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Feedback archiveFeedback 2014

The spiritual death of the Adam tribe?

Published: 12 January 2014 (GMT+10)

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Attempts to add extra time into Genesis 1–11 are not new, though they are many and varied. Occasionally, a new idea is proposed. Rod M. from the Philippines, writing in response to Elasmosaurus? No, you goose …, proposes a mixture of old and new ideas. CMI’s Shaun Doyle replies with comments interspersed showing why these ideas do not work.

The author brings up a most important point, here: that of hopeful pattern recognition. Sadly, this is an indication of poor intelligence—an inability to tell accurately the differences, similarities and identities of objects, events, phenomenon and states. But intelligence can be improved, so long as ego doesn’t get in the way.

However, even the most intelligent people can see patterns where they don’t exist. This is even one of the most frustrating things for evolutionists in investigating the fossils (please see Cladistics, evolution and the fossils). Patterns can be hard to discern because of the incompleteness and/or ambiguity of the evidence, and they may be consistent with different patterns with little difference in likelihood. The philosophy behind the pattern recognition procedure may also be faulty and thus be prone to producing false results. There are all sorts of problems for pattern recognition that need not be the result of poor intelligence.

Take for instance the need to equate Adam’s death in the garden with the physical death of every creature. These are not identical! Not even close.

This is not what we say concerning Adam’s death. We say that death came to all people through Adam’s sin, which also produced suffering and futility for the whole creation (please see The Fall: a cosmic catastrophe). Now, the Bible is clear that plants, protists, and prokaryotes don’t die in the biblical sense. However, the Bible is less clear on whether nephesh animals would live forever in the pre-Fall world, or whether they would just experience no predation or suffering despite being mortal even in the pre-Fall world. For a discussion of this issue, please see The problem of evil: pre-Fall animal death?

Adam’s death in the Garden was purely and only a spiritual death.
Death came to all people through Adam’s sin, which also produced suffering and futility for the whole creation.

It’s not that simple. Adam’s death in the Garden was like that of a rose cut from its bush. The rose is dead once it is cut from the bush, but it does not wither immediately. Nevertheless, the fact that it will wither is certain from the moment it is cut from the bush. In the same way, Adam cut himself off from his source of life, God, through his sin. The breach in relationship with the life giver (i.e. ‘spiritual death’) was immediate, and the physical effects of that breach (i.e. decay and physical death) were inevitable from the moment of the breach, though the physical effects took time to manifest. To say that Adam’s death was only spiritual is contradicted by 1 Corinthians 15:21–22, which compares and contrasts the death that Adam brought into the world with the death from which Christ was resurrected. (Note how readily such a stance leads to the heresy that Christ was merely raised from ‘spiritual’ death.)

This says nothing about the physical death of creatures before Adam’s downfall.

Not so. Genesis 3:19 directly implies that Adam would not have died before he sinned since he was only subjected to returning to the dust (i.e. physical death, note, not merely spiritual) because he sinned.

Adam died spiritually in the Garden, but then died physically hundreds of years later, according to Genesis.

Nobody disputes this. However, the mistake people typically make is thinking that Genesis 2:17 (“in the day you eat of it, you will surely die”) implies that Adam would physically die in the same 24-hour period that he ate the fruit. This is not what the verse means. Sarfati explains (see William Lane Craig’s intellectually dishonest attack on biblical creationists):

“The solution lies in the Hebrew, which uses forms of the same verb ‘to die’ (mût (מות)), together: môt’tāmût (מות תמות). It literally means ‘dying you shall die’, but the sense is the certainty, hence the translation ‘you shall surely die.’ Kulikovsky explains:
“‘When the infinitive absolute precedes a finite verb of the same stem (as is the case here), it strengthens or intensifies the verbal idea by emphasizing “either the certainty (especially in the case of threats) or the forcibleness and completeness of an occurrence.”[1] In other words, the emphasis is on the certainty of their death rather than its precise timing or chronology.[2] This is demonstrated in 1 Kings 2:37–46: Shimei could not possibly have been executed ‘on the day’ he exited his house since he was not killed until after he had travelled from Jerusalem to Gath, located his missing slaves, and travelled back to Jerusalem.[3]’
“Kulikovsky suggests an alternative understanding as well, that this phrase could be taken in the ingressive sense[4]—that is, a verbal form that designates the beginning of an action, state or event. In other words, the focus is on the beginning of the action of dying—i.e. God’s warning really means, ‘… for when you eat of it you will surely begin to die.’”
And even this cannot be taken literally. Genesis 5:2 tells us why. Adam is the name of the “spirit” in the Garden, the name of an individual man and the name of a tribe.

