Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Thoughts about death

Freud said that the ego doesn’t really believe in its own death. He may be right. But I’ve been doing rather a lot of morbid thinking about that great enemy (1 Cor 15:26) called death recently. Was Sartre right to insist that death robs life of all meaning? And is there anything after you die?

I know this is a massive topic involving such issues as our worldviews, ‘body and spirit’, Platonism and resurrection, intermediary state, purgatory etc., but I wanted to simply list a few comments by theologians that have stuck in my mind.

Küng says a lot of things about this (cf. Ewiges Leben?), but one memorable passage speaks of us ‘dying into the light’.

Moltmann also says many things (cf. The Coming of God ). However, in one passage he memorably spoke of hope ‘that God will find us in death’ (p.66).

Pannenberg writes: ‘Christian theology views us as creatures in both body and soul, destined indeed for immortality in fellowship with God, yet not possessing it of ourselves, nor able to secure it for ourselves, but receiving it only as a gift of grace from God’ (Systematic theology, 3.571)

Barth, eloquently wrote: ‘Resurrection means not the continuation of this life, but life’s completion. To this man a “Yes” is spoken which the shadow of death cannot touch’ (Dogmatics in Outline, 154)

The greatest theologian of them all says:
‘For to me, living is Christ and dying is gain ... my desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better’ (Phil 1:21-23. Cf. also 2 Cor 5:8)

In facing questions about death, and my inevitable death, I can find my true hope only in Christ.


At 6/14/2006 12:25 AM, Anonymous Michael F. Bird said...

Chris, I sincerely hope your reflections on death are not related to your current illness. The blogosphere would be so dull without you, even if our loss is heaven's gain!

At 6/14/2006 1:22 AM, Anonymous Steven Harris said...

My thoughts exactly Mike - get better soon Chris!

At 6/14/2006 12:17 PM, Anonymous Shane Clifton said...

Chris - you have me worried. I guess more prayer is in order

At 6/14/2006 12:20 PM, Anonymous Jason Goroncy said...

Chris, I hope that this finds you feeling better. Nice post. Reminded me of something the Puritan Thomas Goodwin once said about death: "I am going to the three Persons with whom I have had communion: They have taken me, I did not take Them. I shall be changed in the twinkling of an eye; all my lusts and corruptions I shall be rid of, which I could not be here; those croaking toads will fall off in a moment". Be assured of my prayers.

At 6/14/2006 3:55 PM, Anonymous Bro. Bartleby said...

"It is requisite for the relaxation of the mind that we make use, from time to time, of playful deeds and jokes."

-- Thomas Aquinas

At the monastery dispensary the most frequent medication doled out by Bro. James is "humor" ... that said, most of our reflections of death are mixed generously with humor, for to ponder death is as fruitful as pondering nothingness, for it gets you nowhere. I believe that Jesus wants us to be fruitful in all we do, so it is with a joy I awake each morning with a firm, "Thank you Lord for this new day, thank you Lord for this gift of life, may I be fruitful in all I do this day."

Bro. Bartleby

At 6/14/2006 6:29 PM, Anonymous Chris Tilling said...

Thank you all so much for your prayers and concern, it has been a real blessing. I will write a little more about what provoked these posts later, but until then I want to reassure all that I have just received some good news from the doctor about my health!

At 6/14/2006 8:51 PM, Anonymous John P. said...

Chris, I have dealt with a host of health issues this past year and I am convinced that nothing is more frustrating...nothing is more spiritually/theologically challenging than chronic illness, either. I hope that you have a loving community to support you in this difficult time.

I wish you a speedy recovery...


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