The Makeup of the Soul
1 Corinthians 15:44, “It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.” There is a natural body and there is a spiritual body. We have seen that the word “natural” is not the word THUSIS which is the word related more to nature, but it is the word PSUXIKOS, from the root word PSUCHE meaning soul. So when Paul says it (the physical body that we are born with) is sown a natural body he is saying it is sown a soulish body. That means that this physical body that we have is particularly designed to express the soul. We also know from 1 Corinthians 2:14 that we are born a natural man, and that natural man is, again, a PSUCHIKOS person or a soulish person. A soulish person is a person who does not have a human spirit. We are born without a human spirit and there needs to be an act of God called regeneration where we are made spiritually alive at the instant of salvation. We are told that we have a physical or natural body that is sown a soulish body but the natural body is raised in resurrection a spiritual body. The body that we are born with in time has an affinity primarily to the soul, but the resurrection body has an affinity to the human spirit and to the new position that we will have in heaven in relationship to God. The Scriptures are clear that there is this distinction. However, as L.S. Chafer in his Systematic Theology points out, “In many case the term soul and spirit can be used interchangeably because the writer of Scripture is not emphasizing the distinction between the two. However, in some passages when the writer does have a distinction in mind, then he will use them in a technical sense where the soul refers to one part of man and the human spirit refers to another.”
b) Emotion. When we start talking about emotion and where emotion is located, and say emotion is not in the soul but in the body, people start getting a little bit controversial over that. But this is not something new, it is something that a number of people have held over the years, that emotion is physically based. What is the word we use for emotion? Feeling. How do you feel today? That is a physically based term. But we do have to raise the question: Where is emotion located? The question is important for a number of reasons. First of all, if emotion is in the soul rather than in the body then an argument can be made for emotion being in God—because the immaterial part of man is in the image and likeness of God and reflects the nature and character of God. So if emotion was in the soul then we would see emotion in some analogous sense. There are a number of passages that people tend to go to who think that God has emotion. There are passages that talk about the anger of God, that God demonstrates wrath or that God is a jealous God, or that God is a God of love. They take all of these terms as terms of emotion. The question, though, that we must ask is: Are these terms used in a literal manner or are they used in a figurative manner? What emotion is: Emotion is a response mechanism. When we have certain emotions they are a response to certain things that are going on in our thinking. They are a response to thought, to attitudes, and to belief. Emotions are the result of what we believe to be true. Whether it is true or not is irrelevant. It has to do with what is going on in the thinking of the soul, the response to certain attitudes in the soul and a response to certain beliefs. It is also affected by certain chemicals. There are hormones, all kinds of things going on inside the body, exercising can give rise to certain other chemicals and they give a sense of euphoria; other times we wake up tired physically and so our mental state is depressed. All that is affected specifically by things going on in the body, so we have to recognize that emotions are responders to certain thoughts, beliefs and attitudes in the soul; but they also have a certain physical orientation. In fact, one writer has stated very succinctly that when we believe something has happened or we have certain thoughts there is an almost instantaneous visceral response, for example a feeling that we have been kicked in the gut. So emotions usually produce profound visceral reactions. The term visceral describes something as relating to or affecting the viscera or the internal organs. It should be noted when we talk about this that many of the terms for emotions in both Hebrew and Greek relate to the viscera, the internal organs. In fact, there is no word in either Hebrew or Greek for emotion per se. You may have individual emotions mentioned but you don’t have a word for emotion as a category per se. There are some interesting words to describe some of these emotions. For example, in Greek there is the word SPLANCHNON which refers first and foremost in a literal sense to the kidneys. It came to be used to refer to compassion. In much of the ancient world the kidneys were the seen as something of the negative emotions, but in Greek thought it was related to compassion and mercy. So often in the New Testament when we read about being merciful it is a translation of the word SPLANCHNON, it is taking the concept of compassion and expressing it through terms of the viscera or the internal organs. The word in its verb literally means to be moved in one’s bowels. It is a term for compassion, that you feel something so deeply and profoundly that you feel it in your gut. Another word that is used in the Hebrew is the word kilyah which has the same idea. This refers to the kidneys, sometimes translated “reins” in the King James Version. It is better understood as the inner person or the emotions. For example, Jeremiah 11:20, “who tries the feelings” NASB, and the word for “feelings” is the kidneys, kilyah; “and the heart,” another organ that is used to represent the totality of the inner person. Sometimes “heart” has a primary sense of the mentality, in a few places it has the idea of emotion, and in a couple of other places it has the idea of volition; but as a concept “heart” primarily is looking at the center of something, the inner man, the soul as a whole, emphasizing one or more of the various characteristics of the soul, and usually that is the mentality. Jeremiah 