Geisler on Holistic Trichotomy

Dr. Norman Geisler presents the biblical doctrine of man in his extensive Systematic Theology. His description of the model of man is compatible with–or identical to–holistic trichotomy: one in personhood with two separable parts, yet three distinguishable parts (aspects).

“Each individual human being is a unity of soul and body, having a spiritual dimension and a physical dimension. Each partakes of the immaterial as well as the material, the angelic as well as the animal. As such, human beings are unique: each is a psychodynamic unity, a blend of mind and matter.

…At death, ‘The dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit returns to God who gave it’ (Eccl. 12:7)…Paul speaks of ‘spirit, soul, and body’ forming an individual ‘wholly’ (1 Thess. 5:23); that is, these three aspects constitute one person.

However, within this basic unity is a tri-dimensionality, because a human being is self-conscious, world-conscious, and God-conscious. He can look inward, outward, and upward. But he is, nonetheless, one person, with one individual human nature.

Within the unity of human nature, there is also a basic duality. The unity of soul and body is not an identity of the two; the union is not an indissolvable one. As death ‘we are…away from the body and at home with the Lord'(2 Cor. 5:8)…The separation is only temporary: They await their reunion at the resurrection, when they will be brought back together permanently (1 Thess. 4:13-17).

Systematic Theology (One Volume Edition, pp636, 37 Minneapolis: Bethany House, 2002).

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