Slavery to the Fear of Death (Heb. 2:15)

(Posted by Paige)

Here’s a theme that I would like to develop into a written piece sometime; I thought I’d toss it out to you here to gather some of your good thinking, and thus expand my own. See which of these questions sparks ideas in you…

1) In what ways have cultures (and individuals), from ancient times to the present, told stories and pursued actions that reflect slavery to the fear of death?

2) In what ways has this universal fear of death been exploited by the powerful?

3)Would fear of death have at all influenced the lives of OT saints (up to and including Jesus’ disciples, pre-resurrection)? In other words, was OT revelation sufficient to remove, or at least mitigate, this universal fear of death?

Here is the text from Hebrews 2:14-15 (ESV):

Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.”

Thanks in advance for your ideas!

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26 Comments

  1. Mary Kathryn said,

    December 29, 2012 at 8:24 am

    I believe that when Scripture tells us that we will not perish/will not taste death, it’s telling the truth. Christians have bought into the terror of death, just as pagans do. We look at Jesus’s resurrection, at His promises of delivering us from death, at our eternal hope … and we shrug and decide to be afraid of death, as if the Lord were simply speaking platitudes.

    I think perhaps this is one of the most under-taught concepts in the church. No one seems to believe that we really don’t die. On top of that, Christians continue to mourn our loved ones like those who have no hope of seeing them again — as if they, Poof!, disappeared. From our mourning and sorrow, you’d think we believe in annihilationism.

    This strikes a nerve with me b/c heaven and the new earth are topics of continual conversation in our home, and this constant dialogue about our eternal hope really alters our view of the event of death. I believe the shadow of death passes over us (Ps. 23), but not death itself. Christ’s deliverance of us from death is not just theoretical mumbo-jumbo; it’s a real deliverance, or it’s no deliverance at all. He is the God of the living, who are not even for one moment, dead. Regarding the OT, I’d suppose that, like us, some of them “got it,” and some didn’t. Job seemed to understand, that even though his body would decay, yet IN HIS FLESH, he knew he would see God.

  2. greenbaggins said,

    December 29, 2012 at 11:25 am

    Paige, interesting idea to explore. I would say that the pursuit of the fountain of youth is an idea worthy of a paper (or even a book) in itself. The entire origin of alchemy attests to the fear of death. The theme is very prominent, of course, in the Harry Potter series, as Voldemort’s primary motivation: to beat death, since he is so very afraid of it. The mythologies of almost any ancient culture had a god who was in charge of death, and he was usually one seriously scary dude, whether it was Hades, Osiris, or Loki.

    Usually the exploitation by the powerful of the fear of death is in order to monetary concerns. Of course, this has been a rather constant critique of purgatory by the Reformers: that the Catholic Church used the fear of purgatory to get people to buy indulgences, and thus fund the church.

    As to your third question, Jesus fairly clearly tells us that the doctrine of resurrection is present in the OT. Even in the passage of the burning bush, where the present tense “I am” is used to prove that the patriarchs are still alive. Daniel 12, of course, is a strong indicator, as is Psalm 16 and the genealogy of Enoch in Genesis 5 and the story of Elijah. Of course, it was not as clear in the OT as it would become in the NT, and we have the benefit of the NT when we are reading the OT. These are just some off the cuff thoughts on your questions.

  3. December 29, 2012 at 3:09 pm

    This may not be of any specific help with your questions, but the "fear of death" is a major theme in Eastern Orthodox theological reflection. See these lectures, for instance.

  4. michael said,

    December 29, 2012 at 3:48 pm

    I was about 4 years old I recall when I first was emotionally confronted about this notion of death. In my neighborhood two city cops shot and killed a fleeing suspect who was hold up hiding in a closet of a house he ran into with the cops close behind chasing him. For some time after that that was the discussion among the mom’s and neighborhood children. I then was caught a year or so later stealing things from doors following behind a person hired to hang sample bottles of a fabric softener being introduced to the moms who did the washing. I remember being afraid as the Juvenile Cop put me in hand cuffs and into the back seat of his car and hauled me off to the police station then put me in a room with all kinds of weapons attached to wall displays. I sat there frightened out of my wits not knowing if the cop was going to kill me for my transgression? That was in the 50′s, about 1957-8?

