If Jesus is God, how can he die?

My husband no longer believes in the Trinity, after 27 years. One of his supporting statements is that God can’t die. I say, he’s God, he can do anything. This is too weak of an answer. He also says the idea of the Trinity is a law of “agency “. Please share thoughts on this, it has caused quite a division. We will have 30 years of marriage this year. Thank you kindly.
Patrice

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Hello Patrice,

Thank you for the great question and I will begin by saying that the Trinity is not a subject that has proven easy for anyone. This is a subject that is difficult to understand and which I’m not entirely sure we can ever fully comprehend. I will attach a video to this response that will hopefully help with understanding the Trinity a bit better.

As for the death of Jesus, this is not to say that He died spiritually, but He took on a physical body, thus when He died it was physically. But no He did not experience spiritual death so that is the difference when understanding Christ’s death on the cross. I hope that can clear that up but if you have any other questions please do not hesitate to ask them.

I will pray for you and your husband. May God grant you wisdom and understanding as you seek to know Him better. God bless you and thank you.

Matthew

This is the first in a six part series on the Trinity given by R.C Sproul. All of the talks in this series can be found on YouTube on Ligonier Ministries’ channel.

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Hello Patrice,
It is understandable that a person could have these views. Many people struggle with the doctrine of the trinity. Of course the answer I can provide here is only a fraction of what there is to know.
First the trinity, the simple answer is that the Bible speaks of God being one (Deuteronomy 6:4). But the Bible also speaks of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. And there are scriptures that refer to each as God. We also know that in many cases one member of the trinity will speak to or about the other. For example, Matthew 3:13-16. This passage is when Jesus (the Son) is baptized by John. After the baptism a voice from heaven (the Father) speaks saying that Jesus is His, “Son in whom He is well pleased”. During this time the Spirit descends in the form of a dove. Here we have all three persons of the trinity mentioned together in the same passage. There are many many more proofs of the trinity in Scripture.
As for God being able to die. Philippians 2:3-15 tells us that the Son gave up His position and took on the form of a person. Understand that because God is triune even though the Son gave up His position in Heaven the Father and the Spirit were still very much in control of all creation.
Lastly, just as was said before. Jesus died in body. His Spirit did not die. For it is impossible for the Spirit of God to die.
I can recommend a couple books that are great on the subject if you are interested. Just let me know.

Jeff

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@Patrice_Taibi Hi!

I just wanted to ask some clarifying questions.

Does he believe the New Testament is inspired by God?
Does he believe the Old Testament is inspired by God?
Does he still believe in God in general?

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Hi Patrice @Patrice_Taibi. Thank you for your question. Yes, we all have moments where we doubt or dont see why something is the way it is. Instead of just replying to the person, it always helps to just listen to them well. That may reveal even deeper thoughts and reasons for the “superficial” question or denial of something as @joncarp is asking.

Defining terms is also helpful. “What do you mean by die? as a man, or as a God/spiritually? Do we die when we die even as humans?” our soul is still there. No one can take away the soul.

I also did not understand what he meant by “Trinity is a law of agency”

God Bless.

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Hi @Patrice_Taibi, it’s good to see you back on Connect! Thank you for trusting this community to come alongside you as you wrestle with how to engage your husband on this difficult question.

Other members are already well underway sharing some constructive thoughts, but I wanted to just take a moment and acknowledge the spiritual and emotional burden you must be bearing as you attend to this question with a heart of love for your husband. Thirty years of exploration, communication, and navigating life together is beautiful—and something to be heartily celebrated! So it must be unnerving to feel a belief near the center of your shared commitments is now brought into question for your partner. It is clear that your heart here is not just for an answer to establish orthodoxy, but for unity where division has fractured something precious.

It is my prayer that God would grant you Spirit-empowered grace to stand faithfully by your partner as he wrestles with this issue: encouraging him, loving him, and upholding him in your prayers. That as you continue to seek, pray, study, and listen, you will have both discernment and the responses needed for the moment. (I hope this community can help resource you for the latter!) I also pray for protection from fear: that you would experience the abiding comfort of the Spirit, and peace which goes beyond circumstances and rests in the steadfast love and faithfulness of our Lord.

May you be met and kept by the peace of God even in the midst of this painful wrestling, Patrice.

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Yes, he does. He is heavily in the word.

