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Death and salvation: a few questions


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#1 Billy Kangas

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Posted 27 September 2011 - 06:16 PM

I have been reading through some of the Early Patristic texts, in particular this week, Justin Martyr. I have been struck how much they long for death, and how much death seems to play a role in the life of the early christian.

In today's day and age death seems to be something that people run from. It's something that we fear. I am curious if the fathers can teach us something about the Christian perspective on death.

I have a few questions that I am hoping to find answers to related to this.

1. What was the role of Death in the life of the Early church?
2. How was death related to salvation, both in Christ and in the life of the Christian?
3. Are there any fathers who tackle this in any kind of systematic way?
4. Are there any Scholars that have explored this topic in any books or articles?
5. Why is it that the fathers seem to think that martyrdom is a guarantee to heaven?
6. How much of Greek Philosophy is at play in the patristic understanding of Death?
7. How much Jewish philosophy is at play in the patristic understanding of Death?

I would really like to dive into this issue pretty deep so any resources I can find on it would be incredibly helpful to me. I think the fathers offer a powerful corrective to western Christianity, an western culture in general. So many preach "your best life now" not "martyrdom now". I think it would be powerful if we could start communicating the patristic perspective to a world afraid of death.

#2 Rdr Daniel (R.)

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Posted 27 September 2011 - 07:27 PM

I can't go very deep but I can share a few thoughts on some of your questions.

I feel we before looking at this must think of what death is what it means, now after the fall and before the coming of Christ all men where under bondage in Hades beacuse of Adam's fall from Life (that is from the Author of Life God).

Christ came to destroy death he has saved us from death, the best thing I can give that I know to is I think the hymn Only Begotten Son.

'Only Begotten Son and Word of God, who being Immortal, accepted for us men and for our salvation, to take flesh from the holy Mother of God and Ever Virgin Mary, and without change became man, and was crucified Christ God, by death trampling down death, being one of the Holy Trinity glorified with the Father and the Holy Spirit save us.

By death therefore Christ 'trampled down death' he has 'smashed the gates of brass' he raised our fall forefathers with Himself 'Ascending on high, he led captivity captive [Ephesians 4:8]' so utterly did Christ destroy death and its dominion over man. And so to die in Christ is not to die but to live.


What was the role of Death in the life of the Early church?

Now death at this time was very real thing, there was wide spread persecution, so for all the remembrance of death was there.

I have been struck how much they long for death, and how much death seems to play a role in the life of the early Christian.

They long for death that they might be with Christ.

Why is it that the fathers seem to think that martyrdom is a guarantee to heaven?

For Christ says 'Greater love than this no man hath, that a man lay down his life for his friends.'

Hope these thoughts help some way.

In Christ.
Daniel,

#3 Billy Kangas

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Posted 28 September 2011 - 01:27 AM

Thanks Daniel,
I really liked the 'Greater love than this no man hath, that a man lay down his life for his friends.' peice

-Billy

#4 Anna Stickles

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Posted 26 October 2011 - 12:01 PM

2. How was death related to salvation, both in Christ and in the life of the Christian?
I think it would be powerful if we could start communicating the patristic perspective to a world afraid of death.


You might try doing some searches here in the forum on suffering and the place of suffering in the Christian life. Jesus said, "Anyone who comes after me must take up his cross and follow me."

3. Are there any fathers who tackle this in any kind of systematic way?

You won't find much systematic theology in the Fathers. They did not write to put forth objective truth simply for its own sake. Patristic theology is intrinsically pastoral. The Fathers wrote for the sake of helping those they were writing to, to be saved and come to the knowledge of the Truth, and by "knowledge of the truth" they did not understand this as an objective set of ideas, but rather as a living relationship with the Holy Trinity.

Also, along with this pastoral focus they had the recognition that most often the pursuit of objective truth and systematic theologies becomes a substitute for the pursuit of He who is Truth.

And thirdly, they had the wisdom and humility to understand that what we are discussing when we discuss the relationship of God with man is a complex and holy mystery, not reducible to systems. If scientists cannot yet fully predict the weather or reduce to a wholly comprehensible system the workings of this material world, how can we expect to fully understand humanity - who is made in the image of God and is a complex interrelationship of the material and the spiritual, and who is also a personal being with freedom of will? Rather then trying to fully explain this mystery, they limited themselves to addressing the given situation at hand in a pastoral manner.

Hope this helps you in your reading of the Fathers.

#5 IoanC

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Posted 26 October 2011 - 12:39 PM

A quote not from The Fathers, but from The Bible. Jesus teaches that His followers must follow Him wherever He goes, that is even on The Cross, and that death can be very fruitful because seeing such love and dedication many will receive The Gospel into their hearts and believe in God and The Kingdom of Heaven.


The Fruitful Grain of Wheat


20 Now there were certain Greeks among those who came up to worship at the feast. 21 Then they came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida of Galilee, and asked him, saying, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.”
22 Philip came and told Andrew, and in turn Andrew and Philip told Jesus.
23 But Jesus answered them, saying, “The hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified. 24 Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain. 25 He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also. If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honor. (John 12)




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