Faith, Healing & Modern Medicine
On Monday, we offered a post related to the struggles of Robin Williams that referred to how chemical imbalance can cause depression and how those who struggle have this condition should seek medical help. However, it has been quite common for Christians judged those who seek this medical attention as a lack of faith. Such accusations have also been made about seeking medical attention related to other physical ailments. In the following, Greg reflects on this:
Some people who understand that God wants to free people from their infirmities mistakenly disparage the role that doctors play in fighting these afflictions. These people mistakenly assume that relying on doctors to get well is evidence of a lack of faith in God’s healing power.
Sometimes this wrong-headed view of faith can be fatal. My dad’s sister died of rheumatic fever when she was twelve-years-old because my grandmother listened to faith healers who instructed her that taking her daughter to a doctor was evidence of unbelief.
This goes beyond being misinformed. It’s insane! We pray for God to give us daily bread, and we know God is able to send bread from heaven and that Jesus is able to miraculously multiply food (John 6). But we don’t for this reason disparage the work of agricultural specialists who figure out better ways of growing wheat! Nor do we refrain from going to the grocery store to by the bread they grow! God can provide blessings supernaturally or naturally, and there’s no reason to celebrate the first while disparaging the second.
The fact is that God originally commissioned humans to exercise loving, powerful dominion over the earth, and he gave us brains to help us do it. When we use our brains to figure out how to grow wheat better, we’re carrying out our original commission. There’s no reason to think things are any different when we use our brains to figure out how to fight things in our fallen physical environment that afflict people. We’re simply carrying out our original commission to exercise loving-dominion over the earth.
Our reasoning capacity is part of our imago dei—that is, our being made in the image of God. It’s of course true that we can and do often use our reason for evil. Almost every advance in science has eventually been applied to invent ways of killing people more effectively. But this evil use of reason doesn’t prove that reason, or the technology it produces, is inherently evil. It simply proves that everything that has a potential for good also has a correlative potential for evil. When we invent new ways of killing masses of people, this is obviously evil. But when we invent new ways of saving masses of people, this is obviously good.
The problem is not with reason, but with the use some fallen people put it to.
It is thus completely consistent with Kingdom faith to not only make use of modern medicine when necessary, but to view providing medical attention for people as a Kingdom activity. This is, in fact, no different than providing food for people who are hungry. In both cases we are simply expressing God’s love by addressing the physical needs of people.