we read — this is capital B in the outline. Genesis 2:7, then the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and man became a living soul. Now, this text, as you know, gives us the divine process in creation. And here, too, there is a proclamation of the uniqueness of man. Now, one of the things that we want to be careful to notice is that God is a unique — that man is a unique creation of God. For it is customary today for many of our psychologists and a number of our biologists and others to suggest that man is nothing more than the rest of God’s creation. In other words, we’re really nothing at all, but something material. And what we think is something different is really not something different at all.
The Bible presents quite a different picture. We read, God formed man of the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breathe of life. The Hebrew word is the word nishama. Now, that word is never used of animals. It is said of animals that they are a living soul. It is said of man that he is a living soul right here in this text. And men became a living being or a living soul.
Now, we also read in verse 20 of chapter 1, God said, let the waters team with swarms of living creatures, living souls. In other words, the fish are living souls and men are living souls. Verse 24, let the earth bring forth living souls after their kind, cattle, creepy things, beasts of the earth. Well, they are just living — they are living souls, too. Man is a living soul, a cow is a living soul. Man is a living soul, fish is a living soul. But man has something that God’s animal creation does not have, and that is nishama. God breathed into this man his man — this dust and man became a living soul, breathed into his nostrils the breathe of life. Nishama. That is animating breath. That endowment no beast possesses nishama. That’s the unique thing.
Now, I want you to notice that while man thus is over nature because he has nishama, he has the breath of life from God. He, nevertheless, is still a part of nature, because he is still living creature. He is still living soul. So our status is unique, but, nevertheless, there is much that we do share with God’s animal creation. That’s why there are so many things about us that are similar to the animals.
We look around, say, that man’s an animal. We mean he’s a great football player. We mean he manifests these great physical characteristics. Or we see somebody sit down at the dinner table and say, he’s just a beast, but as he eats with horrible manners. And no wonder that some psychologists say there is no difference. I look at some people, and I wonder if there is difference, every now and then, myself. And, occasionally, when I look at myself, I say is there really any difference after all?
You see, there are so many things about us that are like the animals and the beasts, but, nevertheless, there is that one thing that is different.
Now, let’s come to our third passage. Genesis 2, verse 18, verse 21 and 22. Now, I have some interesting information that I am going to tell you one of these nights about women, so keep coming, but I’m not going to say anything unusual tonight. Verse 26, we read, let us make man in our image according to our likeness. Let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the — you’ll notice he says, let them. Them. And God created man in his own image, the image of God created he him male and female, created he them.
So here we have a reference made. I wish I had time to look at all of the passages to the bisexual character of humanity. Now, mind you, I said the bisexual character of humanity. I did not say the bisexual character of woman or man, but of humanity. The Bible does not teach unisex. It surely does not teach homosexuality. It speaks out loudly and clearly against that. God created male and female. He did not create Adam and Freddy. [Laughter] Male and female. I’m very serious about this. Of course, I smile with you, but I’m very serious about this, because we are living in a society in which these distinctions are being broken down, as you well know.
Now, here we have a bisexual character of humanity, each is the complement of the other, male and female. Now, the unity of the race is definitely set forth here. In the New Testament, Paul says in Acts chapter 17 in verse 26, God has made of one all nations of men. In other words, everything goes back to Adam, even Eve. For she came out of Adam. Mystery of woman. So male and female, man and woman, the being who is easy to understand and the mystery. Source of endless fascination. That brightener of the picture of life, the hub and center of the whole.
You remember the little boy who went away puzzled at the directions his mother had given him, said to his friend, I’m 10 years old now and still I don’t understand women. Do you? You gray beards and gray heads and… Male and female. Did you notice how God made the woman? We read verse 21, so the Lord God gave Adam anesthesia, and then played the part of a surgeon and Eve came into existence. Isn’t that interesting? He caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam. Sir James Simpson was a great Edinburgh physician. He read this passage. He said, you know, that’s the way men ought to operate, and it wasn’t long before God gave him the capacity to discover pluriform. And as a result of that, a lot of the surgeon’s techniques, there it is right there. God is the first anesthetist. He caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam.
And Eve was taken out of Adam’s side. That is full of significance.
