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Body vs. spirit in man


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#1 Augustine C.

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Posted 09 December 2010 - 11:10 PM

Since I come from a Protestant background my views that have been shaped throughout the years that are not what the Orthodox Church teaches. Among these is the human body. More specifically, the human body in regards to salvation and how the physical and non-physical (flesh/spirit) aspects are differentiated between the Protestant's and Orthodox is what I'm trying to get at. From my understanding so far in looking into this issue is that Protestant's have a tendency to see the body as only a vessel on earth which we leave behind once we get into the afterlife (I do remember this being touched upon in sermons growing up). This view sees the body as something wicked and that is in constant battle with our spirit. Thus, when we are saved, it is the spirit that is good and we have to follow God with and we are battling the evil flesh day-to-day, which has been corrupted by the Devil and we are in bondage to. On the other hand, the Orthodox (and this is where I want clarification) view the body more holistically in that the body is viewed as one, flesh and spirit. The body, the material part, is just as important as the spirit, it is not something we just transport our spirit in on earth. Within this view, although we sin and our flesh is stained, it is not totally damaged - we still retain the image and likeness of God. From what I gather there is a difference between the Protestant and Orthodox view of what happened to material part of the body because of the sin of Adam. This ultimately leads, I don't remember where I read this, along the lines of seeing Salvation in a different light. Also, Christ came to heal our bodies, therefore he rose from the grave. In the Protestant view of the flesh, Jesus did not raise from the dead to heal our bodies but see it more as a fulfillment of completing the law (more of a judicial view). I wanted more clarification on where the differences are and why; there are differences because of what the fall, law, and Jesus did which leads to this difference in what the body is Orthodoxy vs. Protestantism?

#2 Anna Stickles

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Posted 10 December 2010 - 12:57 PM

Wow! You have asked a handful and have touched upon some very core and important points.

There is an extended discussion of this topic on this thread. It is long but well worth the read. Maybe any specific questions that you have as you read you can bring back up in this thread here since your question here starts from a slightly different angle then what was being addressed there.

#3 Augustine C.

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Posted 10 December 2010 - 11:17 PM

Anna, thank you for passing the thread along. I will look into it and if I still have any questions I will be sure to post them here.

#4 Evan

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Posted 11 December 2010 - 12:33 PM

Augustine,

Your namesake, despite the "bad press" he often gets in this context, is actually excellent on the crucial confession that "matter matters." Christ came to restore the whole man through His life, death, and resurrection.

"Thus the souls of departed saints are not affected by the death which dismisses them from their bodies, because their flesh rests in hope, no matter what indignities it receives after sensation is gone. For they do not desire that their bodies be forgotten, as Plato thinks fit, but rather, because they remember what has been promised by Him who deceives no man, and who gave them security for the safe keeping even of the hairs of their head, they with a longing patience wait in hope of the resurrection of their bodies, in which they have suffered many hardships, and are now to suffer never again. For if they did not hate their own flesh, when it, with its native infirmity, opposed their will, and had to be constrained by the spiritual law, how much more shall they love it, when it shall even itself have become spiritual! For as, when the spirit serves the flesh, it is fitly called carnal, so, when the flesh serves the spirit, it will justly be called spiritual. Not that it is converted into spirit, as some fancy from the words, It is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption, but because it is subject to the spirit with a perfect and marvellous readiness of obedience, and responds in all things to the will that has entered on immortality— all reluctance, all corruption, and all slowness being removed. For the body will not only be better than it was here in its best estate of health, but it will surpass the bodies of our first parents ere they sinned. For, though they were not to die unless they should sin, yet they used food as men do now, their bodies not being as yet spiritual, but animal only. And though they decayed not with years, nor drew nearer to death—a condition secured to them in God's marvellous grace by the tree of life, which grew along with the forbidden tree in the midst of Paradise,— yet they took other nourishment, though not of that one tree, which was interdicted not because it was itself bad, but for the sake of commending a pure and simple obedience, which is the great virtue of the rational creature set under the Creator as his Lord. For, though nothing was touched, yet if a thing forbidden was touched, the very disobedience was sin. They were, then, nourished by other fruit, which they took that their animal bodies might not suffer the discomfort of hunger or thirst; but they tasted the tree of life, that death might not steal upon them from any quarter, and that they might not, spent with age, decay. Other fruits were, so to speak, their nourishment, but this their sacrament. So that the tree of life would seem to have been in the terrestrial Paradise what the wisdom of God is in the spiritual, of which it is written, She is a tree of life to them that lay hold upon her. Proverbs 3:18"

From "City of God," Chapter XIII.

Our bodies were made to live. They die as a consequence of turning from the source of life. Death is sin made incarnate. By the Spirit which raised Jesus from the dead, this death is overcome. We long not to be unclothed, but clothed again.

In Christ,
Evan

#5 Brother David

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Posted 11 December 2010 - 01:25 PM

Augustine,

They were, then, nourished by other fruit, which they took that their animal bodies might not suffer the discomfort of hunger or thirst; but they tasted the tree of life, that death might not steal upon them from any quarter, and that they might not, spent with age, decay. Other fruits were, so to speak, their nourishment, but this their sacrament. So that the tree of life would seem to have been in the terrestrial Paradise what the wisdom of God is in the spiritual, of which it is written, She is a tree of life to them that lay hold upon her. Proverbs 3:18"


This is a wonderful and beautiful quote from Augustine and Proverbs. It would seem to me from this, that from the beginning of time there was a form of the Sacrament of Eucharist. The tree of life being the "Word" from which all creation was created and to which original man was to turn for "life everlasting" nourishment. Perhaps I am reading too much into this.

Brother David

Edited by Herman Blaydoe, 11 December 2010 - 02:31 PM.
fixed quote tags


#6 Augustine C.

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Posted 12 December 2010 - 04:19 AM

Wow! You have asked a handful and have touched upon some very core and important points.

There is an extended discussion of this topic on this thread. It is long but well worth the read. Maybe any specific questions that you have as you read you can bring back up in this thread here since your question here starts from a slightly different angle then what was being addressed there.


That was a super long thread. Thanks for posting it, I think it cleared up a lot.

#7 Augustine C.

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Posted 12 December 2010 - 04:20 AM

Evan - thank you for your post as well.

#8 Evan

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Posted 16 December 2010 - 10:21 PM

This is a wonderful and beautiful quote from Augustine and Proverbs. It would seem to me from this, that from the beginning of time there was a form of the Sacrament of Eucharist. The tree of life being the "Word" from which all creation was created and to which original man was to turn for "life everlasting" nourishment. Perhaps I am reading too much into this.

Brother David



No, I don't think you are-- although I can't give you chapter and verse, this understanding of St. Augustine concerning the tree of life appears in some of the Eastern Fathers as well. I'm thinking specifically of St. Maximus the Confessor. But, again, I'd have to re-read St. Maximus to find the reference.

That this was a real, physical, substantial nourishing that did take place even before the Fall and does take place now in the Eucharist squares well with what's been said already about the Christian conviction that the whole man is an ensouled body.

In Christ,
Evan




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