What Does God say about Bioethics?

Christian Bioethics 517UykgR7dL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-v3-big,TopRight,0,-55_SX278_SY278_PIkin4,BottomRight,1,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_

A review by Stuart Brogden

This book, subtitled A Guide for Pastors, Health Care Professional, and Families, is part of a series on Christian ethics published by B&H Publishing Group. I dare say anyone within each of those groups would be challenged to think more biblically about the relevant issues as well as being better informed by reading this book. In the preface, the series editor tells us the thesis of this book by asking this question: “How do we move from an ancient text like the Bible to twenty-first-century questions about organ transplants, stem-cell research, and human cloning?” This book, written by an ordained minister of the gospel (C. Ben Mitchell) and a physician (D. Joy Riley), gives solid counsel and these emotionally charged issues in 9 chapters, and is broken up into four parts: Christian Bioethics, Taking Life, Making Life, and Remaking/Faking Life. The format of each chapter is a look into a real life situation immersed in the subject, followed by questions for reflection, and Q & A between the authors. Other than a too frequent quoting of Roman Catholics as though that Church is Christian institution, this team provides solid insight from God’s Word on each of these topics.

Chapter 1 gives the reader an overview of the Hippocratic Oath which opened my eyes to the ancient context and false gods the oath was originally made to and the awareness that most doctors today do not subscribe to this oath, which we mostly know as the pledge to, First, do no harm. This was spelled out in explicit language that forbid euthanasia and abortion. The absence of a doctor’s oath to “do no harm” may cause a patient to wonder how much he can trust his doctor. In summing up this topic our physician author observes (page 22, italics in original) “Doctors should work hard to be trust-worthy and humble.” A few pages later (page 28), as they address stem-cell research, our minister reminds us, after quoting 2 Peter 1:3, “God has not left his people without guidance in every area of life. Although the Bible is not a science textbook, its message speaks to the deep underlying values that can guide decisions about scientific matters. Although the Bible is not manual of medicine, its truths may be applied to medical decision making.” This is a key perspective for every child of God to properly understand how to walk in the light of God’s Word. Much of the rest of chapter 2 is good advice for properly reading and understanding the Scriptures, taking into account literary, historical, and cultural context as well the genre of what is being read.

The chapter addressing abortion is sobering and probably eye-opening for most. The authors make a full-court press to establish the humanity of every life, starting from conception. Mitchell makes the essential connection between our view of Jesus and our view of humanity, developing the humanity of our Lord to show how every mortal is given value by the Creator – above all other life forms – from the time the egg is joined with a sperm. At the end of chapter 3, the authors exhort Christians to be active in opposing abortion and supporting life, but they draw no lines of getting involved with pro-life Roman Catholics. Christians must be deliberate and biblically thoughtful in deciding who to get cozy with in the public arena. The next chapter covers death and dying, providing thought-provoking observations about the details of pain and suffering and how one’s Christian world view informs us. A key element in handling the death of any person, they tell us, is to remember the patient (perhaps a close relative) is a human being, not merely a patient to be treated. “Much of the suffering of dying persons comes from being subtly treated as nonpersons.” (page 85) There is discussion of the efforts to extend life, even at the expense of that life being human. It is a long-held desire of fleshly human beings to grasp eternal life in our present form, without submitting to God’s revealed plan of redemption – which includes our death and resurrection. Being a faithful child of God includes how we approach death – do we trust our heavenly Father in our dying as did our Savior? Again, we get faithful advice (pages 100 & 101): “Through the resurrection of Christ, God has given us grounds to hope that death, however awful, will not have the last word.” Amen!

As they move from taking life to making life, the reader is presented with a biology lesson on how babies come into the world. They take this opportunity to reinforce the Christians view of anthropology (page 113): “Knowing that pregnancy occurs at fertilization rather than at implantation will help us make several important distinctions later.” They then cover several options medicine has provided for artificial this or that, discussing the line we cross regarding family integrity and God’s authority, observing (page 123), “When a third party intrudes on the procreative relationship, the divinely instituted structure of the family is altered. Trouble is bound to follow.” This may be unwelcome by some, who have such a great desire for a child that their love for the Word of God is overshadowed. All of us fall into this pit on one issue or another from time-to-time, so let us not rush to judgment.

