Original Research

An immanent approach to death: Theological implications of a secular view

Cornel W. du Toit
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 65, No 1 | a296 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v65i1.296 | © 2009 Cornel W. du Toit | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 19 June 2009 | Published: 12 November 2009

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Cornel W. du Toit, University of South Africa, South Africa

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The thesis of this article is that contemporary people are increasingly ousting death from their consciousness and focussing instead on the complexities of life in a context of horizontal transcendence. This replaces the Pauline notion that death is the fruit of sin and will be overcome if its real cause, sin, is vanquished through the death and resurrection of Christ. The article shows how religions, the state and civil society have abused human fear of death in the course of history. It examines the way science has ‘biologised’ death and the impact this has on concepts such as soul, the hereafter and identity. Reflection on the hereafter tends to make light of death. The article deals with some philosophical models (especially those of Hegel and Heidegger) that incorporate the negative (non-being, death) into life (the subject). I then outline a model incorporating death into life at a horizontal transcendental level in order to make death plausible. The example cited is Sölle’s work. The article concludes with a discussion of some theological implications of an immanent approach to death.


secularisation of death; hereafter; sin and death; fear of death; horizontal transcendence


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Crossref Citations

1. A scientific defence of religion and the religious accommodation of science? Contextual challenges and paradoxes
Cornel W. Du Toit
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies  vol: 69  issue: 1  year: 2013  
doi: 10.4102/hts.v69i1.1293