C. Everett Koop


The death of Dr. C. Everett Koop at his home in New Hampshire yesterday marked the loss not only of a public Christian of note, but one of Evangelicalism's most signifiicant leaders in the battle to uphold the sanctity of human life.

The Roman Catholic pro-life movement had its legion of stalwarts in the seventies and early eighties: Joe Scheidler, Mother Theresa, Father Paul Quay, Archbishop O'Connor; the list is impressive. And Evangelicalism? Who were her pro-life leaders? There literally weren't any, at least initially. But then God brought Everett Koop and Francis Schaeffer together and the battle was joined from the Protestant side. It's not an exaggeration to say that Dr. Koop and Francis Schaeffer were the twin fathers of the modern Evangelical pro-life movement.

So we praise God for the life and witness of Dr. Koop. He was there when almost no one else was. Some in the Christian Medical Society may lionize Dr. Koop at his death, but they will perhaps have forgotten Dr. Koop's disgusted resignation from an organization he helped found for its refusal to take an officially pro-life position--a stance he maintained even after Tim's and my father assumed its presidency for a few years in the early 80s. Despite their friendship, Dr. Koop refused Dad's request that he rejoin. Even after passage of a clear and forceful pro-life stance, he initially refused to rejoin an organization that, as he saw it, had been cowardly on the central moral issue of the day.

Dr. Koop's life took a number of unexpected twists and turns after he became surgeon general during the Reagan administration. Who would have thought that Dr. Koop would become a darling of the AIDS advocacy movement? Yet he remained a stalwart in opposing our nation''s culture of death until the end. He ran the race well, and for his life Tim and I praise God.

Dr. Koop was a friend to the Bayly family over many years. Having operated on our brothers Johnny and Nathan at birth, it was Dr. Koop who urged Mud to trust God to provide Nathan with a long and lung-impairment free life despite being born with cystic fibrosis. Indeed, Nate did survive to adulthood, becoming a pastor and father before dying from cancer a decade ago at the age of 39.

I remember showing Dr. Koop my chemistry kit once when he was visiting in Bartlett in the early 70s. My methodology was to throw chemicals in a test tube and hope for an explosion--or at least a little smoke. It never happened. But Dr. Koop's disgust with my methods came as a surprise to me. That's not the scientific way, he scolded. You have to keep notes and have a hypothesis. You should record your results. You're just playing like a child, he said. Well, I was discouraged until a week later when I received a package in the mail filled with slides, each labeled by Dr. Koop, containing samples of various cells, including blood and cancer varieties. I've still got  those slides somewere.

An Evangelical father has departed. We will miss him.

Comments

When I read about Dr. Koop recently, I was struck by his confouding of partisan politicians--and I think that any evangelical living a public life who doesn't at some point anger politicians from all sides of our system is probably as we all are, on some important thing.  Here was a man who was staunch in his condemnation of abortion as a great evil and yet refused to put his name to lies about it that would have nominally served the pro-life cause, resisting both the temptation to utter falsehood in service of what might have been a greater good and the temptation to silence his witness to please his earthly masters.  He seems like quite a man.

Yet another one of America's finest men departs the Earth and ascends to an eternal peace. While I never knew Dr. Koop personally, the easiest way one could tell he was a man of character was that the left could never dig up any dirt on him.

I realize that God is God and that it is the height of presumption to question what God does, but it sure seems like we need to keep good men with us, now more than ever, rather than having them called home.

it sure seems like we need to keep good men with us, now more than ever, rather than having them called home.

Dear Mike,

A godly man's work not only continues but even multiplies when he has sons who do the deeds of their father. May God raise up many such fathers and sons in our land. (Gen. 18:19)

Love,

David,

My first thought when reading this news was what his friendship and care have meant to your family. I'm sure those slides are the stuff of my daily work. 

Kamilla

Daniel, I took a look at your blog and it looks like you present some good info. I noticed this quote from Doug Wilson: "Sinning does not equip us to understand sinning." I thought that was quite good.

As to your reply to my reply, I understand your point, but would still rather have the pilot with 30,000 hours of flight time rather than the dozen he has instructed who only have a few hundred hours each. (At least initially when things will get pretty dicey)

I need to add, I honor Dr. Koop's work and I grieve his passing. Thank God for his faithful warriors.

If I recall correctly, Dr. Koop and his wife lost a son as a young man. What a reunion he is having with him now!

As the Surgeon General, I really appreciated his integrity in many ways.  Someone has already pointed out how he could have published inaccurate data to temporarily bolster the prolife movement but did not. He used his bully pulpit to encourage us to stop smoking (while he also stopped his smoking his pipe). And he did something that shocked many Christians of all denominations. He decided that all Americans needed scientifically accurate information about AIDS and had a booklet sent to every address in the U.S. He certainly didn't approve how most cases of AIDS were contracted (nor do I), but he put his personal opinion on the shelf to truly be the nation's physician on that one.

Father of all, grant to Dr. Koop eternal rest. Let light perpetual shine on him. May his soul and the souls of all the departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

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