Tag Archives: death

Who are the exceptions?

Wow.  I’m not sure how this woman (Linda at Kingdom Grace) got into my head and then took what she found there and made it so beautiful and succint:

This might be kind of quirky, but I really am enamored with this topic.  For over a year now,  it has been like a shiny object that I hold in my hand or pocket and take out frequently to admire, study, and enjoy.  I am not sure if the fascination is because it is new to me or if it is just inherently fascinating.  Anyway, I appreciate the people in my real life and on the blog who humor me in my latest obsession.

So what did Jesus accomplish in his death and resurrection?

Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. (Romans 5:18)

One has died for all, therefore all have died. (II Cor. 5:14)

For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. (Romans 6:5)

For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. (I Cor. 15:21-22)

Who are the exceptions to “all”?

Just as death spread to all men through Adam, in Christ we all died and we have all been raised into new life.  We weren’t consulted about this.

The gospel has never been about qualifying people for salvation, it is about letting them know the really good news . . . that they are already loved and embraced by the Father. (Link)

(I posted something similar by Bonhoeffer earlier.)

Metamorphosis

Just a thought I had as I was ruminating on these words of Jesus: “Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, yet they died. But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which people may eat and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever.” (John 6:49-51a).

I’m gonna throw this thought out there; if you like it, you can take it, and if you don’t, you can send it right back:

I’ve wondered before about the possibility of there being death prior to the “fall” of humans–possibly even death as a part of the created order.  I’ve considered this from a somewhat scientific angle (so far as my limited scientific capacity allowed), but not from a theological or ontological angle.  (This is all speculative, of course.)

What if death was originally meant to be a sort of metamorphosis in the process of creation and that, prior to the fall, humans would naturally come out on the other side of death in a sort of resurrection into the final form of the physical life?  That is, what if creation (or human development specifically) is not complete until a human had passed through death into new life?  This came to mind as I was reading this passage because while Jesus promises eternal life (“not die,” “will live forever”), his disciples still died.  People of faith around the world die natural deaths every day.  It’s a question I’ve had for a while.

Today, however, it occurred to me that Jesus’ death was necessary in order for him to enter into the eternal life.  That doesn’t sound very profound, but listen:  Jesus’ resurrected body is completely physical, but in a way which we have not experienced.  He eats and drinks and can be touched, but evidently he also walks through walls.  Could the transition between our physicality and “resurrected physicality” be made without dying?

Going back to the result of Adam and Eve’s disobedience in Genesis 3, then, this idea would mean that the result of this disobedience was not death in itself but a specifically permanent death–that is, death which is not passed through, but one which is permanent, without resurrection into a new physical reality.

Interesting idea.  But possibly crazy.

Death in Creation

A couple of years ago, I pondered the meaning of physical death in terms of the predicted result of eating the forbidden fruit. Given that in the Genesis story Adam and Eve lived on several centuries after eating the fruit, the prediction seemed wrong unless it was spiritual death of which God was speaking.

Bob Robinson recently posted on this topic, quoted two preeminent evangelical scholars (N.T. Wright and Douglas Moo), both of whom believe that physical death was a part of the original created order–or, at least, that if humans were immortal it was by grace and conditional (i.e. obedience to God prerequisite), rather than something innate or essential to humans.

Robinson refers to the seasons, which are a cycle of death and rebirth, and to the food chain of carnivorous animals. Some might argue that the seasons and carnivores would not have existed prior to the fall, so this may not be the best example.  But the point is that death appears to be essential to creation as we know it, including elements of creation which would not have changed after the fall.  I’m thinking, for instance, of reproduction.  I’m not well-versed in biology, but it seems to me that there is a pattern in nature of death preceding or accompanying new life: for example, a fruit must die and decay in order for its seed to be able to germinate and grow into a new plant, or for every sperm that successfully reaches its destination, millions die.

If I’m wrong on my biology, please correct me.  And I suppose, too, that the question must be asked, What is life?  Theologically, is it only those things which have breath that can properly be said to die or is life broader than that? Interesting topic, at any rate.

This Thursday the Providence College Lectures will be given by Dr. Glen Klassen, with the topic, “A Scientist Reflects on How God Makes the World”: “He will be exploring topics on how traditional ideas of creation are challenged by the scientific approach and will ask the question, “is there any middle ground between Creationism and Darwinism?”  Unfortunately, I don’t think I’ll be able to make it to most of the day’s seminars.

