Soulical and Soulish

Precision Work

Soulical and Soulish: The adjectives "soulical" and "soulish" have been used to convey distinctly different meanings. "Soulical" as herein employed pertains to those proper, appropriate, legitimate, or natural qualities, functions, or expressions of man's soul which the Creator intended from the very beginning for the soul uniquely to possess and manifest. "Soulish" appears in these pages to describe the man in toto who is so governed by the soulical part of his being that his whole life takes on the character and expression of the soul (explanatory notes in the Spiritual Man, not written by Watchman Nee). Interestingly, I discovered CFP universally always used these terms precisely in "The Spiritual Man" in this fashion (translated by Stephen Kaung). On the other hand, Witness Lee's version of Nee's "The Spiritual Man" is not translated correctly as we shall see producing a shallow rendering.

The soulical can be attributed to  the unregenerated or the regenerated man, since the regenerated can still live in those functions as his guiding principle also. When the term soulical is used it speaks of the functions of the soul, but when speaking of soulish it addresses the being submersed in the soulical describing the person. Watchman Nee said on page 8, Vol. 2, The Spiritual Man, "The spirit and soul of the unregenerate have become fused into one; therefore they do not know at all the presence of the deadened spirit; on the other hand, they are very well aware of strong soulical sensation. This foolishness continues even after being saved. That is why believers sometimes walk after the spirit and sometimes after the flesh even though they have received spiritual life and have experienced to some degree victory over the things of the flesh. To be unaware of the demand, movement, supply, sense, and direction of the spirit naturally curtails the life of the spirit and allows the natural life of the soul to go unchallenged as the living principle of oneís walk. The magnitude of this ignorance far exceeds common admission of it among believers. Because of their ignorance concerning the spiritís operation, those who honestly desire deeper experience upon having overcome sin may all too easily be led astray into seeking so-called 'spiritual' Bible knowledge with their minds, or a burning sensation of the Lordís presence in their physical members, or a life and labor emanating from their will power. They are deceived into overly esteeming their soul experiences and thus fall into conceiving themselves as ever so spiritual. Their soul life is inordinately nourished. They become so subjective as to assess their experience as unquestionably spiritual. Accordingly, they are hindered from making any genuine spiritual progress. For this reason Godís children must be very humble before Him and seek to know the teaching of the Bible and the functioning of the spirit through the Holy Spirit in order that they may walk by the spirit".

Natural Man Unsaved or Saved Soulish

Examine the difference between the CFP "The Spiritual Man" and Witness Lee's version at Living Stream Ministry. I noticed on page 91 volume 2 of The Spiritual Man that Watchman Nee uses the word "soulical" for 1 Cor. 2.14 as the original Word of God, which agrees with the Bible as being the unregenerated man, who lives in the natural man, that part of man that can not apprehend things of God. On page 53 of volume 1 Watchman Nee cites the very same verse with the word "soulish", in the same way (unregeneration) but with harder emphasis speaking on the saturating effect. We can see here Watchman Nee is using two variations on the same verse with the same meaning, and one might be able to see how both can apply in different explanations, as they are closely related since the unregenerated soulical man is a soulish man, but the soulish man is not always a soulical man (unregenerated), since Christians can be soulish also.

1 Cor. 2.14 The unspiritual man (natural man) does not receive the gifts of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.

However, Witness Lee in the RcV (Recovery Version Bible) uses the word "soulish" always whenever this type of verse arises, never differentiating in translation. I believe "soulical" is the right word for it is not talking about a saturated man as much on page 91. Also it would seem appropriate that as The Spiritual Man starts it will talk more generally, and then as you proceed through, it will touch on greater subtleties. What matters is that Witness Lee does not translate Watchman Nee's "The Spiritual Man" faithfully. If Witness Lee never translates with the same depth of meaning by using the soulish or soulical terms to differentiate context, then we have a poorer translation from LSM. Why would you want to read a lesser (and altered) rendering?

