As I pour over words, gathering truth for Philosophy Adventure, I find myself returning to a profound statement made by a writer who notes a disparity between what many Christians say and what they do.
Although he denies the veracity of the Christian Bible, he makes an insightful observation that demonstrates he has, indeed, perceived the message of our Book. (Wait for it…)
He opens by describing how most people relate to death.
Death is the last great taboo. We cannot look it in the face for fear of seeing the skull beneath the skin….[M]ost people want…to die quickly, painlessly and, as the saying goes, ‘without being a burden to anyone.’ What this last platitude conceals, I think, is the fact that people don’t want to be a burden because they ultimately don’t trust their children or their loved ones to care for them. Fear of death is a fear of feebleness in an infirm state, stuck in a degrading nursing home, ignored by embarrassed friends and busy, distant family members….
A detailed national survey…claimed that fully 92 percent of Americans believe in God, 85 percent believe in heaven and 82 percent believe in miracles. But the deeper truth is that such religious belief, complete with a heavenly afterlife, brings believers little solace in relation to death. The only priesthood in which people really believe is the medical profession and…their sacramental drugs and technology….
If proof were needed that many religious believers actually do not practice what they preach, then it can be found in the ignorance of religious teachings on death, particularly Christian teaching, which is why I have emphasized this in some of the entries of this book.
And emphasize he does, writing from a worldview that celebrates much that breaks the heart of God. For this reason I cannot recommend his book. And yet, he accurately assesses the focus of our faith with the following statement (here it is):
Christianity is about nothing other than getting ready to die. It is a rigorous training for death, a kind of death in life that places little value on longevity. Christianity, in the hands of a Paul, an Augustine or a Luther, is a way of becoming reconciled to the brevity of human life….
More could and should be said on the topic. For instance, Christians do place value on longevity to the degree that it enables us to complete the work for which we have been created.
But, like all of creation, we inwardly groan and eagerly await the end to the insidious corruption that pervades this world…and we long for fulfillment of the promise that one day He will make all things new . (Let it be soon!)
What has the writer witnessed to provoke this sad commentary?
Nothing is more inimical to most people who call themselves Christians than true Christianity. This is because they are actually leading desperate atheist lives bounded by a desire for longevity and a terror of annihilation.”
Critchley, Simon. The Book of Dead Philosophers, pp. 247-248
May it never be said of us. (Lord help us!) With transparent humility, let us confess a prayer He delights to answer: “Lord,I believe; help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24)
What does it mean, for all of life to be a matter of “getting ready to die”?
Like a match ignited, let us fan into flame an awareness of our true purpose and impending appointment, and allow His perfect love to cast out all our fear.