Category Archives: Humanity Questions

Questions about Humanity: Trichotomy vs. Dichotomy of Man—Which View Is Correct?

The Bible teaches that humanity possesses a physical body, a soul, and a spirit. In regards to how these aspects of the human nature connect with and relate to each other, there are four primary theories. Two of the views, anthropological monism and anthropological hylomorphism, deal primarily with how the three aspects of humanity combine to form the human nature. The two other models, dichotomy (anthropological dualism) and trichotomy, deal with the distinction between the human soul and human spirit. The distinction between the material (physical) and immaterial (spiritual) aspects of the human nature is straightforward. The distinction between the two immaterial aspects of the human nature is more difficult.

While there are Bible verses which use the terms soul and spirit interchangeably (Matthew 10:28; Luke 1:46–47; Acts 2:31; 1 Corinthians 5:3; 6:20; 7:34; 2 Peter 2:11), other biblical passages do not present the soul and the spirit as precisely the same thing. There are also passages which hint at the separation between the soul and spirit (Romans 8:16; 1 Thessalonians 5:23; Hebrews 4:12). Hebrews 4:12 states, “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit …” This verse tells us two things: (1) there is a dividing point between the soul and spirit, and (2) the dividing point is only discernible to God. With all of these verses in mind, neither the dichotomous or trichotomous interpretations can be explicitly proved. Does the immaterial aspect of the human nature involve a soul and a spirit? Yes. Are the soul and spirit absolutely unified and united (dichotomy) or closely-related but separate (trichotomy)? Unclear.

Those who believe that human nature is a trichotomy typically believe the following: the physical body is what connects us with the physical world around us, the soul is the essence of our being, and the spirit is what connects us with God. This is why the unsaved can be said to be spiritually dead (Ephesians 2:1; Colossians 2:13), while they are very much physically and “soulishly” alive. Those who believe that human nature is a dichotomy would have the same understanding of the body, but would view the spirit as the part of the soul that connects with God. So, the question of dichotomy vs. trichotomy is essentially whether the soul and spirit are different aspects of the immaterial human nature, or if the spirit is simply a part of the soul, with the soul being the whole immaterial part of the human nature.

Trichotomy vs. dichotomy of man—which view is correct? It would seem that it is unwise to be dogmatic. Both theories are biblically plausible. Neither interpretation is heretical. This is perhaps an issue we are unable to fully grasp with our finite human minds. What we can be certain of is that the human nature is comprised of a body, a soul, and a spirit. Whether the soul and spirit are one, or are somehow distinct, is not an issue God chose to make abundantly clear in His Word. Whether you believe in a dichotomy or trichotomy, offer your body as a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1), thank God for saving your soul (1 Peter 1:9), and worship God in spirit and truth (John 4:23–24).[1]

 


[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Questions about Humanity: What Is the Christian Identity Movement?

The Christian Identity movement is a name that applies to a variety of different religious cults all identified by racist, anti-Semitic principles. These cults are typically found among radically anti-government, extremist right-wing groups and “survival groups.” Christian Identity cults are connected by various unbiblical theological similarities, mostly centered around a white supremacist mindset that seeks to replace national Israel with British or American whites as the chosen people of God. This racist theology is followed by over 50,000 people in the United States. The largest Christian Identity Movement group is the infamous Ku Klux Klan.

There are other groups with similar theology to the Christian Identity movement, including British Israelism (the milder philosophy that gave rise to the Christian Identity theology) and Kinism, but Christian Identity is more virulently racist, and there are other differences. Christian Identity followers believe that the end of the world is going to be preceded by a cleansing war, during which all non-whites will be exterminated. This dangerous and scary mindset has given rise to terrorism and other nefarious behavior from Christian Identity followers. The history and activities of the Christian Identity Movement are extensive, but there are two main perversions of Christian doctrine that have led Christian Identity followers to some very wrong conclusions about the world and about God.

First, the Christian Identity movement is famous for the idea that the British (and by extension Americans, Canadians, and others) are the spiritual and literal descendants of the 10 lost tribes of ancient Israel. They believe that the white race now represents God’s chosen people, a belief founded in some creative interpretations of migratory history, but not based on fact. The Bible tells us that God will restore Israel, as a nation, to fellowship with Him after protecting them from the many nations that will come against them in the end times. Contrary to the beliefs of the Christian Identity movement, it is clear from this passage that the nation of Israel will be made of the same ethnic people group that was responsible for Christ’s death, namely, the Jews (Zechariah 12:10).

