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Summary Principles of Medicine

The following principles are gleaned from Biblical Healing for Modern Medicine (available from our bookstore) and posted online here.

Psychiatry and psychology are a large part of medical practice today.  However, those Summary Principles are posted under that worldview area.

1. Man is a unity of body and spirit. Biblically, wholistic medicine must involve both body and spirit. Perfect health was experienced by Adam and Eve prior to their sin and will be experienced by believers in Heaven. Since man remains under the curse in a sinful world, perfect health is not possible on earth. Health and healing may be maximized by an understanding and application of Biblical and medical knowledge, although Biblical knowledge has primary importance. The most important factor in health is one's spiritual condition. Maximal health is not possible for the unbeliever, because his spirit remains "sick,” that is, unregenerate and opposed to all standards of righteousness.

2. God’s will for the believer and his family is a higher priority than physical health. God's will for some Christians (for example, missionaries and martyrs) may not be optimal physical health. Their sacrifice may even result in their deaths.

3. The practice of medicine and Biblical principles. Non-Christian physicians cannot practice wholistic (Biblical) medicine. The practice of medicine may not violate Biblical principles to promote physical health (for example, the use of vaccines to prevent cervical cancer caused by the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). The health practices of the Old Testament should be seriously considered for their application today. Sometimes, traditional medical care must be refused. Sometimes, it must be accepted. Sometimes, the right decision is unclear, and much time should be spent in prayer, searching the Scriptures, and in seeking Godly counsel. Christian physicians must look for spiritual causes of disease in their patients, especially in Christians. Its presence in medical offices is common.

4. The relationship between sin and sickness (physical disease). The most common medical problems in the United States are directly caused or aggravated by sinful practices. All sickness and injury is caused either by personal sin, the sins of others, the sin of Adam and Eve, or God's sovereign plan. Sin always causes more problems than man is able to solve, even with his most sophisticated, modern technology.

5. Health is primarily the responsibility of the individual and family and not that of the medical profession. The Bible gives no explicit instruction for a believer to seek the services of a physician. Modern medicine should not be rejected entirely, but used with understanding and discernment. Ideally, Christians should choose only Christians for their primary care physicians. Many dilemmas occur in medical ethics simply because the patient's physician is not a discerning Christian. The responsibility to choose such a physician falls to the patient and his family. The Christian is not limited to traditional practices of medicine, if he is careful with the alternatives and does not overrate their efficacy. (See The Christian and Alternative Medicine below.)

6. The role of the Church in health and medical care. Ordained elders have a specific role in the illnesses of those in their "flock" to discern what possible role sin might play in those illnesses. They also have a duty to pray for them.

7. Medicine and the Bible. All recorded healings in the Bible are miraculous. The Bible never mentions healing by a physician. Satan can cause disease and "miraculous" healing of that which he has caused. Modern "scientific" medicine does not have the worldview to prevent its use of occult and other religious practices.

8. The practice of medicine and Biblical counseling. No Christian physician ought to select a practice site where Biblical (nouthetic) counseling is not available for his patients. If already in practice, he should seek to make it available through someone in his community, bringing someone in, or be trained to do it himself.

9. The false efficacy of modern medicine. The major hurdle to a more rational approach to modern medicine is the recognition that its efficacy is unclear and that it often causes more harm than good. Examples of this lack of efficacy are legion. The efficacy of modern medicine rests primarily upon socioeconomic conditions and changes in disease patterns that had little or nothing to do with the actual practice of medicine. That “quacks” can often practice as licensed practitioners illustrates the lack of distinctives of modern medicine.

10. The Christian and alternative medicine. The movement among Christians toward alternative therapies is both good and bad. Most needed is some systematic approach to determine efficacy. Most Christians greatly overestimate the value of alternative approaches. They should not ignore the biochemical and physiology that has been learned by modern science.

11. The goals of medicine. The first goal of medicine is to diagnose. The second goal of medicine is to manage the patient in several ways: to heal (when possible), to relieve suffering, to prognosticate, to rehabilitate, to prevent illness and injury, and to perform research. The third goal of medicine is to subscribe to some objective system of values and ethics. The fourth goal of medicine is not to preserve life at all costs, that is, to prevent death. All goals of medicine may be included as the relief of suffering.

11. The cost of medical care is one of the major issues of the 1990s. Present costs of medical care are a result of excessive and inflationary spending by the federal government.

12. Major hurdles that prevent Christians from exercising Biblical discernment in medical care. (A) There is the great lack of efficacy for modern medicine in contrast to the huge expenditures. (B) Government provision of medical care is a seriously flawed concept of charity that is believed by many Christians. © The “right” to medical care, conceived in the late 20th century. (D) Principles of traditional insurance cannot be applied to health and medical care because of their lack of precise definition. (E) Health is inseparable from morality. The costs of medical care without moral limitations are limitless.

13. A Biblical alternative to medical insurance. Samaritan Ministries is one example of a Biblical approach to payment for medical care. See Internet reference below.

14. Caring vs. medical care. A distinction must be made between caring and medical care. Caring is possible without full benefits of medical care, yet may be far more efficacious than medical care.

