Fatal Flaws

Last year I was invited to an evening with a filmmaker named Kevin Dunn.  He’d made a documentary about euthanasia and assisted suicide.  During the course of the evening, I discovered not only that he’s a fellow Canadian, but he’s even from Hamilton, Ontario — the place I last served as a pastor.  And here he was in far-off Tasmania, presenting his new film.  He spoke and gave some background to the film and also showed us a few clips.  At the time, in 2019, there had already been four attempts to introduce “assisted dying” laws into Tasmania — and all had failed.  However, we were warned that proponents are nothing if not persistent.  Next week, the Legislative Council of Tasmania (the Upper House) will be debating and voting on another bill, this one entitled End-of-Life (Voluntary Assisted Dying) Bill.

One of the pro-life groups I follow on Facebook is Lifechoice Tasmania.  They posted a link last week to the Fatal Flaws film, encouraging folks to watch it.  I posted a comment mentioning that I’d been to the evening with Kevin Dunn in Launceston and was thinking of maybe screening the film for our church.  One thing led to another and, together with Lifechoice Tasmania and ACL we showed the film last night for a max capacity audience.

It’s a powerful documentary.  Kevin Dunn is a story-teller.  Here he uses the power of story to share what’s happened in places like Newfoundland, the Netherlands, Belgium, and the USA (yes, I know Newfoundland is not a country).  He speaks with real people, some of whom were pressured into dying (but didn’t), some who wanted to die (and did), and the families of some who died who had no choice.  Here’s a clip:

Dunn also interviews pro-euthanasia/assisted suicide advocates and presents their side of the story.  Interestingly, even for some of them, places like the Netherlands have gone too far in allowing people to take their own lives for mental suffering or just being tired of life.

If there’s one constant thread running through Fatal Flaws, it’s that there’s always a trend downwards.  Sometimes slippery slope arguments hold little value, but in this instance there is demonstrable proof that once the first step is taken, it all goes down hill from there.  Pro-death advocates are never satisfied — they always want the boundaries to be expanded.  Here in Australia, Lyle Shelton tells the story of Dr. Philip Nitschke in his new book I Kid You Not.  The Northern Territory briefly had euthanasia legislation from 1996-1997.  At a parliamentary inquiry in Tasmania, Nitschke admitted under oath to breaking the law to kill “a socially isolated patient.”  And he was never charged.

I recommend Fatal Flaws to all readers, not just those in Tasmania.  Even if you’re in a country or region that’s already allowing this evil, you can be sure there is or there will be pressure to expand it.  In Canada, for example, there’s Bill C-7 which will permit euthanasia for people with dementia, if that person had previously been approved (more info here).  And on this love affair with death goes…

A final note:  Fatal Flaws is not a Christian documentary.  It doesn’t speak about what the Bible teaches or a Christian worldview perspective on assisted suicide/euthanasia.  Nevertheless, it provides all the needed context to inform a Christian perspective on these matters.

Fatal Flaws can be rented or purchased online here.

 


Focal Point Interview on Aiming to Please

Chris deBoer recently had me on Focal Point for an interview on my latest book, Aiming to Please.


Why is Christianity True?

Why is Christianity true?  How would you answer that question?  A number of attendees at the National Religious Broadcasters convention were asked that question a few years ago.  Their answers were featured on a recently re-broadcast edition of the White Horse Inn radio show.  Almost all of them were some variation on this theme:  Christianity is true because it changed my life.

There are two reasons why that’s a lousy answer.

First, it’s an answer a Mormon could give.  A Mormon could say, “Mormonism is true because it changed my life.  I was once a drug addict, I became a Mormon, and my life was changed.”  Likely there are Muslims who could say the same thing.  The truth or falsity of Christianity (or any religion for that matter) has nothing to do with whether or not it will change your life.  Something is objectively true or objectively false, regardless of your subjective personal experience.  People’s lives can be changed, even profoundly so, by things that aren’t true.

Second, what happens if someone’s changed life returns to the way it was before?  Think of the Parable of the Sower.  Jesus spoke about the seed that fell on the rocky ground.  This represents someone who “hears the word and immediately receives it with joy.”  Such a one lasts for a while, but when there’s trouble, “immediately he falls away.”  In such a case, if Christianity was true because it changed that person’s life, if that person’s life goes back to the way it was, does that mean Christianity is now false?

You see, pointing to our own lives is a poor way to answer why Christianity is true.

There’s a better way.  If someone were to ask me, “Why is Christianity true?”, this is what I would say:  Christianity is true because of the impossibility of the contrary.  What I mean is that the Christian faith and worldview corresponds to reality – the world is exactly the way the Bible says it is.  And the Christian worldview truly accounts for the realities we see around us – it provides a basis for logic, morality, the laws of nature, mathematics, beauty, love, and more.  For example, objective standards of morality are grounded in the immutable character of a holy God.  So, Christianity is objectively true because it has been revealed by the God of truth, the Creator of all reality, the one in whom we live and move and have our being (Acts 17:28).  Christianity is objectively true because in its light we see light (Psalm 36:9).

That’s just a short answer, of course.  There’s a lot more that could and should be said.  Books have been written to lay out that case at more length.  If you want to read one, check out K. Scott Oliphint’s Know Why You Believe (reviewed here).

1 Peter 3:15 tells every Christian always to be ready to give an answer for the hope we have in Christ.  Because we’re doing it in service to Christ, surely we’re obligated to make sure we do it in the best possible way.  That means turning away from arguments grounded in fickle and subjective human experiences and turning to arguments grounded in the infallible and inerrant Scriptures.  Sola Scriptura has to be our touchstone in apologetics too.