The last part of this fine book covers the definition of death and the forces behind the changes we’ve seen in the last 50 years; organ donation and transplants; cloning and human/animal hybrids; and life extension practices. In this last category, we are introduced to trans-humanists, a group that wants to extent life in the human body and beyond. This was the topic of recent movie, Transcendence, which traced the consequences of a computer scientist whose “essence” was transferred into a powerful computer he had built. It gets very ugly before it ends. In summing up how we who profess Christ ought to look at aging, Mitchell provides a contrast between Christians and Trans-humanists (page 181): “Interestingly, the trans-humanists and Christians seem to have some common concerns. We share:

  • The quest for the good life.
  • Longing for immortality
  • Pursuit of the relief of human suffering
  • Appreciation for technology’s benefits.

Where we differ is in the mean to achieve these aims. For Christians the good life and the goods of life are found in God and his presence in our lives. The good life is not defined by the number of years one lives but the reality of God’s presence in however many years one lives. While we, like the apostle Paul, long for immortality, Christians understand that they already possess it. … Another place we differ with the trans-humanist is in loathing every human limitation. Because we are creatures and nor creators, we accept most limitations as gifts from the One who made us.”

And while there is much more in this book that will do the reader much good, I think that is a wonderful point on which to end this review. Christian – are you content with our God’s provision in your life? Do we think we deserve better than YHWH has given us? To quote the Apostle, “Who are you, oh man, to answer back to the One who made you thus?” Let us, as did the Lord Jesus, trust ourselves to the One who judges justly. Trust God, rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus. In living and dying – and all that comes between those two finite points.

Why Did Jesus Come?

I’m sure just about everyone who has grown up in church can give pat answers as to why Jesus left the splendors of Heaven to enter a world where He would be scorned and persecuted but have you ever taken time to examine exactly why Jesus did that? The obvious answer is taken from the familiar John 3:16 (He loved us) but it is more in-depth than that.

To Give Abundant life

John 10:10 tells us, “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”

Abundant life. Think about it. If you look up the definition, this means life that is “more than adequate, over-sufficient, richly supplied.” Way too many professing Christians are just trying to get through their days. They are barely living instead of living in the abundance that is available to them.

In John 5, Jesus told the people, “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.” This happens way too often even today. So many are seeking for answers, a reason to live but they want to keep their life instead of surrendering to the only One who can really give life.

Someone came up with the phrase, “Wise men still seek Him,” and I will add that men and women who are really wise will find Him. He has promised that, “when you seek Me, you will find Me if you search for Me with all your heart.” Oh that people would realize how desperate they really are and not stop seeking until they find Him.

The-Light-of-Christ-in-a-Dark-World-BLOG

To Bring Light

Another reason Jesus came is to bring light to a dark world (John 12:46). God still desires to do that through His people. In Matthew 5:14, Jesus told His disciples, “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.” If the Holy Spirit is dwelling in you, your light should be shining bright. He can enable you to shine in the midst of darkness, to rejoice in the midst of trials, to smile when you would usually be crying. We sometimes forget that we have a part to play in this “game of life” but, unlike most games, it’s our choice if we are going to win or lose this one. With Jesus, we will be a victorious winner.

That the World Might Be Saved

“For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him” (John 3:17).

It may seem odd that I didn’t start with this but I believe that, if we who are saved will live an abundant life and be the light God desires us to be, we will see more people come to know Him as well.

If you do a study, you will find more reasons why Jesus came to earth. He was our example. He came to serve, to minister, to do the will of the Father, etc. And He came to be the supreme sacrifice for our sins so that none should perish but that all should come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9). This must begin with you and me, however. God can save anyone in any way He chooses but I believe many people are not being saved because they are not seeing true Christianity lived out in our lives. We don’t study Matthew 5 and take it seriously. Instead, we live, talk, and act like the world, wanting to fit in yet using Christ’s name when it profits us something.

