All Around Us

Robert D. Decker is professor of New Testament and Practical Theology in the Protestant Reformed Seminary.

Euthanasia:

For most of us the Netherlands is the “land of our fathers.” Some of us were born there. When we think of Holland we think of the Reformed Churches and the Reformed Faith. Certain names come to mind like Abraham Kuyper, Herman Bavinck, the Canons of the Synod of Dordrecht 1618, 1619, et. al. But things have changes in the “Vaderland” and the change is bad. One of my colleagues, the Rev. Robert C. Harbach, called my attention to the May 29,1986 issue ofNational Right To Life News in which the following article appeared. The author is J.C. Willke, M.D., president of the National Right To Life Committee.

Last year, one-sixth of all people who died in Holland were directly killed by their doctors. When that statement was made last January on the CBS news program, 60 Minutes, frankly I didn’t believe it. So, when Barbara and I were recently in Holland, we investigated. Sadly we return knowing it is probably true. 

Barbara and I went to Holland at the invitation of Evangelisch Omroep—the Dutch evangelical television station. The Dutch evangelicals are one of the two main new forces opposing abortion and euthanasia in that nation. The other is a string of 138 well organized women-helping centers. 

Both of these are growing rapidly, and—I believe—just in time, for that solid little nation is well on the way to moral deterioration. Although its neat countryside is dotted with churches, they are largely empty. Abortion is common. Pornography is open. The birth rate is way below replacement level, and direct euthanasia took the lives of 20,000 people there last year. 

Euthanasia is not legal—yet. But it is widely practiced. Several doctors have been arrested, and one convicted, for killing patients. But that doctor’s one-year sentence was revoked and he is still seeing patients and perhaps still killing some of them. 

How? Well, current practice is that a patient, or any person, will decide that they want to die. A doctor will be called to the home, or to the patient’s hospital bed. If the doctor thinks that the person is making a free decision, and if the doctor agrees that death is a good idea, he gives that person a lethal injection. 

Sounds incredible, doesn’t it? But it is happening. I was told about one doctor who admitted to killing over 50 people. My informant, a pro-life physician, shook his head and estimated that it could be closer to 500, as this doctor of death is called by families when their own doctor refuses. 

While the courts have allowed widespread euthanasia, it is still technically illegal. To “remedy” this, in February 1986, a bill was introduced into the Dutch Parliament that would have made it legal. The only requirements would have been that the patient requested it, and that the killing be done by a licensed physician. 

We were told that currently, “euthanasia is administered’ only if the person is of sound mind and requests it. Among those I spoke to, however, this was judged to be a cynical lie, for people who proeuthanasists want most are those no longer sound of mind, such as those in a coma, those senile with Alzheimer’s and the like. Indeed, I was told that, in practice, the doctors-of-death were also acting on requests from the families or social agencies. 

For example, I heard one story told of an ailing old man who was quite wealthy. A doctor was called, came to his house, and killed him. The story was that he had requested euthanasia. Not many people really believed that story, however, especially when they saw his wife and children begin to freely spend the money he had worked so hard to save . . . .

Can it happen in this country? Given the history of the abortion issue, not only can it happen, it is likely that it will. This ought not strike fear in our hearts. Rather it ought to move us to pray the more fervently for Jesus’ return. These things and more are signs that the end is very near. (cf. Matthew 24)

Why Knock Rock?:

John Worst, music review editor of The Banner and a professor of music at Calvin College wrote an article under this title in the August 11, 1986 issue of The Banner. Our young people ought to know what Rock is. Here are excerpts of what Dr. Worst had to say.

The Peters brothers, Dan and Steve, pastors from Minnesota, have done considerable work—conducting interviews with disc jockeys and rock stars, listening to music, analyzing lyrics, collecting record jackets—in setting up a rock-and-roll seminar that they present to schools, colleges, and church youth groups. This cassette is a live recording of one such ninety-minute session, rather like a lecture-demonstration with some questions and answers. 

When I received the cassette, I assumed it was another ill-founded, poorly researched harangue against America’s music with, probably some strident calls for total condemnation and record burning. I found the contrary. Although the Peterses have indeed conducted record burning ceremonies, their seminar is a reasoned, well-documented expose of a portion of popular music that deserves condemnation. Although I have some quibbles with one or two of their conclusions as well as with their slightly alarmist style, on the whole I believe they present a strong case against what they see as the insidious power of contemporary rock and roll, especially the heavy metal kind—its power to affect minds, its power to infiltrate the heart, and its power to destroy the soul. The devil has entered the arena of America’s popular music and has begun an all-out battle for the intellect, the loyalty, and the spirit of America’s young people . . . . In the first half of each seminar the Peterses discuss six key questions: 

—Does the image reflect reality, or is it mere hype? 

