Heresies for most sense are part of defending the truth that is in the Church. Without heresies the Church cannot stand strong and fulfill her duty of bringing souls to Christ. In the Philippine apologetics that of the Catholic faith defenders community, an overwhelming disagreement whether God died “literally” has brought wounds that wrecked unity.
It is through this issue that even well-known Catholic faith defenders like Bro. Socrates Fernandez brought himself into theological clash with the other defenders. Of course, for years now, most adherents to Bro. Socrates in the Visayas region have held the claim that the God-died theology rings a figurative tone on ear and on the mind.
The historical event is figurative as Bro. Socrates and his supporters believe and so they are saying that God cannot “literally” die.
It can be reviewed that during the 2015 CFD National Convention held at the University of the Southeastern Philippines, it was the same issue raised upon. There was Father Abraham Arganiosa from CFD Manila chapter, Spiritual adviser then of CFD National who took the floor by explaining the theology behind Jesus being God yet died in his humanity. The mystery of our religion takes it as to reveal that to say, “God died” is to be taken as nothing but a literal truth, the strictest truth that the Church has proclaimed and so is not figurative. But sad to say, this goes opposite to the mind of Bro. Socrates and his supporters who cannot accept it despite numerous supports from a list of Bishops who are, of course, earners of degrees in Philosophy and Theology. (For the list of names of the bishops visit : http://thesplendorofthechurch.com/ )
In an expected support from the CFD National Convention held at Siena Hall, Siena College Quezon City last May 27-28, 2017, the Most Reverend Teodoro Bacani reiterated the same answer when confronted with the question “Is the expression, God died, to be taken literally or not?”
The former Bishop of Novaliches said that it was to be taken “literally”. It is literal but must be understood in a way that when Jesus died, it is the son of God that died in his humanity. The son of God is God.
The subject of the action is the person and not either of the two or even the complete two natures of Christ. So whatever the humanity had to suffer, or had suffered the subject of that action and its receiver is but the one and only second “divine” person of the Holy Trinity.
And as for any, the question to be asked in relation to the issue must be: “Who do we say that died?” and not “What do we say that died?” Bishop Bacani further explained that true enough the divinity cannot die because it is eternal and flesh is not. But saying that flesh is no eternal it is therefore subject to death. The whole person must, by consequence, experience what the human nature (as to the flesh) is supposed to experience.
In the Holy Trinity, as the Bishop lectured, each person is understood to possess the fullness of one, unshareable divinity. Each of the persons is therefore God. Each is God not by numbers but by one concrete essence or substance.
The limitation there in each person of the Holy Trinity was revealed as in the case of Jesus’ death on the cross.
Jesus being the second person, the son of God died but God the Father did not, and neither did the Holy Spirit. Death commissioned by Jesus through his humanity is what the second person of the Holy Trinity in its “FULL” divinity experienced. And since God is only One of full divinity, then God could die literally but in flesh. Jesus as God died in his humanity as there can never be death to what is immortal like spirit.
With all this, we hope and pray that supporters of Bro. Socrates and he himself from CFD Cebu may accept the stance of the majority of Bishops and CBCP the literal truth about God’s death with finality.
The retired Bishop Bacani had spoken that it was literal and so we must not confuse it with anything contrary to it. The truth is the highest point we must all achieve in the name of God, and in defending His Holy Church. To be disobedient to the voice of those in the highest is to go lowest.
Terrence Gil Relucio