Henderson, D. Scott. Death and Donation: Rethinking Brain Death as a Means for Procuring Transplantable Organs. Eugene, OR: Pickwick Publications, 2011.
D. Scott Henderson is Assistant Professor of Bioethics at Luther Rice University and Seminary. He has worked in hospitals in Ohio and Pennsylvania as an in-service lecturer and policy writer and was an adviser and research assistant for the inception of Franciscan University’s Institute of Bioethics in Steubenville, OH. He holds a B.A., Florida Bible College; M.A.A., Southern Evangelical Seminary; M.A., Franciscan University of Steubenville; and Ph.D., Duquesne University. Dr. Henderson joined Luther Rice University’s faculty in the fall of 2008. He teaches courses in apologetics, philosophy and ethics. Dr. Henderson has spoken on numerous topics in apologetics and bioethics at various venues and was a contributor to Norman Geisler’s Baker’s Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics and Josh McDowell’s The New Evidence that Demands a Verdict. He has also lectured at LCC International University in Klaipeda, Lithuania and at the Ewangelikalna Wyzsza Szkola Teologiczna in Wroclaw, Poland.
The issue of organ donation has been a hot topic for the past 15-20 years. Dr. Henderson provides a depth of research and insight into the issue and the ethics behind the procedure. There are some major ethical issues that arise throughout the text. Henderson builds a tremendous case that causes one to realize the issue demands some serious consideration.
The case is built from the beginning to inform the reader the background information on brain death and the origins of transplantation of organs. Henderson clearly develops an ethical concern over the definition of death. He contends there is a major difference in the definition of a brain dead patient from state to state. The lack of consistency in the standard for the patient, can literally mean life or death depending on what state he/she is a patient. Henderson continues to paint a picture of concern medically, socially, and philosophically throughout the text.
There are some major ethical considerations when it comes to death and donation. Henderson makes some shocking details about procuring organs. According to research, he states paralyzing anesthesia are used to harvest organs. In brain death patients, fresher organs are best. So, the patient still has a beating heart. The procedure is technically the cause of death. He goes further to say the drugs are needed for the procedure because the patients will typically react during the procedure. He gives some fascinating evidence and research to these occurrences. This claim has astounding ethical implications.
The next ethical claim deals with reasonable informed consent. We have all been in the Driver’s License office and they ask if you want to be a donor or you check a box. There is little to no information on location as to what that entails. The clerk/officer gives no information and it is suggested not equipped to give detail information on just what being a donor entails. There is likely a link for you to look up when you get home, which will most likely not happen. This issue was actually the basis a recent episode of the TV show Monday Mornings on TNT. Most people do not realize the hospital can take anything they want/need. Hospitals can take any organ with or without notice upon consent. For example, you can be told a lung and a kidney will be taken. It is permissible for all organs to be procured, even skin and ligaments. Henderson even claims hospitals can make money on selling certain items. He even explains a case where a hip socket was taken from a patient without the family realizing until later. Few people realize the hospital is permitted to perform practice techniques on donated bodies. Henderson draws the conclusion it is highly unlikely that the average donor and their family realizes this is what they are giving consent. There is the ethical question for what ought to be done, consented to, and information provided by the hospital. The legal question remains, is informed consent actually being given?
The Sanctity of Life is an increasingly controversial topic, both in the beginning and the end. I have previously contended that the Family Care Act will influence these issues going forward. Many patients are on waiting lists for transplant and transplants can be greatly beneficial. Henderson contends that more care needs to be given that the donor is actually dead for procurement.
It is imperative that we give a logical and reasonable look into the ethics of end of life issues. Dr. Henderson gives great insight into the issue of death and donation. Death and Donation is a good read for anybody that has been asked to check a box for donation and a must read for those that have checked that box.
by Rev. Clay Dobbs
I enjoy the Duck Dynasty TV show. You can often see Phil and the boys kill an animal, reptile, bird or fish, then dress the kill, and later eat the formally wild animal. One of the funniest episodes was Phil dressing a duck in an eighth grade classroom for career day. The act is viewed as barbaric, archaic, and even useless in our postmodern culture. I can somewhat relate to the potential uselessness of such behavior. I am not an outdoorsman by any means. I have never hunted and seldom fish. I find recreation by other means and am surrounded by grocery stores for food. But it is that mentality of convenience that pervades our culture that the series exposes and is refreshing to see; especially giving thanks to God for the provisions. Today, we would rather go to a store and buy our food that has already been dressed, cut, and properly proportioned. We are given the item to go home to season, cook, and eat ourselves. However, that seems to be even too much for some of us or for many occasions. We actually find more convenience in going somewhere to buy food that has been cooked for us; the only thing left to do is simply eat. Especially if the chef has been on TV or in some blog article we read. We rarely concern ourselves with where the food came from, was it properly processed, what was the process; we just consume.
I think the real problem people have with the term theology and the definition is the study part. Christians today do not want to study. Many want their Christianity to be convenient. Today’s Christian, mostly does not want to know how a message was put together, the cultural context the Biblical writer had, or how it relates to God’s overall character. They just want to be told a message, how to think about it, and how to make it relevant to their life. And if we can do this with music we already listen to and in formats of technology that we enjoy then even better. The postmodern Christian fails to realize, this creates a more organized religious following than what they claim to want to get away from. Everyone thinks the same way that their rock star leader thinks. They fall completely into his theology, to the point of committing leaderolotry. People just show up and consume.
The postmodern Christian does not want or possibly even know how to open the Bible and perform deep research with accompanied valued resources. For the postmodern Christian and preacher, God’s message is subjective and left to be determined by each individual. This philosophy ignores the call for us to individually worship and believe the objective truth about God. God and His standards are the same to each of us, regardless if we ever realize that or not. Christianity is based on objective truths, thus religion. Christianity demands one to know Jesus personally, thus relationship. Christians need to learn to open the Bible, dress it, collect thoughts logically and theologically, and then feed on God’s provisions.
If Christianity is meant to be subjective, then it needs little to no study. We can make our version of Christianity as we see fit. However, if Christianity is objective as I proclaim it to be, then study is required of all Christians as disciples. If we use a self-centered and subjective Gospel we will continue to make disciples of ourselves. Christianity in America will be in stark decline in the next few generations with a subjective, postmodern Christianity. If we use the objective Gospel of Jesus we will create true disciples of Jesus. When all Christians use the objective Gospel, true revival will be a possibility.
“Since you have accepted Christ Jesus as Lord, live in union with him. Keep your roots deep in him, build your lives on him, and become stronger in your faith, as you were taught. And be filled with thanksgiving. See to it, then, that no one enslaves you by means of the worthless deceit of human wisdom, which comes from the teachings handed down by human beings and from the ruling spirits of the universe, and not from Christ” (Col. 2:6-8, GNB).
by Rev. Clay Dobbs]]>
As moral relativism relates to abortion, many would say “Don’t like abortion, don’t have one.” As previously stated, this reduces a complex, intricate, moral topic to a simple personal preference. One could apply that to other items; ice cream flavor, living environment, or hair color. Abortion should be accepted by all because some choose to have them is the base of the argument before the personhood of the unborn is defined. Moral relativism, as it applies to abortion, states the unborn are defined however an individual chooses to define it. If one believes the unborn is a person with rights, then that person can choose to not have an abortion. If one believes the unborn is not a person with rights, then that person can choose to have an abortion. Either can be right for any person, but neither can be wrong for any person.
Moral relativism has two main arguments for support: cultural and individual differences and tolerance. The main argument for the cultural and individual differences states we cannot in society as a whole unite moral standards with so many unique cultural influences. Cultures express their own morals, thus it is not right to go into a culture and suppress their moral traditions. There are four problems with this argument. First, relativism does not follow from disagreement. Simply put, difference of belief does not mean truth cannot be obtained and known. In actuality, it is the fact that we have differences in moral thought that expose the potentiality of objective moral norms. Second, disagreement counts against relativism. It is an objective statement to say there are no objective moral norms. This makes relativism self-refuting, it has to contradict itself to try to prove itself. Third, disagreement is overrated. There are plenty of moral issues that most would agree on. For instance most believe that people have a right to life. The disagreement comes in when that right has limits or restrictions. Some cultures kill people that kill others, claiming they gave up their right to life by taking it from someone else. Some cultures say a parent has the right to take the life of a child that dishonors them. Pro-abortion places the rights in the hands of the mother of the unborn, while pro-life places the right to life in the unborn. Fourth, absurd consequences come from moral relativism. If there are no moral standards, one cannot honestly say express moral value on anybody. A missionary cannot be deemed a “great saint” and a militaristic dictator causing genocide cannot be deemed “horribly evil”. Moral relativism gives no room for the conflict of individual beliefs. One person may believe it is morally acceptable to kill a neighbor, the neighbor believes that is not morally acceptable. As previously stated, relativism is self-refuting. If there are no moral norms, Abraham Lincoln, Rosa Parks, and Martin Luther King are wrongfully applauded for their fight for equality of all people.
