The Body is More than a Shell

Jason Dulle

Many Pentecostals view the body as a mere shell that houses the "real us." At funerals we even hear the statement, "This is not really Brother Soandso. This is only the house that Brother Soandso lived in. The real Brother Soandso has gone on to be with the Lord." Such an anthropology is not rooted in Scripture. Our body is part of "us." Our body is so important that God has destined that there be a resurrection of our body. While our spirit has been redeemed, our body will be redeemed in the future (Romans 8:23). Our body is not just something to be discarded so that the "real us" can emerge from the prison of this flesh, but will be resurrected and transformed into an immortal body at the resurrection from the dead. Our body is included in the "real us." It is not the evil prison that shackles our "good" spirit. All of man has been corrupted by sin: body, soul, and spirit.

To refer to the spirit/soul as the "real you" implies that the body is just a shell that the "real you" lives in. This view of humanity is not rooted in Biblical teaching, but in Greek dualism which sees the immaterial as more real than the material, and sees the immaterial as the "good" while it sees the material as the "evil." This is why the Corinthians denied the resurrection from the dead (I Corinthians 15). The thought of the spirit/soul being reunited with the body at a resurrection, and living for eternity in a body was horrifying to them! They were hoping to escape the body forever and live in an immaterial world (as many Pentecostals falsely hope for today). Instead, Paul affirmed that the body will be resurrected and glorified. Why is this? Is it because the body is really not us and it does not matter what happens to it? No. The body is part of who we are, and therefore needs to be resurrected. Paul prayed that our whole body, soul, and spirit be preserved blameless until the coming of the Lord (I Thessalonians 5:23). The "real us" is our spirit, soul, and body. While it is possible for our immaterial aspect to separate from our body for a time (before the resurrection), that is not the ideal (II Corinthians 5:1-8). Paul said he did not want to be without a body, but wanted to be clothed with a heavenly body (II Corinthians 5:2-4). We are incomplete without our body. We groan in waiting for the redemption of our bodies (Romans 8:23). The "real us" includes our body.

The Christian goal is not to escape the material world and a material body, but to come to a perfect material (new heaven, new earth, new Jerusalem, etc.) world with a perfect material body (resurrected and glorified body), so that the "real us" can be complete, whole, and perfect in a perfect world for eternity. Pentecostals seem to have a negative and haphazard view of the body, seeing it as less real or less important than our spirit. Our body is just as eternal as our spirit, just as much a part of "us," and just as important in God's scheme of redemption.

See also:
Heaven is Coming to Earth
The Bodily Resurrection of Christ Defended
First Corinthians 15-Flesh and Blood Not Inheriting the Kingdom
The Post-Death Existence of Man-Intermediate State
Heavenly or Earthly Bodies

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