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Medical Ethics

By Editorial Staff
Published April 1, 2008

by Garry J. Moes

“The great law of the living world,” philosopher Frederick Nymeyer wrote some 20 years ago, “is to survive.”

Today the great law is being broken. In our increasingly lawless age, the survival instinct is dying.

We have coursing among us like a poison vapor a pervasive death wish – the ultimate lust of a society which has given itself over to its base desires. The stubborn will to survive, once so admired in a dying individual, is being replaced by a will to die. Where once it was a sign of spiritual maturity to endure and overcome suffering, it is now “dignified” to wish death upon oneself in the midst of suffering. “Death with Dignity” legislation is thus, expectedly, being proposed in many quarters.

The phenomenon is being even further institutionalized. Organizations with names like Concern for Dying and America’s Society for the Right to Die are forming to promote it. Movements are underway not only to legalize suicide but to have it declared a fundamental right of man.

In California, America’s seedbed of social phenomena, there exists a “Hemlock Society,” with a name aptly reflecting the revival of ancient Greece’s glorification of death, as embodied in the demise of Socrates. In the Netherlands, Europe’s leading laboratory for experimentation in moral decay, such venerable institutions as the Royal Society for Medicine and the Synod of the Reformed Church have pleaded for “involuntary active euthanasia”- a euphemism translatable in no other way but murder of the weak and distressed.

Back when we called it “mercy killing,” at least our language recognized it as killing. Now, perhaps to mask our guilt feelings, we use terms like “Americans Against Human Suffering,” to cite a name associated with a ballot initiative collecting signatures for the November 1988 election in California. (The initiative, whose promotional campaign has a $2 million warchest, would legalize “assisted suicide” for those expected to die within six months.)

The New Jersey Supreme Court has now allowed the starvation of persons in a vegetative or comatose state even if they have never expressed a desire to die. According to this court’s decisions, third parties may take such actions and nursing facilities may not refuse to participate.

The Wall Street Journal (August 21, 1987) reported in sickening detail the wide practice of “voluntary” euthanasia in The Netherlands, where an estimated 1,000 to 7,000 individuals are put to death by euthanasia annually, despite the fact that the practice is still officially illegal.

The report prompted one Dutch doctor, Richard Fenigsen of Willem-Alexander Hospital in Hertogenbosch, to disclose that “involuntary” euthanasia – often without the knowledge of either patient or families – is also widespread in Holland. Citing documented cases, Fenigsen told the Wall Street Journal (August 29, 1987),“Perpetrators enjoy strong public support and total judicial leniency.” He said the practice is so widespread that many elderly are afraid to enter hospitals for fear they may never escape alive.

Such reports make it difficult to believe that only two decades ago it could be stated with accuracy and credibility, as Nymeyer did, that “Survival as an individual is universally accepted as being ‘the first law of life.’ “

If we are to save our instinct to survive, we will have to recall and implement Nymeyer’s further observations concerning the role of God’s moral law in our survival. Calling the great law of survival a “natural” law, he said: “Natural law and moral law, both, are designed to promote individual survival and welfare … God has not given a natural law and a moral law different in purpose and character. Both are for survival of the individual and the species.” (Origin of Damnation and Sin is Not by Inheritance but is Cosmological, Libertarian Press, 1967).

Our lusts and desires, including the urge for physical comfort, will have to be subordinated to the moral law of God. Only then will we recapture our will to survive and begin to protect ourselves from threats to survival. “Wants … are overwhelmingly powerful,” Nymeyer observed. “Wants should be looked upon as so irresistible that they control conduct … When wants are determinative whether life will be retained or lost, customary restraints on conduct – all laws – are in jeopardy.”

Used by permission of Chalcedon Report, P.O. Box 158, Vallecito, CA 95251.


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Dr. Schaeffer, who was one of the most influential Christian thinkers in the twentieth century, shows that secular humanism has displaced the Judeo-Christian consensus that once defined our nation’s moral boundaries. Law, education, and medicine have all been reshaped for the worse as a consequence. America’s dominant worldview changed, Schaeffer charges, when Christians weren’t looking.

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The Four Keys to the Millennium (Book)

Foundations in Biblical Eschatology

By Jay Rogers, Larry Waugh, Rodney Stortz, Joseph Meiring. High quality paperback, 167 pages.

All Christians believe that their great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will one day return. Although we cannot know the exact time of His return, what exactly did Jesus mean when he spoke of the signs of His coming (Mat. 24)? How are we to interpret the prophecies in Isaiah regarding the time when “the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea” (Isa. 11:19)? Should we expect a time of great tribulation and apostasy or revival and reformation before the Lord returns? Is the devil bound now, and are the saints reigning with Christ? Did you know that there are four hermeneutical approaches to the book of Daniel and Revelation?

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Ever since the dawn of modern rationalism, skeptics have sought to use textual criticism, archeology and historical reconstructions to uncover the “historical Jesus” — a wise teacher who said many wonderful things, but fulfilled no prophecies, performed no miracles and certainly did not rise from the dead in triumph over sin.

Over the past 100 years, however, startling discoveries in biblical archeology and scholarship have all but vanquished the faulty assumptions of these doubting modernists. Regrettably, these discoveries have often been ignored by the skeptics as well as by the popular media. As a result, the liberal view still holds sway in universities and impacts the culture and even much of the church.

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Freedom: The Model of Christian Liberty (DVD)

“Give me liberty or give me death!”

Patrick Henry’s famous declaration not only helped launch the War for Independence, it also perfectly summarized the mindset that gave birth to, and sustained, the unprecedented experiment in Christian liberty that was America.

The freedom our Founders envisioned was not freedom from suffering, want, or hard work. Nor was it freedom to indulge every appetite or whim without restraint—that would merely be servitude to a different master. No, the Founders’ passion was to live free before God, unfettered by the chains of autocracy, shackles that slowly but inexorably bind men when the governments they fashion fail to recognize and uphold freedom’s singular, foundational truth: that all men are created in the image of God, and are thereby co-equally endowed with the right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

This presentation is a similar call, not to one but many. By reintroducing the principles of freedom that gave birth to America, it is our prayer that Jesus, the true and only ruler over the nations, will once again be our acknowledged Sovereign, that we may again know and exult in the great truth that “where the Spirit of the LORD is, there is liberty” (2 Cor. 3:17).

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This DVD features “Liberty: The Model of Christian Liberty” along with “Dawn’s Early Light: A Brief History of America’s Christian Foundations.” Bonus features include a humorous but instructive collection of campaign ads and Eric Holmberg’s controversial YouTube challenge concerning Mitt Romney’s campaign for president.

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