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    steadfast7's Avatar
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    Do unbelievers have spirits?

    If unbelievers are spiritually dead, to what extent are their spirits functioning, if at all? Can it be said that, prior to regeneration, they in fact don't really have a spirit worth speaking of? Are they even spiritual beings prior to regeneration?
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    Good question. Unbeliever has soul, but not the Spirit of God. I believe that when a man born again, then God gives him His Spirit. Otherwise a man is just a soul and he is spiritually dead because of sins. Maybe I mix up two things. What do you think, are soul and spirit the same? Maybe a man have a spirit, which is dead, but when God saves us by His grace he raise our dead spirit to live...("thinking")...When Adam fell to sin, man's spirit died, so we all are dead spiritually until Jesus Christ save us and then our spirit shall live and He gives us the Holy Spirit...
    Well, hope that my writing isn't just a mess...correct me, if I wrote something unbiblical.
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    Man still has a spirit/soul even when he is an unbeliever. The soul/spirit (which are the same thing) are a part of being human. Without a soul, a person would be just a body. When one is converted, his soul is being renewed in the image of Christ (COl 3; Gal 4).

    So one has a soul prior to conversion, although he is spiritually dead.
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    I thought the soul's composition of emotion, will, and intellect was distinct from the spirit? Or, is the body, soul, spirit an incorrect Greek trichotomy?
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    Quote Originally Posted by steadfast7 View Post
    I thought the soul's composition of emotion, will, and intellect was distinct from the spirit? Or, is the body, soul, spirit an incorrect Greek trichotomy?
    In Scripture, soul and spirit are more or less synonyms. They refer to the same part of a person, namely the part which survives the demise of the body and is capable of communion with God. I don't see any good reason for trichotomy.
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    The Bible doesn't give a clear distinction between the body, soul, and spirit. There's an awful lot of overlap in its usage of the three terms.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Skyler View Post
    The Bible doesn't give a clear distinction between the body, soul, and spirit. There's an awful lot of overlap in its usage of the three terms.
    What?

    Soul and spirit - yes, the Bible does not clearly distinguish them. But the Body? I have never heard anyone claim that the body and soul are not clearly delineated and defined as separate entities in Scripture.
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    Quote Originally Posted by toddpedlar View Post
    I have never heard anyone claim that the body and soul are not clearly delineated and defined as separate entities in Scripture.
    They certainly have a very strong connection such that one is incomplete without the other (ie: your body is as much a part of you as your soul). There is certainly a distinction, but we don't want to veer into extreme soul-body dualism.
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    Quote Originally Posted by toddpedlar View Post
    Soul and spirit - yes, the Bible does not clearly distinguish them. But the Body? I have never heard anyone claim that the body and soul are not clearly delineated and defined as separate entities in Scripture.
    Not that this is what Jonathan is trying to convey but it is rather new teaching to say there is not a distinction. Some today say that to believe the body and soul are separate is actually Greek thought and not Jewish thought. It is the same tired nonsense that gets applied to many orthodox teachings today. You know that popular buzzword today "Platonic"?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Grillsy View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by toddpedlar View Post
    Soul and spirit - yes, the Bible does not clearly distinguish them. But the Body? I have never heard anyone claim that the body and soul are not clearly delineated and defined as separate entities in Scripture.
    Not that this is what Jonathan is trying to convey but it is rather new teaching to say there is not a distinction. Some today say that to believe the body and soul are separate is actually Greek thought and not Jewish thought. It is the same tired nonsense that gets applied to many orthodox teachings today. You know that popular buzzword today "Platonic"?
    We probably should let Jonathan say what he meant to say rather than speculate. He clearly said that Scripture doesn't give a clear distinction between body, soul and spirit, and that there was a lot of overlap between the terms. My point was only to argue that it is certainly the case for soul/spirit (as I believe the two are actually the same thing - as some have already said) but absolutely NOT the case for the body, which is distinguished clearly from soul/spirit.
    Todd K. Pedlar
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    The form of trichotomy that insists that a person receives (or reawakens, or any similar idea) "spirit" as a new (or renewed) ontological component when he believes is unconfessional. The doctrine of total depravity states that the corruption of sin extends to every part of man, and our doctrine of salvation extends that refashioning to every part in a progressive manner, to be perfected at the last resurrection.

