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Sewanee: The University of the South

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Sewanee Theological Review

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Anglican writers from different centuries, continents, and cultures have shared in approaching the topic of death-in particular, their own death-with clarity, directness, and assurance. Such a topic is obviously not limited to Anglican interest or Anglican commentators, but a willingness to engage it is at the heart of much Anglican spiritual and theological writing. Although it is not my intent to identify a distinctively Anglican approach, I shall draw attention to the prominence of the theme in several Anglican writers, showing how they reflect on it with a faith and assurance that puts it in perspective.

These writers value life and do not minimize the seriousness of death. They are neither superficial nor glib, but they do identify in Christ a source of assurance that provides a foundation even in the face of death. They identify a connectedness with the Church in time and eternity, with humankind, and with the entire creation-and these connections strengthen their confidence and their sense of God's active presence. In certain cases they recognize death in forms other than individual mortality-such as death in the loss of a beloved way of life, or death in the experience of systematic injustice by the powerful.

This paper will briefly consider Christian assurance in the face of death in the writings of Julian of Norwich (who, though pre-Reformation, was a mystic and thinker very much in the English and Anglican tradition), John Donne, George Herbert, William Porcher DuBose, T. S. Eliot, and William Stringfellow.


Published version. Sewanee Theological Review, Vol. 38, No. 2 (1995): 126-136. DOI. © 1995 Sewanee: The University of the South.

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