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About the Author, Franklin E. (Ed) Payne, M.D.,  Biblical Medical Ethics, and The Biblical and Christian Worldview for the 21st Century

My spiritual enlightenment began in the early 1970s. I was fortunate to be among three other couples who were in a Bible study, led by a graduate of Reformed Theological Seminary (Jackson, MS) in Augusta, GA, where I live. We studied Steele and Thomas’ Romans: An Interpretive Outline. During that study, the leader introduced me Competent to Counsel, the first book that Jay Adams wrote on counseling.

At that time, I had completed the general part of my medical education and needed to decide on specialty training. Having been in a clinical practice situation for two years, it was obvious to me (and still is) that the major problem with patients is not physical, but in their thinking and behavior which triggers damaging emotions. So, I considered going into psychiatry.

But, Competent to Counsel made such an impact on me that I called Jay Adams on the phone, made an appointment, flew to Philadelphia, and spent several hours talking with him. Because of that conversation, I knew that I could not go into psychiatry because it did not give Biblical direction (having been founded upon secular, even anti-godly, philosophy). Since I liked a variety of problems and patients, I chose Family Medicine, as my specialty.

My training at the Medical College of Georgia took place within a small, but growing, department with only two faculty members. When I completed my training, they asked me to join them on the faculty. My intention was to stay for about 5 years, and then go into private practice. Five years turned into twenty-five, after which I retired in 2000.

I had no interest in writing. In fact, my aptitude was in mathematics and science, in which I had majored in college. On my college SAT, I scored considerably higher in mathematics than in English. I was enjoying my teaching in Family Medicine.

Suddenly, tenure stared me in the face! “Publish or perish.” I had been deluded (either by my own naiveté or that of the young department), that research and writing would not be necessary in Family Medicine. But, to stay on the faculty beyond seven years, I had to publish or make other plans. By this time, I had decided to stay.

So, I began to write on two issues: sports medicine and cardiovascular health. I had enough publishing success to satisfy promotion and tenure requirements to stay. Meanwhile, abortion became a concern for evangelicals, and euthanasia loomed on the horizon. I was a member of the Christian Medical Society (now the Christian Medical and Dental Society) and looked to them for answers. In the early 1970s, they had published a book on abortion and an official statement on abortion.

The book had a variety of views on abortion and the statement essentially said that we “lament” that there are so many abortions, but every Christian must decide for himself or herself (my summary in my words). I began to read every book on medical ethics that I could find. There was not much! More work had been done by Roman Catholics, but I had sufficient theological understanding to know that their epistemology was not as authoritative as Scripture.

So, I wondered. “Can I learn a Biblical approach to ethic that can become a biblical medical ethics?” Rightly or wrongly, I made a fleece. I would write ten letters to the editors of medical publications and see what happens. All ten were published! I never had that success again!

So, I began to study Christian and Biblical ethics. To my surprise, there was not a good summary book on an approach to Biblical ethics, much less Biblical medical ethics. There still is not, to my knowledge.) So, I began to read: Systematic Theology, by Louis Berkof; many books by Gordon Clark; Christian Personal Ethics, by Carl F. H. Henry; Principles of Sacred Theology by Abraham Kuyper; Ethical Reflections by Henry Stob (the closest to a basic book); all the books of Jay Adams, as he wrote them and were published; and, many other books which had a chapter or two on basic Biblical ethics or medical ethics. As far as I could surmise, at the time I had the only complete collection of The Journal of the Christian Medical Society and Human Life Review. That is how thorough that I tried to be.

I had the opportunity to meet Harold O. J. Brown. We agreed to write a book on medical ethics together, but God separated us, and he did not have the time except to write one chapter. But, he did ask Mott Media to review my book, and they published it as Biblical Medical Ethics: The Christian and the Practice of Medicine in 1985.