The Hebrew word adam is indeed used a number of different ways in Genesis 1–5. It is used as the name of the first man, a description of the first man, and as the collective noun for humanity. However, it never means all these things in any one usage. Context must determine which meaning applies in any given usage. In Genesis 5:2 it is clear from the context that adam means ‘humanity’.

The Adam tribe lived for 930 “years,” but even these years are not literal years. They are generations.

This raises a number of problems in addition to the obvious lack of any such indication from the text. First, it is unclear on such a view what it means for one tribe to ‘father’ the next. How did each tribe become distinguished? This is especially poignant considering that each ‘tribe’ continues on average about 800 ‘generations’ after the ‘fathering’ event.

Second, it is unclear what the refrain “had other sons and daughters” means if each ‘patriarch’ is in fact a tribe. This language clearly implies that the named son is but one of many children that the previous man in the list man fathered. However, if each named patriarch is a tribe, we seem forced to say that each of the other ‘sons and daughters’ is also a tribe!

Third, when more information is given about specific names in the genealogy (e.g. Enoch and Noah), these names are quite plainly taken as referring to individual men. Enoch “walked with God”, and “God took him”. The same is true of Noah—the whole Flood narrative treats Noah as an individual man, and the account in Genesis 9:18–29 treats Noah, Shem, Ham, and Japheth as individual men.

Fourth, where do we stop applying this hermeneutic? With Noah and his sons? With Terah and his sons? Or was the ‘Abraham tribe’ 100 generations old when it ‘fathered’ the ‘Isaac tribe’? Clearly applying such a hermeneutic to the age of Abraham at Isaac’s birth is absurd in the light of the flow of Genesis 21–22 (for instance, the individual Abraham did certain things with the individual Isaac, such as taking Isaac up to Mount Moriah to sacrifice him).

The key for the word adam is that we can apply this same logic to Genesis 4 and 5—Adam and Eve had sex and bore Cain, Abel, and Seth (Genesis 4:1,2,25). Seth was seen by his parents (especially his mother, Eve) as a replacement for Abel (Genesis 4:25), who was killed by Cain (Genesis 4:8), after which ensues a dialogue between God and Cain as individuals (Genesis 4:9–15). This language clearly marks out all the characters in Genesis 4 as individuals, and these are the same characters at the head of the genealogy in Genesis 5. This is not the language of a succession of tribes; it is the language of a family unit: Adam and Eve were the parents, and Cain, Abel, and Seth were the children. Your view is not consistent with the narrative logic of Genesis 1–5, in which ‘the man’/’Adam’ is a discrete character in the narrative who talks and acts as a singular person.

One must read the Bible with humility, lest one becomes lazy and arrogant. One must seek the spirit of the word, not the letter, because the letter leads to death, and only the spirit will lead to life.

I’m not sure what you mean by this. The ‘letter kills, but the spirit gives life’ antithesis in 2 Corinthians 3:6 is explained in verses 7–18 as epitomising the differing results of the Mosaic and Messianic covenants (specifically referring to the agent by which the effects of each covenant is applied—the ‘dead letter’ which condemns and kills in the Mosaic covenant, and the ‘life-giving Spirit’ who brings life and righteousness in the Messianic covenant). Instead you seem to use this ‘letter/spirit’ antithesis to refer to how we interpret the semantic content of the biblical text. However, you provide no reason for concluding that the historical reading of Genesis 1–11 is irresponsible interpretation.

The debate concerns which account of origins is true, and how important that is for the integrity of Christian doctrine and church witness.
If you know how to look, you will see that Genesis gives us a far longer timeline, one that requires scientists to get busy catching up.

In the ideas you have put forward deep time seems to be a hermeneutical key used to redefine words in Genesis 1–11 so that the text fits that scheme. In other words, your view implies not that (deep time) scientists need to catch up with Bible interpretation but the opposite—deep time ‘science’ is controlling your biblical ‘interpretation’; strained, to say the least.

God is love. But we cannot heal the rifts by being arrogant and thinking that we know it all more perfectly than others who are also hungry for that love.

