I gave a partial account of the following in an e-mail announcement of my father's passing the morning following his death. Many people have asked me to write a more complete account.
My father wrote on just about everything. As I sat beside him on the morning of his death, I was recalling an article he had written in 1982 entitled "What Ever Happened to Deathbed Scenes?" In it he discussed how our view of death had changed from a religious scene of goodbye and blessing to a cold, sterile, impersonal end in the hospital. I thought that it was unfortunate he would be denied his own deathbed scene. His pain was intense and he was drifting in and out of a troubled sleep. Several times over the previous few days I had prayed with him, asking God to be merciful with him in his final days and hours as He would be throughout all eternity.
He awoke several times to see Mother, my sisters, me, and some of the grandchildren. He asked when the meeting was to begin and who was speaking. I told him there was no meeting, that it was only family. "Oh!" he said, and shook his head in acknowledgement that he was having trouble separating dream from reality. My sisters asked me to read from Scripture. In previous days it had helped him focus, assenting to particular passages. This time I read 1 Corinthians 15 in its entirely. I wasn't sure at first if he was awake enough to hear, but I began to choke up near the end as he acknowledged key passages with "Yes, yes" several times. At 11:45 a.m. I finished and Dad opened his eyes, leaned forward, and with a suddenly strong voice began to minister to his family once again.
"This is a magnificent passage. What it means is this victory that He began in me will continue in each of you and in your children and in your children's children and in their children.
"The victory is ours and so we must fight. May He give you all strength to fight the battle. We have a battle to fight and an obligation to win.
"We have a certain victory. We are ordained to victory.
"I can't talk much more.
"We have an ordination to victory in this battle.
"Oh my God have mercy upon us. Oh my Lord!
"Oh my God we thank thee for this great calling to victory. Oh my God bless us in this battle!
"I can't continue. We are all unwell. I can't continue. We'll talk about this when we are better able to think."
We had heard his final sermon.
And then, true to form, my father did what he had done for many, many years. He asked, "Are there any questions?"
My sisters and I couldn't help but smile at each other. None of us wanted him to strain anymore, so my sisters, Joanna and Rebecca, expressed their gratefulness to Dad for the blessing he had been, and then encouraged me to pray.
It was all I could do to speak. "Our most gracious God and Heavenly Father, thank you for your goodness to this family. And thank you for Dad and what he has meant to us. We pray that You would show him your mercy at this time. In Christ our Savior's name, Amen."
Dad responded, "Amen and Amen."
My sisters suggested a benediction.
"Dad, the girls would like me to say a benediction," I said, holding his hand.
"Yes," he responded.
"And now go in peace, may God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, bless you and keep you, guide and protect you, this day and always, Amen."
A short while later Dad said to Mother, "Dorothy."
"Yes, dear?" she replied.
"Dorothy, pray for me."
"I am, dear. God hears you and He loves you."
"I love you. Help me."
"Honey, God is helping you. He's taking you home. He's taking you home."
That was the last thing he appeared to hear.
He lost consciousness for the last time a short time later. His breathing became irregular about 9:25 p.m. I sat beside him and held his hand. My sister Sharon stood behind him and stroked his head. My sister Martha sat at his feet.
Dad had his deathbed scene, and Dad had preached his last sermon.
But that for which I am most thankful, is that God was merciful, as Rousas John Rushdoony went to eternity peacefully at 9:48 p.m. on February 8, 2001.
Topics: R. J. Rushdoony