Man as Created - A Summary of the Christian Faith by Henry Eyster Jacobs - Chapter 7

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Question: Is it not often taught…that the body is the prison of the soul?

Such is the teaching of Platonism, and of heathenism generally, which fails to interpret aright the fearful significance of death. Death, or the separation of soul and body, is not of itself a blessing, but a violence done nature, and something which conscience declares ought not to be. The soul was made for the body, as the body was made for the soul, and both together were made for God.

(You can find other chapters of Jacobs’ book here.)

1. How many states of Man are there?

Five: The state of Integrity, the state of Corruption, the state of Grace, the state of Glory, the state of Misery.

2. In which of these was man created?

The state of Integrity.

3. What place does man hold in creation?

According to Gen. 1:26, he is the goal of all the creative acts of God. Cf . Ps. 8:6-8.

4. Of how many parts is man composed? Of two, viz., Body and Soul or Spirit.

5. What is the Body?

The material part of man’s nature.

2 Cor. 5:1 — “The earthly house of this tabernacle.”

6. But does not this imply some amount of impurity?

In no way. On the contrary, even the bodily and material has a spiritual and eternal significance and destiny.

1 Cor. 6:19 — “Your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit.” Rom. 12:1 — “Present your bodies a living sacrifice, which is your spiritual service.”

1 Cor. 15:44 — “It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body.”

7. But cannot the soul exist without the body?

Yes, but only as a consequence and punishment of sin. The soul can exist in an abnormal way without body, just as the body also can exist with some of its limbs or organs removed. “We do not long to become bodiless souls. Endowed with bodies here, it is intended we should have them also hereafter” (Luthardt, Glaubenslehre).

8. Is it not often taught, however, that the body is the prison of the soul, or its fetter, by which its heavenward flight is checked?

Such is the teaching of Platonism, and of heathenism generally, which fails to interpret aright the fearful significance of death. Death, or the separation of soul and body, is not of itself a blessing, but a violence done nature, and something which conscience declares ought not to be. The soul was made for the body, as the body was made for the soul, and both together were made for God.

9. Do all theologians agree that mans nature has but two parts?

On this subject, there are two schools, the Dichotomists and the Trichotomists. The former teach as we have said above that man’s nature has two parts, body and soul or spirit; the latter that it has three parts, body and soul and spirit. The difference is determined by the question as to whether soul and spirit be the same part of man’s nature, designated with reference to different relations, or whether they be different parts.

10. Upon what grounds is the distinction between “soul” and “spirit,” as different parts of man’s nature based?

The seeming contrast between the terms in such passages as:

1 Thess. 5:23 — “May your spirit and soul and body be preserved entire.” Heb. 4:12 — “Piercing to the dividing of soul and spirit.” 1 Cor. 15:44 — “It is sown a psychical body; it is raised a spiritual body.” Luke 1:46, 47— “My soul doth magnify the Lord; and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Savior.”

The soul is regarded, therefore, as the immaterial part of man’s nature which he has in common with the lower animals, while the spirit is that which he has in common with God and the angels.

11. By whom was such distinction taught?

The suggestion came from Plato. It was advocated by Justin Martin, Irenaeus, and the Alexandrian school, and became the doctrine of the Greek Church. With various modifications it has been taught in recent times by Olshausen, Neander and Meyer; and elaborated by Delitzsch in his “Biblical Psychology.”

12. Why is the theory unsatisfactory?

Because in a number of passages, “soul” and “spirit” are treated as synonyms. If man is described in Matt. 10:28 as “body and soul,” he is described in Eccl. 12:7 as “body and spirit.” If it is the “spirit” in Matt. 2J:50, it is the “soul” in Matt. 20:28; Acts 20:10.

For this reason, Tertullian, Jerome, Augustine, followed by the theologians of the Western Church, Roman Catholic, Lutheran and Reformed,, with only a few exceptions, advocate Dichotomy. It appears prominently in the Small Catechism: “I believe that He has given to me my body and soul;”

13. May not the two theories be reconciled?

Yes, by regarding “soul” and “spirit” identical in substance, but diverse in relation. When regarded with respect to earthly relations, i. c, those belonging to the world that now is, it is “soul”; but when referred to the heavenly destiny for which God has created and endowed and redeemed it, it is “spirit.” This is not contradicted by the fact that its destiny, even in its earthly environment, does not prevent it from being sometimes called “soul,” as in Matt. 10:28. Soul comes from God and goes to God, but its activity is through the body. Where souls of the departed are mentioned, as in Rev. 6:9, their former residence in bodies is implied.