Brothers and Sisters, don’t grieve the Lord. He did not have to come to earth but He did so out of love for a lost, dying, and hopeless world. As you celebrate this Christmas, examine your heart. Are you living the abundant life that Jesus came to give you? As you go to work each day or interact with people around you, are you being a light, or are you trying to fit in so people don’t tease you for being different? This is not just a time to celebrate the birth of a baby but a time to realize what His coming did for us and how we can best serve Him. After all, he is the only person who was born over 2000 years ago yet is still alive.

Accidental Similarities?

borg_queenpope_benedict_

This is the tale of two organizations with eerie similarities in how they evolved through the years. One is fictional, the other quite real. As far as we know, these similarities are not intentional, though this author believes in a Sovereign God – meaning there are no coincidences.

Nobody knows for certain the origin of either organization. Both entities appeared in time and “history” was filled in after the fact to varying degrees. They gave rise to charismatic, authoritarian leaders whose power was rarely challenged. Each leader provides communications to the respective “collective”, insuring each “drone” has the official message, disregarding any information that may contradict it regardless of veracity.

The first encounter locals had with either resulted in the same outcome: death or being assimilated. With each assimilation, the conquering organization was changed, having taken on various characteristics of the culture it conquered. As time went by, the original culture of each organization resulted in something that was not true to either their beginnings or the cultures from which they assimilated new converts.

They each proclaimed that they, alone, represented the best hope for civilization – claiming to be the only legitimate culture into which all would be assimilated or disposed of. Each left a path of wreckage and death in their wake, blind to the needs of outsiders and blind to the errors of their ways and beliefs.

Here now, is a concise comparison between these two cultures. My goal is to make clear the old truism: truth is stranger than fiction.

Chart 1
Chart 2
chart 3

Note: No sources are listed, as fans of the Borg know their stuff and likely are not put off by this little article and Roman Catholics have their own sources and would not condescend to read anything I might suggest. So this document stands on its own, as my personal perspective, not needing to be defended against the Romans nor explained to the Reformed.

With the Pope’s latest visit to the US (this was written in 2008), I’ve begun to notice certain similarities between him, and Batman…

1. Both use an assumed identity.

2. Both costumes include headwear.

3. Both costumes include a cape.

4. Both assisted by young boys.

5. Batmobile/Popemobile

6. Both control vast economic empires, handed down to them by a previous “father figure.”

7. Both live in huge mansions.

8. Both have dark events in their pasts, which they would rather not discuss.

9. Both have an aging English butler, who’s been in the family for decades.

10. Batsignal in the sky over City Hall summons Batman. White smoke in the sky over the Vatican summons a new Pope.

11. The Batplane/Popeplane

12. The Batcave/Underground Tunnels at the vatican

Let it be known that I do not hate Roman Catholics. I hate false doctrine that denies essential Christian Truths whether it is proclaimed by Catholics, Hindus, Episcopalians, Southern Baptists, or my own self. For this a Truth – God (by this I mean the Great I AM of the Bible) alone is without false ways.

All blessing and glory and honor and power be unto the Lamb of God! Christ is risen – He has conquered sin and death and saved His chosen ones by His grace, lest anyone boast in the flesh.

Lightning Strikes Car After Church Robbery?

This article will be quick. I caught a glimpse of a Facebook video that is being shared by many concerning a supposed lightning strike that hit a car that was involved in a chase after robbing a church. Here is the video:

Seems pretty plausible doesn’t it? Not really. And I will show you why in the next paragraph. But the veracity of this chase does not concern me as much as how easy it is to believe something on the Internet, even if it was supposedly God who did it. In other words, I find that those who are suppose to be on the side of truth and biblical objectivity still keep falling prey to the tricks that the Internet is notorious for. Spreading lies, gossip, misinformation, and the like is not something that should be named among us as Christians. Yet, time and time again, I continually see posts, twitter feeds, and other such avenues being flooded with slander, propaganda, and nonsense that has not been given due diligence and godly reservation before sharing and spreading.

