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An article on Spiritual Abuse

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An article on Spiritual Abuse

Postby Chaplain Entrekin » Mon Jun 10, 2013 4:34 pm

http://wisecounsel.wordpress.com/2013/0 ... -it-hurts/

A crucial topic for the church to address. My apologies in advance to any here, Christian or non, who have experienced such abuses. Note that this article is about Spiritual abuse, not physcial abuse (i.e. priests with boys, etc.).
I find your lack of faith...disturbing. -Darth Vader
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Re: An article on Spiritual Abuse

Postby lehman scott » Mon Jun 10, 2013 5:41 pm

Have not read the article yet, Chaplain, but I am curious... what do you believe regarding the existence of human and non-human souls and what verifiable, objective, and repeatable physical evidence do you have in support of those beliefs? Also, how would you define the words spirit and spiritual?
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Re: An article on Spiritual Abuse

Postby Chaplain Entrekin » Mon Jun 10, 2013 7:06 pm

lehman scott,

I would be happy to when I get a chance. To help me from running down the wrong rabbit hole, could you help me out by defining what you mean by the term "soul?" Are you speaking about consciousness? Are you speaking about awareness vs thought? Are you talking about some part of the body that "needs to be saved?" etc.

Thanks,

- Chap
I find your lack of faith...disturbing. -Darth Vader
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Re: An article on Spiritual Abuse

Postby lehman scott » Mon Jun 10, 2013 8:10 pm

Chaplain Entrekin wrote:lehman scott,

I would be happy to when I get a chance. To help me from running down the wrong rabbit hole, could you help me out by defining what you mean by the term "soul?" Are you speaking about consciousness? Are you speaking about awareness vs thought? Are you talking about some part of the body that "needs to be saved?" etc.

Thanks,

- Chap


Chap (and it's just lehman, btw),

I am referring to the term "soul" as used in common parlance when discussing religious matters, esp. w.r.t. the supposed afterlife, etc.

And you are most welcome, Sir!

- lehman
Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we've been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.
- - Barack Obama

Pessimism of the Intellect; Optimism of the Will.
- - Antonio Gramsci
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Re: An article on Spiritual Abuse

Postby Chaplain Entrekin » Tue Jun 11, 2013 10:11 pm

lehman scott wrote:I am referring to the term "soul" as used in common parlance when discussing religious matters, esp. w.r.t. the supposed afterlife, etc.
- lehman


Lehman,
Before I answer your question, may I please distinguish five questions that I think are often confused? (from Peter Kreeft:)

1. First, there is the question of whether something exists (in this case, the soul) or not. A thing can exist whether we know it or not.

2. Second, there is the question of whether we know it exists. (To answer this question affirmatively is to presuppose that the first question is answered affirmatively, of course; though a thing can exist without our knowing it, we cannot know it exists unless it exists).

3. Third, there is the question of whether we have a reason for our knowledge. We can know some things without being able to lead others to that knowledge by reasons. (Many Christians think God's existence is like that).

4. Fourth, there is the question of whether this reason, if it exists, amounts to a proof. Most reasons do not. Most of the reasons we give for what we believe amount to probabilities, not proofs. For instance, the building you sit in may collapse in one minute, but the reliability of the contractor and the construction materials is a good reason for thinking that very improbable.

5. Fifth, if there is a proof, is it a scientific proof; a proof by the scientific method, i.e., by experiment, observation, and measurement? Philosophical proofs can be good proofs, but they do not have to be scientific proofs.

So, to the question at hand. I do believe the human soul exists. I believe we can know that it exists. I believe we can give reasons that it exists, and that those reasons amount to proof. Reliable, but not scientific, proof.

For the most part, I would define spirit and soul synonymously. (If, by “spirit,” you are talking about its common parlance when discussing religious matters). I believe that all humans have a spirit. “Spiritual” would be in reference to that spirit. I also believe, and the article addressed this a bit, that everyone’s spirit can be cared for and nourished, but it can also be damaged and caused to suffer (I am not referring here to the afterlife).

I can go into more detail if you would like. But if I do, I would appreciate you sharing your thoughts on the human soul/spirit to help direct the conversation.