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Patrice, I second @Lizibeth’s post. Your situation is very painful. It is heart-wrenching to think of the emotional turmoil that you must be suffering. @mmingus36, @Jeffsilkwood, and @Danageze have posted great questions and information. I recommend Nabeel Qureshi’s Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus to both of you because Nabeel really struggled with the doctrine of the Trinity on his journey from Islam to Christianity. It also addresses some other problems that may be lurking in the background for your husband. If your husband resists reading this book because he thinks that Islam has nothing to do with him, then see if he will read part six, “The Case for the Gospel,” in which Nabeel’s intellectual battle with the Trinity plays a key role. Lee Strobel’s The Case for Christ is also a great resource. Chapter seven in my 1998 edition, “The Identity Evidence,” is all about Jesus’s divinity claims.

I would want to ask the following questions in addition to ones already asked in the above posts:

  • What has your husband been reading or watching outside of the Bible?
  • Does the time that he spends reading the Bible at least equal the time that he spends reading other things?
  • What does he generally believe about God?

I know that these are painful questions for you to think about. We will be praying for the two of you.

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Lizibeth,
Thanks so much for acknowledging how difficult this is. It’s quite a loss really. I don’t feel as I can look to him as a spiritual leader as I used to. He was even a bit taken back that I didn’t follow him in this.
He says coming to this conclusion was difficult. He toiled and lost sleep and wrestled hard with this concept. He just heard the simple phrase " the word trinity isn’t in the Bible ".and that sent him on this quest and now a firm belief.
I am thankful for the forum and look forward to the feedback.
Again, thank you kindly.
Patrice

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@Patrice_Taibi What Scriptures does he use to justify his view?

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Hi @Danageze,
Basically, the law of agency as I understand is that we believe in the trinity because we are relying on what our forefathers of the faith, church doctrine, “others” have studied and concluded and not doing your own study or research and coming to a conclusion or belief based on that.

Thus, my husband set out on months of study. and still is, to prove or disprove, the trinity. And he has concluded that there is only one God. Jesus is the Messiah , and the Holy Spirit is a “force”.

As I listen to him, he often refers to scriptures he has found that support his belief. I cannot match him in bible knowledge, but I believe by faith that Jesus is in fact God in flesh.

When he said Jesus can’t be God because God can’t die, I believe he supports that even in human form, if he is God then he can’t die.

Thank you for the blessing.

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Bendan,

Thank you so kindly. I actually just showed him the you tube video of Nabeels Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus! His reply was that it was “interesting” and that “I just don’t agree that “God died…” but the messiah did.” I’ll look and see if Lee Stobel’s is on you tube.

He generally only reads the Bible. And he does so faithfully, stuying and note taking everyday for hours, at least 2. Other than that, he will watch and search YouTube. He generally won’t read a book.
YouTube may out weigh the scriptures, because he will listen to youtube on his daily walks and will often have it playing on the side as he is working (from home).

He sent me this, when he was trying to explain to me what he was believing:

And here is what he does believe:

He believes that God is One who is the Father alone

He believes that Jesus is the “son of god” …(aka son of man) born of a virgin who lived a life of perfect obedience to the father… he alone is the anointed human messiah that was promised in the Old Testament to promote the kingdom of god and to pay for our sins by dying on a cross and by his resurrection from the dead this proved that he is God’s messiah (Christ) and true believers will be resurrected also to immortality

He believes that the Holy Spirit is a “Spirit “ ( the operating force ) that comes from the father that empowers both Jesus and us to understand truth and obey the father

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Hi Jonathan,
Many, many, I will ask him to narrow it down. I will get back to you. Thanks so much.

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Hi Jeffrey,
Thanks for understanding.
It is probable that he would say that just because the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are mentioned in the same passage, this is not “proof”.

He feels as though he has to retrain his mindset from just relying and believing what he was told and taught vs. doing his own study and interpretation.

I would be interested in your book suggestions. Although he likely won’t read them ( he refers to YouTube mostly) I would .

Patrice

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Patrice, these kinds of differences can take awhile to work out. My wife and I did not see eye to eye on things Biblical for maybe 10 or 15 years before we converged again, so you can do it if you have patience and let God guide this where He wants it to go.

As we have come to know it, the sole reason Jesus was put here by God was to die. If it were not for that event and His subsequent rising, Christianity would not exist. In order to demonstrate to us that there is an afterlife, Jesus rose, and this would not have been possible without Him dying first.

And not only did He rise, but He predicted that would happen and gave the exact timing. He also predicted that He would return and that they would all see Him again. And in fact that is exactly what happened.

There is a lot of evidence that these events really did happen. How could Jesus have known this and done the things He did here if He was not God? I wonder how your husband looks at this? Does he believe it happened as stated in the Bible?

I pray you have the patience and peace in your heart to work through this as Ravi would want, with kindness, calmness, and sound reasoning.

