My God my God why have you forsaken me?

I am reading John R W Stott’s The Cross of Christ and he is arguing for a literal separation of Christ from God in that he commends us to take Christ’s words at face value, and while you my Catholic friends on here have disagreed with me in the past on the exact nature of the curse bearing servant, I think I would like discuss the “separation” itself if you are willing. Namely on two points;

  1. Does it make sense to assert that anything in all creation could be truly separated from God?

  2. If Christ’s death is the ultimate dereliction then why is it so clearly declared as the ultimate victory of God over sin and death and proof of His justifying love, grace and mercy?

Among the fundamental confessions about God given over the entire history of orthodox Christianity regardless of RCC, EO, or Reformed/ orthodox protestant churches is the clear affirmation of God’s eternal presence ruling over the entire scope of creation from its first moment to the last. If this is so then does it make sense to say that suddenly God stepped out for a smoke? I don’t think so and so the assertion fails on this point imo.

Two is Christ’s own assertion again and again that his hour, his moment, his purpose was tied to this ultimate act of love. If this is so then how on earth could he have failed? Especially given that Isaiah tells us that “he shall see the travail of his soul and be satisfied.” If that is true and God sent him for this purpose then the assertion that the travail of his soul and his purpose from God is that he should end in dereliction and failure seems absurd.

To that end wouldn’t it make more sense to take a second glance at the cross?

Christ is on the cross and about the sixth hour darkness descends. I think this darkness is not the absence of God but the presence thereof. Think about in Exodus when God comes down what happens; darkness descends and the mountain smokes. In Job when God descends a whirlwind appears and God speaks to Job. In Isaiah when he sees the Lord what happens; the temple shakes and Isaiah is filled with horror and dread. The OT repeatedly tells us that the presence of God is terrible to behold and human experience in it is always fear and trembling and despair. That being said wouldn’t it make more sense to say that the darkness and the associated dread which accompanied it is the presence rather than absence of the Father attending the sacrifice by which all men must be saved?

If that is so then isn’t the Lord’s cry of “Eloi Eloi lama sabachthani?” not an assertion of dereliction but rather a declaration of what is happening is the fulfillment of prophesy given in psalm 22? Remember that the Jews did not number the Psalms but rather recited them based oh the first line; so psalm 23 would be known as “The LORD is my shepherd,” and Psalm 51 would be “Have mercy on me oh God according to your unfailing love,” etc. That Christ is declaring the ultimate and final fulfillment of the suffering servant of God and by extension also Isaiah 53 I think is the point and not an actual separation.

Lastly is the notion of the descent into Hell. I do not personally know what to think of this except that I am sure in some way Christ suffered the punishment of Hell in that he paid the ransom for the sum of man’s sins. But even if that is so this still does not mean he was separated from God. After all do we believe that Satan, having rebelled against God directly in God’s presence and right to His face would then be given a realm to rule that he may punish the other rebels and thus escape punishment himself. Is not the cry of Milton’s Satan “Better to reign in Hell than to serve in Heaven,” not the ultimate assertion of the serpent’s vanity rather than a reflection of the actual Hell itself. The Bible tells us that Hell is a place of punishment for Satan and his angels, and if that is so Satan most definitely does not rule in Hell.

So who does?

I think the answer manifestly is God himself. It is God who punishes the unrepentant souls in Hell and he does so for the glory of His own Name in justice. The men and angels who have refused his mercy have done so because they hate Him (Romans 1) and as such God is right to punish them. As such even if Christ did descend into Hell rather to fulfill punishment or to free the captives from the power of death, then even in Hell Christ would never be separated from the Father.

“Where can I go to escape form you. If I ascend to the Heavens you are there. If I make my bed in Hell you are there.”

Of course a subject like this could not be covered exhaustively here but I really want to know what you all think. I have one request however, please keep this thread to the narrow question of the “separation” and not on the curse since I know that has been discussed elsewhere on these boards.

God Bless.

Much of your post represents Catholic thought on your initial question. But the above is where we would differ. “Hell” isn’t the hell of the damned, but rather “Sheol”, the abode of the dead. It is to there that the Lord Jesus descends to release those in bondage to death - especially the First Man, Adam. This from the Office of Readings of the Liturgy of the Hours for Holy Saturday reflects what is happening:

*The Lord’s descent into hell *

What is happening? Today there is a great silence over the earth, a great silence, and stillness, a great silence because the King sleeps; the earth was in terror and was still, because God slept in the flesh and raised up those who were sleeping from the ages. God has died in the flesh, and the underworld has trembled.

