A Thought or Two on the “Soul”


ImageIt seems that traditional Christian piety lends itself to the idea of the immaterial soul/spirit. The language of piety is such that it calls on and employes ‘spiritual’ language and metaphor. Detachment from the ‘world’ is a major theme in Christian Piety and seen through the lenses of immaterial soul/spirit seems to play into a gnostic view of the material world.

Some Orthodox and Catholic groups see the essence of sin as submission to the ‘passions’. Defined in a materialist sense the passions are but natural drives and emotions. However, defined from the standpoint of the immaterial soul, they are bound to be the so called ‘worldly attachments’ which Orthodox rail against. It seems to me the gnostic tendencies are obvious; the soul/spirit is good and the bodily passions/drives are evil.

The same principle is at work in classic Protestantism and even more so in some fringe groups such as Pentecostals.

Perhaps there is a need, even a very strong need, for elaboration on this issue. The practical and pastoral ramifications are great and are much needed to answer many of the pressing issues of our time. The dualist distinction of soul and body is no longer a viable option and does not prove to be helpful at all in solving pastoral issues. Indeed, insisting on it seems to only reinforce the existing problems and make them even more inextricable.

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