Is Man a two fold being or Three

two
64% (9 votes)
three
36% (5 votes)
Total votes: 14
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There are 21 Comments

ssutter's picture

OK, i've read all the normal stuff on this topic - but I've always gone away wondering... why does any one care.... seriously? Why?

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www.SutterSaga.com

Jim's picture

ssutter wrote:
OK, i've read all the normal stuff on this topic - but I've always gone away wondering... why does any one care.... seriously? Why?

It's a standard ordination question!

---- After that ......

No one ever asks (unless you have a smarty pants seminary student in a SS class)

PastorJohn's picture

I say this. I have heard it preached both ways and If I am not mistaken Charles Spurgeon wrote an example in how a person could be both. I mind you. You said you read books on THE SUBJECTso at some point you cared. I was just wanting an opinion from other studied people. I didnt mean to start an up rising on should we care

Jim's picture

Off the top of my head

In support of Trichotomy

Hebrews 4:12, "For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart."

In support of Dichotomy

Seems like soul and spirit are used interchangeably in the Gospels

That's as much as I remember about it

---------
I personally can't think of one area where the difference between Trichotomy / Dichotomy would make a difference in doctrine or practice of the church. But perhaps someone else can think of something here

Angela Stewart's picture

I'm on the dichotomy side, mainly because I can't find anything in me but an inside and an outside. Wink Seriously, I could never figure out the difference between soul and spirit. All I can see in myself is my body and my person/soul/intangible me.

I think one of the reasons some people push for trichotomy is that they say that God is a three-part entity, and we are made in His image. However, God is actually a three-person entity, something I don't think any theologian in our circles would argue is mirrored in humanity. And in a way, our two-part nature is mirrored in the Son's assumption of a physical form. In fact, Scripture tells us one of the purposes of His incarnation was so He could sympathize with our weaknesses.

I honestly can't wait for heaven where I can ask how it all fits together. Biggrin

PastorJohn's picture

Jim Although I believe that when a person is lost he doesn't have the Spirit dwelling in the soul therefore that makes him a two fold being as describe in Genesis. When he is saved then the Spirit dwells in his soul making him three fold after regeneration. As Paul describes Thank you so much for an answer that has substance and thanks to Angela for her comments I wasn't looking to debate just wanted what others thought so I could see how the views were and why

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

I've occasionally heard pretty elaborate counseling strategies based on a trichotomist view.

Personally, a two-parter. Occam's Razor.

Quote:
When he is saved then the Spirit dwells in his soul making him three fold after regeneration

Wouldn't that involve saying the Spirit becomes part of the man... an extension of his being? I think it would be hard to find that idea in Scripture. It sounds perilous.

JohnBrian's picture

http://old.thirdmill.org/newfiles/kim_riddlebarger/kim_riddlebarger.Tric... Trichotomy: A Beachhead for Gnostic Influences

Quote:
Once again, we see the importance of recovering and articulating the biblical concept of human nature as a dichotomy of body and soul-spirit, as well as retaining the conclusions of historic Christian reflection on these issues. If our doctrines do have consequences--and they certainly do--there is no doubt that trichotomy will lead down some very predictable and problematic roads.

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James K's picture

The Amill Kim is going to lecture against being a beachhead for gnostic influences?

Pot to Kettle: you are black.

1 Kings 8:60 - so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is God and that there is no other.

E. Rogerson's picture

The only practical issue I can see is the possible open door for psychology. I was once told by a trichotomist friend arguing for modern psychology over biblical counseling that a medical doctor helps your body, a pastor helps your soul, and a psychologist helps your spirit. However, he's the only trichotomist I know who thinks that way.

VCO's picture

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

1 Thess 5:23 (ESV)
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.

In the original Greek, spirit is "pneuma"; while in the original Greek, soul is "psyche".

1Job 7:11 (ESV)
1 “Therefore I will not restrain my mouth;
I will speak in the anguish of my spirit;
I will complain in the bitterness of my soul.

In the original Hebrew, spirit is "ruah"; while in the original Hebrew, soul is "nepesh".

