“The Blessedness of Death” - Book Review
Author: Dallas Clarnette
In the first part of this 72-page book the author reminds readers that the death of any person is a
certainty. In his observation: It is very strange thing this - the one certainty, yet we do not think about it.
We are too busy. We allow life and its circumstances to so occupy us that we do not stop and think…
People say about sudden death, “it is a wonderful way to go.”Clarnette concludes that such mentality is
quite wrong; the way we go out of this world is very important.
In 1981, Clarnette conducted the funeral service of 3 young men all killed at the same time in a
car accident. Their car hit a sheet of water and skidded right into the path of an on-coming semi-trailer along a stretch
of road, in Australia. One father’s obituary for his son read: “Bad luck, pal, Dad” which led Clarnette to believe that only a person with utter mindless grief, and a heart “having no hope and without God in the world” could say “Bad luck, pal”.
He notes of instances where people celebrated the death of a loved one with godly abandon. He laments that actually people are celebrating the life of the deceased, rather than serious reflections on the significance of death; it only shows to what extent society has lost all fear of God. On the other extreme death is celebrated with great lamentation, remorse and expression of regret and recrimination towards those who caused the death of the person.
In his experience, Clarnette noticed such an attitude prevails among non-Christians. He says: “This is not to deny that many non-Christians meet their death with heroism and defiance. Yet when they do, it is at the best, stoicism, for they can only make assumptions about what lies ahead; while Christians meet death with a certainty because of Christ’s resurrection. They know what’s ahead. They know they are made in God’s image. They know where they are going. And they know what welcome awaits them. For that very reason, they know, as death comes to them a great inner sense of peace and rejoicing in the knowledge of Christ.”
In his interest in studying the death of believers (including the period before death) Clarnette came across one conclusion that the death of believers were associated with circumstances significantly different to the death of believers. Secondly, many Christians die without the ability to communicate, in their last days or weeks. But many who can talk, die without giving any clear testimony to their trust in Christ.
How do we explain the marked difference between how believers face death today than they once did? The author offers the following:
1. The outlook of believers used to be God-centred – in a way, ours is not.
2. A grievous weakness of faith
3. A serious deficiency in theological knowledge
4. In as much as there are degrees of faith, there is one called the full assurance of faith which, seemingly, most Christians are not interested in achieving.
Thankfully, there are instances where others (i.e. believers) give a ringing testimony of their trust in Christ and their expectation of being with Him. The pages in the second half of the book are devoted to reporting selected and glorious moments in the lives of saints down the years as they approached their coronation. The 27 cases include one on a 14 year old. They speak to us today, at a time when “joy unspeakable and fullness of glory (1 Peter 1:8) seems to be such a rare emotion among the saints of the Lord. They should urge us to make sure that we prepare well for our departure from this life.
About the Author:
Dallas Clarnette began preaching in 1953 and was ordained to the ministry in 1960. Service in churches in Victoria, New South Wales, Western Australia and Queensland, together with a period as Academic Dean and lecturer at Kingsley College, have filled the years. Opportunities for ministry in India, Singapore, Cyprus, Kenya and China have also been taken up. He has earned degrees from Asbury Theological Seminary, Kentucky (Master of Arts in Religion) and Luther Rice Seminary, Florida (Doctor of Ministry).