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On the composition of man

William at ‘Reforming Baptist’ has recently posted an article entitled ‘Dichotomy or Trichotomy….Help-a-me!’ In it he asks— As I am studying systematic theology and writing my doctrinal statement, I have hit a road block in Anthropology. I would like to ask for some of your participation in this discussion by helping me form a correct […]

William at ‘Reforming Baptist’ has recently posted an article entitled ‘Dichotomy or Trichotomy….Help-a-me!’ In it he asks—

As I am studying systematic theology and writing my doctrinal statement, I have hit a road block in Anthropology. I would like to ask for some of your participation in this discussion by helping me form a correct and well informed opinion about man’s nature: Dichotomy or Trichotomy?

He goes on to list some arguments in favor of both positions, citing Norman Geisler, Mark Cambron, and Wayne Grudem. I suggest that you read his whole article to get the full context. In brief, the question is: is the spirit a separate thing from the soul, such that man is comprised of a body, a soul, and a spirit; or is the spirit merely another word for the soul, such that man is comprised of only two parts? I answer as follows:

In Hebrew

Speaking very precisely, the soul and the spirit are not necessarily the same thing. However, this does not mean that man is comprised of three separate, ontologically equal parts. Rather, he is comprised of a body and a non-physical spirit, which is sometimes also called the soul. However, the term “soul” in the Old Testament (nephesh) is not limited to this use. It translates as a breathing creature; that is, an animal of vitality. It is used very widely in a literal, accommodated or figurative sense—bodily or mental (refer to the relevant entry at biblos.com). To be more explicit, according to Crosswalk’s Online Hebrew Lexicon it can mean:

soul, self, life, creature, person, appetite, mind, living being, desire, emotion, passion

  1. that which breathes, the breathing substance or being, soul, the inner being of man
  2. living being
  3. living being (with life in the blood)
  4. the man himself, self, person or individual
  5. seat of the appetites
  6. seat of emotions and passions

So the soul is generally a term used to describe the essence of man, rather than some particular ontological aspect of him. It is a personal component, rather than an ontological one. It is not synonymous with ruwach, the word translated “spirit”—but they are sometimes used interchangeably, because the spirit was seen in Hebrew thought as the seat of emotions and mental acts; and this is a secondary definition of nephesh. Unlike with English, both words in Hebrew have a great and subtle multiplicity of meanings. For example, ruwach actually refers literally to breath or to the wind, and the spiritual meaning grew from this (see Crosswalk’s Lexicon again).

In Greek

These etymological difficulties are compounded by the fact that, by the time the New Testament was written, the soul and the spirit seem to have become relatively conflated in theological anthropology (or, more probably, the translation from Hebrew to Greek further confused the already subtle shades of meaning). The Greek word pneuma, translated “spirit”, generally referred to the vital principle by which the body is animated, and the power by which we feel, think, and decide, and this was regarded as a “simple essence, devoid of all or at least all grosser matter“. On the other hand, the word psuche, translated “soul”, referred primarily to breath (specifically the breath of life), and was regarded as the seat of feelings, desires, affections, etc. So, again, there is a subtle distinction etymologically speaking, but also it’s evident that there was a lot of overlap in these concepts. This is very well evidenced by the fact that, in Hebrew, the term we translate as “spirit” referred to breath—whereas in Greek the term we translate as “soul” referred to breath instead. Practically speaking, the terms seem to be used quite synonymously in the New Testament, and quite variably in the Old, depending on context. Generally, it’s safe to say that when we see the word “spirit” in a modern translation, it is referring to the life-giving essence which animates the body and is the seat of emotion and intellect; whereas when we see the word “soul” there is a reference to the broader concept of personal essence itself.