15. Psychology and psychiatry. These two disciplines are central to the concept and practice of modern medicine. However, those principles are established under that area of worldview.

16. Dying, death, and euthanasia. Death is inherently a spiritual concept, being caused by the sin of Adam and Eve. There are four "kinds" of death in the Bible: physical death, regeneration (death to the "old man"), spiritual death before regeneration, and the second death (eternal punishment). The avoidance of suffering is not a Biblical criterion upon which to seek or cause death. The Golden Rule is a reasonable guideline whether to continue or discontinue life support in severely ill patients and allows for the flexibility necessary to govern these complex situations. Physical life should not be elevated above other Biblical principles. For example, economics is a major factor in "end-of-life" issues. Who pays for the high costs of catastrophic and terminal illness often determines what medical practices may be implemented? Patients should never be neglected, nor their suffering minimized, even though medical treatment may be limited. (See Caring vs. medical care above.)

17. Organ transplantation and “brain death.” The formal UDDA (Uniform Determination of Death Act) definition of brain death fails practically and Biblically. The Biblical concept of death precludes the transplantation of heart, lungs, pancreas, stomach, and other unpaired essential organs. Most major organ transplantations would be precluded on the basis of cost alone in a truly "free" market.  For more information, see this excellent article, "Don't give your heart away."

18. "Near-death experiences" is a patently false concept. People who are truly dead do not come back to life (Hebrews 9:27). The images and experiences in near-death situations can as easily be explained by the profound pathophysiological changes that take place at the time.

19. End of life issues for individuals and families. Living wills are a wrong transference of family authority to the State. Durable powers of attorney and wills for inheritance are necessary legal documents, regardless of age or health status in today's medical-legal climate. Life and medical insurance are necessary to avoid financial hardships on families. A family's choice of a physician may be the most important decision that they make concerning end-of-life issues. Families are losing control over medical decisions for their members with the increasing intrusion of the State into health care. Families must give particular attention to reconciliation and any other “loose ends” with a dying member. Pastoral oversight is a necessity in these situations. For more detail and an official church document on end of life issues, see Heroic Measures Committee of the PCA.

20. Abortion. Modern "civilization" practices a form of child-sacrifice by its widespread practice of abortion. The whole of society shares in guilt and condemnation before God for the practice of abortion. There are 1.3 million abortions each year in the United States. Over 9,000 of these are after the age of viability! (Early 1990s statistics) Prior to the legalization of abortion, there were only 10 percent the number of current abortions. See Abortion and the Ancient Practice of Child Sacrifice.

The Bible is clear that individual human life begins at conception. (A) Conception is linked to the subsequent named individual. (B) God is active in the development of the unborn, God speaks of the unborn as persons, and the unborn can be filled with the Holy Spirit.

Orthodox Protestant theologians have long believed that the soul is present at conception. Being anti-abortion is a non-negotiable ethic for the Christian. Abortion represents the destruction of the family, as much as the destruction of a life. The legalization of abortion increases the fragmentation of the family and cause serious physical and psychological problems for the mother. Abortion is a watershed issue for the sanctity of all human life. Wherever it becomes legal, other forms of killing become “legitimate,” even legalized. Abortion is a possible precedent for the persecution of Christians, as it was for Jews in Nazi Germany, as “unwanted human life.” The economic loss to a society from abortion is severe.

21. Childlessness and Artificial Conception. Man's attempts to circumvent God's ordained pattern of procreation through families did not begin with the modern era. Sin always causes more problems than man is able to solve, even with his most sophisticated technology. The number of infertile couples has tripled in the past two decades with personal sins accounting for this increase. These causes include sexually transmitted diseases, postponed childbirth, scientism, and the consequences of abortion, which kills 1.5 million babies per year that could be available for adoption.

The major Biblical principle for reproductive issues is the unity of the husband and wife. This unity prohibits the use of sperm or eggs that come from donors. Sperm for artificial insemination (donor) are obtained by masturbation, commonly using pornography. Artificial insemination may use the husband's sperm, but this method is rare. In vitro fertilization typically requires the fertilization of several eggs. All these should be transferred to the mother for potential implantation in her womb. None should be frozen because of the potential risks to the nascent life. No Biblical justification is possible for surrogate mothers.

Compassion and principle concerning childless marriages. Considerable compassion should be shown to the infertile couple, but Biblical principles must not be abrogated by their strong emotional desire for children. In vitro fertilization cannot be prohibited by Biblical principle, but the procedure has many problems that make its moral foundation uncertain. No Biblical justification is possible for artificial wombs, except possibly for purposes of therapy of the developing baby, but not as a substitute for the development of the fetus and unborn child that takes place in the womb.

The kinsman-redeemer and the levirate are Biblical provisions for the continuation of a family and its inheritance. Neither is applicable to modern reproductive methods.

22. World overpopulation and birth control. God's command "to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth" is still in effect. See Overpopulation and the Creation Mandate.

