O Love That Will Not Let Me Go – Facing Death with Courageous Confidence in God. Edited by Nancy Guthrie. Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2011. 160 pp. $12.99. Purchase at Westminster books for $7.65.
Nancy Guthrie’s works have become staples in my library. You can read past reviews of her works here. In this particular work, Nancy has compiled many of the same authors from her previous works to talk to the Christian about death.
Nancy has divided this book into four parts that logically flow from one another. The first part looks at the reality of death. Contributions from J.I. Packer, Michael Horton, John Piper and Martyn Lloyd-Jones, etc., set the stage for straight talk about death. The quote that really stood out for me in this section was from Joesph Bayly who wrote, “The attitude of New Testament Christians toward impending death was acceptance, not prayer for deliverance.” We could use this understanding today!
The second part offers a perspective that helps the child of God to endure. Randy Alcorn leads off this section with a challenge to live each day as though it may be your last. At one point he quotes Dawson Trotman, founder of Navigators, as saying, “You are going to be what you are now becoming.” Those are frightening words for some and refreshing words for others. Other contributors to this section include R.C. Sproul, Abraham Kuyper, and Jeremy Taylor.
Part three looks at the only hope that saves us from despair. Timothy Keller is the only living man to have been selected for this section. Others include John Owen, Richard Baxter, Martin Luther, and Thomas Boston. This shows, at least to me, that because we have lost the fear of death as our greatest enemy today, we need to return to those divines of yesteryear to cultivate a greater understanding of hope for the present day.
The book concludes with part four looking at the future that does not disappoint. We end with writings from Joni Earackson Tada, Richard Sibbes, Jonathan Edwards, John Calvin, C.H. Spurgeon and R.L. Dabney. We are challenged by Calvin, “Our mind never rises seriously to desire and aspire after the future until it has learned to despise the present life.” Such sobering words for a sobering subject!
As one who works in a funeral home part time (bi-vocational ministry), I have seen the need to bring back a theology of death. I appreciate this work and commend Nancy Guthrie for the way she arranged the articles and brought them all together.
I was struck by the lack of living contributors (7 of the 22) though that may have much to do with Nancy’s choice of who to include than anything. Judging from her past books, this may very well be the case. It still remains, however, that there needs to be a revitalization of speaking about death from the pulpit today. Nancy has offered a kick start to that.
Finally, be sure to read this book with pen in hand. You will be underlining and writing in the margins on just about every page. There are many choice quotes throughout. These will leave you thinking deeply about the fragility of this life and the hope that awaits in the next. That is always a great place to be!
Pastor, buy this book! Buy multiple copies. You will want to have many on hand to give away to members of your congregation as they experience death in their families and friendships. Read this book and be moved to teach your congregation to die well!
Men and women who call on Christ as Lord and Savior. Purchase this book. Become familiar with its content. You, too, need to be thinking about death. For it will make you long more deeply for Christ each day.