Case in point. Here is a frame by frame visual of what actually happened to this car. Continue reading

Jeremiah’s Lament

Jeremiah’s Lament Jeremiah

What In The World Is Going On? – Reviewed by Stuart L. Brogden`

Once more, a “Christian” book touts its status on the New York Times and USA Today Best Seller’s list. Each time I read such a book, I try to find out why worldings would find the book so interesting. This book is a sensational fable presented as fact, based on a theology birthed by Roman Catholic Jesuit priests in the 16th century and a mystic young woman of the 19th century who belonged to the Plymouth Brethren. The priests developed the future-based Anti-Christ and Mary McDonald was given the pre-trib secret rapture in a dream, which she told to John Darby (details on this background here: http://www.dispensationalism.org.uk/). This is not the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. While some Christians have accepted premillenialism since the first century A.D., the dispensational twists (pre-trib rapture, fixation on the Anti-Christ, and focus on national Israel) are new fabrications. If dispensationalism is true, why would Sovereign God keep it a secret from His people for 1800 years?

David Jeremiah starts each chapter with a story from culture or history that sets the stage for his “prophetic clues”. None of these 10 prophetic clues make any sense unless one accepts the fable that dispensationalism is biblically sound. But there is not a single verse in the Bible that supports the pre-trib rapture, not one. Please watch this short video to gain a better understanding of this issue: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uQgrJ-pYhCM

I will not comment on each chapter – to do justice on such an effort would take a book. One more preface to specific comments: Dispensationalists tend to be guilty of paying heed to current events and finding some prophetic Scriptures that can be wrapped around them, sounding biblical to those who are not disciplined in studying Scripture. To facilitate this, Jeremiah starts each chapter with a tale from recent history or current events. He claims (page xv) to be “viewing current events from the perspective of God’s wonderful Word” but a careful review of his book and of Scripture discloses that he is reading the Word of God through the lens of current events. This leads into his “prophetic clue” of each chapter, as he acts as a pied piper of dispensational error.

The dispensational error of being focused on Israel shows up in a classic way on page 3: “Apparently God finds Abraham and his descendants to be of enormous importance.” This tendency of assigning value to the creation rather than seeing God using sinful, rebellious people for His purposes is a common affliction. Further in this opening chapter, pages 4 & 5, the author brags on the Jews throughout history – as if they, rather than Almighty God were responsible for their success and influence. Yet he admits on page 7 that “The Bible tells us His choice of Israel had nothing to do with merit.” Back a page, Jeremiah proclaims his belief that God’s promise of land was the most important covenant promise made to Abraham and on pages 9 – 11 he tells us it is not yet fulfilled. Yet Hebrews 11:8-10 show that Abraham “was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God.” In John 8:56, the Lord declared to the Jews, “Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad.” Abraham knew the terrestrial property which Israel fully claimed all that was promised by God (read Joshua 21:41 – 45), contrary to the dispensational claim that this promise is yet to be fulfilled. The promised land on Earth was a type and shadow of the Promised Land that Christ will bring all that the Father has given Him unto. Not some dusty bit of the mid-east. Still in the opening chapter, on page 18, we are told that the promise given in Jeremiah 32:37 – 38 is yet to be fulfilled. This promise, however, was fulfilled at Calvary, when Christ ended the Jewish religion and delivered on His promise to pay the debt for all God’s chosen people, giving each new-born Christian a safe refuge and identity as His people.

Chapter two shows a man who knows or cares so little about spiritual realities that he bases a sermon or two on crude oil (page 35), calling it “the stuff of life” (page 27) and a “sign” (the inference I drew is that he considers this a biblical sign). On page 30, the author reveals that he disbelieves the biblical account of creation, believing oil took “eons of time” to create. On page 38, Doctor Jeremiah tells us that Deuteronomy 33:24 (And of Asher he said, “Most blessed of sons be Asher; let him be the favorite of his brothers, and let him dip his foot in oil.) and Genesis 49:22 – 26 indicate there is oil beneath the dirt occupied by the modern nation of Israel. The oil mentioned in Deuteronomy is olive oil, used in medicine and religious anointing. The passage from Genesis simply refers to blessings directly from God in Heaven and indirectly from God here below. To derive a promise of crude oil from these passages is perhaps the worst example of eisegesis (reading assumptions into Scripture) that I’ve seen.