Meanwhile, in 1978, I got this phone call to speak to “that physician who was counseling according to Jay Adams.” (I had begun counseling a few people with whom I came in contact.) That caller was Hilton Terrell, who had just completed his Family Medicine training, but with a background in psychology (Ph.D.) and reading of Jay Adams. His family had labeled him as “just to the right of Attila the Hun.” I still remember the first night that we met. He kept looking at me out of the corner of his eye, as if to say, “Can there really be another physician on planet earth who thinks as closely to the ways that I do?”

Since then, he has read and edited virtually everything that I have written. (Initially, Jay Adams did also.) And, he has written a great deal himself. Together with Andy White, another Family Physician, we started The Journal of Biblical Ethics in Medicine, which was published from 1987 to 1997. Later, I started a newsletter on AIDS and even later, another newsletter, Biblical Reflections on Modern Medicine (the Journal and most of Biblical Reflections… is online on this site: Medicine and Health.

Coalition on Revival

In the early 1980s, Jay Grimstead and others began the Coalition on Revival (COR). It was the next rational step after The International Council on Biblical Inerrancy, and its follow-up, on Hermeneutics. The task of COR was to developed a set of Affirmations and Denials in each of 17 worldview “spheres” (areas of culture and theology). These were completed in 1985 and are now online. (www.reformation.net) Great effort went in to the precision and comprehensiveness of each of these areas. It is one of the jewels of scholarship that is sorely neglected and unknown today.

I was fortunate initially to be part of the committee on medicine, and when the first chairman left, I became its co-chairman, writing most of the document. Later, when the psychology and counseling document faltered, I was asked to write that one, as well. While I did not chair that document to completion, most of it is still worded in the way that I wrote it.

I have written four books. 1) Biblical Medical Ethics, 2) Making Biblical Decisions (about population, birth control, and genetic issues), 3) What Every Christian Should Know about the AIDS Epidemic, and 4) Biblical Healing for Modern Medicine: Choosing Life and Health or Disease and Death. The first three are out of print, but a few copies are available at www.amazon.com and other used book dealers. The fourth can be bought from Covenant Books, P. O. Box 14488, Augusta, GA 30919, $10.00 postpaid or $5.00 each for multiple copies, postpaid.

My writing of Biblical medical ethics and Biblical medicine mostly ended in 2000, when I ceased writing the newsletter, Biblical Healing for Modern Medicine. Essentially, I stopped because few were grasping the basic issues, much less the more complex issues.

It is quite incomprehensible to me that a nation can spend over $1 trillion… yes, $1 trillion dollars on an industry that actually has a negative effect (excluding abortion) on overall health in the United States. (See Neil Postman’s Technopoly: The Surrender of Culture to Technology, Chapter 6, “The Ideology of Machines: Medical Technology.)

It is more incomprehensible to me that Christians have no better understanding than non-Christians. My own denomination, the Presbyterian Church in America, had its insurance program go bankrupt, even after they were given an opportunity to set it up by Biblical standards.

And, so it goes. Our website, an occasional article that I or Hilton write, and the rare event of someone writing a Biblical medical ethic somewhere else are the only lights in a dark world that worships at the altar of bodily health and modern medicine. Perhaps, Biblical Concourse can steer some souls towards the light of a truly Biblical medical ethic.

Many years have passed since we began our work in medical ethics. But, several years ago, while sitting with some leaders of our local church, one mentioned the need to instruct our middle and high school children in preparation for the humanistic, secular atmosphere of college or for the competitive marketplace that is American life and society that is thoroughly pagan.

His comment started me thinking. “I learned the methods of building a worldview in medicine and medical ethics. Why not apply them to all areas of worldview, such as, economics, law, psychology, education, and many others.

Thus, this website, “The Christian and Biblical Worldview for the 21st Century" was created in idea form and later in to an actual website.  I trust that it will advance your thinking towards the ever expanding and eternal Kingdom of God.

And, the saga continues.  In working on worldview areas, I became aware of certain philosophical principles that simplify and empower Biblical principles in ethics and worldview.  For example, some form of predestination is inescapable.  As a logical argument, the centuries-old debate of free will is solved.  Because of such issues, I have decided to begin another website (August 2008) www.biblicalphilosophy.org.


 

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