    Then members of my own family started dying and I cannot forget the first time seeing my dead Uncle lying in repose in his casket. He was dead but I thought he was only sleeping.

    Then we got a television and once while watching it I caught a program that was uncovering the brutality of the Chinese Govt. publically executing prisoners. I recall watching the dark green Army truck pull up to a public square with these soldiers taking out from the back of this truck young men and women arms bound behind their backs with a plank and being shot in the back of the head! That reality haunted me for years at night during nightmarish dreams about seeing these guys shot!

    Then of course I applied for my driver’s license and had to attend a class where the instructor showed a movie titled “red pavement”. I recall one scene where a car smashed into the back of a truck that had steel pipes hanging out and one of those pipes ripped off half of this man’s head. You could see clearly where the pipe impacted this guy as they Highway Patrol officers dragged the dead man out of the car. I suppose the lesson for us was be aware of what’s in front of you so you don’t end up dead and disfigured like that guy?

    Then I was touched by the Lord in 1975.

    I then began reading the Bible for myself. I recall the first time reading about Cain murdering Abel.

    It’s interesting that you ask these questions in here today Paige because for several weeks I have been pondering the passing of the Saints as recorded in Genesis throughout the books of the Bible to the book of Revelation and the question that we are confronted with in the Book of the Revelation of John about the fear of death and what Satan is about to do to some of the People of God? (Rev. 2:10)

    Several places in the Scriptures come to mind to acknowledge, first the place where God talks to Abraham, then Isaac then Jacob and also Joseph insisting on his bones be brought out of Egypt.

    We see the death of Jacob after giving his final Words to the Sons and grandsons where he simply pulls his feet up into his bed and breathes his last!

    We read about both Aaron’s and Moses’ passing with that nominal phrase about not knowing where the bones of Moses lay to then read in the New Testament Moses and Elijah showing up meeting with Jesus talking about the Kingdom that is to come! Hmmmmm, the question I have is how in the world did Peter, James and John “know” that that was both Moses and Elijah? Elisha saw Elijah taken up in the whirlwind.

    Then the power of the departed! There’s that strange and foreboding story of the witch of Endor bringing up Samuel who then speaks the future event of Saul’s suicide and giving Saul great hope that he would be with Samuel where he was before that encounter, presumably going back to that place the Godly departed go?

    Then we have Nathan’s prophesy to King David where God through His prophet tells the king that he would shortly go lie down with his fathers: “…When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. “

    Then this happens:

    2Sa 7:18 Then King David went in and sat before the LORD and said, “Who am I, O Lord GOD, and what is my house, that you have brought me thus far?
    2Sa 7:19 And yet this was a small thing in your eyes, O Lord GOD. You have spoken also of your servant’s house for a great while to come, and this is instruction for mankind, O Lord GOD!

    I would simply ask that we “note” well that that was instruction for mankind!

    Then finally the Apostles and some women. These dense headed souls, like we all, mind you, didn’t understand the resurrection! Who after seeing all they saw and heard and experienced, being told again and again and again that He would rise from the dead goes and buys a hundred pounds of burial perfumes to prepare the body after it had already be put in a tomb or bring spices to put on a rotting corpse on the first day of the week?

    Then, even after several sightings of the Risen Lord we read this:

    Joh 21:1 After this Jesus revealed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias, and he revealed himself in this way.
    Joh 21:2 Simon Peter, Thomas (called the Twin), Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples were together.
    Joh 21:3 Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We will go with you.” They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.

    We then have other parts of the New Testament writings to draw from that deal with the passage of one’s soul like Paul the Apostle betwixt and between going to be with the Lord, which is better or staying back awhile longer which was for the sake of some who quite possibly were so full of fears because of the pending turmoil that most certainly was on the minds of the Disciples and Jews, that ended with the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D.??