Trichotomist prooftexts

With regard to the particular examples William gives in defense of the trichotomist view (and understanding that he does not necessarily endorse them), let me offer some comments:

  1. Hebrews 4:12: “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”It looks at first glance as if the soul and spirit here are two different parts of man which can be separated from each other. But consider the parallelism in this passage, which draws a comparison between the soul and spirit, joints and marrow, and thoughts and intentions. Now what relationship does the marrow have to the joint? It is, of course, the inner part of the joint itself. They are not ontologically equal, but one is rather a part of the other. Similarly, what relationship do intentions have to thoughts? They are part of those thoughts. One cannot have an intention without having a thought—but one can have a thought without having an intention (not to be confused with intentionality). So what relationship does the spirit have to the soul in this pattern? It is a part of the soul; the inner core, perhaps. The soul, as I have defined already from the Hebrew, is the essence of the man; and the spirit is his animating force. They are not two, independent or ontologically equal parts, but rather the spirit is a part of the soul, of the whole man.
  2. 1 Thessalonians 5:23 (incorrectly cited as 2 Thessalonians in the original article): “Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”If this proves that the spirit and soul and body are all ontologically equal parts of the person, does Jesus’ instruction to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength” (Mark 12:30) indicate that the soul and the heart and the mind and the strength are all separate, ontologically equal parts of man as well? Or does it, rather, reflect a certain repetition for the sake of emphasis and poetry? If we take these sorts of passages woodenly, as the trichotomists do, we would have to accommodate no less than a tetrachotomist view of man—not merely a trichotomist one. Obviously this proves too much. Is the image of God in us a separate thing from the likeness (Gen 1:26)? No, even in English we use synonymous words next to each other in an idiomatic way without intending to suggest that they are different things. Indeed, the phrase “heart and soul” comes immediately to mind.
  3. Romans 8:16: “The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God”.This hardly seems to commend itself as supporting the trichotomist view. As Grudem rightly says, “Scripture does not seem to support any distinction between soul and spirit […] What can the spirit do that the soul cannot do? What can the soul do that the spirit cannot do?” (Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology, p 477). Is there any reason to think, in Romans 8:16, that Paul could not have equally used the term “soul”, except inasmuch as we recognize that “spirit” refers to a particular ontological part of man while “soul” refers generally to his essence, and thus would be a less appropriate term? There is certainly no warrant in the passage itself to think that the use of the term “spirit”, and the clumsiness of the term “soul” as a replacement, necessitates that the two are equal and separate ontological parts of man. The lexical understanding of the terms which I have already elaborated seems to comport with the sense of the passage far better. One would have to have a prior commitment to the trichotomist view in order to find support for it in Romans 8:16.

Conclusion

To summarize: although I have not offered a comprehensive investigation of all the passages which speak to this topic, what I have offered is representative of the fact that there is no biblical or lexical warrant to teach that man is comprised of three equal ontological parts—body, spirit, and soul. To suppose that we have two immaterial parts seems no less absurd than to assume that we have two physical bodies. Not only is it incorrect to teach this, but such teaching in the past has led to various aberrant and preposterous doctrines, which have lead believers into dangerous mystical practices, and foolish anti-intellectual attitudes.

Rather, we ought to teach that there is a single ontological, immaterial part of man, and that it is usually called the spirit—but sometimes called the soul. Furthermore, we must recognize that there is a “wholeness of being” to man which is not an ontological category, but a personal one, and that it is this personal “beingness” about which the term “soul” is often used in Scripture. The seat or origin of this beingness is in the spirit, because it is the animating force of the body, and without it the body would simply be dead flesh. This is why there is an overlap between the term “soul” and “spirit” in the Bible. But this beingness is nonetheless not confined to the spirit, just as our experiences are not confined to our thoughts, since it is through the body that the spirit experiences the world and expresses itself. Therefore, the soul can and does refer to the whole man, both body and spirit.

This equivocation between ontological and personal categories can be confusing, but we must recognize that there is a personal category used in regard to the term “soul”, as well as an ontological one. We should not mistake the personal category for an ontological one, and thereby assume that man is made of three parts. To do so is to stray from Scripture into an error which has historically proved very destructive.

12 comments

  1. William D

    Thanks for writing this! This was exactly the kind of interaction that I was asking for on my blog.

    I am going to be answering people from the opposite view….so here I go…

    If man is dichotomy, then what are animals? Do they only consist of a living body? If so, then that would make them no different than plants…animals have a will insofar as they can choose to sit, stand, move, eat, etc. whenever they please.

    Also, why would the Bible use the terms soul and spirit if they are both exactly identical? Could it be that the soul is so attached to the spirit that it appears that they are synonomous?

    Thanks, I look forward to discussing this with you.