—What do the lyrics really mean? 

—What message do the album covers convey? 

—What are the goals or intentions of rock and pop stars? 

—Is the force behind the music good or evil? 

—What are the spiritual consequences of listening to too much rock? 

During the rest of the seminar, the brothers focus on what they call “rock’s fatal flaws”: escapism and suicide, rebellion and sadomasochism, nihilism and hedonism, drugs and sex, and Satanism. Examples of song lyrics, quotations from popular music magazines (Rolling Stone, for one), and interviews reinforce the authors’ contention that “the general direction in rock and roll is away from the Lord Jesus Christ.” The prevailing attitude in rock and roll is no longer a seemingly innocent escapism or naive pleasure but “Let’s get crazy! Let’s get wild!” total abandonment. 

Their main concern is the music of such groups as Kiss, Prince, Twisted Sister, Motley Crue, Scorpion, Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, the Rolling Stones, Berlin, Quiet Riot, AC/DC, Ozzie Osborne, Ratt, Billy Idol, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, even some music by pop-rock groups like the Pointer Sisters, the Doobie Brothers, Hall and Oates, the Bee Gees – music whose lyrics often deal very explicitly with sex, homosexual love, rape, incest, suicide, masochism, sadism, transvestism, drug trips, or other sorts of perversion. The main themes heard and attitudes expressed in so much of this music are “Do it! Get the ultimate thrill! Sex is salvation! Drugs will open your mind! Life is cheap! The devil is in control!” Horrible stuff. But the Peterses don’t resort to harangue and scare tactics; they simply quote song lyrics, show album covers, cite news items, read appropriate Scripture texts, and ask their audience to make a choice—will you serve God or the devil? . . . One thing many younger as well as older people fail to understand is that music—any music—is not just an innocent, fun-filled, innocuous diversion! Popular music especially is not simply the escapist, lively, danceable stuff that every kid listens to on her car stereo. Music is a spiritual force that works powerfully on people; it has the capacity to affect them for both good and evil. 

So why Knock Rock? Because it is shot through with all kinds of gross immorality. Originally a music of bounding energy and high spirits, albeit somewhat rebellious, much of rock today has degenerated into a music of hatred, drugs, violence, and sexual perversion. It needs to be exposed for the evil it harbors, and Christians need to rise up and get angry over what is happening not only to America’s young people but also to America’s music . . . .

We hope and pray that the youth of God’s church (and their parents for that matter) refuse to listen to this music and that rather they: “walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” (Ephesians 5:15, 16) We hope and pray too that they will heed the Word of God which says: “Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is. And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord.” (Ephesians 5:17-19)

Points Worth Pondering:

In its column “Reflections” Christianity Today prints excerpts of various books, articles, sermons, lectures, etc. which it calls “Classic and Contemporary excerpts.” The following appeared in a recent issue. We quote them without comment:

GOD’S RICHTER SCALE 

I think we are now living in the very decade when God may thunder his awesome paradidoomai (I abandon, or I give them up)

Rom. 1:24 ff.

over America’s professed greatness. Our massacre of a million fetuses a year; our deliberate flight from the monogamous family; our normalizing of fornication and of homosexuality and other sexual perversions; our programming of self indulgence above social and familial concerns—all represent a quantum leap in moral deterioration, a leap more awesome than even the supposed qualitative gulf between conventional weapons and nuclear missiles. Our nation has all but tripped the worst ratings on God’s Richter scale of fully deserved moral judgment. Carl F.H. Henry, The Christian Century, (Nov. 5, 1980) 

THE PROBLEM WITH CROSSING 

We . . . are talking about crossing over . . . . The term serves perfectly to describe a fact that hit me some seasons ago with the force of revelation. For a score of years we’ve all been saying, “Look at how popular evangelicalism is changing the world! It’s become acceptable!” No, rather, “Look at how worldly popular evangelicalism has become to become acceptable. It changed more than the world did.” 

. . . One problem with crossing, with a cross over: it tends to lose the Cross. And that, as they say, is crucial. Martin Marty, The Christian Century (Jan. 1-8, 1986).