Nature of Christ’s Death, Figurative or Literal?


It is however, our belief that the body of Christ alone was interred. The above words propose, as the principal object of our belief, that God was buried; as according to the rule of the Catholic faith we also say with the strictest truth that God died, and that God was born of a virgin. For the Divinity was never separated from His body which was laid in the sepulchre, we truly confess that God was buried. (Catechism of Trent, Article IV)

The statement from the Catechism of Trent which says “God was buried, God died and God was born of a virgin”, was a point of disagreement among people who failed to grasp the teaching of the Council of Trent. In order to water down or explain away the dogmatic formulation of Trent concerning Jesus Christ’s death they arrived to a conclusion that the Catechism of Trent construed its wording in a figurative way. Therefore the statement “God was buried, God died and God was born” is only a figurative statement and not a literal one where Jesus Christ was literally born, died and was buried.

However, such an interpretation is totally detached from what the council have in mind. The idea that Christ’s death is just figurative and not literal is foreign from the Catholic faith, from the scriptures to magisterial documents it has always been taught and preached that Jesus Christ suffered a literal death. The Catechism of the Catholic Church affirms the statement of Trent that Christ’s death is literal and He died as a person.

Since the “Author of life” who was killed is the same “living one who has risen,” the divine person of the Son of God necessarily continued to possess his human soul and body, separated from each other by death. CCC 626

Christ’s death was a real death in that it put an end to his earthly human existence. But because of the union which the person of the Son retained with his body, his was not a mortal corpse. . . CCC 627

To the benefit of every man, Jesus Christ tasted death. It is truly the Son of God made man who died and was buried. CCC 629

Basing on correct interpretation of the statement of Catechism of Trent, Christ death is not figurative but literal and historical. Another explanation that they proposed is that Christ’s death should only be attributed to Christ’s human nature. There are two fundamental problems with this explanation.

1. It wrongfully predicates that act of dying to the nature rather than the person.
2. It assumes that nature (an abstract reality) can be subjected to physical death or harm

According to the renowned dogmatic theologian Rev. Msgr. Joseph Pohle, Ph.d, D.D. actions of either the Divine and human nature of Christ should always be predicated to the divine person.

Whatever is predicated of the Divine person of Christ according to His Divine nature, can and must be predicated of the same Divine Person also in His human nature, and vice versa; but the predicates proper to the Divine nature must not be assigned to the human nature, and vice versa. (Christology. A dogmatic trietied on the Incarnation, Rev. Msgr. Joseph Pohle, Ph.d, D.D., p.186)

To sum up what this great dogmatic theologian is saying is that actions that belong to the Divine and Human nature are always predicated to the person of Jesus Christ. So when the Catechism of Trent said that “God was buried, died and born” it is attributing these actions to the person of Jesus Christ not to His divine nature.

These major modern errors in Christology must be refuted and corrected before it can cause major confusion and doubts among the faithful.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s