The second main unbiblical belief held by Christian Identity followers is that the end times and the return of Christ must be “ushered in” by a genocidal war. Interestingly, this belief fits more
closely with the teachings of Islam than of Christianity. The Bible teaches that Christ will return to set up His kingdom without the aid of mankind. The aforementioned passage in Zechariah makes this clear, and it is supported with numerous other passages. Revelation 1:7 says that “all tribes” will witness His coming. Titus 2:3 was written by a Jewish man (Paul) to a Jewish church, as they were all joyfully anticipating Jesus’ appearance. There is mention that “wars and rumors of wars” would occur before the end (Matthew 24:6), but there is no indication in Scripture that the Jewish nation would have to first migrate to Northern Europe.

Furthermore, there is no biblical reason to believe that non-white races will ever be eliminated by the hand of God or by His true followers. In fact, the New Jerusalem in Heaven will house all nations, and the kings of the earth will bring the glory and honor of the nations into it (Revelation 21:22–27).

The Lord has always protected the sojourner and the foreigner (Deuteronomy 27:19; Isaiah 56:1–8) and though He commanded Israel not to marry the daughters of foreigners, and so be tempted to worship their idols, He has always drawn, and will continue to draw, converts from other nations, tribes and tongues (Ruth 1:16–17; Revelation 7:9). What distinguishes these converts from those who reject God is not their skin color, but their acceptance of His offer of forgiveness through the shed blood of Christ on the cross. Favor with God is a matter of the heart, not a matter of race or nationality (Galatians 3:28–29).[1]

 


[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Questions about Humanity: What Is Kinism?

Kinism is one branch of a diverse series of religious movements that promote racial segregation. This movement is based in Christianity and, for the most part, is populated with people who are historic, Calvinistic, orthodox and Reformed in their doctrinal views. The tendency to adhere to some true doctrines, however, does not mean that Kinists are orthodox in belief and practice. In fact, their adherence to true doctrines, and the extensive theological knowledge of some of the followers of Kinism, makes this legalistic cult all the more dangerous.

It is difficult to get a direct answer about Kinism, because the movement is relatively new and “un-formed” and also because Kinists themselves tend to be quite scholarly and esoteric. But a few things are clear. Unlike the Christian Identity Movement, or the Aryan Nation, Kinists do not believe that non-white races cannot be saved. Also, unlike Anglo-Isrealists, they do not believe that national Israel’s true descendents are the British and American people groups.

What makes Kinism different is the belief that God has ordained an order for mankind that goes beyond personal and individual worship. They believe that God has set boundaries for groups of human beings and that human beings should respect those boundaries by maintaining a tribal order. What this means is that you could have a group of white Kinists, and a group of black Kinists, but they would not worship together. They believe that man is usurping God’s authority when they “co-habit” with different races, when (as they say) God has ordained a necessary distinction. In the words of one Kinist, “This [belief] affects our ecclesiology since it would consider a multi-racial, drum-banging mega-church to be a foul stench in God’s nostrils.” Besides being unloving, this assertion is simply un-biblical, promotes a racist point of view, and is a platform for pride and legalism.

Kinists insist on racially segregated churches and communities, and of course, families. They believe that Christians should still adhere to the Old Testament Laws that forbade Jews to intermarry with other tribes / families. They also say that God “separated” the races at the Tower of Babel, and that to “re-integrate” is an affront to the order for mankind that He has ordained. Both of these beliefs, despite having a copious amount of scholarly support in Kinist camps, can be easily dismantled with Scripture.

First, to determine whether Old Testament law regarding segregation pplies to the New Testament church, we should ask what the reason for segregation was in the Old Testament. God’s reason for this law was very clearly to avoid the introduction / assimilation of pagan idolatry into Jewish society (Malachi 2:11; Deuteronomy 7:3). In the New Testament, with the introduction of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and the command to take the good news to the Gentiles, we see a switch from Israel being the only nation acceptable to God, to “any nation that fears Him and does what is right” being acceptable to God (Acts 10:34–35) and is part of the body of Christ. The Kinist will agree with this, saying that any person of any race can be a Christian. But they still say that intermarriage is forbidden, although there is no biblical reason for this.

