"The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth." John 1:14 And the Word is Jesus Christ, Who proclaimed the Good News: ".... I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me." John 14:6, KJV
For fifteen hundred years Christendom and then later Protestant America understood and expounded upon the spiritual dimensions of John 14:6. It begins in affirmation of all men as the spiritual image-bearers of the supernatural God. The great theologian St. Augustine (AD 354-430) observed that as all men are the spiritual image-bearers of the Triune God then it logically follows that each person is a trinity of being-- of mind, body, and soul:
â€œThe essence of the human is not the body, but the soul. It is the soul alone that God made in his own image and the soul that he lovesâ€¦.For the sake of the soulâ€¦the Son of God came into the worldâ€¦.â€ (Incomplete Work on Matthew, Homily 25, ibid, p. 153)
In Biblical thought, the body is inert matter organized and vitalized by the soul:
"Those nobler faculties of the soul organized matter could never produce." (Noah Websters "American Dictionary of the English Language, 1828)
A human life then is a soul which informs inert matter, thus a body without a soul is no more than a disorganized mass of cells that would quickly deconstruct. "(Body, Mind, and Soul," sermon delivered by Pastor Louis Pernot, Nov. 28, 2010 at Temple de l'Etoile in Paris)
The supernatural God endowed soul with three fundamental properties that distinguish it from matter. The first two are intellect and will...the capacity for right knowledge and moral goodness.
The third is the noblest part of manâ€™s soul---spirit. But because man is fallen he is spiritually dead, unable to communicate with his Creator. In Biblical thought, a regenerated spirit allows man to attain the supernatural dimension so that he can enter into a personal relationship with the Spirit of God. Through a long-term relationship, the conscience (house) of man is swept clean, enabling him to orient the manner of his existence in a manner pleasing to God. In this Way, man attains to Truth and Life eternal. It is here that we learn what Jesus meant when He said "I Am the Way, the Truth and the Life."
America was once the freest, most enlightened society the long-suffering world had ever seen. The shining light of individual liberty was a magnet that drew the world's downtrodden to our shores. The key to individual liberty in the temporal sphere is manâ€™s spiritual liberty contrasted against a genetically programmed animal-like orientation. Animals do not have spirits, which are linked to intelligence, sensitivity, self-consciousness, conscience and the freedom of reflection and liberty. Man is uniquely free because he can access the supernatural dimension as Paul affirms:
â€œNow the Lord is Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedomâ€ (2 Cor. 3:17)
Vishal Mangalwadi, Indiaâ€™s foremost Christian intellectual notes that the unique concept of man as Godâ€™s spiritual image-bearer gave birth to the â€œbelief in the unique dignity of human beings,â€ and this is,
â€â€¦the force that created Western civilization, where citizens do not exist for the state but the state exists for the individuals. Even kings, presidents, prime ministers, and army generals cannot be allowed to trample upon an individual and his or her rights.â€ (Truth and Transformation: A Manifesto for Ailing Nations, pp. 12-13)
But if there is no transcendent Triune God, then it logically follows that there is no source for self---soul, spirit, mind, and will, and by extension, human dignity and worth. If man is not God's spiritual image-bearer, then he is less than nothing, and the Buddha came to this understanding long before the 20th century's mass-murderers---Lenin, Stalin, Trotsky, Hitler, Margaret Sanger and Planned Parenthood for example:
"Six centuries before Jesus Christ, the Buddha already knew that if God does not exist, then the human self cannot exist either. Therefore, he deconstructed the Hindu idea of the soul. When one starts peeling the onion skin of one's psyche, he discovers that there is no solid core at the center of one's being. Your sense of self is an illusion. Reality is nonself (anatman). You don't exist. Liberation, the Buddha taught, is realizing the unreality of your existence." (The Book That Made Your World: How the Bible Created the Soul of Western Civilization, Vishal Mangalwadi, p. 6)
Nihilism, or nonbelief in oneâ€™s own self, is the logical assumption if the transcendent God does not exist. Nihilism is spiritual, intellectual and moral suicide. It is the emptiness that lands people, individually and collectively, as well as entire societies on the Highway to Hell, for why should anyone be concerned by anything, no matter how wicked and perverse if nothing is true, good, natural and beautiful in any absolute sense? Mangalwadi observes that â€œnever mindâ€ and â€œdonâ€™t botherâ€ are logical virtues for nihilists who believe that â€œthere is nothing out there to give meaning and significance to anything hereâ€”be it your daughter, wife, or life.â€ (p. 4)
For the last two hundred years, rationalism, positivism, philosophical materialism, and scientistic evolutionary naturalism have been moving the West and America closer and closer to Buddhaâ€™s denial of the soul.
