Doctrine of Man: Origin of the Soul II
April 18, 2021 Series: Great Doctrines of the Christian Faith
Scripture: Genesis 2
Scripture Reading -> Genesis 2
Last week we started our discussion on the origin of the soul.
Do you remember the two theories we discussed?
- Pre-existentialism (the pre-existence of souls)
- Traducianism (the propagation of the souls from the parents)
We dismissed one of them outright…do you remember which one? #1
The Main Objection was the complete lack of Scriptural support. Others -->
- It is based on a dualism of matter, elevating the importance of the soul above the body...similar to trichotomy. (Scientology and Islam)
- It destroys the concept of the human race as it believes souls have always existed long before man was created.
- Teaches the concept of reincarnation
The next theory of the origination of the soul was Traducianism.
Traducian comes from the Latin tradux, which means “branch of a vine.”
The souls of men are propagated along with the body by generation
- Thus, they are translated from the parents to the children
- Every human being is a “branch” off of his or her parents
- Both soul and body are generated by natural generation
There were many arguments and counter-arguments presented along with Scripture supporting each one.
Some of the highlights:
- God only breathed into man’s nostrils and left to him to propagate the species as for the soul of, Eve, it was included in that of Adam.
- God rested from creation on the 7th day and is no longer involved in any aspect of creation.
- It supports the doctrine of the incarnation in that Christ received both body and soul and is, therefore, truly like us in every manner.
We ended last week with the urging to read and search the Scriptures to see what it says about this view before making a decision.
This is precisely what we’ll be doing next as we investigate the last view on the origin of the soul: Creationism.
Creationism, from the perspective of the origin of the soul, is what it sounds like.
- Each individual soul is an immediate creation of God
To be more precise:
- Each individual soul is a direct creative act predetermined by decree and the providence of God.
- Each individual soul comes from God just like Adam and Eve's soul came from God.
The soul is supposed to be created pure but to become sinful even before birth by entering into that complex of sin which humanity as a whole is burdened.
- The body is created at the point of conception.
- The creationist believes the soul exists by a creative act of God
Creationism – Argument #1
But, as with the Traducianist, the child has and possesses a soul
There are several arguments in favor of this position:
FIRST ARGUMENT: Body and soul have different origins.
In the original account of creation, there is a marked distinction between the creation of the body and that of the soul, and so also in other parts of Scripture.
Ecclesiastes 12.1-7 - It is God who gave the spirit
7 Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was:
and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.
Isaiah 42.5 - Isaiah says it is God who gives spirit, breathing upon the people
“Thus saith God the Lord he that created the heavens and stretched them out. He that spread forth the earth and that which cometh out of it. He that gives breath unto the people up on it and spirit to them that walk there in”
Isaiah 57.16 - God made the soul or the spirit of man.
“For I will not contend forever neither will I always be wrong. For the Spirit should fail before me and the souls which I have made.”
Zechariah 12.1 – God is said to have formed the spirit of man within him
The burden of the word of the LORD for Israel, saith the LORD,
Which stretcheth forth the heavens, and layeth the foundation of the earth,
And formeth the spirit of man within him.
Numbers 16.20-22 - Showing that God is the giver of spirits the giver of life. And the Spirit derives its origin from the Creator God ---- not from man.
22 And they fell upon their faces, and said, O God, the God of the spirits of all flesh, shall one man sin, and wilt thou be wroth with all the congregation?
1 Peter 4:19 – Suggests that God is the creator of the soul.
“Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to Him in well-doing as into a faithful creator.”
The relation in which the soul stands to God as its God and creator is very different from that in which the body stands to Him.
Hebrews 12.9 – a distinction between “fathers of the flesh” and “Father of spirits”
Furthermore, we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us,
and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?
Suggesting: bodies are derived from our parents, souls are derived from God.
Where the verses of Scripture speak concerning the origin of the soul…
- We must obey the teaching of Scripture
- and the very important part of this is that there is not one verse in scripture that clearly teaches man's soul comes from his parent.
Even proponents of Traducianism regard Hebrews 12.9 as a classical proof text of the argument for Creationism.
Creationism – Argument #2
SECOND ARGUMENT: It is more consistent with the nature of the soul
The soul is immaterial and spiritual.
- Therefore it is not capable of division.
- Traducianism speaks to the division or separation/ branching of the soul
- Creationism does not support this but speaks to a separate creation of the soul
Creationism – Argument #3
THIRD ARGUMENT: It avoids the pitfalls of Christology and sin found in Traduc…
Both sides will agree to this:
Larger Catechism Q. 37. How did Christ, being the Son of God, become man?
- Christ the Son of God became man, by taking to himself a true body, and a reasonable soul, being conceived by the power of the Holy Ghost in the womb of the Virgin Mary, of her substance, and born of her, yet without sin.