Want to Learn More About Apologetics?

Cornelius Van Til

Apologetics is about learning how to defend the Christian faith/worldview.  These days it’s getting easier than ever to learn about this important subject from some of the best teachers.  Just let me share three important resources:

Reformed Forum offers a free online course, Introduction to the Theology and Apologetics of Cornelius Van Til.  Taught by Dr. Lane Tipton, the course appears to be a great entry to understanding this pioneer of Reformed apologetics.

There’s a fairly recent YouTube channel that’s producing great content teaching and illustrating Reformed apologetics.  Reformed Wiki includes the famous Bahnsen/Stein debate:

Last of all, there’s a Facebook group:  Reformed Presuppositional Apologetics.  The group currently has nearly 6000 members, including some of the leading Reformed apologists of our day.  If you’re new to apologetics, it’s a great place to watch, learn, and discuss.  It’s one of the reasons I continue to find it hard to say “farewell” to Facebook.


Book Review: ‘I Kid You Not’

‘I Kid You Not’: Notes from 20 Years in the Trenches of the Culture Wars, Lyle Shelton.  Redland Bay, Queensland: Connor Court Publishing, 2020.  Softcover, 273 pages.

I’m told that when you join an army combat unit, you’ll usually get a lesson on that unit’s battle history.  I came to Australia nearly five years ago with little knowledge of the battles that have been waged here for what’s good and true.  Since then, I’ve witnessed the fight for the preservation of marriage and a few other skirmishes.  However, reading Lyle Shelton’s new book opened my eyes to many of the battles that took place before we arrived in 2015.  It’s like reading the battle history of biblically-minded and politically-involved Christians in Australia for the last two decades.

For those who don’t know him, Lyle Shelton may be the most hated man in Australia.  I follow him on Twitter and the abuse his trolls heap on him is ghastly.  While he first started drawing fire as a city councillor in Toowoomba, Queensland, it was really as the Managing Director of the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) that he became the target of intense animosity.  This book documents two decades of his Christian political activism, battles fought — both those won (a few) and lost (more).

From his time in city government in Toowoomba, we read of the fight against brothels in Queensland in chapter 2.  Chapter 3 describes the battle against pornography in Australia — a fight simply to introduce a mandatory filtering policy.  There are chapters on abortion and euthanasia.  The battle against same-sex “marriage” takes up three chapters.  For me, one of the most interesting sections was the chapter on aboriginal relations.  I took a keen interest in that area when I was serving as a missionary to a First Nations community in Canada, so naturally I wanted to hear Lyle’s take on the Australian situation.  I was impressed with how Lyle applies Christian principles of forgiveness, atonement, and reconciliation.  His balanced approach deserves a hearing.

As mentioned, there’s history in this book of which I was unaware, having come “late to the party.”  For example chapter 6 describes Guy Barnett’s move to defund second trimester and late-term abortion.  Today, Guy is a well-known figure in Tasmanian state politics.  But in 2008, he was serving in the Australian senate.  He made an effort to roll back some of the gruesome practices of Australian abortionists.  The ACL supported his effort and, as part of that, invited Gianna Jensen, a survivor of a late-term abortion to come to Australia to assist the campaign.  I’ll let Lyle pick up the story:

She is probably the only person alive today whose birth certificate was signed by her abortionist.  He arrived back on the scene when it was too late.

Gianna indefatigably limped alongside me through kilometers of corridors in Parliament House — her bright and sunny disposition disarming the pollies before she unleashed her killer opening line (pun intended).  [the opening line:  “If abortion is about women’s rights, where were mine?”]

I’ll never forget the afternoon we ran into the then Greens leader Bob Brown in the Senate corridors.  I hadn’t bothered seeking an appointment with him.  The Greens care about saving tiny critters but, perversely, baby humans at risk of violence in the womb are not on their endangered list.

“This is Gianna Jensen from America, Senator,” I awkwardly said as we bumped into Brown.  At that moment, I had no agenda apart from being polite.  Brown, who is one of the most genuinely charming men you will ever meet immediately engaged Gianna in some good-natured banter about her need to see the sights of his home state, Tasmania.

My mind began racing as the Senator continued with small talk.  I felt I had to say something.

“Gianna is a survivor of abortion,” I blurted.  At that Senator Brown excused himself, turned on his heel, and walked off down the corridor.  Some truths are more inconvenient than others.  I’ll never forget it.  It was one of the most profound interactions I had at Parliament in my 10 years as a lobbyist.  I’ll always be grateful to Gianna for coming to our nation and telling her inconvenient story, even though her plea on behalf of unborn babies was politely ignored by our politicians.  (page 108)

An unforgettable afternoon, indeed — one prays it was unforgettable for Bob Brown too.

‘I Kid You Not’ is a must-read for newcomers to Australian politics — it’s a great primer on how we got where we are.  I’d also recommend it to Christian young people and others who are beginning to understand our need to be involved in the struggle for truth and goodness in the public square.  Lyle Shelton not only provides the battle history, he also has some insights into battlefield tactics — those used against the truth, but also those that should be used for the truth.  I would say that, unlike Lyle, and more like the current ACL director Martyn Iles, I believe we need to bring Scripture to bear on the situation.  That point notwithstanding, this book makes a valuable contribution to reflecting on how to be engaged politically as Christians. If we love our nation, if our desire is to see the nation flourish, then this is a battle to which all Christians are called.  Sign up.