Humanity and Sin

These are my notes from Mateen Elass’ lesson on “Humanity and Sin” on January 27, 2010, at First Presbyterian Church in Edmond, Oklahoma. He is using a curriculum from:

www.reclaimingthemind.org

This is the course “Humanity and Sin.”

Tonight we are going to talk about how and when the human soul is created, and when it enters the body, and other questions….

MY THOUGHTS AND COMMENTS ARE IN ALL CAPS, THE REST HERE ARE NOTES I TOOK THIS EVENING. I’M ABLE TO TO DROP IN ON THIS CLASS TONIGHT, BUT WON’T BE ABLE TO ATTEND AGAIN FOR SEVERAL WEEKS.

Psalm 8

when was the soul created?
What part, if any, do our parents play in the creation of the soul?
Is the soul “inserted” into our body? If so, when? At conception?

3 main theories about the soul’s creation
1- pre-existence theory
2- creation theory
3- traducing theory

pre-existence theory
– souls / spirits are eternal and pre-exist the creation of their bodies
– sin nature can be attributed to the former state of existence in which the person sinned

this view is not Biblically supported, but is a common outcome of Gnostic Dualism

John 9: People ask about a blind man, who sinned in his family past
– it was a common Jewish view that souls before birth could do things (sins) that would result in judgement, manifested as a disease

Romans 9: 11 (around there) Paul is talking about Jacob and Essau, God chose Jacob over his brother before they came out of the womb
– God’s choice is not a matter of human choice or decision, it

There is no Biblical evidence that the human soul pre-dates conception

Adherents to pre-existence theory include Origen, Delitzsch
– 3rd Century Church Father (gnostics)

this view holds that souls pre-exist in space before they inhabit bodies

even though this view isn’t Biblically based, it DOES undergird Morman theology

Gnostics view the body as the repository of evil

Creation Theory is #2
– teaches God himself creates each person’s soul individually
– then God places the soul in the body

Adherents: Grudem, Hodge, Berkhof, Calvin, and Roman Catholics

Genesis 2: God fashions Adam’s body out of the earth, and breathes life into him
– that looks like the insertion of a soul / life giving force

Traducian Theory
– comes from Latin “tradux” meaning “inheritance, transmission”
– teachers the soul is created in and with the body by the parents
– God is the ultimate creator, but uses people intermediately or as secondary causes
– at conception a soul AND a body is formed
– so in this view an abortion would need an extra-ordinary justification, because it definitively says at conception the body and the soul is created

Adherents: Tertullian, Luther, and Jonathan Edwards

Louis Smeed argues the Bible always puts its message down on the side of life
– you always need an overriding reason to take a life
– it is always better to err on the side of life

Others say life enters the baby at “the time of quickening” when the mother can feel the baby moving inside her body
– some used to argue you didn’t have life until birth, this may have been the Jewish tradition

Hebrew concept of foreknowledge means that God decided to enter into a relationship of love with us before we were born

Jonathan Edwards is one of Mateen’s personal theological heros

In Mormon theology, there are lots of pre-existing “spirit babies” as well as “spirit adults” who have ascended
– Jesus and Lucifer, in Mormon theology, are spirit brothers at the same meta-physical level
– they believe historically Lucifer had a plan that was rejected by God they call father, and Jesus’ plan was accepted

Gostic Dualism dovetails well with “creation of the soul” theory
– it makes a separation between the body and soul
– the union of the soul / spirit and body with body is viewed as a temporary, necessary evil

Zechariah 12:1
“The revelation of the word of the LORD concerning Israel, The LORD– He who stretches out the the….

Hebrews 12:9 “…the Father of spirits…”

MY OWN THOUGHT AND ASIDE: I WOULD LIKE TO KNOW WHAT DOCUMENTS ARE BEING KEPT SECRET IN THE VATICAN LIBRARY 🙂

If God’s creation is good, how could the soul end up already tainted at the point of birth?
– reformed theologians argue our nature from birth is always away from God

Traducian theory better explains the inheritance of original sin and corruption as being handed down, in both body and soul, by Adam

In Roman Catholicism, infant baptism is the sacrament which is seen to deal with the problem of original sin
– this is why Catholic parents with a baby who is dying will ask for a priest to baptize the baby as well as perform last rites, the baptism is seen to clean the baby from sin s/he may have committed in their short life, while the last rites clean the baby so s/he will inherit the kingdom of God after death

MY THOUGHT: HAVING SOME FRIENDS WHO LOST A BABY IN THE HOSPITAL JUST AFTER BIRTH, THIS IS A SITUATION WITH WHICH I HAVE PARTICULAR INTEREST

Question: If God creates each soul directly, and each person is born sinful in both body and soul, then how did the soul become sinful? Did God create a sinful soul and then unit it to he sin corrupted body? This would make God the author of sin — not man.

Jonathan Edwards wrote a sermon about sovereignty of God, the conditions of life are not ultimately what destines a person to a particular fate
– look at Romans 9:18
– that sounds a lot like double pre-destination
– in the end it is a mystery, but God remains sovereign about the decision of who ends up in heaven and who does not

Biblical evidence, in terms of human beings charting our own course, sides with a view that humans are not born with a neutral nature with respect to God, but rather with a nature which turns away from God

total depravity means every part of human life is tainted by sin

in reformed theology, “free will” is defined as pursuing what you most want to do in life
– the nature of humans is to turn away from God
– we have all the freedom in the world to follow that master
– it is Christ who gives us the possibility of a new freedom, to no longer obey that old master (the flesh) and instead offer ourselves up to a new master (God)

we are slaves to sin until Christ sets us free
– until that day we think we are free, but our nature is cast or set in a direction that is opposite to God

There is field of thought which holds:
If you change someone’s behavior over time, you will change their way of thinking
– based in the idea of cognitive dissonance

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