Last week I received the shocking news that David Oestreich was fighting for his life in the hospital, suffering from pneumonia. A few hours later he was dead. He leaves behind a young widow and three children.
David was a friend, but of a unique sort. You see, David and I never actually met in person. We became friends simply by virtue of the amazing benefits of the internet.
I searched back through my email archives to remind myself of how our relationship developed. We first “met” when David emailed me in January of 2010 in order to ask for some clarifications of things I had written in Worship in Song. He introduced himself to me this way:
I have lurked sporadically at your site, Religious Affections, ever since Ben Wright steered me your way from his blog “Paleoevangelical”. I immediately sensed that you were both committed to the primacy of the scriptures as the only authority of faith and practice in the church and the life of the believer, and a fairly sharp fellow. I have been most interested in your articles on music, and have been tempted to post questions/comments, but figured I’d just wait to read your book.
David then began to comment regularly here on the Religious Affections blog, originally with questions and even objections, mostly related to the regulative principle and musical meaning. Soon those questions began to come regularly in emails, and we began what became years of email exchanges. I recognized very quickly that David was in search of the truth. He was an avid reader, committed to God’s Word, a faithful church member and family man, and, as I soon learned, a poet.
I watched as David questioned, read, learned, and in that process, began to change. He moved from a questioner and skeptic of conservative Christianity to an articulor and defender. He soon began to email me article submissions for publication on this site, first poetry and hymn reviews, then other reflections and essays.
One of those essays, sent in July of 2011, he titled “My Regulative Principle Epiphany.” It was an expression of his now fully convinced commitment to many of the values we articulate on this site. A month later, I invited David to be a regular contributor. You can find most of his contributions here.
One of the things I most appreciated about David (my wife immediately mentioned this very thing the minute she heard that he had died) is that he was always quick to support and defend. Many times something I had written was attacked online, David chimed in, offering perspective, and supporting me, often when no one else would. As someone who is regularly attacked online, friends like this are deeply appreciated.
Our loss here at Religious Affections Ministries at David’s passing will not be nearly as significant as family and friends who lived and breathed with him everyday, but it will be a significant loss nonetheless. We have lost a friend and a supporter of pure, biblical worship.
But we rejoice in God’s goodness in David’s life and through him in the lives of those who he touched, and we pray that God will comfort his family during this difficult time.