The difference between the two views is that if the soul was propagated through Mary, then there is a need to explain how Christ was not guilty of sin and corruption as were other men born in the same manner.
Though, as explained last week, this argument is not so great as proponents of Creation propose as the same superintending, overcoming the influence of the Holy Spirit can explain the sinlessness of Christ – as well as can His being God.
Creationism – Argument #4
FOURTH ARGUMENT the law of creation teaches the origin of the soul in creation ought to be the same as that of Adam who bears the image of its creator.
- God created the human body from the material
- God created the human soul from the immaterial
1 Corinthians 15.45-48. – note the words “earthy” and “heavenly”
47 The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven.
48 As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly.
“For as the soul of Adam was created out of nothing so also are the souls of his posterity. And as his body was formed out of the dust of the earth so also our bodies from seed which itself is also earthly and material. Therefore, the mode of action is made. Hence it is plainly gathered that the origin of Eve’s soul was not different from that of the soul of Adam because otherwise, Moses would not have passed over in silence. His purpose being to describe the origin of all things. And Adam himself would have mentioned this origin. Yea, he would have declared it specially. He would have said not only this is the bones of my bones but soul of my soul. Genesis 2:23. This would have set forth more strongly the bond of a wedlock which should be not only in the bodies but also in the souls. Finally if Adam's soul and ours had a different origin they could not be said to be of the same species because his was from nothing. Ours however would be from some preexisting material wholly dissimilar.”
- Francis Turrentin
Creationism – Argument Against #1
FIRST OBJECTION: God is therefore either the direct or indirect author of sin.
Now, this is a serious objection indeed. But we know this is not the case.
WCF: Chapter 3: Of God’s Eternal Decree
Article 1. God from all eternity did, by the wisest and holy counsel of His own will, freely and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass: yet so, as thereby neither is God the author of sin, nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures, nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established.
1 John 1.5
5 This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.
Larger Catechism Q. 26. How is original sin conveyed from our first parents unto their posterity?
- Original sin is conveyed from our first parents unto their posterity by natural generation, so as all that proceed from them in that way are conceived and born in sin.
Nevertheless, the argument goes like this:
- Either God creates the soul with existing sin and depravity and then places it in man; or
- God creates a pure soul and places it in man with the intention that it will become corrupt, sinful, and depraved.
But in neither case are to ever say that God is the author of sin.
But still, this argument is difficult to address as one must be able to fully explain exactly how sin is propagated through generation and righteousness withheld.
Creationism – Argument Against #2
SECOND OBJECTION: It does not account for the re-appearance of the mental and moral traits of parents to their children.
As mentioned last week, this could be accounted for by taking into consideration hereditary factors and the influence of the body upon the soul.
Creationism – Argument Against #3
THIRD OBJECTION: It is not in harmony with God’s present relationship to the world and the cessation of His creative work on the 6th day of creation.
Charles Hodge describes the problem with this objection:
This is approaching a mechanical theory of the universe, which supposes that God, having created the world and endowed His creatures with certain faculties and properties, leaves it to the operation of second causes. God’s relation to the world is not that of a mechanist to a machine…limiting Him to only second causes. He is immanent in the world…sustains and guides all causes...works constantly through them, with them, and without them.
Finally, how is the doctrine of regeneration explained?
This is not affected through secondary causes caused through the efforts and direct will of man but by the direct influence and exercise of the Almighty power of God.
So, there it is. The three views of the origination of the soul with both sides of the arguments presented, refuted, affirmed, and denied.
I trust you can see that there is no absolutely clear definition in Scripture as to the full, complete, and irrefutable origin of the soul.
But there are several Scripture verses that support various elements of the last two theories discussed.
In conclusion, we want to be sure to keep these two things in mind:
- We must guard against trying to become wiser than what Scripture teaches on any given subject and therefore, we must exercise caution when speaking about such topics; and
- It must be admitted that Bible makes no direct statement respecting the origin of the soul of man – other than in Genesis 2:7, respecting Adam.
Therefore, we must do our own due diligence and studies the Scriptures, and see if we can arrive at a conclusion on which theory we prefer.
While we may not have arrived at certainty, we have learned that great care must be given to all proposed doctrines of Scripture.
We must always be on the lookout and guard against wholesale adoption of theories that sound good but are in opposition to the full Word of God.
But, with certainly, we can leave this discussion with these things:
- The human race propagates itself according to the law “like begets like”
- That the child does derive its nature from the parents
- Attended and controlled by the agency of God (directive or creative)
- That the child is possessed of both body and soul
- That the soul is not reincarnated
- That the soul is immaterial, spiritual, and not capable of division
There are respected theologians on both sides of the fence.
There are even some theologians that see the truth on both sides.
- That there are elements of truth in both Traducianism and Creationism
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