  2. Dominic Bnonn Tennant

    Hi William; I’m glad you found this useful.

    To answer your questions I’d like to focus on the issue of the composition of animals. In the process, I think I can answer your second query as to why Scripture uses the two separate terms, “soul” and “spirit”. So, to start with, I would direct you toward Genesis 1:24 and 2:7:

    1:24 And God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kinds—livestock and creeping things and beasts of the earth according to their kinds.” And it was so. 2:7 then the LORD God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.

    The particular phrase we’re interested in here is “living creature”—in the Hebrew, chay nephesh. Notice that it is used both of the animals, and of man. When God creates the animals, they become chay nepesh. And when God breathes into man the breath of life, he becomes a chay nephesh. Paul quotes Genesis 2:7 in 1 Corinthians 15:45, as follows: “Thus it is written, ‘The first man Adam became a living being'”. Here “living being” is zao psuche. To expand a little on what I have said about psuche already, Strong’s comments:

    From psucho; breath, i.e. (by implication) spirit, abstractly or concretely (the animal sentient principle only; thus distinguished on the one hand from pneuma, which is the rational and immortal soul; and on the other from zoe, which is mere vitality, even of plants: these terms thus exactly correspond respectively to the Hebrew nephesh, ruwach and chay).

    There does not appear to be a compositional distinction drawn in Genesis between the animals and man. Rather, there is an intellectual distinction made: man is created in God’s image, while the animals are not. They both have the “breath of life”, and are both “living creatures”. The difference between them is that man is rational, and animals are not.

    Now the breath of life appears to be the spirit. Consider, for example, Job 33:4: “The Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life.” The parallelism explicitly relates the Spirit of God as being the breath by which we have life. Similarly Job 27:3, which says, “as long as my breath is in me, and the spirit of God is in my nostrils”. So a chay nephesh, or a zao psuche, is an animated, living being or entity or creature. It has some kind of personhood, even if not necessarily rationality. It is distinct from plants, which are chay or zao (living), but not nepesh or psuche (beings; possessing awareness). And it is the ruwach or pneuma, the breath, the spirit which comes from God, which gives this awareness, and causes the lifeless physical body to become a “living creature”.

    In this sense, then, since both man and animals are called living creatures, and since both men and animals (Gen 1:30) are said to have the breath of life, there appears to be no essential compositional distinction between them. Both are living creatures with the breath of life. The difference for man would appear to be that the breath, the spirit, is given in such a measure as to imbue him with a rationality that sets him apart from the animals. He has the image of God, which the animals do not. But there is no indication that this image implies an ontological addition to man in the sense of some extra “part”.

    Rather, we find that all “living souls” (1 Cor 15:45, lit) are made living by the “breath” within them. They are comprised of two parts: lifeless matter imbued with life-giving spirit. So the soul and the spirit are not synonymous, as I have said before—but the soul is not another part of the whole creature, in the same way that the spirit is. Rather, the soul is the whole. Again, often this distinction is not clearly drawn in Scripture; especially in the New Testament. There can be ambiguity or equivocation or conflation of these terms, and this leads to the sort of confusion that gives rise to the trichotomist view. However, again, the fact that there is a lexical distinction between “soul” and “spirit” does not actually support a trichotomist view at all, but rather the opposite.

    Regards,
    Bnonn

  3. natamllc

    Bnonn

    I will try and hope I post successfully hereon this time? I tried earlier and it would not post. grrrrr

    Quoting your article then:

    [Not only is it incorrect to teach this, but such teaching in the past has led to various aberrant and preposterous doctrines, which have lead believers into dangerous mystical practices, and foolish anti-intellectual attitudes.]

    Part of this statement I do not agree with and part of it I do as a matter of prudence and principle.

    I want to at the onset state I am not here at Dichotomy or Trichotomy Ontology.

    I am unlearned in the study of these issues written by Scholars or others, on these two meanings, dichotomy and trichotomy as it relates to Ontology.

    My basis of exhaustive study which I would draw from in laying out what I believe the Word of God teaches and why, is the Word of God itself, reviewing verses from one end of the Holy Writ to the other, possibly comparing one translation to another when needful. I have about 20 translations on this computer I can go to instantly. Thirty years ago when I travelled and taught the Word worldwide, I had a suitcase of books, the Holy Bible, KJV, the hearty Strongs and Lexicons and so on. It was heavy to carry through an airport!