Truly he goes to seek out our first parent like a lost sheep; he wishes to visit those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death. He goes to free the prisoner Adam and his fellow-prisoner Eve from their pains, he who is God, and Adam’s son.

The Lord goes in to them holding his victorious weapon, his cross. When Adam, the first created man, sees him, he strikes his breast in terror and calls out to all: ‘My Lord be with you all.’ And Christ in reply says to Adam: ‘And with your spirit.’ And grasping his hand he raises him up, saying: ‘Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give you light.

‘I am your God, who for your sake became your son, who for you and your descendants now speak and command with authority those in prison: Come forth, and those in darkness: Have light, and those who sleep: Rise.

‘I command you: Awake, sleeper, I have not made you to be held a prisoner in the underworld. Arise from the dead; I am the life of the dead. Arise, O man, work of my hands, arise, you who were fashioned in my image. Rise, let us go hence; for you in me and I in you, together we are one undivided person.

‘For you, I your God became your son; for you, I the Master took on your form; that of slave; for you, I who am above the heavens came on earth and under the earth; for you, man, I became as a man without help, free among the dead; for you, who left a garden, I was handed over to Jews from a garden and crucified in a garden.

‘Look at the spittle on my face, which I received because of you, in order to restore you to that first divine inbreathing at creation. See the blows on my cheeks, which I accepted in order to refashion your distorted form to my own image.

'See the scourging of my back, which I accepted in order to disperse the load of your sins which was laid upon your back. See my hands nailed to the tree for a good purpose, for you, who stretched out your hand to the tree for an evil one.

`I slept on the cross and a sword pierced my side, for you, who slept in paradise and brought forth Eve from your side. My side healed the pain of your side; my sleep will release you from your sleep in Hades; my sword has checked the sword which was turned against you.

‘But arise, let us go hence. The enemy brought you out of the land of paradise; I will reinstate you, no longer in paradise, but on the throne of heaven. I denied you the tree of life, which was a figure, but now I myself am united to you, I who am life. I posted the cherubim to guard you as they would slaves; now I make the cherubim worship you as they would God.

“The cherubim throne has been prepared, the bearers are ready and waiting, the bridal chamber is in order, the food is provided, the everlasting houses and rooms are in readiness; the treasures of good things have been opened; the kingdom of heaven has been prepared before the ages.”

Prayer

Almighty, ever-living God, whose Only-begotten Son descended to the realm of the dead, and rose from there to glory, grant that your faithful people, who were buried with him in baptism, may, by his resurrection, obtain eternal life.
(We make our prayer) through our Lord.
(Through Christ our Lord.)

There is no separation of Jesus from God.

When Jesus said "My God, why hast thou forsaken me, he was quoting a psalm (22) It was like sending a message to the Jews who were with Him at that moment.

The 22nd psalm is a message of hope, if one reads through to the end. That’s what Jesus was telling those around Him who could hear.

as others have pointed out, Christ is God and Man, eternally, inseperably, completely, and at the same time.

This is a fairly old (but still relatively recent) protestant heresy.

Huh? You think confusion about the nature of Christ is a protestant heresy? Look up Marcion and Arius.

Also I have no idea where you got the notion that I was asking anything about the nature of Christ.

I must have missed where I said that ONLY protestants have been confused about the nature of God. However, the idea that “My God, my God, why hast though forsaken me” points to a temporary separation of natures is a view which today is held only by protestants or catholics who are in bad need of catechesis.

Also I have no idea where you got the notion that I was asking anything about the nature of Christ.

Because the question of whether or not it is even possible for such a temporary separation to occur is fundamentally based on Christ’s nature. Either Christ was God and was inseparable from Himself (true) or Christ was NOT God and therefore God could withdraw presence from Him (untrue).

The two issues are one and the same.

“Huh? You think confusion about the nature of Christ is a protestant heresy? Look up Marcion and Arius.”

I have (long ago), and that is why they were deemed heretics by the early Church and Church Fathers, as early as just 150 years after the death of Christ (Marcion) and in the 300’s AD (Arius).

