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Table of Contents


Chapter  1

Part I
Chapter  2
Chapter  3
Chapter  4
Chapter  5
Chapter  6
Chapter  7
Chapter  8
Chapter  9
Chapter 10
Chapter 11
Chapter 12

Part II
Chapter 13
Chapter 14
Chapter 15
Chapter 16
Chapter 17

Chapter 18


Part I: Embodiment — and The Incarnation

Chapter 3

The Human Body

Designed as an Instrument for the Human Spirit

To any thoughtful observer the human body, even in its present state of imperfection because of abuse and disease, must still appear to be the most wonderful piece of machinery in the animal world. It is an instrument uniquely designed to give expression to the human spirit in all its moods. And even the evolutionists would admit that between this human spirit and animal spirit there lies a seemingly unbridgeable gulf. The evidence of this is overwhelming to the open mind.
     One has only to watch at close range the hands of a piano virtuoso playing a composition by Tschaikovsky, with the fingers striking as many as twenty keys per second across a keyboard of 88 alternatives, to appreciate something of the manipulative skills in the human body.
     Consider not only the creation of the music to begin with as an act of the spirit, but the superb engineering of the grand piano with all its technical refinements and artistic embellishments. Then add to this the development of the means of telecasting the performance in colour and movement, providing close-ups of those fingers so clear as

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to reveal the very texture of the skin, and projecting this image over thousands of miles — to recognize what the combination of head and heart and hands in man can accomplish.
     Consider the performance itself. The eye of the pianist rapidly scans the score, seemingly without reference to the keyboard, while his ear monitors the touch and the timing, and his brain interprets the symbols on the page and directs both hands unerringly to the proper positions. The total performance — original creation, provision of means for reproduction, transmutation of the sound waves into radio waves, and the sending and receiving of these waves and their faithful reconversion into the original sounds — all these achievements are entirely dependent upon the interaction between a human spirit and a human body within a physical world. No link in this chain can be omitted.
     Even the invention of musical scoring and the very tuning of the instrument itself are involved in this performance. Each requires perfect co-ordination. Put together, this is an achievement which demonstrates the truly extraordinary capabilities of the human spirit and the human body in producing an astonishing total performance. The number of messages that are flashing back and forth within the nervous system at the speed of light, in both performer and listener, must be reckoned in the billions: and yet the whole system can actually be expected to work time after time almost flawlessly.
     Head, heart, and hand are involved in a total co-ordination that all too often we accept without amazement. Why? Because it is so dependable! Man has not yet produced a machine which even approaches such capabilities. This total artistic and technical achievement would be utterly impossible for a mere angelic being — and, dare I say it, even for God Himself, unless incarnated. Would it be altogether absurd to add, "And although God can sing (Zephaniah 3:17), yet He could not write the score without human hands." It was a finger that wrote the Ten

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Commandments and a hand that wrote on Belshazzar's wall. . . . The words of George Eliot are apropos in this connection. In her poem Stradivarius, she wrote:

'Tis God gives skill,
But not without man's hands:
He could not make
Antonio Stradivari's violins
Without Antonio.

     Perhaps it would be more correct to say, "He will not make. . . ." rather than "He could not make. . . ." for it is by God's choice that He has decided to leave such things to us — not because of any limiting necessity imposed upon his omnicompetence but perhaps because He desires our company.
     The whole performance — artistic, gymnastic, and technical — is so extraordinary when one stops to think about it, as to be little short of miraculous. The whole of man is totally absorbed in such an achievement. Without the body to support the mind, and the mind via the brain to direct the body, none of this could be possible. And it would surely be patently absurd to say, 'Oh, an animal body could probably come close enough if properly trained.' The human body is no more an animal body than a human spirit is an animal spirit. The two are permanently wedded teams operating at entirely different levels.
     It is obvious that the genius of the composer would not be made apparent without the player and his piano! Nor the skill of the pianist and the perfection of his instrument without the creative genius of the composer. Such accomplishments are interdependent; as they are in the design and erection of a Gothic cathedral, or — to move into another area — putting a man on the moon and bringing him back again with mathematical precision. Man's creative spirit and manipulative skill combine to produce near miracles, and unlike animals man has a delightful consciousness of the achievement.

