From the President
Published by Calvin Seminary
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Hample and Marshall’s book titled Children’s Letters to God includes a few simple sentences on death from a small boy: “What is it like when you die? Nobody will tell me. I just want to know. I don’t want to do it.”
“The living know that they will die,” says the preacher (Ecc. 9:5). At least, once past the age of forty they know it. Someone once observed that early in their forties most people psychologically try on their shroud. It’s a farewell to innocence. You know that when your parents die, you move to the head of the line. As you grow still older, your teachers die, and your aunts and uncles. Then your brothers and sisters, one by precious one, and people at church, and colleagues, and neighbors, and friends. You can’t miss the trend. The streets toward death are all one way. And you, too, have been traveling for some time.
The Bible teaches us many things about death. One of them is that death is an enemy. It’s why we don’t want to do it. But the Bible also teaches us that death is a conquered enemy. The women who came to Jesus’ tomb, says G. K. Chesterton, found that their Lord was alive. It was death that had died in the night. Weeping may stay for the night, but joy comes in the morning.
We will die, but not as those who have no hope. Someone has compared a Christian’s dying to a child’s movement down a flight of stairs to a basement. It’s late. There’s an emergency and the lights have all gone out. From the basement the child hears her father calling to her. The child can’t see anything. She is thoroughly afraid. She doesn’t want to descend those stairs. She doesn’t know what’s there.
Yet she knows who’s there. And so, perfect love casting out fear, the child moves to her waiting father.
In this issue of Forum, my colleagues reflect on issues surrounding death. John Cooper addresses the small boy’s question: What happens when we die? Calvin Van Reken carefully distinguishes the moral issues surrounding assisted suicide. Ronald Nydam tells the story of his own brush with death, and what he learned from it—including from one of his students. Scott Hoezee tells us from 1 Corinthians why death is not a wall, but a door, and what God’s plan is for getting us through it. Then Forum interviews Robert DeVries and Susan Zonnebelt-Smeenge on bereavement and the goals of the grieving process.
This is another solid issue of Forum. God bless you as you read it.
Cornelius Plantinga, Jr.
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