Peter Leithart on Matter and Spirit


Discussing the question of the corporeality of angels, Herman Bavinck argues that angels cannot have bodies because that would imply they are material and “matter and spirit are mutually exclusive.” He charges that “it is a form of pantheistic identity philosophy to mix the two and to erase the distinction between them. And Scripture always maintains the distinction between heaven and earth, angels and humans, the spiritual and the material, invisible and visible things.”

This approach, however, gives far too much aid and comfort to materialism, which would seem to be premised on the assumption that matter is a self-enclosed reality, not open to transcendence or to spirit. Milbank makes a good case for saying that the distinction of matter and spirit is relativized in Christian thought because they are both created by a transcendent God.

About Uri Brito

I am the Pastor of Providence Church (CREC) in Pensacola, Fl.
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5 Responses to Peter Leithart on Matter and Spirit

  1. abg says:

    Just because we are incapable of seeing spirits with our finite eyes could it be that spirits have bodies that are in a different dimension? They are all around us and are incased personal beings yet out of our sight and touch.

  2. abg says:

    That would bring me to the agrument about the created spirit beings and the distinction that they have with their creator. That distinction being the infinite and the finite. They being finite would only possess a certian space at any given moment.There begs an encasement?

  3. abg says:

    ie Christ just after the ressurrection could walk through walls. Yet He was matter. Edwards says that spirits are distinct in this universe because light does not reflect off of them.

  4. U.T. Brito says:

    Leithart’s comments center I believe (and I know this because I cherish and read Leithart regularly) on the gnostic tendencies of our “evangelical” culture. Dualism is so intrinsic in our culture that we have unearthed heaven and unheavened earth (by the way those don’t exist). It is a holistic faith that we pursue. To pray thy kingdom come implies that the earth is to be replete with the physicality and spirituality of God’s domain.
    Angels are ethereal beings only as far as their presence is concerned, nevertheless their identity cannot be much different than that of the visitors that appeared to Lot. Materialism and Spirituality are at all times united, and perfectly illustrated in the bread and the wine. Even our own bodies are not substantially complete until the final resurrection. Indeed, the saints in heaven cry out: How Long O Lord until judgment comes! This serves not only as a cry for God’s vengeance, but a cry for a unionof the spiritual bodies with the physical bodies left on earth.

  5. abg says:

    Yes and each person is fitted with a spirit and body that was never intended to seperate. Separation is an unnatural process.We are body we are spirit. That usage of Christ body and spirit in scripture in the above identity makes this more plain. Those heavenly beings exist with the physical yet are normally unseen to the human eye.The word encassed really doesnt do justice since the body and spirit are both equally essential to a being. Listen to Murray on Gen 1 On adam.

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