Friday, August 3, 2018

Book Review - Departing In Peace: Decision Making At the End of Life by Bill Davis

“Decisions at the end of life create deep anxiety for those involved. But it is possible to find peace and comfort amid the hard choices”– The Publisher. 
This book is undoubtedly the best book I have found on the subject. First, the author has had extensive experience on hospital ethics committees and has taught bioethics at Covenant College and Pastoral & Social Ethics at Reformed Theological Seminary. Second, his experience as a Ruling Elder in the Presbyterian Church of America has given him experience advising parents and children in making Biblically based end of life decisions. Third, the biblical analysis and practical advice offered have been read-tested, both in the hospital and in the classroom.
Dr. Bill Davis says “This book aims to make a more detailed biblical case for the principles found in the 1988 PCA Report on Heroic Measures, and to give more practical guidance about how to apply those principles, especially in the hospital setting of today.”
To give you a flavor for the type of advice Dr. Davis gives, the heart of the instructions he left with his doctor is the desire not to have medical means used to keep him alive unless the means are humanly likely to restore to him the ability to enjoy “the ordinary means of grace”. He says this because, in his words, “The delight of reading God’s Word and hearing it preached, the unity found in taking the sacraments with other believers, the peace and involvement known in corporate prayer, and the thrill of singing God’s praises together with God’s people are more fulfilling to our whole selves than anything else on earth.”  
While the book tends to be pretty detailed, it is quite readable and full of very practical advice. One of the chapters include six true stories. In this chapter Dr. Davis sets up the end of life situation, then works through the situation asking the kinds of questions the person or loved ones ask. He gives several options for answers and discusses the pros and cons of each, with his suggested response.
The book includes study and discussion questions at the end of each chapter, but the real bonus is the free and extensive lesson plans for a four-class series available at the publishers (P&R Publishing) website.
What follows are a few more endorsements.
“This book combines mature biblical teaching with the brass-tacks practical questions that we all face with the death of loved ones. These are the things that we don’t usually think about until they happen. I highly recommend Departing in Peace as essential preparation.”  —Michael Horton, J. Gresham Machen Professor of Systematic Theology and Apologetics, Westminster Seminary California
“Dr. Davis is an exemplary teacher and guide. His personal experience with end-of-life issues and his experience as a guide to others are invaluable for those who want to be ready.”  —Richard R. Pesce, MD, MS (ethics), FCCP, FACP, Medical Director of Critical Care, Memorial Hospital, Chattanooga
“This book by Bill Davis fills a real gap in the literature. . . . Departing in Peace deserves to become the go-to book for those seeking solid guidance on difficult end-of-life decisions.”  —James N. Anderson, Associate Professor of Theology and Philosophy, Reformed Theological Seminary, Charlotte
“This book is a fine reflection on crucial issues of life and death. As we would expect from Bill Davis, it is careful, thoughtful, and biblical, and it will be genuinely helpful to families and pastors.”  —W. Robert Godfrey, Professor Emeritus of Church History, Westminster Seminary California

This book along with several other new books can be seen at Somethin's Brewin Coffee Shop in DeMotte. I also am always adding books to the list of recommended books at

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