Tuesday, March 04, 2008

How We Get Our Spirits

How do we obtain our spirits (sometimes referred to as our souls)? This was our final discussion question on Sunday night. Here are the three leading theories...

Option 1 Pre-existence View: spirits/souls are eternal. Multitudes of spirits are up in some holding area awaiting bodies to be placed into. Option 2 Traducianist View: spirit/souls are passed on by reproduction in some way or another. Mankind, then, is naturally endowed with an immaterial nature in addition to their material nature. Option 3 Creationist View: each human spirit/soul is specially created by God. In this view there is some debate as to when, exactly, God places the specially created spirit into the person.

What do you think?

13 comments:

matthew said...

I prefer 2
But I am OK with an 'at conception' version of 3

The AJ Thomas said...

I'm 2 all the way. I'm not sure how you can be Wesleyan and three unless you believe matter is evil.

matthew said...

Yes, I read your post about this some time back. In fact, when I was researching this topic your post came up in my google search and I left a new comment :)

matthew said...

oh, also of note...

I did the feb. blogger awards late, but you won (scroll down if you want to see). Plus, Happy Birthday

The AJ Thomas said...

Cool - I'm google-able!
Thanks, it's an honor to win this prestigious title.
Thanks, it's been cool so far.

Katie said...

I think option 2 because it answers the question of how related people who have never met can have the same mannerisms.. like a a son who twirls his hair when he's thinking in the exact same spot as his father did, even though the son never had any contact with him,etc. That isn't a physically genetic trait, but it would make sense as a spiritual one as part of someone's personality passed on.

Aaron Perry said...

The way you've phrased the question shows the huge distinction that some people can draw between options 2 and 3 in your previous post on the subject. This is why it's a good topic about which to think--especially with regard to our language. For instance, just the title: "How We Get Our Spirits" presupposes a some-thing(?), -one(?) that then gets his/her/its spirit. This necessarily goes against monism (if the monist believes in a material body and not that the person is simply immaterial).

One could also be a monistic traducian where the creation of a new soul/person is by the parents but without distinguishing between body and soul. This is where I would land, but would emphasize God's role in the giving of children and, therefore, in the creation of the person (embodied soul/ensouled body). This would not draw a distinction between body and soul and would put the role of God in creation right alongside and enabling the role of the parents.

matthew said...

Hey Aaron. I also would claim to land in the monist-traducian camp, though I'm not concretely located there.

I struggle, in these blog posts, with whether to elaborate and define my terms (and bore most blog readers) :)

I have a question for you, if you see this. How can monism coincide with a belief that the spirit/soul does not sleep with the body upon death? I am persuaded by monism, but I still believe the spirit lives on after the death of the body. What do you think?

Aaron Perry said...

yeah, that's pretty much the biggest critique i can think of. you have 2 cor. 5, of course--being at home in the body and away from the Lord, and longing to be clothed with our heavenly body. being up front: i don't know. sometimes people talk as if God needs the "soul" in order to preserve their existence! i think it best to emphasize that it is God's power that keeps us around, even after death (whether or not we have souls).

i think the idea that a person is maintained in the memory of God even after they have died has potential, noting that God's memory is so fully orbed (not forgetting anything about us that his gracious Spirit chooses to sanctify) that God's memory even gives life to the remembered person--such that s/he can pray (like in Rev. 6), praise, enjoy friendships, etc. this is temporary, of course, until God creates a new body for the people he has maintained. thoughts?

Aaron Perry said...

btw, i think the comments section is the perfect place to work through definitions and things. putting it all in a post would be counteractive. keep up the good work.

matthew said...

As to being kept alive (in a sense) in God's memory...I find that to be a decent possibility, but, at this point, not very convincing.

I think I would be more open to the idea of some transitional body being given to us b/w death and resurrection. This would, it seems to me, maintain monism and would fit well with Moses/Elijah at the transfiguration.

When we throw in Samuel's ghostly appearance, Jesus' promise to the thief, Paul's heavenly experience, and the souls in Revelation, I think there is pretty solid support for the idea of consciousness after death and prior to resurrection.

So I could try to think more about this 'exist in God's memory' idea. Or I could try to think more about the transitional body idea. Or I could just take the dichotomist view.

Does that sound about right?

Aaron Perry said...

I'm sure others will think of more options! Just so I'm clear: I am with you 100% about being conscious. The persons kept in God's memory, because God's memory is so fully orbed, are given consciousness and agency. In fact, I think that God's memory could create something like a "soul" that otherwise doesn't exist. this keeps a monistic affirmation of human persons and allows them to exist consciously after death. But again, it is God doing the work, not that he is needing us to have souls.

matthew said...

thanks ap...i will keep that view in consideration :)