Worth Reading - 3/26

1. An interview with Ryan Anderson about physician assisted suicide at the ERLC's Canon and Culture. Sound ethical reasoning that is worth reading:

Physicians are always to care, never to kill. They are to eliminate illness and disease but never eliminate their patients. Not every medical means must be used. Patients can refuse or doctors can withhold particular treatments that are useless or causing more harm than good. But in deciding that a treatment is useless, we must not decide that a patient is worthless. Doctors should not kill. But doctors should help their patients die a natural death with dignity.

Instead of embracing PAS, we should respond to suffering with true compassion and solidarity. People seeking PAS typically suffer from depression or other mental illnesses, as well as simply from loneliness. Instead of helping them to kill themselves, we should offer them appropriate medical care and human presence. For those in physical pain, pain management and other palliative medicine can manage their symptoms effectively. For those for whom death is imminent, hospice care and fellowship can accompany them in their last days. Anything less falls short of what human dignity requires. The real challenge facing society is to make quality end-of-life care available to all.

Doctors should help their patients to die a dignified death of natural causes, not assist in killing. Physicians are always to care, never to kill. They properly seek to alleviate suffering, and it is reasonable to withhold or withdraw medical interventions that are not worthwhile. However, to judge that a patient’s life is not worthwhile and deliberately hasten his or her end is another thing altogether.

2. Can we balance ecology and economic flourishing? Charlie Self, a pentacostal theologian, thinks so:

Being a follower of Jesus includes a hopeful vision of the future. In the fullness of the kingdom of God, we will live on a new earth as embodied humans, worshiping and working, married to Christ and in fellowship with sisters and brothers from all nations (Rev. 21-22). There will be no more war, perfect justice, a restored ecology and each person will steward gifts and responsibilities consistent with his or her created design and fidelity during this present age (Isaiah 2; Mt. 25).

The resurrection of Jesus and the gift of the Holy Spirit are the historical/personal guarantees of this eschatological vision (Acts 2-3). This audacious Christian hope inspires our covenant fidelity to the Triune God and concrete service to the world. Because of God’s unconditional love expressed in the Cross-and the liberating power of the resurrection, we now serve others sacrificially and all our present good works are signposts of the future.

3. What is the relationship between work, common grace and the curse? Jordan Ballor considers this:

That human beings were created to be creators, to work, is undeniable. The anthropological concept of homo faber, man the tool-maker, attests to this basic aspect of what it means to be human. From a Christian perspective, we confess that human beings make things in a way that imitates their Maker. While God creates “out of nothing” (ex nihilo) and then orders and arranges it, we create in a creaturely way, dependent on God’s primary acts of creation. All this is true about the human person, and it is good that it is so.

But ever since the fall into sin, work has been bittersweet. This negative aspect of work is communicated to us in the biblical narrative in the form of a curse. As God says to Adam, “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return” (Gen. 3:17-19 NIV). As fallen creatures we no longer relate to the world around us, whether the world of plants, animals, human beings, or spiritual truths, the way we did before.

4. A little after the date of Mr. Rogers birthday, Chris Martin writes a post about the importance of Christian kindness and being neighborly:

Somewhere between episodes of Full House, Boy Meets World, and Pappy Drew It, Mr. Rogers became the neighbor I never really had.

It got me thinking this weekend, though, about what made Mr. Rogers truly unique: his kindness.

Obviously, I never knew the guy personally, so I can’t speak to his kindness in real life or his Christian faith (though he did go to seminary with R.C. Sproul and was a Presbyterian minister for a time). But, I get the sense Fred Rogers was a genuinely kind, good-natured person.

What would it look like if Christians treated their real neighbors with as much kindness as Mr. Rogers treated his fake ones?

5. Nathan Finn discussion Baptist Associations. Should they be affinity based or geographically based? Or both? A helpful essay on someone who's been thinking about this for a while:

I think the future of Baptist associationalism is best served by finding a balance between geography and affinity. On the one hand, this means many traditional associations will need to rethink how they currently do things. They will need to be willing to encourage greater theological unity among constituent churches when it comes to primary and secondary matters while honoring local church autonomy when it comes to tertiary matters. Many local associations will need to revisit the idea of some sort of confessional basis of cooperation as a way to cultivate this sort of unity and maintain a consistent witness to the watching world.

Furthermore, traditional associations will need to narrow their mission to focus on a handful of priorities. I would suggest four priorities: local evangelism, church planting, ministries of mercy and justice, and practical theological education for pastors and other ministry leaders. As much as possible, local associations need to become localized, contextual mission boards and informal seminaries that mobilize churches for mission and educate leaders for ministry faithfulness.

On the other hand, many affinity-based associations will need to find ways to cultivate a more “local” feel. While modern technology makes it possible to be closely connected with churches across the continent, there is something to be said for regular face-to-face interaction and hands-on partnership. As affinity-based associations grow, they need to consider either splitting into multiple like-minded associations or forming regional chapters of the wider association.