The Hexaemeron or Creation-Week (9): The Creation of Man (2)

We were busy at the conclusion of our preceding article with the question: Why did Jehovah form Eve as He did? Why did the Lord not form her out of the dust of the ground and breathe into her nostrils the breath of life? And we made the observation that Scripture’s answer to this question is twofold. First, holy writ would emphasize the truth that the woman is of the man and therefore subservient to him. And we promised to give the second part of this answer in this article.

In the second place, that the woman has been taken out of the man is also to emphasize another Scriptural truth which is expressed, as one might expect, in the New Testament. We now refer to that beautiful passage of Ephesians 5:22-33 which we have already quoted. It is not our intention to dwell at length upon this beautiful portion of holy writ. All we wish to do at this time is call attention to the fact that even as the woman is out of the man so also the Church is out of Christ Jesus, and that is undoubtedly the reason why the Lord created Eve as He did. Eve’s creation proclaims to us a beautifully striking symbolism. The apostle himself directs us to this thought in Eph. 5, especially in the verses 30-33 which we again quote: “For we are members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.” Even as Eve owes her existence to Adam, through the almighty power of the living God, so also the Church owes her existence, through the same Divine omnipotence, to the Lord Jesus Christ, Who loved us and died for us and rose for us, and out of whom we are what we are, even now and forever. All things were created as a mighty symbol of the spiritual and heavenly reality of all things. To this we have called attention repeatedly in the past, also in this series of articles. This also applies to the creation of Eve. And this is also the reason why people of the living God should never indulge in such silly practices as Leap Year practices, when the girl “goes after” the man. The Church never seeks the Christ; it is always the Christ Who seeks His Church. A man and his wife should always try to be a pattern of the beautiful relationship which exists between Christ and His Church. This relationship must never be reversed, be it in the natural or in the spiritual sense of the word. The line of salvation is always vertical and it always runs from the top to the bottom.


Dichotomy or Trichotomy?

What is meant by this distinction as such? The dichotomist maintains that man consists of two, and only two, distinct parts, namely, body and soul. Trichotomy, on the other hand, contends that man consists of three distinct parts: body, soul, and spirit. I he dichotmist, of course, is aware of the fact that Scripture uses the term, “spirit,” in addition to “body” and “soul,” but declares that the “spirit” must not be regarded as a distinct part of man’s human nature or being.

It may be of interest to observe that we can also speak of a dichotomy or trichotomy of the soul. Dichotomy with respect to the soul contends that the soui must be viewed as consisting of merely two parts: mind and will. And the triehotomist maintains that the soul must be regarded as consisting of three parts: mind, will, and feeling or emotion. Hence, the trichotomist advocates that man’s feeling or emotion must be viewed as a distinct faculty of the soul. He ascribes equal (if not greater) significance to this aspect of man’s life. It is surely not difficult to show that this conception can be and is extremely dangerous. To be sure, we do not deny the existence of feeling or emotion in man. But we do deny that man’s emotion is a third and separate faculty of the soul. Emotion is a tremendous thing. The dictionary informs us that this word is derived from a word which means: to move out, stir up, agitate. We repeat: the emotion of man is and can be a tremendous factor. This applies to the life of an individual and also to the life of a nation. It is for this reason that the press plays’ such a vital role in times of war. The people must become war conscious! The emotions of the people must be set on fire! The populace must be aroused! We are told that this constitutes one of the basic elements in the training of a soldier. An aroused soldier will rise to greater heights. However, herein lies also the danger of emotionalism. The ascription of a separate faculty to the emotion of man is the fundamental error of all false mysticism. The important question, according to this conception, is: how do we feel? They lay all the emphasis upon an experiential knowledge of Christ and salvation. To be sure, we do not wish to deny this experiential knowledge. We must certainly know whether we are the children of the living God. And who among us would dare to deny that the greatness of salvation should not fill our hearts and minds with a tremendous emotion? It is hardly possible that the tremendous reality of salvation through faith in Christ Jesus and out of sovereign grace can leave a Christian cold and “emotionless!” The salvation of God in Christ Jesus must surely “fill” us, must it not? But, it is an extremely dangerous thing to ascribe to the emotion a separate faculty, to separate it from the mind and the will. This, we have said, is the fundamental error of the false mystic. He lays all emphasis upon the feeling. He divorces this feeling from the mind. He relies upon the “inner voice,” and, divorcing this inner experience from the mind, he also minimizes and ignores the Scriptures as the sole source of all our knowledge of salvation. He does not merely ascribe equal significance to the emotion or feeling of man, but elevates it above the will and the mind. He regards the Scriptures as a dead letter, does not regard the speech of the Lord as it comes to us through His Word. He does not understand that all living and experiential knowledge of salvation is ours only through the Scriptures. And the inevitable result in those circles is exactly that there is much uncertainty and doubt with respect to the blessed and conscious knowledge of salvation. This must be. False mysticism denies the element of divine revelation. God has revealed Himself as the God of our salvation only in the Holy Scriptures. To deny this must have for its result that we deprive ourselves of the only medium through which we can attain unto the blessed conscious knowledge of the living God. Man’s emotion must not be divorced from the mind and the will but must be controlled by them. We do not believe, therefore, in a trichotomy of the soul.