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     In an almost infinite variety of forms the potential of the human spirit and of the human body are found matched in every imaginable permutation and combination. When Christians speak easily of the rebirth of the spirit without also telling of the redemption of the body, they are speaking only of the saving of half the man — which is really no salvation at all, for MAN.
     This one example of the capacities of human beings could be multiplied almost ad infinitum. It is not that man can fly with the ease and manoeuverability and precision of a bird, or run like the cheetah which has been clocked at 70 miles per hour, or swim with the speed and grace of the dolphin, or jump like the kangaroo or gazelle, or perform the aerial acrobatics of the monkey or squirrel, or scale the mountain cliffs like the goat or mountain sheep. In such particular achievements, essential to the survival of these animals, they often easily out-perform the capacities of the human body. But they do not, except on rare occasions, even in these achievements out-perform what man can do by his combination of inventive spirit and unique body.
     The capabilities of man are almost unlimited and they are freed from the necessities of mere survival. Indeed, such is the spirit in man that he is even willing to elaborate his culture to the point where it cannot survive! If we exclude such aberrations, the embellishments with which man beautifies or seeks to beautify his world are a reflection of the manifest delight which God Himself took in exhibiting his own creativeness. They demonstrate a kind of common grace that smoothes the troubled path man must now follow because of his fallen nature.      Without his body man would almost certainly be not one whit more creative than angels appear to be. Only God and man are creative in this sense: God because He is God, and man because he is MAN, a human spirit in a human body — both of them designed and created by God.
     With the creativity of his mind and its brain, the acuity of his stereoscopic vision, his refined manual dexterity, his

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easily maintained erect posture, his vastly more versatile nervous system that makes his body an extension of his mind, he can achieve all kinds of exceedingly complex tasks which often, by reason of his skill, appear quite simple. Actually, they are far beyond the capabilities of animals — such as threading a needle which even the most "educated" chimpanzee cannot do!

     Now the idea that the spirit in man is a direct creation of God is very ancient and strongly supported by Scripture. Almost all theologians, Protestant and Roman Catholic alike, agree to this general thesis in Adam's case, at the very least. But a very large majority would go one step further and say that each individual spirit is still being created, one by one, and infused into each individual human body at some early stage in its development in the womb or at the very latest at the time of the drawing of the first breath.
     Thomas Aquinas (1226—1274), one of the giant intellects of Christian Medieval times, argued that the soul in each case is specifically designed by the Creator to suit the particular body for which it is intended.
(24) Body and spirit are thus matched, not merely in a general sense but in a particular sense in each case. And a number of modern theologians, both Protestant and Catholic, support this thesis and find it, too, clearly reflected in Scripture. (25)
     If God is sovereign and has appointed to each of his redeemed children a specific life work, and if each of us is a duality of body and spirit, then it follows of necessity that both the genetic endowment of the body and the life experiences that mold the spirit, must equally have been divinely ordained as must also the nature of the spirit which God creates.
     Task and talent have to match if the plan is to work out. As A. H. Strong in his Systematic Theology put it (quoting W. Gladden): "Heredity is God working in us, environment is God working around us."
(26) God never calls us individually to a life work for which He has not also equipped us both

24. Aquinas, Thomas, Summa Theologica, Book I, Question 89; Thomistic Psychology, Robert Brennan, New York, Macmillan, 1956, p.326.
25. See, for example, Abraham Kuyper, quoted by G. C. Berkouwer, Man: the Image of God, Grand Rapids, Eerdmans, 1963, p.290.
26. Strong, A. H., Systematic Theology, Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, Judons Press, 1974 (reprint), p.624.

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physically and spiritually.
      In a very ancient book, The Testament of Naphtali, we find this observation (2:2-4): "As the potter knoweth the vessel, how much it is to contain, and bringeth the clay accordingly, so also doth the Lord make the body in accordance with the spirit and according to the capacity of the body doth He implant the spirit. . . and as the potter knoweth the use of the vessel, what it is meet to be used for, so also doth the Lord know how far it is capable."

     This extraordinary combination of body and spirit that is man, is in fact so extraordinary as to constitute a new "thing" in the animal world. He appears suddenly on the scene, not just as a continuation or routine link in the great chain of being with refinements that are merely quantitative. These refinements are qualitative to such an extent as to constitute a virtual discontinuity in any imagined evolutionary process. The geneticist Richard Goldschmidt proposed that a sudden jump of this kind should be called a saltation since it clearly involves much more than a mutation. (27) George G. Simpson felt that this term came too near to the supernatural concept of creation. So he proposed instead the use of the term a quantum leap, borrowing from physics which thus gave it a more respectable parentage! (28)
     Today even this term is unfashionable and has been replaced by the current phrase punctuated equilibrium, brought into popular favour by Stephen J. Gould.
(29) It means simply that the normal course of evolution proceeds by very small formal shifts that scarcely rock the boat until suddenly a dramatic discontinuity occurs to "punctuate" the smooth course of events. But a rose by any other name will smell as sweet, and that is all these terms are — roses by other names. It would be difficult to distinguish an evolved species from a created one in the fossil record!
     Each of these new phrases is manifestly the old one spelled differently. . . .  They tend to be presented to the public in the guise of new explanations, whereas in point