Though national Israel will be restored to God’s favor after the Gentiles have been brought to Him (Romans 11:11–12), the law which says “don’t intermarry with foreigners, lest they draw your heart away from God” (Deuteronomy 7:3) is no longer valid because a person could marry a Christian of another race and not be in danger of being drawn away after foreign gods. So, the new command is: “don’t intermarry with unbelievers, lest they hinder your walk with God” (2 Corinthians 6:14). Racial segregation is simply no longer necessary, because the church now consists of both Jews and Gentiles who believe in Christ for salvation; in other words, all who have the Spirit are, in a real sense “one brotherhood” (Luke 8:21)

As for God’s action at the tower of Babel being taken as His ordaining racial segregation, the story of the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11:1–9) is about God confusing the languages of men so that they would not be able to work together to accomplish evil against Him. It is not about racial segregation. This is proved by Galatians 2:11–14, where Paul opposes Peter for separating himself from the Gentile believers in their church. Another example would be Paul’s ordaining as a Christian pastor the Greek-born Timothy (2 Timothy 1:6). He even calls Timothy “my true child in the faith” (1 Timothy 1:2). Timothy’s mother was Jewish and a woman of the faith. This implies that Timothy lived and ministered in a community that was both Jewish and Gentile. Did his own mother not attend his church? And, if God wished the races to be segregated, which church would he, being half Jew and half Gentile, be able to pastor? And what about Paul himself, who was a self-proclaimed “preacher, apostle … and teacher of the Gentiles” (1 Timothy 2:7)? If Kinism were true, would not God have sent a Gentile to preach to and teach the Gentiles?

In short, Kinism is simply another attempt to be justified by Law, rather than by the gospel of God’s grace. “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile” (Romans 1:16, emphasis added.)[1]

 


[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Questions about Humanity: What Does It Mean to Believe in the Sanctity of Life?

The phrase “sanctity of life” reflects the belief that because people are made in God’s image (Genesis 1:26), human life has an inherently sacred attribute that should be protected and respected at all times. While God gave humanity the authority to kill and eat other forms of life (Genesis 9:3), the murdering of other human beings is expressly forbidden, with the penalty being death (Genesis 9:6).

Humanity was created in God’s image, but sin has corrupted that image. There is nothing inherently sacred in fallen man. The sanctity of human life is not due to the fact that we are such wonderful and good beings. The only reason the sanctity of life applies to humanity is the fact that God created us in His image and set us apart for all other forms of life. Although that image has indeed been marred by sin, His image is still present in humanity. We are like God, and that likeness means that human life is always to be treated with dignity and respect.

The sanctity of life means that humanity is more sacred than the rest of creation. Human life is not holy in the same sense that God is holy. Only God is holy in and of Himself. Human life is only holy in the sense of being “set apart” from all other life created by God. Many apply the sanctity of life to issues like abortion and euthanasia, and while it definitely applies to those issues, it applies to much more. The sanctity of life should motivate us to combat all forms of evil and injustice that are perpetuated against human life. Violence, abuse, oppression, human trafficking, and many other evils are also violations of the sanctity of life.

Beyond the sanctity of life, there is a much better argument against these things: the greatest commandments. In Matthew 22:37–39 Jesus says, “ ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ ” In these commandments, we see that our actions are to be motivated by love for God and love for others. If we love God, we will value our own lives as part of God’s plan, to do His will until it comes about that His will is better served by our deaths. And we will love and care for His people (John 21:15–17). We will see to the needs of the elderly and sick. We will protect others from harm—whether from abortion, euthanasia, human trafficking, or other abuses. While the sanctity of life can be the foundation, love must be the motivation.[1]

 


[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Questions about Humanity: What is the difference between the soul and spirit of man?

The soul and the spirit are the two primary immaterial aspects that Scripture ascribes to humanity. It can be confusing to attempt to discern the precise differences between the two. The word “spirit” refers only to the immaterial facet of humanity. Human beings have a spirit, but are we not spirits. However, in Scripture, only believers are said to be spiritually alive (1 Corinthians 2:11; Hebrews 4:12; James 2:26), while unbelievers are spiritually dead (Ephesians 2:1–5; Colossians 2:13). In Paul’s writing, the spiritual was pivotal to the life of the believer (1 Corinthians 2:14; 3:1; Ephesians 1:3; 5:19; Colossians 1:9; 3:16). The spirit is the element in humanity which gives us the ability to have an intimate relationship with God. Whenever the word “spirit” is used, it refers to the immaterial part of humanity that “connects” with God, who Himself is spirit (John 4:24).

