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2006-09-06

Did Jesus die Spiritually?

Reading about the televangelist Kenneth Copeland I came across an interesting teaching of his: That Jesus Christ had died spiritually, as part of his atoning work for our sins.

I thought this was interesting... Mr. Copeland, I believe, suggested that this happened after his physical death, as he descended to hell.

I think I agree that he did die spiritually, except that it happened during the atonement process in the Garden of Gethsemane. Matthew 27:46

And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?

If "Spiritual Death" is a separation between Man and God, then this seems to have occurred. Not only that, but it seems that as the "wages of sin" are death, this would be the only adequate payment for sin - a spiritual death, not a physical death.

However, upon further study, I'm questioning the notion of spiritual death being equivalent to "separation from God" at all. I see a lot of scriptures about the second death or spiritual death being equated to a lake of fire and brimstone, and something that happens if someone dies while they are in sin, but not very much about separation from God being spiritual death. The standard verse people might quote is Romans 6:23
For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

However, I see this as clearly talking about the introduction of mortality into the world by Adam's transgression. The wages of [original] sin is mortality (physical death). Nothing to do with spiritual death at all. Wow, I really changed my mind half way through this post, or at least got myself confused. :-)

5 comments:

Jeff said...

I just learned:

D&C 29:41

Wherefore, I, the Lord God, caused that he should be cast out from the Garden of Eden, from my presence, because of his transgression, wherein he became spiritually dead, which is the first death, even that same death which is the last death, which is spiritual, which shall be pronounced upon the wicked when I shall say: Depart, ye cursed.

-

So, yes... Jesus seems to have died spiritually in Gethsemane. Cast out from my (God's) presence is here equivalent to becoming "spiritually dead." Interestingly, it is termed the first death, AND the last death.

Bishop Rick said...

Jeff,

Didn't this happen on the cross?
I admit I didn't check, but have always thought this.

Jeff said...

Rick,

From what I understand, the standard Mormon thought is that the atonement actually began in Gethsemane.

"It was in Gethsemane that Jesus took on Himself the sins of the world, in Gethsemane that His pain was equivalent to the cumulative burden of all men, in Gethsemane that He descended below all things so that all could repent and come to Him" (Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, p. 15).

The Promised Messiah by Bruce R. McConkie states:

"Forgiveness is available because Christ the Lord sweat great drops of blood in Gethsemane as he bore the incalculable weight of the sins of all who ever had or ever would repent" (p. 337)

And,

"In a garden called Gethsemane, outside Jerusalem's walls, in agony beyond compare, he took upon himself the sins of all men on condition of repentance." (p. 552)

Jeff said...

Let me follow that up by saying, Gethsemane, if my theory here is correct, would have been the site for Christ's Spiritual Death, necessary to atone for our sins and prevent us from becoming spiritually dead, while the cross of calvary was the site of his physical death, necessary only as preparation so that his resurrection could take place and overcome the physical death for us so that we too may be resurrected.

Robert said...

Some thoughts...

To spiritually 'die', in the separation sense, would have to be extended beyond a mere separation from one's parental god-self (Father) in that 'celestial realm' as one voluntarily descends to 'hell' (the underworld - world 'below' the one currently existing within) to 'atone' and 'save'.

This action, while having certain spiritual connotations and implications, doesn't really address the actual 'spiritual death' that real 'separation' implies - namely, being separated (identity-wise) from immortal and innate essence - 'intelligence'.

Was Jesus, in this sense, EVER spiritually 'dead'? I would have to say no - as he was always aware of 'who' and 'what' he was at 'root'.

He may have died 'spiritually' in the sense that he left one 'realm' and separated from that exalted station and the 'Father' in that realm in order to 'save' those that Fell who might be 'saved' - but this is a categorically different type of 'spiritual death' than the one that occurs when one's sole and total identity is wrapped up with one's current 'bodily form' in a hardened sense - thus losing ones recognition and awareness of one as 'intelligence' which is beyond (though 'connected') the changing and 'developing' (one 'way' or the other) form one is currently appearing through. This, if it is not changed, results in the 2nd death - which is the total dissolution of the temporary identity one is completely identifying with itself.

To Live - one must 'die to the world' - as the saying goes.

So, taking this a little bit further, Jesus died 'spiritually' (in this 'realm separation' from the 'Heavenly Father' sense) and the Work of Atonement and Sacrifice began immediately in the 'celestial' realm, itself, at the 'time' of his 'descent' and the taking on of a 'mortal' body in this Fallen realm.

The 'Garden of Gethsemane' wasn't in the mortal world 9though it is presented as such for the benefit of the fallen being able to understand) - but the celestial itself - just as the 'Garden of Eden' was not, initially, a Fallen realm.

His elevated and 'spirit body' of that realm was 'sacrificed' in order to effect atonement - a 'crucifixion'. His 'bloodline' covenant, so to speak, was introduced into the mortal world and manifested at different 'times' in different 'ways' understandable to the population being 'shown' - and the 'model' of salvation was presented to a 'mortal', fallen world through appropriate symbols for that world so that the Fallen might 'get it' in terms they could understand.