The Fall: Four Deaths
by Glenn Stanton
Most Christians – and even many non-believers – know that the Fall brought death to mankind and the earth. But as Francis Schaeffer explains in his book Genesis in Space and Time, there were actually four kinds of death introduced into creation at the Fall. As a result, we all face and are crippled by them:
- Death between man and God. Man and God are no longer intimate. This alienation is what the rest of God’s story is about – the consequences of it and God’s seemingly unending work to make things right, to make a way for us back to Him through His unending grace.
- Death between man and himself. We all have fear. We are insecure. We doubt ourselves and feel shame about who we are and what we do. We often don’t think we are worth loving, either by ourselves or by others. Much of the psychosis that humans suffer is due to their inability to come to terms with and live with themselves. The Fall has created a great chasm there. In fact, the great Christian thinker Blaise Pascal said the primary trouble with man is that he cannot live quietly within himself. He is not comfortable there. He seeks to avoid this with busyness and diversions of every kind.
- Death with others. Schaeffer calls this the “sociological separation.” We do not relate with others as we were intended to. We mistrust, we are shy, we use others. These are things the virtuous person must always be mindful of, for they are more natural to us than their opposites.
- Death between man and the earth. Being banished from the garden, man’s relationship with the earth and nature now shows the signs of decay. We must struggle with and against it to get what we need and what had originally been designed to come naturally. We harvest by the sweat of our brow and ache in our shoulders, arms and backs. Our relationship to God’s physical creation is deeply marred
Schaeffer beautifully states, “The simple fact is that in wanting to be what man as a creature could not be, man lost what he could be.
But it will not remain this way. The good news of where God’s story is going and His “fix” is found in Revelation 21:5.
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Glenn Stanton is the director of global family formation studies at Focus on the Family, and the co-author/co-creator of The Family Project, as well as the co-author (w/Leon Wirth) of The Family Project book.