- Chap
I find your lack of faith...disturbing. -Darth Vader
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Re: An article on Spiritual Abuse

Postby Chris » Wed Jun 12, 2013 4:01 pm

I'm also a believer in the soul. I'd be interested in what you think the soul is responsible for in human beings.

Answers that I've heard include - compassion, affection, appreciation of beauty, self-awareness, memory, and so on. One of the problems is that all these emotions are also found in the rest of the animal world.

There's also a very fine book about spiritual abuse. I read it several years ago. One rather shocking example it gave was of a woman who was molested by her pastor. She complained to her bishop and was told that, for the sake of her church, she had to just forgive and forget. The bishop then propositioned her. Makes my blood boil just thinking about it. :x
If perchance I have offended, think but this, and all is mended, that you have but slumbered here, while a vision did appear. A Midsummer Night's Dream
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Re: An article on Spiritual Abuse

Postby Chaplain Entrekin » Fri Jun 14, 2013 10:00 pm

Chris,

Thanks for joining the conversation. It sounds like you are curious regarding my thoughts on what makes the human soul (and I assume you also are referring to the term "soul" as used in common parlance when discussing religious matters) unique. You have already listed a number of things attributed to the soul – compassion, appreciation of beauty, memory, etc.. (Although, these may fall more under the philosophical, thinking vs awareness category of “soul”). And you are correct that we can recognize many of these things in animals. Some might take that as evidence that man is just evolved animal, and any religious claims upon a human “soul” are unfounded.

I think the church has, for a long period of its history, held a misguided dualistic view of man that separates man into half (figuratively) body and half soul. Many have used the key source text from Gen 2:7

“And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul,”


to support this Greek view of man’s dualism. This is more of an analytical view, whereas I hold to a more relational view, that sees man as basically a holistic.

Dualism is a Greek philosophical view of man that was foreign to ancient Hebrew thinking. When speaking about man, the Bible uses terms like flesh, soul, heart, mind, spirit, etc. Some have tried to see in these terms unique parts of man. But that is saying more than the Bible is saying. Biblical language (especially Hebraic poetry) is often repetitive. This repetition serves to note importance, not distinctives. Where one writer may use the word soul, another may use spirit, mind or heart. The soul can mean physical appetite. There are even times when soul is used in the Old Testament to mean dead body. So a Greek dualistic approach to interpretation is fraught with potential contradictions.

The ancient Hebrews made no precise division between man’s physical and psychical powers. Psychical functions were assigned to physical organs such as the bones, heart, bowels, and kidney. Terms like heart, soul, and mind simply presented different aspects of the unity of the personality. In other words, instead of thinking that we are immortal souls occupying physical bodies, the Bible would put forward that we are physical bodies that have been brought to life.

Dualism leads to a Gnostic view of the body as bad and the spirit/soul as good. Where the church has historically bought into this Greek philosophical view of man shows itself in the dualism of world-denying asceticism (deny the sinful flesh) or indifferent licentiousness (the spirit is all that matters anyway).

Holistic monism flies in the face of the concept of the immortality of the soul. The concept of the soul’s (as a separate part of man) immortality runs contrary to the gospel. Man is not of infinite worth because of what he is (himself), but because of what he is in relation to (an external “self” i.e. God). Scripture says that we are created in the image of God. Our value as humans does not come from what we are (creatures) but what/who we are in relation to (God). Or, to use Toy Story, Woody and Buzz Lightyear's intrinsic value does not come from being toys, but comes from being loved by Andy.

Going back to Gen 2:7, The Interpreter’s Bible explains that nephesh (Hebrew for soul) in this passage means “a complete person.” The New Bible Dictionary says that it is “clear from Gen 2:7, the primary meaning [of soul] is ‘possessing life.’ Thus it is frequently used of animals (Gen 1:20,24,30; 9:12,15,16; Ezk 47:9). We should not impose a “religious” meaning into the Hebrew word nephesh when it is typically used to denote the animated, living person.

So, body and soul refer to the whole person. Neither one should be viewed as detachable parts of man. This is intrinsic in the good news of the gospel. What is promised is not that our physical bodies die but our souls go on forever. This would not be salvation of our whole persons. Salvation means the restoration of the whole man to a restored community and to a restored environment as well as restoration to perfect fellowship with God. Anyone just offering you heaven is selling you short.

