Q: Since Jesus was divine, how do we explain his death? Can the eternal God die?

A: The background to this question is today's post-Christian perplexity as to whether physical death is the end of the person who lived in (or, more accurately, through) the now-defunct body.

All brands of materialists—scientific, philosophical, theoretical Marxist, secular irreligious, and antireligious European and American—say it is. Everyone else, from ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Norsemen to every form of religion and tribal culture the world has ever seen, has always been sure it isn't. Historic, Bible-based Christianity is part of this consensus. On the nature of postmortem life there are great differences, but on its reality, agreement has been so widespread that current Western skepticism about survival seems a mere local oddity.

So the first thing to say is that all human selves, with all the powers of remembering, relating, learning, purposing, and enjoying that make us who we are, survive death, and by dying are actually set free from all shrinkings of personal life due to physical factors—handicaps, injuries, and deteriorations of body and mind; torture and starvation; Alzheimer's disease, Down syndrome, AIDS, and the like. This was true for both Jesus and the believing criminal to whom he said, as crucifixion drained their lives away, "Today you will be with me in paradise"; and it will be just as true for you and me.

To be sure, the ugliness and pain and aftermath of dying as we know it is the penalty of sin. For anyone unconverted in heart, who is thus already "dead in transgressions" (Eph. 2:5), dying means entering more deeply into the death state (meaning, separation from that ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Our digital archives are a work in progress. Let us know if corrections need to be made.

Issue: