Spiritual death and physical death

squirrelyguy

Active member
I find it curious that the comparison of spiritual death with physical death not only gets misused by Calvinists, but is gratuitously misused. I feel like I've seen it used a lot more over the past week so I thought it would be worth addressing.

The only analogy between spiritual death and physical death that is relevant is the aspect of separation. Death is separation; nothing more, nothing less. There are a number of consequences that follow from death, whether it is spiritual or physical; but at its essence, all that is meant by the word "death" is to be separated from something.

In the case of physical death, one is separated from his body. In spiritual death, one becomes separated from God. In physical death, a person does not lose consciousness or go into "soul sleep" as it is commonly called; on the contrary, their thoughts and their very being are very much aware. But they are separated from their physical body, and there are consequences that follow from this separation such as an inability to be seen or heard by the living.

In the case of spiritual death, one becomes separated from God. As in the case of physical death, this separation does not cause a person to cease from their conscious existence in any way; they are still very much aware of things. But there are consequences that follow from being separated from God, and one of these is that the person is in a state of condemnation.

When Calvinists speak of spiritual death they make an analogy with physical death by comparing a person's posture towards God as being that of a corpse. Since the corpse does nothing, a person who is spiritual dead does nothing but sin (?). This is inaccurate and there isn't a single verse of Scripture to support the analogy. People in their unregenerate state can and do perform actions that are pleasing to God, as evidenced by the words of Christ when He says "If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children..." We also see that Cornelius, before he was saved, was offering prayers and alms that brought him favor in the eyes of God. The pagan fishermen who threw Jonah overboard prayed to Jonah's God and were heard, even though they themselves didn't know the true God.

To sum up, while it is entirely appropriate to draw a comparison between spiritual death and physical death, the one that Calvinists draw is not only unbiblical but illogical. Physically dead men don't do anything, if we're speaking only of their corpse, but their thoughts are very much aware of things even in physical death. The only proper analogy between the two is the aspect of separation.
 

ReverendRV

Well-known member
I find it curious that the comparison of spiritual death with physical death not only gets misused by Calvinists, but is gratuitously misused. I feel like I've seen it used a lot more over the past week so I thought it would be worth addressing.

The only analogy between spiritual death and physical death that is relevant is the aspect of separation. Death is separation; nothing more, nothing less. There are a number of consequences that follow from death, whether it is spiritual or physical; but at its essence, all that is meant by the word "death" is to be separated from something.

In the case of physical death, one is separated from his body. In spiritual death, one becomes separated from God. In physical death, a person does not lose consciousness or go into "soul sleep" as it is commonly called; on the contrary, their thoughts and their very being are very much aware. But they are separated from their physical body, and there are consequences that follow from this separation such as an inability to be seen or heard by the living.

In the case of spiritual death, one becomes separated from God. As in the case of physical death, this separation does not cause a person to cease from their conscious existence in any way; they are still very much aware of things. But there are consequences that follow from being separated from God, and one of these is that the person is in a state of condemnation.

When Calvinists speak of spiritual death they make an analogy with physical death by comparing a person's posture towards God as being that of a corpse. Since the corpse does nothing, a person who is spiritual dead does nothing but sin (?). This is inaccurate and there isn't a single verse of Scripture to support the analogy. People in their unregenerate state can and do perform actions that are pleasing to God, as evidenced by the words of Christ when He says "If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children..." We also see that Cornelius, before he was saved, was offering prayers and alms that brought him favor in the eyes of God. The pagan fishermen who threw Jonah overboard prayed to Jonah's God and were heard, even though they themselves didn't know the true God.

To sum up, while it is entirely appropriate to draw a comparison between spiritual death and physical death, the one that Calvinists draw is not only unbiblical but illogical. Physically dead men don't do anything, if we're speaking only of their corpse, but their thoughts are very much aware of things even in physical death. The only proper analogy between the two is the aspect of separation.
But...

You agree that All need the Efficacious prevening Grace of God to make a 'real' difference in us, before we have Faith; right? Doesn't your belief in Prevenient Grace demand that you believe we cannot be Saved by our Prevenient Faith? Thus without Grace, our ability to believe can only be a Filthy Rag...
 

squirrelyguy

Active member
But...

You agree that All need the Efficacious prevening Grace of God to make a 'real' difference in us, before we have Faith; right? Doesn't your belief in Prevenient Grace demand that you believe we cannot be Saved by our Prevenient Faith?
I need you to elaborate a little before I can answer your question. I'm not sure that I believe in the idea of prevenient grace as understood by Arminius and Wesley; but I believe that God sometimes does act directly on the minds of people to get them to believe. I think what probably happens most often is that God acts indirectly on human minds by orchestrating their circumstances so as to influence them into making a positive choice. In light of this, what is your question for me?
 

shnarkle

Well-known member
Death is separation; nothing more, nothing less. "death" is to be separated from something.
In physical death, a person does not lose consciousness or go into "soul sleep" as it is commonly called; on the contrary, their thoughts and their very being are very much aware. this separation does not cause a person to cease from their conscious existence in any way; they are still very much aware of things.

Ecclesiastes 9:5

For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing, and they have no more reward, for the memory of them is forgotten.

Psalm 115:17

The dead do not praise the Lord, nor do any who go down into silence.

Ecclesiastes 9:10

Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might, for there is no work or thought or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol, to which you are going.

Daniel 12:2

And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.
People in their unregenerate state can and do perform actions that are pleasing to God, as evidenced by the words of Christ when He says "If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children..."
Just because one gives to their children, it doesn't then follow that they are pleasing to God. The carnally minded can give gifts to their children, but it will never be pleasing to God. Moreover, just because they give gifts to their children, it doesn't then follow that they will ask for, and seek out blessings from God.
 

squirrelyguy

Active member
Ecclesiastes 9:5
For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing, and they have no more reward, for the memory of them is forgotten.

Psalm 115:17

The dead do not praise the Lord, nor do any who go down into silence.

Ecclesiastes 9:10

Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might, for there is no work or thought or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol, to which you are going.
I see your prooftexts and raise you a Luke 16:19-31.

The best explanation I've heard for understanding Ecclesiastes is that Solomon alternates between two points of view: one of a righteous man, and the other of a wicked man. The views of the righteous man are Solomon's own; the views of the wicked man are satire.

Another point about the realm of the dead is that the dead have their own god (with a lower case "g"). God (the one true God) is not their God. Jesus says this. "He is not the God of the dead, but the God of the living." This begs the question: who is the god of the dead? We aren't given much in Scripture by way of identification except for in Revelation, where this god is simply named "Death." Along with the god of the underworld "Hades" he is thrown into the lake of fire at the end of the age. I think we can assume he is a fallen angelic being who, along with Hades and Satan, are in a common rebellion against God and since being thrown out of heaven have been given temporary realms of authority. Satan is the god of this world (2 Cor. 4:4), and Death and Hades are the gods of the dead. This is why the resurrection of the dead becomes such a crucial doctrine; without it, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob would not properly be called "living" in Mark 12:26-27 nor would God be their God, since they were in fact dead physically when God told this to Moses. Jesus rests His entire point to the Sadducees on this assumption.
Daniel 12:2
And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.
"Sleep" doesn't mean what it is sometimes taken to mean by those who believe that the soul ceases its conscious existence during physical death. The parable of the virgins in Matthew 25 uses the metaphor of being "asleep" versus being "awake" as a reference to dying physically and then being resurrected.
Just because one gives to their children, it doesn't then follow that they are pleasing to God. The carnally minded can give gifts to their children, but it will never be pleasing to God. Moreover, just because they give gifts to their children, it doesn't then follow that they will ask for, and seek out blessings from God.
I wasn't suggesting that giving good gifts to one's children makes one pleasing to God. I was pointing out that Jesus characterizes these gifts, given by those who are evil, as good. This tells us that evil men can do good things in the eyes of God (even if those works don't bring reconciliation with God).
 

shnarkle

Well-known member
I see your prooftexts and raise you a Luke 16:19-31.
You cite what many believe to be a parable, but it isn't called a parable because it cites literal traditions which the Pharisees brought with them from the Babylon captivity; e.g. "Abraham's bosom"

The Pharisees taught that there were three places the dead dwelt: 1. Abraham's bosom, 2. "under the throne of glory", and 3. the garden of Eden (Paradise). Speaking of death, they would say, "This day he sits in Abraham's bosom"
Lightfoot, Works, vol. xii, pp. 159-63

Here's what he says:

"And the Pharisees also, who were covetous, heard all these things: and they derided him.
15 And he said unto them, Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God.
16 The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it.
17 And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one tittle of the law to fail.
18 Whosoever putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery: and whosoever marrieth her that is put away from her husband committeth adultery.
19 There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen...etc."

