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Tuesday, January 15, 2008

God=dead (or not?)

This discussion got me thinking. When Jesus died on the cross... did God die? Or did Jesus' human nature die and His divine nature live on? If He died, and if He holds the universe together, how come the universe didn't explode? Are Bill Hamilton and Friedrich Nietszche, in a twisted sense that they never intended, correct? As I considered it, I realized that the real question is what you mean when you say "dead." (And no, I'm not going all "meaning of the word is is" on you.) People who don't believe in an afterlife think "dead" means "no longer existing." Those who believe in an afterlife think "dead" means "no longer existing in physical form on the Earth." When Jesus died on the Cross, I agree totally that He no longer existed in physical form on the Earth (His body was still there, of course, but it was inert). But I do not agree that for three days Jesus did not exist. I believe that every human being exists eternally somewhere.

When Nietszche and Hamilton said "God is dead," though, I think they meant something different... they basically meant that the concept of a "god" had been outmoded and was no longer necessary. They weren't talking about a personality at all; they were talking about a philosophical vantage point.

I guess that leaves the question open about the whole universe not exploding thing. Did Jesus somehow, in His divinity, still hold everything together, even though He was dead and preaching to "spirits in prison" (commonly understood to mean that He was in some afterlife holding area called "Paradise.") Or maybe, as some theologians have speculated, maybe Jesus handed the keys to the apartment to God the Father for a few days... "Hey, Dad, I'll be away for the weekend... can you water the plants and feed the parakeet please?" ...and the Father held it all together. This strikes me as something of a fruitless question. The universe still exists, right? What difference does it make if God the Father held it together, or God the Son? SOMEBODY did, and so I'm here and the world is not a disintegrated cloud of dust floating in oblivion somewhere.

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