Francis Schaeffer predicted assisted suicide would come (“Schaeffer Sundays” Part 3)

Ever heard of the influential evangelical Francis Schaeffer? (Mike Huckabee once said his favorite book after the Bible was Schaeffer’s “Whatever Happened to the Human Race” and he’s been described as having a “profound” influence on Michele Bachmann.Best reading of the morning is this New York Times article about how Schaeffer’s son, Frank, eventually turned away from his father’s politically conservative Christian ways and spurned the dynastic inheritance that could have been his. He’s written a memoir, “Sex, Mom and God.”
In 1969 my former pastor Bill Elliff was a college student and someone told him about Francis Schaeffer speaking at Wheaton college in Chicago. He drove up  there and heard him speak. He spoke about abortion and asst suicide and many of the social changes that would be happening in the next few decades. LOOKING BACK HE COULD HAVE NOT BEEN MORE RIGHT? However, the liberals like Max Brantley keep attacking him because he is dangerous because his films expose the weaknesses of the secular humanist point of view.
Francis Schaeffer is a hero of mine and I want to honor him with a series of posts on Sundays called “Schaeffer Sundays” which will include his writings and clips from his film series. I have posted many times in the past using his material.
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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 Whatever Happened to the Human Race (Episode 1) ABORTION

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Francis Schaeffer “BASIS FOR HUMAN DIGNITY” Whatever…HTTHR

Dr. Francis schaeffer – The flow of Materialism(from Part 4 of Whatever happened to human race?)

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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 first portion of the article).This is another subject that Francis Schaeffer discussed at length in his film series and books.

The Indecency of Assisted Suicide

Peter A. Lillback, Issue Number 10, August 2006

Death is universal. Apart from the intervention of the second advent of Christ, every human being will die. But how humans should die is a point of keen debate in the history of ethics.

Christians and non-Christians have deeply disagreed over the ethical validity of “non-natural” means of human death, namely suicide, abortion, infanticide, capital punishment, war, and euthanasia. And even among Christians there have been deep disagreements over whether these means of human death are ever legitimate. Specifically, then, what should a Christian think about the surging interest in euthanasia in our largely non-Christian culture?

For a host of reasons including advancements in medical technology, the aging of America, and the increasing impact of the secularization of our society, the concept of “quality of life” continues to supplant the concept of “sanctity of life.” Not surprisingly, the practice of euthanasia, simply translated as “the good death,” is a topic of increasing interest and concern.

The stories of Karen Ann Quinlan, Dr. Jack Kevorkian, the Hemlock Society, and Terri Shiavo have filled the news. “Death with dignity,” “mercy killing,” “the right to die,” or “physician assisted suicide” identify some of the claims of the advocates of euthanasia.

To consider the issues surrounding euthanasia, or the alleged “good death,” it is essential to understand how we, as a society, have arrived at the point where legislators are discussing not how we are to live, but how we are to die.

The Advent of the Culture of Death

Euthanasia is not new. But its rise to the forefront of our social and political discussions can be seen as one outcome of the legalization of abortion in 1973. Claims by the critics of abortion that its legalization would naturally lead to infanticide and euthanasia were seen as scare tactics to keep women from exercising their “right to privacy” or “right to choose.” However, it was not long until these warnings were becoming realities. “Deformed” children were being starved to death or refused treatment and newborn infants were being discarded in trash bins.

Surgeon General of the U.S. Dr. C. Everett Koop responded to the euthanasia/infanticide by starvation of a Down syndrome child in a Bloomfield, Ind., hospital by writing an article in 1980 entitled “Slide to Auschwitz.” He explained that when the “quality of life” value system replaces the “sanctity of life” ethic, it is the first step to what the Nazi physicians at Auschwitz proclaimed—namely, that the unhealthy, the aged, the handicapped, the mentally incompetent, or the dying were lebensunwerten Lebens, or “life unworthy of life.”

Francis Schaeffer explained this emerging thinking when he described an article by author Charles Hartshorne in a 1981 article in The Christian Century entitled “Concerning Abortion, an Attempt at a Rational View.” Schaeffer wrote, “He [Hartshorne] begins by equating the fact that the human fetus is alive with the fact that mosquitoes and bacteria are also alive. That is, he begins by assuming that human life is not unique. He then continues by saying that even after the baby is born it is not fully human until its social relations develop (though he says the infant does have some primitive social relations an unborn fetus does not have). His conclusion is, ‘Nevertheless, I have little sympathy with the idea that infanticide is just another form of murder. Persons who are already functionally persons in the full sense have more important rights even than infants.’ He then, logically takes the next step: ‘Does this distinction apply to the killing of a hopelessly senile person or one in a permanent coma? For me it does.’ No atheistic humanist could say it with greater clarity.”