    Now things have indeed changed electronically and lightened up quite a bit so that with speed I can have various “windows” open on this computer screen to compare multiple writings, authors and works on Ontology if necessary to develop a thought, concept or idea pertinent to the matter at hand.

    As I have read your insights and intelligence on this already on a couple two or three citings and your remarks Dominic, it has not one wit changed my view.

    I would want to wade into the deep waters slowly and with your guidance and if deemed necessary, reproofs and the sharpening of my metal, I would be happy to lay it all out for you?

    Having said that, making the case plain, I will risk with quoting one verse now and leave off until you respond to what you just read and will read after, below, and then if you are so led, if you want to, lay the groundwork for the avocation of the matter?

    Here it is, the verse:

    Joh 17:2 since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him.

    Why that one verse?

    Well, if any authority is to be applied to this pursuit and it become a basis for why I can unequivocally say it is very important to understand we are four parts, spirit, soul, body and flesh, I would want always to be close at hand to represent both, the One appointed the “Chief Author” of all FLESH, and to be a fountain for the Helper, the Holy Ghost to offer Their own apologetics.

    Now I know I said just one verse, but as I typed those words above these two verses came to me.

    I will try to restrain myself from quoting any other verses after these two more then:

    Act 13:2 While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.”
    Act 13:3 Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off.
    Act 13:4 So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia, and from there they sailed to Cyprus.

    The purpose of this citing is to say that I want to be aligned with and confirming the thoughts and intents of the Holy Ghost as we read He affirms His Own Will publicly to those Teachers and Prophets gathered at Antioch.

    I trust Bnonn that you remain close to and know the Voice of the Holy Ghost?

    I know His Voice. It is a dynamic exchange He with me and I with Him, daily now. Sometimes I find myself just sitting with Him just listening to Him for hours at a spell.

    I don’t want to come across too spooky. So forgive me if I have just now?

    Now the third quotation:

    Act 14:3 So they remained for a long time, speaking boldly for the Lord, who bore witness to the word of his grace, granting signs and wonders to be done by their hands.

    Now why this one too?

    Because it is sufficient to seek this acknowledgement from you that Jesus Christ Himself can come to you and “make plain” His Own Will and Understanding.

    I trust that what I will lay out bit by bit, line upon line, here a little and there some too, it will be null and void if without a similar “experience” from Jesus Himself doing for me and you as we read He did there at Iconium for Paul and Barnabas as they waded into discussions of the understandings of God within them and their knowledge of His Word and what they mean to the student learning from Them and from the Word of Their Grace which builds one up and gives them the inheritance through Barnabas and Paul.

    So, much better and more learned than I have tackled Ontology and made a case for one or the other, a dichotomy or a trichotomy created being. After all, doesn’t God know us and what we are and whether or not we are one or the other or as I claim, a four part being?

    I want the Witness of the Holy Ghost and Christ to make my understanding clear and not give my witness to these things.

    That is the point here.

    Do I want to teach doctrines of demons?

    No. I am a Teacher of Christ and His Words.

    Wouldn’t one conclude that is what I am about to do by making my clear statement as I have earlier when we know you believe in the Ontology of dichotomy?

    I do not want to waste your time.

    If it seems safe enough to you and you would permit me to lay it out thoughtfully and as I sense the Holy Ghost wants me to bring out my understanding then I will be glad to do it.

    It is of no value or it is sound teaching.

    If God cannot come alongside me in laying it out as I see both the Holy Ghost did for those Prophets and Teachers at Acts 13, giving them clear direction and as Jesus did for Paul and Barnabas in Acts 14, then why even to venture to lay out what I believe to be a True revelation of Scripture for this time?

    Well then, there, that’s done.

    Now what Bnonn? Do you want to give me some room to develop why I believe we are four parts, spirit, soul, body and flesh?

    As William at Reforming Baptist said, he has hit a road block. Is there value then to come out with what I understand here?

    Now, what are you thinking?

