“The Word became flesh, and dwelt among us.” John 1:14 “I am the truth….” John 14:6
Two questions have perplexed the philosophers. The first concerns the reality of the objective world. How do I know that everything is not just a dream? Hinduism thinks that everything is maya, or illusion. This thinking influenced Mary Baker Eddy, and was expressed in Christian Science. There is no objective world, all is Mind, and evil is illusion. Divine healing is very important to Christian Science for it illustrates the power of Mind over Matter, that matter can be changed through a change of mind. But in spite of philosophical idealism (Mind is everything; matter is nothing), these people still get sick, break bones, and die. Funerals are held for Christian Scientists and for Hindus.
The other question concerns the reality of spirit or mind. How do I know that my mind is not just a very complicated and wonderful computer, fully understandable by natural, material processes? Materialism sees all things in terms of molecules, electrons, sub-atomic particles, and physical processes. “The Cosmos is all that is or ever was or ever will be,” is the way Carl Sagan began his book Cosmos. If materiality is all there is then mental, moral, and spiritual processes can be explained and controlled by material substances. Drugs will change the way people behave; physical processes can remake human nature. There can be no spirits like angels, demons, God, or the Devil. Physical processes are all there is.
How wonderful are the words of John: “The Word became flesh, and dwelt among us.” The Wisdom of God became flesh!
There is no necessary connection between mind and body. The connection is God the Creator, who in grace created us with the capacity to know both God and His creation. We know that something mysterious happens when a baby is born, or when a person dies, but we cannot explain it. There is a strange and wonderful union of flesh and spirit in every human being that takes place when we are born, and is somehow severed when we die. Philosophy has puzzled and speculated, from Anaximander’s materialism to Hegel’s idealism, but cannot explain the connection between soul and body, and must either deny the one or the other. What is the truth?
The truth lies in the words of Christ: “I am the truth.” It is grace that forms the connection between soul and body. It was in gracious love that God stooped down and formed man of the dust of the ground, as a potter would form an exquisite work of art. It was gracious love that breathed into man’s nostrils the breath of life, so that he became the image of God. God gave the ability to see, to hear, to rejoice in the world around him. It was gracious love that put man into loving, covenantal connection with the world of materiality, but also put heaven in his heart that he might thirst after the God who created him.
The Bible reveals Jesus of Nazareth as a most unique person, one who was both God and Man. He was the eternal God, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, who “proceeded and came forth from God.” (John 8:2 and Proverbs 8:25). In like manner, though not of the essence of God, all souls come from God, for He is the Father of Spirits. Just as we reverence our earthly fathers, we are called to be in subjection to the “Father of Spirits,” in order to live (Heb. 12:9). Though there is some analogy to Jesus Christ, yet there is major difference, for He is the Only Begotten Son, of the very essence of God, who was united to our human nature—both of body and human soul, that He might be an offering for sin. We are created souls, without proper immortality, but upheld by the power and word of God.
“The Word became Flesh.” The early church rightly opposed and condemned the Gnostics, who denied the true Incarnation of Christ. The Fathers of the church clearly saw that Gnosticism would destroy the link of grace between soul and body, leaving only the alternatives of a vicious materialism or an equally vicious idealism. The Incarnation was real and demonstrated to the world that God in His grace had made man both soul and body, to praise and glorify God forever. The body is not illusion, and the soul is immaterial. The connection between them is of grace.
“I am the truth.” Without God’s word the world is a confusing place. Without God’s word, how do I know that what I see or hear is real? Maybe the world is illusion. Maybe history is conspiracy, stage-managed by very clever people with smoke and mirrors. Maybe there is no soul and when I die I am dead. “What happens when people die,” someone asked Dr. Kevorkian. “They rot,” was his reply. Without grace man rots, both in body and soul.
“In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you,” are the words of Jesus (John 14:3) “Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it,” said the Preacher (Ecc. 12:7). “Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell,” are again the words of Jesus (Matt. 10:28). And that is the truth.