Written by Tony
Firstly, the purpose of this series the myth of spiritual death and original sin is to look at life, death and resurrection from what I believe was the original Judeo/1st century Christian perspective.
Secondly, my hope is to expose Christian Gnostic doctrines that started to infiltrate the Church around the fourth century, which laid the foundation for the theological system we know as Calvinism.
I believe Calvinism is a serious distortion of the Gospel and a direct attack on the very nature and person of God.
My intention is not to villainise those that support and spread Calvinism, but simply to expose these doctrines and how they distort biblical truths and end up misrepresenting God and the Gospel.
This is the 4th post in this series
In this series, we will look at what I believe the scriptures teach about life, death, and our resurrection and expose false doctrines that I call myths or traditions of men.
The Webster’s dictionary defines a myth as being “a person or thing having only an imaginary or unverifiable existence“.
In this post we will be looking at the myth of spiritual death and the tree of life
The myth of spiritual death: The tree of life
There is no mention in the Genesis account of Adam and Eve dying some kind of spiritual death, it just isn’t there in the text. When Adam is judged, the only death that is mentioned is physical death.
When Adam and Eve sinned they were cast out of the garden, separated from the Tree of Life, but no separation from God is mentioned for either Adam and Eve or their children.
Without access to the tree of life, Adam and Eve began the process of dying physically. Eventually their bodies returned to the ground from where they were formed and their souls descended into Sheol, the land of disembodied souls to await the resurrection.
Calvinism teaches that man is born spiritually dead, totally cut off from God and incapable of responding to the Gospel. Calvinism teaches that God must first regenerate man causing him to be born again, by circumventing man’s own will.
But the Bible teaches that it is through faith that man is saved.
12 having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.
My understanding of the text above is that we through faith identify with Yeshua in His death and resurrection and trusting that the same power that resurrected Yeshua will also resurrect us at the end of our life on this planet.
Because I don’t believe in spiritual death I do not believe in regeneration in the Calvinist/ reformed sense.
Regeneration is the resurrection from physical death.
The doctrine of Original sin
The Bible does not teach that we are born spiritually dead in our tresspases and sins unlike Calvinism which does teach this doctrine.
Under the influence of Augustine’s teaching, Calvin taught that humans inherit Adam’s sin and guilt and are in a state of sin from the moment of conception.
But Paul wrote in Romans 5 that it was physical death that spread to all mankind because all sinned, not because we sinned in Adam.
Think on this for a moment. Yeshua died a physical death yet was totally sinless.
Paul goes on to say that we all sinned, although not in the likeness of Adam’s sin.
12 Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all mankind, because all sinned
14 Nevertheless death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those who had not sinned in the likeness of the violation committed by Adam
The purpose of the tree of life
The first time we read about the tree of life in the Bible is in Genesis 2.
9Out of the ground the LORD God caused to grow every tree that is pleasing to the sight and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
In verse 15 Adam is told that he is free to eat from any tree in the garden (which would include the tree of life), except from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
15Then the LORD God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it. 16The LORD God commanded the man, saying, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; 17but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.”
The stage is set, Adam had the free will to choose his future. Adam could either have eternal life by having access to the tree of life, or he could choose death by being banished from the garden losing access to the tree of life.
Without the tree of life, Adam and Eve could not live in their physical bodies forever.
The Bible does not record Adam or Eve ever eating the fruit from the tree of life before the fall. But the Bible makes it abundantly clear that the purpose of the tree of life was to provide Adam and Eve with eternal life.
22Then the LORD God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of Us, knowing good and evil; and now, he might stretch out his hand, and take also from the tree of life, and eat, and live forever”
From the scriptures above we can know two things.
1. The sentence of death required that Adam and Eve be separated from the tree of life.
2. Being separated from the tree of life ensured that Adam would surely start the process of eventually physically dying.
Being kicked out of the garden was a death sentence for Adam and Eve and all mankind to come.
23therefore the LORD God sent him out from the garden of Eden, to cultivate the ground from which he was taken. 24So He drove the man out; and at the east of the garden of Eden
He stationed the cherubim and the flaming sword which turned every direction to guard the way to the tree of life.
In that day you shall surely die?
As explained in a previous blog post, the bible translators have done us a great disservice by not giving an alternative and more accurate translation of what God actually said to Adam when He gave Adam his instructions.
The Hebrew is, literally, die-die (muwth-muwth) with two different verb tenses (dying and die), which can be translated as “surely die” or “dying you shall die.”
This makes the text read something like “In the day you take from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, dying you will surely start to die, until you are dead“.
What was the nature of death in Genesis?
There is no mention of spiritual death anywhere in the Bible and certainly not in the Genesis narrative.
When death is mentioned, it is always in reference to physical death.
Adam was sentenced to physical death, not some mystical spiritual death.
19By the sweat of your face
You will eat bread,
Till you return to the ground,
Because from it you were taken;
For you are dust,
And to dust you shall return.”
When Adam died his soul went to hades in the heart of the earth and his physical body decomposed, returning to the earth in which it was formed. From the dust he was formed to the dust he returned.
Thank you for reading this post I hope it has been a blessing.
In my next post we will look at what I beleve being dead in our tresspasses and sins means.