    Michael

  4. Dominic Bnonn Tennant

    Hi Michael—

    I think you will need to lay out why you think that man is comprised of four parts. Your post doesn’t really seem to offer any kind of reason to think this. It is very long, but apparently unrelated to the actual question.

    I would like to ask you a preemptive question, however: why do you think that sarx and soma, and pneuma and psuche, must refer to ontologically co-equal parts of man? I mean, take sarx and soma. Isn’t it obvious that the soma is in fact comprised of the sarx? Is not the body made of flesh? But if that is so, then how are the two equal? We don’t see two physical parts to man: his body, and his flesh. We see one physical part, his body, made of flesh.

    I certainly agree that Scripture uses these four different terms to discuss the composition of man—but it clearly does not do so in a way which actually makes these terms out to be equal or separate parts. Furthermore, it uses far more than just these terms. What do you make of terms like kardia? Given how you seem to be reading flesh, body, soul, and spirit, and given how often Scripture speaks of the heart of man, why do you not understand the heart to be separate from the soul and the spirit, just as the flesh is separate from the body? And again, what of nous, the mind? That surely would make six parts to man, then. We could probably keep going for quite a while that way.

    Regards,
    Bnonn

  5. natamllc

    Bnonn

    how perceptive of you, ah, you noticed I was very very shallow and vague!

    I did not say anything about the four parts being equal.

    That troubles me that you make that assumption.

    Show me where you believe in anything you have read so far either here or there where I equated equality with the four parts?

    Thanks
    Michael

  6. Dominic Bnonn Tennant

    Michael—

    You joined a discussion of the composition of man, in which the question was whether man is a dichotomy or a trichotomy—that is, whether he is comprised of two or three ontologically coequal parts. You stated that he is comprised of four parts. The whole context of this discussion implies ontological coequality. In fact, your original posts makes no sense if you have not presupposed that context, since otherwise it is simply a comment that man has a body, flesh, a soul, and a spirit. Well of course he does. But that is merely a truism, and irrelevant to a discussion of his elementary composition.

    By posting as you did, you were quite clearly suggesting that you think both the dichotomy and trichotomy views are wrong, and that a four-part view is in fact right. Recall, you said, “As I have read your insights and intelligence on this already on a couple two or three citings and your remarks Dominic, it has not one wit changed my view”, and, “I can unequivocally say it is very important to understand we are four parts, spirit, soul, body and flesh”. By directly comparing your four-part view to the di- and trichotomist views, you therefore directly implied that it is, in fact, comparable. I hope this is clear.

    However, given that this is evidently not your position, perhaps you could clarify why exactly you posted at all, and what you think the ontologically coequal parts of man are. I am also most curious as to why you chose to single out sarx, soma, pneuma and psuche as the “four parts of man”, while ignoring kardia and nous and the others. What precisely did you mean by “parts”, given that you evidently did not mean them in the way that everyone else involved in this discussion does?

    Regards,
    Bnonn

  7. natamllc

    With respect, thank you kindly Dominic for your generosity and responsiveness to me.

    Yes, I believe we are a creature created by very Mature and Intelligent Beings, “3 persons”, “one” God.

    I believe They created us, created us either male or female as our Christian Bible reads in Genesis one and two. I am of course a male.

    I believe created man is created from a Singular Eternal being in the image of these Three Persons, One God. I believe though we shall find useful an understanding of the multitude of Hebrew and Greek words referred to as the created being ‘man’; translators translate these words into the English translations of the Bible one word “man” so it can mean a generalization or a one word phrase that means both a male being or a female being only or both; cf Genesis 1:26, Job 1:1. Being naturally a male or female creature does reflect a difference in one’s make up and strength and weakness according to Scriptural ontology even though man comes from that one Eternal Singular Being. God, by Scripture, seems to place variant values on His creature, that is, the male and the female creation. Socially that is of course a major issue in some societies struggling with whether or not there is a Creator or we just banged into existence and now have some semblance of governing human orders evolved out of gases and chaos. Preferences by some Ethnic backgrounds place unique value on one’s natural inclinations and desires too.

    I believe man is four parts and not, two coequal or three coequal parts. Two coequal parts or a 50/50 spirit/soul and body/flesh being, if that is how you quantify in doing the math as to what one means when they mean a dichotomy being? Of course then there is the three coequal or one third being, one third being, one third being when they mean a trichotomy being?