The word “soul” can refer to both the immaterial and material aspects of humanity. Unlike human beings having a spirit, human beings are souls. In its most basic sense, the word “soul” means “life.” However, beyond this essential meaning, the Bible speaks of the soul in many contexts. One of these is humanity’s eagerness to sin (Luke 12:26). Humanity is naturally evil, and our souls are tainted as a result. The life principle of the soul is removed at the time of physical death (Genesis 35:18; Jeremiah 15:2). The soul, as with the spirit, is the center of many spiritual and emotional experiences (Job 30:25; Psalm 43:5; Jeremiah 13:17). Whenever the word “soul” is used, it can refer to the whole person, whether alive or in the afterlife.

The soul and the spirit are connected, but separable (Hebrews 4:12). The soul is the essence of humanity’s being; it is who we are. The spirit is the aspect of humanity that connects with God.[1]

 


[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Questions about Humanity: Why did the people in Genesis live such long lives?

It is somewhat of a mystery why people in early chapters of Genesis lived such long lives. There are many theories put forward by biblical scholars. The genealogy in Genesis 5 records the line of the godly descendants of Adam—the line that would eventually produce the Messiah. God possibly blessed this line with especially long life as a result of their godliness and obedience. While this is a possible explanation, the Bible nowhere specifically limits the long lifespans to the individuals mentioned in Genesis chapter 5. Further, other than Enoch, Genesis 5 does not identify any of the individuals as being especially godly. It is likely that everyone at that time period lived several hundred years. Several factors probably contributed to this.

Genesis 1:6–7 mentions the water above the expanse, a canopy of water that surrounded the earth. Such a water canopy would have created a greenhouse effect and would have blocked much of the radiation that now hits the earth. This would have resulted in ideal living conditions. Genesis 7:11 indicates that, at the time of the flood, the water canopy was poured out on the earth, ending the ideal living conditions. Compare the life spans before the flood (Genesis 5:1–32) with those after the flood (Genesis 11:10–32). Immediately after the flood, the ages decreased dramatically.

Another consideration is that in the first few generations after creation, the human genetic code had developed few defects. Adam and Eve were created perfect. They were surely highly resistant to disease and illness. Their descendants would have inherited these advantages, albeit to lesser degrees. Over time, as a result of sin, the human genetic code became increasingly corrupted, and human beings became more and more susceptible to death and disease. This would also have resulted in drastically reduced lifespans.[1]

 


[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Questions about Humanity: What does the Bible say about ethnocentrism?

Ethnocentrism is the belief that a particular race or ethnic group is superior to all others and all other races and ethnic groups are to be subjectively measured in relation to that race or ethnic group. It is a system of belief that leads to extreme pride and lack of concern for others. Simply put, ethnocentrism is another name for racism, which has been a plague on humanity for centuries and the cause of the death of millions. There is no place among God’s people for the ethnocentric attitudes which lead to racism. Such attitudes are contrary to Scripture and displeasing to God.

Biblically, ethnocentrism is sin. All men and women are made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26–27, 9:6), although that image is corrupted by sin. It is because we are created in His image that God does not show partiality or favoritism (Deuteronomy 10:17; Acts 10:34). Jesus did not lay down His life for a particular race of people, but by His death He “purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation” (Revelation 5:9). The Israelites were ethnocentric by virtue of being God’s chosen people, but His choice was not based on their merit, but on His mercy and grace. The Scriptures tell us that Jesus came to save the world, both Jews and Gentiles. Paul bears this out by saying, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28) and “there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all” (Colossians 3:11).

Jesus destroyed all barriers of race and ethnicity with His death on the cross. As Paul said in Ephesians 2:14, “For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility.” Ethnocentrism, whether based on historical grudges or on the erroneous teachings of men, is wholly contrary to God’s Word. We are commanded to love one another as He has loved us (John 13:34), and such a command precludes any discrimination based on race or culture.[1]

 


[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Questions about Humanity: Is there an age limit to how long we can live?

Many people understand Genesis 6:3 to be a 120-year age limit on humanity, “Then the LORD said, ‘My Spirit will not contend with man forever, for he is mortal; his days will be a hundred and twenty years.’ ” However, Genesis chapter 11 records several people living past the age of 120. As a result, some interpret Genesis 6:3 to mean that, as a general rule, people will no longer live past 120 years of age. After the flood, the life spans began to shrink dramatically (compare Genesis 5 with Genesis 11) and eventually shrank to below 120 (Genesis 11:24). Since that time, very few people have lived past 120 years old.

