|C. Everett Koop|
In 1946 Koop established the pediatric surgical division at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. It was the first in Philadelphia and only the second of it's type in America. It was also in Schaeffer's home town.
The Schaeffers who likewise had an interest in children had founded their work called Children for Christ just three years earlier in 1943. In 1947 Schaeffer would be asked by the Independent Board of Presbyterian Foreign Missions to tour post-war Europe to determine the state of children and the condition of the church. The following year, in 1948, the Schaeffer's were called to be missionaries to Europe. After accepting this call, Francis would travel for six months in the United States lecturing on his discoveries in regard to the state of the church in Europe. This time away from the family was a period of trial and hardship for Edith with various difficulties. One of which was that their daughter Priscilla had contracted a rare ailment that the doctor they were seeing was unable to diagnose. As the story goes, Priscilla was waiting to be x-rayed when a young pediatric surgeon "who had a specialist knowledge of mesenteric adenitis" happened to spot her and notice she had recognizable symptoms. He arranged to have her appendix removed the following day, which cured her ailment. That young surgeon was C. Everett Koop.
During Priscilla's treatment Dr. Koop was impressed with the Schaeffers and their visible faith and he mentioned to Edith that he had just become a Christian. Edith at some point gave Dr. Koop a message from Priscilla from Francis, so as he wheeled Priscilla's cart into the operating area he read aloud the telegram: "Dear Priscilla, Remember underneath are the everlasting arms. Love Daddy." Now, this all might sound quite unusual for a surgeon to do such a thing, but it shows us two things. Firstly, that there was an immediate connection between Dr. Koop and the Schaeffers, but also that Dr. Koop had a true love for children and his work.
This seemingly chance meeting speaks of providence at work. The fact that the Schaeffer's met Dr. Koop just months away from their move to Europe, and a short time after his conversion and that he had just the right knowledge of Priscilla's ailment is cause for reflection. The fact that this providence would eventually unite two great minds in both friendship and significant subjects of life is very significant. Not surprisingly Dr. Schaeffer and Dr. Koop would become close and a long friendship would begin.
Uniting In The Cause of Life
Most notably and against perhaps Dr. Koop and Francis Schaeffer's wishes the cause of life has been most often reduced to abortion alone. While abortion is no small matter and should not be in any way minimized, yet what both men were interested in was not a single issue of abortion alone, but life. The reality was that the secular humanistic worldview was challenging life itself on may fronts. This conception most definitely includes both abortion, euthanasia, but also the loss of the high view of man and human dignity.
"If man is not made in the image of God, nothing then stands in the way of inhumanity. There is no good reason why mankind should be perceived as special. Human life is cheapened. We can see this in many of the major issues being debated in our society today: abortion, infanticide, euthanasia, the increase of child abuse and violence of all kinds, pornography (and its particular kinds of violence as evidenced in sadomasochism), the routine torture of political prisoners in many parts of the world, the crime explosion, and the random violence which surrounds us.
In communist countries, where materialism and humanistic thinking have been dominant for over several generations, a low view of people has been standard for years. This is apparent not only in the early legislation about abortion but also in the thousands of political prisoners who have been systematically oppressed, tortured, and killed as part of the very fabric of communism. Now, however, as humanism dominates the West, we have a low view of mankind in the West as well. Let us consider some more of the direct and indirect results that this low view of people has brought into our society in the noncommunist world." ~ Schaeffer, Whatever Happened to the Human Race?
Yet instead of acknowledging this, the culture attacked the person rather than the core argument, much to Schaeffer's lament:
"For example, all you have to do is to consider the way the media treated Dr. C. Everett Koop. Dr. Koop is one of the foremost pediatric surgeons in the United States, and among other honors, he was given the highest honor of the French government for his pioneering work in pediatric surgery. But when he was nominated for the position of Surgeon General, he was attacked by the secular media with total disregard for objective reporting — and with total disregard for his brilliant humanitarian record as a surgeon. Those in the media holding the humanist world view could not tolerate Dr. Koop’s voice to be heard — they could not tolerate his articulate defense of the sanctity of human life to be expressed." ~ Schaeffer, A Christian Manifesto
Do we still value life?
Now is as good a time as any to remember what Dr. Koop and Dr. Schaeffer were striving for. For the church and culture to wake up and sees the cultural monolith that advances on every front... advancing a cause that will always be inhuman and always jeopardize life and human dignity. Today, we must ourselves find ways to speak around the political marginalization that has marginalized us much as those who are being put to death. Our compassion must be evident and our message must not fail to sound, as life depends upon it.