Explanation: The word soulical is more subtle. The world soulish has a tendency to be harder emphasize saturating influence of the soul. Since Witness Leeís cult is hard, he will always use the hard word "soulish" as he does whereas Watchman Nee more accurately used "soulical" in several instances where appropriate at CFP. Isn't the subtlety intriguing?

Soulical Unsaved or Saved Soulish

A soulical man is a non-Christian (see NLT footnotes, and RSV), an unregenerated man. This is the context Nee uses on page 91 and 92 of volume 2. A soulish man may be a Christian but is unspiritual so overrun by his soul, but saved. e.g.. Chapter 2 of Part 3 of Volume 1 is entitled "The Experience of Soulish Believers" and Chapter 3 of the same Part is entitled "The Dangers of Soulish Life" (for Christians). These chapters are talking about Christian experience, not the experience of the unregenerate. Watchman Nee (mentioned above) used the word "soulish" to describe an unsaved man in the early parts of the Spiritual Man to emphasize the more so the saturating effect of the soul on the soulical unsaved.

What matters is that Witness Lee's translation does not faithfully translate according to the original differentiation of wording found in CFP translations, which sometimes applies "soulical" or "soulish", depending on what is being emphasized, the soulicalness or the soulishness. While Watchman Nee seems to use these words interchangeably, I believe he does not arbitrarily do so. I believe Watchman Nee is taking the tone of the discussion and whatever word touches his spirit, becomes the word that he writes down, "soulical" or "soulish" for the purpose of the flow of the Word of God depending on what aspect he is addressing. It is the same point just viewed from different perspectives. And I simply want to state again, that Witness Lee is not sensitive to this. When Watchman Nee uses the word "soulical", he is referring to the unregenerated man living by his natural endowments. And when he uses the word "soulish", it is viewed from the perspective of saturating and permeating. For example, on page 230 of volume 2, the word "soulical" is used referring to that part of man that can not receive God's spirit intuitively, but this is not the case for the LSM version (which uses the word "soulish" always). Though both terms are used throughout, the term soulical is used more as you proceed through the book because it deals even more precisely, not only of the unregenerated but also the regenerated, since increasing spiritual applications are covered as you proceed through the book.

On page 230, Vol. 2, CFP says, "working of emotion seems to assist soulical peopleÖ false." LSM says "soulish". LSM does not know how to differentiate soulical and soulish. Soulical refers here to the unsaved natural man. Period. Soulish refers to the fleshly Christian. Watchman Nee is comparing the unsaved man to the saved man in this paragraph. Spirit advances spiritual men. The progress of the soulical advance the unsaved man, not the fleshly Christian as LSM would have us believe. We know this experientially by what we were before in our lives before being saved. This is important because LSM was not able to distinguish in producing a weaker translation. We know this is talking about unsaved men, because fleshly Christians do not advance soulically (without the spirit), though they often do live soulishly. The paragraphs proceeding were talking about the spiritual Christians that struggle spiritually, whereas a fleshly Christian is not disturbed by these battles, not yet, for he has not touched the deeper things in Christ. Nonetheless, the second one becomes a Christian they do not enter the soulical, they enter the spiritual where the Spirit wars with the fleshís oscillations and lack of self-control. Now, the soulical natural unsaved man lives soulishly too, it is just that he lives from the soulical self always, and not by a quickened spirit that a Christian now has in possession of a new life.

Explanation: The error LSM makes is not to distinguish the soulish Christian from the soulical unsaved man by always using the term soulish. Watchman Nee, CFP, was a little more discerning in the use of the terms soulical and soulish. There is a benefit, which is, when receiving a truth in your spirit, is it emphasizing the soulical functions, or the permeating of those functions inordinately? But if the word is the same always, "soulish," in LSM translations, then, you have a lesser, corrupted thought which would fulfill the purpose of a controlling one-man cult shop run by Witness Lee emphasizing harder terms.

Troy Brooks