However, we also speak of dichotomy or trichotomy with respect to man’s human nature or being. In our appraisal of this question we may remark the following. First, the Reformed conception favors Dichotomy as the teaching of holy writ with respect to this matter. Trichotomy, we are told, originated in Greek philosophy and generally found no favor among those of Reformed thinking. Secondly, that the Scriptures distinguish between soul and body can hardly be denied. We certainly read that man’s body can die, whereas his “soul” or “spirit” continues to lead a conscious existence, either in life or in death. The Preacher emphasizes, does he not, that when the body returns to the dust the spirit returns unto God who gave it? And the Lord speaks of those who are able to kill the body but cannot destroy the soul. Besides, the Lord Jesus commends His spirit into the hands of His Father when He is about to die and His body is about to be laid in the grave. And do we not read in the book of Revelation of the “souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus and for the Word of God . . . and that they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years?” Rev. 20:4. One can therefore hardly deny that the Scriptures make distinction between the body and the soul.

However, in connection with this question of Dichotomy or Trichotomy we also wish to remark the following. First, the word “soul” does not always have the same connotation in Holy Writ. It is used in Scripture, e.g., to denote the entire man, as in Gen. 46:26: “All the souls that came with Jacob into Egypt, which came out of his loins, besides Jacob’s sons’ wives, all the souls were threescore and six.” Secondly, the word “soul” is used in holy writ as including the life of the body. This is evident from passages such as John 10:11, 17, 18; Matt. 16:25-26; John 12:25, and we quote: “I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. Therefore doth My Father love Me, because I lay down My life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of My Father . . . For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for My sake shall find it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? … He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal.” In all these passages the original word, also when translated “life”, is the word “soul”, and it is evident that the life of the body is included here. It must be obvious that when a man tries to save his life he is also trying to save the life of his body. Thirdly, even when we distinguish between soul and body, we must bear in mind that the Scriptures constantly speak of man as a unity. Man is not a soul within a body, so that we must conceive of these parts of man’s being as existing independently of or parallel to each other. Man, according to the Word of God does not merely have a soul; he is a living soul. This is evident, first of all, from Gen. 2:7: “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” This text does not mean that God first created the body out of the dust of the earth and then created his soul by breathing into his nostrils the breath of life. We do not read: And then man became a living soul, but: And man became a living soul. He became a living soul by this twofold act of the Lord which also includes his being formed out of the dust of the earth. And, secondly, according to the Scriptures every act of man is seen as an act of the whole man. It is not merely the soul of man that sins, but it is man that sins; it is not the body that dies but it is man that dies. And neither is it merely the body that is redeemed by and in Christ, but it is man that is thus redeemed, body and soul. And therefore we may conclude that holy writ constantly emphasizes the truth that man is a unity, is one, body and soul. It is also for this reason that mere outward acts ox men are impossible (as the “Common Grace” theorists would describe the good that sinners do); man sins and serves the living God with all that is in him.

Finally, man’s soul and body are wonderfully adapted to each other. Of this we will have more to say when we speak of the image of God in man. But even now we may say the following. Hearing and seeing and tasting and smelling, e.g., are not physical but psychical (of the soul) activities. The ear does not hear, the eye does not see, the tongue does not taste, and the nose does not smell. Nevertheless, although the eye, ear, nose, and tongue do not see, hear, smell, and taste, yet as long as I am in this earthly house of my tabernacle I cannot see, hear, smell and taste without them. The body and soul are marvelously adapted to each other. Man was truly wonderfully made.

