In “theological humility” Jefferson Vann explains why conditionalism reflects theological humility.
I came across an interesting quote the other day in Sarah Arthur’s wonderful devotional Walking With Frodo.
“The word humility is related to humus, which means “dust” or “earth.” In ancient times a humble person could be seen bowing at the feet of someone great, acknowledging that person’s power and lordship. In that respect, the humble person was close to the ground — literally in the dust. This sounds degrading to us, but let’s not forget where the word human comes from. God says to Adam in Genesis 3:19: ‘For dust you are and to dust you will return.’ God crafted Adam from the dust of the earth, and upon Adam’s death that’s what became of his body. We humans are no strangers to dust.
(Sarah Arthur, Walking with Frodo: A Devotional Journey Through The Lord of the Rings. United States: Tyndale House Publishers, 2003.) p.34.
Arthur was almost 100% correct. She should have said that upon Adam’s death, that’s what became of him. God did not tell Adam that his body was dust, but he was something else. God told Adam that he was dust, and that at his death he would return to dust.
It would do for all of us to be a bit more theologically humble. When we prance around in our emperor’s new clothes pretending to be something special — a specially created immortal soul — we dishonor the God whom the Bible says only has immortality.
- “But a mist used to rise from the earth and water the whole surface of the ground. Then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being” (Genesis 2:6-7 NASB).
- “And Abraham replied, “Now behold, I have ventured to speak to the Lord, although I am but dust and ashes.” (Genesis 18:27 NASB)
- “For He Himself knows our frame; He is mindful that we are but dust” (Psalm 103:14 NASB).
- “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve” (1 Corinthians 15:3-5 NASB).
Note that Paul says that Christ died, not just his body. He was raised, not just his body.
The real good news of the gospel is not that we have permanent souls that will outlast our temporary bodies. The real good news is that Jesus can raise us from the death when he returns. That is all him and none of us. We cannot reanimate our dust after we die. If it weren’t for Jesus death would be the end.
We conditionalists ask our fellow Christians to join us in this theological humility.
For more on the mortality of both body and soul, see: