The Sting of Death in Edward Hitchcock’s Life

Where is God when children die?
This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

I am reminded during this Lenten season that death is at the center of the Christian story. I offer as my own reflection, the following photograph, taken by my wife in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem --almost certainly, the actual site of the tomb of my savior, Jesus Christ.

“And when Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock: and he rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulchre, and departed.” (Matt 27:59-60)

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Wandering an old graveyard and looking at the dates on the stones can be sobering – seeing one family lose child after child, or the effects of an epidemic moving through the community. Most of us have a different relationship with death than our ancestors.

(Pedantic note: why the “[sic]” after “effected”?)


Hitchcock didn’t flinch from facing the implications of his Calvinist theology, leavened with a full measure of Christian devotion. -

I agree that Hitchcock’s view of life is based on his Calvinist theology which includes predestination. The problem as I see it is with predestination, rather than with God or death.

We are all going to die. That is not the problem. I do not see where it says in the Bible that God intends for any one to die prematurely, unless they have violated God’s moral law, and even then Jesus gave the woman caught in adultery another chance.

My understanding of the God of the gaps is that God is understood as causing those things that are outside our scientific understanding. Thus our God shrinks as our scientific understanding grows. This is Hawking’s understanding of Who God is.

I believe that God is the Source of all that is, including that which we understand and that which we do not. God is God of the Facts, not just God of the gaps in understanding.

God is the Creator and Source of Nature, but God is not nature, so God does not cause everything. God is the Source of both life and death, but that does not mean that all death is caused by God. Humans have a responsibility in this area also as Dr. Hitchcock realized.

All things work for good for those who love God, because God is able to take evil like the enslavement of Joseph and use it to bring about good, such as the saving of Jacob (Israel) and his family from starvation, along with the Egyptians and others. God is able to take the supreme evil of the Cross and use it for the supreme Good.

We need good theology to understand both God, life, and death. While atheism points to God as the creator of death, Christianity points to God as the Redeemer of life and death through the Resurrection and Eternal Life through Jesus Christ.

With Darwinism death is the end. With Darwinism life has no purpose and meaning.

With God we have a problem and a solution. Without death there would be no life. Without death there would be no eternal Life.

Good point, but I think that at least some Evangelicals believe God decides when each person will die. That would mean we can keep God at bay with vaccines, seatbelts, etc…

Growing up in an evangelical family, I never heard anything other than that. So I think it’s more than “at least some”.

Thanks, Brad. I was trying not to make my statement too sweeping.

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10 points. You are correct that it is not incorrect in the original. God intended to bring good into effect, not affect good.


It is well known that evangelicals are not a monolithic group. The biggest divide would seem to be theologically between the Calvinists and the Wesleyans, and here it would seem that the basic difference is between the Calvinists who hold that God closely controls the universe, that is predestination, and the Wesleyans who maintain that God controls the universe more loosely.

Neither says that God does not control creation, but it seems to me that evolution fits in much better with the Wesleyan point of view. In terms of full disclosure I am in Wesleyan tradition.

The point I am trying to make is that the question of evolution is as ,much or more about theology as science. If the present and future are predestined, then it is hard to see how evolution, which is not in itself random, but does have a random element, is true.

On the other hand if God is in control, but only loosely in control (not hands on control), I can see how a process that God created and guides like evolution can work God’s Will.

The event that Christians are waiting for is the Second Coming. At one time many Christians were expecting that it would come peacefully and triumphantly through an progressive evolution-like process. While that would still be nice, it does not seem probable. Nonetheless whenever it comes and however it comes God will set the time and the day and we need to be ready with our house in order in right relationship to God and others.

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