The Day God Died
How could God die? If there is any concept that our minds cannot accept, this must surely be it. If one takes the word death to mean “ceasing to exist,” then it is definitely impossible for God to die. God is the only being who has indestructible life in himself; he has always lived, and he will always live. That life can never be taken from him. If ceasing to exist is what death is, then God cannot die.
But ceasing to exist is not what the Bible means by death. Instead, the sort of death that people have been subject to since the Fall has two aspects to it—physical death and spiritual death. Physical death is the separation of the soul from the body as the body ceases to function, and spiritual death is alienation from God as a result of sin. If this is the human problem that God needs to solve by Christ’s death, then to say that Christ has died is to say that he died in these ways—spiritually and physically.
So we need to get “ceasing to exist” out of our minds and instead to divide the question of how God could die into two parts.
First, how could God the Son die physically? Certainly physical death is not something that is possible for God, because God is not physical in and of himself. To say it differently, physicality is not a characteristic (or attribute) of God. Therefore, it is clear that prior to the Incarnation, when God the Son was nothing but divine and therefore exclusively spiritual rather than physical, he was not capable of physical death. But just as certainly, the human nature that he took upon himself at the Incarnation included the characteristic of physicality. Indeed, such physicality is the most obvious idea conveyed by the word flesh in the statement ...
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