Tolerance is another point for moral relativism. In postmodernity tolerance is an overly used term. The moral relativism argument states that one should tolerate the moral expressions of others. There are at least four problems with this argument. Tolerance actual promotes objective standard. The demand of tolerance is to set an objective trait to be adopted by all. Next, relativism is a closed-minded and intolerant position. If each individual carries their own truth, there is no reason to be open-minded and tolerant of another’s truth. For an individual, the only truth that matters is their own. Next, relativism is judgmental, exclusivist, and partisan. Relativism says you have to be tolerant or you’re wrong. That is an intolerant, judgmental, and exclusive statement. Lastly, tolerance promotes barbarism or is self-refuting. As previously stated, relativism continues to contradict itself. Tolerance has to allow genocide, slavery, rape, murder, etc. to hold true to its claims or contradict itself and place moral judgment on those acts.
by Rev. Clay Dobbs]]>
That is, of course, unless they listened to God’s instructions and trusted in Him. God had the Hebrews mark the doorposts and lintels of their homes with the blood of a spring lamb and, upon seeing this, the Spirit of the Lord passed over these homes, and they would be spared, hence the term “passover”.
Passover is actually a week long festival, with the Passover being the first day. The entire seven day period is called “The Festival of the Unleavened Bread”. It is called this because when Pharaoh eventually freed the Hebrews, it is said that they left in such a hurry that they could not wait for bread to rise. In commemoration of that happening, for the duration of Passover Festival, no leavened bread is eaten, and that is why matza (unleavened bread) is the primary symbol of the holiday.
When Jesus met with His disciples for The Last Supper, this was part of a Passover celebration. There are many similarities between the two, the Passover and the Lord’s Supper.
To see how the Passover reveals the Messiah, let’s first look at the Old Testament verse where the Passover is instituted, in:
The Passover Instituted
1 Now the LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying,
2 “This month shall be your beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year to you.
3 Speak to all the congregation of Israel, saying: ‘On the tenth of this month every man shall take for himself a lamb, according to the house of his father, a lamb for a household.
4 And if the household is too small for the lamb, let him and his neighbor next to his house take it according to the number of the persons; according to each man’s need you shall make your count for the lamb.
5 Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year. You may take it from the sheep or from the goats.
6 Now you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same month. Then the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it at twilight.
7 And they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and on the lintel of the houses where they eat it.
8 Then they shall eat the flesh on that night; roasted in fire, with unleavened bread and with bitter herbs they shall eat it.
9 Do not eat it raw, nor boiled at all with water, but roasted in fire– its head with its legs and its entrails.
10 You shall let none of it remain until morning, and what remains of it until morning you shall burn with fire.
11 And thus you shall eat it: with a belt on your waist, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand. So you shall eat it in haste. It is the LORD’s Passover.
12 ‘For I will pass through the land of Egypt on that night, and will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the LORD.
13 Now the blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you; and the plague shall not be on you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt.
14 ‘So this day shall be to you a memorial; and you shall keep it as a feast to the LORD throughout your generations. You shall keep it as a feast by an everlasting ordinance.
Three verses are key in this passage. Verse 5 is saying that the lamb they would choose had to be perfect. The smallest deformity or the tiniest defect would make a lamb unfit for sacrifice. This is what the Messiah had to be like, the perfect sacrifice. In verse 7, though the Israelites were sinners as well as the Egyptians, God was pleased to accept the substitution of an unblemished lamb as their sacrifice– the blood of which, being seen sprinkled on the doorposts, brought them mercy when the Spirit passed over them. By sprinkling the blood of a perfect lamb on their doorposts and lintels, it showed that they trusted what God said to do for them to be saved. In verse 13, for any home to be spared the judgment on the firstborn, they had to apply the blood just as God said they should do it. The blood of the lamb was essential to what God required, and they had to do exactly what God said must be done with the lamb and with the blood in order for them to be saved. Basically, they had to follow what God required. Just as it is with us, we are called to trust in the only provision that God has made for us to be saved.
That’s how the Passover was instituted thousands of years ago. And it’s been celebrated every year since.
Let’s now look at the New Testament verse where the Lord’s Supper was instituted two thousand years ago, in:
I Corinthians 11v23-26
Institution of the Lord’s Supper
23 For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread;
24 and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.”
25 In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.”
26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes.
What Jesus was doing here was having those who believe in Him to have something tangible they could do that would help them remember His sacrifice for them, and to do so until He returns. This was also a promise that He would return, and is a symbolic message for us that we believe He will return.
In Old Testament times, a variety of different things had to be sacrificed throughout the year. Because of that, the old sacrifices brought sin continually to remembrance, it was always being brought into the minds of the people what they had to do, and the sacrifices had to be done year after year after year, as none of the sacrifices were perfect sacrifices. They were never intended to be.
But the Lord’s Supper brings to remembrance not what we must do, but what Christ and His sacrifice did once for all, for the full and final remission of sins. No further sacrifices would have to be made any longer, Jesus had paid the price in full.
Both the Passover Seder and the Lord’s Supper are memorials. The Jews, and even Christians today who celebrate the Passover, they remember the liberation of God’s people from slavery and bondage. And in the Lord’s Supper, Christians remember their liberation from sin and death and Hell provided by Jesus. Both the Passover and the Lord’s Supper depend on the shedding of blood, and trusting in the provision that God had made.
These two institutions were designed for God’s people. The Passover centers around the Passover lamb, which was sacrificed and its blood put on the lintels and doorposts as a sign of faith, so that when the Spirit passed over the houses of His people during that last plague, they would be passed over, and they would be saved. In that Old Testament foreshadowing, the Paschal or Passover lamb was sacrificed to save God’s people. The New Testament tells us that Jesus is our sacrificial Lamb. And it is His sacrifice that saves His people.
In taking a look at the final week of Jesus’ life, we can see how the Passover reveals Jesus as the Messiah even more.
At the beginning of the Passover week, Jesus came into Jerusalem five days before He was to be sacrificed. Likewise, for the Passover, the unblemished lamb was chosen five days before it was to be sacrificed. Jesus entered Jerusalem on “lamb selection day” as the true Lamb of God.
During the Last Supper, which was part of a Passover seder, Jesus proclaimed that the meal represented Himself, and that He was now instituting the New Covenant, which was foretold hundreds and hundreds of years beforehand by Old Testament Prophets Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Isaiah. This remembrance celebration became the ordinance of the Lord’s Supper.
At the end of the meal at the Last Supper, Jesus took the bread, broke it, and said that it represented His body. Then He took the cup of wine, and said it represented the new covenant in His blood, poured out for us as the price for securing our redemption. At the Passover Seder, there is a cup of wine that is drunk that is called “The Cup of Redemption”.
Good Friday was the same day as the Passover celebration, and the day that the Passover lamb was to be sacrificed. For the previous 1,200 years at the Passover feast, and on that Good Friday as well, the Temple priest would blow the shofar, the ram’s horn, at 3 o’clock, which was the moment the lamb was sacrificed, and all the people would pause to contemplate the sacrifice made on their behalf for their sins.
On Good Friday at 3 o’clock, as Jesus was being crucified, in His last words on the Cross, He cried out, “It is finished”, and at that very same moment, the lamb for Passover was sacrificed. At that very moment of Jesus’ death, the veil of the Temple tore from top to bottom. And the blowing of the shofar would have been sounded as well, for all to hear.
All of this represented a removal of the separation between God and Man…
But the similarities don’t stop there at Christ’s death. God was working in not only these historical events, but He was working in the way they were to be celebrated.
Here are two of the interesting and symbolic elements shared by the Passover and the Atonement:
The Passover lamb was to be a “male without defect,” the same requirement of Jesus. He was the perfect sacrifice, the sacrifice to end all need for further sacrifice.
During a Passover feast, when the lamb is roasted and eaten, none of its bones are to be broken. This was also prophesied for the Messiah, whose bones were not broken when He was sacrificed.
So, what’s the explanation for all these seeming coincidences?
Well, the only explanation is that all of these events, starting with the Passover and ending 1,200 years later with the Crucifixion, is that it was all orchestrated and attended to by an almighty God. Only a sovereign God could superintend such things. What this shows us is that God is in complete control. So when Jesus was betrayed, when He was taken prisoner, when He went before Pontius Pilate, it may have seemed that He was a man who was powerless, that His fate was beyond His control.