Birth and population control, eugenics, abortion, genocide, and mandatory sterilization reflect the same humanistic philosophy that seeks total control of the environment and of people. Christians must develop a positive attitude and vocabulary that reflects God's blessings through their children. Under "normal" circumstances, three children seems to be a minimum for Christian families, that is, the number needed to exceed the death rate and thereby “multiply” the human population on earth. Limiting factors include poverty, genetic deformities, and temporary postponement.

Birth control pills interfere with normal physiology and may be an immoral method for this reason. All other forms of birth control are less effective, but are more clearly moral and are adequate for spacing pregnancies. The condemnation of all abortifacients is consistent with the Biblical pro-life position. The prescription of any method of birth control to an unmarried woman except for specific medical reasons that do not have to do with birth control is to be severely condemned and is incompatible with a Biblical position. Sterilization may be a choice for some Christians after they have seriously considered after three or more children or for solid reasons of genetic abnormalities.

23. Miraculous healing. A focus on miraculous healing sometimes ignores the more important role of a lifestyle that is physically and spiritually healthy. God's usual pattern is to work through common means or the wonderful healing powers of the body itself, not through miracles. Christians should understand the difference in the two concepts. Miraculous healing has specific Biblical characteristics. It is instantaneous and complete, but not normally God's means of dealing with people. The purpose of miraculous healings was to authenticate God's activity among men, a purpose that is not needed today (except in some remote regions) because of the Scriptures and regeneration. It was manifested only by Prophets, Apostles, and Jesus Christ in His incarnation.

The gifts of healings have not been proven to be present in modern times and have doubtfully been present since completion of the Canon (that is, all 66 books of the Protestant Bible). Subjective interpretations of illness complicate the claim for miraculous healing. These include psychosomatic illness, understanding by patients, and the placebo effect. Certainly, almost all claims of miraculous healing are false for these subjective reasons. The Bible presents irrefutable evidences for miraculous healing. Thus, modern Christians ought to have such evidence or not make the claim, else they falsify God's witness in the world.

The sick ought to call for the elders of the church in cases of serious illness. The elders ought to inquire about the possible relationship of sin to the patient's illness. The application of James 5:14-16 does not always result in healing. Healing that is dependent upon the sick person's having "enough" faith is not a Biblical concept and a cruel burden to place upon him.

24. The State and the practice of medicine. The State does not have the Biblical right to govern the practice of medicine. Consistent with this principle, the State should not be involved in the licensing of physicians. The licensing of physicians and other professionals has not "protected" the public and has actually promoted disease and death. Under the present system, medical care is strictly limited to those standards that are acceptable to the State (for example, abortion, birth control to unmarried women, and medical care to children without their parents permission.) Pre-payment systems (HMOs, PPOs, etc.) have their own inherent problems, placing a barrier between the patient and the physician with the State looking over their shoulder. Health is promoted most effectively by a society that is moral and governed by Biblical ethics and law. Under a Biblical system, medical schools would be rare. Physicians would be trained primarily in apprenticeships. The State has a legitimate role to provide medical care for diseases and injuries acquired in the "line of duty" by policemen, firemen, and other civil servants. The State has a legitimate role in sanitation and refuse disposal and in the control of infectious diseases, but it should not be careful to overstep its bounds here (as it is prone to do, everywhere). Without current State control, more responsibility for personal health must be assumed by individuals, families, and churches.

25. Medicine and the Church. The church must develop Biblical plans for meeting medical costs and not follow the world's standards that are now failing. (For example, see http://www.samaritanministries.com/.) Basic medical care (colds, “prevention,“ minor aches and pains, etc. to the exclusion of major medical problems, such as, cancer, heart attacks, etc.) are uninsurable maladies. The church must re-establish itself as the counseling resource for Christians and not continue to allow medical redefinition of sin as disease. All local churches ought to have an official plan for the practice of Matthew 18:15-20 and James 5:13-16. Pastors and other church leaders should develop a close working relationship with one or more physicians, especially with those who are open to Biblical teaching, the application of Biblical principles in medical situations, and who understand the failed efficacy of modern medicine. The church is the backup resource for its families, including the provision of medical care. Preaching and teaching should include the care of the body as the Temple of the Holy Spirit. Mission boards have largely adopted the "medical model" for its missionaries, in both medicine and psychiatry. A fully implemented program of church discipline would prevent many medical, as well as spiritual, problems. The church ought to consider carefully its role in chronic care institutions and medical clinics.

26. Medicine and the Family. The greatest effect on health or ill health occurs in the home. Many Christians need to apply basic Biblical principles to make their homes more honoring to God and healthy to themselves. In the next several years, a transition from institutional care to the home can be expected, as institutions become overcrowded and unsafe places. This change will mostly be a positive one, as the home can be a place for special treatment of family members. It has several advantages that can have a favorable impact on treatment and recovery. Practical books on health care for families need to be written. Christian physicians need to re-evaluate their approach to medicine in light of the Bible and coming changes in our health-care system. The church will need to develop systems of support for families burdened by in-home care.

Resources

www.reformaton.net Scroll down to 17 Worldview Documents, click there, and then choose “The Christian Worldview of Medicine”

www.bmei.org Our medical website that is comprehensive to virtually every medical ethical problem.


 

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