by Brad D.
The trinity of intellect, emotions and spirit makes us more like God than we know. What are we? What is man? We are truly God's children, points of spiritual light that God cares enough about to seek a relationship with.
There are things we know about who we are, and things we can guess. And when I say "know" I mean things that are pretty well known based on common experience and basic faith in the Bible's explanation of our origins. And when I say "things we can guess", I mean things that are good topics of controversy and points which philosophers will find 100 different ways to explain.
Things We Know
1) We are created beings. Faith in God goes hand in hand with the concept that he created us instead of that we appeared randomly.
2) We are created in God's image. We don't know God's image very well, but we know we are God's children, created by hand, special to him, and created to be like him in important ways, enough that he says we are created in his image. We commonly recognize this to mean that we have capacity to love, like God who is love, and that we are eternal beings with spirits that live on after this life.
3) We are not God. We are many instead of one, we are local instead of omnipresent, we live in a human body which gets sick and dies, etc.
4) We are very valuable to God. He feels a strong sense of love for us, as we are his creation and his children. We know its something like the love we have for our own children or our own creative works.
Things We Can Guess
1) We are each a trinity. Humans are made up of complex components that are not found in plants and animals, namely intellect, emotions, sense of right and wrong. I suggest that we are made like God in this way. We are given 3 significant means of making decisions:
- MIND: We can think, and many decisions are made through logic, learning, memory of previous experiences, and our goals to bring about certain consequences
- SOUL: We can feel, and many decisions are made based on strong feelings like like and dislike, anger, fear, happiness, affection, sympathy, and this is fortunate for us because otherwise we would live a cold, isolated existence
- SPIRIT: We can sense God, evil and spiritual concepts, and we can make decisions based on unselfish notions of love, right and wrong, our long-lasting values.
We are made up of MIND, SOUL, and SPIRIT. The word SOUL can be defined as our emotional nature, or can be replaced with some other word (FEELINGS, EMOTIONS?). Also the boundaries between MIND, SOUL and SPIRIT are often blurred and we often call the combination "HEART", or just “SOUL” to mean our entire “internal” nature. We can recognize and scientifically measure our intellect and our emotional nature, but the spiritual nature is nearly impossible to prove, without faith in God. Our human experience tells us, though, that our sense of right and wrong is a strong driving force in us, and is separate from our feelings and logic. So, I propose that our human SELF, which differentiates us from animals, has these three parts, MIND, SOUL and SPIRIT.
|We are each a trinity: MIND, SOUL, and SPIRIT|
2) Our trinity in somehow connected to our human body. Our perception of human existence is limited by the fact that we live in a body that is born and dies. We talk about ourselves as being something more, something significant, something independent, so that this SELF could live after the body dies, and we wonder what this afterlife could look like. If we believe in God, then we believe that a person is not the body -- that means that the person could have existed eternally before the body, be born into a body, and live forever after the body dies. This is what we understand about Jesus -- he was with God in the beginning, and then was born into a human body as a baby, grew up like the rest of us, died, and then continued to live ! He was resurrected and lived on Earth 40 more days, and now lives in heaven. Paul says that Jesus was the firstborn of many brothers, and that Jesus defeated death once and for all. The implication is that we are like Christ in being eternal spiritual beings. This body is a temporary home. This means that we cannot use scientific explanation of the body: cells, electrical impulses, mapping of the brain or our DNA, to explain anything about our SELF, our nature that can have a relationship with God. Our MIND, SOUL and SPIRIT temporarily inhabits this body, using its facilities of senses and brain function. Our self is connected into this temporary shell in a way that we cannot understand. But if we believe in God, then we believe that our SELF can exist without it's shell -- it can be disconnected, and live in a spiritual realm.
3) Our spiritual nature when not in a relationship with God. Clearly if we are in a relationship with God we have lots of help to understand our spiritual nature, through prayer, the Holy Spirit working in us, and understanding the writings of Paul in the Bible for instance. However people who do not have a relationship with God through Christ cannot be fundamentally different. They also understand spiritual things and use them to make choices. They can hear God's calling as well -- otherwise they would never be called into a relationship with him ! People who don't know Christ can live unselfish, value-driven lives, and on the other hand, people who do know Christ can be the worst friends, worst parents, most selfish, most proud -- in short we all have a choice of how we live and what is important to us. Humans are not just emotional and thinking beings, because emotion and thinking do not create any sense of the importance of others, except as merely a convenience to us. People may get married and have a family simply because it feels good and they want the benefits of having children. But it takes more than that; it takes commitment and unconditional love, to be a husband and a father. A large proportion of people are equipped enough with those traits to do a good job at it, regardless of their relationship with Christ. So, the concept of SELF as MIND, SOUL and SPIRIT describes all people equally. Those in a relationship with God have chosen a different life as relates to their SPIRIT than someone who is not in a relationship with God, but they are still the same stuff of humans like everyone else.
4) What God really thinks about us -- I think God also likes us. He wants to be in a relationship with us, and to put up with us forever! He knows us by name. He knows something we don't about our origin, our purpose, our eternal nature. God knows that we were made to be so much more than we can guess, and he plans to show us our true potential.
5) God gives us freedom because He is free -- God values freedom so much, that he made sure we had enough faculty to make choices based on all the components of our human trinity nature. To God, being made in his image means being able to make choices. We understand about God that he, too, makes choices. His will, means his choice! He chose to make us. He chooses to love us. He chooses to give us our nature, and to let us choose whether to love him or not. God's eternal existence is filled with decisions about how the world will continue. God made us the same way. He seems to want someone to relate to, that can identify with part of his nature, and can share a true relationship.
Whatever being human means, being human puts you in the same category as everyone else. There are no special humans or low humans. No hierarchy, no God-chosen ones, no gender in God's eyes (although clearly there are physiological gender differences that can leads to differentiation of roles in society), no good people and bad people. On a fundamental, spiritual, level we are all the same, and that's why the worst offender can later repent and change and be the most sincere and kind person. That's also why God-believers can, in spite of their beliefs, treat others the worst and think nothing of it! In the Old Testament, God chose one people, the Israelites, to bear his message into a later age of humanity in which he could send his Son. But, now, the light of Jesus shines on all, and there are no longer any kinds of barriers or divisions. We can all feel equally regarded by God.