Although not “protestant” in the Middle Ages sense, these two men were nevertheless heretics. Marcion thought there were two “Gods” (if that is not heresy, I don’t know what is), and Arius taught that Christ did not exist until he was born.

As a previous poster stated, Christ was reciting a Psalm for his Sandhedrin “jurors” who attended his crucifixion.

If one reads the entire Psalm Christ is quoting, one will realize that Christ is not “separated” from God and at a loss - he is quoting scripture that he KNEW would “awaken” the hearts and minds of his accusers so that they would begin to realize what they had done in asking that he be killed.

Yes. I think the orthodox Christian view is that only “separation” Jesus Christ experienced was the separation of his soul from his body or physical death.

All Catholics view it thus. Christ truly died (and truly rose from the dead! Maranatha!). That is dogmatic. To say otherwise is likewise heresy.

OK I didn’t follow

Yes I agree this is a misunderstanding of the nature of Christ as God.

God Bless

I agree Christ was quoting the psalm for the crowd which is what I said in the original post as I was disagreeing with Stott.

God Bless

I believe there is significance in every single thing that Jesus did. That being said, I would be cautious to say that the only reason Jesus is quoting the Psalm is to awaken the hearts of those present. Many people focus on a high Christology akin to that found in the Gospel of John, and this is fine, as long as the intimate focus on His humanity is not lost as well.

I think we would do a disservice to the very human nature of Christ if we count His tortured words on the Cross as merely a homily citation. This is the same Jesus that experienced such physical agony that he literally sweat blood out of his pores. Reading the Psalm in context, it is easy to see that David is experiencing a very real turmoil, it seems to him almost as though God has abandoned him, and yet the Psalm ends in his hope of vindication. Catholics; apologists in particular, tend to focus on the ending of the Psalm as proof that Jesus knew he was going to be resurrected and so was not actually experiencing an abandonment by God the Father. This is a partial truth. In His humanity, especially in light of the inspired words of David on His heart, it is clear that He did expect to be raised, but the terror and abandonment experienced by David must properly be applied to Jesus as well. On reflection, this seems to me to be analogous in some ways to the “Dark Night of the Spirit” spoken of by Saint John of the Cross and other Catholic mystics regarding the spiritual life, and if I remember correctly they may have pointed to this incident as well. Ironically, to tie this in with what another poster wrote, during the Dark Night of the Spirit, you feel that God isn’t there, and yet that is when He is working through you the most. Just speculation on my part, but it seems to ring true to me, and also seems to be solidly grounded in Catholic thought…

You start by saying that everything Christ did was deliberate… and then say that this was not deliberate but a cry of despair in abandment? That doesn’t make sense.

Further, there was never any abandonment whatsoever. Christ cannot be separated from His own Divine Nature.

And to say that quoting the beginning of the psalm was merely to “awaken the hearts” of those present is grossly simplistic. The psalm is a prophecy of the Messiah, and in effect Jesus was not just awakening hearts, but clarifying for all present that the prophecy was fulfilled and spoke very specifically about Him. That would have been a world rocking revelation for the scribes and pharisees who were present at the crucifixion.

I think you guys need to cut me some slack AND read my entire post. PLEASE read the ENTIRE sentence, and not just part of it. My point is that Christ was speaking from a SPECIFIC Psalm that people such as the Pharisees would automatically recognize.

It is akin to someone citing the first words of the Declaration of Independence or the Gettysburg Address or the Star Spangled Banner - I (and most other Americans) don’t need to hear the entirety of these greatly important texts to be able to get the gist of what saying the beginning of them would mean in a given context . . .

I said: “If one reads the entire Psalm Christ is quoting, one will realize that Christ is not “separated” from God and at a loss - he is quoting scripture that he KNEW would “awaken” the hearts and minds of his accusers so that they would begin to realize what they had done in asking that he be killed.”

Note my use of the words “entire Psalm” “hearts AND MINDS” “so that [his accusers] would . . . realize WHAT” great mistake they had made in asking for Christ’s blood.

I think Christ is pointing to prophetic fulfillment. The purpose of the Psalm, like Isaiah 53, is the suffering servant and yet the ultimate vindication of God.

God Bless

You start by saying that everything Christ did was deliberate… and then say that this was not deliberate but a cry of despair in abandment? That doesn’t make sense.