But that was hardly the case. He was in complete control. And it is only His love for us and His obedience to the Father that kept Him going to the Cross. by Alex Carmichael http://carm.org/alex-carmichael]]>
Scotland was gripped watching Andy Murray’s attempt to win the Olympic Men’s Singles at Wimbledon. It seemed the entire nation was glued to their televisions whenever Andy was on court. And when the last tennis ball was hit, you could almost hear the entire nation roar as Andy won the Gold. What we as a country experienced following Andy was very much like what it was like eighty-eight years ago, when another Scot, Eric Liddell, grabbed the nation’s attention when he won the Gold at the 1924 Paris Olympics.
Eric Liddell was born on January 16, 1902, and was not only a world-class sprinter, but an international rugby union player as well. He was capped seven times for Scotland. And he was the winner of the Men’s 400 meter and a Bronze Medal winner in the 200 meter at the 1924 Summer Olympics in Paris.
After the Olympics, Liddell returned to Britain a national hero. Even though he had a life of fame and riches before him, he instead chose to live a humble and rather dangerous life as a missionary in China, the land of his birth. There was more to this man than just being a world class athlete in two sports.
When hearing his complete story– and not just what took place at the Olympics– people everywhere have been inspired by the giving heart and the unwavering conviction of Eric Liddell. Most people know he considered Sunday to be sacred, a day set apart for the Lord, and that he honored God in his convictions by refusing to participate in an event in which he was best in the world, as it was to be held on a Sunday. This aspect of his life was depicted in the 1981 Oscar winning film, Chariots Of Fire.
The movie shows some of the things that give us a great idea of just what kind of person Eric Liddell was.
In a rather moving scene in the film, in an event that actually took place at a track meet in England between Scotland, Ireland, and England in July 1923, Liddell was knocked down only a few strides into a 440 yard race. When he hit the ground, the crowd groaned. His hopes for any kind of medal seemed dashed. But to everyone’s amazement, Liddell rose to his feet, looked at the other runners 20 yards ahead of him, and began to run. A spectator remarked that Liddell would be hard pressed to win the race. A Scotsman next to him quickly replied, “His heid’s no’ back yet.”. And at that, Liddell was off. The man who was known as “The Flying Scotsman” threw his head back and, with mouth wide open, he ran harder than ever. He caught the leaders shortly before the finish line, and collapsed after smashing through the tape, winning the race. This was Liddell’s unique signature: head tilted back, mouth wide open, body in full stretch…and feet moving faster than those of any other person in the world.
As Vince Lombardi, the inspirational coach of the Green Bay Packers, once said, “It’s not whether you get knocked down. It’s whether you get back up.”. That, too, was what Eric Liddell was all about.
And this was seen in Eric’s relationship with his sister, Jennie. Jennie was greatly concerned that all the running and training he was doing would lead him away from God, particularly if it made him famous. She felt her brother’s passion for running was a hindrance to his relationship with God.
But he told her, “I believe God made me for a purpose. For China. But He also made me fast. And when I run, I feel His pleasure. To give it up would be to hold Him in contempt.”. When she heard these words, she then knew that God had a hold of him, and that he was doing only what God had made him to do.
In another great scene from the movie, on the Sunday that he was supposed to be running in the 100 metre qualifying heats, Eric Liddel was instead to be found preaching at the Church of Scotland in Paris. He knew that that was exactly where God wanted him to be.
Perhaps the most famous scene in the movie takes place just before the Olympic 400 meter dash is about to start in Paris. The bagpipers of the 51st Highland Brigade had been playing outside the stadium for the hour before Liddell ran. As if that wasn’t inspiration enough for him, Liddell was then given a handwritten note by the American runner Jackson Sholz, which quoted from I Samuel 2v30. The note read: “It says in the Old Book, ‘He that honors Me, I will honor.’”.
Just a few months earlier, Liddell had chosen not to compete in his best event, the 100 meter sprint, solely because it was going to take place on a Sunday. He had also been selected to run as a member of the British 4×100 and 4×400 relay teams, but also declined these spots as their heats, too, were to be held on a Sunday. Liddell believed that for him to fully honor God, he couldn’t race on a Sunday. To do that, he thought, would be to disobey God.
Many people couldn’t understand why Liddell would do this. The newspaper headlines were vicious. They thought he was letting all of Great Britain down.
But Liddell had to put God first. He had to honor God with his decision. So when the starter’s pistol went off in the 1924 Paris Olympics 400 meter event, Liddell soon began running with his unusual running style: head tilted back, mouth wide open, body in full stretch– and feet moving faster than those of any other person in the world…
At the finish line, Liddell finished 5 meters ahead of anyone else. He had won an Olympic Gold Medal in an event he wasn’t even supposed to run. He wasn’t expected to win it either. Yet he did it in 47.6 seconds– a World and Olympic record.
After the race, Liddell said, “The secret of my success over the 400 meters is that I run the first 200 meters as fast as I can. Then, for the second 200 meters, with God’s help, I run faster.”. That day, God honored Eric Liddell.
But you know what? Even if Liddell had not won the race, I believe that God would have honored him in some other way. Just in this case, God chose to honor him with a Gold medal.
But it’s not always that way. With some of our expectations of Him, sometimes I think we treat or view God almost like He’s a magic genie.
When the Olympics began, I read an article on Idara Otu, a Nigerian Olympic track star who’s on their women’s 4×400 relay team. She’s a graduate of Stanford University in California, where she was a two-time All-American track star and where she also earned her Master’s degree.
In the article, it says: Idara Otu.and other athletes at the Olympics…share one thing in common: many of them are devout Christians. Otu’s bold faith and practical living helps her stay on a mission to become a better follower of Christ. Otu says…“Not everything is going to be easy; and just being a Christian or having faith does not mean everything is going to be easy. It just helps to give you the strength to overcome whatever obstacles that are in your way.” Otu’s thoughts are also applicable to her sport. Focus is central to good, consistent races. Otu maintains her focus with her favorite Scripture passage, Psalm 37:4: “‘Delight yourself also in the Lord; and He shall give thee the desires of your heart.’ That’s really what I live by. Obviously, I’m not perfect, but I’m trying to be more Christ-like every day; but I always think that if I’m delighting in Him, He’s going to give me what’s in my heart.”
I was struck by that last line, “…but I always think that if I’m delighting in Him, He’s going to give me what’s in my heart.”. Only a few days after reading that, I read this about a Bible study that was getting ready to begin in a small church in Otu’s own country:
Gunmen stormed an evangelical church in central Nigeria, cut the electricity and opened fire once the building was plunged into darkness, killing 19 people, including the pastor, officials said.
I’m sure that these people, like Idara Otu, weren’t perfect, that they too were trying to be more Christ-like every day, that they too were delighting in God. So I’m not sure what she means when she says that if she’s delighting in God, He is “going to give me what’s in my heart.” Is this what these nineteen people had in their hearts? Was this in the pastor’s plans?
I’ve known many people and have known of people who have followed God faithfully for many, many years, who try to be more like Christ every day, who delight in Him. People who have left their jobs to work in some type of ministry, who, in following God’s lead, have uprooted themselves and their families, and are then struck by incredible tragedy.
I’ve always taken the passage about God giving us the desires of our hearts to mean that God will give us our passions, that He will wire us in ways so that these things become our desires. And in pursuing those ways that He wires us with all our hearts, that is how we glorify Him. Just as Eric Liddell did. Sometimes, though, I think we follow a god of our own making, and not see Him for who He really is, as revealed in Scripture alone.
But that wasn’t Eric Liddell. After the Olympics, Liddell followed God to wherever He would lead him, to the place God was preparing him for all of his life, at the same time shunning a life of fame and fortune, a life of relative ease, for a life that God had made him and prepared him for. And before the Olympics, when Liddell read and studied the Bible, and was lead to believe that running on a Sunday was something God wouldn’t have him do, he didn’t do it. Even to the point of him choosing not to run in a race in which he was the best in the world.
And you know what? Facing a personal moral dilemma the way he did, few Olympians would have responded the way Liddell did. Few, actually, would have placed God in the equation at all. In fact, just before the Olympics began, I watched a BBC documentary titled “Eric Liddell: A Champion’s Life”. The Scottish host of the program said, “It’s hard to imagine another athlete taking the same stand today”, who wouldn’t play on a Sunday. I thought to myself, “Has he never heard of Scotland rugby star Euan Murray! And Eric Liddell was capped in rugby for Scotland as well!”. But society is now so disassociated from anything Christian, that to find someone who is faithful to what they see in God’s Word is something so foreign to them. So what Eric Liddell did and what Euan Murray does today are amazing in that both men place God above all else, flying in the face public opinion.
Yet the story of Liddell’s Olympic heroics tells only a small part of his amazing story. Following his stunning victory in the Olympic 400 meter dash in Paris in 1924, Liddell chose to follow God’s call as a missionary in China. His Olympic triumph only gives us a wee glimpse of what made him such a faithful man.
Here’s the rest of his story… After the race, Liddell returned to Britain a national hero, and one of the first things he had to attend was his own graduation ceremony at Edinburgh University. He was paraded around the city on the shoulders of the people, and was crowned with a laurel wreath by the head of the university, Sir Alfred Ewing. “Mr Liddell”, said Ewing, “you have shown that none could pass you– except the examiners!”
Even though he returned from the Paris Olympics a national hero, Liddell did not choose to live the life of a professional athlete, though he could easily have done so. He could have gone onto more Olympics, and had a successful career in sports, but he again chose to put God first. So, the following year, in 1925, at the age of 23, he decided to return to China, the land of his birth, to join his parents and brother on the mission field.
After fourteen days on the Trans-Siberian Railway, Liddell arrived at his destination. His first assignment was teaching at the Anglo-Chinese College in Tientsin, a school for both primary school and high school pupils. In addition to his teaching responsibilities, he was also Sunday School Superintendent at Union Church, where his father was the pastor. He also used his athletic experience to train the kids in a number of different sports. For many years, Liddell ministered among the people, often travelling on bicycle, braving constant fighting between the various Chinese factions and warlords. He even returned to Scotland on furlough, and completed his training as a minister in 1932.
In the meantime, he met a Canadian missionary, Florence Mackenzie, and they married in 1934 at the Union Church. They would have three daughters, Patricia, Heather, and Maureen, the last of whom he would not live to see. Patricia once stated that the most important thing she remembered about her parents was their great sense of joy together, and that her Dad had a great sense of humor and a deep devotion to his family.
Although the Liddell family’s happiness was an inspiration to all who saw them, civil unrest and the prospects of another world war loomed on the horizon, and this threatened their ability to remain together. As China sought to control its own destiny, fighting between Communist and nationalist factions was an ever-present worry. In addition to the internal conflict, there were also the rumblings and rumors of an invasion from the Japanese in their attempted conquest of China.
Even with these great dangers, the London Mission Society approached Liddell about the possibility of him leaving the city and ministering to those in the war-torn countryside. Siao Chang, on northern China’s Great Plain, was one of the hardest hit areas. Eric’s older brother Rob was already working as a doctor in the hospital there, and Eric agreed to join him. It was, however, not an easy decision. He knew that it would be unsafe to bring Florence and the girls to Siao Chang, so he reluctantly parted with them.
In December of 1937, Liddell boarded a boat to make the ten day journey to Siao Chang. There he stayed in the mission compound he had lived in as a wee boy. The Chinese called him by the same name they had once called his father‚ “Li Mu Shi”. “Li” was a shortened form of his last name, and “Mu Shi” was the Chinese term for “pastor”.
Upon his arrival, Liddell was faced with the enormity of the task to which he had been appointed. Siao Chang was the center for mission activity in the surrounding area of over ten thousand…not people, but ten thousand…villages. Liddell’s responsibilities included travelling from village to village, encouraging the Chinese Christians and holding evangelistic meetings for those who had never heard the Gospel. He and his interpreter travelled the countryside on bicycle, and his influence was quickly felt in this vast war-torn region.
After serving in that area for two years, away from his family and without much of a break, Eric returned to his family, and they all left China on furlough in 1939. With the world going to war, they took Patricia and Heather to meet family members in both Canada and Britain.
But when they returned to China a year later, in 1940, they found that the unrest and violence had greatly increased while they were gone. When Eric, by himself, returned to Siao Chang, he discovered it was now occupied by the Japanese military, and conditions had deteriorated considerably.
A mere five months after his return to Siao Chang, the Japanese ordered all foreigners to evacuate the area. Though he remained, it was soon evident to Liddell that it was not safe to go out there. He was shot at on the road, and when he witnessed a doctor being beaten by a Japanese soldier, he realized that even the hospital was not a safe place to be.
Returning to Tientsen to be with his family, Eric realized that conditions were really not much better there. In 1941, life in China had become increasingly dangerous to the point that the British government advised all British nationals and their families to leave. They were expecting their third child at that point, and Eric and Florence decided that it would be better for her and the girls to leave China. Eric would stay in China and continue his ministry, but the rest of his family would travel to Canada and remain there with Florence’s family until the end of World War II. So Florence and the girls departed, not knowing it would be the last time they would ever see Eric alive again. And Eric would never meet his third daughter.
After his family left China, Eric returned to Siao Chang after accepting a new position at a rural mission station that ministered to the poor. He again joined his brother, Rob. The station was severely short of help and the missionaries there were exhausted, as a constant stream of locals came at all hours for medical treatment. Liddell arrived at the station just in time to relieve his brother, who was ill and needing to go on furlough. Liddell suffered many hardships himself in his time at the mission.
As all of this was going on, the war between the Chinese and the Japanese had escalated even further. By 1942, it seemed to Liddell that he could no longer minister effectively in China. The Japanese had banned meetings of more than ten people and quarantined most foreigners within electrified fences.
Liddell had hopes that he would soon be able to join his family in Canada, but in March of 1943, all foreigners that Japan considered enemies were detained in the Weihsien Internment Camp. He was detained with the members of the China Inland Mission, the Chefoo School, and many others, including many children and teenagers. Liddell would never see freedom again.
But rather than resenting his captivity, however, Liddell, like the Apostle Paul, saw it as an opportunity. He became a leader at the camp, and helped get it organized as food, medicines, and other supplies were in short supply.
Liddell arose each morning to study his Bible, and was described as “the cheer of the camp”. He busied himself by helping the elderly, teaching Bible classes, arranging games and activities, and teaching the children in a makeshift school. He found numerous ways to minister, especially to the young people, who called him “Uncle Eric”. When one of the teenage girls expressed an interest in chemistry, Liddell took it upon himself to organize a chemistry class. Since there were no textbooks or supplies, he spent hours sketching equipment and detailing the results of experiments they could not perform. He also organized athletic events for the children, and his door was always open to any of them who needed him. His fellow prisoners would remember him as a man who did whatever he could to help people, and they were especially impressed by the way he lived out his faith. He seemed to be a living example of the Sermon on the Mount.
While Liddell was helping the children of the Weihsien Internment Camp, his own children, though, were missing him almost as much as he was missing them. Eric’s oldest daughter, Patricia, often wondered why her father could not be with her. This question remained unanswered in her mind for many years until she met the children her father helped at Weihsien. Many of them were separated from their parents, and Patricia realized that God had used her father to help ease their suffering in an extremely difficult situation.
In the winter of 1944, Liddell’s friends began to notice a great change in him. His quick wit had slowed, and he thought before speaking, something they were not used to. Liddell was not one to complain, but he mentioned suffering from severe headaches with increasing frequency. It became evident that he was severely ill. He was soon confined to the infirmary, and his health quickly deteriorated. Knowing this, some of his friends who had formed a Salvation Army Band stood outside his window to play for him. Liddell requested to hear Sibelius’s “Finlandia”, usually sung with the words to “Be Still, My Soul”. The lyrics to this hymn would turn out to be a particularly poignant memory for the people close to him at the camp, in that that Liddell would die only a few weeks later.
In February 1945, shortly after his 43rd birthday, desperately thin, dressed in rags, and suffering from debilitating headaches, nausea, and seizures, Eric Liddell died as a prisoner of war. Others who were in the same camp stated that Liddell maintained his faith, courage, and kindness towards others until the end, in spite of the great suffering he was experiencing. Liddell’s last words, spoken to a camp nurse, were, “It’s complete surrender.”. He died knowing that he had lived the life that God had wanted him to.
It is no wonder then that one of his fellow internees, Norman Cliff, would later speak so highly of Liddell in a book about his experiences in the camp, The Courtyard of the Happy Way (which the Chinese translated as The Campus of Loving Truth). He described Liddell as, “the finest Christian gentleman it has been my pleasure to meet. In all the time in the camp, I never heard him say a bad word about anybody”.
Langdon Gilkey, who also survived the camp and became a prominent writer in his native America, said of Liddell, “Often in an evening I would see him bent over a chessboard or a model boat, or directing some sort of square dance– absorbed, weary, and interested, pouring all of himself into this effort to capture the imagination of these penned-up youths. He was overflowing with good humour and love for life, and with enthusiasm and charm. It is rare indeed that a person has the good fortune to meet a saint, but he came as close to it as anyone I have ever known.”
