Q: Where in my body is my soul?
Answer: I do not know the answer. Some people have suggested that it is in the brain or heart or another organ. Others have viewed it as particles of an unnamed source.
Recently, I read a suggestion from a reader that presented research on the soul in Psychology Today, which was interesting and can be found online.
Over the years, students and readers have asked questions about the soul. From my personal experiences, I have found that most people believe they have a soul, but they find it difficult to explain. In general, the soul has been discussed in several ways: “the moral or emotional nature of a person” and “the immortal or spiritual nature of a person.” The word is used in various ways in contemporary society. A truthful or courageous person could be called a good or strong soul. A musician can be the maker of soulful music. People who commit harmful deeds are said to have lost their souls.
Perhaps it is worthwhile to review the changing historical beliefs about the soul, and think about the soul in a present religious context.
According to most of the early recorded thoughts, the soul was considered as a part of being alive. This concept was presented in many writings. In Greek culture, Homer’s epic tales reveal that warriors believed the soul departed with death. Yet, the notion was suggested by a few writers that some aspects of a person might dwell in another region as a shadow. Genesis 2:7 explained that man became a living soul with God’s breath : “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.”
Early Hebrews believed the soul was not immortal.
Plato, in the fourth century B.C., wrote that the soul does exist after the body dies. This concept promoted an interest in the nature of an afterlife existence.
In the third century B.C., this dual nature or immortality of the soul was pursued by Origen, an important Christian theologian.
As explained in the New Testament, life after death is possible as a gift of grace afforded by the sacrifice of Jesus. Paul in Corinthians wrote about judgment in 2 Corinthians 5:10: “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.” In 2 Corinthians 5:1-10, Paul used metaphors for a new dwelling place and a new body suitable for the new life with God. Presently, Christians accept the challenge of securing the gift of salvation, but many mysteries remain. The words in 1 Thessalonians 5:23 are clear: “And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Most people appreciate their functioning body but accept that the body is not immortal. People use what some call spirit and others call mental faculties for the ability to reason, to understand and to be insightful. To experience a life with a body, a mind and spirit is a wondrous gift. The possibility of an immortal soul is a blessing of grace.
At the time of this writing, we are not involved in what is called a “hot” war. Yet, I know we will still be facing disturbing acts and words in other places in the world. I ask that people continue to pray for peace at home and abroad. Prayers can be offered to give leaders the wisdom to solve problems peacefully. They should pay heed to the tenets of Proverbs 16:32 — “Better to be a patient person than a warrior, one with self-control than one who takes a city” — and James 3:18 — “Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.”i
Continue to pray for those who will serve as they are placed in harm’s way. We need to remember the families who live in fear for the safety of their loved ones who are in dangerous places and circumstances. Worldwide conflicts and volatile responses call for prayers and guidance. May the Prince of Peace guide our actions.
“Blessed are the peacemakers; for they will be called children of God.” Matthew 5:9