If you all fall asleep reading this, it's Karen, over at Compost Happens, fault. She suggested that I recap my reading of Systematic Theology for you. So go to her blog and bug her, will ya?
I read about 70 pages yesterday, which, considering what I'm reading, is pretty darn good. And no, I won't try covering all 70 pages (tempting as that is). Just the stuff that's the most interesting to me. Starting with ... (da da da DAHH!) The Constituent Elements of Human Nature!
Earlier this year I was reading a journal compilation that Chris picked up at a Peacemaker's conference. The authors are all licensed counselors and the articles were fascinating. One in particular had me turned upside down, giving a perspective I'd never really considered. The author asserted that the concept of man as spirit, mind and body is unbiblical. It's called a trichotomy, and he claims that the biblical model is a dichotomy, man as body and spirit (otherwise known as soul). So I'm thinking, why haven't I heard this before, is it a new concept, and how on earth could he think such a thing? I know - what does it matter, right? But this is the kind of thing that gets under my skin and makes me dig for answers. The author made a pretty convincing argument, by the way.
So yesterday I'm reading the section on the Constitutional Nature of Man, and the very first section addresses the trichotomy vs. the dichotomy of man. See why I love this stuff? The author of ST claims that the view of man as a trichotomy is a relatively new idea for the Church, originating in Greek philosophy. Greek philosophy, in doing this, was putting man on equal footing with God and His triune nature (Father, Son and Holy Spirit). What a smart thing for those Greek philosophers to do! And it showed up in the early Church, was repudiated, and didn't show up again until the nineteenth century. So the Church, for nearly 2,000 years, pretty exclusively held the position that man is constituted of two parts - body and soul. And why did I believe differently?
I think that early 20th century theologians picked up this trichotomy thing and ran with it. It's all I've ever known. But these Reformed theologians and counselors make sense when they argue for a dichotomy. For instance, in the very beginning, when God is creating man, He forms Adam's body from the dust, then breathes life into him, he becomes a living soul. Man is one organic unit, body and soul, the two needing each other. And when Scripture talks about body, soul and spirit? The two words soul and spirit are interchangeable. Many times the Bible will just say "body and soul" or "flesh and spirit". We are a LIVING SOUL. That simple. Isn't that cool?
I'm sure that you can now see why I love this class, this book. I'll try not to bore you to tears again ... for those of you who might still be reading. Poor dears. Back to my reading.
Until I write again ...