Thoughts? What Say You?


Agree or Disagree?

When a person dies his/her spirit is no longer present with the body, which is what most people mean by saying “the person’s not really there, it’s just a shell” when discussing a corpse.  However, by saying “the person isn’t really there” are we failing to highlight the wholeness of what it means to be human?

The Bible teaches that humans are more than merely spirits.  Whether holding to a dichotomy view (body with a soul/spirit) or holding to a trichotomy view (body with a soul and a spirit), the debate has tended to be over how to understand the immaterial aspect, not the material aspect.  But maybe both aspects should be tackled with equal vigor.

Why do I raise the question?  Well, I’m strange and this subject came up during conversation with a friend, leading us to discuss the wide reaching implications that flow from how we answer this question.  As an aside, the friend said to me, “I believe Yoda said it best… Luminous beings are we.  Not this… crude matter.”  He then added, “Come on.  You knew I was gonna go there… Boy, I just nerded everywhere.”

I told him I’d “see” his Star Wars quote, and “raise him” a quote from the Chronicles of Narnia author:

There’s no good trying to be more spiritual than God.  God never meant man to be a purely spiritual creature.  That’s why He uses material things like bread and wine to put the new life into us.  We may think this rather crude and unspiritual.  God does not:  He invented eating.  He likes matter.  He invented it.


Following Up on the Thoughts Above (Sparked by Comments I Received)

It’s been said, “God can easily restore any earthly deprivation”.  I’m in full agreement.  He not only “can”, but in fact does!  And, yes, this would be true even with apparent annihilation such as cremation, burial at sea, being eaten by animals, or even simple decay to dust over time.  Hence, I’m not suggesting that a person ceases to exist if/when the body ceases to exist.  On a related note, I’m not arguing against cremation or burial at sea.

What I’ve suggested is that our bodies are part of who we really are, not merely containers within which our true selves reside.  So, the deceased person now residing in the spiritual realm is absent from the body and looking forward to the glorious day when they’ll be made whole again (with the miracle of a resurrected body).  As a point of clarification, I don’t mean to suggest in any way that humans are merely their bodies, or that our bodies are more important than our spirits-souls.  Instead, I’m resisting the idea that humans are merely their spirits-souls or that our spirits-souls are more important than our bodies.

Furthermore, I agree that the future hope, based upon the promise of a resurrection body, is glorious!  Otherwise, why even care about bodily resurrection?  Views that deny this reality certainly don’t help answer philosophical, practical, and even moral questions such as, “Why should we honor the bodies of the dead?”  Or even the question, “Who’s buried in Grants tomb?”  (I sort of ask that last question in jest).  On a more serious note, a more robust view of the human body helps answer the question, “Who was buried in Christ’s tomb?”  If Jesus, Himself, was not laid down behind that famous stone, but instead only some shell that He once possessed was placed there, then I think there are a number of important questions to which we’d have to seek answers.  At least in my mind we would.

In writing this, the thought occurs to me that what happens at death might be somewhat akin to a limb amputation.  Instead of amputating just an arm or a leg, it’s the entire body that’s amputated from the soul-spirit.  When everything’s put back together the way God intended at Creation, that’s quite the reunion celebration!  For further study, here’s an interesting article on the subject.  Actually, to be more accurate, the link takes you to the script of a short lecture delivered during the 1950’s.  I’m not sharing this because I believe it’s the final word on the matter.  In fact, I’m not entirely sure what I think of certain parts of it.  But it is compelling, to be sure.  I think you’ll enjoy reading it as I have enjoyed reading it.

I’ve had people try debating me on these honest queries, but they’re really trying to have a different discussion altogether.  This post is asking questions about how to understand the human body within a soul/spirit/body ontology.  Others are entitled to respond, “I don’t like those questions.”  It’s their right, so fair enough.  In the spirit of full transparency, sometimes I don’t like my questions either.  However, the topic of this blog isn’t a debate over physicalism/materialism versus dualism.  Maybe another time in a different context (or even in a different forum) I’ll want to engage in those debates (or at least happily read along as others do so).

As a friendly word of caution, beware the trap of always putting too fine a point on things.  Following the logic of one argument can slip into misunderstandings, failures to communicate, and question begging.  Also, know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em, and know when to tap out.


Why Does It Have to Be So Loud?

And older lady wrote:

I have no problem with a joyful noise, but so many churches play very loud “worship” music that’s hard to sing.  In their attempt to be relevant to a younger generation, the elderly are considered out of touch.  For those who grew up with organs and hymns this “music” isn’t conducive to worship.  I long for a church that believes, “Be still and know that I am God.”