Here is the structure of the passage, Note the Alternation which indicates the true interpretation:

Luke 16:15-31 Address to the Pharisees.

A. vs. 15 What the Pharisees esteemed (God's abomination)
B. vss. 16,17 The Law and the Prophets Proclaimed.
A. vss. 18-30 What the Pharisees taught (God's abomination)
B. vs. 31. Moses and the Prophets Not believed.

16:18-30 What the Pharisees taught.

A vs. 18 Concerning divorce (The Law)
vs. 19-30 Concerning the dead (the Prophets)

see Pss. 6:5; 30:9; 31:17; 88:11; 115:17; 146:4; Eccles. 9:6,10; 12:7; Isa 38:17-19;
Another point about the realm of the dead is that the dead have their own god (with a lower case "g"). God (the one true God) is not their God. Jesus says this. "He is not the God of the dead, but the God of the living." This begs the question: who is the god of the dead? We aren't given much in Scripture by way of identification except for in Revelation, where this god is simply named "Death."
Hades and Thanatos are Greek gods. Here's what the bible says:

"I am the LORD, and there is no other, besides me there is no God; I equip you, though you do not know me," Isaiah 45:5
 

ReverendRV

Well-known member
I need you to elaborate a little before I can answer your question. I'm not sure that I believe in the idea of prevenient grace as understood by Arminius and Wesley; but I believe that God sometimes does act directly on the minds of people to get them to believe. I think what probably happens most often is that God acts indirectly on human minds by orchestrating their circumstances so as to influence them into making a positive choice. In light of this, what is your question for me?
Both of these highlights would be a prevenient Act of God; right? All I am trying to point out is that EVERYONE believes the Grace of God prevenes the Free Will of the Believer; I'm sure that when we break it down like this, you agree...

My question for you relates to your premise of being Spiritually Dead in Trespasses and Sin; IE Separated from God. In light of needing the Grace of God (as you understand it) to Prevene your Free Will Choice, to avoid your choice being Categorized as being 'of' (IE out of as to the source) our Self righteousness (IE of our Filthy-Rag Faith); don't we first need to somehow be 'Unseparated' from God by his Grace, to avoid our Faith being Categorized as belonging to our Self righteousness? Would you agree that without the Grace of God being the first-factor of Salvation, it Logically follows that we are saved by our very own Prevenient Faith, since it comes before Grace?
 
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Chalcedon

Well-known member
The natural man can hear, speak and reason. The appeal of the Calvinist to the natural man being "dead" is nonsensical within this context. We can all agree that when a person is literally dead, they can not respond.

As I said before, even Christians have problems with not understanding Spiritual things. Even Christians have a natural body that could never receive the "deep things" of God that come from the Spirit. That is why this natural man of ours is targeted to be changed in the Resurrection.
But before we can even have a discussion on either physical or spiritual death we must come to a common undertanding or agreement on the definition of death otherwise we will be just talking past one another.
 

ReverendRV

Well-known member
But before we can even have a discussion on either physical or spiritual death we must come to a common undertanding or agreement on the definition of death otherwise we will be just talking past one another.
The OP is using the definition of being Separated from God, while still being alive...
 
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squirrelyguy

Active member
Both of these highlights would be a prevenient Act of God; right? All I am trying to point out is that EVERYONE believes the Grace of God prevenes the Free Will of the Believer; I'm sure that when we break it down like this, you agree...
Yes, both of those acts would be prevenient acts of God, but I don't have the impression that this is what Arminius and Wesley have in mind when they speak of it. I might be mistaken, but that's my impression of them.
My question for you relates to your premise of being Spiritually Dead in Trespasses and Sin; IE Separated from God. In light of needing the Grace of God (as you understand it) to Prevene your Free Will Choice, to avoid your choice being Categorized as being 'of' (IE out of as to the source) our Self righteousness (IE of our Filthy-Rag Faith); don't we first need to somehow be 'Unseparated' from God by his Grace, to avoid our Faith being Categorized as belonging to our Self righteousness? Would you agree that without the Grace of God being the first-factor of Salvation, it Logically follows that we are saved by our very own Prevenient Faith, since it comes before Grace?
I don't think that an act of self-initiated faith would be classified as self-righteousness. Even if God does not "unseparate" us prior to our exercising faith, the faith in and of itself has a pleasing quality to God. I simply don't understand faith to be a work in any meritorious sense of the word. If this would be called "prevenient faith", then so be it. But the grace of God, in some sense, always precedes our faith since it was His initiative to send Christ to ransom us from our sins. Without this prior initiative on the part of God, there would be nothing for us to believe in for salvation.
 

