I don’t believe in “soul” as we think of a soul these days. A lot modern belief sees it as a separate part of a person, that the soul can be saved separate from the body and that the soul is free once the body dies. This I believe is detrimental to a holistic view of how we are to interact in the world and in the unseen realms, and with God, and how we interact in eternity.
Take for example:
1 Thessalonians 5:23, “May the God of peace himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
And Hebrews 4:12, “Indeed, the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing until it divides the soul from spirit, joints from marrow; it is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”
It is clear to me that just as we are created in the image of God, we ourselves are Triune beings. Body, Soul, and Spirit. Not only that, but we have a cultural mandate:
Genesis 1:28 ““Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.” .
We, as we are in his image, have been given authority over this world. We have been called to create culture and science. We act as Triune beings, individually and hopefully as communities, with our bodies, spirits, and souls, to fulfill this cultural mandate in a way that is in his image, the Imago Dei. This is why we have discovered the sciences, mathematics, medicine, and we have made advancements in our understanding of how creation is set up. God made us in his image as triune beings, inseparable, yet distinct, and each part running as one with the other for that exact purpose!
Something that must be brought up in this discussion, to bring it full circle to “Doing Theology”: I also do not believe that we will be spending eternity in Heaven. I would love to study and write a book on the topic, (but it has already been done very well and much better than I could ever do. (Please read “A New Heaven and a New Earth: Reclaiming Biblical Eschatology” by J. Richard Middleton )
Isaiah 65:17 “For I am about to create new heavens and a new earth; the former things shall not be remembered or come to mind.”
2 Peter 3:13 “But, in accordance with his promise, we wait for new heavens and a new earth, where righteousness is at home.”
Romans 8:20-21 “for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.”
Additionally we are resurrected with our triune creation to be whole again.
Isaiah 26:19 “Your dead shall live, their corpses[a] shall rise. O dwellers in the dust, awake and sing for joy! For your dew is a radiant dew, and the earth will give birth to those long dead.”
John 11:23-24 “Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.””
In case you don’t know, the early church, as well as people of Biblical times did not believe that Heaven was a place for humankind’s eternity. They believed and wrote in their writings that ended up in the Bible, that our physical and spiritual bodies would be united and returned to the New Creation. The ideas that we have of Heaven in no insignificant way come from Greek Philosophers and Medieval Writers.
With all of that being said, I believe that OUR HOPE IS IN RESURRECTION! Not just the resurrection of Christ, but we hope for the resurrection of our full selves to be in harmony with God once again on a New Earth that we can not fully comprehend. As it pertains to Doing Theology, the entire mindset, and worldview of a Follower of Jesus must change if the follower believes this. The follower must realize that they are acting as God’s missionaries on this Earth to follow the Cultural Mandate laid out in genesis, and do it in a way that is pleasing to him. That this creation will be made new, but as we are here now we have a responsibility to push forward with joy and mission to follow the task set before us. They must realize that they are required to take care of, with righteousness and fear and trembling, the body, soul, and spirit that has been given to you by God himself. They must know that this triune being, that is themselves, and placed on this creation called Earth, must not be wasted and forfeited to an idea that it will all go away and my soul will spend eternity in a realm that is wholly unknown to us and not made for us. This changes how a Christian lives in the world, interacts in the world, and sets out on his or mission each and every day. I would love a discussion about these ideas. I am motivated far greater and am pushed to DO far more in this world with an understanding of eternity like this, than with the “traditional” modern view of eternity in heaven.
In case you are skeptical, because I am also skeptical (haha), I ask these few questions: Do you think God changed his mind on where he wanted Humanity to be for eternity from the time of Creation until the time of the Bible being put together? Do you think that although he did not want us to eat of the tree in the garden, because of the consequences and separation, that he would ultimately give in, and just as our sinful selves want, give us what we want and let us be in heaven with perfect everything in the realm of God and Angels? Do we think that God’s intent in the Garden of Eden will not be fulfilled? Does the idea of Eternity in Heaven drive you to be a better person for the sake of God and Humanity (and the rest of Creation in the cultural mandate), or more for selfish reasons (because it was the latter for me)? Would the worldview of eternity on a New Earth drive you very differently (it does for me)?
Your understanding of eternity affects everything that you DO in life, if not directly, then indirectly through motivations, intent, investment, and full obedience to the mandate……. all based on some theological contemplation…….. it must be important.
These are just some quick thoughts inspired, somehow, by Jeff’s last post. Keep thinking, and I would enjoy some feedback on these ideas.
-Doing Theology 04/10/2017