Neither can we heal the rifts by pretending that all positions are valid. They are not. We should always strive to conduct ourselves with humility, but this issue cannot be resolved just by being humble. One man might argue for a dangerous error with the humblest will in the world, and another might argue arrogantly for the truth. Their dispositions while arguing, though relevant in numerous contexts, do not determine which position is true, which is what this debate is all about. The debate concerns which account of origins is true, and how important that is for the integrity of Christian doctrine and church witness. If we are right, and the young-age historical framework is biblical and foundational for the integrity of the Gospel, then it doesn’t matter how humble either we or our opponents are; those who disagree are undermining the church and the Gospel by teaching that deep time is compatible with Scripture whether they mean to or not.

We should not compromise on Truth, either. But what is Truth? Creationism as it’s presented here?

Why not? The reasons you have provided either misunderstand our position or egregiously misinterpret the Scriptures—often both.

Related Articles

Further Reading

References and notes

  1. Gesenius’ Hebrew Grammar, 2nd ed., trans. Cowley, A.E., Oxford University Press, Oxford 1910: 113n, citing Genesis 2:17 as a specific example. Return to text.
  2. Hamilton, V., The Book of Genesis, chapters 1–17, p. 172, Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, MI, 1990. Return to text.
  3. Kulikovsky, A., Creation, Fall, Restoration, Mentor, Fearn, pp. 192–193, 2009. Return to text.
  4. Kulikovsky, ref. 3, p. 193. Return to text.

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Readers’ comments
Geoff K., Australia, 12 January 2014

Hi Friends at Creation Ministries, It seems that not many people have picked up from the scriptures that man was destined to live forever before Adam ruined everything. In addition to the scriptures you have quoted, have a look at Genesis 3:22-23. And the LORD God said, "The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live for ever."

So the LORD God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken.

Keep up the good work,

All my love and support in Christ

Geoff K.

robert S., Australia, 12 January 2014

Very good response I must say.

Terence B., Australia, 12 January 2014

I was having a chat to a former subscriber to Creation magazine who is now disillusioned with CMI and gone back to "fence-sitting". He stated his reasons as follows:

1. CMI doesn't respect those who hold a different view

2. CMI doesn't allow for a different interpretation of scripture

3. CMI makes the issue much bigger than it is.

4. CMI insists that to evangelise, you have to start in Genesis.

Now, I explained why leaving other interpretations alone would defeat the point of the entire ministry; that CMI does (usually) respect otherwise good theologians that reject the historicity of Genesis, but will still refute them; I explained three enormous problems with squeezing the evolutionary framework into the bible (death before sin, inconsistency with how one understood Jesus' word (in calming the storm and healing the Centurion's servant this was instant, yet the claim is that it was not so in Genesis), and Eisegesis. He kept on adding in ammunition that he'd heard, I'm sure, by evangelical pastors who reject a plain reading of Genesis in their pride. What made him reconsider was when I asked, "how can the laws of nature, which didn't exist before creation, govern the Creation process when they weren't around yet?"

I said it didn't matter what book of the bible you start with, the reason you preach any of it is so people can submit to it and by extension place their trust in Jesus. He was calmer at this point.

Yet, the most interesting thing was he knew that the main reason people cling to evolution as the story of creation is an emotional one - an excuse to reject God. That's why people defend it so much, not for the science. So, he said, why was CMI necessary then?

I said, because once you take away their security blanket philosophy by taking away its support "human reasoning", it means that you are saying that you must discard it and submit to the God Who made it all. That's why people get so hurt - not because we're stupid, but because we are taking away their last excuse to ignore God. I think theistic evolutionists, just like all Christians, are on a journey where they really struggle with the idea of submitting to God rather than their own reasoning, however popular that may be, as this article demonstrates. The hope of proclaiming the truth to them is to bring them to love God, consistently, with their whole being.

And, you would be pleased, we both confessed previous unloving attempts to defend Genesis 1-5 and encouraged each other to speak the truth with grace. I suppose we get emotional defending it sometimes because we are worried that all our pastors and friends will catch this infection and shipwreck the church, but we must take heart as there's nothing to fear. God's truth will always shine through in the end - no weapon formed against it shall last.

Kobus V., South Africa, 12 January 2014

The "age of things" debate is probably the greatest expositor of the various ways that the Scriptures can be interpreted, thus testing Scripture against man's ideas, therefore eisegesis. Not the creation-evolution debate per se, but debates amongst professed Bible believers in respect of how the "age of things" affects doctrine.

It is quite remarkable how the exegetic principles become vague in the shadow of long ages.

Although the Holy Spirit is the Author of the Bible, He chose not to communicate in the spiritual realm, but on the plain old common letter of the Word, so that any (and all) person (people) may understand God's specially revealed Word to man, without the need for a "guru" to explain things.

