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Traducianism and Original Sin

In the following correspondence, the e-mailer's questions are in black and enclosed in "greater than" and "lesser than" signs. My replies are in red.

> I saw you had some comments about Dichotomy and Trichotomy. I really don't know much about it though when I have come across it there seems to a lot of disagreement. How does this issue effect the rest of your theology or does it make much difference?<

It depends on how a trichotomist splits up the human personality between the spirit and soul and what degree of separation they put between them. Some will locate the intellect in the soul and then say we can only know God through the spirit. This results in an anti-intellectual attitude towards one's relationship to God. Some even put both the intellect and emotions in the soul. This leaves one's relationship to God to be some nebulous non-intellectual, non-emotional intuition.

Not all trichotomists go to these extremes, and if they don't then there's not that much of a difference practically. And needless to say, I would disagree with these extremes. I believe our entire person, intellect, emotions, and intuition, is involved in our relationship to God.

>Also I came across Gordon Clark from your site and have read a few of his apologetics books. He seems to have done some really good work, and was just wondering if you know why his books are not more popular. At least nobody I know has ever heard of him. Anyway just curious. Well, keep up your good work and I'll be praying for you.


Clark's books are very good. They are published by Trinity Foundation. And I believe it's partly a problem with the Foundation not pushing them enough to get into regular bookstores. And partly it's a problem that Clark's views are probably considered too "intellectual" and controversial by many stores to stock.

>Hail and hearty greetings from Africa!<

Greetings from the USA!

>What changed in Adam 's make up after he disobeyed God?<

The New Geneva Study Bible (NGSB) comments about "Total Depravity" would be applicable to Adam after the Fall and to all of his descendants:
It signifies a corruption of our moral and spiritual nature that is total in principle, although not in degree (for no one is as bad as he or she might be). No part of us is untouched by sin, and no action of ours is as good as it should be. Consequently, nothing we do is ever meritorious in God’s eyes. We cannot earn God’s favor, no matter what we do; unless grace saves us, we are lost (p.809).

In other words, as a result of the Fall, Adam’s nature was corrupted in every aspect (i.e. his intellect, will, and emotions are in a fallen state).

Moreover, Adam’s un-fallen nature was such that he could freely choose good or choose evil. Or, to put it another way, he were able not to sin. But as a result of the Fall, Adam nature was corrupted in such a way that he was then unable not to sin.

>What is the difference in make up between Adam before the fall and a regenerate man?<

A regenerate person is filled with the Holy Spirit, whereas Adam was not. As a result, we may sin but the Holy Spirit within us will always, eventually, lead us to repentance. So we cannot remain or continue in sin (1John 1:8-10; 3:4-8).

After glorification we will the be in such as state that we will be unable to sin (Rev 21:27).

Adam and Eve, on the other hand, were not filled with the Spirit and, theoretically could have remained in an unrepentant state. Whether they did or not is a matter of conjecture. The Scriptures are unclear on the question of Adam’s salvation - although the "sacrifice of the two animals for the "skins" God clothed them with is an indication that they were at least forgiven of their initial sin (Gen 3:21). And Eve’s statement in Gen 4:1 sounds like a person in relationship with God talking, "I have begotten a man from the LORD."

>If the word SPIRIT is ALWAYS synonymous with the word SOUL, can angels then be referred to as MINISTERING SOULS ? And God as SOUL to be worshipped in soul and in truth?<

I assume you are referring to my two-part article Soul, Spirit, and Knowing God. In it, I am talking about the relationship of the HUMAN soul and spirit. My comments, therefore, would not necessarily be applicable to other beings.

The same word can have different meanings or connotations in different contexts. When the word "spirit" is used in reference to angels and God it is to demonstrate that they are immaterial beings, as opposed to material beings such as us. The word "soul" would not have this connotation in that context.

The context of Jesus’ statement in John 4:24 that "God is Spirit" is in reply to the question of the woman at well as to which of two places to worship. The point of His reply is that, since God is not confined to a physical body, He can be in more than one place at once. Hence there is no one "right" place to worship God.

>What is God ' s image and likeness in man?<

The NGSB states:
God’s image in humanity at creation, then, consisted in: (a) existence as a "soul" or "spirit" (Gen 2:7), that is, as personal and self-conscious, with a God-like capacity for knowledge, thought, and action; (b) being morally upright, a quality lost at the Fall but now being progressively restored in Christ (Eph 4:24; Col 3:10); (c) dominion over the environment; (d) the human body as the means through which we experience reality, express ourselves, and exercise dominion; and (e) the God-given capacity for eternal life (p.9).

I would add to the above, our ability to love, fellowship, and communicate. In other words, the ability for interpersonal relationships as a reflection of the intrapersonal relationships within the three members of the Godhead (John 17:24).

>What is the difference between a monkey and a man in make up?

A monkey would either not possess the above attributes, or at least not in the degree in which humans do.

Now, I would guess that you are asking the latter questions because you would say that the difference is that humans possess a "spirit" whereas monkeys do not. But such a supposition is not necessary, as I hope the above demonstrates. And Scripture nowhere says that that is the difference.

Moreover, Eccl 3:21 states, "Who knows the spirit of the sons of men, which goes upward, and the spirit of the animal, which goes down to the earth?" So it appears that both humans and animals have spirits; but there is a difference between what happens to an animal’s spirit at death and what happens to a person’s spirit.

In Gen 6:17 God declares, "And behold, I Myself am bringing floodwaters on the earth, to destroy from under heaven all flesh in which is the breath of life; everything that is on the earth shall die." The word "breath" in Hebrew is "ruach" which can also be translated as "spirit." And "all flesh" would include animals.

So again, it appears that animals have a spirit (see also Gen 7:15,22; Numb 16:22; 27:16). So the difference between humans and animals cannot be that humans have a spirit and animals do not.

As the NGSB states:
The common idea that the soul is an organ of this-worldly awareness only, while the spirit is a distinct organ of communion with God, brought to life in regeneration, is out of step with biblical teaching. Moreover, such a view leads to a crippling anti-intellectualism whereby spiritual insight and theological reflection are separated to the impoverishment of both … (p.10).

I discuss these ideas at length in my Soul, Spirit, and Knowing God article.

I hope the above is helpful.

See Letters on Soul, Spirit, and Knowing God for another follow-up to Soul, Spirit, and Knowing God.

Books and eBooks by Gary F. Zeolla, the Director of Darkness to Light

The above e-mail exchange was posted on this website in January 1998.

Problematic Theologies

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