“Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong.”
1 Corinthians 16:13
Years ago my family and I visited the aircraft museum in Dayton Ohio. One display in particular made a lasting impression on me. It was a display that featured the heroic acts of Major General Robert Preston Taylor. Taylor, an army chaplain, was one of the many who were taken captive by the Japanese in WWII and forced to march some 60 miles to Camp O’ Donnel in the Philippines. During the grueling ordeal, known as the Bataan Death March, Japanese captors displayed exceptional cruelty. They shot allied soldiers too weak or injured to go on, others they killed indiscriminately. Taylor displayed uncommon valor in helping fallen comrades to their feet before they would be killed. For his efforts he was beaten mercilessly and repeatedly. Miraculously, Taylor survived the Death March, and was later awarded the Silver Cross for his selfless heroism. I have many times referred to Taylor in my rational defense for the Christian faith. Everyone I’ve ever talked to about this believes that Taylor deserved his metal, yet that universal intuition does not agree with the atheist’s conception of reality, namely, that literally everything comes down to molecules in motion whose actions are solely determined by the laws of physics and chemistry. On this popular view of the world, all that the Japanese did, and all that Taylor did in response, was morally neutral. They, along with everything else in the world, were just physical objects doing what they do. Of course we know in our heart of hearts this can’t be right. We do apprehend a realm of objective morality, moral values and duties wholly apart from human opinion. We know as certainly as we know the physical world around us that right and wrong actually exist. Only the God of the Bible can adequately account for this. His own morally perfect character sets the standard of what is good. His laws reflect this standard, and He has written them not only in the Bible, but also on our hearts (Romans 2:14-15). The Bible not only makes sense of our moral judgments on the Bataan Death March, it accounts for Taylor’s bravery during the nightmarish ordeal as well. The strength to do the right thing, even when the risk and personal cost is very high, can only come from God. Taylor was supernaturally empowered to do the work God had for him, a shadowy reflection of the Savior Himself, who laid down His life to save us all (1 John 4:14). May we remember the soldiers who paid the ultimate price to preserve freedom in the Western world, and may we remember the Great God of heaven, who empowered these men and granted the victory. God help us to show similar courage and moral uprightness, for His glory and the good of others.
Lest we forget,