Saturday, September 26, 2009

Mind-Body-Spirit Splits

I have long been a proponent of holistic care and de-emphasizing the mind-body-soul/spirit split, particularly from Incarnational perspectives. However, I have been really realizing lately how much I really do believe in those splits and how rooted a lot of Christian theology is in asserting that the body is separate from the mind is separate from the spirit.

We can talk all day long about how we do not believe this, but we see it occur in practice. I have seen it in the mental health field. As our research improves, we see how much can be explain by neurobiology and neurochemistry. In many ways, it is an updated version of the Freedom of the Will/Bondage of the Will debate between Erasmus and Luther.

However, I was amazed at how uncomfortable I would start becoming when I realized how strong the biological components of mental health really are. I realized I had an implicit assumption that there still was a very distinct portion of ourselves that would be mind and a portion that was soul/spirit.

If we do not separate these, we often assume that our own responsibility or even the transcendent intervention from God may not be all that powerful. Frankly, most of our theology is grounded in those two points.

I'm still not sure how to reconcile these beliefs with a more holistic, non-split perspective of humans. Few people provide solutions. Any ideas?

Perhaps this is one of the struggles that may not have a clear answer, but in searching for it, other wisdom and insight is created...


  1. I hope my perspective has the same meaning for others as for I.

    For me we have three distinct aspects; Mind,Body,Spirit all working together, helping or hurting the individual parts, sort of like a car has many parts all working together but, one part can stop the car yet the individual parts like the lights and horn still work!

    We need to care for all holistically, without ignoring special care for the individual's body and mind and spirit to enhance the holistic care.

    I believe the body and mind are biological and stop working eventually and while they are a vehicle for the "spirit" on earth, the spirit is not biological. Sure the spirit can be enhanced or deflated by physical or mental problems but those are just like dirt on a car or dust on a table: remove the dirt or dust or the spent bioligical body and mind and the spirit can be released and shine through and carry on, forever in His presence.

    As we have Father Son and Holy Spirit to guide us He takes care of our Body, Mind and Spirit if we welcome His care. Life does get in the way of opening the way to Him but the door is never locked!

    With His Love and a prayer:

    Father help us to use our hands and feet and eyes to do Your will until and after still, when we are fully with You.



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