I recently had the privilege of pre-reading Rob Moll’s forthcoming book, What Your Body Knows About God (November 2014, IVP). In it, Moll distills difficult scientific research, making sense of it in light of historic Christian practices–particularly those targeting personal transformation. Moll’s own ministry experience and anecdotal accounts season the chapters, adding personal interest to this smoothly-written work. Few authors can bring scientific studies, personal interviews, and theological analysis together with the ease. Moll does.
Moll’s interest in the topic emerged as he researched his first book, The Art of Dying, a book I have written about on The Anxious Bench in the past. Perplexed by the near dualism expressed by many American evangelicals, he set out to figure out how the body affects our religious lives as human beings. His findings and the conclusions he draws from them ought to be of interest to anyone who ministers to people and hopes for their transformation into the image of Christ (2 Corinthians 3:18)
In anticipation of Moll’s second book, I have reposted a portion of that article here. I hope that it will spur interest in Moll’s new book (which is quite reasonably priced; thanks IVP!), but more importantly, the topics that he addresses.
In his book, The Art of Dying: Living Fully into the Life to Come (IVP, 2010), Moll urges American Christians to re-familiarize themselves with death that we may revive the ars moriendi – the art of dying. Grounded in his own experience as a hospice care worker, Moll carries two interwoven burdens throughout The Art of Dying. First, he desires each Christian’s death might once again become “an embodiment of a belief in God who has defeated death and will give life to our own mortal bodies (68).” Second, he urges congregations to once again take seriously cradle-to-the-grave ministry. Moll rightly assesses that the first cannot be accomplished without the second. Along the way, he gently rebukes contemporary evangelicalism’s propensity to follow the larger cultural trend of outsourcing end-of-life decisions to professionals. Wonderfully adept at their vocations, doctors, nurses, and other medical caretakers naturally think in terms of prolonging life, not dying well in light of the resurrection. Such is the purview of ministers, and ministers should reclaim such functions.
*This post is a foll0w-up to my prior post, “Outsourcing Death and Dying in America“