    I for one still have a quiver or two even now as I struggle with this matter of dying. See Hebrews 6:1-3.

    I want my death to be like Jacob’s! Don’t you?

    Gen 49:33 When Jacob finished commanding his sons, he drew up his feet into the bed and breathed his last and was gathered to his people. :)

  5. wsparkman said,

    December 29, 2012 at 9:40 pm

    jingle it might miss a few of your specific questions, I would recommend reading John Flavel’s “Practical Treatise on Fear: It’s varieties, Uses, Causes, Effects, and Remedies.”

    That treatise is found in Volume 3 of his Works. And don’t overlook the companion treatise, The Righteous Man’s Refuge.

  6. wsparkman said,

    December 29, 2012 at 9:44 pm

    Fie upon this Apple iPad and it’s so-called autocorrect!
    I don’t know where the word “jingle” came from, but it wasn’t supposed to be there. Please overlook.

  7. jedpaschall said,

    December 30, 2012 at 5:57 pm

    Paige,

    With respect to ancient cultures, there are several stories that deal with the problem of death and mortality. The Gilgamesh Epic comes to mind, where Gilgamesh is a proud king who finds no comfort in the greatness he achieves, so goes upon a quest to find the tree of life, and immortality.

    And to the question of how OT/intertestamental believers would have viewed death. The Psalms are a great place to look to see the way the people of God viewed the great issues facing them, including death. I think Psalm 88 is a great place to look. Here the psalmist questions whether or not the love and care of God extends to the grave. It would seem that as the OT unfolds there is more revelation regarding man’s estate after death, but this doesn’t really begin to get treatment until the major and minor prophets. In this intervening period the grave was a place of great mystery, but with the ascension of figures like Enoch and Elijah, there were glimmers of hope that existed beyond the grave.

    If I get some time in the next couple of days, I will also try to dig up a couple of articles on Sheol and summarize them here, these might be helpful for your research.

  8. Roy Kerns said,

    December 30, 2012 at 6:52 pm

    Do not forget that a love-fear relationship exists when pondering death. “…all those that hate me (wisdom, personifying God) love death” Pr 8:36. Thus that classic by Oz Guiness, “Dust of Death”, argues backwards. He accurately points to how cultures apart from God meander toward death. Then he proposes Jesus as an alternative, a way to avoid the disasters he has catalogued. As if the pagan does not actually love death…. He should have started with Proverbs’ assertion.

  9. paigebritton said,

    January 1, 2013 at 7:49 am

    Great ideas so far, and thanks for all the references.

    Would love to hear some more observations about how “fear of death” plays into contemporary life. My impression is that it does not dominate (in the way a Pharaoh’s tomb-building project would have dominated both the daily lives and the horizon in his day); but my suspicion is that this universal fear is part of the fabric even of our materialist, daredevil Western culture. How does this underlying fear slip out into the open, in story (word) or ritual (deed)?

  10. greenbaggins said,

    January 2, 2013 at 9:30 am

    Paige, I would actually argue that it is very dominant indeed, but only by virtue of it being the one topic that is still taboo. Now, in one sense, our culture glories in death (horror movies, thriller movies, violent video games, etc.). However, in terms of actually talking about death, hardly anyone does so. If anyone is forced to it, they tend to talk in euphemisms (“passed away,” etc.). The fear of death is evident in the maniacal fervor of the pursuit of staying young.

  11. Cris Dickason said,

    January 2, 2013 at 1:21 pm

    Paige: Happy Holidays to you & family (and all the regulars and hosts of Green Baggins)…

    Concerning questions 1 & 2:

    From Ancient Near East: Egypt is an obvious example, that immediately raises some problems.
    The Pharaohs (and closely related social class) obviously seem to have been fixed on death/afterlife. And as the rulers they had the means to compel ([parts of) their society to their won ends: pyramids etc.

