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Soul, spirit, body, mind, etc.

Beliefs about what a person is made of

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What is a person?

Many Christians agree with the Ancient Greek Pagan philosophers that people are composed of both:

bulletA material or physical part: This consists of our visible bodies consisting of flesh and bones, a brain, sensory organs, etc. At death, all of these rot and return to fertilize the earth.
bulletA spiritual or immaterial part: This consists of either a soul, or a combination of soul and spirit. These components survive death and are usually considered immortal; they are weightless and cannot be detected by any scientific instrument.

Christians differ in how they view the immaterial part.

bulletDichotomists believe that a person is composed of a body and soul.
bulletTrichotomists believe that a person consists of a body, soul, and spirit.

Some Christians, and most non-theists, Atheists, Agnostics, Buddhists etc. believe that a person cannot be divided into parts. They believe that a person is a:

bulletPsychomatic Unity: a person consists of a single entity. Terms like "soul, spirit, heart and body" refer to "the unity of the individual with an emphasis on a particular perspective...." 1 or aspect.

Most supporters all these three positions are absolutely certain that their position is the only true one. All  are able to justify their diverse beliefs from biblical passages

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About Trichotomy:

Supporters of trichotomy support their belief with two biblical passages:

bullet1 Thessalonians 5:23: "And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ."
bulletHebrews 4:12: "For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart."

The former quote refers to a person's spirit, soul, and body being separately preserved. The latter refers to the word of God being able to divide soul and spirit -- apparently two separate entities.

Supporters of this belief believe that the soul gives a person both life and will. The spirit is the organ by which the individual is conscious of God. They believe that at the time of the fall of humanity in the Garden of Eden, every person's spirit no longer functions unless and until they become saved.

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About Dichotomy:

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About Psychomatic Unity:

Author Gilbert Sanchez writes:

"... the constitution of man consists of a single or unitary constitution that cannot be separated into components. This single unity consists of two inseparable aspects, namely body and spirit, which eternally coincide in the nature of man."

There are numerous references in the Bible to body, soul, heart, and spirit. However references to biblical lexicons will show that the meanings of these words overlap. They are used in biblical text as referring to the whole person.

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Gilbert Sanchez, "The Nature of Man," The Chalcedon Foundation, 2003-MAR-26, at:  http://www.chalcedon.edu/
  2.  http://www.hiddenmysteries.org/religion/christianity/piousfraud.shtml
  3. http://www.christiananswers.net/q-aig/aig-c008.html
  4. http://www.dtl.org/dtl/treatise/soul-spirit-1.htm
  5. http://www.bibletexts.com/terms/soul.htm
  6. http://www.servantsnews.com/sn9706/s70603.htm


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