Beginning with Descartes and then more clearly with Kant, soul was separated from body. Man was a machine. Soul hovered somewhere near by.
Dubbing himself the Antichrist, German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) brazenly declared the death of the Triune God. With the death of God said Nietzsche, the West cannot possibly save the civilizational fruits of its faith for the death of the true God meant not only the death of the West, but the death of manâ€™s soul, dignity, worth, liberty, property and all else. George Orwell, author of "1984", concurs:
â€œâ€¦we had sawed and sawed at the branch we were sitting on. And in the end, much more suddenly than anyone had foreseenâ€¦down we came. But unfortunately there had been a little mistake: The thing at the bottom was not a bed of roses after all; it was a cesspool full of barbed wireâ€¦It appears that amputation of the soul isnâ€™t just a simple surgical job, like having your appendix out. The wound has a tendency to go septic.â€ (Orwell, Notes on the Way, 1940)
After seizing control of Russia, it was the so-called 'scientific' Marxist materialists who actually followed Buddhaâ€™s lead by trying to liquidate all expressions of God-endowed soul, mind, and will in favor of an impersonal collective, communal consciousness. And denial of manâ€™s soul, said former communist Bella Dodd, is the key to mental slavery:
â€œThis is the key to the mental enslavement of mankind: that the individual is made into nothing, that he operates as the physical part of what is considered a higher group intelligence and acts at the will of that higher intelligenceâ€¦.â€ (School of Darkness, Chapter 11)
When cognitive scientist Daniel Dennett, one of the Four Horsemen of Atheism, claims that there really is no you, that soul, spirit and free will are illusions caused by chemical interactions in the brain and naturalist Tom Wolfe declares, â€œSorry, but your soul just died,â€ whether they realize it or not they are nihilists teaching the Buddha's denial of the soul. (The Spiritual Brain: A Neuroscientist's Case for the Existence of the Soul, Beauregard and O'Leary, p. 4)
In a New York Times review of a biography of Nietzsche, American scholar Francis Fukuyama writes that the most serious issue raised in any study of Nietzsche "concerns the nature of his politic-cultural program, the 'transvaluation of all values' that was to take place in the wake of the death of Christianity." "Acknowledgement of the death of God," concluded Fukuyama, "is a bomb that blows up many things..." (Suicide of a Superpower: Will America Survive to 2025? Patrick Buchanan, p. 61)
Though Fukuyama is right in pointing to a transvaluation (inversion) of values (morality) as a serious issue, he ultimately misses the point because as a secularist he lacks spiritual discernment. Vast numbers of contemporary Westerners have fallen into spiritual darkness because they either no longer believe in a supernatural and spiritual dimension or they have long since fallen into a long forgetfulness of it. By extension, the former outright deny their own souls while the latter have long since forgotten them.
To reject and/or forget the Triune God is to logically reject and/or forget one's own soul, the part that separates man from lower order beasts. More importantly it is " the soul that he lovesâ€¦.For the sake of the soulâ€¦the Son of God came into the world" to proclaim the good news that the Way is now open, meaning that through prayer to our Father in Heaven, regenerated spirits can attain the supernatural dimension, and through a personal relationship with God Who is Spirit their consciences will be cleansed and their temporal lives oriented in a way pleasing to Him.
This being the case, to deny and/or forget one's own soul is to logically fall into spiritual darkness and depravity for the reason that the Spirit of God departs from such people and gives them over to the iniquity of their hearts. This is the point missed by Fukuyama. It is the reason why an inversion (transvaluation) of morality is occurring, meaning that truth is lie and lie truth, good is evil and evil good, abnormal is normal and normal abnormal, and last of all, why sanity is insanity and insanity is sanity. When the Spirit of God departs from a man or an entire society, other more dreadful spirits enter into the house that had been swept clean and the last condition will be far worse than the first.
And this is the spiritual state of affairs in the spiritually-dead post-Christian West, just as it is increasingly the case in America, for with the death of God the West's decent, civil society has blown up.