- Chap

My apologies to any offended by my repeated use of "Man" above in referencing "humankind." No sexism was implied.
I find your lack of faith...disturbing. -Darth Vader
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Re: An article on Spiritual Abuse

Postby Chaplain Entrekin » Fri Jun 14, 2013 10:03 pm

Chris wrote:There's also a very fine book about spiritual abuse. I read it several years ago. One rather shocking example it gave was of a woman who was molested by her pastor. She complained to her bishop and was told that, for the sake of her church, she had to just forgive and forget. The bishop then propositioned her. Makes my blood boil just thinking about it. :x


There are a few books and web sites about spiritual abuse. The article that started this thread was about spiritual abuse at the hands of spiritual authority figures. As a “spiritual authority figure” myself, my heart both breaks and burns with anger at the stories like the one you mentioned.

To me, good spiritual care means addressing the needs, body and soul (see above post), of this victim, regardless of her religious persuasion. Being a good pastoral caregiver means I don’t try to tell her where she hurts. I let her tell me where she hurts. And I, driven by the love of Jesus to love and care for her, seek to help that hurt.

- Chap
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Re: An article on Spiritual Abuse

Postby Chris » Sun Jun 16, 2013 1:14 am

Hi Chap

As to the soul I think I see what you are getting at. If the soul is defined as 'complete person' then we are, or are not, souls by definition rather than because we have something other creatures lack. That's an interesting take on nephesh. I must admit I haven't run into this idea before. If the word nephesh should be understood as 'complete person' then how are we to understand John 4: 24?

As to spiritual abuse to me it is the betrayal aspect that is incredibly harmful. These abusers used a position of trust to debase another. Then, to add insult to injury, the institution tries to cover up the event and, sometimes, may even heap blame on the victim.
If perchance I have offended, think but this, and all is mended, that you have but slumbered here, while a vision did appear. A Midsummer Night's Dream
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Re: An article on Spiritual Abuse

Postby Chaplain Entrekin » Tue Jun 18, 2013 9:41 pm

Chris wrote: If the word nephesh should be understood as 'complete person' then how are we to understand John 4: 24?


Chris,

It is always important to read and understand the context in which a passage is written. In John 4, Jesus is addressing a Samaritan woman. I will assume you are familiar with the passage and so not get into all of the theological issues surrounding this wonderful story (though I would be happy to do so if desired). When Jesus demonstrates to her that he knows her and her current condition (married 5 times previously and now living with someone outside of marriage), she is astounded (and possibly a little embarrassed). So she deflects with a spiritual question. [hmmm....one person brings up the issue of sin and another responds by asking religious "stumpers"....i may see a pattern :D )

Her questions roughly comes down to, where is the right physical place to worship the spiritual God? Samaritans had set up an altar in one place (Mt Gerizim c.f DT 27) while Jews now worshipped at the temple in Jerusalem. Jesus' answer is that he is inaugurating a new age when people will not have to travel to a physcial location to worship a spiritual God because the spirit of God will be in them. In other words, they will have been made complete persons in terms of their being reconciled to God and able to worship Him. The physical now filled with the spiritual (C.f. Genesis 2:7)

This tells us that: a.) Jesus' salvation is neither anti-Semitic nor anti-Gentile, 2.) God does not have a physical body that can be limited to a single time/space location, hence worship is not confined to one place, 3.) how God can be not perceived by the bodily senses and yet capable of bringing the universe into existence, and 4.) because God is spririt, the Israelites were not to make idols "in the form of anything" in creation as did the surrounding nations (Ex 20:4).


Chris wrote: As to spiritual abuse to me it is the betrayal aspect that is incredibly harmful. These abusers used a position of trust to debase another. Then, to add insult to injury, the institution tries to cover up the event and, sometimes, may even heap blame on the victim.


I absolutely agree with you, Chris. It makes me furious and long for the day when God will vindicate his own name. Jesus speaks of these in Matthew 18:6 "Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea."

- Chap
I find your lack of faith...disturbing. -Darth Vader
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