Mortality is often connected to fear, so how does embracing a mortal life provide hope to individuals and communities? Professor Todd Billings, author of “The End of the Christian Life: How Embracing Our Mortality Frees Us to Truly Live,” talks with Amy Julia about lamenting and embracing mortality, the potential for mortality to exacerbate divisions or create connections, and how the presence of God brings freedom from our slavery to the fear of death.
Dr. J. Todd Billings is a professor at Western Theological Seminary in Holland, MI. An ordained minister in the Reformed Church in America, he received his M.Div. from Fuller Seminary and his Th.D. from Harvard. Connect further with Todd:
“Whether you are young or old…our mortality matters for all of us in how we relate and connect to one another.”
“A tremendous gift of the church is that it’s one of the few places in our cultural moment where young children and middle-aged people and dying older people can come together and be part of a community.”
“In Christian circles, I sometimes get the idea that we shouldn’t be afraid of death at all. I don’t think that’s either biblical teaching or likely to happen. It sets up this ideal that makes people shameful when they grieve deeply.”
“Of course we should have a certain fear of death. But when fear of death is on the throne, then self-protection becomes the central priority…we pull in rather than reaching out in compassion.”
“This same presence of God that we’ve been aching for from the pit and in our whole pilgrimage—this one centered in Jesus—that presence will be the wide and spacious land, so to speak, of our rejoicing and dwelling in rest.”
ON THE PODCAST:
- The End of the Christian Life
- Penelope Ayers (Amy Julia’s memoir about caring for her mother-in-law)
- Scripture: Psalm 27, Jonah, Matthew 27:46, Hebrews 2:15, 2 Corinthians 4
- “Rejoicing in Lament” by Billings
- Check back at https://breakingground.us/ for a new article by Amy Julia coming out in October
- Terror management theory
- “The Denial of Death” by Ernest Becker
- George Floyd’s death
- Zoom video call
Thank you to Breaking Ground, the co-host for this podcast.
White Picket Fences, Season 3 of Love is Stronger Than Fear, is based on my book White Picket Fences, and today we are talking about chapter 9. Check out free RESOURCES—action guide, discussion guides—that are designed to help you respond. Learn more about my writing and speaking at amyjuliabecker.com.
To go further with Amy Julia in thinking about mortal life and hope:
- Love is Stronger Than Fear | Season 3—White Picket Fences
- Upcoming Online Interview: Faith, Hope, and Love During Election Season
- Faith Is Trusting in the End of the Story
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