I answered her in this way:

Your point is a good one.  Song choices and volume of music are very important considerations, and making just the right choices can present a difficult task for local church leaders.  Getting the air temperature in the sanctuary to be “just right” is another common sticking point!  But there is such a thing as too hot, and such a thing as too loud.  Often the decibels are too much, especially for older congregants.  The Church shouldn’t be divided along generational lines, so it’s a mistake to appease the young at the expense of serving all ages.


Blessed are the Peacemakers

When you have something on your mind that you’d love to discuss just let me know.  Even if it’s to ask (as someone did), “Has everyone forgotten how great last year’s World Series was?”  Or as another wrote when reaching out, “For the lips of an adulteress drip honey, and her speech is smoother than oil.  But in the end she is bitter as gall, sharp as a double edged sword.”  (He was quoting Proverbs 5:3-4, not prompted by anything in particular).  I’ve had people randomly seek my thoughts on a “hot take” about Donald Trump, too.  Whatever floats your boat, I’m almost always open to talking about it.  Thank you in advance for jumpstarting a conversation with whatever interesting points you might raise for discussion.  When you reach out for a one-on-one connection please allow ample time for a response (particularly when you’re contacting me past my bedtime).


Faith Debate Digest

End of the World As We Know It

Competing views among Christians include:  Dispensational.  Amillennial.  Post Millennial.  Pre-Trib.  Post-Trib.  Mid-Trib.  Preterist.  Futurist.  Partial Preterist.  These are words that come up when discussing eschatology, “last things”, Armageddon. “the end of the age”.  What do they mean?  How should we examine these perspectives?  This episode provides an overview in defining these terms, and sets up discussions for four additional shows.  Joining me on the panel:  Jace Broadhurst (Pastor, Poolesville Baptist Church) and Travis Finley (blogger/podcaster with a Master of Divinity degree from Reformed Theological Seminary).  The original air date was 6/4/17.

Is the Future Already Past?

Preterism – what is it?  What do Christians holding this view believe (and what are their main reasons for believing what they do)?  Has all of biblical prophecy been completely fulfilled and realized?  Has Jesus already returned?  Are there reasons from the Bible for thinking so?  This episode is part two of a five show arc addressing questions such as, “When will the end of the world occur?  Will it end at all?  Has it already ended in some sense?  Should Christians scour newspapers looking for clues in the headlines of daily events?”  Again joining me on the panel are Jace Broadhurst and Travis Finley.  The original air date was 6/11/17.

Have All “End Times” Prophecies of the Bible Already Been Fulfilled?

When we read what the Bible says about the end of the world as we know it, including the tribulation and Second Coming of Christ, are we reading history (meaning that it’s already happened)?  Or perhaps partially history, with some of it having happened, with more yet to come?  Or is it all futuristic?  Saying it’s history is called Preterism.  Preterism is divided into two camps:  Full Preterism (believing that all prophecy has come to absolute fruition) and Partial Preterism (believing that prophecy has been fulfilled, and yet there’s more to come).  This is part 3 of a 5 part discussion on this topic with guest panelists Jace Broadhurst and Travis Finley.  The original air date was 6/18/17.

Discussion of Last Things, End Times, The End of the World – In Other Words “Eschatology”

When studying the Bible for answers to these sorts of questions, is it okay to allegorize biblical prophesies, or should things be understood more woodenly?  How woodenly?  How allegorically?  And why?  How should this be done to remain within the scope of orthodoxy?  This is part 4 of 5 shows during which a Full Preterist tries to explain his view and persuade two Partial Preterists to consider his viewpoint.  The guest panelists are again Jace Broadhurst and Travis Finley.  The original air date was 6/25/17.

Deep Theological and Philosophical Questions About the “Last Days”

When will Jesus return?  What are the indicators?  Will He return at all?  How do we know?  Has He already returned?  If so, in what sense?  What do these questions mean for you?  If Jesus isn’t coming again, what’s this say about God, faith, the church, and society as a whole?  If He is returning and yet to come, what’s this say about how one should live their life and prepare?  If He’s already returned, what’s this say about the world in which we now live and what happens next?  This is part 5 of 5 in a multi-episode arc of shows.  Guest panelists are again Jace Broadhurst and Travis Finley.  The original air date was 7/2/17.


Many blessings to you,

Pastor Troy Skinner