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Hi Mathew,

Indeed you are right! Our pastor told him to “run” if you can find anyone who could explain the Trinity.

Thank you for the You Tube link, and your prayers and explanation. Spiritual death vs human death.

Blessings,

Patrice

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Hi @Patrice_Taibi
These are really good answers you have received here. Let me just add a little something here. I think the problem lies with your husband approach. He is right by saying God can die. The problem is the thought that when Jesus died, then God died. God did not die. Jesus’ human body died because that’s what happens to human being. But remember, the Bible says in 1 Peter 3:18 that while his body died, his spirit was made alive and even preached to the imprisoned spirits. So it is a mistake stating that God died as an association with Jesus’ death.

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@Patrice_Taibi After reading some of the other posts I think I have a better understanding of what his position might be. I think the below YouTube videos of a debate with James White and Michael Brown defending the trinitarian position against unitarians could be helpful in giving a rebuttal to some of the arguments he may be presenting.

Trinitarians vs. Unitarians debate (1/2)
Trinitarians vs. Unitarians debate (2/2)

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Patrice, thank you for your clarification and video post. I have several thoughts on it:

  1. Stephanie was too submissive. She was too afraid to seek support from people who actually could answer her questions and support her and possibly help Bill to a clearer understanding. She put too much emphasis on being silent, at least in public.
  2. Bill commits a genetic fallacy by essentially calling the Trinity a Gentile fabrication. He predicates opening doors to ministry to Jews on the notion that “real Jewish people know that the Trinity is baloney” (38:20). He bases this fallacy on an extremely literal interpretation of Scripture.
  3. Bill subordinated infinite Truth to his finite Reason. God cannot be comprehended by reason alone.

Independent thinking is important. Rebellious thinking is wrong. The primary mistake that Bill and your husband are making is that they are subordinating the Infinite to their finite reasoning. They are abandoning Truth because they cannot comprehend it and the text does not connect the dots for them. It is like driving into a ditch where the road turns right because there was no sign that said, “TURN YOUR STEERING WHEEL TO THE RIGHT.” They are willing to abandon almost two thousand years of theology because they do not understand how it works.

I am curious to know how your husband explains:

  • Thomas’s exclamation, “My Lord and my God” (John 20:28, ESV)
  • That David called his descendant, the Messiah, Lord (Matthew 22:41-45)
  • Why the high priest “tore his robes and said, ‘He has uttered blasphemy. What further witnesses do we need? You have now heard his blasphemy’” when Jesus answered affirmatively the high priest’s adjuration to “tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God” if the high priest did not equate being the Messiah and the Son of God to being God (Matthew 26:63-65).

This is not a comprehensive list of points. This is a long road to travel. Your husband will have many rabbit trails for you to follow if you try to persuade him. That is the way these types of people operate. Prayer and faith in God to change minds is the only ultimate solution. I would encourage you to give him books to read and ask him, if he loves you, to read them instead of listening to YouTube videos. Videos really do not give you time to think. Books do.

My prayer for you is that you keep your eyes on Jesus, God the Son, the Incarnate God, and pray to him for help. Do not let your sense of insufficiency hinder your openness to the all-sufficient council of God the Holy Spirit. At all times beg God the Father for strength to endure, and he will grant it.

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Hello Patrice,
I too have close family that rely on YouTube for much of their information. It has given them many views that are not biblical. But there are a lot of good resources on YouTube as well.
I will recommend two books. And if your husband will not read them I would suggest you consider reading them yourself. Both books have really blessed me. However, if you are not much of a reader there is an option for listening to the books on audio. These book should also be available on “audible.com”.
The first book is ,“Delighting in the Trinity” by Michael Reeves. This book is amazing in its profoundness. One thing that grabbed my attention was this; We know that God is love from the Bible, but if God is not triune then who did He love before creation? If God were not a triune God then He would be dependent on His creation to love anything. But in the triune God of the Bible we see the Father eternally loving the Son and the Son eternally loving the Father And both the Father and Son and the Holy Spirit in eternal loving communion. Of course the book will explain it better than I can.
The second is by my favorite Theologian, Dr. James White. His book is called, “The Forgotten Trinity”. Dr. James White is brilliant in his defense for the trinity. Dr. White is also a skilled public debater. Many of his debates are available to watch on YouTube. I will include one below that pertains to this subject. It should be noted that public debates are long. However, they give both sides of the debate a chance to make their case. So it is not one sided. I would suggest watching the debate all the way through even if you have to break it up into segments.
I really hope these resources can bless you. I now how frustrating and disappointing it can be to see a loved one like this.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U-KMGuXCs-c

Jeff

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