Death, properly understood

More from Emil Brunner.

The biological fact of death, the extinction of life, is only a shell or container and at the same time symptom and effect of something rooted deep in the spiritual history of man and humanity, just as my own bodily life is only the bearer and husk of my life as a person. The cause of death which the doctor establishes is not the real cause of my death. I do not die of this or that illness, just as little as I, this person, called “I myself,” live on albumen, carbohydrates, vitamins, etc. The responsible person “I” lives by the creative Word of God. So also I die to God when, because, and how, He wills. “In Thy wrath are we consumed.” What the doctor establishes is only the shell of death. Its essence is hidden in the mystery of God.

That this is the interpretation of death as seen in the radiance of Christ becomes clear when it is realized that not only death but also life is relevant to the act of dying. The deep implications of death are revealed in the fact that with dying begins the resurrection of the dead. “For ye are dead and your life is hid with Christ in God.” As the death of Adam spells my spiritual death, so the death of Christ gives me eternal life; not merely me, but all who belong to the new humanity and the new world of the resurrection.

Emil Brunner, The Eternal Hope, p. 105

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