Francis Schaeffer was prophetic about culture of death that Jack Kevorkian thrive in (Series on Jack Kevorkian’s legacy of death Part 7)

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What Ever Happened to the Human Race?

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Philosopher and Theologian, Francis A. Schaeffer has argued, “If there are no absolutes by which to judge society, then society is absolute.” Francis Schaeffer, How Shall We Then Live? (Old Tappan NJ: Fleming H Revell Company, 1976), p. 224.

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Francis Schaeffer had a big impact on many christians like me and gave us reasons to be prolife. Read the below article by Dr. Peter Lillback concerning the issue of assisted suicide (below is the last portion of the article).This is another subject that Francis Schaeffer discussed at length in his film series and books.

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Suffering Has A Point

If one adopts the biblical culture of life that flows from the concepts of the image of God and the sanctity of life, then one must also address the issue of human suffering. For euthanasia’s pragmatic appeal is in offering the “good death,” that is, a death that is without pain and suffering. What is a Christian to think of suffering since his rejection of euthanasia requires a commitment to face pain in a manner that glorifies God? The first thing to remember is that God is faithful (1 Corinthians 10:13). Suffering is never wasted in God’s economy, but always serves His purposes (Romans 8:28).

Professor William Edgar reminds us that suffering has a profound role in the Christian’s progress to the ultimate hope of the gospel of Christ. “In the school of suffering there are three great degrees, to be earned in sequence. The first is ‘perseverance’ (Romans 5:3). When we endure hardship for the sake of our Lord, we begin to learn what no other teacher can impart, the ability to endure. This virtue is notably absent from modern culture—we would rather have the easy pay-off and the pleasurable stimulus than the hard road of daily struggle. But as great athletes know, matches aren’t won in one move, but rather one point at a time. The second degree, once endurance is well in hand, is ‘character’ (Romans 5:4). The Greek word here signifies the ‘ability to pass a test.’ … Finally, the highest degree in the school of suffering is ‘hope’ (Romans 5:4-5). … when the New Testament speaks of hope, it means full assurance. And what is underscored in Romans 5 is a hope that does not have any shame or embarrassment attached to it. Furthermore, it is a hope that leads to the same kind of glad feelings that come with justification. ‘We rejoice in the hope of the glory of God’ (Romans 5:2).

The point here is that euthanasia sees pain as something to be avoided at any cost. For the Christian, pain is not to be sought, but when it comes it is to be grasped as a tool God has given to further restore the very image of God so tragically damaged in the fall of mankind. When hope triumphs over suffering, the first fruits of the resurrection and the eternal redemption of Christ have been tasted by the soul of faith.

The Problem of Pain

This understanding however, does not mean that physical pain is a goal to be sought or a required end to be endured without support. For example, C. S. Lewis wrote in The Problem of Pain, “I am not arguing that pain is not painful. Pain hurts. That is what the word means. I am only trying to show that the old Christian doctrine of being made ‘perfect through suffering’ (Hebrews 2:10) is not incredible. To prove it palatable is beyond my design.”

Although there are no easy ways to suffer, a Christian willingly embraces the blessings of the common grace gifts of medicine to address his pain and suffering. Yet he also learns to live by the apostle Paul’s words in Philippians 3:10-11 that describe his remarkable spiritual pursuit, “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.”

Death With Dignity In Christ

Our conclusion can hardly surpass the wisdom of Dr. Leon Kass in his article “Death with Dignity and the Sanctity of Life,” written in 1990. Dr. John M. Templeton, Jr. summarizes Dr. Kass as follows: “‘We should reject the counsel of those who, seeking to drive a wedge between human dignity and the sanctity of life, argue for the need for active euthanasia, especially in the name of death with dignity. For it is precisely the setting of fixed limits on violating human life that makes possible our efforts at dignified relations with our fellow men, especially when their neediness and disability try our patience. We will never be able to relate, even decently to people, if we are entitled always to consider that one option before us is to make them dead. Thus, when the advocates of euthanasia press us with the most heartrending cases, we should be sympathetic but firm. Our response should neither be ‘Yes, for mercy sake,’ nor ‘Murder! Unthinkable!’ but ‘Sorry, no.’ Above all, we must not allow ourselves to become self deceived: we must never seek to relieve our own frustration and bitterness over the lingering deaths of other by pretending that we can kill them to sustain their dignity.”

As believers, we are called to entrust our lives and the lives of our loved ones into the strong and loving hands of the only One who knows the end from the beginning. When we live in Christ with trust and when we die in Christ with hope, we can proclaim with Paul, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21). This alone is the “good death,” the only true “euthanasia.”

Dr. Peter A. Lillback is senior pastor of Proclamation Presbyterian Church (PCA) and president of Westminster Theological Seminary.

SEVEN ETHICAL PRINCIPLES FOR FACING DEATH AND DYING

While we cannot pursue the following ethical considerations with any length, it is helpful to identify some of the basic issues guiding a Christian’s thinking as they face the death process.

1. Prolonging life versus stretching life: “We observe once again how important it is to avoid the phrase absolute ‘reverence’ for human life. We must respect human life. If we can expect a medical procedure to extend life for a meaningful time, then we have an indication that such a treatment is desirable. But if not, then we have an indication that our task here on Earth is finished. Life can be prolonged, but need not be stretched” (J.Douma’s The Ten Commandments).

2. The issue of terminating life versus terminating treatment. “For this reason it is important to distinguish between terminating life and terminating treatment. Perhaps death will follow quickly after a treatment has been terminated, although that is by no means always the case. If a patient undergoes no further medical treatment, he must still be fed and cared for. That is not killing him, but giving him up” (J. Douma’s The Ten Commandments).

3. When it is right to let someone die? John Frame, in his Medical Ethics, writes, “When may we let a patient die? In general I would say that we may let a patient die when we lack, in some way, the resources to save his life, whether those resources be time, technology, or skill. When a person is under medical care, we may let him die … when he is ‘dying.’” Davis adds, “The collapse of the distinction between killing and letting die could also open the door to the deliberate killing of other categories of persons: the senile, the comatose, and the economically burdensome.”

4. The distinction between the ordinary and extraordinary means in saving a life. Davis continues, “Ordinary means are all those medicines, treatments, and operations which offer a reasonable hope of benefit and which can be obtained and used without excessive expense, pain, or other inconvenience. Extraordinary means are all medicines, treatments, and operations which cannot be obtained or used without excessive pain, or other inconvenience, or which, if used, would not offer a reasonable hope of benefit.”

5. The difference between sustaining life and prolonging dying. Davis writes, “There is no moral obligation to prolong artificially a truly terminal patient’s irreversible and imminent process of dying. This is sometimes called employing ‘useless means’ of treatment.”

6. The compassionate control of pain and provision of comfort. Davis writes, “When a disease has advanced to the point where no known therapy exists and death is imminent despite the means used, then forms of treatment that would secure ‘only a precarious and burdensome prolongation of life’ may be discontinued or not instituted. … Only palliative care is indicated. … ‘Palliative care’ means therapeutic measures designed to increase the patient’s comfort and control pain, to provide food and water and normal nursing care, and to minimize stress for the dying patient and the family. To say that in certain cases palliative care alone is indicated is not to abandon the patient.” The advent of advanced pain treatments has largely eliminated the need for patients to suffer. The idea of “mercy killing” thus has a false basis.

7. Open and honest communication. A final important ethical consideration is excellent communication between the patient (if possible), the family, and the healthcare professional. There needs to be a team approach to making these difficult decisions.

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