Separated at death

goperryrevsgoperryrevs Shipmate
edited March 2018 in Kerygmania
As a good little evangelical, I was taught that on the cross, Jesus was separated from the Father for the first time in his existence. This seemed to have something to do with a systematic theology that required Jesus to "become sin for us", and the Father "turn his face away", etc.

It seems to be based on the verse in Mark 15, where Jesus cries "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?"

I've come to question this interpretation, though. For a couple of reasons:
  1. Jesus is quoting the first line Psalm 22. The story of that Psalm is that although David feels like God has abandoned him (and there's some remarkable parallels with Jesus' physical experience), he's trying to persuade himself of the larger truth that, actually, God hasn't. I'd suggest that in quoting the first line, Jesus was recalling the message of the whole Psalm, which is ultimately one of trusting in and praising God despite one's circumstance. In direct opposition to the "Father turns his face away" that I was taught, verse 24 says "he has not hidden his face from him".
  2. I'm no expert on the Trinity (who is!?), but it seems to be anti-Trinitarian in its understanding. The Divine is an unending flow of love and relationship (perichoresis, as the early theologians put it), and this doctrine seems to contradict that, putting a plug in that flow.

What do different traditions teach about this? Is there any other scriptural reason for asserting the Separated at Death doctrine?
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Comments

  • (I could add a third reason, that the justification for the interpretation seems to be dependent on a PSA view of the atonement, but I'm wary that might derail things somewhat...)
  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    edited March 2018
    Madame and I used find Psalm 22 difficult for the reasons you start out upon, but for us it is now a song of hope. A sort of roller-coaster ride to get there, but what seems like a cry of despair, but is the introduction to a recognition of God's grace, a loving grace that prevails over the wild bulls of Bashan. It's the perfect introduction to Psalm 23, the state of calm to which we have been led.

    I would not say that the alternative approach depends upon PSA, as there's no fixing of God's wrath on the dying Christ.
  • Martin54Martin54 Shipmate
    Being fully human He was always separated, as He died He realised it.
  • I
    (I could add a third reason, that the justification for the interpretation seems to be dependent on a PSA view of the atonement, but I'm wary that might derail things somewhat...)

    I agree. And not only does it depend on PSA, it depends on the worst aspects of PSA-- the notion that God is so repulsed by sin (and therefore, us) that he must turn away, and such a separation of the persons of the trinity that the cross starts to look like child abuse

    Whereas in something like Chritus victor the members of the trinity are so united that instead of God turning away you have God himself entering into the suffering and death
  • Martin54 wrote: »
    Being fully human He was always separated, as He died He realised it.

    Unless you think that being fully human means being in full communion with the God in whose image we are made. In which case he was never separated.
  • Martin54Martin54 Shipmate
    Cathscats wrote: »
    Martin54 wrote: »
    Being fully human He was always separated, as He died He realised it.

    Unless you think that being fully human means being in full communion with the God in whose image we are made. In which case he was never separated.
    Not yet.
  • LeRocLeRoc Shipmate
    As a good little evangelical, I was taught that on the cross, Jesus was separated from the Father for the first time in his existence.
    This is what I believe also, that somewhat paradoxically, God became separated from God. He didn't like it. And His answer was: "I'll never let anyone become separated from God again."
  • EsmeraldaEsmeralda Shipmate, Waving not Drowning Host
    Whereas in something like Chritus victor the members of the trinity are so united that instead of God turning away you have God himself entering into the suffering and death

    Precisely. Whatever happened to 'God was in Christ reconciling the world to [God]self'? I don't notice PSA proponents quoting that very often, it's inconvenient to their theory.

  • Martin54Martin54 Shipmate
    LeRoc wrote: »
    As a good little evangelical, I was taught that on the cross, Jesus was separated from the Father for the first time in his existence.
    This is what I believe also, that somewhat paradoxically, God became separated from God. He didn't like it. And His answer was: "I'll never let anyone become separated from God again."
    But not yet.
  • Mr SmiffMr Smiff Shipmate
    Could it be that the writers who cite this phrase, Matthew and Mark, aren't necessarily stating outright, "Jesus was separated from the Father", but are getting the readers to ask whether that's the case? Both of them, ISTM, paint the starkest, bleakest picture of the crucifixion with few, if any, of the shafts of light that Luke and John put in: there's no penitent thief, no cry of "It is finished!" as Jesus dies (which I always took as a cry of victory)... nothing. So perhaps they're using the quotation for dramatic effect: Jesus has been abandoned by practically everyone - his own people, his followers, even his family. Has God now abandoned him too?

    And we're left wondering if this is the case, until the third day, when Mark hints at the answer "no" ("The stone had already been rolled away"... "He has been raised") and Matthew states it boldly with angels, earthquakes, soldiers fainting in fear etc.

    Just a musing about one non-PSA reason for including it.
  • LeRoc wrote: »
    As a good little evangelical, I was taught that on the cross, Jesus was separated from the Father for the first time in his existence.
    This is what I believe also
    As difficult as it is to verbalise why any of us believe anything, why? What do you think it achieved, why and how did it happen? What was the 'mechanics' (for want of a better word)?
  • LeRocLeRoc Shipmate
    As difficult as it is to verbalise why any of us believe anything, why? What do you think it achieved, why and how did it happen? What was the 'mechanics' (for want of a better word)?
    Yes, this is difficult to express. I like to think of it as God understanding the human condition better. Fear of being separated from God is part of that. God experienced that.
  • Martin54Martin54 Shipmate
    God cannot understand anything better.
  • MudfrogMudfrog Shipmate
    Esmeralda wrote: »
    Whereas in something like Chritus victor the members of the trinity are so united that instead of God turning away you have God himself entering into the suffering and death

    Precisely. Whatever happened to 'God was in Christ reconciling the world to [God]self'? I don't notice PSA proponents quoting that very often, it's inconvenient to their theory.

    I believe and teach PSA and no, that verse is not inconvenient.


  • Martin54Martin54 Shipmate
    edited April 2018
    Exactly, God reconciled Himself to the world by punishing Christ instead.
  • Barnabas62Barnabas62 Purgatory Host, Dead Horses Host
    edited April 2018
    In this article you will find a detailed analysis of the cry of abandonment "Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani (Ἠλί, Ἠλί, λιμὰ σαβαχθανί)".

    There are slight differences between the Matthew and Mark record of this statement, but it seems reasonably clear that Jesus was speaking in Aramaic (not Hebrew) and using words from Psalm 22.

    It is always seemed clear to me that the use of Aramaic (or in Matthew's gospel, possibly a combination of Hebrew and Aramaic) means that what we get here is something heard by an eye-witness and passed on, by oral tradition, until recorded in the gospels. This cry of abandonment from the cross is a faithful expression of what Jesus was feeling, in his humanity, at that dreadful point in time. The use of the Aramaic by the gospel writers reaches across the history and puts us in that place of abandonment with him.

    Personally I find that very moving. I can identify with that, get a sense of connection. I think that is much more important that looking for meaning in atonement theories. A good person is suffering more than just extreme physical pain here. He is forsaken, rejected, despised. If nothing else, it is a picture of the awful consequences of human cruelty and indifference, especially when inflicted on someone who didn't deserve it.

  • MooMoo Kerygmania Host
    I have experienced a few very brief episodes of excruciating pain, and while I was feeling that pain it pretty well wiped out my ability to think. I couldn't even have told you my name. I don't think Jesus on the cross was capable of abstract thought. He knew that psalm by heart; it was a comforting thing that was already in his mind. It may have been the only comforting thing that was in his mind.
  • Martin54Martin54 Shipmate
    Comfort? Like you I've been in mind wiping agony a few times. I'm a weak, broken man at the best of times. What astounded me is that I didn't go past the elastic limit of what little sanity I have. There's a cockeyed comfort in that. It didn't make me feel abandoned by God at any point. Why would it?

  • MooMoo Kerygmania Host
    Martin54 wrote: »
    Comfort? Like you I've been in mind wiping agony a few times. I'm a weak, broken man at the best of times. What astounded me is that I didn't go past the elastic limit of what little sanity I have. There's a cockeyed comfort in that. It didn't make me feel abandoned by God at any point. Why would it?

    When I was in severe pain, I felt abandoned, although I still believed God would support me. The first verse of the psalm shows a feeling of abandonment. The rest of the psalm is a statement that God is there and will support his people. When Jesus quoted the first verse, I think he had the entire text in mind.