    But the question then becomes, how did the slaves, the peasants, the working people view and approach things? Not being able to spend their own time, or compel someone else to attend to funerary needs like the pharoaohs, what did they believe?

    Actually: Is fear the correct category for ancient Egypt? Obsessed with the Afterlife, and with preparing for that journey and the next state/phase, yes. But is that fear?

    And for another fictional take on death, and how different groups react to, or face the fact… There’s always the mythology of JRRT’s Middle-Earth. You have to read the Silmarillion and other posthumously (no pun) published writings to get to this stuff.

    The One, the Creator, is Illuvatar or Eru. He ordains two sets of Children, the Elves and Men (mankind).

    Elves by nature are basically immortal, they do not age to point of mental or physical infirmity or death except in very rare cases (emotional suffering), where an elf decides to pass on to the halls of Mandos and the future restoration. This is lot of elves who fall prey to mortal wounds. It’s unclear if elves are actively involved in a reincarnation process prior to the big future event.

    Mankind is mortal by design. The physical body will wear out, if orcs and arrows and dragons can be avoided. But there was basically a shut down of revelation from Illuvatar concerning the fate of men. So the gift of men, the gift of mortality was also it’s curse. The lines (clans) of men that hung with the Elves learned enough to trust the creator in a general way. These be the Numenoreans. They denounced the shadow. The line of men not enlightened by hanging with the elves, and fallen Numenoreans, embraced the shadow, the lie of Morgoth & Sauron, who feared death and/or the judgement that waited beyond death. These taught men to fear death (& judgement?).

    Tolkien offers no stories of elves who actively choose to side with Morgoth or Sauron!

    So, is much of this to be found in Northern European, especially Norse and Anglo-Saxon, mythology? That was the inspiration for much of JRRT’s over-arching literary/linguistic inventions.

    Tolkien is so much more than a creator of action & drama! Imagine how some high school and college kids might be surprised when they move on from Peter Jackson’s movies to the actual literary works of JRRT.

    -=Cris=-
    Guess my favorite author?

  12. Reed Here said,

    January 2, 2013 at 1:56 pm

    Paige,

    I am reminded of the Dans Macabre, Day of the Dead, and odds and ends here and there.

    I think a case can be made that these, like other “celebrations” of death are actually a form of worship. We celebrate a fact that seems to have supernatural existence (e.g., Grim Reaper), seeking to appease it, to make it happy with us. A person celebrates/worships Death, hoping It will take the other guy.

    I also think there is a reverse relationship between celebrating/worshiping death and the relative degree of gospel comprehension that exists in a given culture. The more the gospel is present, the less celebration/worship of death.

    With regards to these two aspects, I think this can explain the commercial success of the modern horror/slasher movie genre. Such movies go way beyond the pleasure of momentary startling. The more our culture loses it gospel comprehension, the more death appears as an uncontrollable supernatural force that must be placated. Such movies provide a venue for placating worship.

    Just a few thoughts. FWIW.

  13. Cris Dickason said,

    January 2, 2013 at 4:45 pm

    Reed – you grew up in the Delaware Valley, right? Or lived up here at some point?

    So, was Halloween always a big house decorating “holiday”? Would you put Halloween in same category of worshipping/placating what we fear?

    A hundred years ago, when I relocated from LA to Philadelphia (attending WTS), I was surprised at how much effort people put into decorating houses & lawns for Halloween. It is almost as big a phenom as putting up Christmas decorations.

    Or maybe this is offset by decorating lawns for Easter? That too was new to this native Los Angeleno: suspending plastic eggs and inflatable bunnies from tree branches.

  14. Reed Here said,

    January 3, 2013 at 9:59 am

    Cris, yeah, grew up there. As I think back, yes Halloween was a big deal, but not so much from the decorating front. Frankly, there just wasn’t as much commercial junk available to buy. Still, almost every family celebrated Halloween: kids dressed up, parents re-ordered their lives, etc. It was like it was one big block part at times. (I lived in a big neighborhood, connected to another big neighborhood; I could walk past over a 1,000 single family homes and never once cross a street with a stop light on it.)

