For all the saints, who from their labors rest, who thee by faith before the world confessed, thy Name, O Jesus, be forever blessed. Alleluia, Alleluia! (1982 Hymnal #287, William Walsham How, 1864)
"What I want to know is, where is he now?" (A young widow's question to N. T. Wright, a few weeks after the funeral of her husband).
Should we pray (a) to the saints; (b) for the saints; (c) with the saints; (d) all of the above; (e) none of the above? What is the difference between All Saints Day and All Souls Day? What do we mean by "heaven," "hell," and the state, place (or moment?) called Purgatory? When those we have loved die, what happens to them? Where are they now? What is the ultimate Christian hope? Is it to go to heaven? If so, then why do we profess in the Creed, not that we look forward to going to heaven, but rather that we look forward to the "resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come"?
In this four-part series from April 3, 2005 to April 24, 2005, based on the book by N. T. Wright, For All the Saints? Remembering the Christian Departed, we tried to clarify our thinking about such questions, and what we can and cannot say in answer.
Presentations were by David Monyak.
For All the Saints? Remembering the Christian Departed. N.T. Wright, Morehouse Publishing, 2003. ISBN 0-8192-2133-3
The Faith of a Physicist. John Polkinghorne. Fortress Press. Minneapolis. 1994. ISBN 0-8006-2970-1
The Resurrection of the Son of God. Christian Origins and the Question of God, Volume Three. N.T. Wright. Fortress Press, Minneapolis, 2003. ISBN 0-8006-2679-6.