However, another interpretation, which seems to be more in keeping with the context, is that Genesis 6:3 is God’s declaration that the flood would occur 120 years from His pronouncement. Humanity’s days being ended is a reference to humanity itself being destroyed in the flood. Some dispute this interpretation due to the fact that God commanded Noah to build the ark when Noah was 500 years old in Genesis 5:32 and Noah was 600 years old when the flood came (Genesis 7:6); only giving 100 years of time, not 120 years. However, the timing of God’s pronouncement of Genesis 6:3 is not given. Further, Genesis 5:32 is not the time that God commanded Noah to build the Ark, but rather the age Noah was when he became the father of his three sons. It is perfectly plausible that God determined the flood to occur in 120 years and then waited several years before He commanded Noah to build the ark. Whatever the case, the 100 years between Genesis 5:32 and 7:6 in no way contradicts the 120 years mentioned in Genesis 6:3.

Several hundred years after the flood, Moses declared, “The length of our days is seventy years—or eighty, if we have the strength; yet their span is but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away” (Psalm 90:10). Neither Genesis 6:3 nor Psalm 90:10 are God-ordained age limits for humanity. Genesis 6:3 is a prediction of the timetable for the flood. Psalm 90:10 is simply stating that as a general rule, people live 70–80 years (which is still true today).[1]

 


[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Questions about Humanity: What is the guff?

The guff is a term the Talmud uses to refer to the repository of all unborn souls. The Talmud is the Jewish commentary on the Torah, or the Old Testament, and especially the first five books of the Bible known as the Pentateuch. Jewish tradition states that the Talmud began as oral teachings handed down from Moses that were eventually completed sometime between the 4th and 2nd century B.C.

Literally, the word “guff” means “body.” The Talmud essentially says, “The Messiah will not arrive until there are no more souls in the guff.” The Talmud is saying that there are a certain number of souls in heaven waiting to be born. Until they are born, they wait in a heavenly repository called “the guff,” and the Messiah will not arrive until every single one of these souls has been born into the physical world.

Is the idea of “the guff” biblical? No, it is not. Neither the Hebrew Scriptures or the New Testament teach that there is a storehouse of souls in heaven. The Bible does not teach that souls are waiting to be attached to bodies when people are born. The Bible is not explicitly clear on when/how human souls are created, but the concept of the guff does not agree with what the Bible does teach about the origin of the soul. It is far more biblical to hold that God creates each human soul at the moment of conception, or that the human soul is generated along with the body through the physical-spiritual union of conception.[1]

 


[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Questions about Humanity: What does the Bible say about racism, prejudice, and discrimination?

The first thing to understand in this discussion is that there is only one race—the human race. Caucasians, Africans, Asians, Indians, Arabs, and Jews are not different races. Rather, they are different ethnicities of the human race. All human beings have the same physical characteristics (with minor variations, of course). More importantly, all human beings are created in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:26–27). God loved the world so much that He sent Jesus to lay down His life for us (John 3:16). The “world” obviously includes all ethnic groups.

God does not show partiality or favoritism (Deuteronomy 10:17; Acts 10:34; Romans 2:11; Ephesians 6:9), and neither should we. James 2:4 describes those who discriminate as “judges with evil thoughts.” Instead, we are to love our neighbors as ourselves (James 2:8). In the Old Testament, God divided humanity into two “racial” groups: Jews and Gentiles. God’s intent was for the Jews to be a kingdom of priests, ministering to the Gentile nations. Instead, for the most part, the Jews became proud of their status and despised the Gentiles. Jesus Christ put an end to this, destroying the dividing wall of hostility (Ephesians 2:14). All forms of racism, prejudice, and discrimination are affronts to the work of Christ on the cross.

Jesus commands us to love one another as He loves us (John 13:34). If God is impartial and loves us with impartiality, then we need to love others with that same high standard. Jesus teaches in Matthew 25 that whatever we do to the least of His brothers, we do to Him. If we treat a person with contempt, we are mistreating a person created in God’s image; we are hurting somebody whom God loves and for whom Jesus died.

Racism, in varying forms and to various degrees, has been a plague on humanity for thousands of years. Brothers and sisters of all ethnicities, this should not be. Victims of racism, prejudice, and discrimination need to forgive. Ephesians 4:32 declares, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Racists may not deserve your forgiveness, but we deserved God’s forgiveness far less. Those who practice racism, prejudice, and discrimination need to repent. “Present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God” (Romans 6:13). May Galatians 3:28 be completely realized, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”[1]

 


[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.