A persistent question that comes up at Easter is the question of why it was necessary for the Lord to be put to death. The New Church rejects the traditional Christian teaching that He died to pay for the sins of the human race. But the New Church does teach that His death and resurrection were necessary as part of His saving work. The central New Church teaching about this is:
"The Lord from eternity, who is Jehovah, came into the world to subjugate the hells and to glorify His Human; and the passion of the cross was the last combat by which He fully conquered the hells, and fully glorified His Human" (Doctrine of the Lord 12).
The Lord conquered hell and glorified His Human by choosing spiritual life over physical life, according to His words:
"He who loves his life will lose it, but he who hates his life in this world will keep it into eternal life" (John 12:25).
This is the same pattern that the process of regeneration follows:
"Regeneration takes place to the end that the life of the old man may die and a new, heavenly life may be instilled" (Arcana Coelestia 8403:2).
But whereas the "death" of the "old man" does not mean physical death in the regeneration process, in the Lord's case physical death was necessary.
"The Lord willed to undergo death and to rise again the third day to the end that He might put off everything human that He had from the mother and might put on the Divine Human" (Apocalypse Explained 899:14).
This "putting off" of what He had from Mary and "putting on" of the Divine Human was taken to the extreme of physical death because in His life everything was representative, so that spiritual processes were manifested tangibly - and recorded in the Word as events. Accordingly He rose again with His whole glorified body the third day.
We are also taught that this was a sign to the church about its rejection of God (True Christian Religion 130), which would result in understanding and new belief.
The passion of the cross should not be seen isolated from the Lord's whole life, teaching, and resurrection. In all of this He overcame the power of hell by making Himself visible, so that He can be known, loved, and obeyed, establishing the kingdom of heaven.
Thursday, April 1, 2010
Why Did the Lord Have to Die?
Have you ever wondered why the Lord had to die? In this week's Bryn Athyn Post Rev. Jeremy Simons provided a good explanation of how the New Church addresses this question. (Here's a link to the full April 1, 2010 issue (PDF))