Gilkey was later to write, “The entire camp, especially its youth, was stunned for days, so great was the vacuum that Eric’s death had left”.
In his last letter to his wife, written on the day he died, Liddell wrote that he thought he was suffering a nervous breakdown due to overwork. But, in actuality, he was suffering from a brain tumor. Many believe that overwork and malnourishment hastened his death. He died on February 21, 1945, five months before the camp’s liberation. He was greatly mourned not only at the Weihsien Internment Camp, but also in Scotland.
In the report of his death, The Guardian newspaper wrote, “He is remembered among lovers of athletics as probably the ugliest runner who ever won an Olympic championship. When he appeared in the heats of the 400m at Paris in 1924 his huge sprawling stride, his head thrown back and his arms clawing the air, he moved the Americans and other sophisticated experts to ribald laughter.”. Rival Harold Abrahams said in response to criticism of Liddell’s style: “People may shout their heads off about his appalling style. Well, let them. He gets there.”
Fifty-six years after the 1924 Paris Olympics, Scotsman Allan Wells won the 100 metre sprint at the 1980 Moscow Olympics, the very race Liddell would have won. When asked after the victory if he had run the race for Harold Abrahams, the last 100 metre Olympic winner from Britain– in 1924– who had died two years previous, Wells replied, “No,…I would prefer to dedicate this to Eric Liddell…”.
A living memorial, the Eric Liddell Centre, an Edinburgh based charity, was set up in 1980 to honour Liddell’s beliefs in community service while he lived and studied in Edinburgh. The charity was started by local residents dedicated to inspiring, empowering, and supporting people of all ages, cultures, and abilities, as an expression of Christian values. It continues to flourish today.
Liddell was buried in the garden behind the Japanese officers’ quarters at the Weihsien Internment Camp, his grave marked by a small wooden cross. But his gravesite was forgotten until it was rediscovered in 1989, in the grounds of what is now Weifeng Middle School. He is now interred at the Mausoleum of Martyrs.
In 1991, a memorial headstone, made from Isle of Mull granite and carved by a mason in Tobermory, was unveiled at the former campsite. It was erected by Edinburgh University. A few simple words taken from the Book of Isaiah 40v31 formed the inscription: But those who wait on the Lord Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint.
One of his daughters also presented the headmaster of the school with one of the medals that her father had won for athletics. In Scotland in 2002, in the initial public vote for the very first inductees into the Scottish Sports Hall of Fame, Eric Liddell was voted the most popular athlete that Scotland had ever produced. In 2005, as part of the 60th anniversary of the Allied liberation of the internment camp, the city of Weifang commemorated the life of Liddell by laying a wreath at the memorial marking his grave.
In 2008, just before the Beijing Olympics, Chinese authorities revealed that Winston Churchill had organized a prisoner exchange with the Japanese and that Liddell had refused the opportunity to be released, instead giving his place to a pregnant woman. His freedom was arranged by none other than the British Prime Minister, yet he let another go in his place.
And before the Beijing Olympics, because of his birth and death in China, their Olympic literature listed Liddell as their first Olympic champion. As of 2009, Liddell is honored with a feast day in the liturgical calendar of the Episcopal Church (USA) on February 22. I’m not sure if he would want such a thing, as it focuses on him, but it’s good to see his legacy continuing to this day.
During the 2012 London Olympics, much has been spoken of “Legacy” and “Inspiring A Generation”. Liddell’s legacy is that he continues to inspire many a generation. And it’s not because of how he ran a race one day eighty-eight years ago, but how he ran the race of life, how he focused on the eternal, on the things that really matter. The legacy of Eric Liddell continues to this day, all because he placed God first, above all else…
In reference to how he had given his entire life to God, Eric Liddell’s last words were on this Earth were, “It’s complete surrender”. His last words were words of his faith in Christ.
On April 6, 1923, in a small town hall in Armadale, Scotland, Eric Liddell spoke for the first time of his faith in Christ. Eighty people came to hear Scotland’s famous runner give his testimony.
Catherine Swift, in her biography of Liddell, wrote of the first time she saw him speak. She wrote: “Shyly, he stepped forward and for a few seconds surveyed his waiting audience, then he began. There was no lecturing, no fist thumping on the table, no wagging or pointing a finger to stress a point, no raised voice to impress on them what he thought they should be doing. In fact, it wasn’t a speech at all. It was more of a quiet chat, and in his slow clear words, Eric for the first time in his life told the world what God meant to him. He spoke of the strength he felt within himself from the sure knowledge of God’s love and support. Of how he never questioned anything that happened either to himself or to others. He didn’t need explanations from God. He simply believed in Him and accepted whatever came.”.
That is how we are to live our lives, with complete surrender to God. When we do that, when we live our lives in complete abandonment to God, we don’t waste any time worrying about seeking explanations from God as to why He has done what He has done, or why He’s doing what He’s doing. Perhaps that is what true faith is, to trust in God even when we don’t understand the circumstances of our lives, when we don’t see things as clearly as we’d like. That’s living out your faith, knowing that while we walk through the valley of the shadow, God is with us. He doesn’t promise that we’re exempt from even the worst things in this life, only that He will be with us. To live that way, with such unwavering trust, is true faith. That is, as Eric Liddell says, that is “complete surrender”. Let us pray…
–Chariots Of Fire (film)
–Eric Liddell: A Champion’s Life (BBC documentary)
–Eric Liddell (Men of Faith) by Catherine Swift (book)
On Wednesday August 1, 2012, many rallied around the Atlanta-based chicken restaurant Chick-fil-a. Many on the other side chose to boycott the restaurant today and presumably forever. All over the statements of the COO Dan Cathy of the successful restaurant chain about same sex marriage. The speech he gave was well within his rights as an American and reasonable for a Christian. Many are boycotting the chain claim the statements were bigoted and hateful. As a Christian minister, I want to inform you, his stance is not about hate of homosexual individuals. The stance is actually based on love; his love for God.
Anybody with any knowledge and proper interpretation of the Bible knows God is against homosexuality. Let’s focus on what He is for in marriage. He designed marriage with particular roles for husband and wife. We, as Christians, believe that when you begin changing the formula for marriage, you change the product. The same is true for science and math. But the circumstances are greater because it is man changing the formula God intended. So, we believe same sex marriage (specifically) and homosexuality (generally) to go against God’s plan. That is our belief. Yes, you will find some Christian individuals, ministers, and even denominations that have no problem with the behavior. Their acceptance does not change God’s plan.
I keep hearing that Christians are intolerant and full of hate. We are tolerant of the individuals, however, we cannot with honest integrity claim the behavior is accepted by God. We do accept the fact individuals have every right to be homosexual, I agree. If you desire to live separated from God’s will, that is your choice. To be tolerant means accepting another’s beliefs even when they are against yours. How tolerant have many been for the Christian view on marriage? I have heard much more hate speech coming from the same sex marriage proponents than from Chick-fil-a and their supporters (not saying it may not exist). The fact is, because someone disagrees with your views does not mean they hate you. Christians are called to love all people, we are not called to love all behavior.
I have heard many say they have the right to marry their same sex partner. They get this from the “pursuit of happiness” promise from our Constitution. The pursuit of happiness has always been limited by laws. What if someone finds happiness shooting up a movie theater, does that give them the right to do it. I know, same sex marriage does not hurt anybody. Let us assume that’s correct. So, if someone wants to marry their sister, is that their right? If a man or woman wants to have 5 spouses, is that within their rights? We have some laws to protect us and some laws to maintain some moral standard.
And people do have the right to be married or have a civil union done in certain states. So, if it is that important to your life and your fulfillment, go to one of those states and get married. Now you complain, it will not be recognized in my state. Well, what is your argument? You can in fact get married if that is your goal. You want it to be recognized everywhere, now that’s different. You want your lifestyle to be accepted. Many will turn this into hate and bigotry, but the homosexual lifestyle will never be embraced by Orthodox conservative evangelical Christians; and likely not accepted by Catholics, Mormons, Muslims, Orthodox Jews, etc. But what if it was? Would your life be fulfilled because same sex marriage is accepted? Or will you move on to the next fight for fulfillment?
I do happen to believe same sex marriage will eventually be fully legal in our country. That is unless the opponents continue to be outspoken about it like they were today. I imagine the boycott of Chick-fil-a created one of their most financially successful days in their history. And even if all of society and the laws say homosexuality and same sex marriage is morally acceptable, they never will be to God and His standards. Without that acceptance by God, people will not find true fulfillment. As Christians, we believe all of us have a God-void that will only be fulfilled by Jesus Christ. -
Here is My Response to this Man.
We never said it was a sin to be Gay (Same Sex Attracted). However, The bible is clear that all extra-Martial sexual activity ( fornication) is sin. That is all of it. The real Question is, for whom, and under what situations does the bible allow for marriage?
Moreover, don’t you think it is a bit Bigoted and Intolerant to Hate us, Swear at us, Call Us names… I mean You don’t even know my name. Yet, you feel that is acceptable, Christian Behavior?
Finally, Jesus Defined Marriage in Matthew 19.
Teaching About Divorce
19 Now when Jesus had finished these sayings, he went away from nGalilee and oentered pthe region of Judea beyond the Jordan. 2 And qlarge crowds followed him, and he healed them there.
3 And Pharisees came up to him and rtested him by asking, s“Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?” 4 He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, 5 and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and vthe two shall become one flesh’? 6 So they are no longer two but one flesh. wWhat therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” 7 They said to him, “Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce and to send her away?” 8 He said to them, “Because of your yhardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. 9 And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.”
If you aren’t attracted to women and don’t become attracted to them, that doesn’t give a license to carry out homosexual desires, as it would be a sin to do so. Rather, I would submit you are called to a life of holiness before Christ. Furthermore, I would argue that Change is possible. Consider what Paul Says in 1 Corinthians 6: 9 do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality,10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
The Word of God says that Change is possible, and I would call you to bear the fruit of repentance of the sin of homosexuality, by striving to become heterosexual, and having a family.
Finally, I would say that whether you are gay or not, you are a like all of us Guilty under Sin. Have you ever Lied? Cheated? Stolen? Lusted? If so, You are like all of us, guilty of breaking God’s Law. God doesn’t take lightly the breaking of his law, in fact He will judge us for it. And unless we repent and Turn to Christ and Place our Faith in Him alone, God will find us Guilty and like a Good Judge, Punish us. I hope that you would consider Getting in front of God, and Crying out to him for Mercy.]]>
Cults are growing around the world and especially in the United States. While it is hard to determine an exact number, it is estimated that 20-30 million Americans participate in a cult or some type of occult. Many factors attribute to the growth of cults. Ron Rhodes has attributed this growth to the failure of the church, dysfunctional families, secular humanism, invasion of eastern philosophy, increase in relativism, self-emphasis, emphasis on feelings, etc. The attribute that stands out is the failure of the church (not church specifically, just in general).
The claim that should catch the attention of any Christian, especially those in leadership, is that the church is actually contributing to the growth of cults in America. It should be even more shocking to understand that cults are manipulating Christian teaching in many cases. This is harder to understand when you realize that many followers of cults once attended traditional evangelical churches. The failures are broken down to: failure to make a real moral difference in the lives of church members, failure to provide a sense of belonging, failure to meet people’s deepest needs, and a failure to make Bible doctrine a high priority.
Failure to Make a Real Moral Difference
Studies done by the Roper organization and a Gallup poll cited by Chuck Colson claims that born-again Christians show little change or difference in moral values from when they were non-believers or from other non-believers. This should not be a surprise. The divorce rates are nearly identical to around 50% for Christian believers and non-believers. If the church was making a real moral difference, the numbers would be vastly separated. The proponents for same sex marriage actually use this fact against conservatives that claim they want to see to sanctity of marriage protected. How can the church claim the “sanctity” of marriage when we fail in upholding the Biblical plan at a nearly identical rate of those who hold no value for the Bible? People want to be a part of something that can make a difference in their life and they are seeking cults to find it.
Failure to Provide a Sense of Belonging
People seek acceptance, love, and fellowship to fill the emptiness of loneliness, and alienation. Big churches are failing to provide this with impersonal programs and small churches are failing with “country club” attitudes. Jesus set the example by making everybody that genuinely wanted to be around Him feel welcome. It is sad to realize people are finding their way into cults because they cannot find that in the local church. Cults actually rally around newcomers and make them feel wanted and even give them opportunities to contribute to the group. Again, this is a concept that Jesus taught.
Failure to Meet People’s Deepest Needs
People do not join a cult because they have done extensive research on the theological teachings of the group or by studying various worldviews. They stumble into them and stay when they hear answers (or at least theories) to life’s deepest questions. People want to know where did I come from, why am I here, what is life all about, what happens when my life is over? Christians have answers to these questions, but for whatever reason fail to share them. It is because of these questions that a group like Ratio Christi even exists. The church needs to get back to a place of answering life’s deepest questions.
Failure to Make Doctrine a High Priority
Church members end up in cults at times because they fail to realize the teaching goes against the Bible. Biblical illiteracy is a major problem in our church culture today. In a time of rapid cult growth, many church leaders are spending time on marketing, activity development, and development of worship “experience”. All of this energy keeps the Pastor from his study and bold preaching. Churches tend to be more focused on entertaining and drawing more in, with less focus on what people are being drawn into. This leads to “watered-down, please just feel comfortable” church environments. Let’s say you own a restaurant, you spend thousands on a prime location, advertising, and decorations/ atmosphere. Would you make a person with little experience, no formal training, but a desire to cook to be your chef? No, what brings you back is great food. People are hungry for spiritual truth, the church needs to feed them with it.
The church can do its part to stop the growth of cults with making a moral difference in the lives of people, providing a sense of belonging, meeting people’s deepest needs, and making doctrine a high priority. We need to claim the words of Paul in 1 Timothy 3:15 (GNT): “…know how we should conduct ourselves in God’s household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth.” Rev. Clay Dobbs]]>
Here is What Pastor Scott Sent out:
Brothers, several have been asking for some backstory/context on these videos. Mrs. Muldoon set her tent up across the street from our church (it is still there until Sunday 5/20.) I received a call from one of our people that some families that attend our church were sitting in her audience. Others were there to pray and share the gospel afterwards with people leaving. They had been accosted by a young man named Devon, (the managers son) on the evening before when he overheard one of our young men talking with someone after the service about the call of Pastor being reserved for men.
I came out at the end of her Saturday night service and spoke with her, and her manager Dennis about their perspective on what had occurred. They felt that they were being heckled. I asked what they were preaching in order to get a better idea about their ministry, and explained to them that we, as a Gospel preaching church, would be extremely sensitive to a ministry that came off as strange as hers. She then claimed to be preaching the same message I described to her: that Christ came in the flesh to die upon a cross for the sins of man; that he was buried and rose again 3 days later; and that people are commanded by God the Father to turn from sin and put their faith in His Son’s finished work on the cross in order to be saved; and finally that there is no other way of salvation. She claimed that this was her message too, but that she also believed in miracles – which I agreed are still done today according to the will of God. I shared with her that if she would give me some materials to look over to her affirm her claims about her message, I would come back the next day and say a quick word to people from our Church about the need to refrain from being disruptive, disrespectful, and to hold any questions or disagreements until after her service to be voiced with her or her leaders. After some more discussion she said that would be acceptable to her.
I came back the next evening. She didn’t call me up as we’d discussed. Had she, I honestly don’t know what I would have said. I sat through about an hour of what I’d classify as normal charismatic preaching quite off-base, but nothing overly shocking. However, there was a transition after her message into various fraudulent acts of “ministering in the “Holy Spirit” that range from her laying hands on people who would respond by gyrating, shaking, screaming, flapping arms like being in a strong wind, knocking over chairs, throwing themselves down (not falling) on the floor. She prophesied over 3 girls that she said were seated where the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit were, that would be getting married in June – she acted as if she knew nothing of their personal lives, but one of them was the attorney for the ministry that I’d met the night before – the other two were her friends. She said angels were there and that there could be voices of angels heard in her music because they followed her wherever she went. Then she scared a 3 year old little girl when she called her mother up – girl in arms, and began laying hands all over her body (the Mom’s).
Finally, I thought it was over, but she walked up to me where I was seated on the front row, and began “prophesying”. She said, “Young man spit your gum out and face me”. I got up (probably should have just walked out), and she began telling me how I thought I had come as a peacemaker, but was really there because God had used the hecklers to get me to her tent because He had something to give me through her. Then she went on and on saying all kinds of stuff, including that I said or thought that her ministry was a work of God, and that she was doing good and trying to help people. That was a lie. I never led her to believe any such thing. At that point I felt I needed to make it clear that I didn’t agree with her message or ministry, and that’s what I tried to do. Sadly I think it appears more as though some guy got in a prayer line or requested prayer and then seized on the opportunity – which isn’t true.
