With All of Your Soul - Faith Lived Out Through Holistic Practice

Ed Stetzer writes in his book ‘Planting Missional Churches’ that, “The most surprising news of postmodernity is that postmoderns are on a ‘spiritual search and not an intellectual quest.’ They’re willing to take that quest with Christians, if we’re genuine and live a holistic faith.” This is not a new concept which he is acknowledging but rather a reawakening of what Jesus was asking of us when he said to love God with all of our soul. Harper’s Bible Dictionary articulates that by asking for the individual soul’s expression of love, “God expects to be loved with the totality of one’s being” A totality which includes ones mind, spirit, and body. Paul Achtemeier was quoted writing, “Generally, the Bible suggests that humans have visible and invisible sides. The terminology, however, is mixed: on the one side, ‘flesh,’ ‘body,’ ‘members,’ ‘outer person’; on the other, ‘soul,’ ‘spirit,’ ‘mind,’ ‘inner person.’ And the two suit and interpenetrate each other, so that physical organs such as the heart, liver, kidneys, and bowels function on behalf of the inner consciousness. The brain does not get the credit modern science gives it, and clean distinctions among thinking, feeling, and willing are absent (e.g., the heart thinks and wills, as well as feels).”

The church traditionally seems to lean heavily on the need to follow Christ from an internal or invisible standing. It would rather promote intellectual exercises of knowledge building and spiritual developments toward worship practices. They would ask members to take part in ‘Spiritual Gift Networking’ classes and to take part in activities centered on prayer groups and Bible Studies; all of which have value and are apart of the soul but they seem to miss the very physical identities and needs that each person encounters as a whole complete being.

The church today in essence seems to have fallen pray to the same temptation that the early church in Corinth did by believing our physical bodies and its properties too have little to no value and instead abuse them without care, expecting Christ like transformation only to be spiritual and internal in nature. Bruce Winter describes the Corinthians saying, “Being people of the spirit, they imply, has moved them to a higher plane, the realm of the spirit, where they are unaffected by behavior that has merely to do with the body.” Paul’s answer is quick and to the point, “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.”

If we are to love God with all of our soul it must be embraced through a holistic practice of caring for, training, equipping, and worshiping him through every part of our being: Body, Mind, and Spirit.