The New Gnosticism

My pastor called me up last night and asked me to remind him why I had a problem with the sentiment that we are spirits who have souls and live in bodies. I answered that it’s gnostic at its core and it’s just not what we see in Scripture.

If we go back to the beginning it says that God formed man from the dust of the earth. Notice how it leads with that. Body first. Then he breathed the breath of life into this being and he became a living soul. He didn’t create a disembodied spirit and then make a body for it.

The whole man is body, soul, and spirit (I’m tripartite kind of a dude). Man is not fully man devoid of any one of these elements. Having a body is part of being human. Think about it like this: Could God have saved us apart from the Incarnation? Sure. He’s God, he can do whatever he wants. And yet the eternal Son took humanity upon himself in order to live righteously, suffer for our sins, die as an atoning sacrifice, and rise bodily in order to defeat death. Jesus’ body was essential to his mission.



3 thoughts on “The New Gnosticism

  1. I like the nuance you brought into this and I hold your point of view. However, I don’t think your argument holds as much weight as you give it. One could argue that, the body is a shell, in which the Spirit / Life force resides.

    But it does raise another interesting topic, in Genesis it would appear that even our spirit wasn’t eternal, but suffered from the fall, and was effected by death. Therefore at death, are we speaking wrongly when we say the spirit departed – and instead should be stating the the person (including spirit) died and is awaiting resurrection.

  2. Craig: One can indeed argue such. It’s the argument I’m responding to! Well, sort of. The argument I take issue with is that the spirit is the true self and that the body plays no role in who we are. It is my contention that we’re not fully human apart from the body.

    As far as the topic you raise, there was a time when I thought of “soul sleep” as a heresy. Now, not so much. I think it’s a viable reading of the Old Testament but there is just too much in the New Testament that leads me to reject it (for example the souls crying out for vengeance in Revelation 6, or Paul’s desire to be absent from the body and present with the Lord).

    I think that ultimately it’s all about resurrection though. In fact, the first draft of this post had a couple of lengthy paragraphs about resurrection but I started to digress so I deleted them!

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