My greatest desire is to see God’s people warned, but I don’t feel I did things perfectly. Here’s why: I knew the right thing to do was to seek my Senior Pastor’s approval, but as a matter of convenience I did not. He is a man of God, and would have helped find a more godly way of approaching this, but in a moment of passion I acted and entrapped myself. Please don’t misunderstand, I believe once in the circumstance the worse thing I could have done is simply remained quiet, but I just feel as though Jesus would have done it differently. So while I stand behind my words to Mrs. Muldoon and would plead with people to flee from any ministry that replaces the Blood stained Gospel of Jesus Christ with a pursuit of miracles, I ask forgiveness of the Lord and my brothers for any way in which I got ahead of the Spirit of God or acted independently. Finally, please know that I’m not the bold man some think I am, I’m a man who is inconsistent and struggles with the fear of man like everyone else – we all desperately need the Cross, myself included.
P.S. I don’t use face book – maybe if people know that my wife can get some sleep.
I would Simply Say that Pastor Scott is clearly a Humble and Godly Pastor. While He may not think of himself as a bold man, I can firmly and honestly say that He showed great boldness and love for his flock. I doubt I will ever get to meet Pastor Scott in person, but I can honestly say that he has both convicted and encouraged me. I look forward to Worshiping at the feet of the Lamb with Pastor Scott one day.
When you woke up this morning, if this were a hundred years ago, you would have woken up to some potentially unfathomable news, especially if the rumors were true, the news that the Titanic was at the bottom of the ocean. It would have been like Great Britain in 1997, waking up to the news that Princess Diana had died in the wee hours of the morning, only a few short hours before. It would have been a shock to a nation. In fact, the news of the Titanic’s sinking was the 9/11 event of its day. Afterwards, nothing was seen the same way. For what happened to the Titanic, much like it was with the Twin Towers, for such a thing to happen would have been unthinkable.
As “connected” as we are these days, with our phones that can text and send pictures and scour the web for information, news of the Titanic one hundred years ago today was almost instantaneous as well. And that’s because of the Morse code wireless messages that had just come into vogue. As Jack Phillips, the Titanic’s Marconi Operator, was sending out the desperate distress calls, the few ships in the area were picking them up. And at Cape Race, the first wireless station in Newfoundland, Canada, Cape Race had been constantly receiving the personal messages that Phillips was sending, and was now receiving the horrifying news.
These operators at sea relayed the messages from ship to ship, and the Cape Race operator relayed the messages inland. They were picked up atop the New York Times Building in New York City. In Philadelphia, in capitalizing on this new craze of sending wireless messages– think of the great popularity of instant messaging today– a department store had recently set up a wireless office in its storefront window, where their operator had picked up the messages. The world was slowly following this unfolding tragedy.
With this information gathered from the wireless, the New York Times stopped the presses and changed their headlines for their early morning edition of the newspaper. The four line headline just presented the facts as they were known:
NEW LINER TITANIC HITS AN ICEBERG;
SINKING BY THE BOW AT MIDNIGHT;
WOMEN PUT OFF IN LIFEBOATS;
LAST WIRELESS AT 12:27 A.M. BLURRED
For the last edition of their newspaper on April 15, however, the paper’s managing editor played a hunch, and the chance headline read that the Titanic had indeed sunk. It would be a few hours before he would know for sure, but in playing that hunch, the New York Times had scooped every other paper. This one act brought the New York Times to prominence.
Still, other papers ran only with what they knew for certain. The New York Herald’s headline was:
THE NEW TITANIC STRIKES ICEBERG AND CALLS FOR AID
VESSELS RUSH TO HER SIDE
The vice president of the White Star offices in New York City, Philip Franklin, held a news conference the first thing that morning. Having not heard anything of certainty from the Titanic itself– how could he– Philips was confident that everything was fine. He said, “We place absolute confidence in the Titanic. We believe the boat is unsinkable.”. In meetings with family and friends of those on board, people like John Astor’s father-in-law and Benjamin Guggenheim’s wife, they were given the same reassurances that were given to the press, that all was well, that everyone was safe, and that there was no cause for alarm.
With such convincing reassurances, and with the ship’s reputation, the headline in the Evening Sun gave voice to what the White Star officials had believed to be true, declaring:
ALL SAVED FROM TITANIC AFTER COLLISION
The White Star Line’s official position all day was the same. They viewed the news from wireless operators who had been passing on the messages as being “second hand”, and therefore not reliable.
But this all changed when the ships that were involved in the actual rescue of the Titanic’s survivors came within wireless range.
So when the official word came in at 6:15 pm, that the great ship had indeed sunk with over 1,500 still on board, it was like a body blow to Franklin. It took him almost an hour before he could meet with reporters. When he did, he just had the strength to say provide one brief sentence: “Gentlemen, I regret to say that the Titanic sank at 2:20 this morning.”.
From that point onward, he would come out intermittently, telling the gathering crowds of people any news that he had received, that there was “probably a number of lives had been lost”, which later became “We very much fear there has been a great loss of life”. And at 9 pm, in uncontrollable tears, Franklin stated it was a “horrible loss of life”.
Every media outlet in America and Britain carried the story– and the world was in disbelief.
To know the full the story of the Titanic’s sinking, of all the things that had to take place for her to have that fateful meeting with an iceberg one hundred years ago, we have to take a step back in time.
As it turns out, 1910 would be seen as a remarkable year in world history. It was the year that the Titanic’s hull was laid, and the world’s biggest and strongest ship, the symbol of the might of the Industrial Revolution, began to take shape. At the same time, two thousand miles away, in the ice fields of Greenland, an armada of ice was being launched. Thousands of icebergs were carving off from the glaciers, and slowly making their way south to the shipping lanes of the North Atlantic. One of them would make its way into the same path of the Titanic. By April 1912, the two would converge. The impact of the disaster would reverberate around the world.
But Titanic’s story actually begins well before that, and not even in her being designed and planned in the drafting offices of Harland and Wolff– but thousands of years before that. The story really takes shape 4,000 years ago, in the midst of that vast sheet of glacial ice that would one day be called Greenland, at a time when the Celts were raising the standing stones around Scotland that we can still see today, at a time when Hammurabi was the sixth king of the Babylonian dynasty and was building the first Mesopotamian cities, and at a time when Jacob, the son of Isaac, was born.
The glacier that would one day give birth to thousands of icebergs was halfway to its full size when the first Viking adventurers, setting out in their longboats, would give these things their name. They were huge and impregnable, like vast fortresses. The Vikings called them “isbergs”, “ice mountains”– icebergs.
While empires were being created and destroyed, and while plagues were sweeping across entire continents, the glacial ice would remain undisturbed by worldly affairs, and would continue its gradual procession to the sea. And in 1910, large chunks of the glacier would splinter off, and begin a slow two year migration to the part of the ocean known as the Labrador Current. A record number of over 1,000 of the 40,000 icebergs would survive their journey to the busy shipping lanes, a number that was more than double the yearly average. It was the highest number of icebergs in fifty years to menace the North Atlantic.
Then, at some point in the early weeks of 1912, with a series of deafening cracks, one particular iceberg would break off from its parent glacier, and thunder into the cold waters of the Labrador Current, and began its slow drift southward towards its destiny.
And being neither malevolent nor benevolent, it had no way of knowing that a ten second encounter with another moving object would make it the most notorious iceberg in the history of the world.
And all of this happened in the providence of God.
Humans, of course, have their part to play in this as well. We are responsible for our actions. But that in no way takes anything away from things happening in the providence or will of God. How the will of God and the will of Man interact is something called “Compatibilism”. The two are, as the term states, compatible. Just because something is the will of God doesn’t mean it’s not the will of a person as well. Nothing occurs without it at least having God’s permission to happen.
And man’s role in this matter was spoken of in the immediate aftermath of the tragedy.
Following the Titanic disaster, many a pastor poke of the folly of human pride, the folly of human arrogance, and the folly of man’s faith in material power and prestige– all of which they said lead to 1,502 people losing their lives. In fact, in a sermon given on the Sunday following the disaster, the Bishop of Winchester said that “The Titanic, name and thing, will stand for a monument and warning to human presumption.”.
But if the passengers of the Titanic believed that she was truly unsinkable, it wasn’t because they had believed the hype of anything seen in the White Star Line’s advertisements. And if the builders, owners, and crew of the Titanic were complacent or overconfident, they were just reflecting the attitude and practice of every single ship that sailed the seas. In the forty years prior to the Titanic sinking, only four lives had been lost at sea in the North Atlantic.
The White Star Line and the shipbuilders themselves never claimed the ship was unsinkable, not once did they officially promote the idea of the Titanic as being unsinkable.. I’ve been studying the Titanic since I was a teen, and this is something I’ve looked at in great depth, particularly since entering seminary twenty years ago.
