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Spiritual-Corporeal Duality: Achieving True Spirituality in Its Unison


In modern philosophy there is something known as the problem of the subject-object dichotomy. This problem has its roots in the philosophical tradition which tend to separate the knowing subject and the object of knowledge and treat them as distinct entities.

Heidegger in his Phenomenology took a radical twist and breaks away from this philosophical tradition. For him, there already exist a bond between the knowing subject and the object of knowledge. A disintegration of this bond is the first step to skepticism, for once we assume consciousness can be meaningfully considered in isolation from the world, they become difficult to reunite.

This subject-object bond creates an integration of the physical and material with the transcendental and immaterial, bringing about a coherent existence. Here, we have an individual who is both conscious of himself and his world, whose being is absorbed in the world and has a conscious existence.

This subject-object dichotomy is present in Christianity. Here it is better known as the spiritual-corporeal duality. Christian spiritual consciousness should not be isolated from the physical life in the world. Christianity is more than a religion, it is a way of life and as such Christians should at all times live out their lives in truth and spirit as both humans incorporated in the spirit of Christ. At no time should there be a separation in person and identity.

Spiritual-Corporeal Duality

A Christian lives at the same time both in the world of material values and in that of spiritual values. For the individual living and hoping Christian, his needs, freedoms, and relationships with others never concern one sphere of values alone, but belong to both. Thus his identity is an integration of both just as his actions should at all times reflect the outcome of both.

Most of the controversies of the early Church about the Person of Jesus Christ was based on the problem of the nature of Jesus Christ. Arianism, Nestorianism, Monophysitism, Monothelitism, and Agnoeteism are vivid examples of heresies that denied the true teaching that Jesus Christ is both God and man, having both the nature of God and the nature of man as an individual person.


The hypostatic union of the human and the divine in Christ even till today still creates some ripples for this special union is still not totally comprehensible to all. It is especially controversial when we talk about the death and crucifixion of Jesus. Was Jesus truly God and man on the cross and in death? Can God die? This will be a discussion for another day.

However, the bible writers were so conscious not to separate the divine and human nature of the person of Jesus throughout his mission on earth. There were no events where the human nature was said to displace the divine nature or the divine overshadowing the human. Jesus was simply and totally Jesus, both human and divine, having no change or alteration, no switching of nature.

The Christian is a composite of body and spirit, the human and the divine. Bound to the external world, he also transcend it. Besides being a bodily creature, as a spirit he is a person. The fusion of the physical and the spiritual in the Christian is modelled after the person of Christ who came and took our nature so as to be our guide and example, to teach us how to live right.

Although we do not as Christians have the fullness of the spirit like Jesus Christ, we are nevertheless called to walk and live in the spirit which has been bestowed upon us. We are not divine, but we have been given the Divine Spirit of the Blessed Trinity promised to us by Jesus himself.

Therefore, with the gift of the Spirit in the sacrament of baptism with its crowning seal in the sacrament of confirmation, the Christian cease to be solely a person of the flesh, but a man of the flesh filled with the outpouring of the spirit: a spiritual man. The spiritual is not there to make obsolete the human, however the human is meant to fuse in perfect union with the spiritual.

The drive behind this fusion of the flesh and the spirit is to attain a balance spirituality such that in both matters of the physical and the spiritual the Christian will be able to reason and act accordingly, attending to the human cares and problems not just with the human capabilities, but with the human led and balanced by the spiritual. So also, in ascending to the spiritual, the Christian through a profound humanity as foundation, will be able to transcend human reason to attain spiritual heights.


Once Christians are able to maintain this bond and strike this balance between the human and the spiritual and inculcate it into their daily living, they will be imbued with the same charity that highlighted Jesus’ earthly living. Our lives as human beings will be Spirit-directed, we will retain our true human person which would daily be formed and informed by the Spirit of the living God.

Once achieved there is no need to separate the spiritual and the physical again. We would have achieved the essence of our Christian life, a life lived in union with God.

Thus, the experience of the human-spirit dichotomy in Christianity is radically in contrast with the sublime example made concrete by Christ and the early Christians which we are called to emulate and replicate. The experience of false spirituality, of clothing ourselves in the spiritual garb only in the Church and in Christian fellowship, and then casting it off to give way to human vulgarity does not enhance true spirituality.

Once we continue to foster this dichotomy, it will be hard to conform to the oneness of human and spirit unison. Frequency in the separation of the human and the spiritual will ultimately lead to the inability to achieve a true bond because of the intense sever that would have been caused.

Achieving spiritual and corporeal bonding entails true spirituality. Here, it means that the Christian’s entire life is understood, felt, imagined, lived and decided upon in relationship to God in Jesus Christ, empowered by the Holy Spirit.


Joshua Dehi (author) from Lagos, Nigeria on September 28, 2020:

Thanks Paul. A conscious effort to always remember that simple fact helps us realize our true identity

Paul K Francis from east coast,USA on September 28, 2020:

We are spiritual and corporeal both. You explain this clearly. Thanks.

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