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Theologian Says Brain Dead Doesn't Count

Dr. William Welty, a Ph.D who graduated from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, says 13-year old Jahi McMath is not technically dead even though she has no recorded brain wave.  The mother of the child believes the Bible teaches as long as the blood is circulating in the body, there is life. She bases her belief on the Book of Leviticus that says the life of the flesh is in the blood and that is certainly true, but would President Kennedy have been considered "alive" with half his head blown off if they had put him on life support?  

Having served in Vietnam and seen many men die in my presence, some with severe head wounds that severely impacted the brain, the medics and doctors could not save them although they did everything medically possible for them.  In several cases, I observed a strange phenomenon - their last breath sounded like the breath of a spirit. I don't know any other way to explain it.  It was a slow and sometimes long gasping sound. Looking back, I believe it was when their spirit left their bodies. 

Note: the spirit [pneuma] is not the soul [psyche]; the spirit is from God and is the life source of humanity and the connection from God to man and vice-versa; even though lost people are born dead in trepasses and sins, that is, their spirit is cut-off from God, the spirit is not dead or non-existent otherwise they would not be a living soul; the soul is the seat of man's personality and includes his mind, will and emotions; however, if there was no spirit, the soul could not exist (I will explain further down in this article). The human body is alive because the spirit and the soul inside the body are alive.  

So what is the meaning of human life is in the blood.  The human DNA, which is the sin nature Adam and Eve received from Satan when they believed his lie and ate the forbidden fruit is in the blood of mankind. The man (male) passes the sin nature to his offspring, not the woman even though she too has a sin nature.  This is easily proven by the fact Jesus had no earthly father. His mother, Mary, was impregnated with the Holy Spirit not the sperm of a man. Had Jesus had an earthly father, he would have inherited the same sin nature as Adam. It was impossible for Jesus to have an earthly father because He was with the Father God in the beginning and even before the original creation of the heavens and the earth. In order to offer Himself as the perfect sacrifice for humanity, He could not have had a sin nature and therefore could not have an earthly father.  

My contention is that death is officially when the "spirit" of man leaves the body. The Bible tells us our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit. It is His dwelling place, that is for Christians. The Holy Spirit's presence in our spirit makes our earthly frames a holy temple of God.  A lost person without the Spirit of God is also a temple that houses his human spirit, but it is not a holy temple.  The Book of Hebrews says without holiness no one will see the Lord. (Heb. 12:14). What makes us holy - the presence of the Holy Spirit inhabiting our human reborn spirits. Salvation is actually the Holy Spirit making our dead spirits come alive unto the Lord. If I may use a crude example, it is like waking-up out of a coma. A person in a comatose state is basically without body or soul functions. It is as it they were dead.  Then one day they wake up and act like a normal living person.

There are two passages in the New Testament that support my belief that death occurs when the human spirit leaves the body:

When Jesus died on the cross, the Bible says He prayed to the Father and said, "unto thy hands I commit my spirit", then he breathed His last breath and died. (See Luke 23:46).  

When Stephen was stoned to death by the Pharisees for telling them the truth they murdered the Lord Jesus, he prayed for the Father to receive his spirit. Then he died. (See Acts 7:59).  In both cases, death came when the spirit left the body. 

In Genesis 2:7 the Bible says God breathed into Adam's nostrils the breath of life and he became a living soul:

 And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; andman became a living soul. 

What is interesting about this verse is that the Hebrew word for breath is in the plural form - that is, breaths - more than one.  When God the eternal uncreated Spirit (God has no beginning and no end, He always was) breathed into Adam's nostrils, He breathed into him two life forms: (1) he received God's Spirit that created his (Adam's) human spirit (2) when the Spirit of God touched the lifeless body of Adam (God created the body first before He placed His Spirit into it), the soul was created, which is the expression of man or his personality. This is why the Bible refers to mankind as "souls."  Mankind or humankind is both a spirit and a soul housed in a body. The highest form of mankind is his spirit for it is the Spirit that gives life. 

When the spirit of man leaves the body, death takes place.  Now if the body is so damaged that it can no longer function as a live human being, the spirit leaves the body and death ensues. For the spirit of man to exist there must be a body capable of supporting soul life.  If the brain dies, the body can no longer function and therefore the spirit leaves the body.  JFK was technically and officially dead the moment the bullet destroyed his brain.  He was dead before the physicians at Parkland Hospital in Dallas pronounced him dead.  Between the time the fatal bullet severely damaged his brain at 12:30 PM and the physicians at Parkland Hospital pronounced him dead at 1:00 PM, John Kennedy was already 30 minutes in eternity.  Where was he? Was he in heaven or hell?  I don't know, but he was an adulterer and my Bible says no adulterer will enter the Kingdom of God.  

Is Jahi McMath alive or dead?  There is only one way to know for sure, disconnect her from the life support system. If she is still alive, her heart will continue to beat and blood will continue to circulate in her body. If she is dead and her spirit has left her body, her heart and vital signs will cease functioning. Mechanical equipment that can keep body tissue alive by pumping blood through the circulation system is not proof a person is alive. Human life may be in the  blood, but it is also in the spirit.  Medical science cannot duplicate the spirit of mankind. They may be able to keep the body from decomposing by using physical life support systems, but they cannot give the body spiritual life - only God can do that.  

Former Prime Minister of Israel, Ariel Sharon, is being kept physically alive on life support systems although he suffered a massive stroke in January 2006. Doctors say he has some brain activity after almost 8 years in a vegetative state. Is his spirit in eternity while his body is being kept alive on earth?  

There is an interesting passage of Scripture in the Book of Revelation that describes the Beast, the Antichrist, as having received a deadly wound and is healed - comes back alive:  

Revelation 13:3-4 

 And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast. 
 And they worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the beast: and they worshipped the beast, saying, Whois like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him? 

The Greek word for wound is "stroke" and the word for death is thanatos - physical and literal death, while the meaning of the deadly wound is to be slain or slaughtered. The meaning of was healed is to wait upon, that is, there is an indefinite period between the time of death and the resuscitation.  Some prophecy scholars believe the Antichrist will come from the nation of Israel, which was not a nation for over 2500 years then resurfaced in the 20th century. Thus they believe Revelation 13:3-4 is a reference to the rebirth of national Israel. What if Ariel Sharon were to suddenly come out of his coma and was re-installed as the PM of Israel.  He was known as the "lion" of Israel because of his military leadership and strong opposition to the Arab nations including Iran. 

The people of Israel would follow him because he was one of the original founders of the nation of Israel in 1948 (a military commander in the war of 1948 and a key player in every Israeli war since). He is revered as the King of Israel and the Lion of God.   

This is only speculation, but nevertheless interesting. We shall have to wait and see how it plays out in the end-time scenario.

Before I leave this article, it is true that a number of "brain-dead" people have suddenly without any medical help or explanation, come back to life and resumed a normal life - it is what most call a miracle.  The Lord God can certainly intervene in a brain-dead person and restore life.  Lazarus was dead - in the grave for 4 days and though his body was already undergoing decomposition, Jesus raised him from the dead.  In another situation, Jesus stopped a funeral possession that was on its way to bury a young man, and raised the boy to life.  Death and life are in the hands of the eternal God and He has the power to transcend natural environments. 

Can He do the same with this 13-year old child?   Jesus told His disciples that nothing is impossible with God, that is why He is God and we are human. 

Dr. Allen M. Barber