Body and Soul

November 22, 2011

You guys, it’s almost Thanksgiving! I don’t have class all this week! You would think that this would put me in a lovely, charitable, gracious mood, but it has not. Mainly because professors think it is fun to assign 90 papers and why don’t you just go ahead and get those done on up during your Thanksgiving break, OK, thanks. It’s fun times.

Have you guys seen this C.S. Lewis quote?

Now, don’t get me wrong — I like C.S. Lewis. I think I’ve made it quite clear that I think Narnia is real and it’s what heaven will be like. Reepicheep will be there.

However, I don’t agree with this quote. I think we are a soul and we are a body. Equally.

As Westerners, we’ve been very influenced by Greek thought, which is great. The Greeks were smart people and who doesn’t love Greek food? However, the Greeks adopted an idea that the physical was bad and the spiritual was good. This eventually led to an idea called Gnosticism, which saw matter as evil and glorified a spiritual knowledge, detached from any need for the physical.

The early seeds of Gnosticism were constantly being combated by the writers of the New Testament. Paul has to yell at people about it a lot, and John keeps reminding people in his Gospel that he actually saw Jesus after he was physically resurrected, and he saw the sword pierce Jesus’ side so that blood and water flowed out of it. You see, people had started to think that Jesus was solely a spiritual being and didn’t really, truly have a body. Because if he was God, he couldn’t have been associated with evil things like a physical body.

Anyhoo, the church declared Gnosticism as a heresy pretty early on, but it’s stuck around. I think a lot of us still carry seeds of it in our thinking today. That’s why a lot of us have a weird, floaty idea of heaven — if we’ve been influenced by this philosophy, it’s hard to picture God’s perfect restored world including things like real bodies and houses. And I think it leads to things like C.S. Lewis’ quote in which it is better to be a soul than to be a body.

When God created Eden — perfection — he created a lot  of physical stuff. When God created our bodies, before sin and brokenness had ever affected them, he declared that they were very good. When Christ returns, we’ll have glorified bodies, not just souls floating around.

I think we are a soul and we are a body. Both. In the beginning, both the body and soul were somehow a good representation of the image of God, or he wouldn’t have created us with both.

Ok, enough C.S. Lewis bashing for one day. I wonder if Reepicheep’s soul and body are in heaven. He did go looking for Aslan’s Country after all.

OK, have a lovely, lovely day, friends! Thank God that he has redeemed your soul and will one day glorify your body (six-pack abs!) as well!

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10 Responses to “Body and Soul”

  1. I bet that I’ll have 6-pack abs in heaven…I keep trying to bring heaven to earth, but unfortunately I love food too much….

  2. A philosopher (can’t remember which one) tried to work out what our heavenly bodies would look like. Eventually he figured that, since mathematically the most perfect shape is the sphere, and we will be perfect, we will therefore be resurrected as spheres. Hmmm… kind of puts paid to the six-pack abs thing 😉

  3. denisemorris said

    Joel — I know. Stupid delicious food ruining things!

    LGR — ha!! That’s so awesome. We can roll around together.

  4. Kristy said

    I was just going on an anthropological rant about this yesterday! I agree–it’s important that we don’t view the body and the material as evil, but most of what we teach in evangelicalism is just that–ignore the flesh, the flesh is bad, etc. So thanks for writing about it, because when I started ranting people just looked at me weird. 🙂

  5. denisemorris said

    hahah! That’s why it’s good to have a blog, Kristy. You can rant a lot but never have to see anyone look at you weird. It’s lovely.

  6. Jason McIntyre said

    Yes! And remember our third component, our spirit. Greeks thought of our being consisting only of body and soul which poured into early Christianity and it has been hanging around ever since. See Hebrews 4:12 and 1 Thessalonians 5:23.

  7. denisemorris said

    Thanks, Jason!

  8. Debbie said

    The Greeks weren’t all bad. They just kind of went downhill after Aristotle. Aristotle believed the soul incapable of subsisting in any meaningful state apart from the body. He viewed mankind as triune in his consistency of soul and body united and governed by intellect. I like this view since it supports a need for bodily resurrection. Our souls would be meaningless in an immortal/everlasting state without a body.

  9. LeAna said

    Denise, have you ever read Elisabeth Elliot’s “Discipline: The Glad Surrender”? I think you’d like some of her thoughts on the body. She specifically addresses the importance of discipline of the body, but the concepts are similar to what you’re talking about. Here’s a tidbit:

    “[The body] is mortal. It will not last. It was made of dust to begin with and after death will return to dust. Paul called it a ‘vile’ body or one ‘belonging to our humble state,’ a ‘body of sin,’ a ‘dead’ body because of sin. BUT it is also a temple or shrine for the Holy Spirit; it is a ‘member’ of Christ’s body. It is, furthermore – and this makes all the difference in how we should treat it – wholly redeemable, transfigurable, ‘ressurrectible.’
    …As John Donne pointed out long ago, the immortality of the soul is acceptable to man’s natural reason, but the resurrection of the body must be a matter of faith.”

  10. denisemorris said

    Oh, I love that last line! I haven’t read that, LeAna, but it sounds great!

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