17:10 uses the word kilyah in the same sense: “I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins [kilyah], even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.” If this is physical then we know that this doesn’t relate to God at all. If God doesn’t have emotions and if emotions are not in the soul but are in the human body then it doesn’t indicate that God necessarily has emotion in any sense of the way we do, or have emotion at all. There are some other problems with this that get more profound when we talk about the use of language in the Bible. Exodus 32:9, “And the LORD said unto Moses, I have seen this people, and, behold, it is a stiff-necked people: now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may wax hot against them, and that I may consume them: and I will make of thee a great nation.” So what we have here is a situation that occurs in 1446 BC. Note that there is not a word for anger in the Hebrew. The word that is in the Hebrew is aphcharah [aph = Heb. for nose; the verb charah = burning]. It doesn’t say God was angry, it says God’s nose burned. Does God have a nose? No. So it is not a literal expression of God’s anger, it is a figurative term. So when it speaks of God being angry it is using an anthropomorphism, attributing to God part of human anatomy that God does not actually possess in order to communicate something about God’s plans, policies and purposes within a frame of reference that a human can understand. The other word that comes into play here is the word anthropopathism. There is a lot of debate among scholars as to whether or not there are any legitimate anthropopathisms in Scripture. Pathos = emotion. An anthropopathism is the idea that you attribute to God human emotion which He does not actually possess in order to communicate God’s purposes, policies and plans to man in a frame of reference that man can understand. Anthropomorphism is actually a sub-category of anthropopathism. What we are saying here, simply, is that when it talks abut God’s anger it is using terminology about God that He doesn’t actually possess. He doesn’t have a nose, so why do we have difficulty in going to the next stage and saying He doesn’t possess anger? There is another problem here, a profound theological problem. Did God know about this idolatrous event in Exodus 32 when He delivered the Jews out of Egypt at the Exodus? He did. Was He angry then? If anger is the consequence of a thought or a belief or something you know, then if God knew just as about that rebellion some months earlier as He did when it actually occurred, why wouldn’t He be angry about it earlier if it is an emotion? We are talking about the fact that in God’s omniscience He knows all the knowable. Therefore if we attribute emotion to God in any sense like human emotion, then God has to be learning something, acquiring some new knowledge, in order to generate this kind of emotion. This also affects the doctrine of immutability. So perhaps, when we read passages that talk about the anger of God and the wrath of God and the jealousy of God, the author is using a figure of speech in order to communicate something to us. Emotion, then, is housed in the human body. When we talk about emotions we are talking about a physically based response to what is received in the mentality of the soul.
c) The human soul. That is the core of the imageness. When man is said to be in the image of God that relates to everything because the image is placed inside of a physical body. That physical body is designed to be the highest and best possible expression of that image. The image itself, the soul, is a finite replica and a finite representation of the infinite character of God and of divine essence. So we want to make some connections between these four elements of the human soul and God’s character. To do this we go back to the essence box, our ten characteristics of God. Man has four elements: self-consciousness, volition, mentality, conscience. God is sovereign. What does that mean? That God is the ruler and the final authority in the creation. In other words, it relates to His will. He is the final determiner of history. It is His will, not the creatures will, that is the ultimate determiner in human history. The correspondence to that in man is volition, but the volition of man is not the same as the volition in God. God’s volition is the volition of the creator and man’s volition is the volition of the creature. There is a tremendous debate between sovereignty and free will that has been going on for centuries. How do you relate the sovereignty of God to the free will of man? One of the things that we have to deal with is the fact that free will implies real contingency in human history. But sovereignty guarantees that God’s will always overrides and overrules, and He brings about His plans and purposes in human history. So what are we really talking about when we are talking about will? We are talking about causation. What is the ultimate cause in history? There have been many attempts to define the meaning of causation, free will and sovereignty. Going too far in one direction ends up in determinism, and this is the problem with hyper-Calvinism. No matter how much they talk about the fact that ultimately it is a loving personal God that determines everything you end up with no real choice and no real contingency in human history. You just have a God who ultimately determines in everything and choice is just an appearance or an illusion, you really aren’t making that decision that you think you are, it is just a sort of psychological appearance; it is not true. The theological problem: If there’s no contingency, then when Jesus came at the first advent and offered the kingdom to Israel it is not a real offer. That means it is a hoax, because Israel was determined by God in eternity past to reject that offer. That plays into the hands of Reformed and replacement theology because they have a very narrow look and the plan and purpose of Jesus Christ at the first advent. And if it was not a real offer and their negative volition was determined in eternity past then that is consistent with a view of replacement theology and Israel is now out of