No. I’m not saying that at all. I’m saying that the statement was deliberate, but we should not lesson the agony of what he was feeling. Please read my post again with this caveat in mine.

Further, there was never any abandonment whatsoever. Christ cannot be separated from His own Divine Nature.

Again. Read the post. I likened it to the dark night of the spirit, which is *not *abandonment by God. There is a difference between being abandoned by God, and feeling as though you have been abandoned. He has a human nature, with human feelings, yes? He can feel a certain way, even if there is no spiritual reality behind it, yes? God does not abandon anybody. If David can know he is not abandoned, and yet feel achingly alone, why can’t the New David feel similar in his humanity? Please look past your knee-jerk reading and try to see my actual point, because I am not touching on a hypostatic union issue at all. There is a fuzzy area between Christ’s humanity and it’s relation to His deity that is only defined to a point by the Church, and your speculation on this matter is no different or more authoritative than mine. I’d also like to point out that the issue is not Christ being separated from his own nature, but in possibly feeling abandoned by the Father, a person of the Trinity. And I’ll make it really simple. If he didn’t mean it, then why did He say it? Why not pick a different part of the Psalm to quote?

Again, everything Christ did is for a reason. But when people say that Jesus cited a Psalm by David on the cross, they tend to focus on the last part of it and ignore the first 3/4ths of it. Jesus knew He would be resurrected, but his feelings of desolation were real. His agony was real. He is embodying the whole Psalm in making passing reference to it, and in the process He is fulfilling prophecy. Is this His intent by speaking this aloud? Perhaps, perhaps not, but it is what happened. Any more speculation than this implies to know more about the relationship between His two natures than the Church has deemed fit to define.

And to say that quoting the beginning of the psalm was merely to “awaken the hearts” of those present is grossly simplistic. The psalm is a prophecy of the Messiah, and in effect Jesus was not just awakening hearts, but clarifying for all present that the prophecy was fulfilled and spoke very specifically about Him. That would have been a world rocking revelation for the scribes and pharisees who were present at the crucifixion.

Again. Read my post. I am actually not endorsing this view, but responding to another who stated it. I get the impression you are skimming my post and responding without really letting it sink in.

Personally, I don’t think that Christ was quoting the Psalm. I think the Psalm was quoting Christ (prophetically). Nathan Wager has a good point: we don’t want to lessen the agony of Jesus on the cross. In other examples of Jesus’ ministry we see angels ministering to Jesus, or even the theophanies at His Baptism or Transfiguration. But there, on the cross, Jesus feels, in His humanity, that God is far away from Him. Why did God (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) permit this feeling? We can only speculate, but I think it is for our sake that this happened. These are just my personal reflections, but it seems to me that part of why we honor Jesus so much is because of how deeply He entered into the human condition. Would we have been able to claim Jesus perfect unification with humanity if He had the comfort of God on the cross? Would we be able to relate to Him as well if He had not suffered the feeling of abandonment, scorn, etc? In our trials, do we always “feel” God with us? I don’t know about you, but I do not always “feel” He is there. HOWEVER, the point is that even though we don’t feel like He is there, the reality is that He IS with us. As Ps 22 says in verse 25 : “Neither hath he turned away his face from me: and when I cried to him he heard me” So, the very Psalm that prophesied Jesus words also tells us that God did not turn His Face from the tortured One.

We can meditate and speculate on these words and I’m not sure we will ever fully get it. Be that as it may, to believe that the Father and the Son ever separated, however briefly, is to cease to be monotheistic. If a person believes that Jesus is the Son of God (who is one with the Father) can be “separated” then they start believing in two separate Gods. This is a flat contradiction with everything that has been revealed to us in scripture and in the Church. That pretty much settles the argument for me…

I think the separation was that Christ in his flesh felt not the absence of God because the statement makes no sense but rather that He experienced the absence of the benevolence of the Father for the first time.

God Bless

No one is arguing that Christ was not in agony…

Again. Read the post. I likened it to the dark night of the spirit, which is *not *abandonment by God. There is a difference between being abandoned by God, and feeling as though you have been abandoned. He has a human nature, with human feelings, yes? He can feel a certain way, even if there is no spiritual reality behind it, yes?