    The doctrine that makes "spirit" the locus of God-consciousness, as distinct from the soul, is usually in the service of Wesleyan or Keswick ideals. The point is that the believer has a higher "part" that he can listen to rather than his lower soul. This feeds the black-dog/white-dog dichotomy of Keswick and the perfected state of Wesleyanism.

    On its own though, the doctrine is simply incoherent. There isn't any clear way of explaining what "spirit" is distinct from "soul" and how they interact. Plus, the idea that salvation infuses a new spiritual substance into you rather than refashioning what was broken is repugnant to Protestant theology.
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    Quote Originally Posted by toddpedlar View Post
    We probably should let Jonathan say what he meant to say rather than speculate. He clearly said that Scripture doesn't give a clear distinction between body, soul and spirit, and that there was a lot of overlap between the terms. My point was only to argue that it is certainly the case for soul/spirit (as I believe the two are actually the same thing - as some have already said) but absolutely NOT the case for the body, which is distinguished clearly from soul/spirit.
    You're right. I didn't meant to put words in Jonathan's mouth.
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    Isn't one of the main defenses of Calvinism that the spirit is dead in trespasses and sins, incapable of making any choices toward God, and incapable of submitting to God's law? Thus, the spirit needs to be made alive, or that we receive the Spirit of Christ that permanently dwells within us (Rom 8:9)? Charlie, how is it repugnant to Protestant theology that we receive a new Spirit which is from God? If there is no distinction between soul and spirit, then the spirit would be alive and functioning in a non-believer and capable of perform legitimate religious exercises.
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    No, that's not one of the main defenses of Calvinism, because no mainstream Calvinist of whom I am aware distinguishes between soul and spirit in that manner. Calvin, Turretin, Hodge, Reymond, Hoeksema, Grudem, and others whom I can't reference right now. I also know that the 2nd Helvetic Confession specifically says that man is composed of 2 substances, an immortal soul and a mortal body.

    Theologically, let's put it this way. What happened to man when Adam fell? All parts of him were corrupted. What happens in salvation? All are remade. That is Protestant theology. The trichotomist doctrine focuses the unbeliever's problem on the lack (or virtual lack) of a spirit, and understands his salvation as the ADDITION (or re-addition) of a piece. Thus, man relates to God primarily through one part of his being, the spirit, not the body or soul. This is entirely opposed to the Augustinian and Reformed view of the union of the faculties of the soul. The immaterial man can be distinguished by POWERS, but not by PARTS. It is the whole soul that wills or thinks or remembers or loves, even though these powers are themselves distinguishable. You can see Augustine's De Trinitate on this, and Paul Helseth's "Right Reason" and the Princeton Mind traces this in the Princetonians.

    Also, no mainstream Reformed theologian ever confuses the Holy Spirit dwelling within us with our human spirit. We are in covenantal union with Christ through the bond of the Spirit. We do not actually receive a pseudo-divine part called "spirit," which would fit more nearly Eastern views of divinization. All the Reformed theologians combated the ontological view of participation quite fiercely.
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    Thanks Charlie, very helpful post! Now if our whole being is remade at salvation, what do you make of Paul's emphasis that the flesh (sometimes termed "body"), which continues to be unspiritual, will perish, but the spirit will continue to be renewed unto life?
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    Quote Originally Posted by steadfast7 View Post
    Now if our whole being is remade at salvation, what do you make of Paul's emphasis that the flesh (sometimes termed "body"), which continues to be unspiritual, will perish, but the spirit will continue to be renewed unto life?
    Part of the trouble here is that "flesh" is not necessarily used literally here. Paul uses the term to refer to the remnants of sin or the "old man" that still remain within us. But he is not advocating Gnosticism where the body is evil and the spirit is unmitigated good.

    However, in a very literal sense, our bodies will perish eventually and then they will be raised and we will be complete.
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    Well, first, I wouldn't associate "flesh vs. spirit" in Paul's writings with our physical body vs. our immaterial soul/spirit. "Flesh" and "spirit" signify not two parts of a person, but two ways of orienting the whole person. Notice that the "works of the flesh" in Galatians 5 include things that are done in our souls, such as jealousy and envy and dissension.

