Bridget’s Excellent Comment and My Response: Concerning the real purpose of the concept of “spirit” in the hands of reformers and neo-Calvinists

Bridget Says:

Hi Argo –

Thinking on some of what you wrote here and have some random thoughts to express. As I consider Jesus, it seems to me that his physical being was of the utmost importance. He came to earth as a physical being — not as a spiritual being. He entered our world as we have to exist in this world (physical). He could have come in a different form, his God form, but didn’t. He chose not to minimize the physical reality that man exists in, but instead seems to have attrubuted much importance to it.

Just as important, Jesus went about healing people, mind and body, and raising the dead. This seems to confirm the importance of the physical being. Jesus did not minimize the physical, but cared for the body as he invited people to believe in, and follow, him. He certainly didn’t demean man’s physical being and tell them “p’shaw with the body, it doesn’t matter, go on to the afterlife.” He came to give life — life abundantly!

Along with the above, when we consider the OT and the Law, I think of how much of the Law was concerned with the physical health of God’s people. God valued/values the health and safety of his children, as you also touched on with the ten commandments.

These observations seem to be contrary to so much of what we hear today about “the spiritual man” being of supreme importance to the detriment of the physical being of man. Maybe this is a case of taking some of Paul’s exhortations to the extreme?

  • Bridget,
    What a wonderful comment. Yes…I think you have the issue pretty well organized, even despite your claim that your thoughts are “random”. LOL That was actually pretty concise.

    Funny thing…on the drive home from the TANC 2013 conference yesterday I had very similar thoughts. I began to consider Jesus, the “God man” and I thought…”well, how do we reconcile his physical self with his deified self”. And then I realized pretty much what you concluded: that there is really no need to reconcile them because there is NOTHING to reconcile.

    Who was Jesus? Jesus was what He was. He wasn’t in a fleshly “form”—that would have made His sacrifice UN-efficacious. In order for his sacrifice to be effective in removing the unattainable EXTERNAL standard of “evil and good” and make us morally innocent before God (which is our true nature, in Adam, contrary to what the reformers say) His body needed to be FULLY God, Himself. There is no contradiction because there was nothing more to Jesus than His body and mind. THAT incorporated all the deity He had.

    We constantly make the distinction between what is “real”– that is observable to our (insufficient) senses–and the “spirit” realm that exists somewhere out in the ether in some other dimension, exclusive to us and which contains all the ACTUAL TRUTH of all things. And because we cannot see it or comprehend it, TRUTH always eludes us. This kind of thinking, in the hands of despots and tyrants like the neo-Calvinist leadership, is obviously very effective in controlling and exploiting the masses. By making a stark distinction between body and spirit, once again “true” man is outside the observable “fleshly” man. Thus, you are never in a position to declare anything, judge anything, or do anything effective for yourself or for God because the true you isn’t you at all; it is some abstract “spirit” self.

    This is utterly Platonic thinking and has nothing to do with Jewish understanding of metaphysics. The body is the person is the spirit is the soul. Jesus is One; meaning His physical body IS what was God standing before the disciples. His perfection didn’t lay in His Spirit…His perfection was His moral innocence; just as Adam was morally perfect before the fall, and just as we are morally perfect now in Christ, which is why there is no Law under which we must still be compelled or judged. We can do good, know good, and BE good because WE ourselves, in our physical body and physical mind are morally perfect once again; just as Adam was in the beginning. We please God because we exist, and by extension, what we DO pleases God.

    Your last paragraph hits it right on. The emphasis on “spirit” is rather the conscious, purposeful splitting of man into two mutually exclusive parts which can never be reconciled rationally. This, once again, removes man from himself…and again, once that happens, you become nothing more than a means to an abstract idea…as John Immel puts it “the Utopian Ideal Dream”. This can be the “fatherland” or the “motherland”, or the Workers Paradise, or the Altruistic Collective, or, as we see now-heavily-the “local church”, or the “body”. YOU are nothing more than whatever can be sacrificed and fleeced in service to this utterly abstract, theoretical and mutually exclusive non-existent IDEA. Once you deny it, or leave it, or are booted out of it, or are burned at the stake or Iron-Maidened, you are dead to it. This is why so many people who have left SGM never again hear from their “friends” who were once so close or their pastors who “cared” so much for them. As is the case with me and my family. They are hypocrites, and they are evil.

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