Long-agers feel compel to defend every "ages" issue in the Bible by hermeneutic acrobatics through the replacing of the obvious written Word with other "expounded words" (days for years / years for millennia / days for millennia / seconds for eternity?), which "words" are mere "ideas" as opposed to explaining the Text, alerting average Bible believers of possible contradictions following such.

It seems a prerequisite with long-agers to explain Text-1 in the context of Text-2, rather than the context of Text-1, opening up the opportunity to a plethora of interpretations.

The Bible is not unclear about the New Earth (restored {not new} creation) and how that description of the New Earth alludes to the conditions of the pre-Fall world, rather than our respective speculations of how the pre-Fall creation could have manifested (death/decease/entropy/judgement), without assuming the long ages, directly contradicting Genesis.

On a personal level, the "age controversy" consolidates my understanding into a more solid acceptance of the Word of God, "as written", YE obviously!

Hans-Georg L., France, 12 January 2014

"Adam’s death in the Garden was purely and only a spiritual death."

Adam's death in the Garden was perhaps purely spiritual, but it was not SAME DAY as much as SAME MOMENT he ate of the forbidden fruit.

Adam's physical death after the Garden was however "same day" if one day = 1000 years. He did not make it to 1000, i e he did within the same lot of 1000 years as that in which he ate of the forbidden fruit.

THIS is where Patristics apply - to 2:17 of Genesis - the words that "for God a day is like a thousand years and thousand year like a day".

"The Adam tribe lived for 930 'years,' but even these years are not literal years. They are generations."

Oh boy ... well, this is the kind of nonsense that CSL got into by remaining evolutionist (when ceasing to be atheist). He probably chose Anglicanism over Catholicism because Charles Gore condoned such thinking and Pope Pius X in 1909 had condemned it.

Thank you for taking the consideration to respond to that in detail!

Shaun Doyle responds

As the language of "in the day" in Hebrew is a circumlocution for "when" (The meaning of yôm in Genesis 1:1–2:4), there is no textual need to differentiate between the 'same day' and 'same moment'. This also undercuts the common patristic over-reading of that idiom and 2 Peter 3:8 you reference.

And I do not understand what C.S. Lewis has to do this article. His objections to the historical Genesis were a little more sophisticated than this correspondent (as one might expect from a professor of literature), though they were no less wrong. In fact, his views were similar to those Dr Noel Weeks critiques in these articles: Problems in interpreting Genesis: Part 1 and Problems in methods of interpretation—Genesis 1–11: Part 2. See also C.S. Lewis and evolution.

william M., United States, 12 January 2014

Great article, Shaun! It's amazing the extent to which people will go to avoid the plain reading of Genesis. I'm thankful to God that He has commissioned and enabled CMI to expose them.

W. Wade S., United States, 12 January 2014

I cannot imagine a better statement of the case than that made by Mr. Doyle in the last two Q and As. One of the most common objections faced by enlightened laymen in the discussion of origins (Genesis) is the accusation of "arrogance", due to our firm beliefs. Of course, those making the charge usually exempt themselves from it, for doing the same thing -- holding firm to what they believe.

But "the truth is exclusive of all non-truth."

As a former skeptic regarding the Young Earth interpretation of Scripture, I can say with all candor that I find that interpretation, properly presented and carefully examined, to be the most compelling and coherent explanation for the totality of our shared reality, in all of its aspects.

How can we who have accepted the grace of God through our faith in Jesus Christ, as revealed in His inspired Scripture, not accept His truth in regard to “earthly things” (John 3:12)? And instead, accept (or compromise with) theories, and a worldview, that purports “billions of years” of evolution – theories that are grounded in the idea that God does not exist?

It is vital that believers -- those who have “receive(d) the love of the truth” (2 Thess. 2:10) – equip themselves with the information they need to counter the prevailing materialist and evolutionist myths.

I am grateful for the yeoman work done by CMI in promoting the textual and scientific truth in support of the Biblical account of Creation. Prayers and blessings in the continuance of that work.

“If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” -- John 8:31b,32

J. K., Australia, 12 January 2014

I am rather overwhelmed by the pervasiveness of Christians who have totally bought into the long ages perspective of earth history. When one says they take Genesis literally, most often, the eyes of the listening Christian cross and a wise, knowing smile, that recognizes ignorance, appears on their face.

