How Should a Christian Die?

This monograph is a reflective journey about life and death by the Harvard and University of Toronto Professor, Herbert Richardson. Richardson explores the hardship of life and the spiritual suffering of a Christian trying to follow in the path of Jesus by contextualizing these ideas via the stages of life one passes through. By suffering like Christ, individuals are able to construct for themselves a life and a death that holds meaning because of what they did while on earth.


“Dear Herb,…Thank you for sharing these intimate reflections with me. When someone I care about starts talking about his death, and does so with thoughtful and profound spirituality, I both rejoice and feel sad. The joy comes from the overwhelming Christic character of your reflections. That strikes me as absolutely right and challenges me to focus more on Jesus myself. In addition, your insightful reflections on the stages of one’s spiritual journey gives added weight and poignancy to what you write. It shows me that you have learned about such stages not just by reading good developmental psychology (that too) but above all that you have learned from your own life. To put it in the fashionable therapeutic terms so loved by many — you have grown. There is so much I appreciate in what you have written. With John Calvin you point to the importance of self-denial and cross-bearing as a hallmark of Christian discipleship; and your comments about the meaninglessness of a naturalist view of death is priceless. However, my underlying question has to do with your heroic advocacy of a heroic discipleship. If I think of martyrdom as witness in cross bearing selfless service, this too is martyrdom. But I get nervous about being too active in search of the more dramatic martyrdom that you propose. God bless you richly; you are always in my thoughts and prayers.
Reverend John Bolt, Ph.D. Calvin Theological Seminary

Table of Contents

I. New testament Teaching
II. The Stages of Life as Preparation for Death
III. The Stages of Natural Life in this World
IV. The Stages of Spiritual Life Beginning at Middle Age
V. The Act of Christian Martyrdom
VI. The Community of Christian Martyrs