    I realize that there is something written on these two subjects, the meaning of the dichotomy and trichotomy available at bookstores for one to study up on when you want to understand dichotomy and trichotomy beings. I am not well read on either being so I can offer no insight into why one places more value on reasoning one way or the other is paramount. Perhaps I will learn something useful from you and this study here at the “Bnonn on Biblical Christianity” blogsite?

    I believe when Adam and Eve were created by God, He created them in Their image out of the dust of the ground as our Christian Bible reads. I believe the three coequals, Eternal in Self Existent Nature and Being, are Eternal Beings Who formed from nothing this material world, the created heavens and earth and that the Third Person of the Trinity, the Holy Ghost is Who is being referred to in Genesis 1:2 and that the Second Person of the Holy Trinity is Jesus Christ Who is Who is being referred to in Colossians 1:15-17, “He”, that Eternal and Singular Being from which God formed into Their image, His image, man, male and female creatures, Adam first and out of Adam, Eve:

    Gen 1:27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

    Col 1:15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.
    Col 1:16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities–all things were created through him and for him.
    Col 1:17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

    As to why I posted onto this blog, it was because you raised some matter about my ‘descriptives’ over at the Contend blog, Seth McBee’s blogsite if I am not mistaken and Seth commented on my descriptives and suggested I come over here where you were developing the two, the dichotomy and trichotomy sides and as an aside I see it as a very good presentation for being a two coequal part being and a three coequal part being. However, also as I said, after reading over here, it does not at this time change my view one wit about my understanding of being a dichotomy being or a trichotomy being.

    As I have said, I believe I am four parts but by saying that I do not mean 4 “equal” parts; one part, a fourth of a whole being, the spirit and equal to another part, a fourth part being the soul and so on equally with body and flesh.

    What I seem to understand and what I find useful in Ministry and what I minister to, when I am dealing with those who have had to honestly deal with their own flesh, too, who come to me for aid and comfort because of their continual failures of their own flesh or their failure to control their emotions or their failure to develop a sound consistent prayer life with God, or the spiritual warfare, or the struggle of the flesh and spirit, is to show them my understanding of how the Scriptures deal with the whole person by pointing to the “whole council of God” laid out in the Scriptures. I show them how their spirit relates to God’s Eternal Spirit from Scripture. And, of course, there are Scriptures projecting on one’s mind “word pictures” within the Bible stories and exigent scenarios describing antidotes for our soul in daily situations, tests, trials and how it relates to God’s Soul expressed by demonstration of how Jesus Christ, the Son of man faced these exigent scenarios so as to show us our Living Hope. So I look at those Scriptures with them and hopefully that gives aid and comfort to them strengthening them in this way, too. And so it is that I do the same with regard to the Scriptures that point to the body and flesh. After all we see laid out in Scripture the way God wants us to mature spiritually, soulishly, in the body and how to deal with the flesh on any given day; cf Acts 20:32-35 or 1 John 3:14-16. And here at Luke’s Gospel chapter 9:

    Luk 9:23 And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.
    Luk 9:24 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.
    Luk 9:25 For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?

    I find it helpful to help one see the whole being in balance and how God treats these four subjects in certain places within the pages of the Christian Bible and show them how much emphasis God places on each part, one’s spirit, one’s soul, body and flesh so that they too will do likewise and accept the Gift of Eternal Life which, as John defines it at John 17:3, this “gift” is a personal relationship with Three Eternal Beings during our personal sojournings on earth before we too pass to Everlasting Life.

    Well, another long epistle for sure, but I hope in it I addressed a couple of the points you raised in your latest response to my several posts?

    I am sure you will not hesitate to add to it and query further in this hopefully fruitful exercise on the topics at hand?

    Michael

  8. natamllc

    Dominic

    you wrote further at the end:

    “I am also most curious as to why you chose to single out sarx, soma, pneuma and psuche as the “four parts of man”, while ignoring kardia and nous and the others. What precisely did you mean by “parts”, given that you evidently did not mean them in the way that everyone else involved in this discussion does?”