27. Saltation: Richard Goldschmidt, "An Introduction to a Popularized Symposium on Evolution," Scientific Monthly, Oct., 1953, p.187.
28. Quantum Leap: G. G. Simpson, Tempo and Mode in Evolution, New York, Columbia University Press, 1944.
29. Punctuated Equilibrium: Stephen Jay Gould, "Punctuated Equilibrium — a different way of seeing," New Scientist, 15 Apr., 1982, p.137.

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of fact they have no explanatory value whatever. They are old descriptions, not new explanations. In no way do they account for the sudden appearance of man in all his tragic glory. They merely demonstrate that man's coming established a genuine discontinuity.
      Professor Suzanne Langer who is no friend of the Christian viewpoint, speaking of language as one of man's singular achievements, put the matter thus: "Language is without doubt one of the most momentous and at the same time the most mysterious product of the human mind. Between the clearest animal call of love or warning or anger, and a man's least trivial word, there lies a whole day of creation" [emphasis mine].
      In a somewhat similar vein Humphrey Johnson wrote: "There is a wider difference between a man and a gorilla than there is between a gorilla and a daisy."
(31) Such statements could be multiplied from many sources. J. Fiske, an early contender for the evolution of man's body, as quoted some years ago by James Orr, remarked, "While for zoological man you can hardly erect a distinct family . . . for psychological man you must erect a distinct kingdom, nay, you must dichotomize the universe — putting man on one side and all else on the other." (32)
     It is true. Man stands apart from the rest of nature. And contrary to Fiske's admission, his apartness relates to his body as well as to his psyche, since without this body such a spirit would be impotent, while such a body without such a spirit could only be a total anachronism in the evolutionary scale of things.

     The concept of a spirit that is specially suited to a body is an ancient one which we shall look at later, but it is worth noting at this point because we all too often assume that the only thing God is concerned with perfecting in his people is their spirit. This presupposes that the spirit can stand by itself and will come into the presence of God by itself. But as we shall see increasingly in the chapters which

30. Langer, Suzanne, Philosophy in a New Key, New York, Mentor Books, 1942, p.83.
31. Johnson, Humphrey, quoted by P. G. Fothergill, Nature, 4 Feb., 1961, p. 341.
32. Fiske, J., Through Nature to God, 1899, p.82: quoted by James Orr, God's Image in Man, Grand Rapids, Eerdman's, 1948, p.60.

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follow, this is not at all the case.
     It is obvious that Adam's body was created before his spirit was created. And probably this is the case in every individual. But this does not signify that the spirit is then poured into a vessel whose shape has arisen by chance. Both the vessel and its content are designed with a single purpose in view for the individual. Certainly a body can exist without a spirit, as it did in Adam's case while his body lay on the earth awaiting the breath of God, and so it may do in ours — for a few hours after our spirit has fled, for example. This potential for independence of each component from the other leads me to suggest an analogy regarding the human body as a vehicle designed ahead of time for the human spirit which is to animate it.
     If a man builds a house for his animals, he suits its construction to their nature, besides being guided by what he hopes to do with them. If he was raising snakes for their venom, he would build a house from they could not escape; for his cattle he obviously builds a much larger house from which they can readily be allowed out; for his horses, the egress must be more carefully managed since they are vagrant creatures by nature. For his dog he would construct a house that would in some measure share his own home comforts since this is what the dog will probably do during much of its life.
     Thus the nearer he gets to a house for a creature sharing his own nature, the more nearly will its total accouterments resemble his own house. And as to his own house, how does he build it? As far as he has the means, he will build it to suit his own nature. To some greater or lesser extent he will seek to satisfy the natural inclinations of his wife and his family, but fundamentally if it lies in his power to do so, the builder will build it as a vehicle for the expression of his own person.
     Now what, then, will God do if He decides to build a house which is to be fit for Himself, which in due course will be His habitation, a house which is to serve Himself for

