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for my path.
Psalms 119:105

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What is Man?

Orthodoxy's View of Man

The question, What is man? if answered from a so-called "orthodox theological" standpoint (which we dispute) would be about as follows: Man is a composite being of three parts, body, spirit and soul; the body is born after the usual manner of animal birth, except that at the time of birth God interposes, and in some inscrutable manner implants in the body a spirit and a soul, which are parts of himself, and being parts of God are indestructible, and can never die. These two parts, spirit and soul, "orthodoxy" is unable to separate and distinguish, and hence uses the terms interchangeably at convenience. Both terms (spirit and soul) are understood to mean the real man, while the flesh is considered to be merely the outward clothing of the real man, in which he dwells for the years of his earthly life, as in a house. At death, they say, the real man is let out of this prison-house of flesh, and finds himself in a condition much more congenial. In other words, "orthodoxy" claims that the real man is not an earthly being, but a spirit being wholly unadapted to the earth, except through its experiences in the fleshly body. When set free from the body by death it is theorized that a great blessing has been experienced, although the man, while he lived, made every effort to continue to live in the fleshly house, using medicines and travels and every hygienic appliance and invention to prolong the life in the flesh, which, theoretically, it is claimed is illy adapted to his uses and enjoyments. The "liberation" called "death" is esteemed to be another step in the evolutionary process: and in many minds such a future evolution from earthly to heavenly conditions, from animal to spiritual conditions, is regarded as a reasonable proposition and a logical outcome of the scientific conclusion that man was not created a man, but evolved, through long ages, from the protoplasm of prehistoric times to the microbe, from the microbe, by various long stages and journeys to the monkey, and from the monkey finally to manhood. It is further claimed that manhood, in its earliest stage, was very inferior to the manhood of the present time, that evolution has been bringing mankind forward, and that the next step for every human being is a transformation or evolution into spirit conditions, as angels and gods or as devils.

All this is very flattering to nineteenth century pride, for though, on one hand, it acknowledges an ancestry of the very lowest intelligence, it claims for itself today the very highest attainments, as well as a future exaltation. Nor is this view confined to the people of civilized lands: in a general way all heathen people, even savages, have practically the same thought respecting man, except that they do not usually trace back his origin so far. This view finds support in all the heathen philosophies, and to a considerable extent it is supported by the scientific theorizers of the present day, who, although they define the subject quite differently, nevertheless love to indulge in hopes of a future life along the lines of evolution, and experience a gratification of their vanity along lines which do not at all accord with their own scientific deductions respecting the spark of life in man.

Man as Seen by Science

The scientific answer to the question, What is man? stated in simple language, would be: Man is an animal of the highest type yet developed and known. He has a body which differs from the bodies of other animals, in that it is the highest and noblest development. His brain structure corresponds to that of the lower animals, but is of a better developed and more refined order, with added and larger capacities, which constitute man by nature the lord, the king of the lower creation. Man's breath or spirit of life is like that of other animals. Man's organism and spark of life are from his progenitors, in the same manner that the beasts receive their life and bodies from their progenitors.

Science recognizes every man as a soul or sentient being; but as to the future, the eternity of man's being, science has no suggestion whatever to offer, finding nothing whereon to base a conclusion, or even a reasonable hypothesis. Science, however, while it does not speculate, hopes for a future along the lines of evolution, which it believes it can trace in the past. Science is proud of the said evolutionary steps already accomplished by its god, natural law, and is hopeful that the same operations of natural law will (without a personal God) eventually bring mankind to still more godlike and masterful conditions than at present.

The Bible View

While agreeing with both of the foregoing in some respects, controverts both most absolutely along some of their most important lines. The Bible does not speculate, but properly, as the voice or revelation of God, it speaks with authority and emphasis, declaring the beginning, the present and the future of man. The Bible view is the only consistent one, and hence the only truly scientific and orthodox view of this subject. But the Bible presentation does not pander to human pride; it does not make of man his own evolutor, nor does it commit this to a god of nature, which is no God. The Bible view respecting man gives God the glory for his original creation (Adam), in the divine likeness; and lays upon man the blame for failure to maintain that likeness, and for a fall into sin, and all the consequences of sin--mental and physical and moral impoverishment unto death. The Bible view honors God again, in revealing to us his mercy and magnanimity toward man in his fallen estate, in the provision for man's redemption and for his restitution to his original condition, at the hands of his Redeemer, during the Millennium.

Man--Body, Spirit, Soul
Accepting the standard definition of the word "animal"-- "a sentient living organism," we need have no hesitation in classing man as one of and the chief and king over earth's animals, and thus far the Scriptures are in full accord with the deductions of science. Note the text which introduces this chapter: in it the Prophet David particularly points out that man, in his nature, is lower than the angels, and a king and head over all earthly creatures, the representative of God to all the lower orders of sentient beings.