14. What, then, is meant in Heb. 4:12 by “the dividing of soul and spirit”?

Not the separation of the soul from the spirit, but that the all pervasive influence of the Holy Spirit acting through the Word leaves no recess of man’s nature, however secret, or by whatever name called, untouched by its operations.

15. What then is the soul or the spirit?

Not an etherealized form of matter or force of the body, as taught by Materialists; for nothing is clearer than the contrast between “soul and body,” and “spirit and body” in the passages above cited. But the soul is a living, immaterial, simple substance, inhabiting, sustaining and moving the body.

16. May it not, then, be identical with the Spirit of God?

This is indeed said to dwell in man (Job 32:8; 33:4). But since the two are explicitly distinguished and contrasted in such passages as Rom. 8:16, 26; 1 Cor. 2: it, and man’s spirit is sinful and needs the renewing grace of God (2 Cor. 7:1; Eph. 4:23), they cannot be identical, and man’s spirit cannot be an emanation of that of God. When God dwells in man, it is by the presence of God’s Spirit within man’s spirit, as we learn elsewhere occurs in four degrees, viz., the natural life, the Mystical Union, (Xxii), Inspiration (Xxiv, 8), Incarnation (Xi, 21 sqq,), according as it is universal or is more and more restricted, until limited to but one instance.

17. What mode of presence does the soul have in the body?

The answer to this question does not belong properly to Theology. As, however, spirit is a simple substance, i. e., it is indissoluble or indivisible into parts, the soul cannot be conceived of as present in such way that a part of the soul is at one part, and another part of the soul at another part of the body. This presence of a finite spirit in a body has been termed definitive.

18. Do all men come from one ancestor?

Acts 17:26 — “He hath made of one every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth.”

Rom. 5:12 — “Through one man, sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death passed unto all men, for that all sinned.”

19. Has this ever been questioned?

No one seems to seriously dispute this at present. The whole argument of scientists, advocating the Darwinian theory of evolution, is in its favor. But it must not be forgotten that, at the middle of the nineteenth century, theologians and the few scientists in America who maintained the Unity of the Human Race, were ridiculed as singularly unscientific. With great learning, diversity of race peculiarities was urged as an irrefutable argument in favor of diversity of origin. In recent years, the pendulum has swung to the other extreme, and the endeavor been made to find a common source for all animal life, which, then, by the ceaseless struggles of uncounted ages, advanced until man was reached. When the Scriptural account of creation is opposed to this theory, it is summarily discarded as “unscientific,” because it has as little support for this “scientific” theory, as it had for its now thoroughly exploded predecessor.

20. But were the old school of nineteenth century scientists the only opponents of the Unity of the Human Race?

No. The Athenians called themselves Autochthones, and boasted of springing from the soil on which they lived. The Preadamites, represented by the French theologian, Peyrere, taught that only Jews had descended from Adam, while the Gentiles had been created in pairs, male and female, in all parts of the earth.

21. Are there not other arguments for the Unity of the Human Race, beyond the Scriptural argument, which are just as strong as those now advanced by comparative zoologists?

Such are: (1) The Psychological argument, from the identity of the various races of men in processes of thought, and of emotions as love and hatred, fear and hope. (2) The Linguistic argument, the general laws which govern all languages being the same. (3) The argument from Comparative Religion. All are responsive to religious appeals, and capable of religious dispositions. There is everywhere the same sense of sin and guilt, and the same recognition, with greater or less degree of intelligence, of a Supreme Being. (4) The correspondence of the sagas and traditions of races most widely removed from one another.

“According to science the origin of the human race from one pair is possible, not to say probable. But what Science at least admits, Theology demands upon the ground of the holy record of the fact of universal sinfulness” (Kahnis).

22. What theories have been advanced to explain how, since Adam, souls enter the world?

There are three theories:

(a) The Preexistence theory, advocated by Plato, Philo, Origen, Kant, Schelling, Coleridge, Wordsworth, Julius Mueller, and, in America, by Edward Beecher. All souls, they teach, have existed before, and have been condemned to have bodies, because, in this ante-temporal state, they have fallen into sin. Occasionally they have vague reminiscences of this former blissful condition, and the desire to return.

This theory directly conflicts with the argument of Romans 5, and the account of Genesis 3, besides being at variance with what has been taught above concerning the body (see 6-8).

(b) Creationism, advocated by Aristotle, Ambrose, Jerome, Pelagius, the Greek Church, the Roman Church, most of the theologians of the Reformed Church, there, being, however, some prominent recent exceptions (H. B. Smith, Shedd, Stearns, Strong), and by John Brenz and Calixt among Lutherans. The body alone, they say, is propagated from parent to child. With the coming of every new soul into the world, there is a new creative act of God. A soul is created by God and united with the body, and thus inherits the corruption transmitted by the parents from Adam.

