Throughout history Christians have prayed for the dead. This book challenges Protestants, who seldom pray for the dead, to begin doing so, and Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox, who pray only for the Christian dead, to include the unsaved as well. Gould discusses the meaning of pra... yer for final consummation of all things, growth of the blessed in heaven, purification of the imperfect in purgatory, and salvation of the unsaved in hell--identifying the necessary conception of the afterlife required by each particular prayer. He also reflects on the spiritual value of prayer for the departed--how it enhances faith, builds hope, and sharpens discipleship--and provides some sample prayers for public liturgy and private devotion. In essence, Practicing Prayer for the Dead offers an outline of theology from the perspective of death, arguing that prayer for all the departed is one aspect of a tightly knit web of doctrines. The argument, while revisionary in some respects, is orthodox, ecumenical, and integrative, engaging a range of academic disciplines so as to be biblically accurate, historically informed, and philosophically reasoned. ""A fascinating and thought-provoking investigation into the Christian custom of praying for the dead and its theological, spiritual, and eschatological implications. Working from within the Episcopal Church in an ecumenical and systematic perspective (not without historical considerations), Gould also daringly includes in his study prayers for the salvation of the unsaved in hell, and for the consummation of all, and makes a strong case that prayer for the dead strengthens Christian faith and hope--and, one could add, charity-love."" --Ilaria L. E. Ramelli, Professor of Theology and K. Britt Chair, Graduate School of Theology, SHMS, Angelicum University; Senior Visiting Professor of Church History, Columbia University; Senior Visiting Research Fellow, Corpus Christi College Oxford and Princeton University James B. Gould teaches in the Department of Philosophy at McHenry County College, Crystal Lake, Illinois, and serves on the ethics committees of several healthcare organizations.
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