Last — let me see — Saturday week I was in Charleston, South Carolina, and the first Scots — First Presbyterian Church, the Old Scots — Presbyterian Church there, and I was marrying my niece to another young man. And I said the same things that preachers often say in the marriage ceremony, and I want you to notice, God did not take — did not take the woman from man’s head, that she should dominate him, or she did not — he did not take her from man’s feet, that man should trample upon her, but he took her from Adam’s side, that she should have his affection, that she should have his protection. All of this I think is very, very meaningful and significant. Those words go all the way back to Chrysostom who said them in the 5th century, and they are true. So male and female.
Now, let’s come on to the constituent elements of human nature. Many moderns deny that man has a soul, but the Bible does not and just to refresh our minds, let’s turn over to Psalm 42 and just listen for a few moments as I read the first few verses of that psalm. Psalm 42, verse 1 through verse 5.
“As the deer pants for the water brooks, so my soul pants for Thee, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God; when shall I come and appear before God? (Psalm 42:3)
My tears have been my food day and night, while they say to me all day long, ‘Where is your God?’ These things I remember and I pour out my soul within me For I used to go along with the throng and lead them in procession to the house of God, with the voice of joy and thanksgiving, a multitude keeping festival. Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him for the help of His presence.”
Psychologists have often denied the existence of soul. If you have been in college classrooms in the past 15 or 20 years or even longer, you may have been exposed to some who have said that, really, there is nothing about the in — inward man of a human being that can be demonstrated to be anything different than just what we are physically.
But all of our mental activities center in the brain. By digging around in the brain, we’ve come to know considerable about ourselves. For example, we know the brain controls the motor sections. We know the speech center, the sight center, the hearing center of the brain. They have been discovered by our doctors. At the top of the spinal column has been located what has been termed the scanner or the organizer. I’m sure that Dr. Howard sitting in the back will give me a lecture on proper medical terminology when I finish tonight, but he probably understands what I’m talking about. If he doesn’t, well then we’re in bad straits.
From this go out orders to all parts of the body. Certain man was given a local anesthetic and was operated on in this part of the brain and the doctors, according to this, shined a tiny beam of light, and he jerked his arm and said, and surprise, I’m not doing this, something is making me do it. No wonder a psychologist would be puzzled by that for it seems to indicate the brain was ordering an action but the man himself was standing aside to observe it because the man is different from his brain.
Certain kinds of psychologists and certain kinds of psychiatrists and certain kinds of biologists and others ignore, like all of us human beings, significant data if it does not agree with what we think should be our conclusions. Someone has said it’s just as interesting to study the garbage of people as it is to analyze their regular habits of living. You can tell a great deal about people by what they throw away. There was an unfuted Indian once who discarded a priceless pearl. He simply did not see its value. Well, this occurs in our scientific laboratories for information that comes to them which does not fit with what they hope they are seeing, they throw away. So psychologistd who holds rigidly to the notion that man is just a body and the brain is the organ of thought is likely to toss out evidence that is contrary.
As far as I can tell, the Bible seems to teach us that we in our spirits have mind and that our minds use our brains. That our brain is the physical part of our being, but it is our mind that uses that brain. Now, of course, if something happens to our brains, then our minds are not free to operate as they were, but that’s the way it seems to me. We are, but someone with more intelligence may wish to tell me otherwise.
Well, coming back then to the question now, man is not just a body. He is the image of God. Our Lord makes reference to the fact that we should not be afraid of the person who destroys the body, but we should be very afraid and in awe of the person who destroys the soul in hell. So man is a created spirit in vital union with a material body. We at least know that. There is something about him on the inside that is different from that body he possesses on the outside. Now, when we ask, Is he more than body or soul, we’re plunged into the dichotomy, trichotomy controversy and that’s what we want to talk about.
Generally speaking, trichotomy was the belief of the Alexandrian Greek fathers. Now, Christian belief has largely been under the influence of dichotomy. And as a result, more Christian theologians believe in dichotomy than believe in trichotomy. So dichotomy has been the majority view. That is that man is simply body and soul or spirit. Although in the 19th century, quite a — that was quite a revival of trichotomists interpretation of the New Testament, and it is the view of Dallas Theological Seminary that man is trichotomist, that is he is composed of body, of soul, of spirit. We have a few men on our faculty who do not hold to di — to trichotomy. I presume that most of them do hold to trichotomy. Let’s look at the case for dichotomy. Two elements are seen in man then, the one is the rational spirit or soul and the other the material body. What can we say in support of the theory that we are just made up of two parts, an inward man and an outward physical body?