    I hasten to say I am not ignoring this part of your last response. I am pondering and praying how to develop cogent thought in response as any reader can have revealed, you are not some fly by night fella but deep, sincere and I mean deep into understanding these things most likely for the edification and the building up of God’s creature in question?

    Act 20:32 And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified.

    No, I have not ignored the heart or others and their participation in us, the creature. I have placed their partcipation into the four parts maybe differently than you. What does that mean? I know something you don’t? Or you have an advantage over me? No, I think not as I am convinced you too have the Hand of God on you and you are called to serve mankind on the behalf of Our Creator.

    I am not into arguing my position; just laying it out a bit by bit at a time and with your most excellent sharpness, it affords me an easier go of it. It will just take a bit more time to bring out of confusion clarity, wouldn’t you agree?

    You have to agree, this Living Being, Who we read like a book sometimes all to quickly and all sullied by a bunch of daily fodder needs more care and loving esteem when presenting His beautiful creation in His Own Image in our own words; and it should not be that we should rush in and try to explain Him seeing They are invisible beings hard to understand yet believe without Their endearing aid?

  9. natamllc

    Bnonn,

    I will associate the word: “part” with another “word” for part and post a verse. I may after I go to the verse after typing this, look at the verse and determine in a couple of seconds whether or not to include a verse or two before or after the verse.

    If I do I will put that verse in brackets so as to make emphasis clear, ok?

    Here’s the “word”: order/parts.

    ????????????
    epidiorthoo?
    ep-ee-dee-or-tho’-o
    From G1909 and a derivative of G3717; to straighten further, that is, (figuratively) arrange additionally: – set in order.

    Thus: part/order in the context that I am conveying here is what I “mean” when I say I am “four”/tetra- and not a two part, dichotomy or a three part, trichotomy being.

    The verse/s:

    [[Tit 1:5 This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into [order/epidiorthoo?], and appoint elders in every town as I directed you–]]

    Having read the chapter I am advised by my own counsel, [Neh. 5:7] myself, to post the full context from 1-11 and post it in it’s entirety so you don’t have to open your Bible and read all eleven verses there but here on the screen, :).

    Tit 1:1 Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the sake of the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth, which accords with godliness,
    Tit 1:2 in hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began
    Tit 1:3 and at the proper time manifested in his word through the preaching with which I have been entrusted by the command of God our Savior;
    Tit 1:4 To Titus, my true child in a common faith: Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior.
    Tit 1:5 This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you–
    Tit 1:6 if anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination.
    Tit 1:7 For an overseer, as God’s steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain,
    Tit 1:8 but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined.
    Tit 1:9 He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.
    Tit 1:10 For there are many who are insubordinate, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision party.
    Tit 1:11 They must be silenced, since they are upsetting whole families by teaching for shameful gain what they ought not to teach.

    Bnonn, thanks for letting me make the clarification to your question here:

    [“parts”….as the “four parts of man”,].

    Michael

  10. natamllc

    Bnonn:

    “But there is no indication that this image implies an ontological addition to man in the sense of some extra “part”.”

    Here are some of my additional thoughts because of these words.

    It occurs to me to address something that you might say “anchors” me to Christ and God does that for His elect, needless to say, anyway.

    That’s His job so to speak, to conjoin us and reanimate us to Christ.

    Here’s the verse and then the developing thought:

    John records the “words” sent to him by the Lord’s Angel.

    Here are two such “words”:

    Rev 2:17 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone that no one knows except the one who receives it.’

    and pay particular attention to the phrase “new name” in this verse:

    Rev 3:12 The one who conquers, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God. Never shall he go out of it, and I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down from my God out of heaven, and my own new name.

    Let me spin it so:

    When addressing the Church at Pergamum the Angel of the Lord says to John to write that we the Elect receive a “new name”.

    When addressing the Church at Philadelphia the Angel of the Lord says to John to write that Jesus Christ has a “new name”.

    We are in some since with these thoughts isolating that word; sarx/flesh now.

    Here’s why.

    Consider what you just read there at Revelation 3:12d:::>

    “…I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down from my God out of heaven, and my own new name.”

    Hmmmmm, that’s significant to me.

    Why?

    Because dead men don’t give new names to them self or conjoin others to them so that they too can speak of them self as having a “new name”.

