Did God Die on Calvary?

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Did God die when Christ, Who is God, died on the cross? Does God Himself have blood, and did He suffer pain when Christ shed His blood for the expiation of the sins of His elect?

After the decision of the Council of Chalcedon in 451 A.D., explains Berkhof in his book The History of Christian Doctrines (Eerdmans, 1959 ed., pp. 111-13), there was "a lengthy and rather unseemly struggle between the different parties…. They were divided into several sects, of which the names alone, says Dr. Orr, ‘are enough to give one a cold shiver.’ There were the Theopaschitists, who emphasized the fact that God suffered; the Phthartolatrists, who…were said to worship that which is corruptible; and the Aphthartodocetists, who represented…the view…that the human nature of Christ…was endowed with divine attributes and was therefore…incorruptible."

Wesley the Arminian later resurrected Theopaschitism. A few ill-chosen lines in his otherwise great hymn And can it be?, reveal this heresy. Here are those lines. (1) "Amazing grace! And can it be – that Thou, myGod, shouldst die for me?"; (2) "’Tis mysteryall! The Immortal dies"; and (3) "Emptied Himself of all but love."

The fact is, however, it was not God but Wesley who died! God did not die – because He cannot die (First Timothy1:17 & 6:14-16). To claim with Wesley that "the Immortal dies" – is like claimingthatGodWhoisLight could becomedarkness(contra FirstJohn 1:5b). AndthoughChrist indeed ‘emptied Himself’ (Philippians 2:7), He certainly did not at Calvary – as Wesley claims He did – empty Himself of His immortality and His omnipotence etc. and of "all but love."

As with Arianism, heresy gets sung before it gets preached. Arminianism leads to Atheism. For if God died when Christ died, not just "one-third" but rather all "three-thirds" of God then died – so that no God at all could have remained to resurrect Jesus. For Paul infalliblystates that in Christ "dwelt all the fullness of the Godhead." Colossians 2:9.

Note, we did not saythat Wesleywas an Atheist! Indeed, we believe Wesleywas a dedicated Christian – because predestinated to be saved in spite of his own atheizing tendencies such as his rejection of divine election! But we do saythat Wesley’s is an atheizing system. And we certainly callfortherewritingofhisinfluentialhymn, bythedeletion ofthe above-mentioned offensivewords and their substitution byCalvinistic terminology- such as "that You, myChrist, should die for me"; and "It’s mystery all! The Saviour dies"; and "Emptied Himself, in His great love."

BackinthetimeoftheProtestantReformation,theLutherans’1530Augsburg Confession was acceptable to Calvinists. But, after Lutheranism entrenched its militantly Anti-Calvinistic Consubstantiationism overthenextdecades-thebattlelinesbecamemarked. ThisledtotheGnesio- Lutheran viewthatafterHisresurrectionandespeciallyHisascension,Christ’shuman naturebecame omnipresent – and hence present also inthe elementsat theLord’sTable. Thisisthe erroneousview "that each ofChrist’snatures permeatestheother,andthatHishumanityparticipatesinthe attributes of His divinity" (Neve’s Lutheran Symbolics, p. 132).

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NowthisLutheran-Wesleyanaberrationmustsharplybedistinguishedfrom theReformed view that the properties of each of Christ's two natures are ascribable to His Person. Thus the Westminster Confession 8:7, cf. the Larger Catechism (37-40 & 48-49 & 54-55).

"Ah,"retort theAnti-Calvinists,"butdoesnotPaulhimselfdeclarethatGod bought theChurch with His Own blood (Acts 20:28)?" No, Paul does not! Actually, Paul says the HolyGhost would have Pastors feed God's Church – which He [Christ] purchased with His Own blood." Does the bodyless HolyGhost have blood? Or is Paul not here trinitarianlyteaching the HolyGhost says the Son in His humanity with His blood purchased the Church of God the Father?

Calvin comments on this verse: "There is nothing more absurd than to suppose that God is corporeal or mortal…. By speaking like this, he [Paul] is commending the unity of the Person of Christ. For in view of the fact that there are separate natures in Christ, Scripture sometimes mentions separately what belongs to each in particular. But when it sets God before us, made manifest in the flesh – it does not separate His human nature from His deity…. In this verse, Paul attributes[human] bloodtoGod, becausetheman JesusChrist,WhoshedHisbloodforus,wasalso God. This figure of speech was called the communicatio idiomatum by the Fathers, because the property of one nature is applied to the other" within one and the same Person – and not, as in extreme later Gnesio-Lutheranism, because one nature is alleged interchanged with the other.

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