Moral Dilemma

Part 1 of 2
The young man stopped at the edge of the frozen lake. His footprints led back through the snow for several miles to the prison from which he had just escaped. An Anabaptist in sixteenth-century Holland, Dirk Willem had been sentenced to burn at the stake. Now he ran for his life, with one guard in pursuit.

The ice at the shoreline was thick and white, but near the center it shaded down to a thinner sheet. A slight man like Dirk would have a good chance of reaching the other side safely, but his heavier pursuer would need to go around or take a terrible risk.

Carefully, gingerly, Dirk made his way to the opposite bank. Just as he arrived, the guard burst out of the woods and began lumbering across the ice as the fugitive sprinted away. But then - a crack, a shriek. Dirk whirled to see a jagged black hole with his pursuer's head and flailing arms at its center. Dirk was safe. Free.

But he also faced a question. Was it Christ-like to leave a man to die? How could a Christian live with that cry ringing in his ears? On the other hand, how many people could he reach with his ministry after he'd been burned at the stake? Didn't he have an obligation to stay alive for the sake of their future? ...

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Part 2 of 2
And what of Dirk? He went back onto the ice and rescued the guard - who promptly arrested him. Instead of being miraculously delivered, Dirk returned to jail and not long afterward was burned at the stake, as any cynic might have predicted.

It did not end there, though. The story swept through Holland, and in shame for the killing of that righteous man, the Dutch passed a law that no person should ever again be put to death for his or her religious beliefs. It was the first such law in Europe. Holland became a haven for all kinds of Christian fugitives, including the Puritans, who fled there before taking ships to the New World.

[ By Jan Charles Haluska -- from 'Wit and Wisdom' ]


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