What I’ve come to see is that no matter if neither the White Star Line nor Harland and Wolff ever claimed that the Titanic was “unsinkable”, they also never actually backtracked from it once it was out there. And in doing so, they helped maintain the deadly myth. Even their experienced crew believed it.
Here are some vital bits of information I’ve found in my study of where the idea of the Titanic being unsinkable has come from, and how this myth was perpetuated:
–In 1911, the trade magazine The Shipbuilder called her “unsinkable”.
– In the June 1, 1911 edition of The Belfast Morning News, in an article about the ship as she was being built in the docks of their city, the paper reported that “The captain can, by simply moving an electric switch, instantly close the doors throughout, practically making the vessel unsinkable.’’.
–Captain Smith stated in a 1907 New York Times article, when he spoke of another ship he commanded on her maiden voyage, that “I cannot imagine any condition which would cause a ship to founder. I cannot conceive of any vital disaster happening to this vessel. Modern ship building has gone beyond that.”
– When Captain Smith was asked in that same newspaper article to describe his experience of nearly forty years at sea, he replied that it was “uneventful”.
–Second Class passenger, Mrs. Albert Caldwell (she and her husband were missionaries to Thailand as teachers in the Bangkok Christian College for Boys), when she came aboard at Southampton, she asked one of the deckhands whether the Titanic was truly unsinkable. He said to her, “Yes, Lady, God Himself could not sink this ship.”
–As the ship was sinking, passengers somehow still believed the hype, even refusing to get into the lifeboats, despite being told that the ship was going down. They clung to their belief that the ship was unsinkable– and were actually offended when officers told them to evacuate, when they had paid such enormous sums of money for luxury accommodation.
–On the deck a great throng of people had gathered. There was initially no panic, and when the order came to fill the lifeboats, women and children first, passengers were still reluctant. One survivor wrote: “They felt that it was safer to stay on the big ship. She could not sink. Consequently, the first lifeboats left the ship half filled with women and children who were practically forced into them. I did not want to trust the lives of my wife and baby to a tiny life boat and be lowered into the ocean, and we, like many others, held back.”.
People had such confidence that this ship was unsinkable. They didn’t question it. In that same Belfast Morning News article of June 1, 1911 just mentioned, written ten months before the Titanic would raise anchor and set sail for New York, there was only one disparaging thing said about the ship. And that was only about the choice of name for her. The paper stated: “It is difficult to understand why the owners and builders named this ship Titanic. The Titans were a mythological race who came to believe they’d conquered nature, who thought they’d achieved power and learning greater than their god, Zeus, to their ultimate ruin. He smote the strong and daring Titans with thunderbolts; and their final abiding place was in some limbo beneath the lowest depths, a sunless abyss below Hades.”.
Yet Eva Hart, one of the last living survivors of the Titanic, she recalled that her mother refused to go to sleep while aboard the ship because her mother, quote, “had this premonition, solely based on the fact that she said to declare a vessel unsinkable was ‘flying in the face of God’”.
“Flying in the face of God”. That, of course, sounds like the story of the Tower of Babel. Or, more correctly, it was a city and a tower, as seen in Genesis 11. This is a story of Man trying to build monuments to themselves, to call attention to their own abilities and their own achievements.
And there was that same kind of human ambition and self-glorification and self-aggrandizement in the building of the Titanic, this floating city on the sea, the feeling that the progress of mankind was “onward and upward forever”. The Titanic was, after all, the symbol of a proud age, a symbol of everything that man had hoped to achieve. And though the society of the day seemed to have some vestige of a knowledge and a respect for God remaining, at least in outward appearances, for the most part, they had really forgotten God, and had revelled in their own abilities, and even taunted God’s awesome power, boasting that “God Himself could not sink this ship!”.
But in God’s providence, the Titanic did sink. And all that was necessary was a few small holes to be opened in the ship’s hull, the damage being less than 12 square feet in size– less than the size of the average doorway into one’s home. It wasn’t some massive 300 foot gash, one major “sin” (if you will) that was her downfall. That incredible discovery provides us a lesson in looking at what we allow into the doorways of our lives, to how letting just a few “small” sins into our lives can bring devastation and disaster. Regardless of how perfect the rest of the “ship” of our lives may be, just one sin can sink us, if it’s left unchecked.
In many ways, the story of the Titanic really aspires to be parable, a tale to warn and instruct us. Throughout the Bible are accounts of proud men who refused to humble themselves and acknowledge God, who built monuments to themselves and their achievements, who trusted in their own abilities, possessions, and self-efforts, rather than in relying on God. The story of the Titanic would fit in rather well with these narratives..
God’s Word also gives us more direct warnings as well. James 4v13-14 says:
13 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit”;
14 whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.
In much the same way the people of Noah’s day were warned, and in much the same way the people of Sodom and Gomorrah were warned, and just as those on the Titanic were warned about the icebergs and getting into the lifeboats, we are warned about the consequences of complacency and indifference to sin. We’re warned of the cost of living apart from God. But do we heed the warnings? Or do we continue on in comfort and complacency, doing our own thing, bowing to the things of this world and forgetting God?
There’s an old saying in the Church that “It’s not the ship in the water, but the water in the ship that sinks it– just as it’s not the Christian in the world, but the world in the Christian that constitutes the danger.”
Disaster finally struck the Titanic at 11:40 pm on April 14, 1912, and she sank at 2:20 am on April 15, 1912. One hundred years ago today.
A couple of times in this sermon series, I’ve said that I wouldn’t want to be in the shoes of anyone that night. I said that there was a time in my life, before I was married and had children, when I wondered how would I have saved myself if I were in that situation. But that when I had a wife and kids, the question became a more difficult one, as the question became, “What would I have done to save all of us?”.
And I also spoke about what would happen if we found ourselves that night, like the hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people, families, who found themselves still on board when there was no way to be rescued, when the realization would come that there was no hope. What exactly would I have done if I were in their shoes? To think of such things, of having to deal with this plight isn’t something I ever like thinking about.
But you know what?
When it comes to the people on board the Titanic, they’re all dead. Every single person who was on board the Titanic that night is now dead. Some have been dead for a hundred years, and one has been dead for less than three years. But they’re all gone now.
One of the most poignant pictures I’ve seen in my study of the Titanic is of a pair of shoes laying on the ocean floor, undisturbed for the past century. The body is gone, but it looks like someone had just been lying there, and the only thing now remaining to show that there was a life there once, is these shoes.
And you know what else?
For all intents and purposes, I am, actually, I am in the shoes of those who were on board the Titanic. We all are. We are all in bodies that will one day die. There will be a day, just like those unfortunate souls on the Titanic, there will be a day when we will all have to say our last goodbyes to our loved ones– and we won’t be ready for it. None of us will. Just like those stranded passengers on the Titanic.
Just before my Dad died nine years ago at the age of 75, he said to me, rather heartbreakingly, “I can’t believe how quickly this has come”. He just looked at me with such great sorrow, with such disbelief.
I didn’t know if he was talking about how quickly he had gone from being able to get out and about so easily, to being housebound. Or if he was talking about how quickly his life had passed by, how quickly the end had come. I rather think it was the latter, that he was having to say goodbye to us, and to his life, so soon.
I don’t like to think about it, but there will be a day when I too will have to say goodbye to my loved ones. And it will be at a time that I won’t be ready for. This happens to all of us, even to my three teenage children. It’s so hard to imagine, but they too, as young and as vibrant and as full of life and hope that they are, they too will one day face that very same thing. Everyone does.
All of us are like everyone on the Titanic– we’re all going to die one day, and not be ready for it. No matter if it’s now or later, it will happen. Every passenger on this ship called Planet Earth will die one day.
But unlike some of the passengers stranded that night, there is hope for us. Jesus Christ demonstrated the supreme act of love in human history, by dying to pay the penalty for sin. He is our hope.
The Bible (II Corinthians 6v2c) tells us, warns us in fact, “Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.”. When God offers us deliverance, it is wise to accept His offer immediately– to not be like those on the Titanic who didn’t take a seat on the lifeboat when given the opportunity, and paid for that wrong decision with their lives.
If this morning, your trust is not in Christ, I would plead with you not to receive this message of the grace of God in vain. You may never have another chance again. Your riches, your strength, your abilities, these cannot save you. They can be taken from you unexpectedly, in a moment’s notice. The only thing that can save us from our sins is Jesus. He is faithful to save those who call on Him.
And if your trust is in Jesus already this morning, I would ask that you live a life of thankfulness for what He has already done for you on the Cross, and tell people of the salvation that is found only in Him, to tell people that for those in Christ, there is no “last goodbyes”. Our job is to point people to the way of salvation, just as John Harper did in those icy waters 100 years ago today.
Let us pray…