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Indescribable?

October 4, 2007

questions.jpgI’ve been involved in several conversations recently on the topics of the Spirit and Soul. Attempting to explain these things as a believer to a non-believer is very difficult. Then I realized even when another Christian tries to describe to me an experience they had with God I honestly cannot feel what they are feeling. I can relate to some degree because I have known the Spirit to move in me many times…but I cannot feel or know specifically what they themselves experienced.

I love my husband. I could give you a list of tangible reasons as to why I love him and they would make perfect sense to you. Even so, you would not love him like I do because you have not personally experienced him, had long talks with him, had to depend on him, been connected to him. There is no way I can explain THAT kind of love to you. Does that make it less authentic or not possible simply because you cannot understand my deeper reasons of commitment or love toward my husband? My personal relationship with God is unlike anyone else’s. It is unique and set apart. No one person will experience the same kind of love I have for my God. And that love is unexplainable – like my love for my husband – it just wouldn’t make total sense to you unless you experienced your very own.

This to me holds true in explaining things of the spiritual nature, the spirit and soul. In the God vs Google post I referenced scripture as to why some cannot understand and then discussion followed and attempts to explain in the comments. But I want to know from you, the readers…

How do you describe or explain the Soul and the Spirit?

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20 Comments leave one →
  1. servitus permalink
    October 4, 2007 8:22 am

    Theologians reference that general feeling of “being with God” as sanctifying grace. I know myself that it is all but impossible to relate to another that feeling, and if one has not experienced it themselves they may never understand until they do. I understand it as a distinct gift from God, as faith itself is something God gives us rather than something we can practice and perfect.

    It’s such a gift to feel God in that way, I know personally the memory alone was enough to pull me through times of trial.

    Great blog, and God bless!

  2. godsgal1 permalink
    October 4, 2007 10:01 am

    Ahhh the ol’ spirit and soul. Wow, we have had a bit to do on this topic lately!!! LOL

    I don’t believe they are one in the same. There are too many scriptures that point differently. I believe, even from Genesis 1:26-27 that when He said let us create man in our image, even tho part of the trinity was pre incarnate, that it meant both physical and spiritual. Material and immaterial. Material, being our physical body, organs etc. that will die. The immaterial being those things which are eternal, soul, spirit, emotion, intellect….. Genesis 2:7 states, that Man was created as a living soul. Numbers 16:22 says they fell on their faces and said, O God the God of the spirits of all flesh…..naming God as the God of the spirits of all mankind. Hebrews 4:12 suggests also that soul and spirit are different aspects of our being. I think it is interesting also that to my understanding from that scripture, that the division of soul and spirit is something that only the Word of God can discern. So, the soul and the spirit, while they both are referring to the immaterial part of man, the spirit refers to the man’s walk with God, and the soul is the walk in the world, both material and immaterial…. Clear as mud???

  3. October 4, 2007 11:17 am

    Tam, I was gonna type a whole big thing on this, but it will have to wait…I am sorry. Promise, I’ll be back.

    Love you!

    ang

  4. October 4, 2007 12:45 pm

    That’s like trying to explain to a child that yes, you have a heart and it’s bloody and beats, but you also have a “heart” and they are not the same thing. And with one you live and with the other one you have “life”. It is indescribable in a sense. One must have his or her own A-HA moment to understand it, I think.

  5. October 4, 2007 1:28 pm

    Interesting thoughts. I need to chew on this one a bit. That is so hard to explain.

    Blessings,
    Angela

  6. October 4, 2007 2:03 pm

    As an atheist I have a different definition of the words “soul” or “spirit”. I see spirit and soul as being part of a person’s character. They are the thing that will help you get through a crisis or allow you to live life to the fullest.

    I tried to look up how “soul” and “spirit” were defined by the different branches of the “Christian” religion but there were so many different variations that I just got confused.

    You can guess how much fun it was to be my Sunday school teacher. I drove the poor pastor crazy with all my questions. Since I think we all are a little crazy here I my have more luck in understanding you.

    Just a few basic questions.

    1) When do you believe a person gets a soul?

    2) Do you believe that the soul you have is unique to your religion?

    3) What is the function of your soul. How does having one affect your life?

    .

  7. October 4, 2007 2:30 pm

    Servitus, thank you for your input! Sanctifying Grace – it is such an amazing thing!

    GG – Clear as mud??? Funny! I love a good challenge. Great scripture references. thanks so much!!!