Heb 4:12 (NKJV)
12 For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

Yes, obviously the Bible tells us that soul and spirit are two different things. I know a lot of Christians for a long time have thought they were two names for the same thing; but that does not square with Scripture. I also fear some translation teams may not have understood that difference either. Man is like GOD, in that he is a physical picture of a triune being. Body, soul, and spirit; three parts that make up one human being. Whenever an unbeliever makes a statement like, "How can three be one, that makes no sense at all?" I always answer, "Of course a triune being makes sense, and the reason I believe it, is because you are one." Then I explain that body, soul, and spirit are the three parts that make up one human being, not three human beings. You should see the look on their faces, you can see the gears turning, even if they are Mormons. Obviously our nature is NOTHING like GOD:

GOD is Holy - we are not.
GOD is All Knowing - we are not.
GOD is All Powerful - we are not.
GOD is Omnipresent - we are not.
GOD is Perfect - we are not.
GOD is Eternal - we are not.
GOD is the Creator - we are not.
GOD is perfectly Just - we are not.
GOD is the one Who Saves - we are not.
GOD is full of Grace and Mercy - we are not.
GOD is perfect LOVE - we are not.
GOD is Devine - we are not.

How then are we created in HIS image? Only one way are we like GOD, we are a triune being, designed by HIM to mirror to the unbelievers that the Holy Trinity is not foolishness; but rather the Holy Trinity is TRUTH. Yes HE is HOLY, and we are sinful; but the physical reality that a human being is made up of three parts that make a whole; can and does give the Unbelievers an image of why the Doctrine of the Holy Trinity makes perfect sense. Two parts of man are invisiable, while one part is visable, JUST LIKE GOD. I know sometimes it seems difficult to define the difference between soul and spirit; but when you see that the Greek word for soul is psyche, WOW, the difference becomes clear.

THE THREE PARTS OF MAN

BODY = the sum total of the tangible part of man, all of the cells.
SOUL = the sum total of the intangible part of the body: thoughts, memories, emotions, feelings, psyche, reasoning, breath of life, etc. The part that wants to do the will of the flesh.
SPIRIT = the part of man born dead at natural birth, that can only be brought to life by the Holy Spirit Himself. The part that has to be born again, and once the Holy Spirit brings our spirit to life, it is the part that wants to do the will of GOD.

I believe both the soul and the spirit think. The soul and spirit battle for dominance, but as the spirit is fed a consistant balanced diet of the Word of God, it matures and grows spiritually stronger; and will eventually dominate the will of the soul. Hence, that is a major factor in the differance between Walking in the Flesh, and Walking in the Spirit, because the mature human "born again" spirit will YEILD to the leading of the Holy Spirit.

Titus 2:13,
VCO

Alex Guggenheim's picture

VCO,

Your citations are excellent. I will say that the argument that man is made in the image of God and God, being triune, shows us that we are correct in believing what is specifically meant in the description is "our body, soul and spirit", is an argument that I accept (not necessarily the only thing in view in being made in God's image though) but to which others not yielding, I can understand .

But what I am baffled by (not really, though, because most of the assertions coming from those arguing that man is dichotomous come from rationalists or those using rationalism as the basis for their arguments) is clearly the Scriptures distinguish "body, soul and spirit" such as...

Quote:
12 For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

...and clearly here we know that dichotomous viewers see, here, that the "body" (which they identify as one part of their two-part man) is distinguished here, yet when it follows that "soul" and "spirit" are distinguished they magically have a new hermeneutic claiming the Scriptures did not intend to treat them categorically different as it did the word "body" within the very same sentence. It is rather ludicrous.

And as expected their arguments often are to depart this portion of Scripture which do not fit into their theological schematics and to point to other portions that do not make this distinction, as if at all times and at all places, unless a trichotomous distinction is made we must reject the places it is asserted or simply explain it away as to mean something other than what it plainly says. That is called rationalism.

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

There are several passages where "soul" and "spirit" are used interchangeably. It's been a few years since I studied this, though, so I don't have them handy.
"Soul" in quite a few passages simply stands in for "me," not indicating a "part" of the person at all but rather his entire being. You don't really see the "soul" idea as a distinct part until the NT and even there, usage is not always in that sense.

A quick OT example: God breathes the breath of life into what He had formed and "man became a living soul." He did not "acquire" a living soul.

(In general, though many NT passages speak of psuchos/soul and pneuma/spirit as distinct, it is never clear that these are "parts" as opposed to simply functions. And Paul frequently lumps everything simply into "inner man" vs. "outer man.")

