Tuesday, December 04, 2007

One year on

On this day last year (at about this time), I was diagnosed with cancer, specifically a squameous cell carcinoma of the upper aero-digestive tract (though it took a few weeks to get this specific). I first mentioned this (with more details) back here and set up another blog to keep those interested updated.

I thank God for many things: that I'm still alive (it really wasn't looking good for the first few weeks); for the love and support (and generosity) of so many people over the last year, particularly my wife Jessica; for a wonderful (basically) free public medical system in Australia; for my gradually returning voice; for being able to share my experience with others; and for the chance to reflect with a little more depth and urgency upon death, fear and hope (amongst other things); and for new birth into a living hope, which gives us so much to live for now.

Ten years on
In other news today, Australia has finally ratified the Kyoto protocol, almost a decade after signing it. This was a good first step for Mr Rudd after being sworn in as Australia's 26th Prime Minister yesterday: may there be many more.

Ninety-four years on
And yesterday (2nd December GMT), noted British theologian T. F. Torrance died old and full of years at the age of ninety-four. Torrance's The Trinitarian Faith helped deepen my understanding and worship of Father, Son and Spirit, and along the way undid many prejudices I held against the Nicene Creed. May he rest until resurrection.

8 comments:

Tony Wright said...

"May he rest until resurrection". Can I take it you're convinced of the position I argue in my 4th year project - of a non-conscious sleep for the believer until the resurrection?

jess smtih said...

I was reading Lk 20:34-40 and was wondering in what sense Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are alive to God in the present? I wondered if this leads us away from Tony's thoughts?

byron smith said...

Tony - I remain semi-convinced (hence my continuing lack of post on the intermediate state, promised almost a year ago). At the very least, I do think the common (dominant?) biblical metaphor of 'sleep' is underused in our piety. At least from our perspective, those dead in Christ are asleep and so speaking of their 'rest' seems a natural extension of this concept, though without necessarily implying anything about their own experience, about which I remain agnostic.

I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on Jess's comment. I can't remember whether you addressed this passage.

Stuart said...

Maybe I should get a hold of that. My nervousness about the Nicene Creed is still well and truly in place.

byron smith said...

At the very least, it's important to understand what was at stake at Nicea and why Athanasius and co. thought "homoousia" was crucial to the gospel.

Tony Wright said...

Sorry about the tardy response (Dec has been quite busy). In regards to the passage Jess raised - I wrote (footnotes have been removed):

"Potentially problematic for the conclusion that the dead are comatose in Sheol is Jesus' statement: 'God is not the god of the dead but of the living' (Matthew 22:32; Mark 12:27; Luke 20:38). In isolation it is easy to see why many hold this to mean that some (if not all) who have died are not in fact dead but are 'alive to God'. Two things caution against such a view. The first is Paul's statement that Jesus is Lord of both the living and the dead (Romans 14:9), which must mean that some (if not all) who have died are in fact dead. The second more compelling caution, is the context of Jesus' statement, which reveals that his conflict with the Sadducees is not concerning the intermediate state, but the resurrection. In speaking of the resurrection, the point Jesus seems to be making is not that some dead people are necessarily alive right now, but rather that they will live in the resurrection. Ellis points out that Jesus' entire argument would break down 'if Abraham is now personally “living” [for] no resurrection would be necessary for God to be “his God”'. The point is simply 'that God will raise the dead because he cannot fail to keep his promises to them that he will be their God'. The eschatological resurrection age, and not the intermediate state, is on view.

byron smith said...

Thanks Tony - that's helpful. I'll make sure Jess sees it.

byron smith said...

Xkcd gets it.