Thursday, June 19, 2008

Misplaced "Faith" Kills

By Rick Pearcey

In what appears to have been an avoidable tragedy, "Teen From Faith-Healing Family Refuses Treatment, Dies," according to AP.

In the midst of such a heartbreak, it must be said, with compassion: This outcome was avoidable not just medically, but also in terms of "faith."

For nothing in the information we have from the Creator suggests that living in community with him and each other requires living in alienation from medicine.

Just as the Biblical worldview is a science-starter and not a science-stopper, even so its high view of creation, the natural order of things, and then specifically of individual bodily existence, makes it a medical-science-affirmer and not a medical-science-denier.

Historically, this represents positive change. "Prior to Christianity," a book reviewer writes, "the Greeks and Romans had little or no interest in the poor, the sick and the dying." But a new and improved attitude was introduced into the stream of western culture when "the early Christians, following the example of their master, ministered to the needs of the whole person."

Reactionary attacks on Christians inhibited this progressive and humane effort. "During the first three centuries of the church they could only care for the sick where they found them, as believers were then a persecuted people. Once the persecutions subsided, however, the institutionalisation of health care began in earnest."

Nevertheless, the Biblical data consistently set forth a high view of the whole person and a revolt against the "plague," as it were. So while we are deeply thankful, we are not surprised by the emergence of a more humane approach in the care of people, such as when the "first ecumenical council at Nicea in 325 directed bishops to establish hospices in every city that had a cathedral."

Likewise fitting is that we see the construction of the "first hospital" in Caesarea, built in 369 "by St. Basil." With more to come: "By the Middle Ages, hospitals covered all of Europe and even beyond. In fact, 'Christian hospitals were the world’s first voluntary charitable institutions.'"

"Faith" means trust. It is not an end in and of itself. The proper object of one's trust should be truth, lest we fall blindly into a ditch.

The truth is: Both prayer (asking God to intervene) and medicine (asking God's servants to intervene) operate in the same, unified created order, without tension, without contradiction. It's a wholistic, humane response to death, disease, and decay.

Dr. Luke the physician, author of the Gospel of Luke, would have pleaded to see and help cure this unfortunate teen. He would do his part in fighting the plague.

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Rick Pearcey is editor and publisher of The Pearcey Report (articles).

1 comment:

Steven Wales said...

"the early Christians, following the example of their master, ministered to the needs of the whole person."

This is an excellent opening to your argument--that the two sides of the divide over miracles vs. medicine should unite. I agree--they are two sides of the same coin.

I loved hearing a friend's prayer for healing: "Lord, whether through medicine or miracles...."

Think how many souls have been saved, and nations changed, after their needs were met by missionary doctors.

Excellent post.