This book review originally appeared Wednesday at sbcIMPACT!
If you know someone who is entering the twilight of life, or who is facing a terminal illness, you need to see that they receive a copy of Dr. John Dunlop’s book, “Finishing Well to the Glory of God” published by Crossway. It is available from Amazon for less than $11, from CBD for $12, and from Crossway as a download for $10. It is well worth it.
Dr. Dunlop practices medicine in Zion, IL and has come face-to-face with some of the ethical and moral problems that modern medicine has created. Should we fight death to the finish, using every possible means to prolong and preserve life, or should we rest in Jesus and accept what comes? What about physician-assisted suicide or euthanasia? How can people face death with dignity and faith? He writes to answer some of these baffling and befuddling questions. He writes as a Christian – a biblically-grounded and theologically adept Christian. He writes as a doctor who has come face-to-face with patients who are living out the issues he addresses. And he writes as a son who watched his parents go through life’s end game. And he also is a man in his sixties who is a cancer survivor, so he writes with a personal stake in the subject.
This book is filled with sound medical advice as well as more biblical content than a lot of sermons I have heard. This is not cliched advice or lightweight motivational drivel. This is solid in-depth biblical doctrine applied to real life situations – masterfully done.
He presents nine strategies for finishing well, for running the final miles of life’s race.
Strategy 1: Live well. Dunlop admonishes his hearers to live their lives well, to continue serving others and God right up until the last moment.
Strategy 2: Let Go Graciously. The later chapters of life are all about giving up and letting go. As we get older we simply cannot do the things we once did. Driving. Living independently. Taking care of yourself. If you live long enough, you will face each of these indignities. Dunlop sets out a biblical basis for letting go gradually, willingly and with a godly spirit.
Strategy 3: Treasure God’s Love: Love Him in Return. Aging can be filled with pain, loneliness, loss, and indignity. But nothing can separate us from the love of God which gives meaning in life, and one can love God in return regardless of life’s circumstances.
Strategy 4: Grow through Adversity. For the Christian, suffering is productive, not meaningless. Dunlop examines the reasons and purposes behind suffering and sets forth a template for a positive and productive approach to suffering.
Strategy 5: Embrace a Biblical View of Life and Death. Dunlop explores a theology of life and death and outlines a biblical approach to death and dying. This stands in stark contrast to much of the contra-biblical advice that is out there on the subject of death.
Strategy 6: Complete Your Agenda. There is a lot of talk about “bucket lists” today – things we want to do before we die. This chapter examines a spiritual bucket list – important things that should be dealt with before the end comes. He talks about getting your life in order, examining your relationship with God, dealing with relationships that need to be healed and other such topics.
Strategy 7: Make Appropriate Use of Technology. This chapter is worth the price of the book. He discusses complex bioethical issues in the light of biblical revelation and makes helpful suggestions about the use of the technological advances of medical science.
Strategy 8: Changing Gears from Cure to Comfort Care. There comes a point at which we stop treating to heal and start providing palliative care. This is another tough issue which Dunlop deals with from both medical and biblical perspectives.
Strategy 9: Rest in Jesus. Death is never easy or welcome. But those whose faith is in Christ can approach death with peace and confidence because of what we know to be true.
1) Simple. Buy this book and read it. If you are a pastor, this book is not optional equipment for you. You will deal with death and dying and I’ve seen nothing that prepares pastors better than this book.
2) Use it as a Bible Study for your seniors group. Seems kind of morbid, I guess, but the sound biblical advice coupled with medical expertise could be some of the most important truth you will ever teach people in the twilight of life.
3) Provide copies in your church library for people to read.
I wish I could order each and every one of you to buy and read this book. I can’t, so let me just give you the strongest recommendation I can give any book that is not the Bible. Buy it. Read it. Give it away to people who need to hear it.
My parents will be getting a copy of this book from me soon.