Di/Trichotomist view of man

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D. Paul

Puritan Board Sophomore
Assuming this is not an issue of orthodoxy what is the proper view of man, Dichotomous (soul/spirit and body) or Trichotomous (soul, spirit and body). What are the implications of both? I have heard it taught that since man is made "in the Image of God" man also then is possessor of a triune-type nature but I don't see where scripture makes a definitive case for either.

Puritan Sailor

Puritan Board Doctor
Body and soul!

I have heard it taught that since man is made "in the Image of God" man also then is possessor of a triune-type nature but I don't see where scripture makes a definitive case for either. [/quote:8eb8e34502]

This idea is flawed. We are made after God's image in "knowledge, righteousness, and holiness" as the WSC puts it so well. The trinitarian analogy is rather arbitrary and specualtion at best since the Scriptures never make that comparison regarding the nature of man. And the analogy is also flawed because it does not adequately decribe the Trinity either. God is not One person with three parts or natures. He is one essense with three persons.
My :wr50:

C. Matthew McMahon

Christian Preacher
The Trichotomist position is usually held by heretical sects and Pentecostals in order to divide the compartments of the human being up to be inhabited in the soul by devisl, in the spirit by God and then the material substacne of the body. The Trichotomist is a heretical position. Usually the Reformed will embrace a Ghestalitian position which menas two parts - material and immaterial (body and soul) which make up one complete man. man is not complete without both, thus the souls under the alter in Revelation who desire to be clothed with new bodies, as an example.

James Ashworth

Inactive User
[quote:8467ae9d40][i:8467ae9d40]Originally posted by Visigoth[/i:8467ae9d40]
Augustine taught dichotomy. Case closed. [/quote:8467ae9d40]
:lol: :lol: :lol: .... Love it!!

I cant quote word for word right now (as Im at work and dont carry my library in with me much) but i think i remember Hendriksen covering this issue in his book 'The Bible on the life heresfter'. He mentions that the word Soul & Spirit are used interchangabley throughout scripture therefore no clear distinction can be made between the two.

(I'll quote him when I get home this evening)



Puritan Board Professor
[b:d2d1836b73]Webmaster wrote:[/b:d2d1836b73]
The Trichotomist is a heretical position.

I was taught the trichotomist position (though it was only mentioned once or twice in passing). It's heresy? Can you elaborate why?

The main (only?) scripture used to support the idea that we are made up of body, soul, and spirit was 1 Thessalonians 5:23:

1Th 5:23 And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Any thoughts?


C. Matthew McMahon

Christian Preacher
Oftentimes, trichotomists and "di"chotomists are inconsistent in their view. Why? Well, the bible talks about bowels, minds, hearts, souls, spirits, stong arms, etc. how many parts are there?


Puritan Board Post-Graduate
The best I've ever heard on this subject came from Dick Keyes of L'Abri, Southboro. It was in a tape series on this subject. If you ever get to L'Abri, look it up. He refuted the [i:ce737c887b]tri[/i:ce737c887b] view, and then went on to the orthodoxy of the [i:ce737c887b]di[/i:ce737c887b] view. But the substance of the argument escapes me because I heard it back in June of 1988. It's certainly worth a listen if you can get a hold of it somehow. It's probably available through the firm that sells L'Abri tapes.

Otherwise, if Augustine says so, and Matt says so, and Visigoth says so, it's so. :biggrin:


Puritan Board Senior
We do need to carefully define our terms. I am a "di" and agree that we should categorize the 2 "parts" as material and immaterial.

The immaterial part of us can live without the material, but the material cannot live without the immaterial. And when our salvation is brought to completion at our glorification, every part of us will have been redeemed and freed from the power of death and sin.



Puritan Board Freshman
I agree that the bible teaches that man has a soul/spirit and body.

Isn't the trichotomist idea taught largely among dispensationalist as well?

Terry :)


Puritan Board Senior
The trichotomous position has its roots in the gnostic heresy. The modern version is almost identical. If you are not familiar with modern trichotomy just watch TBN and you will get a good dose of it.



Puritan Board Senior
It should be noted that it is not heretical to say that man has a spirit, soul, and body. The Bible itself says so. The problem with the tricotomist view is not that there are "parts" to us, but they extrapolate from that all sorts of interesting theories about things.

One pastor I know who is an adamant trichotomist preached a series years ago on the effects and causes of sin as it relates to our body, soul, and spirit. When he got to the soul, it was all pop-psychology, not Biblical truth.

So more than the idea that we have a body, soul, and spirit, what we need to be careful of are the teachings that seem to result from a flawed view of what exactly goes into the "substance" or "being" of a human being.


D. Paul

Puritan Board Sophomore
I thought there was another post in this forum concerning this and sure enough, back on 10/02/2002 someone had asked. THose answers were helpful as well.

It is interesting to note that it is in the Pentecostal/Charismatic realm where the Tri view gets interesting. [b:ecbc7b96b9]The question sprang from a P/C sermon![/b:ecbc7b96b9] We were told that Satan has no access to our spirit, only to our souls (mind, will, emotion). Our bodies are not immediately "saved", our soul is in the "process of being saved" (sanctification) and that it is our spirit that is "born-again" where salvation is instantaneous.

I had a hard time writing fast enough yet remaining in my seat.


Puritan Board Freshman
One thing I really like about this forum (that I'm new to) is that it makes me thinkg about new things, more than I thought possible.

I'm PCA, but I've been going to the local Baptist Campus Ministries. Every time I've wanted to leave, God finds it fit that he introduces me to a closet Calvinist or Reformed Baptist.

I've already exposed one person to Chosen By God, I think more are on the way but I'm not sure.

Anyways, I love this forum for making me think about theology more and more!

That, and you're all brothers and sisters in Christ, what's not to love?


Puritan Board Freshman
"I thought there was another post in this forum concerning this and sure enough, back on 10/02/2002 someone had asked. THose answers were helpful as well."

How do i check it out?


Puritan Board Junior
Are the soul and spirit the same? If so, what does the writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews mean when he says that the Word of God is able to divide asunder the soul and spirit?

I know they are used interchangeably, but....

Watchman Nee popularized the tri view with a 3-part book on the subject.


Puritan Board Senior
In Hebrew the word for spirit is ruwahk. It means "breath, wind, spirit, impulse, air, vivacity, or disposition."

The Greek word for spirit is pneuma and means literally "wind, breath" and can be translated correctly as "spirit, breath, wind, soul"...another form, pneumaticas means the inner breath, or life force.

The Hebrew word for soul is nephesh. It means "soul, living being, appetites, desire, emotion, passion, that which breathes, the inner being, or person."

The Greek word psuche (from which we get psyche), most often translated "soul" means literally "life." The word soul means "center of life."

So while they are different words, they have very similar meanings and can be used interchangeably depending on context. The spirit is considered more the inner life, the real you....and the soul descibes the passions, desires, emotions, and focus of that inner life.

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