Fulfilled living in later life
Journey to the resurrection

Monday 18th March 2024

Journey to the resurrection

Louise Morse

We are all on a journey to the resurrection, although it may be something we don’t think about when we are young. But many people have said that when they reached the age of 50-something they were shocked to realise that they had more years behind than in front of them. Most of us are so busy coping with life that we have little time to think about death unless we are impacted by it in one way or another. It can arouse such deep emotions that we are reluctant to talk about it, but should it be like this for Christians? A symposium hosted by Affinity explored the Christian perspectives on death and hope, and highlighted the reasons we should be talking about death and opposing the lobbying for assisted suicide.

To really grasp the scope of the resurrection and all it implies, we need to understand biblical teaching on life and death, especially the need for individuals’ new spiritual birth, said John Stevens, National Director of The Fellowship of Independent Evangelical Churches (FIEC). Without this, those who have not believed in Christ face the reality of a second death, the ultimate separation from God. Knowing this helps us live faithfully in this present age, bringing our faith to bear on contemporary ethical questions and helping us understand why the secular world thinks entirely different about these issues.

Professor John Wyatt is a retired consultant neonatologist, who is now engaged in addressing new ethical, philosophical, and theological challenges caused by advances in medical science and technology. Among his published books are ‘Dying Well’ and ‘The Final Lap.’ In his talk John described the ‘great wall’ we can run into on retirement, when work has forgotten us, and our contribution is not remembered. As we approach the finishing line, he reminded that the Christian faith teaches us that death is an enemy (1 Corinthians 15:26), and therefore we should never welcome or hasten death. That’s the fundamental reason why, from a Christian perspective, assisted suicide and euthanasia are wrong. We should not welcome or introduce death into our lives. Yet, by God’s grace, that enemy death becomes a gateway to Heaven. And the process of dying itself can be a time for building, healing, celebrating, and completing relationships.

In my talk I looked on the journey to the resurrection through the lens of dementia. Dementia reveals that we are spirit beings in earthly bodies. It’s seen when the person with dementia suddenly appears through the fog again for a little while, with capacities that they had apparently lost. And even when the brain is so damaged that normal communication seems impossible, the person can respond to something spiritual, often to a Scripture reading or a hymn. In their journey to the resurrection their earthly tent is more severely ‘folded’ than most, but their spirits are alive.

James Mildred is the Director of Communications and Engagement at CARE, Christian Action, Research and Education. James described the situation in countries and States where assisted suicide had been introduced and its scope enlarged to include people who were vulnerable because of their circumstances, like those who couldn’t obtain social security and didn’t have enough to live on, or in the case of older people, didn’t want to be a burden to others. There have been ten attempts to change the law in the UK since 2003, and the miracle is that so far, they haven’t succeeded. He stressed that it is our Christian duty to defend the vulnerable.

In September 2015 the House of Commons rejected the Assisted Dying (No.2) Bill by a substantial majority (330 votes to 118). However, it is to be debated again on April 29. I believe it was the ‘prayer of the saints’ that influenced the rejection in 2014, and it’s time to stand against it again. We can also email our MPs asking them to vote against it.

The link to the recorded symposium is here.

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