I have a most serious
reservation about this book. No, it
is not the ambiguous title, nor the dismal cover. It is
This Christian book consists of 10
chapters, but there is precious little that is
distinctly Christian until chapter 7, that is,
about halfway through the book. And even
then there are less than a dozen Scriptural
references with meagre exegesis of any.
John Wyatt’s book starts
with the bad news – some recent horror stories,
examples of euthanasia practices in the UK and
elsewhere, the false arguments from compassion and
autonomy, and so on.
This is the pattern of most secular
It is what I call cart-before-the-horse
dangerous approach brings the Christian reader to
these tangled issues in the wrong frame of mind. Indeed,
I confess at times, I was almost persuaded by this
pro-euthanasia thinking. By
contrast, biblical mandates, such as Romans 12:2
and 1 Corinthians 2:16, insist that we process
everything through the lens of Scripture and with
the mind of Christ.
To do otherwise is foolhardy.
understanding of these life-and-death issues must
first be rooted within a robust biblical
instance, how can we understand death, the primary
topic of this book, without grasping the heights
and depths of Genesis 1:27 and Genesis 2:17? The author
briefly mentions the former, but not the latter.
And there are other
book has no index.
There is no list of useful anti-euthanasia
websites, such as that of Care Not Killing. References
consist of numerous pages of unwieldy URLs. And its
overall coverage is patchy. For
example, one of the UK’s landmark legal cases,
that of Miss B, is reported, but those of Tony
Bland, Diane Pretty and Debbie Purdy are missing.
trendsetters, such as Jack Kevorkian, Brittany
Maynard, Peter Singer and Philip Nitschke, are
Instead, there is too much from Christian
‘clerics’, like Paul Badham, Lord Carey,
Archbishop Tutu and Stanley Hauerwas, and way too
many quotations from the 2012 report of Lord
Falconer’s sham Commission on Assisted Dying.
Of course, no book can be
encyclopaedic, but authors have a duty to be
encompassing and edifying. I do not
doubt that John Wyatt – whom I have never met –
and I both abhor the threats and horrors of
legalised euthanasia, but I am unclear about his
target in terms of subject and readership. For me,
the book is too vague and detached. These
hot topics demand perspicacity, passion and
want more than four pages on ‘what it means to die
well’ and a finale of a verse from John Donne.
Euthanasia and assisted suicide confront us with the greatest bioethical challenge of the twenty-first century. Christians need first, to get their theology straight and second, to respond by cherishing all human life, opposing euthanasia legalisation and supporting compassionate end-of-life care. It is with a heavy heart that I conclude that this book will do little to foster these grand endeavours. I am gravely disappointed.
John R. Ling, Aberystwyth.