    Also, I think Paul, while acknowledging the death of our body and our awaiting a new one, also acknowledges a continuity between the two: Romans 8:23 - And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.
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    How about 1 Thes 5:23?
    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.
    Does Paul here mean to make a distinction in spirit and soul?

    Also, if the soul and spirit are basically the same thing, and we know each person has a functioning inner man (soul) prior to conversion, what is stopping the soul of the unbeliever from perceiving the gospel, activating its will, and taking hold of the gospel? As the synergists argue, the soul/spirit is not dead, but merely sick.
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    Quote Originally Posted by steadfast7 View Post
    Also, if the soul and spirit are basically the same thing, and we know each person has a functioning inner man (soul) prior to conversion, what is stopping the soul of the unbeliever from perceiving the gospel, activating its will, and taking hold of the gospel?
    The fact that it is not functioning properly. The soul is meant to be directed outward, toward God, and yet because of the fall, it is directed inward, turned in upon itself, to use to Luther's phrase. The term "dead" here is a metaphorical use meaning that this aspect of our being is non-functioning: it cannot do what it is supposed to do because of the way in which sin has pervaded our being. This is why we need regeneration.
    Philip
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    Here's Dabney's take on trichotomy vs. dichotomy. It is a mistake to think that there are three fundamental substances in Man. The words spirit and soul are used interchangeably in Scripture. I think it was the dispensational Schofield Bible that may have popularise trichotomy among some evangelicals, wrongly dividing Man as well as the Truth.

    Dichotomy is the established Reformed view.

    Unconverted Man is ethically dead rather than metaphysically or ontologically damaged. Spiritual death is the fact that there is a moral gulf between God and Man because of Man's sin.

    Bible Psychology: Dichotomy vs.Trichotomy.
    (Appeared in The Central Presbyterian, April 14, 1860; vol. 5:15, pp. 1 & 2.)

    An extract published in a recent number of the Central
    Presbyterian brought this interesting subject to the notice of its
    readers. In that passage, remarks were founded on 1 Thess.
    5:23—"I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be
    preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ,"
    asserting that the Apostle means to teach the existence of three
    parts in man, body, soul, and spirit. The word soul (psuche)
    here was asserted to mean that principle which is the seat of
    sensation and understanding; while the word spirit (pneuma)
    was supposed to mean the moral principle in man. But the
    writer spoke as though he regarded these as two distinct,
    immaterial substances, which, united to the body, make up the
    complex man. If we use the word soul in a general sense, it
    might be asserted, on this scheme, that man has two souls. But
    does the Bible mean to assert this? Surely it does not.
    First, if it be granted that there are two immaterial principles
    in the living man, the definition of them given by the above
    writer cannot be the one intended by Paul. For all scholars are
    agreed that the Apostle here uses language in compliance with
    familiar, popular custom, which had been made current by the
    Platonic and Pythagorean philosophies. These sects supposed
    man to be composed of three substances, one material and two
    immaterial; body, soul (psuche) and intellect or spirit (nous or
    pneuma). But they never committed the absurdity of attributing
    intellection to one, and moral exercise to another of these
    principles. For is not all moral affection or exercise predicated
    upon some exercise of intellection? The best scholars in mental
    science, Price, Jouffroy, Alexander, Cousin, regard the moral
    judgments as the very highest and most distinctive exercises of
    the pure reason itself. But these old Greek philosophers, whose
    views had molded the language of all educated men in Paul's
    day, attributed to the psuche only the vitality, instinctive desires,
    and appetites, which constitute man, like the horse or lion, a
    living animal; and to the spirit, or intellect (or nous), all the
    intellectual and moral powers, which constitute man a rational
    being. In evidence of this, it is enough to point out, that Plato
    taught that when the philosopher dies, the intellect (nous) is the
    only principle which enjoys a proper immortality; and the
    glorification of the soul consists in its entering upon a career of
    sinless, disembodied, intellectual activity, forever.
    But second, no sound mental philosophers now believe that
    Paul, when he prays for the sanctification of the body, soul, and
    spirit, intended to be understood as endorsing the Platonic
    Psychology current in his day among the educated Greeks, to
    whom he wrote. They justly consider that he intended only to
    borrow the phraseology of the day, to express unmistakably the
    fact, that the whole man must be sanctified, in all its principles
    and powers, be they what they may. For illustration, let us
    suppose that some foreign scholar, well acquainted with Scotch
    literature, were writing to educated Scotchmen, and should say:
    "I pray God your whole nature may be sanctified in the
    understanding, in the affections, and in the will." Would it be
    fair to insist on understanding, that this learned foreigner
    intended thereby to endorse the correctness of, or to express any
    opinion, pro or con, on, the prevalent psychology of Scotland,
    which thus distributes the exercises of man's immaterial part?
    By no means: Common sense would suggest, that he was not
    professedly speaking of mental science, but of practical religion.
    His obvious purpose was only to express to his Scotch readers,
    in language to which they were accustomed, his great idea of a
    universal sanctification.
    Third, we can prove to a demonstration, that this view of
    Paul's intention is correct. The proof is, that he himself uses the
    word soul (psuche) to mean in some places, the very same thing
    with spirit (pneuma). And this interchanging of the words
    would rather show, that the Apostle, at bottom, recognized only
    one immaterial principle in man, the seat at once of sensitive,
    intellectual, and moral exercises.
    Let the reader consult the
    excellent Commentary of Dr. Sampson on Hebrews, chap. 4, vs.
    12. Thus, in Hebrews 6:19, "hope" is called the "anchor of the
    soul" (psuches). Is it only the animal principle (according to the
    old Platonist), or the animal and intellectual as distinguished
    from the moral (according to this recent writer), which is
    steadied and sustained by a Christian hope? Surely not. "Soul"
    is here equivalent to "Spirit."— Again, Heb. 10:39, "Believe, to
    the saving of the soul" (psuches). Surely, it is the moral
    principle, which faith saves. So in Heb 13:17, Jas. 1:21.
    Last: A little reflection will convince us, that the analysis of
    man's immaterial part into an animal soul, and a rational spirit,
    is incorrect. For according to this, beasts, which these
    philosophers supposed to have only a soul, and no intellect,
    ought to show only appetites, and no intellection whatever. But
    is this so? Do not dogs and horses have memory, and
    association of ideas, as well as hunger and thirst?
    From
    Directory Listing of //
    Discussions Vol5, Biblical and Theological Topics.
    Richard Tallach
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    Knox Free Church,
    Perth, Scotland GB