  • Martin54Martin54 Shipmate
    You push your boat out poignantly Moo. But it ain't mine. Abandoned and embraced are Kipling's two paraphrased impostors just the same for me. I have no reason to believe God can support me apart from in His provision and in my story of Him. All in the Spirit. Perhaps He makes up for what provision and story lack, I can't know until I'm dead. As for Jesus... what wasn't assumed wasn't redeemed...
  • MPaulMPaul Shipmate
    Martin54 wrote: »
    As for Jesus... what wasn't assumed wasn't redeemed...
    IOW what was assumed was redeemed. On the cross, God, in his humanity, paid the price of sin.
    The wages of sin are death.
    He always knew it. He came to confront it. On the cross he experienced it.
  • Martin54Martin54 Shipmate
    I don't see the connection. What was assumed was innocently dying an agonizing death at the hands of others alone. A not uncommon human experience.
  • MPaulMPaul Shipmate
    What was assumed on His part was that he was fulfilling Is 53 and experiencing Psalm 22, a unique human experience.
  • MudfrogMudfrog Shipmate
    Was Jesus innocent?
    Not in that moment he wasn't.
    He became sin.

  • Martin54Martin54 Shipmate
    What's that?
  • MudfrogMudfrog Shipmate
    From Elliott's Commentary:
    "The train of thought is that God dealt with Christ, not as though He were a sinner, like other men, but as though He were sin itself, absolutely identified with it. So, in Galatians 3:13, he speaks of Christ as made "a curse for us," and in Romans 8:3 as "being made in the likeness of sinful flesh." We have here, it is obvious, the germ of a mysterious thought, out of which forensic theories of the atonement, of various types, might be and have been developed. It is characteristic of St. Paul that he does not so develop it. Christ identified with man's sin: mankind identified with Christ's righteousness--that is the truth, simple and yet unfathomable, in which he is content to rest."


  • MooMoo Kerygmania Host
    MPaul wrote: »
    What was assumed on His part was that he was fulfilling Is 53 and experiencing Psalm 22, a unique human experience.
    As I said upthread, I think he was in far too much pain to think abstractly. I think Psalm 22 was in his memory, but I don't think he was capable of thinking about Is. 53.

  • Martin54Martin54 Shipmate
    Mudfrog wrote: »
    From Elliott's Commentary:
    "The train of thought is that God dealt with Christ, not as though He were a sinner, like other men, but as though He were sin itself, absolutely identified with it. So, in Galatians 3:13, he speaks of Christ as made "a curse for us," and in Romans 8:3 as "being made in the likeness of sinful flesh." We have here, it is obvious, the germ of a mysterious thought, out of which forensic theories of the atonement, of various types, might be and have been developed. It is characteristic of St. Paul that he does not so develop it. Christ identified with man's sin: mankind identified with Christ's righteousness--that is the truth, simple and yet unfathomable, in which he is content to rest."
    The stuff we make up eh?

  • MudfrogMudfrog Shipmate
    Go on then clever, how do you interpret the verse?
    2 Corinthians 5:21 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

    "For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God."
  • Martin54Martin54 Shipmate
    Er, the stuff we make up eh?
  • MudfrogMudfrog Shipmate
    So, you don't accept the verse itself?
  • Martin54Martin54 Shipmate
    As stuff some bloke made up, sure. As a pre-eternal truth, nah.
  • MudfrogMudfrog Shipmate
    I'm sorry? If the Bible is just 'stuff some bloke made up' why are you even bothering to discuss it? What possible interest can you have in Christian doctrine, belief or practice if that's all the Bible is?
  • Martin54Martin54 Shipmate
    Whatever else could it possibly be? Apart from the reportage of course.
  • MudfrogMudfrog Shipmate
    It's teaching; it's a sharing of truth. It describes what God has done.
    It's actually 'Scripture' - even Peter himself recognised Paul's writings as being up there 'with the other Scriptures.' 2 Peter 3:15-16
    And even if it was 'stuff some bloke made up', the fact is that the Church has recognised it's authority for 2000 years.
  • Martin54Martin54 Shipmate
    %s please. I.e. can you quantify any of that? Peter said some very weird stuff indeed. What is teaching? What proportion overall describes what God has done? What authority?
  • MudfrogMudfrog Shipmate
    We are arguing from entirely different views of the authority of Scripture. I believe it to be the inspired word of God; you believe it to be stuff that someone made up.
    There is no point discussing it.
  • KarlLBKarlLB Shipmate
    Mudfrog wrote: »
    We are arguing from entirely different views of the authority of Scripture. I believe it to be the inspired word of God; you believe it to be stuff that someone made up.
    There is no point discussing it.