Well, we could adduce first Arabic 1, the support of consciousness. We are conscious of our body. I’m very conscious of mine tonight, for this afternoon I was — I unwrapped some German volumes which I had ordered from Germany, and I threw the wrappers in a wastepaper basket at the seminary in the hall, and I went upstairs and I came back and in the meantime I had the i- — I had the curiosity to ask myself now, I wonder how long it took those books to get here, and that was fatal for me to have that curiosity. For I went over to reach down into the trash can in which I had put the wrappers to get out the mailing sticker. And on top of it was a large, heavy piece of pipe, and I mean it was heavy, but I didn’t see it or didn’t pay any attention to it. And I reached down in to pull it out and as I did, that thing fell off on my toe. Now, there was nobody in the hall so I — and — well, I take it back, there were some in the hall, so I didn’t scream, but it really hurt. And I want you to know tonight, I do have a body, at least I have some toes. Boy, they are hurting. [laughter]
Now, we’re conscious of our soma, that’s the Greek word for body, soma. I’m very conscious of my soma, but are we conscious of any distinction between our soul and our spirit? It is the contention of those who believe in dichotomy that we are not really conscious of any distinction between our soul and our spirit. Can you tell when your soul has led you to feel or to say or to do something as over against when your spirit has spoken. Can you say, my soul spoke then to me, but my spirit spoke here and can you distinguish those? In other words, are we conscious of any distinction between our soul and our spirit? Let me say, I believe that I am. But I must confess it would be difficult for me to prove this to you. But when I think of soul, I think of that in my body, which is the seed of my emotions and my spirit is that in which is my mind. For Paul makes that plain in is biblical phycology in Romans chapter 7. He says in 1 Corinthians 2, also,
“For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him?”
So it is my spirit that thinks, that knows. It is my soul that loves, that hates, that feels. Now, I think I can distinguish. At times I may have this horrible feeling towards someone, but my mind says, Lewis, do not yield to your feelings. Do you ever have that feeling? No, you don’t. Well, for the rest of us who are a part of Adam’s race who still have the old nature, I think you understand what I mean. There are times when your feelings are so strong but your mind tells you, do not yield to them. Sometimes it may tell you to yield to them. But there is a distinction, I think, in spite of what they say.
Well, that’s one support. The second support is supposed to be the support of Scripture, and, of course, we are interested in that. Because if the Bible should say to us that the man is made up of body and soul or spirit, only then I’m willing to say, well, that’s what I have to believe. And I have some false ideas about how I can distinguish between the soul and the spirit. Well, let’s look at a couple of passages. Let’s — let’s — before we look at any passages throughout the rest of the Bible, let’s look at Genesis chapter 2, verse 7, for, after all, this is one of the texts that has to do with man. Now, notice, we read in Genesis 2, verse 7, then the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground. There it is. That’s the body part of man, the material part of man. Dust from the ground. And he breathed into his nostrils the breath of life. Now, there is the spirit part of man. And man became a living being.
Now, I know that the text says man became a living soul, and you might say, oh, there it is right there. Trinity. Right in the beginning we have body, we have spirit and we have soul, living soul, but unfortunately, the word soul in the Bible is often used simply of life. It’s the term for life. Like we say, let’s see, tonight there are 82 souls here. Now, I don’t mean 82 souls really when I say that, I mean 82 persons. Eight-two people who have life. So the word “soul” is a term used in the Bible, as well as in our common language, for a person. So man became a living soul does not mean he possesses a soul, necessarily. As a matter of fact, this text seems to be dichotomist to me. There is dust from the earth and there is spirit and man became a living being just like the animals, for that is what is said of the animals. They are living beings. Well, that text at least says man is made up of two parts. It does not say, however, only two, it simply says man has two parts. He has a spirit, he has a body, and he is a living person. Well, I agree with that. I just want to know, is there something else? So that text does not prove that there are just two parts of a man. It says there are two parts but does not prove it. A living being has emotions and, of course, Adam is not talking about God — God is not speaking about Adam’s emotions here, he’s talking about his creation. You’ll hear about his emotions when he begins to live.
