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Author Topic: What is 'Death'?  (Read 456 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: October 21, 2012, 08:49:40 PM »

Something that has confused me a bit is our Church's teachings on death (s). What exactly is 'death'? Are there two deaths? I oftentimes hear people speak of both a physical death and a spiritual death. Also, which death was introduced upon us because of Adam and Eve's Fall? The sources I have been looking to seem to conflict.

The Bible says that they would die by death on the day that they ate the fruit, but, as we see, they did not die immediately after they ate the fruit. Does this mean that God lied? Or that He was referring to a different kind of death? Or something different altogether?

The OSB defines the death as being "...In that Adam and Eve did not physically die the day they ate from the tree, the words 'you shall die' indicate a spiritual death through separation from God..." (Pg. 7, Article on "Ancestral Sin")

But then OrthodoxWiki states that "...everyone inherits the consequences of this act[The Fall]; the foremost of this is physical death in this world."

The OSB says we suffered a 'spiritual death' but OrthodoxWiki says we suffered a physical death, which source is correct?
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« Reply #1 on: October 21, 2012, 09:34:48 PM »

They are both results of the Fall. I don't know what Orthodoxwiki means by "foremost". That aside, neither OSB nor OrthodoxWiki are at the top of the list of authoritative Orthodox sources.
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« Reply #2 on: October 21, 2012, 09:45:11 PM »

Something that has confused me a bit is our Church's teachings on death (s). What exactly is 'death'? Are there two deaths?

Yes there are two deaths, the first death and the second death, just as there are two resurrections, the first ("buried with Him in baptism, wherein you are also raised with Him...") and the second (general) resurrection.  
« Last Edit: October 21, 2012, 09:45:59 PM by Father H » Logged
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« Reply #3 on: October 21, 2012, 10:09:01 PM »


Let's start with the death we all know for sure: physical death. The particular order that keeps the body alive reaches a certain point that can no longer be sustained and is lost. The human being, or animal, or plant dies.

This physical death is related to the more general tendency of the universe toward entropy. Everything dissipates, everything is passing away right now. The great question for materialists is, in fact, how come in such a universe life appears at all. Their answer is that it is "just" statistics, but that is not enough.

Orthodox Christianity teaches us that the Universe was created without entropy. People and things were so close to God and there was no tendency away from Him, just being in Him, and therefore always being "energized" by the Spirit of Life Himself.

The devil then seduced Adam and Eve to break this harmony. They gave steps in the direction opposite to God, thus away from life.

Therefore they did not have to die immediately after disobeying, but, specially after refusing to repent, they were already "floating away" from life, thus, in a certain way they were "dead men walking". As we all are.

Jesus incarnation, among other things, reverted all this. His healings, His hints of a new Creation and finally His own resurrection showed that not only entropy/death could be reverted, but that it had done that. He promised us that we all - Christians and non-Christians will be resurrected in the end of this universe. He will not allow entropy to follow its full course. He will recreate the Universe as it was meant to be, with no entropy.

This is an expression of His infinite mercy. We are all saved from being completely destroyed by death, miraculously kept in existence, despite even the desintegration of our bodies.

"Second death" is metaphorical. No one will be destroyed in the literal sense, but we can now choose how we will live this eternity. Jesus never mentioned that you had to be Christian or Orthodox to be on the right side on Judgement Day. He is very clear about the criteria: those who love, who helped those in need, those who gave their lives for their neighbors, these will, after being resurrected be on his right side and the rest on his left side, that is , hell. Being condemned to an eternity of suffering in the place created to be the prison of demons is this "second death".

While Last Judgment will be the full expression of His Glory and Justice, the Church is still an expression of His mercy, accepting all, even the wicked. Nevertheless, the Church is that future vivifying reality in our present time, a foretaste of the good things to come, so anyone can taste it, be prepared by it, strengthened by it and choose. Many do not take advantage of this opportunity, wasting their participation in the Church, while others shed tears for not having the possibility of having this intimate relation with God.



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« Reply #4 on: October 21, 2012, 10:52:16 PM »

As long as you see Man caused death, and not from God, we are good. I've seen a few people say God punished Adam and Eve with death since they disobeyed him, but I don't accept that.

I separate animal deaths from the death of Man as something different, which helps explain the evolution part of it.
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« Reply #5 on: October 21, 2012, 11:57:12 PM »

both physical and spiritual death are results of the Fall. the Fathers are unanimous on this point.
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« Reply #6 on: October 22, 2012, 12:06:09 AM »

both physical and spiritual death are results of the Fall. the Fathers are unanimous on this point.
But doesn't the soul live on outside of the body?
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« Reply #7 on: October 22, 2012, 12:29:38 AM »

both physical and spiritual death are results of the Fall. the Fathers are unanimous on this point.
But doesn't the soul live on outside of the body?

yes.
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« Reply #8 on: October 22, 2012, 12:30:40 AM »

both physical and spiritual death are results of the Fall. the Fathers are unanimous on this point.
But doesn't the soul live on outside of the body?

yes.
So I'm confused on the spiritual death. Can you elaborate, please?

EDIT: I'm not trying to make stupid questions, but it would be better for me to clarify what you view.
« Last Edit: October 22, 2012, 12:36:33 AM by Achronos » Logged

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« Reply #9 on: October 22, 2012, 01:58:50 AM »

both physical and spiritual death are results of the Fall. the Fathers are unanimous on this point.
But doesn't the soul live on outside of the body?