    Ang and Angela, I’m looking forward to your input and wisdom on this! 🙂

    Carrielouise, “One must have his or her own A-HA moment to understand it”. Yes! i agree… For me, I never knew I was missing “it” until I experienced it. Truth be told, if “IT” wasn’t all it was cracked up to be, i would’ve walked away!

    Hi Ed!

    1) When do you believe a person gets a soul? At birth. I believe we all have a soul at birth and our lives are spent searching…”soul searching”. Have you ever just felt empty or wandering? I have and do still from time to time – I believe that is a responsive emotion to my soul stirring within me.

    2) Do you believe that the soul you have is unique to your religion? This is a good question. I think my answer to #3 helps with this one.

    3) What is the function of your soul. How does having one affect your life? It is our life that affects our soul. I believe that my soul will live on into eternity with my maker – my life choices have affected that outcome.

    So Ed, any hair balls this week? 😉

  8. October 4, 2007 3:22 pm

    Girl, I have no scriptures to give y’all, blame it on the Bio test I took today and have been studing for 4 days…anyway.
    I would simply say somethign I was taught long ago.
    the difference of Christians to teh world is
    “We are not human beings living a spiritual life, we are spiritual beings living a human life.”
    and somethingelse that is coming to me I saw in a movie once, ” Bedazzled” I think was that the soul and spirit belong to God, so whether or not we believe in Jesus, we are still God’s children for that reason.
    Okay, a word is coming, during the time of Abraham, with the whole town Sodom and Gamorrah,
    Genesis 18:20-32
    20 Then the LORD said, “The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin so grievous 21 that I will go down and see if what they have done is as bad as the outcry that has reached me. If not, I will know.”
    22 The men turned away and went toward Sodom, but Abraham remained standing before the LORD. [e] 23 Then Abraham approached him and said: “Will you sweep away the righteous with the wicked? 24 What if there are fifty righteous people in the city? Will you really sweep it away and not spare [f] the place for the sake of the fifty righteous people in it? 25 Far be it from you to do such a thing—to kill the righteous with the wicked, treating the righteous and the wicked alike. Far be it from you! Will not the Judge [g] of all the earth do right?”
    26 The LORD said, “If I find fifty righteous people in the city of Sodom, I will spare the whole place for their sake.”
    27 Then Abraham spoke up again: “Now that I have been so bold as to speak to the Lord, though I am nothing but dust and ashes, 28 what if the number of the righteous is five less than fifty? Will you destroy the whole city because of five people?”
    “If I find forty-five there,” he said, “I will not destroy it.”
    29 Once again he spoke to him, “What if only forty are found there?”
    He said, “For the sake of forty, I will not do it.”
    30 Then he said, “May the Lord not be angry, but let me speak. What if only thirty can be found there?”
    He answered, “I will not do it if I find thirty there.”
    31 Abraham said, “Now that I have been so bold as to speak to the Lord, what if only twenty can be found there?”
    He said, “For the sake of twenty, I will not destroy it.”
    32 Then he said, “May the Lord not be angry, but let me speak just once more. What if only ten can be found there?”
    He answered, “For the sake of ten, I will not destroy it.”

    I don’t know if I am helping make any sense, but I even though God was pretty harsh in the old testament we see throughout that time that He remembered the covenant He made with people.

    And as far as Soddom and Gamorrah, I think it was heartbreaking for Him to destroy them, because look how He responded each time to Abraham.

    Did I make a point at all lol.

    Love ya girlie:)

    ang

  9. October 4, 2007 6:23 pm

    yall are way too deep for me tonight..will tackle this tomorrow. 😉

    have 4 days off looking forward to hanging with you all on cyberspace…the final frontier!LOL

  10. October 4, 2007 10:20 pm

    Tam, I haven’t seen any hair balls so far but I have had a stray cat hair in my soup. I know it must be cat hair because it has been awhile since I had any hair myself. 🙂

    I would like to get back with some more comments on the subject of souls but I will take awhile for me to absorb all the great comments in this thread.

    It’s now 1:18 am here so I will have to log off before I fall asleep at the computer.

  11. October 4, 2007 10:39 pm

    To my best knowledge:

    Soul – is singular. The essence of a person’s being. Their dispositions, personalities, drives, cravings – it’s basically what makes a person who they are at their most core level. Something that we would recognize if they didn’t have a body. It is our eternal self that our body is a window to.

