Wolterstorff on Peace and Death


Nicholas Wolterstorff, the retired Yale–and formerly Calvin College–philosophy professor, who lost an adult son in a mountain climbing accident, wrote that someone said to his wife, “I hope you’re learning to live at peace with Eric’s death.” Wolterstorff responded,

Peace, shalom, salaam. Shalom is the fullness of life in all dimensions. Shalom is dwelling in justice and delight with God, with neighbor, with oneself, in nature. Death is shalom’s mortal enemy. Death is demonic. We cannot live at peace with death. When the writer of Revelation spoke of the coming of the day of shalom, he did not say that on that day we would live at peace with death. He said that on that day “There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” I shall try to keep the wound from healing, in recognition of our living still in the old order of things. I shall try to keep it from healing, in solidarity with those who sit beside me on humanity’s mourning bench. (Lament for a Son [Eerdmans, 1987], 63)

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