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thirty-three years, in which He will live and express His character, occupying it day and night, constantly, actively, fully, sleeping and waking, being born and dying? It will be a house capable of being so lived in, appropriately and worthily. It will be a house that can sustain the demands of habitability that He will make upon it.
     It will be beautiful because God clearly loves beauty, having created so many beautiful things in nature. It is difficult to see how the beauty of many creatures can possibly serve any mere survival purpose, while many very ugly creatures (especially insects) survive and multiply very freely! Moreover, it must be flexible enough to allow the whole spectrum of human mood from delight to near desperation, from a groaning within to a sudden exclamation of glad surprise, for it must make communication by gesture or tone of voice, or even "turning to look" in sorrow and reproof, or turning in anger. For the body is by no means without its own powers of communication. And it must be kingly enough that worship at the proper time is both naturally accorded and accepted with dignity.
     Finally, and even more importantly, it must be such a house that while it will never of itself wear out, it can nevertheless be deliberately sacrificed when the proper time arrives.
     All of this, of course, points to the Incarnation. It was just such demands that were to be thrust upon the body of the Last Adam for which preparation was made in every particular by the creation of the body of the First Adam. And these capacities must therefore apply to the body of the very first human being as they must to the very last human being — as we have already noted. If this is not so in the most complete sense imaginable, then the Last Adam surrenders his right to that title and can no longer stand as substitute for the First Adam to act as the new Federal Head of the redeemed family of man.
     Aristotle wrote, "The nature of man is not what he is born as but what he is born for."
(33a) If I may convert this into

33a. Aristotle: see Ashley Montague, Human Heredity, New York, World Publishing 1959, p.19.

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Christian terms, it could be re-written as: "the body of man is not what he is born as now, but what his body was designed for then."
     Tertullian has a wonderfully descriptive passage in which he depicts the Creator bending over his clay as He eagerly fashions man's body. "The truth is, a greater matter was in progress, out of which the creature under consideration was being fashioned. So often, then, does it receive honour, as often as it feels the hands of God, when it is touched by them, pulled by them, drawn out, and molded into shape. Imagine God wholly employed and absorbed in it — with his hand, his eye, his labour, his purpose, his wisdom, his providence, and above all, his love which was dictating the lineaments of this creature."
     Tertullian concluded, "Whatever was the form and expression which was then given to the clay by the Creator, Christ was in his thoughts as one day to become Man, because the Word, too, was to be both clay and flesh, even as the clay (in the Creator's hands). For so did the Father previously say to the Son, 'Let US make man in OUR image, after OUR likeness.' So God made man, that is to say the creature which He was molding and fashioning, after the image of God — or in other words, after the image of Christ did God make him. . . . That clay which was even at that moment putting on the image of Christ who was to come in the flesh, was not only a work of God but actually the pledge and surety of God [for the redemption of man]." [emphasis mine]
     Such a house for the spirit of man, like Solomon's Temple, was not merely to be like any other pagan temple already in existence, any more than Adam's body was merely a copy of some other animal body already in existence. It was to be exceptional, "exceedingly magnifical" (1 Chronicles 22:5) as the King James Version quaintly puts it!
     And originally it must have been glorious indeed. Imagine a human body which, despite the defilement of sin to which it was to become subjected all too quickly, nevertheless survived with all its energies largely unimpaired for

33b. Tertullian, "On the Resurrectlon of the Flesh," Chapter VI, in Latin Christianity, Cleveland Coxe in of Ante-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, edited by Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, New York, Charles Scribner's Sons, vol.III, 1918, p.549.   

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nearly a thousand years! The body in which Jesus Christ took up residence for some thirty-three years was Adam's original body recovered — and it, too, was "magnifical."
     The divine Architect had designed it for Himself in the first place, so we may be sure that the body of the Lord Jesus Christ was not the tumble-down house in which we struggle through life. His body magnificently supported Him daily as He lived out his life among men; and it provided perfectly all the resources for the expression of his divine nature. His presence in the body was so magnificent that even the most callous of his enemies had to step back sometimes in awe, and they only had the courage to abuse Him because He deliberately veiled his glory, and allowed them to do so.
     Undefiled by sin and indwelt by the Lord Himself, a superb human body appeared on the stage of human history and men worshipped without shame or hesitation the One who possessed it. I suspect that in our present sinful state we might easily have fallen down and worshipped Adam as he came from the hand of God — such was the glory of his body.
     Evolution can present us with nothing comparable which could serve as a prototype for the Last Adam.

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Copyright © 1988 Evelyn White. All rights reserved

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