The Protestant Reformation of the sixteenth century triggered a fresh wave of bloody conflict in Medieval Europe—a tract of real estate across which evolving nations had suffered tumultuous relations for many dark centuries. Protestant regions broke up Rome’s monopoly on authority in Europe. Neutralizing an authority is one thing; replacing it is quite another matter, and Europe tumbled into near-anarchy. Nation warred against nation and region against region in an all-out scramble to gain control of the rudder of Europe’s destiny.
Out of the context of these chaotic and violent times sprouted a philosophy of governance known as “Monarchial Absolutism.” Absolutist political theory held that Europe’s only hope for avoiding anarchy was for monarchs of the emerging European nations to wield unrestrained power. The cohesive influence Rome had once supplied Europe could be recovered, so it was proposed, by monarchs willing to impose their will with absolute sovereignty over their subjects. (One may detect a less than ideal environment for the human rights of dissenters under such a system. The half of that tragic subplot has never been told.)
Historians generally recognize Louis XIV of France (1638-1715) as the quintessential absolutist monarch. Crowned at age five (a monarchial absolutist pre-schooler—you fill in the blanks!), Louis reigned in earnest from 1660 until his death. That translates into fifty-five years of absolute sovereignty over every aspect of French life. Every citizen, of what was at that time the most powerful nation on the continent, was expected to conform to Louis’ every belief, obey his every demand, and honor his every decision. Imagine!
"I’ve nothing against celebrating the life of a servant of the Lord Jesus. We ought to honor faithful followers of Jesus for finishing their race. We ought to challenge those in attendance to “let [their] manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ.” And yet I wonder: does this desire to celebrate life grow out of a stronger desire to avoid death?" - Jason Allen
"Scripture doesn’t prescribe whether we should call a service a funeral or a celebration of life or anything else, nor does it prescribe exactly what we should do during the service....But I believe we’ve lost something, and that we would serve ourselves and others well if we recover the time-honored practice of holding funeral services." - Christian Leaders
Reposted, with permission, from DBTS blog.
Despite many advances over the last century in archaeology and biblical backgrounds, together with a growing field of studies in biblical theology, consensus concerning ancient Israel’s perspective of the afterlife remains elusive. The view that conscious life continued after death was pervasive not only in ancient Israel but throughout the ancient Near East. Defining and conceptualizing Sheol in the OT and in Israel’s social practices, however, remains a notorious difficulty.
In the past half-century surprisingly few detailed studies of Sheol have appeared. Among these, most scholars conclude that the ancient Israelites believed that all the dead went to Sheol. In contrast to this understanding, however, a number of biblical passages appear to hold out hope for the deliverance of the godly from Sheol (Gen 5:24; 2 Kgs 3:3–10; Job 14:13; 19:25–26; Ps 16:10–11; 49:15; 73:24; Prov 15:24; 23:14; Hos 13:14). In studying these latter passages, I have come to the conclusion that ancient Israel, from the perspective of the biblical text, and likely also within its social-cultural practices, distinguished the destinies of the righteous versus the wicked in the afterlife. The righteous were understood to ascend to God for a beatific afterlife replete with continued fellowship and joy, while the ungodly were seen to descend to the gloomy underworld known as Sheol to await future judgment by God.
"Not always, but often, very often, I will hear someone in their last moments move from talking about various loved ones to crying out for a mother. And, like this article notes, the call is usually with a name of familiarity, of 'Mama' or 'Mommy.'" - Russel Moore