Understanding Prayer for the Dead, Its Foundation in History and Logic
Throughout history Christians have prayed for the dead–both for continual growth of the faithful and for their advancement from purgatory, though not for the deliverance of the unsaved from hell. This book defends all three kinds of prayer. It 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. James Gould addresses the biblical credentials of prayer for the dead and provides a historical overview of such prayers from ancient Christianity to the current practice of the three main branches of the church. He also discusses the logical assumptions prayer for the dead requires–that prayer is effective, that the dead are conscious, and that the afterlife involves change–and lays out a theological framework for such prayers. Prayer for the departed raises the most basic of theological questions, matters that go to the center of God’s purpose in creating spiritual beings and redeeming sinful humankind. 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. “”James B. Gould not only argues powerfully that there is no good theological case against prayer for the dead, but also that there is a powerful theological casein favor of it.