Re: [asa] Event or process

From: Don Winterstein <dfwinterstein@msn.com>
Date: Fri May 11 2007 - 05:23:50 EDT

DB: "Genesis 35:18 refers to physical death as the separation of the soul from the body."

DW: Not so fast. The key word is nephesh, and nephesh has many superficially different meanings in the OT, so you've got to allow possibilities other than those which best fit your theological presuppositions. The best meaning of the passage in this instance would be "she died"--or, as NIV has it, she "breathed her last." The passage is not making a theological statement about the nature of human persons. In Exodus 4:19 God says to Moses, "The men who sought your nephesh are all dead." Were those men seeking Moses' soul? No way. See also Janice Matchett's recent comments on the meaning of nephesh in the OT.

DB: "Matthew 10:28 says that in physical death, the soul continues to exist independent of the body. These passages make it plain as day that the soul is separate from the body."

DW: Not so fast. Once again you're interpreting in terms of your assumptions, which are not necessarily valid. When God "destroys" the soul in hell, it continues suffering, which means it's not destroyed in the usual sense. This passage, then, is defining what "killing the soul" means--in a word, God's damnation. The passage is not making a statement about the nature of human persons. Rather, it's telling us to get our priorities straight. You can kill the body in any number of ways, but the only way to kill the soul is for God to damn it to hell. When killing the soul is defined in this way, it's obvious that only God can do it. To say that the passage means the soul lives independently after the body dies would be to deduce meanings that're simply not there.

DB: "Jack's quote of Revelation 6:9 is another passage that I'd like to hear you respond to."

DW: If one takes this passage literally, perhaps one stands a chance of making a case. But what is a "soul" here? Of what use would a white robe be to a soul? And how can a soul "cry out with a loud voice"? Eventually, if you take this literally, you must conclude soul is a synonym for human, body included.

In general it's foolish to try to extract sober doctrines from Revelation. Long ago I read De anima by Tertullian. He went into endless detail about the color, shape, flavor, odor, etc. of the soul. So if he was right, and souls do actually have detectable color or shape, I suppose a person could actually see them crouching under an altar. (But then why is it so hard to see them when they depart the dying?) If the persons referred to had physical bodies, of course, then they'd be easy to see, and they could also put their white robes to good use. So I'd tend to go with the idea that they had physical bodies.

Unless, of course (which is my real belief), the passage was not intended to convey sober doctrine about the nature of the human person or the afterlife but instead, as most of Revelation, was intended to present larger-than-life images of spiritual forces and events, none of which is to be taken literally but all of which are to be taken seriously. Read Revelation with your emotions, not your mind. It's got lots of great images; just don't try to pin them down to anything in the real world. Except for chapter 12. Portions of that chapter actually mean something specific to me.

DB: "How can a natural cause (evolution) generate something that cannot be destroyed by natural causes? How can a natural cause generate something that is capable of eternal spiritual existence?"

DW: For purposes of this discussion I claim that the human body is the sum of all body parts and the human soul is what makes that sum greater than the whole. The soul is real, but it is inseparable from the body and ceases to exist if and when the body dies. This view is wholly compatible with biblical teaching, at least, teaching not controlled by interpreters' philosophical presuppositions. We believe once-dead humans will rise at the resurrection as complete human persons, bodies with souls. Where would the souls have been meantime? Same place as the bodies. The soul once formed does not last forever unless and until God makes it do so.

As for whether the human spirit differs from the human soul--how do you split hairs when they turn to goo under your scalpel? I'm no Tertullian.

Don

  ----- Original Message -----
  From: David Buller<mailto:bullerscience@gmail.com>
  To: Carol or John Burgeson<mailto:burgytwo@juno.com>
  Cc: asa@calvin.edu<mailto:asa@calvin.edu>
  Sent: Thursday, May 10, 2007 3:40 PM
  Subject: Re: [asa] Event or process

  I would like to point out several aspects of my view of the human soul.

  1. The human soul is seperate from the body.
  2. The human soul is capable of existence separately from the body. For example, Genesis 35:18 refers to physical death as the separation of the soul from the body.
  3. The human soul is a non-corporeal, eternal entity. Once again referring to Matthew 10:28, the soul cannot be destroyed by man, only by God. Because there is a part of us that cannot be destroyed by natural means (death, etc.), it certainly seems to follow that it is a part of us that was not formed by natural means.

  To those that believe that the human soul is the product of natural processes, why is it that the product of natural forces can somehow be independent of it's natural "formational agent" (i.e., body) and also indestructible by the same and other natural forces?

  Don:

  You said: "There is no indication in biblical teaching that human souls can exist independently of bodies. If the teaching is not there, I can't point out in detail that it's not there; if you think it's there, it's up to you to demonstrate it."

  See the above; I do not see how you can possibly say this in light of Matthew 10:28. If the body can be destroyed and at the same time the soul is not destroyed, then the soul is obviously existing independently of the body. Passages such as Genesis 35:18 define physical death as the separation of the soul from the body. Yes, the teaching is there, and I have demonstrated it.

  You also said: "All the rest, including souls, is evolution."

  How can a natural cause (evolution) generate something that cannot be destroyed by natural causes? How can a natural cause generate something that is capable of eternal spiritual existence? I am a TEist, but I disagree with you here.

  Jack's quote of Revelation 6:9 is another passage that I'd like to hear you respond to.

  -David Buller

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Received on Fri May 11 05:20:47 2007

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