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A Heartbeat

I recently stumbled upon an interesting article from 2014.  A google search led me to NPR, National Public Radio’s website which posted a piece entitled Why Hospitals and Families Still Struggle to Define Death?  Maanvi Singh examined two cases of people on life support.  Three neurologists said that Jahi McMath died when her brain lost all function after complications from a tonsillectomy.  While a coroner has issued an official death certificate, Jahi’s family won an appeal to keep their daughter on a ventilator.  This is where science and faith collide.

For You formed my innermost parts; You knit me [together] in my mother’s womb. 14   I will give thanks and praise to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; wonderful are Your works, and my soul knows it very well, Psalm 139:13-14.

A fetus’s heart rate begins soon after fertilization and is visible during an ultrasound at the sixth week of pregnancy.  Meanwhile, when a human heart stops beating while in an emergency vehicle or at a hospital, this person is deemed to flatline.  If resuscitation does not trigger hearts to beat, this individual is pronounced dead as doctors move on to the next living patient who needs intervention.  King Solomon referred to the heart as the well spring of life, Proverbs 4:23.  When this spring dries up, life ceases to exist.  While cases of life support may convince some that when brain cells are beyond repair death has arrived, I believe a heartbeat is the deciding factor.

My frame was not hidden from You, when I was being formed in secret, and intricately and skillfully formed [as if embroidered with many colors] in the depths of the earth.16  Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; and in Your book were all written the days that were appointed for me, when as yet there was not one of them [even taking shape], Psalm 139:15-16.

As abortion debates continue today with a few states suggesting doctors and or mothers can choose to terminate life after a child is born, the names Amy Grossman and Brian Peterson come to mind.  When Grossman became pregnant while attending the University of Delaware, this couple got a hotel room off campus as Amy was about to give birth.  Instead of giving their child up for adoption, the baby was thrown into a dumpster and left to die in 1998.  If this event occurred today in the state of New York or Virginia, Amy and Brian would have never gone to jail.  So what has changed over the past 20 years?  Has America become blinded by political correctness that a heartbeat doesn’t matter anymore?  I’m not sure what to think, but I pray that common sense will prevail.

by Jay Mankus

 

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Lowering the Bar or Extending God’s Grace?

As a former Catholic, you can tell a lot about the direction of a church based it’s leadership.  Pope Francis, the head of the Roman Catholic Church, is now calling for priests to forgive any woman who has terminated a pregnancy.  During a recent interview on cable news, a member of a local archdiocese summarized this theological change.  In the past, female Catholics who had an abortion were excommunicated from the church, viewing this act of killing an innocent life.  Today, Pope Francis wants to focus on love and forgiveness by extending grace to those who have fallen short of God’s glory.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me,” 2 Corinthians 12:9.

When I heard excerpts of this interview, I wasn’t sure what to think.  However, now that I have had time to digest this new stance, there are two possible explanations.  First, the church is lowering the bar by altering the expectations of what it means to be a modern day Christian.  Just as public education has changed the standards for a passing grade, clergy is now more accepting.  As godliness diminishes within society it’s hard to find willing servants of Jesus.  Thus, many churches are being forced to overlook past transgressions to fill half empty buildings and worship services.

But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace, Romans 11:6.

The other logical explanation is a shift from an Old Testament view of God’s wrath and judgment toward a New Testament approach based upon the love of Jesus.  This theological position points to the parable of the prodigal son in Luke 15.  God is already working in the lives of the righteous according to Matthew 9:9-13.  It’s the rebellious, lost and those wandering in the dark who need help.  Instead of emphasizing church growth, pastors have become more evangelistic to reach out to a generation of people who have not grown up in the church.  Depending upon your theological beliefs, you may lean toward one of these two positions.  Nonetheless, the church is suppose to be the hands and feet of Christ, like a beacon of light piercing into the darkness of a spiritually dead and dying world.

by Jay Mankus

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