    Spirit – is plural and singular. It’s two or more people sharing the same spirit. The thing that connects us to people, some call it attraction. It’s what unifies people and divides people. It touches and dwells in all people. When one puts their faith in Christ something amazing happens – we are joined with a new Spirit; namely God’s. This begins one’s transformation of body, heart, mind, and soul. For Spirit to exist there must be relationship with something or someone – and that relationship can be with joyful or destructive. This is why Jesus prayed for us that we’d be one as He and the Father were one (one meaning sharing the same spirit He and God shared – the Holy Spirit.

  12. October 5, 2007 5:14 am

    Is this my fault? 😉

  13. October 5, 2007 7:17 am

    Ang, thanks for the scripture. That is one of my favorite passages. It clearly demonstrates God’s patience. I’m glad you came back to join this discussion!

    Darla…I’m w.a.i.t.i.n.g. 😉

    D Rho, Nice! Very nice… “A window to the soul” – “Our Spirits connected” Your explanation goes along so well with these terms we so often hear. Thanks for joining in D!

    Hov- Top o’ the mornin’ to ya! At least here on the West Coast 🙂 No, this isn’t your “fault”. But it’s great discussion and we, anyone, should be thinking of how to answer such questions.

    I am absolutely loving the responses too!

  14. October 5, 2007 7:51 am

    Gods Gal:
    “I think it is interesting also that to my understanding from that scripture, that the division of soul and spirit is something that only the Word of God can discern.”

    The idea that there are limits to human knowledge, there are some things only God can understand, is one of the things that turned me away from religions thought.

    I accept that there are many things about life that I won’t be able to understand. I don’t believe there are any limits to what we humans may come to understand. It is this quest for knowledge and understanding that I believe is vital if we humans are ever going to being able to learn how to live in peace, not in conflict.

    “So, the soul and the spirit, while they both are referring to the immaterial part of man, the spirit refers to the man’s walk with God, and the soul is the walk in the world”

    I do see the words soul and spirit as being two related but different things. My soul is the essence of who I am. My spirit is the force that drives my journey in life.

    Tam:
    “At birth. I believe we all have a soul at birth and our lives are spent searching” “soul searching”.

    While I don’t believe it was God who gave me my “soul” I do think of my soul as being at the essence of who I am. One of my life’s goals has been this “soul searching”. The journey of discovering who I really am.

  15. October 5, 2007 8:05 am

    Thanks for sending the picture for our community project (and you’re right it IS global). I’ve posted it.

    http://www.axiscommunitychurch.blogspot.com

    p.s. I like wordpress better too!

  16. heatherblankenship permalink
    October 5, 2007 4:10 pm

    I believe we are a three part man: body soul and spirit.
    THe body is obviously the part of us that relates to the physical world. The soul is the mind, will and emotions while the spirit is the part of us that communes with the spiritual world.. (ie God for me.)
    I like 1 Thessalonians 5:23- “and now may the GOd of peace sanctify you spirit, soul and body until the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ.”

    The way I understood it was that we are a spirit, with a soul, housed inside of a body.

    Could get a lot deeper, but I need to go get my daughter in the bed for now!

  17. godsgalchild permalink
    October 6, 2007 9:58 am

    Hi Ed, the fact that God is the only one who does know some things and can discern actually brings me a great deal of comfort. I don’t have a need to know everything, but i do desire to continue to grow in knowledge and truth. I think God will provide the answers to anything that you truly want to know, at least that has been my experience. There have been many times when I will be seeking answers, and through His Word and Spirit will show me the answer. God is so beyond what we can comprehend, I’m glad He withholds things at times. If I would have known what I was going to have to go through the last 10 years, I probably would have commited sideways a long time ago. LOL I rest in the fact that He has it all under control, and that He gives me what I need and desire at the right times. You mentioned you believe you have a soul and spirit. Can you share your thoughts on whether you believe them to be eternal and where you believe they came from?

  18. October 6, 2007 3:10 pm

    Gods Gal ask:

    “You mentioned you believe you have a soul and spirit. Can you share your thoughts on whether you believe them to be eternal and where you believe they came from?”

    I don’t believe in life after death and my “soul” and “spirit” die with me. The chemicals that make up my body break down and are released back into the environment. It could be argued that I pass on my genes to my children and in that respect I live on through them.

