You Don’t Have a Soul

Jason Micheli —  January 8, 2013 — 2 Comments

No, that’s not an accusation someone threw my way though, no doubt, the thought’s occurred to some of you.

It is instead a statement of (theological) fact as attested in scripture.

When it comes to sifting out the biblical view of eternal life from the quasi-pagan notions that have encroached upon popular Christianity, I think a critical difficult comes from our use of the word ‘soul.’

Most believers and non-believers simply assume we come equipped with an immortal, eternal soul that then leaves our material bodies when we die. But if we have an immortal soul that proceeds from our mortal bodies when we die then we’re also implying that we have an immortal soul that precedes our mortal bodies. We would then pre-exist our incarnate form in the way the Son is preexistent with the Father.

That might sound romantic (a la Cloud Atlas). Cloud_Atlas_Cover_1500px_RGB_72dpi.200x200-75

It’s also heresy.

Mortality is a gift freely given by God’s grace (Genesis 1).

Immortality is a gift of God graciously offered in Christ (1 Tim 6.16). To suggest we have an immortal soul that precedes our material existence is to argue that our createdness is not gift but necessary.

Do we have a relation to God that exceeds or transcends categories of space, time and matter? Absolutely. Does our sharing in the presence of God exceed or transcend what we experience in our material, bodily selves? Again, absolutely. Do we have continuity with God even after our material existence is disconnected. Yep.

But do we have something within us that is eternal, immortal that precedes and proceeds from us is thus detachable from the rest of our created self?

No.

This is what distinguishes Christianity- and Judaism- from the Platonism and pop-Eastern religions that abound in Western culture.

Pecknold crop BWChad Pecknold, a theologian and neighbor, articulated it on my FB this way:

We don’t have souls, we are souls. The problem with reincarnation — which is an idea that Christians should firmly reject — is that is lacks a proper teleology for the soul which has been ripped from the body at death. Rather than a cyclical return of the soul to various forms, Christian faith confesses the resurrection of the flesh only in the presence of Christ, who is the end to which our humanity is rightly ordered: body and soul.” 

In other words, if Christ is the image of the invisible God in whose image we’re made then our ultimate End, in whatever mysterious, ineffable way it happens, is to restored in his likeness- body and soul, spirit and matter.

Jason Micheli

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2 responses to You Don’t Have a Soul

  1. I”m glad you finally figured out what I was trying to say 🙂

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