ReverendRV

Well-known member
Yes, both of those acts would be prevenient acts of God, but I don't have the impression that this is what Arminius and Wesley have in mind when they speak of it. I might be mistaken, but that's my impression of them.

I don't think that an act of self-initiated faith would be classified as self-righteousness. Even if God does not "unseparate" us prior to our exercising faith, the faith in and of itself has a pleasing quality to God. I simply don't understand faith to be a work in any meritorious sense of the word. If this would be called "prevenient faith", then so be it. But the grace of God, in some sense, always precedes our faith since it was His initiative to send Christ to ransom us from our sins. Without this prior initiative on the part of God, there would be nothing for us to believe in for salvation.
Thanks for listening. I would just ask you to chew on the Bible teaching us that our Self-righteousness before the New Birth is as a Filthy-Rag...

Even believing the Truth is as a Filthy-Rag; certainly the Demons who believed could only have a Filthy-Rag Belief in the Truth, right?
 
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squirrelyguy

Active member
A good question that usually arises from a conversation on this topic is.....

1. Did Adam possess the Spirit of God before His sin.
Actually that's a helpful question to bring up and I'll run with it. I had previously said that "spiritual death" meant that one is in a state of condemnation.

More specifically...since the word "death" means to separate a living creature into its distinct parts (soul, spirit, and body), we could say that spiritual death meant that man lost the spirit of God when he sinned. Physical death means that one's soul and spirit separates from their body. Spiritual death, as it happened to Adam and Eve, was the separation of God's Spirit from their bodies.

In Christ, this is reversed. Now when we are joined with Christ we have His Spirit breathed into us, so that it is now possible for a person who is physically dead to nevertheless be alive at the same time. "And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness." (Romans 8:11) And this is why we have the guarantee of resurrection at His coming: "But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you."

So to be more specific regarding my earlier definition: the basic meaning of the word "death" is to be separated into one or more of our tripartite components (body, soul, & spirit). If we're talking about physical death, then we're talking about the separation of the soul and spirit from the body. If we're talking about spiritual death, we're talking about the separation of God's Spirit from Adam's body, soul, and (human) spirit when he sinned.
 

ReverendRV

Well-known member
So Jesus died for Demons?

Demons do not have a sacrifice to claim.
No, Jesus didn't Atone for the Demons. But the Demons did have a Fallen Filthy-Rag belief in the Truth; right?

If Jesus perhaps would have Atoned for them, since they have a Filthy-Rag belief in the Truth; wouldn't they still need God to change them somehow, for their belief in the Truth to actually count and be a clean "Non Self-righteous" belief in the Truth?
 
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ReverendRV

Well-known member
I'm not certain. My inclination is they really believe and know the Truth. I doubt this would change their nature.

Some people will do anything for another's approval and then turn right around and forget about you on the spot when they don't need you anymore.

Which is one of the difference between you and me when it comes to theology. I find little value in forced charity.
You are definitely not a Provisionist then :) I don't Mind hearing this, because after all my time here at CARM, I've found it's these little agreements or little uncertainties, that are the closest I can get my opponents too. I consider them small victories; God has to give the growth. I think this is one thing we forget here at CARM, God is the one who has to make the difference; all of our in-fighting can only make it worse. We all want to be like Saint Nicolas and go jack Arius' in the jaw. My job is just to put a spur under your Saddle and let the Arminian horse buck you off of it (or whatever Soteriology you ride)...

If you were to put a spur under a Calvinist's saddle, what would it be?
 
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Slyzr

Well-known member
Both of these highlights would be a prevenient Act of God; right? All I am trying to point out is that EVERYONE believes the Grace of God prevenes the Free Will of the Believer; I'm sure that when we break it down like this, you agree...