(emphasis mine)

No. You’re saying that Christ could be decieved and be wrong. If that is the case then Christ is not God and therefore is not worthy of worship.

And I’ll make it really simple. If he didn’t mean it, then why did He say it? Why not pick a different part of the Psalm to quote?

Because the quoted psalm is one complete entry. The method of quoting a passage in Jesus’ time was not to quote a chapter and verse because such a distinction DID NOT EXIST at that time. Thus to quote a biblical passage as a reference, one would state the first line of that passage. You’re reading too much into the common practice of the time.

Again, everything Christ did is for a reason. But when people say that Jesus cited a Psalm by David on the cross, they tend to focus on the last part of it and ignore the first 3/4ths of it.

No. The entire psalm is relative as a prophecy because it predicts the suffering servant. And the last 1/4 of it denies that any separation was ever there in the first place.

Jesus knew He would be resurrected, but his feelings of desolation were real. His agony was real.

His agony certainly was real. His “feelings of desolation” were not, as for the stated reason above: if Jesus was wrong then He was deceived, and if He was deceived then He is not God.

JESUS MARY 18 Jan 2011 110118
Hello bogeydogg and Everyone –
Several points I’d like to share with you.
1 – You refer to the “exact nature of the curse bearing servant.” I simply want to make clear that I believe those references from Isaiah due refer to the future Messiah, Jesus Christ.

2 – You posed the question … Can anything in all creation really be separated from God? This is not an either/or answer but rather a both/and answer. Yes … and no. Speaking in the most absolute terms, no, it is utterly impossible for any creature ever to be truly separated from God. The yes answer > God will never (can never) separate Himself from any creature … but yes, the creature can choose to be separated from God, to have nothing to do with God.

2 – Why is the ultimate dereliction of Christ’s death so clearly declared to be the ultimate victory of God over sin and death? Because it was precisely by being defeated by death that Jesus Christ conquered death. “In the days when he [Jesus] was in the flesh, he offered prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to the One Who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence.” Hebrews 5:7. He was saved from death? How was he saved from death? He was saved from death, he conquered death, by submitting to death. Only by dying did he conquer death.

3 – Why is the ultimate dereliction of Christ’s death so clearly declared to be proof of His justifying love, grace, and mercy? (I believe Jesus Christ to be True God and true man, the Second Person of the Trinity become forever a real human being.) “Greater love than this no man has, that a man should lay down his life for another.” And this human being, this man, was God Almighty Suffering and Dying. This is the staggering truth, mystery, of the Incarnation and Redemption.

4 – The sufferings that came upon Christ during his (His) sufferings (Sufferings) and death (Death) included everything to which man could be tempted. “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has similarly been tested in every way, yet without sin…” Hebrews 4:15. Did this darkness include a temptation to despair? Yes. Humans can and some do suffer from that weakness.

5 – The only virtues that were left in Christ in the depths of his sufferings were the three theological virtues, those virtues that are necessary in us for our salvation, namely, Faith (Trust) and Hope and Divine Love. These virtues reside essentially in the free will … and without these Jesus could not effect the salvation of the world. In Jesus’ emotions or feelings? Nothing but the empty threatening darkness. Jesus diid feel (emotion) that the stink that he was had turned even the Father away from him. By Faith, blind Faith, and by Hope, blind Hope, and by the choice of his free will to love God – Jesus knew that the Father never would be turned against him. Why would such a temptation that his stink would turn the Father away? “For our sake He made him to be sin, who did not know sin, so that we might become the righteousness of God in him.” 2 Cor 5:21.

6 – Jesus did not enjoy the Beatific Vision as a normal part of his earthly life. Let us “persevere in running the race that lies before us, while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the leader and perfecter of faith.” Hebrews 12:2 How would it be possible for Jesus to be “the leader and perfecter of faith” and not walk by faith himself?

7 – The sinner punishes himself. The sinner effects a cause (sin) that has its proper effects. God so very often does not permit the effects, the consequences, of our sins to fall full force upon us. Most often God moderates these consequences – and indeed forgives infinite consequence, the eternal loss, as often as we truly repent. That God, even in Scripture, is said to punish … is an anthropological way of speaking.

Those are some things I wanted to share with you, bogeydogg and everyone.
You raised some prodding questions. We need more of that among us.
John (JohnJFarren) Trinity5635@aol.com

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