Against this, there are the following objections: (1) It destroys the unity of human nature, by ascribing parentage alone to the body, and is thus incompatible with the inheritance of intellectual gifts and aptitudes and deformities. (2) It materializes sin, since the effect of the doctrine is to make sin a subtle physical poison, transmitted through the inherited body, and not from the soul, thus completely reversing the order described by our Lord in Matt. 15:19, 20. (3) Or if this be denied, it is driven to the alternative of either denying the existence of natural depravity, or of holding that it is created by God with the soul.

(c) Traducianism, advocated in a materialistic form by Tertullian, but with more discrimination by Athanasius and Gregory of Nyssa, and held as a probable theory by Augustine and Luther. It is accepted by Lutherans, with a few exceptions. According to this theory, soul as well as body is transmitted from parent to child. This theory is most consistent with the unity of human nature, and with that of the universality of inherited sin. The chief argument urged against it, is that it conflicts with the simplicity of the soul. But one light may enkindle another without diminishing the original flame.

Neither Creationism nor Traducianism exhausts the truth concerning man’s origin. Traducianism should be interpreted as Mediate Creationism. God is no less the creator of souls (Is. 57:16; Jer. 1:5; Zech. 12:1), when he uses second causes to bring them into the world. Hence the confessional statement: “God not only before the Fall created the body and soul of Eve, but, since the Fall, has created also our bodies and souls” (F. C, 545).

23. What distinguished the state of Integrity from the state of Corruption which has succeeded?

Man’s endowment with the Image of God.

Gen. 1:27 — “God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him.”

Gen. 5:1 — “In the day that God created man, in the likeness of God made he him.”

Gen. 9:6 — “For in the image of God made he man.”

24. As God is reported in Gen. 1:26 as saying, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness,” what difference is there between the “image” and the “likeness” of God?

The Greek and Roman Churches make much of a distinction which they here find between qualities essential to the nature and those which perfect it. But “we do not distinguish ‘image and likeness,’ so as to refer the former to the essence of the soul, and the latter to the holiness, justice and knowledge of God in man, but we teach that the same thing is expressed by both terms, and that ‘likeness’ is used exegetically” (Gerhard). The proof for this is the promiscuous use of the terms. Scripture sometimes uses -both terms in the same case, sometimes in different cases, and sometimes gives only one term and omits the other. While God uses both terms in the declaration of his purpose (Gen.1:26), when the result is declared the one word “image” is employed. We have no warrant, therefore, to distinguish between these terms.

25. But even though the application of the terms “image” and “likeness” to such distinction cannot be admitted, is not the distinction itself Scriptural?

Yes; for man’s spiritual nature was created in the image of God, and is that image in the wide sense of the term; and within that nature as created, certain perfections capable of loss inhered, which constitute “the image” in the special sense of the term. Man’s personality, his intellectual and moral nature, constitute the image in the former sense. There are references to the image in this sense in

James 3:9 — “Therewith curse we men who are made after the likeness of God.”

Gen. 9:6 — “Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed; for in the image of God, made he man.”

While Scripture does not refer to this as frequently as to the image in the special sense, it is not because this is excluded, but because the latter is the more important. As Luther has said, “When Moses says that man was made in God’s image, he shows thereby that man is not only like God in having reason or understanding and a will, but especially that he is conformed to God, i. e., he has such understanding and will as to understand God, and will what God wills.” 26. What then is the image of God In the special sense?

In the Apology of the Augsburg Confession, the Lutheran Church has defined it as Original Righteousness.

27. How is this explained?

“That in man there were embodied such wisdom and righteousness as apprehended God, and in which God was reflected, i. e., to man were given the gifts of the knowledge of God, the fear of God, confidence in God and the like” (Apology, p. 79).

28. Knowledge was, therefore, one, of the constituents cf the image?

Yes, according to Col. 3:10:

“The new man which is being renewed unto knowledge, after the image of him that created him.”

This must not be interpreted, however, as though our first parents had such knowledge as was incapable of being increased, or that it extended to the decrees of God, or that it included all classes of material objects in encyclopedic survey. Contrasts have sometimes been made between the knowledge of Adam and that of Solomon and of Aristotle. Such discussions are scholastic trifles. The knowledge here meant is simply such knowledge of God and of themselves and of the world, as to enable them perfectly to attain the end for which they were destined. Their knowledge is to be estimated not by the number of topics it included, but by its religious value.