Well, let’s look at another text. Let’s look at Luke chapter 1, verse 46 and verse 47. Luke 1:46-47, in the famous Magnificat we read,
“And Mary said: ‘My soul exalts the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.’”
We’re all familiar by now, I think — maybe you’re not, maybe some of you are not, but if you’ve read the Bible much at all, you’ve noticed how in the Old Testament it is full of expressions that are parallel to one another. In which one expression is often synonymous with the preceding. Sometimes it is an advance. Sometimes it is a special expansion of some thought in the preceding statement. But so-called Hebrew parallelism is a method of speech used by the Old Testament writers commonly. Now, is this not the same thing? When we read my soul exalts the Lord, my spirit has rejoiced in God my savior, are we not saying simply the same thing? And if that is so, then are we not saying that soul and spirit are the same? My soul exalts the Lord, my spirit is rejoiced in God my Savior. Is this not synonymous Hebrew parallelism? After all, Mary was a Hebrew. She spoke in this poetic fashion, and this is a piece of New Testament poetry. Does not this say that soul and spirit are the same? Now, wait a minute. Now, watch carefully your text. It says my soul exalts, present tense, my spirit has rejoiced, past tense. In other words, this could mean that God has spoken to Mary in her spirit for it is when the spirit that God speaks and that as a result of God speaking to her in her spirit, her emotions are filled with joy and, consequently, her soul now exalts the Lord. That’s a reasonable explanation and an accounting of the fact that the two tenses are different. And so what we have is a kind of parallelism in which the second adds a new feature of the first. True. Her soul exalts the Lord, but it’s because her spirit has already rejoiced in God her savior and, as a result of that, she exalts the Lord. Well, I — I think I do not see then why we have to believe that man is dichotomist.
Now, let’s turn over to Philippians chapter 1, verse 27. Philippians chapter 1, verse 27, we read,
“Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one soul (the Greek text says) with one soul striving together for the faith of the gospel;”
Now, is not that simply the explanation of the preceding? Standing firm in one spirit with one soul striving together for the faith of the gospel? Is Paul not equating spirit and soul? Well, at first glance, it certainly would seem to be harmonious with that view, I would grant that, but it’s not necessarily so. If man is composed of body, spirit, and soul and if God does speak in the spirit of man and through the spirit of man, the soul comes into an emotional understanding of himself and of God and then demonstrates that spirituality in the activities of his body, then there is nothing of harm — or nothing out of harmony with that in this statement. He says, they are standing in — they are standing firm in one spirit, that is the spiritual part of man is the essential place where we do stand firm, and then with one soul their emotions, their passions, they are striving together for the faith of the gospel.
Now, these are the great texts for dichotomy. There are very few others. These are the ones that are usually quoted. I think you can see that it’s not necessary that one believe in dichotomy. And it’s a striking fact that our theologians, our leading theologians, such as Charles Hodge, great Presbyterian divine, and Professor Louis Berkhof, great reformed theologian. Each one of them who are dichotomist in their theology when they finish or come near the end of their treatment to prove that man is made up of body and immaterial spirit or soul, then they do make a distinction in spirit and soul, and they say that there is a different emphasis in the terms. So even they acknowledge that there is some difference there, though they would not like to say that man is made up of three parts.
Now, frankly, I don’t know enough about man’s inward being to say whether he’s a part or not. But there are three aspects to our being, it seems to me, so let’s look at the case for trichotomy. We have nine minutes. That ought to be enough time. Trichotomists see man as made up of body, soul, and spirit. The body is the material part of man. The psuche, the soul is the emotional part of man. And the pneuma is the spiritual, intellectual part of man.
In the case of the body, we are in contact with the world. In the case of our soul, we have to do with that, which is, essentially, ourself. And in the case of our spirit, we have to do essentially with that which is our center of God consciousness. Our thinking, rational part of our being. That is in that part of our being that God speaks, for the mind should control our spiritual thinking. By the way, I want to say a few words about that in a moment, but I want you to notice that in the Bible, it is the spirit which possesses the mind. And it is in the spirit that God speaks to men. And it is the work of the Holy Spirit to create within us a new spirit in order that he may speak scripturally to us and that we may respond to him.
