Life and Death
Today's video is courtesy of filmmaker Ryan Pettey, director/editor of Satellite Pictures.
I think there are sometimes a couple of biblical images we struggle to lay hold of. In the New Testament we find when we talk about life, we have the idea of living or ‘bios’. In other words, we talk about how we are alive. But Jesus talks about the fact of “coming to life “ when we know him. That doesn’t suddenly mean that our heart starts beating. It means that there is this whole side to us which was dead… which wasn’t alive and is now… that has actually sprung to life. And we run into complications maybe if we reduce all of these things into exactly the same categories. Now you can have the same issues with ‘death’ too. That word is used in many ways, and different words are used to try and signify various different things.
Now what is interesting is that if you go back into the Genesis account, it says “now do not eat this [apple] or you will surely die”. There is a whole chain of events that happens when Adam and Eve decide they want to walk away from God. The first thing that happens is that they cover themselves up. There’s like a psychological alienation that comes. They are no longer happy with the way they are. The next thing that happens is God steps into the garden, they run and hide. There is spiritual alienation. The voice that was once welcoming where they went, they now find themselves cut off from that. Then there is a social alienation that comes as a result of turning away from God. They start blaming each other. There is a vocational alienation that comes as a result of, of course, judgment. That which was meant to be home for them, all work become labor, and we could keep going.
So when we talk about “death” the picture, to me, seems to be much bigger, much fuller. I can’t think of a more comprehensive view of possibly what it could mean. And so I think we need to again break away from a straight forward, in fact, mechanistic understanding. In no way do I think that impoverishes either or understanding of the gospel or of the cross. As a matter of fact, it enhances it. It makes the work of the cross even more incredible and it makes the idea that God is looking for redemption from us more complete. We are not talking simply about the idea of physically living forever because that’s clearly not what it means. We know that we are going to physically die. All of us. But when you think about it in terms of what that means psychologically, spiritually, emotionally, socially, vocationally and so on it becomes a huge picture. The text is teaching us something which is real, which is true, which is there. I think we just need a bigger more sophisticated handling of the text, than a reductionist one that I think actually impoverishes or understanding of The Fall, the cross, redemption, the ‘coming again’ and so on.
Commentary written by the BioLogos editorial team.
Michael Ramsden has been European Director of RZIM Zacharias Trust since its foundation in 1997. He also is Director of the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics and Lecturer in Christian Apologetics at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford. While at Sheffield University doing research in Law and Economics, Michael taught Moral Philosophy and lectured for the International Seminar on Jurisprudence and Human Rights in Strasbourg. He has been invited to lecture to a variety of groups including the White House staff in Washington, D.C., leaders at NATO HQ in Brussels and members of the European Parliament.