A Christian concept of euthanasia distinguishes prolonging life from prolonged dying.

If only the word were still used in its true and original meaning, we would all believe in euthanasia. For it means “dying well,” and we who aspire to be good-living people should aspire to be good-dying people too. Moreover, the “goodness” of the dying process should include practical thoughtfulness in settling our affairs and making our will, a calm trust in God who through Christ has conquered death, and the reasonable expectation that modern drugs can now relieve the symptoms and control the pain which accompany much terminal illness.

Further, a Christian concept of euthanasia draws a legitimate distinction between prolonging life and prolonging the process of dying. The Hippocratic oath commits doctors to fight for human life, but not to practice what has been aptly termed “meddlesome medicine,” namely the giving of useless and even distressing treatment to a patient whose disease is irreversible. True terminal care should enable the dying to die with peace and dignity. Indeed, as Professor Paul Ramsey of Princeton has written, “to be allowed to die is a precious human right.” Similarly, in the use of drugs there is a distinction “between a determination to relieve suffering in order to minimize the trauma of death and a deliberate decision to precipitate death in order to end the trauma of suffering” (J.N.D. Anderson in Issues of Life and Death, 1976).

Nowadays, however, the term “euthanasia” is used (usually prefaced by the adjective “voluntary”) as a euphemism for “mercy-killing.” It describes the deliberate administration of a lethal dose to a patient who requests it and whose condition is burdensome but not fatal. In Britain the ...

John R. W. Stott (1921 – 2011) is known worldwide as a preacher, evangelist, author, and theologian. For 66 years he served All Souls Church, Langham Place, in London, England, where he pioneered effective urban evangelistic and pastoral ministry. During these years he authored more than 50 books, and served as one of the original Contributing Editors for Christianity Today. Stott had a global vision and built strong relationships with church leaders outside the West in the Majority World. A hallmark of Stott's ministry was his vision for expository biblical preaching that addresses the hearts and minds of contemporary men and women. In 1969 he founded a trust that eventually became Langham Partnership International (www.langham.org), a ministry that continues his vision of partnership with the Majority World Church. Stott was honored by Time magazine in 2005 as one of the "100 Most Influential People in the World."

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.

Our digital archives are a work in progress. Let us know if corrections need to be made.

Tags:
Issue: