Thank God. Matt Anderson over at Mere Orthodoxy has dismantled the quote-myth falsely attributed to C. S. Lewis. I’ve always been uncomfortable with it, and I’ve wondered why he said it. I’m glad he didn’t. The quote goes:
You don’t have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body.
Anderson says that the quote actually belongs to George MacDonald, one of the people Lewis appreciated. Read the full post.
What’s the problem with this quote? It swings the error-pendulum in the total opposite direction. The quote is meant to debunk the naturalism-tinged idea that the human being is a body with a soul. This downplays that the soul is essential to the human person. The problem with MacDonald’s quote above is that he makes the same error on the other side: the human being is a soul with a body. Neither is true. The human being is a soul-body, and though they are divisible (think of the intermediate state when we will be “absent from flesh…present with the Lord” [2 Cor 5:8]), they are both essential to our humanity. How do we know? God will recreate us anew with souls and resurrected bodies in a re-created, material world (1 Cor 15; Rev 20-21).
If this is true, then the call to be “whole offerings” in worship includes not only the soul, but the body as well. Paul employs explicit liturgical/worship language in his famous passage in Romans 12 where, in light of the gospel, he calls us to “offer our bodies as living sacrifices.” Those of us who engage worship in more traditional circles and forms sometimes encounter the notion that “I worship from my heart,” or, “God wants my worship to be reverential, so I don’t use my body much.” While I’m all for heart-worship and reverence, something quite significant is missed with these approaches to participation in corporate worship–the body. We are whole creatures. If you’re interested in diving deeper into this topic, here are some other posts defending full-orbed, full-bodied, fully human worship:
- Was Early Church Worship Reserved and Stoic?
- Worship & the Body: The Heresy of “Purely Spiritual” Worship
- When the Holy Spirit Breaks Open the Worship Service (or, the Suprise of Super Bowl Sunday at Cherry Creek)
- Worship and the Physical Body: The Earthen Vessels Symposium (Part 1 | Part 2)
- Singing Corpses: John Wesley on Lackluster Worship