If a non-Christian is conversing with a Genesis believer and creation, a young earth, and a world-wide flood perspective are acknowledged, the Christian is categorized as an ignoramus and all further conversations are shallow and weirdly polite.

If there is a longing for fellowship with and dialogue amongst young earth creationists where I live, I cannot find it. The subject is not anywhere to be found as far as I can tell. I am very saddened and distressed by this reality, and by the deterioration of society that follows in its wake.

Tomislav O., United States, 13 January 2014

I read something very interesting here from you:

`I’m not sure what you mean by this. The ‘letter kills, but the spirit gives life’ antithesis in 2 Corinthians 3:6 is explained in verses 7–18 as epitomising the differing results of the Mosaic and Messianic covenants (specifically referring to the agent by which the effects of each covenant is applied—the ‘dead letter’ which condemns and kills in the Mosaic covenant, and the ‘life-giving Spirit’ who brings life and righteousness in the Messianic covenant). Instead you seem to use this ‘letter/spirit’ antithesis to refer to how we interpret the semantic content of the biblical text.'

Really? You never use the letter/spirit antithesis to change the semantic content of the Biblical text? Then you should have no problem with this commandment given by Jesus Christ himself:

`Give to everyone who asks of you.' (Luke 6:30, NASB)

I would like your car please. Because this isn't a law of Moses, and because you're not one of those `cafeteria Christians,' you should have no problem following this commandment.

Ha ha ha!

Shaun Doyle responds

Luke 6:30 is not a commandment; it's a pithy wisdom saying in a section of wise sayings dealing with generosity and retaliation (Luke 6:29–35). The basic thrust of the passage is this: don't give to get back, and don't get back those who don't give back, but give out of love and liberality as God does; and some things are not worth fighting over about because fighting only begets more fighting. The text and context encourage us to treat this as a 'spirit of the law' principle that we need to use our brains to apply correctly rather than a 'letter of the law' command that we are supposed to slavishly obey, as you suppose. If every Christian slavishly followed this as a 'letter of the law' command, we would end up with a society full of destitute saints and rich thieves and freeloaders. That absurdity in itself should alert any careful reader that Jesus does not expect his followers to apply Luke 6:30 so unthinkingly. And in thinking about it, you only want my car to make fun of me and Jesus, so no car for you. :)

What’s the difference between this and my correspondent's error in this article? He had no exegetical basis for his 'this is that' allegorizing games; I on the other hand can ground my interpretation in multiple informing contexts. For instance, the practice of biblical and ancient near eastern wisdom literature, and in the teaching practices of pagan moralists and Jewish sages and rabbis in the Hellenistic period. I can also ground it in Jesus' usual teaching practice evinced in the Gospels, which is filled with proverbs, parables, and hyperbole. Moreover, the Greek for "ask" in Luke 6:30 has connotations not of a polite request but a demand. This highlights that Luke 6:30 is dealing with enemies, and is discoursing on personal situations, which further situates Luke 6:30 it's surrounding topical and literary context. This is the difference between contextual exegesis and allegorization.

R. M., United States, 13 January 2014

Dear CMI -

It amuses me that in this article you say at the outset, “Now, the Bible is clear that plants, protists, and prokaryotes don’t die in the biblical sense.”

As you develop your argument, you go on to say, ”Adam’s death in the Garden was like that of a rose cut from its bush. The rose is dead once it is cut from the bush…”

So you are now claiming that a plant does die. Aren’t you now changing the biblical sense of the definition? I suggest that you review John 12:24, which clearly speaks of the death of a grain of wheat, which is a plant by anyone’s definition.

Shaun Doyle responds

I don't see the problem. I clarified that plants don't die in the biblical sense; I never said that the words 'die' and 'death' could never be appropriately applied to plants. The word 'death' does have a wide semantic range. Or am I not allowed to use 'death' in different senses in different contexts?

Moreover, if you followed my analogy closely, you would see that I compared the 'death' of the rose (i.e. being cut from its bush) with what happened to Adam the day he sinned, not the day he physically died. Clearly Adam did not 'die' in the Garden in the biological sense, so the analogy with the rose cut from the bush is not perfect, though I never pretended it was.

Regarding John 12:24, it doesn't even describe the death of a plant! It talks about how the 'death' of the seed is needed to produce the plant. As such, it is at most a phenomenological description of germination. Moreover, the seed is no longer a seed when it becomes a plant, which is a sort of 'death' for the seed. Finally, John 12:24 is not a scientific description; it's a proverbial statement about Jesus' death and resurrection. The similarity between the plant and Jesus need not be complete for the comparison to make sense. For more information, please see Is the Bible wrong about seeds dying?

