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Lutheran Aardvark

Confessional Lutheran theology, hagiography, philosophy, music, culture, sports, education, and whatever else is on the fevered mind of Orycteropus Afer

27 March 2007
  De Mortuis Nil Nisi Bonum Dicendum Est?
If nil nisi bonum, This Obit Would Be Shorter Still

The sharp-eyed Mrs. Vark spotted this obituary — painfully short and disturbingly honest:

TombstoneDewayne C. Eckhoff, 67, of Kansas City, KS, died Friday, March 23, 2007 at KU Medical Center. An Agnostic Infidel gone to a place he didn't believe exists.

Dewayne was born November 21, 1939 in Sutherland, NE to Carl and Jessie Eckhoff. He graduated from Hershey High School in 1958 and the University of Nebraska with a B.S. degree in 1964. He received his Master's Degree from the University of Iowa at Cedar Falls in 1968 and his Pharmacy Degree from the University of Kansas at Lawrence in 1983. He was a long time chemistry teacher at Kansas City Kansas Community College and a part-time pharmacist in Kansas City.

Survivors include 2 sisters, Barbara (Terry) Bannister and Jane (Steve) Long; and a brother, Richard Eckhoff.


As Christians, shouldn't this should pain us in several ways? Dewayne apparently died outside of Christ's Church. Without saving faith in Jesus Christ, God's Word promises man nothing but eternal torment. Paradise has been robbed of another lost sheep who wouldn't hearken to the Shepherd's voice.

Then, can we begin to imagine the hurt lying in the hearts of his family? I seriously doubt that brothers and sisters could make this their final corporate statement concerning a departed sibling unless they'd long expressed these same concerns before the death. Yet even if they had been diligently confessing Christ and witnessing to His presence in their lives for many years, how can they not, if they loved him at all, avoid some feelings of guilt along with the pain of the loss?

Some of us may have already lost family members who died in a Dewayne-like state of disbelief. Others carry the burden of trying to reach living atheistic, agnostic, or false-believing relatives before it's too late. Our prayers will effect nothing for the Dewaynes who've left this vale of sorrows for an even greater eternal woe. However, we can — and should — redouble our prayers on behalf of those unbelievers still living among us while also asking that the Lord would support and guide their families and friends who continue working and hoping to see them converted and saved for eternal life.

I also wonder about those others whom Dewayne left behind. When I read the online obit, three friends had signed the guest book. Does any of them share the apparent faith and accompanying thoughts of the three siblings? I doubt it, since "nil nisi bonum" prevails in their brief entries. One said, "Dewayne was a good guy." Another remarked, "He deserved better." The final entrants, commenting on shared travels, said, "We ... enjoyed his company." All seem blissfully unaware that, unfortunately, some "nice guys" do finish dead last.

When I die, I pray that I leave a legacy at least a bit more hopeful. I want my remaining family and friends to be able to say, "We're sure he's with the Lord ... even if he doesn't deserve it."

Illustration created by the Tombstone Generator.

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Comments:
Hey Aardy!

This is a very suitable post for the week leading to Palm Sunday. On the one hand it illustrates the sad fact that by most of mankind Jesus/God is not even acknowledged but is rejected outright.

On the other hand is the very powerful Palm Sunday illustration of how most "believers" really don't know the one in whom they profess to believe. On Palm Sunday the "believers" came out and sang praises of "Hosanna", i.e., "Save Us!" Yet on Friday of the same week these same "believers" cried "CRUCIFY! CRUCIFY."

Why did this happen? Because the people realized that Jesus was taking their church and their false perception of the Church away from them. He came to Jerusalem for the purpose, as they put it in their accusations against Him at His "trial," to tear down the temple and rebuild it. While they misquoted Him, they did understand what the result of His coming as their King would be. He would take away their "works of righteousness" and replace them with His works of righteousness.

They were unwilling to permit this.

The folks who published this obituary did the same thing. They emphacised the works of unrighteousness of their fallen relative, and by implication, raised themselves and their works of righteousness.

Yet not a single word mentions the name of salvation by which true righteous is received.

So as you rightly point out, they demonstrate an "apparent faith." Yet if their faith were from God, where would their focus be? Would they not be speaking the name of salvation and directing people away from their burning brother to the Gospel?

I hope that someone warns these dear people who are crying "Crucify" so that they turn away from their prideful "belief" to the faith of Jesus poured out in Baptism. Then, rather than trusting and confessing their belief they will trust and confess Jesus, and be kept in Him through the peace of God that surpasses all understanding.

Palmarum blessings!
 
I suspect that the reason this person proudly claimed himself to be an agnostic infidel is because he had few examples of people living Christ-centered lives that could demonstrate the peace and joy one could have, both on earth and in heaven.
 
Pastor,

I absolutely agree, we should feel the sorrow - God has no pleasure in this. Rather than anger nowadays I feel sorrow for those who disagree with my Christianity.

Today coming now to being Lutheran I need to be patient with those of evangelia/charimanian friends I left behind, those who have not come around yet to what I believe/teach and confess. I did not get it rightaway either and it is only the Grace of God that does it.
 
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