The Scriptures nowhere declare, either directly or by implication, that a piece, part or spark of the divine being is communicated to every human creature. This is a baseless assumption on the part of those who desire to construct a theory, and are short of material for it. And this baseless hypothesis, that there is a portion of God communicated to every human creature at birth, has been made the basis of many false doctrines, grossly derogatory to the divine character-- disrespectful to divine wisdom, justice, love and power.

It is this assumption, that a spark of the divine being is communicated at birth to every human creature, which necessitated the theory of a hell of eternal torment. The suggestion is that if man had been created as other animals were created, he might have died as other animals die, without fear of an eternity of torture; but that God having imparted to man a spark of his own life, man is therefore eternal, because God is eternal: and that hence it is impossible for God to destroy his creature even though such destruction might become desirable. And if man cannot be destroyed it is held that he must exist to all eternity somewhere: and since the vast majority are admittedly evil, and only a "little flock" saintly and pleasing to God, it is held that the unsaintly must have a future of torment proportioned to the future of bliss accorded to the saintly few. Otherwise, it is admitted that it would be more to man's interest, more to God's glory, and more to the peace and prosperity of the universe, if the wicked could all be destroyed. The claim is that God, having the power to create, has not the power to destroy man, his own creation, because a spark of divine life was in some unexplained manner connected with him. We hope to show that this entire proposition is fallacious: that it is not only without Scriptural support, but that it is a fabrication of the Dark Ages, most positively contradicted by the Scriptures.

The Scriptures recognize man as composed of two elements, body and spirit. These two produce soul, sentient being, intelligence, the man himself, the being, or soul. The term "body" applies merely to the physical organism. It neither relates to the life which animates it, nor to the sentient being which is the result of animation. A body is not a man, although there could be no man without a body. The spirit of life is not the man; although there could be no manhood without the spirit of life. The word "spirit" is, in the Old Testament Scriptures, from the Hebrew word ruach. Its signification primarily is breath; and hence we have the expression "breath of life," or "spirit of life," because the spark of life once started is supported by breathing.

What Is a Soul?

Examining this question from the Bible standpoint we will find that man has a body and has a spirit, but is a soul. Science concurs with the Scriptures in this. Indeed, one of the sciences, Phrenology, undertakes to treat the skulls of men and the lower animals as indexes and to read therefrom the natural traits and characteristics of the owners: and do not all men find themselves possessed of some ability in judging character physiologically? All can discern between the intellectual and the idiotic, between the kindly benevolent and the viciously brutal. Those who have not learned that organism (bodily form) is indissolubly connected with nature, character and disposition have made poor use of life's lessons and are unprepared to pass judgment on our topic or any other.

The word "soul," as found in the Scriptures, signifies sentient being; that is, a being possessed of powers of sense, sense-perception. With minds freed from prejudice, let us go with this definition to the Genesis account of man's creation, and note that (1) the organism or body was formed; (2) the spirit of life, called "breath of life," was communicated; (3) living soul, or sentient being, resulted. This is very simple, and easily understood. It shows that the body is not the soul, nor is the spirit or breath of life the soul; but that when these two were united by the Lord, the resultant quality or condition was living man, living being--a living soul, possessed of perceptive powers. There is nothing mysterious about this--no intimation that a spark of divinity was infused into humanity, any more than into the lower animals. Indeed, while the creation of the lower animals is passed over and not particularly described, we may know that with them, as well, the process must have been somewhat similar. We know that there could be no dog without a dog organism or body, nor without spirit or breath of life in that body. The body of the dog that had never been animated would not be a dog; it requires first the infusion of the spark of life, the breath of life, then doghood begins. The same would apply to all animals.

In full accord with this, we now call attention to a fact which will surprise many; viz., that according to the Scriptural account every dog is a soul, every horse is a soul, every cow is a soul, every bird and every fish are souls. That is to say, these are all sentient creatures, possessed of powers of sense-perception. True, some of them are on a higher and some on a lower plane than others; but the word soul properly and Scripturally applies to creatures on the lower planes as well as to man, the highest and noblest--to fish, reptiles, birds, beasts, man. They are all souls. Mark, we do not say that they have souls, in the ordinary and mistaken sense of that term, yet they all do have souls, in the sense of having life, being, existence--they are living souls. Let us prove this:

In the first ,second and ninth chapters of Genesis the words "living soul" are applied in the Hebrew language to the lower animals nine times, but the translators (as though careful to protect the false but common vagary respecting a soul, derived from Platonic philosophy) sedulously guarded their work, so that, so far as possible, the English reader is kept in ignorance of this fact--that the word soul is common to the lower creatures, and as applicable to them as to man in inspired Scripture usage. How else could it happen that in all of these cases, and in many other instances throughout the Scriptures, they have carefully covered the thought, by using another English word to translate the Hebrew word, which, in the case of man, is rendered "soul"? Our argument is that man is a soul or being of the highest order--the king and lord over the lower orders of souls or sentient beings, yet one of them--an earthly, human animal soul; and yet so grandly constituted originally (Adam) that he was properly described as in the likeness of God--the image of him that created him.