Michael I., United States, 14 January 2014

Terrific response in the article Mr. Doyle. I also add that you responded well to the comments above that you responded to. Great work, keep it up and God bless.

Melissa G., United States, 14 January 2014

The theories are new to me, but the argument is the same no matter the topic as of late. First, there's an attack on the opponent's intelligence. Then, it's theories given with little research to back it up, followed by the call for humility and a call for acceptance of relative "truth" as the ONLY truth. All of this is given with a thinly veiled rebuke.

What is the rebuke? Usually, this: I'm right, and you're unintelligent for not agreeing with me. I say it is so, and so I do not need to back it up because it's a great idea. You need to humble yourself and accept my "truths."

As a bonus, this article also throws in my favorite: Spirit of the law over letter of the law. Apparently spirit of the law no longer means that we need to understand WHY the law was made and WHAT it was meant to accomplish, but that the law is not as important to uphold as validating someone's feelings.

I hear this argument so many, many times. I can't help but remember Proverbs 9:8--

"Do not correct a scoffer, lest he hate you;

Rebuke a wise man, and he will love you."

I'm so glad for this article because it deepened my knowledge and brought a new attack to my attention, even though I know it did little to open a line of discussion with the originator of the comments that are being rebutted here.

David M., Australia, 15 January 2014

Thank you Shaun for discussing this interesting topic which I am pleased to see addressed again, as it is something I have been pondering for some time now. I am basically a YEC and would probably NOT agree with a lot that Rod M. wrote but the idea that the death in the garden was mainly spiritual is something that I think I have found also in Athanasius’ writing in “On the Incarnation” e.g. In chapter 1 ‘Creation and the Fall’ paragraph 3

“Upon them, therefore, upon men who, as animals, were essentially impermanent, He bestowed a grace which other creatures lacked--namely the impress of His own Image… But if they went astray and became vile, throwing away their birthright of beauty, then they would come under the natural law of death and live no longer in paradise, but, dying outside of it, continue in death and in corruption.”

His language is difficult at times and some would reject patristic evidence as out of hand but Athanasius is otherwise well respected as a champion of the deity of Christ against the Arian heresy so I think his words are worth considering and discussing in relation to this topic.

Also I wonder why, since we believe Jesus’ death on the cross was the payment for Adam’s sin, and thus should remove the penalty for that sin, then in the case of spiritual death this is in fact the case, for when we believe we are raised from spiritual death to life straight away. How is it then that the apostle Peter was born again and yet he still died physically, Jesus even predicting what sort of death he should die, and there appears no problem raised over what I think we today would label double jeopardy? Am I missing something really basic here? Is there any reason why it is has taken so long for this aspect of Christ's sacrifice to become effective?

Shaun Doyle responds

There are numerous possible answers to this question, but I think Athanasius himself provides some helpful (and challenging!) thinking on death in the light of Christ's resurrection:

"Before the divine sojourn of the Savior, even the holiest of men were afraid of death, and mourned the dead as those who perish. But now that the Savior has raised His body, death is no longer terrible, but all those who believe in Christ tread it underfoot as nothing, and prefer to die rather than to deny their faith in Christ, knowing full well that when they die they do not perish, but live indeed, and become incorruptible through the resurrection." (On the Incarnation of the Word, 27)

It's as if the way Christians now face death with such confidence and defiance is like Christ's triumphal procession dragging death bound through the streets for all to see and ridicule:

"So has death been conquered and branded for what it is by the Savior on the cross. It is bound hand and foot, all who are in Christ trample it as they pass and as witnesses to Him deride it, scoffing and saying, 'O Death, where is thy victory? O Grave, where is thy sting?'" (On the Incarnation of the Word, 27)

In essence, just because death is an enemy doesn't mean God can't use it (or abuse it!) to his advantage. While courage in the face of martyrdom is perhaps the starkest example of this, it's not the only one. Christians can face any sort of death with dignity, knowing death doesn't have the last laugh. Neither do Christians need to mourn like those for whom death really is the end of everything good (1 Thessalonians 4:13–18). Obviously, this depends on historicity of Jesus' resurrection, otherwise the Christian attitude to death is ridiculous (1 Corinthians 15:12–28). The attitude toward death in the New Testament is one of the clearest spectacles that death's days are numbered, especially when played out in the life of the church. In other words, God makes an object lesson of death before he discards it completely.

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