The Bible and Euthanasia: Is Suicide Always Wrong?

Speaker: Categories: Sep 13, 2008


[1hr, 9min, 7sec / 32min, 45sec]


It's not uncommon for SDAs, perhaps members of all Christian faiths, to be surprised when discovering the real source for some of their beliefs and doctrines. Occasionally, such surprises lead to disbelief and distancing from the membership of believers. Sometimes it might actually lead to research and study and a reaffirmation of that process for determining truth.

Dr. John Cobb notes:"There is no direct teaching about suicide in the Bible. Its prohibition in the church expressed the general biblical prizing and celebration of life in a time when the vast majority of deaths came too soon."

"Unfortunately,"he continues,"the prohibition came to be supported by a questionable natural law theory in a way that turned it from an expression of general wisdom into an absolute rule. In the name of Paul, aslawit should be rejected, so that we can make fresh judgments in changing situations as to whatloverequires."

"Cutting short a life that has the potential for either enjoyment or benefit to others, even if it is immersed temporarily in suffering and anguish, is an evil whether it is the life of another or of oneself."

"Taking the judgment about these prospects for another into one's own hands is extremely problematic. If the judgment is about one's own life, that is somewhat less so, although even here one should seek the judgments of others."

"Hence the decision to end one's own life, or even that of another, although always uncertain and problematic, is notalwayswrong,"states Dr. Cobb.


John B. Cobb, Jr. is the son of Methodist missionaries to Japan where he spent most of his childhood. His parents were from the state of Georgia, and the rest of his early life he resided there including his first years of college. He spent three and a half years in World War II in Japanese language work in the army, including a stint in Japan after the war. The following years of his college education were at the University of Chicago where he received MA and PhD degrees from the Divinity School. He taught at Young Harris College in north Georgia, at Emory University in Atlanta, and for thirty-two years at the Claremont School of Theology.

His theology is called"process theology,"which relates also to philosophy, sciences, and social thought. He has written on economic and evolutionary theory as well as theology. His most relevant book on this topic is Matters of Life and Death.

He has authored a host of materials since first being published in 1960. Checking out his name,John B, Cobb, Jr., on the web will provide a much more complete portrayal of the breadth and depth of his professional interests, convictions, and the contributions he's made to the world of scholarship in theology.

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