    You speak as if the two are contradictory.
  • Martin54Martin54 Shipmate
    Petfect.
  • MooMoo Kerygmania Host
    Host hat on
    Mudfrog and Martin, I would like to call your attention to Keryg Guideline 6.
    This is emphatically not the place for arguing about the authority and reliability of the Bible. However, reasoned discussions of the authorship and dating of particular passages are acceptable.
    If you want to discuss infallibilty, Dead Horses is the place; if you want to discuss reliability, take it to Purgatory. Please stop discussing these matters on this thread.
    Host hat off.
  • LeRocLeRoc Shipmate
    I don't believe Jesus was made sin either.
  • Martin54Martin54 Shipmate
    My unconditional apologies Moo, thank you.
  • LeRoc wrote: »
    I don't believe Jesus was made sin either.
    So what did Paul (or pseudo-Paul or whoever) mean by that phrase? Were they lying? Deluded? Or is it a metaphor for something, and can you tell us what that something is?
  • LeRocLeRoc Shipmate
    mousethief wrote: »
    So what did Paul (or pseudo-Paul or whoever) mean by that phrase? Were they lying? Deluded? Or is it a metaphor for something, and can you tell us what that something is?
    My view of most of the NT is that after Jesus's birth, life, teaching, death, resurrection and ascension, people were like: whoa, WTF just happened? And writing stuff down to try to make sense of it all.

    I find it important to study them, because I can't make sense of it either. Listening to people who struggled with this over the centuries, including those who were closer to when it happened, is helpful. But I don't have to believe everything Paul writes. (Besides, he's a bit of an arse sometimes.)

    I'd love to study more about 2 Corinthians 5 (I'm not saying this ironically), but that'll have to wait until I have a bit more time.
  • You didn't answer my question. What does it mean? Or are you just saying it doesn't matter what it means, we can just ignore it outright, after all, we pick and choose what we ourselves want to believe, the Bible be damned?
  • LeRocLeRoc Shipmate
    mousethief wrote: »
    You didn't answer my question. What does it mean?
    That's because I don't have an answer. I said: I'd love to study 2 Cor 5 to find out more about what Paul may have meant, but I don't have the time for that right now.

    mousethief wrote: »
    Or are you just saying it doesn't matter what it means, we can just ignore it outright, after all, we pick and choose what we ourselves want to believe, the Bible be damned?
    This seems to be the same Dead-Horsey false dichotomy that already led to a Hostly warning on this thread.
  • MudfrogMudfrog Shipmate
    I don't know what it means because I haven't studied it.
    But nevertheless I know that it doesn't mean what you say it does, even if you have studied it..
    Because I haven't studied it, I don't know what it means.
    But without actually studying it I actually do know what it does not mean.

    Is that it?
  • Martin54Martin54 Shipmate
    Nice one LeRoc. As for what St. Paul the Bloke meant, he meant what he said I'm sure. It don't make it so.
  • Mudfrog wrote: »
    From Elliott's Commentary:
    "The train of thought is that God dealt with Christ, not as though He were a sinner, like other men, but as though He were sin itself, absolutely identified with it. So, in Galatians 3:13, he speaks of Christ as made "a curse for us," and in Romans 8:3 as "being made in the likeness of sinful flesh."
    My problem with that interpretation is the “God dealt” bit. I think Jesus became sin, became a curse, and so on for us. By that, I understand that He took all the detritus of the universe upon himself.

    For me the verse is saying that this happened within the Will of God, for our restoration/salvation/healing. But not so much in the transactional way, but a counterintuitive, mystical way.
  • To elaborate, Elliot’s interpretation seems to say that the Father is the one with the will, and Jesus is a passive recipient of it. I’d see more that there was a collision of wills on the cross, Human, Evil and Divine, but that Jesus and the Father were equally active in their combined Divine will.
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