Q&A: The Constitution of Human Beings

The Constitution of Human Beings

Do human beings consist of both material and immaterial parts?

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Answer

There's a major question today that, even in evangelical circles, about whether or not humans are made up of both material and immaterial parts. Now, I answer the question, yes. First of all, I read the Scriptures, and I see words that indicate to me that there is something that is separate from the body. For example, we can look at 2 Corinthians 5:8 and Paul says, "To be absent from the body is to be face to face with the Lord." Well, I know that when I die my body goes into the grave. But Paul says something, "me," goes to be with the Lord. So, I have to take that into consideration and say, that's just not incidental that Paul makes that kind of a claim. Or, we have the claim of Jesus, and I think it's recorded in Luke 24 where he's on the cross and he says, "Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit." And then the next says, he gave up breathing. Well, we know that the body went into the grave, but he is saying he commended his spirit to the Father. So, verses like that, Hebrews 4:12, about the word of God being alive and powerful and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to dividing the center of the soul and the spirit, the joints, the marrow, well, that language is there. I don't know how it all works together, but I think that the clarity there, that would tell me, yes, there is a material part and an immaterial part of man.

Answer by Dr. Bruce Little

Dr. Bruce Little is Senior Professor of Philosophy at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and the Director of the Francis A. Schaeffer Collection.