    I think my “soul” refers to my core nature. The starting point is just boring old DNA I inherited from my mother and father.

    Research into the human gnome is beginning to identify the specific genes that affect brain development. For example scientist know some of genes that if defective will result in babies being born with underdeveloped brains. I think my nature, my core personality, comes from the DNA I am born with.

    I think my spirit comes more from the environment I am exposed to.

    Machines have been built that allow researchers to watch a person’s brain while that person is thinking and performing a task. As example scientist know the parts of the brain that control specific emotions.

    When something happens in the environment, like being punched in the nose, or being hugged by a person I love, this causes a change in my brain chemistry.

    My brain learns what actions will result in either a punch in the nose or a hug. My neuron connections are reinforced.

    My guess is that while my spirit changes as my brain chemistry changes, that “spirit” becomes more “hardwired” as I get older.

    Scientist are a very long way from understanding exactly how this combination of genes and brain chemistry work. Mutations in our genes and the ever changing environment make it likely that as soon as we learn how one combination works it will change.

    Scientific knowledge is expanding so rapidly that if you ask me this question tomorrow I might give you a different answer.

    A big difference between religious and scientific belief is that tenants of a religion do not change while scientific knowledge is constantly changing.

  19. lovewillbringustogether permalink
    October 8, 2007 2:53 am

    A great and very ‘deep’ question – and some wise and well-thought out (and heartfelt) responses.

    Although all here speak English (or what passes for it – hey I ‘m from England originally – pity me! 😉 ) we probably all have variations in what we understand by the terms Soul and Spirit.

    I come from a scientific background and so see where Ed is coming from – I no longer believe what he does though. Science tries very hard to provide the intelligent and rational with answers but there are some subjects it finds impossible to adequately deal with – such as these. Still for people like Ed, and like I used to be, Science is ‘all’ we have.

    To be truthful I cannot say what Soul and Spirit are with any conviction, although i find a deal of personal attraction to the way D Rho defined it. My soul, i feel, is that part of my being that ‘contains’ the things which are uniquely combined in ME, and which is not matter, nor directly and completely related to that matter, such as electrical impulses in my brain. It is closely tied to personal experiences and can both lead, as well as learn from, ‘experience’.

    Spirit is to me that which allows the soul to exist and is what I perceive the more religious amongst us ascribe to God as ‘The Holy Spirit’ – an essential, if not the only part, of ‘God’ which inhabits in us as individuals as well as in anything else you can put a name to – it is what unites us all to everything. Especially to our fellow man – even atheists and agnostics. : -)

    Spirit is as eternal as man can comprehend it. Our souls return unto it. Neither can ‘pass’ even though our material Universe ultimately may. Science has no way of measuring it or quantifying it, so, as far as it is concerned – it just doesn’t exist! – they turn their backs on it because it is too hard to study and dissect – they cannot ‘face’ it, in any way that gives them confidence – you have to feel a little sorry for such people, huh?

    If i had to use a scientific term for Soul and Spirit i would use the term ‘field’, as in magnetic field, not the one’s Corn grows in. We cannot detect magnetic fields without electrical equipment (or a compass) – that does not mean they don’t ‘detect’ and even deflect US.

    I choose to believe that not all of the billions of humans who claim to have a soul or have been touched in some way by God’s Spirit are all just subject to figments of their imaginations. That such things as Soul and Spirit are in existance – even though i have no hard personal evidence for this – it is a matter of Faith for me, at present.

    Those who would deny that Faith exists or doubt it’s value to any individual or society merely because of the way some people who claim to have it behave – or that they have never felt it ‘touch’ them personally, are, in my HUMBLE opinion, deluding themselves in much the same way they accuse believers of doing.

    Currently, that is my belief and not one of yer ak-chew-al fax, (for which HARD scientific evidence exists) Ma’am. 🙂

    Sorry for taking so long to answer what is still a very good question!

  20. October 8, 2007 6:18 am

    You have so many wonderful well thought out answers here. I guess I am really looking at this in a simple way. To me we are born with mind, body, and soul. Then when and if we accept Christ determines if we get the Holy Spirit. If we accept Christ the Spirit takes us resident in our soul and our whole being starts to be molded into what the Spirit desires if we surrender to the Spirit. I look at the soul more as the flesh nature.

    Those are my super primitive thoughts on this. But just the way I view it in my mind. 🙂

    Blessings,
    Angela

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