    And yes, I’d say that Halloween celebration is an excellent example of what I’m thinking. If it is, then the shift toward more gruesomeness (e.g., zombies), more violence (e.g., Freddy Kruegger), more supernatural (e.g., mythical beings, supernatural beings, demons) gives me pause. It correlates with a decrease in the gospel comprehension.

    Add to that the growing fascination among some churches for using horror houses as a means of evangelism. Some of these places outdo the gruesome-violence-mythical/supernatural beings seen in a Hollywood movie. I can’t help but ask with such syncretism exists, and note that it is usually in churches more or less on the front end of the decreasing gospel comprehension scale.

    Finally, as a twist here, have you noticed that Halloween parties among adults have taken off? Just look at the number of costumes sold for adults each year. Next look at the types of costumes. You will find the gruesome-violence-mythical/supernatural being category. But you will also find a sensual, even mildly pornographic category (mostly for women) that is popular. I am remind that in every pagan religion, there exists a trinity in it worship set: death-supernatural-sex. Each serves a different function, but each supports the other in destroying the image of God in man, further sinking one into the slavery of the Rule of Sin through Death under Satan.

    Enough blathering. Family worship is calling.

  15. Andrew Duggan said,

    January 3, 2013 at 12:58 pm

    Cris,

    Well, there are a couple of things to add. In one of the extra follow-ons to the Unfinished Tales, CRT publishes material that suggests that elves were always re-incarnated, because of their nature being tied to Arda. Some circumstances would require longer waiting in the Halls of Mandos. (Purgatory)

    JRRT also complicates the matter a bit with respect to the elves, in that Feanor’s mother basically dies because all of her spirit essence was drained by Feanor in-utero.

    What is interesting exception to the overall fates of the two classes of the children of Illuvatar is that of Luthien (half Maia half elf) and Beren (Man). Luthien traded her “immortality” being tied to the earth for a temporary resurrection for Beren. Perhaps she has that right by virtue of her half Maia nature. Unfortunately JRRT leaves the fate of Dior their son unclear — did he die or go to the halls of Mandos, while Dior’s daughter Elwing and especially her children (Elros and Elrond) are granted a choice.

    One is that there really is a total absence of the idea judgement in all of JRRT, with the exception of Melkor/Morgoth. Even Sauron really only receives annihilation. The fear of the death though is definitely couched as a lie of Morgoth. But even for those who reject the shadow, recall the conversation between Arwen and Aragorn in Appendix A of LOTR, “If as the elves say that death is the gift of the One to men, it is bitter to receive” Arwen goes on to comment on the Numenoreans that “as wicked fools I scorned them, but I pity them at the last.” So there seems to be a built-in fear of death even for those who reject the shadow, and even for those who for love, trade immortality on earth for death, so as not to be forever separated from their loved ones. Aragorn concludes with beyond death there is more than memory.

    You could argue that the ban of Mandos of the Noldor from Valinor, is judgement, but the way that plays out especially in the life of Galadriel is one more of purgatory than judgement.

    What is remarkable about this is how it contrasts with God’s creation AKA “reality”, in that death is the enemy, the wages of sin. In JRRT death is a gift, Which is why attempts to allegorise JRRT fail, even for those who disregard his thoughts on the subject that he preferred history either real for feigned to allegory.

    Sorry I couldn’t resist the JRRT discussion.

    Andrew

  16. Cris Dickason said,

    January 3, 2013 at 3:24 pm

    Andrew! How are you?

    You and me… We’ll hijack this into a JRRT thread. There’s always more to add when discussing JRRT. I have actually been listening to the Silmarillion audiobook (have read all of it at least 4 or 5x – Shucks, I still remember year 1 of the Third Age). While stuck on the PA turnpike this AM I was listening to the Noldor/Finwe/Feanor narrative (not going to attempt the umlauts).

