Principles of Medicine
principles are gleaned from Biblical Healing for Modern
Medicine (available from our bookstore) and posted online
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
12. Major hurdles that
prevent Christians from exercising Biblical discernment in
(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
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
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
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.)
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,
give your heart away."
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.
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
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.
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
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
principle concerning childless marriages.
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.
and the levirate
are Biblical provisions
for the continuation of a family and its inheritance. Neither is
applicable to modern reproductive methods.
overpopulation and birth control.
God's command "to be
fruitful and multiply and fill the earth" is still in effect.
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
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
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 must develop Biblical plans for meeting medical costs and
not follow the world's standards that are now failing. (For
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
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
www.reformaton.net Scroll down to 17 Worldview
Documents, click there, and then choose “The Christian Worldview
www.bmei.org Our medical website that is
comprehensive to virtually every medical ethical problem.