Let My People Think

DEATH ACCORDING TO THE SCRIPTURES SERIES – TABLE OF CONTENTS

Death

DEATH IS NOT EQUIVALENT TO SEPARATION FROM THE LIFE OF GOD

Again, the story of the fall is given as a prooftext for this notion of “death = separation from the life of God”. The only separation that happened was from the garden of Eden and from the tree of life that was in there, but that was a totally separate (no pun intended) act of God in response to Adam’s actions, and not something that happened to Adam as part of death per se. If that specific separation that occurred there were death, then “death = escorting Adam and Eve from the garden of Eden + placing cherubim and a rotating flaming swords at the entrance”. I am not buying that equation.

The text that deals with that issue is:

Genesis 3
22 Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil. And now, lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever”— 23 therefore the Lord God sent him out of the garden of Eden to till the ground from which he was taken. 24 So He drove out the man; and He placed cherubim at the east of the garden of Eden, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life.

Note how in response to Adam’s action God closed off access to the tree of life so that the man wouldn’t live forever in the fallen condition. If was a separate action because man entered the state of death, not because it was part of death itself. Additionally, note that the man lost *access to* the tree of life – he didn’t lose anything that he was already in possession of, or something that was already an intrinsic part of him. So all that talk about losing life out of his spirit, or anything to that effect, may be an earnest attempt to keep the story coherent, but it can not be supported scripturally.

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Comments on: "Death is not separation from the life of God" (4)

  1. One question does come to mind. Do you think the scripture contains every detail of the story? Or are there some parts of the story which are not in scripture?

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    • Well, we have to assume that all the necessary details are there. Otherwise we would have to argue from silence, which would leave us as the one to figure out which details to fill in. This could lead to a large number of subjective opinions. The text hems us in, as it were, which give us little wiggle room. It’s restrictive of course, but that’s not really a bad thing – it gives us more of a chance to be objective.

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  2. You give me a lot to chew on. In Genesis 2. God told Adam that he would surely die in the day he ate of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. We have to believe that what God said was true. Adam surely died in the day he ate the fruit. So we must reexamine what death and life are. Adam was breathing, had a heart beat, communicated, and “lived” to be 930 years old. Though doing all of these, he was already dead and no longer alive. Paul affirms this in Romans 8. Paul tells us the Spirit of God will quicken or give life to our mortal bodies. Life is not having a body that breaths, eats, has beating heart, and brain activity. Our physical bodies though animated are dead.

    Adam dies once when he ate the fruit. He died a 2nd death at 930. Were they the same death?

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    • I see that you replied under the next post, which clarifies this one. The problem with the traditional understanding is that the usual translation “in the day you eat you shall surely die” leads us to believe that it’s possible to die and yet stay alive. That’s the only way to adapt that translation to the story. This means that we just defined death as nothing perceptible or tangible, which in turn opens the whole event to any interpretation.

      In turn, this means that the whole idea about Jesus conquering death is him doing something to conquer the phenomenon that’s not really tangible or consequential. Which again leaves physical death, the biggest problem of humankind, unaddressed. The usual explanation is that if we live right we will go to “heaven” after we die doesn’t follow at all from the finished work of Jesus on the cross. The whole “good works contract” idea of gaining eternal life is rooted in ancient Greek, Roman, Scandinavian, etc. beliefs, and it doesn’t require a Jesus-like figure to make it work. NT Wright addresses that in his book “Surprised by Hope”.

      As far as using the metaphor of relational death for divorce, emotional death for grief, etc. – those are fine in modern English, but in Scriptural usage I haven’t found examples of those occurring. I have found death to always map to cessation of life, progressive or final.

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