Let me say that I agree with parts of this book. The author’s warning (page 42) that we who profess Christ remain vigilant and focused on the Lord and his admonitions #2 –10 (pages 233 – 234) on how to live until the Lord returns are both spot-on. Likewise, chapter 4 – his warning about Islam – is a bold statement that many soft-hearted, fuzzy-thinking people need to read.

But the balance of the book is in the same vein as the first two – based on faulty presuppositions rather than on Scripture. On page 69, Doctor Jeremiah tells us that Romans 13:11 is a warning about the end of the age, but the context clearly is that of instructing Christians how to live in the world, in light of our firm hope of eternal life. On the same page, we see another common aspect of dispensational teaching – a works-based view of salvation, wherein one is told to “accept His offer of salvation”. The Bible tells us we are drawn to Christ and salvation is “not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” (John 1:12 & 13). This Arminian error shows up in a couple places throughout this book and is deceptive and man pleasing – but has more in common with heresy than with biblical truth.

Compounding his error in teaching a pre-trib rapture, Jeremiah devotes a chapter (#5) to digging a deeper hole. He claims 1 Thessalonians 4:13 – 18 describes the pre-trib rapture (page 102) and he calls this a “stealth event” (page 100) which only Christians are aware of (page 206). A stealth event which only Christians witness, characterized by “a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God”. Reads like something everybody will know about – like the resurrection of every soul on Judgment Day.

In chapter 6, we are told that the Bible prophecies a role in the end times for the United States of America and foretells Russia invading Israel. This is in your Bible to same degree as his crude oil find in chapter 2. He relies much on his country, calling our way of life “our lifeline” (page 129). Perhaps he ought to look unto Christ as his lifeline! On the next page, he quotes the “high priest” of pre-trib rapture, Tim LaHaye, who asks, “Why would the God of prophecy not refer to the supreme nation in the end times in preparation for the one-world government of the Antichrist?” I suggest LaHaye and Jeremiah reacquaint themselves with the lesson of Judges 7:2 and Psalms chapter 20. God does not need nor does He depend on horses, chariots, or superpowers.

Chapter 7 is devoted to propping up the fable from Rome that there is a future Antichrist who will rule the world. Remember – this doctrine did not exist until the 16th century and appears to be a Roman Catholic response to The Reformation, which taught that the office of pope was the AntiChrist. In this chapter, Jeremiah quotes A.W. Pink as a supporter of this view. This was true, but Pink later repented and had unkind things to say about dispensationalism, in the same way a former smoker hates cigarette smoke. Read Pink’s later statement, in four chapters, here: http://www.pbministries.org/books/pink/Dispensationalism/dispensationalism.htm

My suggestion to the reader who wants to know what will happen is to read the Gospel of John and cry out to God for repentance and faith. Christians do not fear tribulation, for our God is a strong tower and a secure refuge. Out God knows how to save His people from harm, in the midst of trouble. We are promised safety from the wrath of God’s judgment (Romans 8:1) but we are promised trouble and tribulation while we live on planet earth: Matthew 24 describes significant tribulation that His people will face; John 16:33 informs us we will have tribulation in this world; Romans 8:35 tells us tribulation will not separate us from Christ; Romans 12:12 tells us to rejoice in tribulation. Rather than being raptured before tribulation, the Bible tells us we will be preserved in and through tribulation! This is more to the glory of God – shielding and protecting His own – than a pre-trib rapture, where He snatches them up before trough times hit. It takes a mighty God to protect His people through the midst of tribulation. Have faith in God!

Are we Christians? Or are we worldlings?