The high priest of mercy killing, Dr. Peter Singer of Princeton makes the thinking clear in his book Practical Ethics: “I do not deny that if one accepts abortion … the case for euthanasia … is strong. … euthanasia is not something to be regarded with horror. … On the contrary, once we abandon those doctrines about the sanctity of human life … it is the refusal to accept euthanasia which, in some cases, is horrific.” Thus the leaps from abortion to infanticide, to voluntary euthanasia, and ultimately to involuntary euthanasia are not leaps at all, but the natural consequence of stepping onto the slippery slope of morality apart from God.

The Unfolding Expression of the Culture of Death

To a society which no longer embraces the sanctity of human life, the natural extension of a woman’s “right to choose” is a person’s right to die at the time and under the conditions of their own choosing. Physician John M. Templeton, Jr., explains, “This right of personal autonomy regarding medical intervention can contribute to the concept of death with dignity. However, some persons have begun to try and push the concept of rights into extreme positions. In the words of Leon Kass, author of Death with Dignity and the Sanctity of Life, We find people asserting a “right to die” grounded not in objective conditions regarding prognosis or the uselessness of treatment, but in the supremacy of choice itself. In the name of choice, people claim the right to choose to cease to be choosing beings. From such a right to refuse not only treatment, but life itself—that is, from a right to become dead—it is then a small step to the right to be made dead. From my right to die will follow your duty to assist me in dying, i.e., to become the agent of my death, if I am not able, or do not wish, to kill myself.’”

The ultimate expression of the culture of death is of course, the arbitrary killing of human beings based on some yet to be determined criteria, such as age, health, productivity, or cost to society. Philip E. Hughes writes, “given the evolutionist presupposition that the species is of far more consequence than the individual, that Man matters rather than man, it is far from fantastic to envisage the enactment of a law which, in the interest of mankind, would prescribe that on reaching, say, the age of 60, persons should be ‘put to sleep’—painlessly of course—by means of a pill, potion, or an injection.”

What role do physicians play in this new paradigm of the culture of death where they are called no longer to be life givers and sustainers, but instead to become managers of life and death? Templeton, in Death and Dying, writes, “The Dutch, in their research on euthanasia, found that many physicians acted with the initial intention of relieving pain and suffering, but also with the admitted ‘partial intention’ of hastening death. Now the Dutch parliament has lifted all restraints and has completely legalized active euthanasia, even in some cases without the patient’s consent.”

In the end, Peter Singer’s questions paint the road map for the culture of death. “For me, the relevant question is, what makes it so seriously wrong to take a life? Those of you who are not vegetarians are responsible for taking a life every time you eat. Species is no more relevant than race in making these judgments.” Singer posits the ultimate question, “But why should human life have special value?”

The Imago Dei

Why is human life precious and why is it wrong to take a life? For the Christian, the answer is clear. We are created by God; in fact, we are created in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-28.). But living out that answer is not always simple or easy. This understanding of the sanctity of life is undergirded by God’s moral law, summarized in the sixth commandment: “Thou shalt not kill.” J. Douma writes, “When we live and die in God’s presence, we do not exercise self-determination over ourselves. When God says that we may not kill, then we must not proceed stubbornly to put an end to our own lives. The wish for death can be a Christian desire, even outside of the dying stage of life (see Philippians 1:23). We may even pray for that; but that kind of praying itself presupposes that we must leave the realization thereof to God Himself.”

Professor J. J. Davis further clarifies how euthanasia is a violation of the sixth commandment: “Human life is sacred because God made man in his own image and likeness (Genesis 1:26-28). This canopy of sacredness extends throughout man’s life, and is not simply limited to those times and circumstances when man happens to be strong, independent, healthy, and fully conscious of his relationships to others. … The same God who lovingly is present in the womb can be present in the dying and comatose patient, for whom conscious human relationships are broken. The body of the dying can still be a temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19), and hence sacred to God. The euthanasia mentality sees man as the lord of his own life; the Christian sees human life as a gift from God, to be held in trusteeship throughout man’s life on earth: ‘You are not your own; you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body’ (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). Determining the moment of death is God’s prerogative, not man’s (Job 14:5). Man does not choose his own death, but acquiesces in the will of the heavenly Father, knowing that for the believer, death is both the last enemy, and the doorway to eternal life. Because man bears the image of God, his life is sacred in every state of its existence, in sickness or in health, in the womb, in infancy, in adolescence, in maturity, in old age, or even in the process of dying itself.”

In a culture of death, Christians are called to be shining lights of hope to a forlorn and fallen world. When Christians choose life for themselves and/or others—offering to the suffering not deadly poisons, but rather Christ’s life-giving love in word and deed—they reflect the gospel hope of the eternal life promised by Christ’s resurrection.

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

Dr. Francis Schaeffer – The Biblical flow of Truth & History (intro)

Francis Schaeffer – The Biblical Flow of History & Truth (1)

Dr. Francis Schaeffer – The Biblical Flow of Truth & History (part 2)

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