SPIRIT, SOUL AND BODY, PART 2
BY: JOHN GAVAZZONI
NOVEMBER 20, 2004
I fear that I haven’t made myself clear judging from Mike’s latest post. My article, “Spirit, Soul and Body” was written to question the supposition that – to quote the commonly accepted definition of man, especially among charismatics “man is a spirit who has a soul and lives in a body.” I could no longer accept that as fundamentally true, having remembered that man is described as being a soul and even is equated as being bodily in nature. To make myself completely clear: Man IS spirit, IS soul, and IS body.
“There is one Body and one Spirit, “just as you were called…” according to Paul. I see in that beginning of Paul’s description of the Oneness of all things, a Triunity, so that in his statement, “you” equates to soul as that dimension of individuality that God addresses as other than Him, but constituted my Him. In the dynamic between Spirit and dust/body, the soul emerges… “God breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and man became a living soul.”
I understand Mike’s questioning as to man being a spirit (if I were to rewrite the article today, I would favor describing man as spirit, as opposed to being A spirit), and appreciate the opportunity that this dialogue affords me of further clarfying my meaning. At the heart of my proposition that man is spirit (but not at the expense of being soulical and physical) is the principle that all birthing is after it’s own kind. Remember that Heb. 12:9 calls God “the Father of spirits.” Fundamental to my own theology is what I view as indisputable regarding man’s being, as follows:
The Truth or Reality concerning man is to be found, as is true of all things, in Christ. God knows us as we really are, that is, in union with Jesus Christ. Christ was/is begotten of the Father. That is the origin of His Being. He is the firstborn of all creation. All things owe their existence to His begottenness. He proceeded from the Father by conception and birth and is the only or uniquely begotten of the Father. “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the spirit is spirit” Jesus taught us. Not inconsistent with the Son’s spirit-birth and ours (because we are included in the Seed), is the soulical and physical dimension of our being, for the whole space-time continuum creation existed in us, in God, in Christ before it became manifested, “For out of the midst of Him, and through the midst of Him, and into the midst of Him are all things. (Jonathan’s translation)
I know that you’re aware, Mike, that scripture refers often to “the spirit of man,” so the question is, are we to understand those passages to mean that man merely has spirit, or a spirit, or are we to understand those allusions to refer to an intrinsic quality of humanness? When, for instance, we speak of the Spirit of God, we know that we are not referring merely to some impersonal force that proceeds from God. The Spirit of God is God in His invisibility as Breath (life) and/or Wind (power).
It seems clear to me that the soulical and physical qualities of man’s being proceed from the Ground of His Being, which is spirit, yet in that procession, our soulical and physical dimensions carry with them their spirit-content or constitution, as water does not lose it’s essential nature when it becomes steam or ice.
What has rocked the scientific world in the last half-century has been the slowly emerging realization that there is an essential connectedness of all things that is spirit or energy in expression. Subatomic particles, for instance, respond to the scientist’s observation of them. Man is inextricably linked to the whole of creation, as its like-natured federal head. Paul understood this (of course, not in present-day scientific terms) when he, in effect wrote in Rom. 8 that as the sons of God go, so goes all of creation. What we call matter or particles seems to wink at us as if to draw us into a mystery the closer we peer into the microcosm of the universe.
Scientists keep finding evidence of smaller and smaller particles of “matter,” yet within each particle is a universe composed mostly of empty space. Each time that which stands distinct from the empty space is investigated, another tiny world shows itself. Its obvious that what appears as particles distinct from the empty space, is really life-energy with the same constitution as the “space” in which it appears. It’s all spirit/energy-stuff.
I think the reason that men are very obviously referred to as souls in scripture, but less obviously referred to as spirits is because of the truth – that very theologically astute people have affirmed – that God is not merely A Spirit among many spirits or as merely the greatest Being among many beings, is because, as Paul Tillich so brilliantly explains, God is the very Ground of all Being. All being and/or beings proceed from and are constituted by His Being. To make God the Big Object among all his little objects, misses the mark. “In Him, we live and move, and have OUR being.”
The procession of Personhood that proceeds out of/from Being begins as Spirit and draws forth from Itself creaturehood and the eonian dimension, and in that procession nothing of Spirit essence is lost, which I think is implied in, particularly, the New Testament’s use of the description of the Life of God in Christ being “eonian life.”
Then we have John continuing Jesus teaching that, “God is Spirit,” writing that “God is Love.” Therein is faith’s challenge, that in spite of the present appearance of things at their surface, what pervades the existence of all things is Love. I think it was Henry Drummond who wrote the book, “The Greatest Thing in the World is Love.” Well, of course – because Love is THE THING from which all things proceed, continue in, and finally into which all things immerse themselves.
SPIRIT, SOUL AND BODY – PART 2 [John R. Gavazzoni] 11-20-04 1