Are we Christians? Or are we worldlings? rick+warren+wide+gate

(Horatius Bonar, “Self-Denial Christianity”)

“Woe to those who are at ease in Zion!” Amos 6:1

What do we say to . . .
our self-indulgence,
our spiritual sloth,
our love of ease,
our avoidance of hardship,
our luxury,
our pampering of the body,
our costly feasts,
our silken couches,
our brilliant furniture,
our gay attire,
our jeweled fingers,
our idle mirth,
our voluptuous music,
our jovial tables, loaded with every variety of rich viands?

Are we Christians? Or are we worldlings?

Where is the self-denial of the New Testament days?

Where is the separation from a self-pleasing luxurious world?

Where is the cross, the true badge of discipleship, to be seen–except in useless religious ornaments for the body, or worse than useless decorations for the sanctuary?

“Woe to those who are at ease in Zion!”
Is not this the description of multitudes who name the name of Christ? They may not be “living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry.” But even where these are absent, there is ‘high living’–luxury of the table or the wardrobe–in conformity to ‘this present evil world.’

“At ease in Zion!” Yes! there is the shrinking . . .
from hard service;
from ‘spending and being spent;’
from toil and burden-bearing and conflict;
from self-sacrifice and noble service;
for the Master’s sake.

There is conformity to the world, instead of conformity to Christ!
There is a laying down, instead of a taking up of the cross.
Or there is a lining of the cross with velvet, lest it should gall our shoulders as we carry it!
Or there is an adorning of the cross, that it may suite the taste and the manners of our refined and intellectual age.

Anything but the bare, rugged and simple cross!

We think that we can make the strait gate wider, and the narrow way broader, so as to be able to walk more comfortably to the heavenly kingdom. We try to prove that ‘modern enlightenment’ has so refined ‘the world and its pleasures’, that we may safely drink the poisoned cup, and give ourselves up to the inebriation of the Siren song.

“At ease in Zion!” Even when the walls of our city are besieged, and the citadel is being stormed!

Instead of grasping our weapons, we lie down upon our couches!

Instead of the armor, we put on the silken robe!

We are cowards, when we should be brave!

We are faint-hearted, when we should be bold!

We are lukewarm, when we should be fervent!

We are cold, when we should be full of zeal!

We compromise and shuffle and make excuses, when we should lift up our voice like a trumpet! We pare down truth, or palliate error, or extenuate sin–in order to placate the world, or suit the spirit of the age, or ‘unify’ the Church.

Learn self-denying Christianity. Not the form or name, but the living thing. Let us renounce the lazy, luxurious, self-pleasing, fashionable religion of the present day!

A self-indulgent religion has nothing in common with the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ; or with that cross of ours which He has commanded us to take up and carry after Him–renouncing ease and denying self.

Our time,
our abilities,
our money,
our strength–
are all to be laid upon the altar.

“Woe to those who are at ease in Zion!”
Amos 6:1

What Will I Be Like?

I know a lot of people who are older, and I have begun making note of the character traits I would like to acquire and those I would like to discard before they become a part of my life. It seems many older people become bitter and unhappy in their later years while others are sweet and giving in spite of their pain. This latter group is the group I want to belong to but I realize they did not get this way overnight. I believe those who are a joy to be around in their golden years began to live a joyous life in their youth. Those who are bitter may have allowed roots to grow when they were younger, however, they were careful to keep it inside. As they got older and their mind began to go, what was in their heart came to the surface to where now they cannot let go of it.

growing-older-gracefully-graphic

That is a sober thought. It’s not enough to look good on the outside. What is in my heart? Is it full of love and kindness, or is it bitter and angry, holding grudges that are going to die when I do? Will I be a joy to care for when I’m old or will everyone be drawing straws to see who has to take care of me? Although this is a ways off in the future, I need to choose now what kind of person I will be. I need to get God’s Word firmly planted in my heart that it is what flows out of me when I can remember nothing else.

For those who are already elderly, it is never too late to change. If you have become old and grouchy, don’t excuse it because of your age. Think about how it is affecting those around you and begin to be a blessing. It may shock your friends and family but they will recover.

For you young people, don’t think you have 40 years to develop better habits and treat people better. Begin now. It may seem like you have your whole life ahead of you but those years will go by faster than you think.