THE 367 Suffering and Death: Biblical, Systematic and Ethical Perspectives (3 credits)
Dramatic advances in medical information and technology increase daily and these advances are being implemented almost immediately. As a result, people who have succumbed to their illnesses only a few years ago can now have their lives extended by being treated aggressively. This treatment does prolong the lives of many people, but in the process it also causes people to endure much pain and suffering. As a result many Christians are focusing on the age old question of "why do innocent openly have to suffer?" Various answers have been given to this question by society: Dr. Kevorkian’s "death machine," Oregon’s "Death With Dignity Act," direct abortion of defective fetuses, and even infanticide. It has been said that "only the suffering human person knows that he/she is suffering and wonders why; and he/she suffers in a humanly speaking still deeper way if he/she does not find a satisfactory answer." This course will examine the meaning of personal suffering, as well as the Christian response to the suffering of others from biblical and systematic perspectives. Students will then apply these insights to two specific medical ethics issues—physician-assisted suicide and medical treatments for handicapped newborns.