Paul S's picture

I'm of the opinion that it is a simple matter that the Holy Scriptures makes the distisction between the physical part of man and the non-physical part of man. And the non-physical part of man consisting of both a soul and a spirit (see Hebrews 4:12, ". . . dividing asunder of soul and spirit, . . . ." So I see it as pretty cut and dry. Man consists of three parts, the physical body, and the non-physical soul and spirit. The soul being the person, the spirit the life-breath of the person. (see Genesis 2:7, ". . . living soul.")

The Apostle Paul writes the Thessolonians saying, "And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and [I pray God ] your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." (1 Thessolonians 5:23).

The only true God is, who is, the only self evident truth not contingent on any thing else.

"[There is] no wisdom nor understanding nor counsel against the LORD." -- Proverbs 21:30.

Alex Guggenheim's picture

Aaron Blumer wrote:

(In general, though many NT passages speak of psuchos/soul and pneuma/spirit as distinct, it is never clear that these are "parts" as opposed to simply functions. And Paul frequently lumps everything simply into "inner man" vs. "outer man.")

The problem is that where psuchos and pneuma are used with distinction, if one asserts these may be "functions" of man and not "parts" of man's being what do they do with the word, "body" when it is found in the exact same clause with these two other distinctions? Is it now going to be asserted that "body" is a function too, and the word, "parts" may not be used regarding the make-up of man which may remove us from that dimension of the discussion but does not take one out of the di/tri discussion because now we would be discussing di/tri functions?

Alex Guggenheim's picture

Paul S wrote:
I'm of the opinion that it is a simple matter that the Holy Scriptures makes the distisction between the physical part of man and the non-physical part of man. And the non-physical part of man consisting of both a soul and a spirit (see Hebrews 4:12, ". . . dividing asunder of soul and spirit, . . . ." So I see it as pretty cut and dry. Man consists of three parts, the physical body, and the non-physical soul and spirit. The soul being the person, the spirit the life-breath of the person. (see Genesis 2:7, ". . . living soul.")

The Apostle Paul writes the Thessolonians saying, "And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and [I pray God ] your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." (1 Thessolonians 5:23).


Well stated. This recognizes the two categories of the material and immaterial parts of man without diminishing, attempting to blend or denying the distinction of the two parts of man's immaterial make-up.

VCO's picture

Alex Guggenheim wrote:
Aaron Blumer wrote:

(In general, though many NT passages speak of psuchos/soul and pneuma/spirit as distinct, it is never clear that these are "parts" as opposed to simply functions. And Paul frequently lumps everything simply into "inner man" vs. "outer man.")

The problem is that where psuchos and pneuma are used with distinction, if one asserts these may be "functions" of man and not "parts" of man's being what do they do with the word, "body" when it is found in the exact same clause with these two other distinctions? Is it now going to be asserted that "body" is a function too, and the word, "parts" may not be used regarding the make-up of man which may remove us from that dimension of the discussion but does not take one out of the di/tri discussion because now we would be discussing di/tri functions?

I can see were the idea of functions needs to be stressed too. To put it in the language of the inmates that I used minister to: Each Person in the Holy Trinity has a different Function. The Father is the Shot Caller, the Son is the One that does the will of the Father, and the Holy Spirit is the one that enables us to do the will of the Father. Three Persons, Three different Functions, YET only ONE GOD. Similarly, the tree parts of man each have a different function. The Soul is the Shot Caller as the will of the Flesh, and the Body does that will, the Spirit of Man is non-functioning at natural birth, and must be born of the Holy Spirit, then it's function is to desire to do the Will of God, and it must assert it's rightful place dominating the Soul, bringing it too to align itself with the Will of God. It may sound over-simplistic, but it made sense to them. And it helped them to understand the two wills that battle within a newly born again Christian, striving to be in control; and it made these verses more understandable to them:

Romans 7:21-25 (NIV)
21 So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 For in my inner being I delight in God's law; 23 but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God--through Jesus Christ our Lord!
So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God's law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.

1 Cor 9:25-27 (NIV)
25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 26 Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. 27 No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.

To quote Dr. John MacArther, "A Christian is not sinless, but as he spirituall matures, he will sin less, and less, and less."

Titus 2:13,
VCO

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Alex Guggenheim wrote:
The problem is that where psuchos and pneuma are used with distinction, if one asserts these may be "functions" of man and not "parts" of man's being what do they do with the word, "body" when it is found in the exact same clause with these two other distinctions?