    -=Cris=-

  17. rfwhite said,

    January 4, 2013 at 10:49 am

    Seems the current craze over vampires in books and movies and on TV fits in here too …

  18. Reed Here said,

    January 5, 2013 at 11:21 am

    Dr. White, here is one for you. So teenagers are fascinated by the Twilight movie series. It combines teenage romance with the supernatural with horror; a trifecta (triumvirate? trinity?) if there ever is one.

    So let me get this straight: Bella Swan (the female lead) is an ordinary human teenage girl. She is having a sexual relationship with Edward Cullen (the male lead), an ordinary vampire teenage boy. Bella is among the living living, and Edward is among the living dead.

    So, if Bella is alive, and Edward is dead, then isn’t our teenagers’ fascination with their romance in part a fascination with necrophilia?

    Again, fascination with death, mixed with sexuality. Rebellion against God is a cursed existence.

  19. paigebritton said,

    January 10, 2013 at 8:01 am

    Hey, all,
    Thank you so much for further discussion. I haven’t had a chance to read it all till now. And I don’t mind the JRRT hijacking — in fact, in another venue I brought up the question of why his LOTR lacks something related to the universal fear of death, namely a theology of the afterlife. The lack seemed to me a significant point against the believablility of the world that he had created, since any mortal, sentient being will need to deal with the thought of his own death in some way. Thanks to Cris and Andrew for filling in some blanks in the background for me. Interesting the contrast between the view of death as a blessing, and the Christian view of death as a curse!

    Reed, your comment about the distancing of gospel awareness gives a very helpful perspective on our culture’s increasing emphasis on horror and the supernatural. It’s like a replay of the ancient pagan worldviews, but on the big screen. Same emphasis on the horrific as appeasement of the horrifyingly scary power behind death — with the twist that this is now also entertainment.

    Do you guys think that there is also in our culture an element of trained indifference to death? So that one’s own death is not properly feared, and the death of others prompts no protest in the conscience. This would be a sort of “rewiring” of the conscience and a reprogramming of fear — both of which are universal givens in the human condition. If so, it’s as if the devil’s manipulation of his victims takes two paths: one, capitalize on the fear of death to enslave people; and two, destroy the fear of death in a person, for the sake of bringing more horrifying death to the ones who still fear it. (Probably this second tack has always been present in human history, alongside enslavement by the fear of death; but one can see how modern technology could with increasing effectiveness help to dull the conscience and the fears of a large number of people.)

  20. Dozie said,

    January 10, 2013 at 2:28 pm

    “Of course, this has been a rather constant critique of purgatory by the Reformers: that the Catholic Church used the fear of purgatory to get people to buy indulgences, and thus fund the church”.

    It gets rather old and continually frustrating that Protestants seem unable to hold conversation on any topic without having to drag the Catholic Church into it. This conversation could be had without mention of the Catholic Churh; but no; the Catholic Church is the sum and summit of all Protestant deliberations.

    I wish that Protestant bloggers will develop more interest in their own theologies and take the time to explicate those theologies rather than finding mundane stuff to complain about the Catholic Church. Yes, it can be done – you can teach Protestant principles and not simply raise points of protests against the Church.

  21. paigebritton said,

    January 10, 2013 at 4:16 pm

    Hey, stay cool there. That was just one of a number of historical observations linking human behavior to the fear of death, not a gratuitous jab at the RCC. All of human history be up for grabs on this thread, including Protestantism. We’re tossing out evidences of a universal fear. You’re welcome to add any on-topic observations of Protestant behavior in this regard.

  22. Cris Dickason said,

    January 10, 2013 at 6:08 pm

    Paige – Our culture has a split personalty (or mutiples) re death.

    I agree, for many there is an agenda to train people to be indifferent to death. Death is the natural end result of a biological process that is not designed to be permanently self-sustaining: death & taxes cannot be avoided, etc.

