October 2, 2009

The Human Spirit - 2

The Gospels give us two clear, vivid examples of living spirits - demons and God. Both the Father and the Holy Spirit are described as being spirit. Therefore, if human beings are able to have a living spirit, it must in some ways be something like the spirit of God and something like these other spirits. But since our human spirits are also human, they must in some ways be something like our human souls and bodies. Or so I would figure.

Angels are obviously different from the Godhead, but in what ways are they similar, as spirits? First, they are non-visible and non-material (at least to all human comprehension and perception). Second, according to the Gospels, they seem able to inhabit human beings. To be more specific, these spirits seem to inhabit both the human body and the human soul. That is, since one's inner self is what has control over one's human body, and evil spirits can usurp that control, according to the Gospels, the habitation of a spirit within a human must be in the soul, as well as the body. The Old Testament tells us God also has the ability to control human hearts and direct their behavior, although incidents of Him actually doing this seem to be somewhat rare.

In both cases, note the direct interaction between spirits and souls. In post #1, we observed that bodies can touch bodies directly but a soul can only touch another soul indirectly, through physical interaction of two persons' bodies. Now we observe that a spirits tend to affect souls directly and the physical world indirectly, by engaging within human souls. Or in other words, like human souls direct human bodies, spirits have the ability to direct human souls.

Let's back up again. The five physical senses are like a one-way conduit between the physical world and one's psyche, but the soul responds physically only through its body. Likewise, there seems to be some kind of a one-way conduit from the spiritual realm into the psychic self, but by themselves, human souls do not seem capable of directing evil spirits or directing the Spirit of God.

The most natural questions to ask next are these: Does the human spirit have ways of sensing the spiritual realm? And are there ways to respond spiritually, using our spirits?

By the way, it would be nonsense to ask if we can "move" spiritually because there seem to be no physical dimensions in the (non-material) spiritual realm. I have no idea how spirits "locate" our souls in this physical world. My personal interest is merely learning to "locate" God, spiritually. We'll come back to that later.

The other key questions to consider, before we move on, are as follows. Can my human soul direct my human spirit, like my soul directs my body? OR, is my human spirit supposed to direct my human soul, like other spirits have shown they can do? OR, somehow, can it be both?

In all five underlined questions, we are still trying to determine if the human spirit is actually such a distinct thing, as opposed to the human soul. But IF that is the case, we need to consider (and perhaps even discover) what spirit is like, what spirit is for, and what spirit can do.

To be continued...


Peter Kirk said...

You seem to be claiming concerning angels that "according to the Gospels, they seem able to inhabit human beings". Is that what you meant? If so, what is your evidence? Or perhaps this first part of your second paragraph is a bit confused. If this sentence is meant to be about spirits, then I agree with it.

You do seem to assume that demonic spirits are the same kind of thing as the human spirit. But the former can leave a person and leave them alive, whereas when the latter leaves the person dies - at least, Jesus did. So the issue is a bit more complex than this.

Bill Heroman said...

The gospels describe demons, which we assume to be fallen angels, as spirits. In such cases, they take possession of people. I'm not claiming that unfallen angels could or couldn't do the same thing. Presumably, if they could, God still wouldn't let them. So that point is moot.

Demonic spirits are no more the same thing as the human spirit than demons are the same thing as God or the human spirit is the same thing as God. But they are all spiritual spirits. Your body is not a dog is not a tree is not a moon, but they are all physical bodies.

Yes, the issue is complex. I hope it helps to say that I'm not doing angel-ology, but merely trying to observe what are consistent aspects of things that are ['made of'] spirit.

Souls are not physical, and telekenesis is rightly known to be fiction. Yet people speak of "spirituality" as if it were the domain of the soul. Where is the distinction?

Thanks for the push back, Peter. As always, please keep it up. :-)

Peter Kirk said...

Thanks for the explanation. I don't think you should just assume that demons are fallen angels, but you are probably right.

I too dislike the confusion between the domains of the soul and the spirit, as when people describe for example beautiful music or architecture as spiritually uplifting when what they mean is something emotional. Of course art and beauty can feed the spirit, but so often people say things like that just because their souls are moved.

Bill Heroman said...

Agreed on all points, Peter. And you give a perfect example. Oprah can keep her soulish definitions of spirituality, as far as I'm concerned. What bothers me is when christians sound as if knowing God is the same as that music and architecture.

I'm resisting a tangential thought about medieval church-building strategery, btw...

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