Natural death and the work of perfection
Language: 
English
Abstract: 

The historic or traditional Christian view of pain (suffering) and death, especially as preserved by the Christians East (i.e., the Orthodox), is radically opposed to the modern secular obsession with avoidance of pain. Everything about this life has its goal or aim in a mystical reality, the Kingdom of Heaven, for which earthly life is a preparation. While neither illness nor health are seen as ends in themselves, both are viewed as proceeding from the will of God for our benefit and have no ultimate meaning or purpose outside of eternal life. Death may be a relief or an ending of suffering, but in itself it is not "good" but evil. Because they are the embodiment of lived theology, saints' lives can be a sure guide to understanding how to die as a traditional Christian. To illustrate this, I have chosen some examples from the lives of relatively recent saints. I myself am from the Russian Orthodox spiritual tradition, so all but one of my examples come from pre-Revolutionary Russia. The question is not so much whether or not a traditional Christian can countenance physician-assisted suicide, but rather, what is the meaning or purpose of pain and suffering in general. Is it part of the "work of perfection" required of those who wish to enter the Kingdom of Heaven and therefore not to be completely denied?

Author(s): 
Young, Alexey
Item Type: 
Journal Article
Publication Title: 
Christian Bioethics
Journal Abbreviation: 
Christ Bioeth
Publication Date: 
1998-08
Publication Year: 
1998
Pages: 
168-182
Volume: 
4
Issue: 
2
ISSN: 
1380-3603
DOI: 
10.1076/chbi.4.2.168.6906
Library Catalog: 
PubMed
Extra: 
PMID: 11657104

Turabian/Chicago Citation

Alexey Young. 1998-08. "Natural death and the work of perfection." Christian Bioethics 4: 2: 168-182. 10.1076/chbi.4.2.168.6906.

Wikipedia Citation

<ref> {{Cite journal | doi = 10.1076/chbi.4.2.168.6906 | issn = 1380-3603 | volume = 4 | pages = 168-182 | last = Young | first = Alexey | coauthors = | title = Natural death and the work of perfection | journal = Christian Bioethics | date = 1998-08 | pmid = | pmc = }} </ref>