the plan completely. In dispensational thought, even though most dispensationalists came out of a Calvinistic heritage, they recognized legitimate contingency. That is why there tends to be almost a schizophrenic attitude among dispensationalists on free will and sovereignty because they have to admit that there is real, genuine contingency there in the plan of God, and that Jesus’ offer was contingent, and that God has greater purposes and plans for mankind than simply salvation. This is a problem with Reformed theology. It limits the plan of God and the purposes of God in history to soteriology. Soteriology doesn’t cover everything. It doesn’t cover God’s purpose and plans for the angels, it doesn’t cover a number of other issues that take place in all of creative history. And in dispensationalism the ultimate purpose for history is to glorify God; it is a doxological purpose. So you have a certain consistency here where you have in dispensational thought real contingency in the offer of the kingdom to Israel, which indicates that they had the ability to choose or reject Him, and this ultimately leads to being consistent with the dispensational, multipurpose plan of glorification of God. It would include, of course, soteriology but much more. The problem that we have in history is that of understanding contingency. Contingency goes back to the idea of causation. Aristotle in his philosophy—and this is not saying he was right—pointed out something that needed to be attended to as we think about ultimate causation. Is it God, is it man, or can God in His greatness include different kinds of causation so that He is the ultimate cause but He allows for real contingency in creaturely causation? Aristotle said that there were four kinds of causes. The first was material cause. So if you were going to build a house the material cause would be t he construction materials. The second kind of causation would be the efficient cause. This would be the builder, the one who is causing the home to be constructed. The third cause was the formal cause. The formal cause of the house being constructed would be the blueprint or the plan. Then the final type of cause would be the final or purpose cause, and this would be the purpose for which the house is being constructed or its end. This is what we need to think about, that there are different kinds of causation. So we need to make a distinction between the causation at the creator level and creation at the creaturely level. What happens is that when we try to think through the whole idea of who ultimately causes what in the universe and that Jesus Christ controls history, well that means that He must cause things to come to pass, and how can He cause things to come to pass without somehow forcing or manipulating man to do what he wants them to do? We are thinking in terms of causation at the creaturely level. Then we try to impose that upon God at the level of the creator. What we have to realize is that there are different levels of causation, so that God as the creator can override and overrule history without at the same time overriding and overruling creaturely decisions. And He can include a plan that is broad enough to include real contingency on the part of creatures and still produce what God knows the end result will be without God getting in and manipulating or forcing man to do what God wants him to do. The sovereignty of God, which is the location of divine will, corresponds to human volition. The righteousness of God, on the other hand, is God’s standard of right and wrong, of absolutes, and God’s justice is the application of that standard. And God’s righteousness and His justice combined, along with His veracity and His immutability, relates to human conscience. The human conscience is where we store our norms and standards. Before the fall the only standards that Adam had were the absolute standards that were provided for him by God, and these standards reflected God’s absolute righteousness and justice. Conscience is one of those interesting things that always shows up somewhere no matter how rebellious someone gets, and it always betrays the fact that they are in the image of God. So conscience relates to the absolute standards of God and it always betrays that. That is Paul’s argument in Romans chapter two when he shows that the very presence of the conscience shows that people have rejected God and know that God exists. Then we look at the idea of God’s omniscience. We link His omniscience to His love. Omniscience is knowledge and love is related to knowledge. We know love is not an emotion. Jesus said, “If you love me you will keep my commandments.” We may not feel like it; we may be drawn by our sin nature to do many different things that are not obedience to God’s commandments. So love there means that we have to first of all know His commandments, and secondly it involves volition. So love relates to knowledge and it relates to an understanding of absolutes. But we will look at love as it relates to thinking because it is mentality, a mental attitude. So we will connect love and omniscience to mentality. Omnipotence is defined in God as the ability to do whatever God wants to do. It doesn’t mean God can do anything. Why? Because there are certain things God can’t do. God can’t sin; God can’t make a square a triangle. Omnipotence relates also to His will. So omnipotence and sovereignty link together in relationship to human volition. Righteousness, justice, veracity and immutability are mirrored in the human conscience. Love and omniscience are linked up in man’s mentality. Eternality is not part of man’s make-up because man is finite, the same as omnipresence. There is nothing really corresponding in either of those in man because man is localized and finite. Self-consciousness in the human soul has to do with identity and recognition of who we are. And God as well has self-consciousness; He knows who He is. So in relationship to man as the image of God we see that he is a finite replica of God’s essence and character. It primarily relates to his immaterial make-up but that immaterial make-up is necessarily housed in a body. The soul does not exist independently of a body ever.