Dear Hank: In these days of a global pandemic, the subject of death is rarely off our TV screens, yet death does not end our existence. In Christ (and only in Christ) it is a “graduation to glory.” Please send me the items below:
IS THERE LIFE AFTER DEATH?
Immortal: How the Fear of Death Drives Us
and What We Can Do About It
by Clay Jones
“Honest, hard-hitting, unflinching — this book dares to tackle the uncomfortable topic of death,
but does so with creativity, wisdom, grace, and hope.”
—Lee Strobel, bestselling author of The Case for Christ and The Case for Faith
On the desire to beat death “To cease as though one had never been, to exit life with no hope of living on in the memory of another, to be expunged from history’s record — that is a fate literally far worse than death. That’s what’s in a name, in a postself. Only a feral child or a deeply autistic person might not be capable of conceptualizing a postself. Everyone else wants to beat death.” —Edwin Shneidman, professor of thanatology
Fear of death drives all human behavior
Social scientists increasingly conclude that the fear of death drives all human behavior. In 1973, cultural anthropologist Ernest Becker (1924–74) published his seminal and Pulitzer Prize–winning book The Denial of Death. In it, Becker writes that “the idea of death, the fear of it, haunts the human animal like nothing else: it is the mainspring of human activity — activity designed largely to avoid the fatality of death, to overcome it by denying in some way that it is the final destiny of man.” Later Becker says, “All culture, all man’s creative life-ways, are in some basic part of them a fabricated protest against natural reality, a denial of the truth of the human condition, and an attempt to forget the pathetic creature that man is.”
The quest for immortality
As the first Facebook president, Sean Parker, boasts, “Because I’m a billionaire, I’m going to have access to better healthcare….I’m going to be like 160 and I’m going to be part of this, like, class of immortal overlords.” Similarly, 45-year-old Bulletproof Coffee founder and biohacker advocate, David Asprey, claims to have spent $1 million on a quest to live to 180. To accomplish this, he has bone marrow extracted from his hips and then has the stem cells filtered out and injected into every joint in his body, his spinal cord, and his cerebral fluid. He intends to do this twice a year. He also “takes 100 supplements a day, religiously follows a low-carb, high fat diet, bathes in infrared light, chills in a cryotherapy chamber, and relaxes in a hyperbaric oxygen chamber.”
On symbolic immortality projects
The really dark side of these symbolic immortality projects is that they motivated some of the worst horrors in human history. Consider one of the prophets of German nationalism, Johann Gottlieb Fichte (1762–1814), who wrote that for the good German, immortality lay in “the hope of eternal continuance of the people without admixture of, or corruption by, any alien element.” Of course, this thinking led to Germany’s Third Reich, the death of millions of those from “impure” races, and the deaths of more than 50 million in the Second World War.
Atheists acknowledge that Christianity would fulfi ll our longing to escape death
One thing that surprises me is how often skeptics write that if Christianity were true, then it would fulfill our longing to escape death. Philosopher Stephen Cave says reconciling the fact that we know we will die with our desire to live forever is something “Christianity achieved spectacularly well, with enormous consequences for the development of Western civilization.” And Sam Harris tells an atheist convention, “There’s no other story you can tell somebody who has just lost her daughter to cancer, say, to make her feel good. You know it is consoling to believe that the daughter was just taken up with Jesus and everyone is going to be reunited in a few short years. There’s no replacement for that.” Of course, Harris rejects Christianity, but he agrees that if Christianity were true, then it does fulfill our deepest need.
The moment the body dies
What happens to you the moment your body dies? Notice I said the moment your body dies. I say this because the essential you — your soul, your consciousness — will absolutely, positively not experience death. Remember, you’re not a body that has a soul; you’re a soul that has a body. Your body enables your soul to interact with the physical world. So even though your body dies, your soul will not be harmed. Jesus said something amazing about death. In John 8:51, Jesus says, “Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death.” Notice the “truly, truly.” Jesus is telling us to listen up. He’s emphasizing that what He says next are words we can count on. And He says, you “will never see death.” Now, of course, Jesus isn’t talking about the death of your body. Jesus wasn’t in denial. Your body will die. But the most essential you will never die.
In addition to Immortal, in appreciation for your gift this month, we’ll send you the 43:2 (new in September 2020) issue of the CHRISTIAN RESEARCH JOURNAL.
● From the President: “Taking the Only True and Transformational Faith Seriously,” Hank Hanegraaff
● “Lessons for Today’s Church from the Life of the Early Church,” by J. Warner Wallace
● “Symbolic Immortality Projects Can’t Save You,” by Clay Jones
● “There Is No Health in Us: Wellness and Self-Care in the Age of Coronavirus,” by Anne Kennedy
● “Medieval Christians and Evangelism,” by Nicole Howe
● “Plenty of Details — But Not What We Really Need to Understand Evolution”: A Summary Critique of
Neil Shubin’s Some Assembly Required: Decoding Four Billion Years of Life, from Ancient Fossils to DNA,
by Paul Nelson
● “The Scientific Materialist Manifesto: The Pursuit of Meaning in a Godless Universe,” by Melissa Cain Travis
● Viewpoint: “Does the Doctrine of Original Sin Imply That All White People Are Racists?” by Matthew Kennedy
● Effective Evangelism: “How Do We Evangelize Affl uent Suburbs?” by Ashley Hales
● Ask Hank: “How Does Free Will Affect Faith?”
Immortal book -AND- 43:2 issue of CHRISTIAN RESEARCH JOURNAL