The origin of the soul.

We may as well say a few words about this problem now. It is true that this question is often treated in connection with the problem of sin and the organic development of the human race. However, we can also discuss this question now.

We are probably all more or less acquainted with the fact that there are three well-known views in regard to the origin of the soul: Pre-Existentianism, Traducianism, and Creationism. The first theory is known as Pre-Existentianism. This theory contends that the souls of men existed in a previous state. We need not say very much about this theory. The Scriptures surely do not support this conception of a preexistence of the souls of men, so that all the souls were actually in Adam and that they therefore all sinned in Adam in that literal sense of the word. The text which has been quoted in support of this conception is Rom. 5:12: “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin ; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.” The quotation of this particular passage of Holy Writ was based upon an erroneous interpretation of the last part of the text: “for that all have sinned.” This expression was regarded as the ground of that which immediately precedes in the text, that sin and death passed on to all men. This happened because all had sinned in Adam, and this was understood then in the literal sense of the word. However, it is beyond all dispute that this expression must not read: for that all have sinned, but: because of which all sinned. Hence, this expression does not constitute the ground for that which precedes in the text, but it is the fruit of it. Because sin and death have passed on to all men, therefore it is true that all sin.

The second theory of the origin of the soul is known as Traducianism. According to this theory the souls of men are propagated along with the bodies by generation, and are therefore transmitted to the children by the parents. Hence, the entire man comes therefore from the parents. From the days of Luther Traducianism has been the prevailing view of the Lutheran Church. In support of this theory of Traducianism can be quoted the argument which revolves about mental peculiarities and family traits. Children are so often like unto their parents, resemble them also as far as psychical (of the soul) characteristics are concerned. In addition to this argument one may also argue in support of Traducianism that it offers the best explanation for the inheritance of moral and spiritual depravity and corruption, which is after all a matter of the soul rather than of the body. Traducianism, therefore, seems to explain the corruption of the entire human race as out of the one man. Does it not teach that the souls of men are propagated along with the bodies by generation and are therefore transmitted to the children by the parents? However, Traducianism has not escaped unscathed. Several objections have been lodged against this conception. It has been said that Traducianism is contrary to the doctrine of the simplicity of the soul. The soul, then, is a purely spiritual substance and does not admit of division. But, the propagation of the soul would seem to imply that the soul of the child separates itself from the soul of the parents. And, if the soul is propagated by generation and therefore transmitted to the children from the parents, would this not necessarily imply that the soul does admit of division inasmuch as it is separated from the parents? Besides, then the difficult question also presents itself: Does the soul originate from the soul of the father or that of the mother, or of both? This philosophical argument which concerns the propagation of the human soul is something which we are not able to discuss. This we do not hesitate to admit. An argument, however, which can be lodged against Traducianism is that which revolves about the Christ. If, as Traducianism teaches, the entire man comes from his parents, what must we say about Jesus? He assumed an impersonal human nature, was not personally human. Hence, not being a human person, He therefore did not become a full and complete man. Traducianism claims that the whole man, person and nature, body and soul, is conceived and born from the parents. Christ, however, was not a human person. Hence, He must have assumed an incomplete human nature.

The third theory of the origin of the soul is known as Creationism. This conception maintains that each individual soul is to be regarded as an immediate creation of the living God, that it owes its origin to a direct creative act, although it cannot be determined when this act occurs, whether at birth or at conception or between birth and conception. The soul is supposed to be created pure but united with a depraved body. Men of Reformed thinking and persuasion preferred Creationism almost without exception. However, serious objections can also be lodged against this conception of the origin of the soul. First, Creationism does not explain the organic development of sin. If it be true that the soul is separately created and then united with a depraved human body, how does it become corrupt? Does it become corrupt through contact with a corrupt body? But, is corruption, then, physical, material, inasmuch as a corrupt body corrupts a pure soul? Besides, is it Scriptural that my soul becomes corrupt through contact with my body, or is it corrupt because of Adam, my first parent? Besides, Creationism does not explain the phenomenon that children resemble their parents, also psychically. Characteristics of the soul, traits of character, etc., are often transmitted from the parents to the children. But how is this possible if we do not receive our souls from our parents, as the theory of Creationism would have us believe. Our own Reverend Hoeksema offers us another solution of this problem in his book: In the Midst of Death. However, this quotation must wait until our following article.