Religious and Spiritual Beliefs

Reflections on Death and Faith

Since there are many paths to God, I asked a dear friend, family member, retired Presbyterian Minister and religious scholar to begin a discussion of beliefs surrounding loss, death, grief and  the afterlife.

I’d like to encourage each of you to visit the Forum page to share your personal thoughts regarding faith.  We all benefit when we acknowledge our beliefs, whatever they may be.

Rev. Dr. William C. Poe:

'Death and the pain of loss, being universal human experiences, have been subjects of deep thought and feeling in communities of all kinds as long as there have been sentient people.  All of the major world religions try to deal with these issues in varying ways.  My own tradition, Christianity, displays multiple approaches to death and suffering and the questions they raise.  In some places, dictated by a theology that requires God to be actively engaged in all that happens in life, Christianity has made God the primary actor in causing suffering and death, often as punishment for sins known or unknown.  In other places, it is life and its inherent vicissitudes that cause suffering and death, and God’s role is to walk lovingly and graciously with us through such times.  Personally, I find the latter view much more compatible with whom I perceive God to be.

The same could be said of Judaism and Islam, the other two “Abrahamic” religions.  They, too, speak with many voices about these universal life experiences.  In fact, however, all three portray suffering and death as not being part of God’s original intention for the human creation.

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