When A Person Dies: Pastoral Theology in Death Experiences

by Robert L. Kinast

Robert L. Kinast teaches pastoral theology at the Catholic University of America. Ordained a roman Catholic priest in 1968, he served for nine years in pastoral ministry in Atlanta, Georgia, while earning a Ph.D. in systematic theology from Emory University.

Published by the Crossroad Publishing Company, 370 Lexington Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10017. This material was prepared for Religion Online by Ted and Winnie Brock.


(ENTIRE BOOK) This book gives important insights into the theology of death. It deal with the impact of our death upon God, and how God in turn impacts our death with profound meaning.


  • Introduction This book features theological questions about death, each chapter beginning with a practical case. It uses a process-relational approach and considers several different kinds of experiences of death.
  • Chapter 1: A Grandmother’s Death: The Question of Meaning There is a special kind of connection between God and death. Everything we experience, and especially the culmination of our lifetime of experiences, is a contribution to God in the sense that it provides new occasions through which God relates to us.
  • Chapter 2: A Boy’s Accidental Death: The Question of Why Whenever we face unjust, sudden, accidental, unexpected death we can adhere to our pain and anger and loss, or we can place all that and all of those responsible, including ourselves, in the flow of God’s new movement. We can let death open up a new possibility for experiencing life.
  • Chapter 3: A Wife’s Premature Death: The Question of Immortality The author uses process thought regarding three questions concerning immortality. 1. There is no clear proof of it. 2. If there is an afterlife, what is it like? 3. Is the afterlife connected with the present life?
  • Chapter 4: A Sister’s Cremation: The Question of Resurrection The author discusses two troublesome issues regarding cremation: 1. How much value is there in our bodily existence? 2. What actual conditions do our bodies have in the after life? The author concludes that cremation isn’t necessarily a sin of disrespect for we live and die as whole persons and are raised to immortal life by God alone.
  • Chapter 5: A Brother’s Suicide: The Question of Judgment We are responsible for one another. All judgment is ultimately God’s. Hell is a logical and necessary implication of freedom. We are not consigned to hell; we choose our way into hell . . . and into heaven.
  • Chapter 6: A Nation’s Oppressive Death: The Question of the End of the World Dr. Kinast discusses the relational response on the success or futility of efforts to change the world. It is escapist to believe that it will all be worked out in the end times.
  • Chapter 7: The Death of Jesus: Theological Test Case Dr. Kinast explains Jesus' death in terms of the relational view presented in this book.
  • Appendix: When the Becoming Ceases Dr. Kinast summarizes the interpretations which he has presented in this book and compares the relational theology of death with the more classical theology of death, assessing the strengths and limitations of each.