It really depends on what you mean by soul.
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« Reply #10 on: October 22, 2012, 01:59:22 AM »

I separate animal deaths from the death of Man as something different

From what I know, the Hebrews did too.
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« Reply #11 on: October 22, 2012, 02:08:37 AM »

The Bible says that they would die by death on the day that they ate the fruit, but, as we see, they did not die immediately after they ate the fruit. Does this mean that God lied? Or that He was referring to a different kind of death? Or something different altogether?

The OSB defines the death as being "...In that Adam and Eve did not physically die the day they ate from the tree, the words 'you shall die' indicate a spiritual death through separation from God..." (Pg. 7, Article on "Ancestral Sin")

But then OrthodoxWiki states that "...everyone inherits the consequences of this act[The Fall]; the foremost of this is physical death in this world."

The OSB says we suffered a 'spiritual death' but OrthodoxWiki says we suffered a physical death, which source is correct?
"In the remainder of the Pentateuch, the expression מות תָּמוּת ("you will surely die") means that one has come under the verdict of the death penalty (cf. 20:7; Exod 31:14; Lev 24:16). It is a pronouncement of a judge on one who has been condemned to die. In the Leviticus passage the sentence is to be carried out by stoning the guilty party. In the present narrative the verdict is carried out by expulsion from the garden and the 'tree of life' (3:22-24). The narrative thus suggests that the picture of man's 'immortality' before the Fall is not that of an inherent human quality but rather a gift from God in the access to the tree of life given to him (cf. 1 Tim 6:16)." J. H. Sailhamer, EBC Genesis, p. 48).
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« Reply #12 on: October 22, 2012, 04:43:12 PM »


"Second death" is metaphorical. No one will be destroyed in the literal sense


Fabio, I may be misunderstanding you, but death does not mean to cease to exist, but rather the absence of life, and thus no need to insist on metaphor.  All will be resurrected, some to the resurrection of life, and some to the resurrection of damnation.  Certainly we agree that damnation is not annihilation, but it is not the resurrection of life, and the absence of life is death. 
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« Reply #13 on: October 22, 2012, 09:10:46 PM »

both physical and spiritual death are results of the Fall. the Fathers are unanimous on this point.
But doesn't the soul live on outside of the body?

yes.
So I'm confused on the spiritual death. Can you elaborate, please?

EDIT: I'm not trying to make stupid questions, but it would be better for me to clarify what you view.

spiritual death means our falling away from God by sin.
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« Reply #14 on: October 22, 2012, 09:19:09 PM »

To add, some people, such as St. Justin Popovich, speak of being able to suffer multiple (even innumerable) spiritual deaths.
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« Reply #15 on: October 22, 2012, 10:04:04 PM »

Father, what I mean is that death is a tendency toward non-existance. But we never get there due to love of God who saves us all. God presented Himself to Moses as the onlyb Self-Existant: I am He Who Is. Our origonal drift from He who sustains our existance is a drift toward nothingness. Had it been completed we would have ceased from existing: "Thou are dust..." But we were saved from this even before Christ's coming for Sheol was the dwelling of the dead, with their spirits being but shadows of existance. Christ's descent into hell vivifyed those in Sheol breathing life/exiatance back into them só they could somehow wait the Last Judgment. But such is the amazingnes of God's salvation of humanity, that we who are nothing are not consumed by it and do not return for the dust that we are.


"Second death" is metaphorical. No one will be destroyed in the literal sense


Fabio, I may be misunderstanding you, but death does not mean to cease to exist, but rather the absence of life, and thus no need to insist on metaphor.  All will be resurrected, some to the resurrection of life, and some to the resurrection of damnation.  Certainly we agree that damnation is not annihilation, but it is not the resurrection of life, and the absence of life is death. 
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« Reply #16 on: October 22, 2012, 10:24:31 PM »

both physical and spiritual death are results of the Fall. the Fathers are unanimous on this point.
But doesn't the soul live on outside of the body?

It really depends on what you mean by soul.
A spiritual "body"? What do you define a soul as?
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« Reply #17 on: October 22, 2012, 10:52:15 PM »

A spiritual "body"? What do you define a soul as?
Perhaps, how one is constituted.

We know that the body of the nephesh/soul cannot survive, and is sewn corruptible into the earth.

It is raised as a body animated and constituted in Christ by the Holy Spirit.

http://nasb.scripturetext.com/1_corinthians/15.htm
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« Reply #18 on: October 22, 2012, 11:06:48 PM »

both physical and spiritual death are results of the Fall. the Fathers are unanimous on this point.
But doesn't the soul live on outside of the body?

It really depends on what you mean by soul.
A spiritual "body"? What do you define a soul as?
 This could be quite a confusing topic. Some Orthodox such as myself see the first death as a death of the physical/existential will. St Maximos refers to this as the Gnomic will. This is the first death and it occurs at baptism. The HS than fills the void and nourishes the spirit. The spirit becomes our being. In the course of life the soul can die again and go Gnomic. Through prayer and the sacraments it can be restored. The second death always refers to a physical one. What I would like to point out is that the RC position on original sin. To me, points to a death of the spirit from birth. We orthodox don't claim a death of the spirit until one actually sins. Our ancestral sin is that of a inherent physical death. Which is the death from sickness or old age. Even though we live now. Our death is imminent. This is the ancestral sin that Adam has past to us.
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