Anymore I am just more and more convinced that there is one fundamental assertion that embodies the nature of biblical faith, hope, and action:
“The last enemy that will be destroyed is death.” (1 Cor 15:26)
This the axis upon which everything turns and in light of which everything makes sense. Any theology that tries to elide the fact that death is the last enemy is sentimental nonsense in my book. Death is the great enemy. It is the ancient dragon, the adversary of all things, the bane of all goodness. There is nothing meaningful or beautiful about death. Too many attempts are made in theology to establish a theological understanding of death as somehow good, a way to find in death some thing “natural” that can be embraced. Dying is just a part of living as the old platitude goes.
Any such sentiments or inclinations must needs be rejected in the strongest possible terms. There is only one way for death to be rendered good and that is for death to be destroyed. Death must be deathed. This is the good news and nothing less, that “death is swallowed up in victory” (1 Cor 15:54).
And this is not to say that life after death is the nadir of the gospel. That is precisely not it. What is the nadir of the gospel is not life after death, but life. The infinitely excessive life of God which embraces, transfigures, and liberates all created things. Death is not simply the cessation of an organism, death is slavery, death is bondage. Life is freedom. The gospel of life is the gospel of freedom. The only freedom worth proclaiming is freedom from the powers of death. The last enemy that will be destroyed is death. This is what’s real.