Saturday, June 25, 2005

The Burr in the Burgh: Is Death a Natural Part of Life?

Pastor Scott Stiegemeyer posts an excellent essay on God and death. The idea that death is not part of God's plan and that death isn't something to rejoice about is a foreign one to me. My years in non-denominational churches were filled with messages that death is part of God's plan and that we should rejoice and be happy that a departed one is with the Lord. To be taught, in the confessional Lutheran church, that God hates death and that it was never part of his original plan was a surprise to me. Of course, we can rejoice that a loved one has gone to be with the Lord, but we can also rightly hate death.

Pastor Steigemeyer writes:

When God created Adam and Eve in the Garden, it was not His purpose for them to die. Death is a result of our sinfulness (sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned - Romans 5). And that's why we hate it. Because it is un-natural. And I'd suggest that God hates death even more than we do. Read on...The Burr in the Burgh: Is Death a Natural Part of Life?


Bob Waters said...

And that is why evolution is such a theological problem. If evolution is true, death was around from the beginning- and must therefore have been part of God's plan.

Rick Ritchie said...

1 Cor 15:26
The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death

Revelation 20:14
And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.

Your pastor is totally right. The key idea in death is separation. Separation of body and soul. Separation of people from loved ones. Separation is not a good thing. The Gospel is a ministry of reconciliation, the opposite of separation.

I like St. Athanasius's line about how Jesus was a man so full of life that he had to borrow death from others. He walks on the scene and the dead come alive.

If death were part of God's plan in the sense of being good in itself, Jesus would not have been sent into the world.

TKls2myhrt said...

I was totally floored the first time I heard my pastor speak on this. It was a completely foreign concept, yet it made sense. I had been a Christian for over 20 years and hadn't ever heard anyone explain scripture to me in this way. I don't know that I had said to anyone in grief that death was part of God's plan for this person, but I certainly won't now. I can understand Rev. 20:14 more fully now. In learning from confessional Lutheran pastors, God just keeps getting bigger and more powerful everyday. He's had no problems breaking out of the box I had put him into. :) I think that all those years I spent singing "Our God is an awesome God.", I really had no idea just how truly awesome He is.

Louise Wilde said...

Yes, death is a separation. Death, according to the LORD, is being separated from him and in the power of Satan. "You were dead in your tresspasses and sins." "When you eat of it (the knowledge of good and evil) you will surely die," Gensis 2:17. Our heart can be beating and our lungs breathing, but to God we are dead.
But "Whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life ... he has crossed over from death to life. I tell you the truth, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live," John 5:24&25.
To Jesus, Lazarus was alive even when his body was in the grave. Being raised with Christ happens here on earth already when God raises us up to new life in Christ.
Let us be faithful in our testimony to the truth of what is being alive and what death is all about.

ghp said...

My favorite part of Pr. Stiegemeyer's cogent analysis could be summed up thusly:

Death is an unnatural corruption of God's original plan, as sin introduced death into the perfect creation. Thus, death is to be feared. Christ's actions, however, conquered & transformed death, such that it no longer need truly be feared by those to whom God has brought into the one, true faith.