Body is a part and soul/spirit is another. There isn't really any reason why this cannot be. We do speak this way at times.

But consider Mark 12:30 for a moment. Wouldn't this require quadrachotomy? heart, soul, mind, strength. Even if one of the three preceding "strength" is a synonym for "spirit," we have four parts instead of three. If one is not a synonym for spirit, we're up to five.
No, the fact that these are listed together does not mean they necessarily refer to distinct parts of our being (even though "strength" clearly is a different part from mind... heart and soul--not so much).

Paul S's picture

Aaron Blumer wrote:

But consider Mark 12:30 for a moment. Wouldn't this require quadrachotomy? heart, soul, mind, strength. Even if one of the three preceding "strength" is a synonym for "spirit," we have four parts instead of three. If one is not a synonym for spirit, we're up to five.
No, the fact that these are listed together does not mean they necessarily refer to distinct parts of our being (even though "strength" clearly is a different part from mind... heart and soul--not so much).

I think citing the Law here only confuses this issue of the soul and spirit of man.

"And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this [is ] the first commandment." -- Mark 12:30.

Jesus citing the Law, "And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might." -- Deuteronomy 6:5.

The heart referring to the innermost being of the man, the soul which is what is closely associated with the spirit of the man, being the person, which is what was at issue in this thread. And then Jesus in citing this part of the Law further comments on the meaning of "with all thy might" explaining, saying, "with all thy mind, and with all thy strength" that it is referring to placing all of one's ability into placing one's love toward God. Matthew's account of this, omits Jesus words, "and with all thy strength" emphasizing Jesus reading "with all thy might" is to be understood as "with all thy mind."

I think bring in the innermost being of man and man's ability confuses the issue of the soul and spirit of man being distinct.

The only true God is, who is, the only self evident truth not contingent on any thing else.

"[There is] no wisdom nor understanding nor counsel against the LORD." -- Proverbs 21:30.

Alex Guggenheim's picture

Aaron Blumer wrote:
Alex Guggenheim wrote:
The problem is that where psuchos and pneuma are used with distinction, if one asserts these may be "functions" of man and not "parts" of man's being what do they do with the word, "body" when it is found in the exact same clause with these two other distinctions?

Body is a part and soul/spirit is another. There isn't really any reason why this cannot be. We do speak this way at times.
You may speak if by body and soul/spirit you mean material and immaterial with the immaterial still possessing its two parts. But if by soul/spirit you intend to dispossess them of their distinctions, then no you may not. Further, simply asserting "there isn't really any kind of reason why this cannot be" is not any kind of argument against the places in the Bible where their distinction is not just present but deliberately demarcated so that the reader understands, soul and spirit are not one in the same. And to respond quite clearly, yes Aaron, there is a very good reason why we cannot properly state it as soul/spirit if by soul/spirit you mean without distinction or division, namely because the Scriptures elevate them with distinction and until an argument is made tackling these places in Scripture, the lesser passages that use them without distinction do not suffice as superior arguments nor are causes to ignore these realities.

Aaron Blumer wrote:
But consider Mark 12:30 for a moment. Wouldn't this require quadrachotomy? heart, soul, mind, strength. Even if one of the three preceding "strength" is a synonym for "spirit," we have four parts instead of three. If one is not a synonym for spirit, we're up to five.
No, the fact that these are listed together does not mean they necessarily refer to distinct parts of our being (even though "strength" clearly is a different part from mind... heart and soul--not so much).
I am happy to consider Mark 12:30 which commands us "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength". However, I cannot consider it in the same context as Hebrews 4:12 or 1 Thessalonians 5:23 where both address the being of man.
Why?

Because the two are not the same context.

Mark 12:30 is in the context of instruments of the human will. Our heart, our soul, our mind and our strength in that passage is in the context of instruments of human volition. They are not in the context of the parts of man's being as is Hebrews 4:12 and 1 Thessalonians 5:23 . In Mark the command is given to the believer to use the following human instruments in loving God: heart, soul, mind and strength. And yes, here even the soul, though a division of man's being, is also subject to being an instrument of man's will. Hence, the two verses, juxtaposed, are incompatible for contextual arguments. These may be aspects of humanity but they are not in the context of addressing man's being as is Hebrews and 1 Thess.

Hebrews and