(the ugly side of) Nature!

Well, they were sparrows.

Early Sunday morning I was out on our deck and I watched Mama and Papa Sparrow taking turns flying off for food and watching over the back yard;  I saw them dart in and out of the Virginia creeper. Definitely sparrows.

Sunday evening, Dixie and the kids watched the little sparrow hatchlings struggling around on the ground after leaving the nest.  And this afternoon I rescued one of the cute little guys caught in a window-well.  I scooped it out on a shovel and placed it gently in the grass as Mama and Papa Sparrow looked on.

But it’s confession time: I accidentally killed one of the little guys.

Tonight I was mowing the back yard (with our reel mower–still a fan!–but this story isn’t as gruesome as a reel mower may make you think) and I noticed Ma and Pa Sparrow flitting about the yard.  One of them had food in its mouth.  I happened to be mowing near where the nest is in the Virginia creeper, so I stopped mowing and backed away to let them feed their little ones.

Good thing I did, because one of the little ones was nestled deep in the grass as pass or two away from the lawn mower.  So I moved to a different part of the yard in hopes that the little guy would scurry away.  A couple of minutes later I went inside to get my camera.  I told Dixie about the little bird in the grass, how I could have killed the very bird I rescued this afternoon.  When I came back outside, however, the bird was gone–or so I thought.  I searched that whole area of the lawn looking for it, but I couldn’t find it.  I thought I heard some chirping in the Virginia creeper and rather naively thought that it was making its way back up to the nest (I didn’t realize birds leave the nest before they can fly), so I started mowing that part of the lawn again, just to get it done, in case it came back.  I was paying special attention to where I was going, because I knew there were at least two of them.  Except I didn’t pay attention to the spot the bird had been.  Then I noticed some sudden fluttering and saw the little guy struggle, twitch and die.  The front wheel of the mower had run over its hindquarters.

“Oh no!” I exclaimed.  I felt terrible.

I’m light-years away from joining PETA, but I love animals, and I hate to see them needlessly (or accidentally) killed.  This stems from both an innate appreciation for creation, as well as an ugly childhood incident involving a snared gopher.

I don’t subscribe to any of the Eastern religions, but I try to teach Luke not to stomp on ladybugs and other insects after he has observed them with fascination.  They are all–big and small–God’s little creatures (and, for goodness’ sake, His eye is on the sparrow!).  And we had been following this little family’s development for about a week now, were finally seeing them leave the nest.

I know this is just a fact of nature.  If I hadn’t clipped it, the neighbour’s cat may have caught it.  Who knows.  It’s still a shame.

Ma and Pa Sparrow returned and flitted back and forth between the stacked lawn chairs and the roof of the shed, looking and listening for their son or daughter.  A few minutes later, I was near them as they hopped on our fence.  I apologized to them;  “I’m sorry.  I killed your little baby,” I said.

I buried it behind the spruce tree in the back yard.

I don’t have the heart to tell Madeline.  Not because I don’t want her to learn about life and death–she has already learned quite a bit about that–but because I don’t want to face her anger at her idiot, careless dad.

And on that cheery note, tomorrow morning we are west-bound for the first leg of our Western Canada Tour of Insanity (I changed the name from “Tour of Glory” just a few moments ago, because it’s really quite insane what we’re doing.  But more on that later.)

Funeral

Dixie’s granny’s funeral is tomorrow morning.  Tonight, 40 descendants (and spouses) of Granny and Grandpa, including 12 children under age 14, converged upon one of the local family dwellings.  Children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren all gathered for a few hours of wonderful chaos.  People eating and talking in the living room, in the dining room, in the kitchen, on the deck, on the grass, in the screen tent; children running and screaming and crying.

Stanley 2
Click here for larger version, and larger versions still.

Tomorrow we gather again at the church to remember Granny.

I wonder: what does it feel like for a matriarch or patriarch to see most of her or his descendants, 3 generations in all, gathered in one place, as grandpa did tonight?  Do you feel pride?  I feel a great deal of pride when I look at my three children, but to see your children’s children’s children?  Wow.  But perhaps by that time you would feel sadness that you can’t get to know each one of them as much or see them as often as you’d like?  It’s probably a bittersweet mix of both.