I’ll say more about it in just a minute, but I want you to notice now the supports for trichotomy. First of all, the support of conscientiousness. We already talked about this, so I just want you to put down in your notes, if you are taking notes, that we can distinguish our feelings from our mind. In other words, the spiritual part of our being may be distinguished from the emotional part of our being.
Every wife knows this. You know, I could have clubbed him over the head, but something told you not to do it.
Second, the support of Scripture. Now, I want you to look at a couple of texts with me. Will you turn to Hebrews chapter 4, verse 12? Hebrews chapter 4, verse 12. Find it. You’ll never be a theologian if you don’t look at your Bibles. Hebrews 4:12. All right.
“For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit.”
Piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul from spirit. There it is. The word of God is so sharp that it may actually sever, divide soul and spirit, separate soul and spirit. That text is a very strong text for two immaterial parts of a man.
Turn to 1 Thessalonians chapter 5, verse 23. 1 Thessalonians 5:23. “Now may the God of” — (I can’t wait for you. I can’t wait for you. Five minutes left)
“Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you wholly (entirely, my text has); and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete.”
Now, you could render this. Some of our greatest Greek scholars say that that little word “complete” or entire I think in your text, that second word, should go with each one of these nouns, body, spirit, soul, and may your whole spirit, may your whole soul, may your whole body. Or your spirit in all its parts, your soul in all its parts, your body in all its parts be preserved complete.
In other words, Paul clearly distinguishes between body, soul, and spirit, and to make it a definite, uses an adjective that means complete in all its parts. And refers the adjective to each of the three nouns as if to suggest there are parts to the soul, parts to the spirit, but that all of each is to be preserved for each. He’s talking about sanctification. And he’s saying, of course, when we come into the presence of the Lord, he’s praying that our spirits, our souls, and our bodies will be preserved complete. Our spirit, in all its parts, in our in all its parts, our body in all its parts. As if to collect –distributively speak of them. I don’t have time to go into the Greek texts, but the adjective, the second one that’s translated entirely, or whole, here is used to distributively. And that, as far as I can tell, is the only meaning possible of these texts.
Now, one other passage we could look at, which is disastrous to the dichotomist’s view is 1 Corinthians 15, verse 44 where Paul speaks about the earthly body adaptive to the present sensuous world and the glorified body adapted tot he future spiritual world, and he uses the word soulish and spiritual of these two bodies. And he says the present body is a soulish body, but our body to come is a spirit body. And that wouldn’t make any sense at all if those two terms meant essentially the same thing. Listen to what he says. 1 Corinthians 15, verse 44,
“it is sown” (that is our bodies that we have her now, we Christians) “It is sown a soulish body (a natural body), it is raised a spiritual body (a pneuma body). If there is a natural body, (that is a soulish body) there is also a spiritual body.”
And so Paul distinguishes here between the body that we have now and calls it the body of the psuche, and he says that at the resurrection, we’re going to have the body of pneuma. And if that does not distinguish between those two terms, I don’t know what does.
Well, now why is this of significance to us?
Well, now you see if man is made up of spirit, that part of his being which is preeminent in his mind, and when he is born again is renewed, quickened by the Holy Spirit. And if it is true that God speaks to men in their minds and in the spirits, and this works itself out through his psuche, his self, his emotions, his loving, his hating, his all of the other things that make up his general passions, feelings, and if that expresses itself in its physical body, just as I am in my mind, thinking of Scriptural truth which is being brought through my passions, through my emotions to you, and you can see it in my face, well, then God speaks in a man’s spirit, that part of his being which is characterized by rationality. He speaks in that part of the man which is his mind, not in his feelings. But his feelings should always be under the dominancy of his mind.
Now, if you don’t see the practical application of that, then you don’t know what’s going on in the Christian world, because, listen, we have, in the Christian world today, the practical denial of that very truth in that many Christians see, for example, in tongues. He height of Christian experience, which is nothing if it is not simply an emotional experience. And so the emotional dominate the intellectual instead of the intellectual dominating the emotion. It is seen in the fact that Christians wish to base all of their knowledge of divine truth on their experiences, not on what they learn from only Scripture, but their experiences.
