Do unbelievers have spirits?

Discussion in 'Theological Forum' started by steadfast7, May 15, 2011.

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  1. steadfast7

    steadfast7 Puritan Board Junior

    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?
     
  2. KaphLamedh

    KaphLamedh Puritan Board Freshman

    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.
     
  3. N. Eshelman

    N. Eshelman Puritan Board Senior

    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.
     
  4. steadfast7

    steadfast7 Puritan Board Junior

    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?
     
  5. Philip

    Philip Puritan Board Graduate

    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.
     
  6. Skyler

    Skyler Puritan Board Graduate

    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.
     
  7. toddpedlar

    toddpedlar Iron Dramatist Staff Member

    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.
     
  8. Philip

    Philip Puritan Board Graduate

    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.
     
  9. Grillsy

    Grillsy Puritan Board Junior

    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"?
     
  10. toddpedlar

    toddpedlar Iron Dramatist Staff Member

    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.
     
  11. CharlieJ

    CharlieJ Puritan Board Junior

    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.
     
  12. Grillsy

    Grillsy Puritan Board Junior

    You're right. I didn't meant to put words in Jonathan's mouth.
     
  13. steadfast7

    steadfast7 Puritan Board Junior

    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.
     
  14. CharlieJ

    CharlieJ Puritan Board Junior

    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.
     
  15. steadfast7

    steadfast7 Puritan Board Junior

    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?
     
  16. Philip

    Philip Puritan Board Graduate

    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.
     
  17. CharlieJ

    CharlieJ Puritan Board Junior

    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.
     
  18. steadfast7

    steadfast7 Puritan Board Junior

    How about 1 Thes 5:23?
    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.
     
  19. Philip

    Philip Puritan Board Graduate

    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.
     
  20. Peairtach

    Peairtach Puritan Board Doctor

    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.

    From
    Directory Listing of //
    Discussions Vol5, Biblical and Theological Topics.
     
  21. CharlieJ

    CharlieJ Puritan Board Junior

    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.
     
  22. Peairtach

    Peairtach Puritan Board Doctor

    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?
     
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