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    CharlieJ is offline. Inactive User
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    Quote Originally Posted by steadfast7 View Post
    Also, if the soul and spirit are basically the same thing, and we know each person has a functioning inner man (soul) prior to conversion, what is stopping the soul of the unbeliever from perceiving the gospel, activating its will, and taking hold of the gospel? As the synergists argue, the soul/spirit is not dead, but merely sick.
    Look for a moment, and I think you'll see the flaw in this reasoning. If we were to accept the premise that the unbeliever accepts the gospel with the "spirit" rather than the soul, two disastrous conclusions follow. First, we would be embracing the gospel with only part of ourselves, and not the part in which our self-consciousness and identity resides. That's really strange, almost Gnostic. (See Kim Riddlebarger on trichotomy and Gnosticism.) At this point, we also have trouble demarcating what soul does vs. spirit. Which one thinks? Which one loves? Which one believes? Which one controls our bodily movements? And if we answer "both" to any of those questions, we would reach the absurd conclusion that we can actually think or believe two things at the same time.

    Second, one of the traditional arguments for Calvinism collapses. Calvinists state that man is morally incapable of receiving the gospel. He is incapable because he is unwilling. This is in contrast to physical inability, which is not having the ontological capacity to perform something. However, if men need spirits to receive the gospel, and unbelievers don't have spirits or have dead spirits, then they could claim to be physically/ontologically incapable of believing the gospel. That would collapse just about every Calvinist explanation of man's moral responsibility.
    Charlie Johnson
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    M. A. Villanova University
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    Peairtach's Avatar
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    This is a slightly different point, but someone who knows the Hebrew and Greek and/or their lexicons better than me may comment.

    So is the Greek word for soul, "psuche", never used of God? If so, is that of any significance?
    Richard Tallach
    communicant member,
    Knox Free Church,
    Perth, Scotland GB

    His Name forever shall endure;
    last like the sun it shall:
    Men shall be blessed in Him,
    and blessed all nations shall Him call (Ps. 72:17)

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