29. What other constituent is explicitly mentioned?

Righteousness and holiness.

Eph. 4:24 — “Put on the new man, which after God hath been created in righteousness and holiness of truth.”

Man had both the strength and the desire to fear, love and serve God above all things. The body was so completely under the control of a holy will that followed in all things the divine Law, as in all its activities and impulses, to be pure, and intent on God’s glory. 30. What freedom was implied in this?

Not freedom of independence, since this belongs only to God, but from compulsion, from physical necessity and from servitude. Nevertheless the will was not exempt from mutability. Adam, like the angels at creation, was endowed with the power of sinning and of abstaining from sin. He was sinless, but not impeccable.

31. In what then does the original state of man differ from that which is at last attained by grace?

Augustine answers: “The first freedom of the will was to be able not to sin; the final, is not to be able to sin. The first immortality was to be able not to die; the final, is not to be able to die. The first power of perseverance is to be able not to desert the good; the final, is not to be able to desert the good.”

32. What external evidences of the presence of this image were there?

(a) The condition of the body, reflecting and expressing outwardly the glory of the soul, and with its various members, eye, ear, heart, etc., used to describe divine attributes. The erect form of man, with his countenance, unlike those of other animals turned towards heaven, reminds man of his origin and the destiny for which he was intended. Besides his body was exempt from all pain and accident and death, as long as this image of God remained unimpaired (Gen. 2:16; Rom. 5:12; 6:23). His immortality was conditional, unlike that of God, which is absolute (1 Tim. 6:16).

(b) His dominion over all other creatures (Gen. 1:20, 28; 2:16). This extends not only over brutes and reptiles, but over all the resources and powers of nature, the soil, the mountains, the rivers, the ocean, the winds, the stars and planets, light, heat, electricity, all the various appliances of Physics and Chemistry, Astronomy and Geology to man’s interests. Like the knowledge of our first parents, the dominion actually exercised was only such as was then needed in the simplicity of their existence, and was to have been developed in their cultivation of the dominion assigned then. It differed from the more extensive dominion now exercised in the ease with which it was exercised, as contrasted with the painful struggles through which it has developed from age to age in the state which has followed.

(c) The glory of his home (Gen. 2:8-17).

33. Was the image of God essential or accidental to mans nature?

The answer depends upon what is regarded as the image. If the term be used in the widest sense for man’s spiritual nature and personality (see above, 25), then it is essential to man’s nature. If, however, it be restricted to the perfections with which this nature was originally endowed in accordance with the New Testament passages which refer to the loss and the restoration of this image, then, of course, it is accidental. The error of Flacius which occasioned a controversy in the Lutheran Church, and reappears in the treatment of Original Sin, was that even in the latter sense, the image of God was essential to human nature.

34. Was it therefore a superadded gift?

It was a gift inhering in and pervading the entire nature, as it came from God’s hands, and not something extraneous or mechanically attached thereto. The scholastics distinguished between a so-called “status purorum naturalium’ and the image itself; and taught that while the image has been lost, the pura naturalia remains, although corrupted. Apart from the fact that such state never existed, except as a matter of purely abstract speculation, such doctrine represents human nature as created morally indifferent, in opposition to Gen. 1:31. “And God saw everything that he had made, and behold it was very good.”

The corruption of human nature which has followed does not make that nature as such either sin or morally indifferent. So far as human nature is a creature of God, it is good even when ruined, the ruin coming not from God, but from the abuse of God’s creation.

It is incorrect, therefore, to maintain, as Roman Catholic theologians have done, that the image of God had no more to do with man’s nature, than a bit has to do with a horse, or a man’s clothes with his personality.

35. Would you say, then, that the image was “supernatural”?

Here again, everything depends upon the definition of “supernatural.” Many of the discussions of theologians occur from using the same term in two senses. If “supernatural” mean having powers and capacities above the range of human nature, as it is at present, then the image was supernatural; but if the standpoint be that of human nature in man’s first state, then it was natural. In a word, it was natural to a normal and incorrupt; it is supernatural, with respect to an enfeebled and corrupt nature.

36. What estimate is to be placed upon the doctrine of mans first state?

Just in the degree that its perfections arc denied or diminished, is the significance of sin and its consequences decreased; and just in the degree that sin and its consequences are extenuated, are the necessity and importance of the work of Christ disparaged. If mortality, for instance, were ascribed to man before the Fall, death would not be the wages of sin, and the death of Christ would have to find a different explanation from that of the New Testament.

(You can find other chapters of Jacobs’ book here.)

Originally published at: Comfort for Christians