    How is it then that Christ, the Eternal Second Self Existent Person of the Godhead morphs to this, a new name?

    I suggest its understanding is not easily found but I find I gain some sense about it when I do a word search looking for all the places in the Holy Writ where this phrase is found, “new song”.

    And here at Psalm 22:22-31

    Psa 22:22 I will tell of your name to my brothers; in the midst of the congregation I will praise you:
    Psa 22:23 You who fear the LORD, praise him! All you offspring of Jacob, glorify him, and stand in awe of him, all you offspring of Israel!
    Psa 22:24 For he has not despised or abhorred the affliction of the afflicted, and he has not hidden his face from him, but has heard, when he cried to him.
    Psa 22:25 From you comes my praise in the great congregation; my vows I will perform before those who fear him.
    Psa 22:26 The afflicted shall eat and be satisfied; those who seek him shall praise the LORD! May your hearts live forever!
    Psa 22:27 All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the LORD, and all the families of the nations shall worship before you.
    Psa 22:28 For kingship belongs to the LORD, and he rules over the nations.
    Psa 22:29 All the prosperous of the earth eat and worship; before him shall bow all who go down to the dust, even the one who could not keep himself alive.
    Psa 22:30 Posterity shall serve him; it shall be told of the Lord to the coming generation;
    Psa 22:31 they shall come and proclaim his righteousness to a people yet unborn, that he has done it.

    What died in Adam? Something did. God said to Adam thus:

    Gen 2:8 And the LORD God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed.
    Gen 2:9 And out of the ground the LORD God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

    To be somewhat frivolous now, it seems to me that God helped Adam see clearly the bad apples in the Garden! :)

    Gen 2:16 And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden,
    Gen 2:17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”

    You can say, “A part of Adam died that very moment”.

    Another phrase I single out of those words is the phrase: “the tree of Life”. This phrase, when you consider all you know about Him, is a tip off that Adam was not self existent but in need of a “Life” source to keep him alive. He could not live separated from God. So whose breath does he breathe so as to go on to bringing forth all humanity? Might I suggest rereading Genesis 1:2 in light of that question? He too breathes the breath of Life as Our Heavenly Father and the Lord Himself. Our God is One God, three Persons, Eternal and Self Existent.

    Also these words were spoken to Adam outside the hearing of Eve seeing she was not, yet.

    Also, a question: what “part” of Adam experienced “death” seeing he went on to be the father of the human race through Eve, the mother of all human flesh, you and me and all readers hereon at this blog?

    Might I refer the reader to Genesis 4:1 for starters if there is a doubt that Adam was healthy, wealthy and unwittingly now wise, now as wise and cunning as the serpent himself?

    So, I know, I haven’t made straight lines in the rock yet for you to hang your proverbial hat on, but I am just getting started and the diamond tip, being sharpened and readied to etch onto the rock of this blog the proverbial line is the hardest element know to man!

    I am just laying some of my additional thoughts out there for you to whack away at, seeing you have given me some sharp words already, which I am grateful for!

    Michael

  11. BlueNight

    This is an incredible discussion; I hope you’re not worn out yet. I’ve posted a decently long essay on my own blog, Triessentialism, about a theory I’ve been developing over the last seven years.

    The Catholic Encyclopedia has a great research article on the composition of man. I think you’d find it answers a great number of questions regarding the historicity of the Trichotomist position, and how many different Trichotomies there are.

    http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/14153a.htm

    I’m opening another open discussion in my own blog’s latest post.

  12. Dominic Bnonn Tennant

    BlueNight—

    Truthfully, I find your ontology both confusing and implausible. You seem to separate mind and heart as distinct ontological things; yet emotions, which you ascribe to heart, are a function of the mind; as is reason, which you identify as the mind. Furthermore, like William, you seem to have simply ignored the lexical meanings of these words in Scripture in favor of a fanciful theory of anthropological ontology for reasons which are difficult to discern. I understand the appeal of inventing theories, but you appear to be claiming some kind of distinctive explanatory power for yours which is lacking in orthodox dichotomy ontology. How exactly do you see your unique triessentialist view as being superior to the traditional view(s)?

    Regards,
    Bnonn

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