“He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.”
Lance Echo-Hawk, MA, wrote an article in 2007 entitled, “Body Soul Spirit Continuum: in Christian counseling.” In this he uses ideas from Millard Erickson’s book, “Christian Theology,” published in 1993. He discusses how the human being is both material and immaterial in composition. In his discussion he breaks this down by stating that human beings have a spirit, a soul, and a body. The spirit is the immaterial while the body is the material and the soul separates/joins the two. He references the Bible as he states that humans will eventually change their state of being, after death in eternity. Echo-Hawk believes that this change first begins here on earth when the Holy Spirit is given to believers, as it is a promise of what is to come. He challenges Christian counselors to be aware of three different states that someone could be in at the given moment. 1. Humans are born and live in a fallen and sinful world. 2. Christians accept Jesus Christ and they are then given the Holy Spirit that indwells in them as the believer continues to "in a fallen body (Echo-Hawk, 2007).” 3. Believers eventually die, in which they will then enter into eternity with God in a ‘new body.’ He supports this argument by stating that one is influenced by his or her “past, present, and future” (Echo-Hawk, 2007). He believes that in order to truly and most effectively help someone in counseling, he or she must involve Jesus Christ. He closes his article by stating that:
“Knowing Christ in the innermost being is experiential and involves the whole person. The successful Christian counseling experience is meant to facilitate this outcome. Knowing Christ with your whole being is the answer and the goal (Echo-Hawk, 2007).”
How does this relate to counseling?
When a counselor meets with his or her client, he or she must be aware of the material and immaterial dimensions of life and how they each relate to the issues at hand. Whether or not the client is a professing Christian or not, the counselor must at least recognize how the immaterial world plays a role in the well-being of the client. If a counselor merely focuses on one or the other, they are allowing something to slip by without further discussion or concern. For example, if a counselor just focuses on one’s material well-being, then there are simply placing a temporary “bandage” on a wound that may potentially be much deeper. The “fix” will last for a few months or a even a lifetime, but it will not help the client in eternity. If a counselor strictly focuses on one’s immaterial side, while neglecting the body right now, then they are also missing out on being a true help to their client, as a whole person.
How does this relate to me?
I have a material and an immaterial, side to me that both work and fight against one another daily. At times, I find myself in an inner struggle against myself when my thoughts convince me to believe a lie about my circumstances and myself. For example, I have a fear of going to the doctors. This fear can be looked at in both a material and an immaterial way. It can be treated materially through psychological techniques such as systematic desensitization. But also, the question must be raised as to why I have this fear. I need to give it over to God and allow Him to have His way in my life. Fear is just a lie. In my mind, I rationally understand the truth but sometimes I have a difficulty putting that into action. Although the material is not everlasting, God can use our present material circumstances to draw us closer to His heart that will inevitably affect our immaterial selves. God reigns over all, the material and the immaterial dimensions of each person. He has beautifully and uniquely knit each of us together (Psalm 139:13) and has a plan for each of our lives that include the whole person (Jer. 29:11).
Article and in-text photo:
Echo-Hawk, L. (2007). Body soul spirit continuum: in christian counseling. Retrieved from http://www.ehcounseling.com/topics_xtn_counseling1.html.
Material<>Immaterial (2010). [photo] Retrieved from http://materialimmaterial.blogspot.com/.