My question for you relates to your premise of being Spiritually Dead in Trespasses and Sin; IE Separated from God. In light of needing the Grace of God (as you understand it) to Prevene your Free Will Choice, to avoid your choice being Categorized as being 'of' (IE out of as to the source) our Self righteousness (IE of our Filthy-Rag Faith); don't we first need to somehow be 'Unseparated' from God by his Grace, to avoid our Faith being Categorized as belonging to our Self righteousness? Would you agree that without the Grace of God being the first-factor of Salvation, it Logically follows that we are saved by our very own Prevenient Faith, since it comes before Grace?

.HUGH ........ :cool:


.
 

fltom

Well-known member
Except Nekros not once is defined as separation from God in any lexicon.
You need to try a bible dictionary or encyclopedia

Because “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23), all people are spiritually dead—separated from God who is the Source of spiritual life. Sin makes a person hate the light and despise the truth; it causes one to break God’s laws and to become insensitive to holy things. Everyone who has not been redeemed by Christ is spiritually dead (Luke 15:32; Eph. 2:1–3; Col. 2:13).[1]

Nelson’s new illustrated bible dictionary

Death. Cessation of life (physical death) or separation from God (spiritual death).[2]

Baker’s bible encyclopedia

Because of sin, all people face spiritual death, which involves eternal separation from God[3]

Evangelical dictionary of biblical theology

death. Viewed theologically, death refers to the destructive consequences of the entrance of sin into humankind. This consequence is spiritual alienation or separation from God. As a result of sin humans also experience physical death, a visible and universal reminder of the ongoing effects of sin. Scripture also points to a “second death” (Rev 2:11; 20:6, 14; 21:8): the final separation of the wicked from God’s glorious presence for all eternity.[4]

Pocket dictionary of theological terms



[1] Ronald F. Youngblood, F. F. Bruce, and R. K. Harrison, Thomas Nelson Publishers, eds., Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Dictionary (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, Inc., 1995).
[2] Walter A. Elwell and Barry J. Beitzel, “Death,” Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1988), 602.
[3] H. Douglas Buckwalter, “Time,” in Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology, electronic ed., Baker reference library (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1996), 774.
[4] Stanley Grenz, David Guretzki, and Cherith Fee Nordling, Pocket Dictionary of Theological Terms (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1999), 35.

Or a theology

Spiritual death is both connected with physical death and distinguished from it. It is the separation of the entire person from God. God, as a perfectly holy being, cannot look upon sin or tolerate its presence. Thus, sin is a barrier to the relationship between God and humans, bringing them under God’s judgment and condemnation.

Millard J. Erickson, Christian Theology., 2nd ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1998), 631.

(2) Spiritual death. Spiritual death is separation from God. All the unregenerate are alienated from God by sin (Eph. 2:1–3);

Guy P. Duffield and Nathaniel M. Van Cleave, Foundations of Pentecostal Theology (Los Angeles, CA: L.I.F.E. Bible College, 1983), 142.

The death spoken of in these passages is physical death, the end of earthly life, and spiritual death, the separation of the individual from relationship with God.

Roy B. Zuck, A Biblical Theology of the New Testament, electronic ed. (Chicago: Moody Press, 1994), 260.

This spiritual depravity is truly a state of death because a sinner becomes separated from the source of life, which is God himself

Jack Cottrell, The Faith Once for All: Bible Doctrine for Today (Joplin, MO: College Press Pub., 2002), 203.

There is also a spiritual death in distinction from the spiritual life—such as man originally possessed. This death is inseparably connected with sin, and must have been the immediate consequence of sin in Adam. His spiritual life was fully realized only in union with the Holy Spirit. Sin was the severance of that union, with the consequence of spiritual death

John Miley, Systematic Theology, Volume 1 (New York: Hunt & Eaton, 1892), 432.

2. A loss of fellowship as evidenced by hiding from God (v. 8). This also brought both spiritual and physical death to the race. Death is always separation; immediately Adam and Eve experienced spiritual separation, and immediately they began to experience the decaying process in their bodies, which ultimately resulted in physical death (Rom. 5:12).

Charles Caldwell Ryrie, Basic Theology: A Popular Systematic Guide to Understanding Biblical Truth (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1999), 234.


Or better yet read the parable of the prodigal son

Luke 15:11-24 (KJV)
11 And he said, A certain man had two sons:
12 And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living.
13 And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living.
14 And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want.
15 And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine.
16 And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him.
17 And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father's have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!
18 I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee,
19 And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants.
20 And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.
21 And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son.
22 But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet:
23 And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry:
24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry.

The Son while separated from the Father was dead when united considered alive
 
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