Did God Have to Die on the Cross?

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Homer
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Re: Did God Have to Die on the Cross?

Post by Homer » Tue Apr 27, 2021 11:51 am

Hi Darin,

What I am thinking is that Christ, the Messiah, did indeed die bodily on the cross. However, it is commonly believed among Christians that upon death our spirit goes to be with the Lord while we await resurrection. Paul appears to twice say as much:

2 Corinthians 5:8
New American Standard Bible
8 but we are of good courage and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord.

Philippians 1:23
23 But I am hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better;


If it were true that the body and spirit can never separated, it would be impossible to ever be absent from the body and present with the Lord. And why wouldn't he rather stay alive and preach the gospel instead of spending the time in the grave?

It seems to me that Peter is saying Jesus' Spirit was "made alive" during His bodily time in the grave prior to His resurrection. Post resurrection He will forever be Jesus, the Son of God.

1 Pet. 3:18,
“For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, in order that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit.”

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darinhouston
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Re: Did God Have to Die on the Cross?

Post by darinhouston » Tue Apr 27, 2021 12:51 pm

Homer wrote:
Tue Apr 27, 2021 11:51 am
Hi Darin,

What I am thinking is that Christ, the Messiah, did indeed die bodily on the cross. However, it is commonly believed among Christians that upon death our spirit goes to be with the Lord while we await resurrection. Paul appears to twice say as much:

2 Corinthians 5:8
New American Standard Bible
8 but we are of good courage and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord.

Philippians 1:23
23 But I am hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better;


If it were true that the body and spirit can never separated, it would be impossible to ever be absent from the body and present with the Lord. And why wouldn't he rather stay alive and preach the gospel instead of spending the time in the grave?

It seems to me that Peter is saying Jesus' Spirit was "made alive" during His bodily time in the grave prior to His resurrection. Post resurrection He will forever be Jesus, the Son of God.

1 Pet. 3:18,
“For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, in order that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit.”
I don't think the NT view of the spirit was possible until after Christ's death and resurrection and that the OT Saints had a different experience. Jesus is in a special case, of course, but there is no indication that he had any different experience in death except for being the first to be brought to new life through the Father raising him from death. If that means anything at all, I would think it would mean that his "self" or his "person" or whatever term you want to use experienced a very real death exactly of the sort we do (or a pre-Christian self would have), except that after this defeat of the power of sin and death by raising him from the dead, we can now experience that same spiritual life after our bodies die.

Once we grant that, the question is whether it was God who experienced that death. No matter your theory - if the "God" part didn't die at all, then it can hardly satisfy the common Trinitarian claim that Jesus had to be God because the atonement wouldn't have been effective if it weren't God Himself who had sacrificed Himself on the cross and died on our behalf. Anything less (presumably including the human body of Jesus) wouldn't satisfy that position.

But, your post suggests you do believe his spirit died and was then "made alive." So, that leads to the next question - I'll post a follow-up next chance I get, but Trinitarians commonly claim that there could never be any separation of the members of the godhead. But, it wounds like that for at least a time there must have been one.

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Homer
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Re: Did God Have to Die on the Cross?

Post by Homer » Tue Apr 27, 2021 1:42 pm

But, your post suggests you do believe his spirit died and was then "made alive."
That seems to be what Peter was saying. Whether for seconds or hours nothing is said and I can not be dogmatic about it.
So, that leads to the next question - I'll post a follow-up next chance I get, but Trinitarians commonly claim that there could never be any separation of the members of the godhead. But, it wounds like that for at least a time there must have been one.
Would "my God, My God why have you forsaken me" be a separation of sorts? If God had not forsaken Him could He have died? Questions and more questions. As has been said the bible doesn't tell us everything but it tells us all we need to know.

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darinhouston
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Re: Did God Have to Die on the Cross?

Post by darinhouston » Tue Apr 27, 2021 5:05 pm

Homer wrote:
Tue Apr 27, 2021 1:42 pm

Would "my God, My God why have you forsaken me" be a separation of sorts? If God had not forsaken Him could He have died? Questions and more questions. As has been said the bible doesn't tell us everything but it tells us all we need to know.
That is debated heavily and most strict traditional Trinitarians tend to deny this interpretation vehemently or they say that this is only his humanity speaking (since they also recognize the difficulty otherwise of referencing God as an "other").

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mattrose
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Re: Did God Have to Die on the Cross?

Post by mattrose » Tue Apr 27, 2021 5:36 pm

I think it's poor framing to insist that 'God' had to die on the cross for atonement to work

It wasn't that 'God' needed 'God' to die (That doesn't make much sense).

It's that humanity needed God to overcome death.

It seems to me we're putting too much focus on just the death, when atonement has to do with the whole event of incarnation, death, resurrection, ascension.

God took on flesh in Jesus Christ not for the goal of dying, but for the goal of overcoming death. No mere human had the power to re-write the story of humanity (a story that had a dead end). Only God could open up that new chapter. Death could hold every mere man. Death could not hold the God-man.

So I think the question isn't framed correctly

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darinhouston
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Re: Did God Have to Die on the Cross?

Post by darinhouston » Tue Apr 27, 2021 10:33 pm

mattrose wrote:
Tue Apr 27, 2021 5:36 pm
I think it's poor framing to insist that 'God' had to die on the cross for atonement to work

It wasn't that 'God' needed 'God' to die (That doesn't make much sense).

It's that humanity needed God to overcome death.

It seems to me we're putting too much focus on just the death, when atonement has to do with the whole event of incarnation, death, resurrection, ascension.

God took on flesh in Jesus Christ not for the goal of dying, but for the goal of overcoming death. No mere human had the power to re-write the story of humanity (a story that had a dead end). Only God could open up that new chapter. Death could hold every mere man. Death could not hold the God-man.

So I think the question isn't framed correctly
I don't disagree with the "whole event" notion - and I would add his life lived in sinless perfection, though the perpetuated idea remains that God needed for, or man needed for, or it would not be effective without God Himself coming, dying, and raising Himself -- the necessity of that and the consequences of such a position are the issue in this thread.

Also, god-man is not a very biblical term or concept. Certainly God is the only one who could open up that new chapter, but Scripture tells us (pretty clearly actually) that He chose to do it through His Son, the MAN (even though conceived by God miraculously), Christ Jesus. Death could not hold him because of (1) his sinless perfection (kept by the Spirit and his spirit-empowered choices in turning away temptations), and (2) by the power of the Father raising Him.

It seems like if there is any doubt what Scripture teaches in this issue that we would be best to err on the side of Christ, whose life and testimony was to point not to himself but to his Father. All of history was to point to Christ so that he could perfectly represent his Father and point us to and reunite us with the Father.

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