Now, our experiences are experiences that are to be subject to the teaching of Holy Scripture. And if we have any experience that is not set forth in the words of Holy Scripture, by which of the Holy Spirit speaks to us, it is not a Christian experience. No experience, which is not written to the words of Scripture is a Christian experience.
That means that much of what goes on today as Christian experiences, not really Christian experience at all. Christians talking about their feelings, talking about speaking in ecstatic gibberish and this type of thing, that is not of God. So you see it is of great importance that we know what we are and how God speaks to us.
Last weekend I was preaching in one of the universities of Alabama. If I said it, you wouldn’t know what it was, but it was Jacksonville State University. And three days I spoke to about 100 young people, college men, about spiritual things, and they asked me to speak on the spiritual life. So I had to say something about current tongues movement.
And I made reference to the fact that anybody who went around speaking in tongues, in my opinion, so-called tongues, because I do not think it is tongues at all, it is ecstatic gibberish. That’s all. It is ecstatic. And so when I finished I said that, in my opinion, anyone who is involved in this is dwelling in spiritual kook. So the last night, two fellows got a hold of me outside afterwards. One of them introduced himself to me. It’s over near Fort McClellan. He said, I’m Major so and so. Somebody else said he was Sergeant such and such, I think. So they said, you were — we heard you the other night. They were hearing. They kept coming, too. They may be writing in for tapes after this on tongues. But anyway they were very — very much upset because I had said that anybody who spoke in tongues was a spiritual kook, or in my opinion is a spiritual kook. And I said, well, that’s exactly how I feel.
They said, well, we don’t think you should have told those young people that.
I said, Why not?
Well, we think you should have given them an opportunity to study that out for themselves.
I said, Well, I have been asked by them to speak. And, consequently, I tell them what I think.
Well, we don’t think that you should have said that.
I said, The very reason you don’t think I should have said it is the reason why I think I should have, because I think that I should say what the Holy Spirit wishes me to say. And I said, Now, if I’ve just offended you by what I said by using the term “kook,” well then I apologize to you. But that’s the way I feel. That’s what I believe. I think you are if you speak in tongues. We had quite a little discussion there. It was stopped by the fact the meeting was about to begin. I said finally to him. I said, Now, listen, if you are really —
Oh, he said, I don’t think you ought to say anything like that if you cannot prove — if you do not prove it. Not if you cannot, if you do not prove it.
I said, If I were to yield to such a suggestion as that, I could not preach. Because the minute, for example, I use the term “trinity,” I would have to stop to give an hour’s lecture on the trinity. Now, you can see that would be nonsense. You can start out preaching and you mention the term, you would have to say, I’m sorry, but now I’m going to have to give an hour proving the Trinity. And then you’d mention something else, wait a minute now, I have to stop and give another hour to prove this. You cannot do that.
There should be sometime in your teaching when you prove the Trinity and sometime when you disprove tongues.
I said, There was a time when I disproved tongues. I gave three tapes on tongues to my theology class. (You are the class.) And I said, Now, if you are really interested in what I think the Bible has to say on this, you may get the three hours of tapes and then you can see whether I’ve proved it or not. If I haven’t, well, fine, as far as I’m concerned. But if I have, then I hope you’ll change your mind. He wasn’t even going to write down the address. I said, Now, put it down. Believers Chapel, 6420 Churchill Way. I finally made him write it down. His mind was already made up. He wasn’t going to listen to any proof at all.
You see, it illustrates this important fact that in spiritual things, our experience is secondary to what the Bible teaches. Our emotions are secondary to what the Bible teaches. Even our emotions are secondary to our minds. Now, I’m not nearly so anxious you go out trichotomists as you — as I am that you go out realizing that it is of the utmost importance that you learn God’s word, storing this truth in your mind so that the Holy Spirit may keep you from the emotionalism that is so prominent today.
Now, there should be some emotions. I think you see I have a few emotions. Every man should have some emotions if he’s living. But his emotions are to be dominated by his spirit and God’s word. Let’s bow together in prayer.
[Prayer] Father, we are grateful to Thee for the Scriptures. Accept our thanks for them. In Jesus’ name. Amen.