Tuesday, July 12, 2016

The Danger of the New Monism: Fidelity to Science, Infidelity to the Gospel - Part 5b

The Danger of the New Monism:  Fidelity to Science, Infidelity to the Gospel - Part 1
The Danger of the New Monism:  Fidelity to Science, Infidelity to the Gospel - Part 2
The Danger of the New Monism:  Fidelity to Science, Infidelity to the Gospel - Part 3
The Danger of the New Monism:  Fidelity to Science, Infidelity to the Gospel - Part 4a
The Danger of the New Monism:  Fidelity to Science, Infidelity to the Gospel - Part 4b
The Danger of the New Monism:  Fidelity to Science, Infidelity to the Gospel - Part 4c
The Danger of the New Monism:  Fidelity to Science, Infidelity to the Gospel - Part 5a
The Danger of the New Monism:  Fidelity to Science, Infidelity to the Gospel - Part 5b
The Danger of the New Monism:  Fidelity to Science, Infidelity to the Gospel - Part 5c
The Danger of the New Monism:  Fidelity to Science, Infidelity to the Gospel - Part 6
The Danger of the New Monism:  Fidelity to Science, Infidelity to the Gospel - Complete Series


What follows is a series of posts regarding the New Monist movement which combines neuroscience with theology and argues that science has "proven" we have no soul.  The problem I have with such a suggestion isn't just the challenge it presents anthropologically, but soteriologically. How does denying the existence of our soul affect our understanding of the gospel? That's one of the questions I hope to answer.  This debate is another example of the challenge that science can present for Christian theology.


A Critique of the New Monistic Soteriology

Where is the blood?

The Persistent Strawman

Monists act as if every dualists only believes that salvation is about the soul and not the body.  Holistic dualism is attractive and although there have been some who have preached an “all soul and no body” message, it is an inaccurate caricature.

This is a false dichotomy.  Monists make it sound as if the dualist lives in a bifurcated world.  Most dualists readily admit and embrace that Scripture speaks in terms of unity. Proverbs 17:22, for example says “A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit drives up the bones.” Here both the body (heart) and soul (spirit) are seen in unity. One could also point to the greatest commandment, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matt. 22:37; parallels in Mark 12:30 and Luke 10:27). This is the language of unity. Instead of discussing what Jesus means by heart, soul, and mind (as some Trichotomists do), it is best to see Jesus’ emphasis on the whole self. “Love the Lord,” Jesus seems to be saying, “with your everything. With all that you are, love the Lord.” Monists are not the only ones who understand this.

Furthermore, the strawman pendulum could swing the other way.  If it is dangerous to emphasize the soul at the cost of the body, it is equally dangerous to emphasize the body at the cost of the soul. In their attempt to not sound like the strawman, they have fallen for the trap.  Like other movements, those who criticize orthodoxy for its emphasis on heaven, many then respond by resorting to the other extreme.  The gospel balances both. Certainly those who preach a gospel that offers nothing more than a get-out-of-hell-free card ought to be criticized, but our response should not be the extreme opposite which says little to nothing about the role of salvation in assuring us heaven after death.
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