    But on the other hand, look at our society’s reaction and response to the Sandy Hook School shootings. It is one of the few things that earns almost universal condemnation in our society: the wanton shooting of children.

    Then again, the hallowed status of the lives of the children slain in CT, the horrible loss and waste of futures is only possible because these children all managed to survive the human gestation process, birth, and growth to school-age. These children were valued and are mourned: Which is, I hasten to add, good and correct.

    But what about all those persons, those children, who do not survive the human gestation process. Our culture is horribly indifferent to the destruction of the unborn, as if they don;t count since they never successfully passed through the delivery/birth process.

    So, a chiasm of death, indifference to death, with a little bit of celebration (the school kids are good) and regret (their lives cut short).

    -=Cris=-

  23. Andrew Duggan said,

    January 11, 2013 at 12:14 pm

    Paige,

    Do you guys think that there is also in our culture an element of trained indifference to death?

    I see this as an out-working of the Romans 1 principle. When we look at the fact that the wages of sin is death and as Prov 8:36 says:

    But he that sinneth against me wrongeth his own soul: all they that hate me love death.

    So I do think our culture as it has moved in trajectory from fear of death to indifference to death, to love of death. I think the vampire-mania is certainly symptomatic of it in a pop-culture way. “Art” mimics reality in the blood thirstiness of our culture. Blood-thirsty Vlad the impaler becomes blood thirsty Dracula.

    Building on what Cris pointed out vis-a-vis abortion, there is a feed-back loop both individually and societally among vile affections, sin and temptation and the indifference to and love of death. Engaging in sin is a very strong temptation for even more sin. That needs the suppression (in unrighteousness) of the truth that the wages of sin is death. So we move from fear of death to indifference to death to love of death. The French revolution comes to mind, but our own four-decade (this month) of nationally legalized blood thirst seems to be fuelling an ever accelerating rush to find the bottom of sin.

    Andrew

  24. PJ said,

    January 11, 2013 at 3:07 pm

    Paige,

    I second the commenter who suggested the investigation of Eastern Orthodox sources. The defeat of death and destruction of Hades is a major theme in Orthodox theology.

    Also, you might appreciate St. John Chrysostom’s famous “Paschal Homily.” This is its climax:

    “Let no one weep for his iniquities, for pardon has shown forth from the grave. Let no one fear death, for the Savior’s death has set us free. He that was held prisoner of it has annihilated it. By descending into Hell, He made Hell captive. He embittered it when it tasted of His flesh. And Isaiah, foretelling this, did cry: Hell, said he, was embittered, when it encountered Thee in the lower regions. It was embittered, for it was abolished. It was embittered, for it was mocked. It was embittered, for it was slain. It was embittered, for it was overthrown. It was embittered, for it was fettered in chains. It took a body, and met God face to face. It took earth, and encountered Heaven. It took that which was seen, and fell upon the unseen.

    O Death, where is your sting? O Hell, where is your victory? Christ is risen, and you are overthrown. Christ is risen, and the demons are fallen. Christ is risen, and the angels rejoice. Christ is risen, and life reigns. Christ is risen, and not one dead remains in the grave. For Christ, being risen from the dead, is become the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. To Him be glory and dominion unto ages of ages. Amen.”

    https://oca.org/FSsermons-details.asp?SID=4&ID=10

    The “harrowing of hell” on Holy Saturday has largely disappeared from the religious consciousness of western Christians, especially Protestants, but it was very important to the early Church. It is still a common motif in Orthodox and eastern Catholic iconography.

  25. TurretinFan said,

    January 14, 2013 at 9:01 am

    “It gets rather old and continually frustrating that Protestants seem unable to hold conversation on any topic without having to drag the Catholic Church into it. This conversation could be had without mention of the Catholic Churh; but no; the Catholic Church is the sum and summit of all Protestant deliberations.”

    ROFL

    -TurretinFan

  26. Dorothee said,

    March 23, 2013 at 5:27 am

    I wonder if the concept of death does not also include decay ie sickness etc


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