I guess it is the nature of wolves to be pro-death – certainly as far as sheep are concerned. And of course when a wolf pretends it is a sheep, simply to attack real sheep, that is bad news indeed for every sheep. It is a real enough fixture of nature that famous sayings have been based on this.
Jesus for example used this imagery when he was warning against false teachers and false prophets who would come in and seek to deceive and destroy God’s people. He put it this way in Matthew 7:15: “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.”
And as an interesting aside, the socialist Fabian Society has as its symbol a wolf in sheep’s clothing. The Fabians seek to subvert democratic nations from within by gradually eroding and undermining their institutions. Instead of a full-frontal assault, they think it is preferable to sneakily destroy a society internally.
So where am I going with all this? There is a decidedly pro-death lobby group masquerading as a Christian organisation, and it is a perfect example of wolves in sheep’s clothing. Indeed, one has every reason to think they might even be a bunch of atheists feigning to be Christians.
Their publications are not only patently illogical, irrational and misleading, but they are also basically indistinguishable from what an atheist or a secular humanist would produce on this topic. In fact, I have written about this rather bizarre group before: billmuehlenberg.com/2009/09/22/enlisting-jesus-for-the-pro-death-lobby/
Simply looking through their website and publications leaves any biblical Christian shaking his head in sheer bewilderment and disbelief. You would expect this sort of errant nonsense from a Dawkins or a Hitchens, but not from anyone calling themselves Christian.
Consider just one eerie example. This Adelaide-based group, “Christians Supporting Choice for Voluntary Euthanasia,” has a just plain weird 16-page booklet called “I Want the Choice of a Peaceful Death”. I provide the link for this document below.
Take as an example this early paragraph found in this booklet. Remember, this is supposed to be a “Christian” group giving us the “Christian” reasons why we should be allowed to legalise euthanasia – to kill the sufferer, instead of relieving his suffering. Get a load of this:
“Opposition to Voluntary Euthanasia is often based on the Commandment in the Old Testament ‘Thou shalt not kill / murder’, which could more accurately be expressed as ‘Thou shalt not kill fellow Jews.’ As any reader of the Christian Bible would be aware, the Old Testament is awash with bloodshed. We have the genocide of the Canaanites, the Lord drowning every living person except Noah and his family, and the Angel of Death killing the first born in every family in Egypt, to give just three examples.”
What an absolutely bizarre mouthful! What in the world do they mean by redefining the Sixth Commandment from a binding universal absolute to some parochial and limited bit of advice? That in itself is enough to tell you we are dealing with some real theological fruit loops here.
And what is all this OT bloodshed business about? This is standard fare from atheists of course, seeking to accuse God of being a bloody tyrant. Those issues certainly can be debated and discussed, and I have done so elsewhere. But what exactly does any of that have to do with euthanasia?
Or consider this complete non sequitur: “There was little respect for human life as Christians fought Muslims during the Crusades.” This is again something we expect to find in the anti-Christian bigotry of the new militant atheists. And the pros and cons of the Crusades can be debated, as I have done in part here: billmuehlenberg.com/2009/10/11/a-review-of-god%E2%80%99s-battalion-by-rodney-stark/
But again, whatever one thinks about the Crusades, it has no bearing whatsoever on whether or not euthanasia should be legalised. All that the very confused and bigoted authors of this booklet are trying to do is undermine Scripture as a whole. They know that the Bible clearly condemns suicide, and is clearly pro-life, so the only way they can weasel around this is to attack the authority of Scripture holus bolus.
Indeed, much of this quirky and irrational tract is one long sustained attack on the Bible. Here is another example: “The Christian Bible is often used to support opposition to change, just as it was used in the past to resist the abolition of slavery, as proof that Earth was flat, to resist university education for women, and resist the vote for women.”
This is once again the standard pap we hear so monotonously from the mud-slinging atheists. But why in the world are so-called Christians parroting these foolish and easily answered objections? What purpose do they have here, except to argue that the Bible is completely unreliable when it comes to matters of faith and practice?
Nothing wrong with that – atheists and secular humanists do this all the time. But this group is calling itself a “Christian” group, and is somehow trying to convince us that Jesus would support legalised killing of the infirm, the elderly, the depressed, the vulnerable and the suffering.
But wait, there’s more. “We have Christians committing murder and atrocities against fellow Christians. So much for their concept of the sanctity of life!” More terrific reasoning here. We have at least three logical fallacies being committed here, the non sequitur, the red herring and the category mistake.
The fact that some Christians may have killed other Christians says nothing whatsoever about the morality or otherwise of legalised euthanasia. Indeed, by dragging up all these examples of blood shedding, all they are doing is shooting themselves in the foot. If it is wrong to kill others, then it is also wrong to kill sufferers.
And get a load of this doozey: “We must all respect the diversity of opinion on Voluntary Euthanasia, but no religious group should seek to impose their dogma, their interpretation, on other people.” Yeah right. By this point one does not know whether to laugh or cry.
Just what exactly is this group doing with this booklet, their website and their organisation? They are of course seeking “to impose their dogma, their interpretation, on other people”! So it is quite fine for this group of wolves to push their unbiblical agenda, and pretend they are doing it in the name of Christ, but if biblical Christians seek to make their case, they are simply not allowed!
But things get even much more freaky: “Suicide was well accepted by early Christians as an instant path to Heaven, until Saint Augustine decided around 400 AD that too many Christians were dying needlessly.” If telling fibs is OK to make one’s case, then why not just tell outright lies?
Sorry, suicide was never accepted by the early church. Martyrdom, which is altogether different, was of course a common occurrence, given the regular persecution the early church faced. And even that was never viewed as a quick pass to heaven, but the only alternative to denying one’s faith.
But probably the most idiotic thing to come out of this booklet is its treatment of Jesus on the cross. The authors incredibly claim that Jesus may have been “helped to die” by being offered a cup while on the cross. These guys can’t even read straight.
We are told quite clearly that Jesus refused to drink of the cup, once he had tasted it (Matt. 27:34 = Mark 15:23 = John 19:28-30). So there is absolutely no hint of euthanasia here, or of Jesus in any way indicating that shortening one’s life is the way to go. If anything, his example proves the very opposite.
The booklet ends with these words: “Endorsed by Rev. Trevor Bensch, group co-founder, hospital chaplain and former Minister of North Adelaide Baptist Church, South Australia, who says ‘My call for legal Voluntary Euthanasia is compassionate and thoroughly consistent with the teachings of Jesus’.”
Evidently this “Baptist” has never actually read the words of Jesus. As I have argued elsewhere, Jesus always cured the sufferer. He never killed them. Love and compassion mean dealing with the suffering, not bumping off the sufferer. ‘Caring enough to kill’ may sound like a good pro-death slogan, but it has absolutely nothing to do with the ethics of Jesus.
As I said, Jesus warned about false teachers who would come in his name. This outfit is as good an example of this as any.