Guest / Limited Access /

CT's editor-at-large probes the feelings and aspirations of one of the nation's most colorful surgeons general, C. Everett Koop, who died yesterday. This article originally appeared in the November 3, 1989, issue of Christianity Today, shortly after Koop resigned as Surgeon General. Yancey had profiled Koop in the previous issue.

How did you get nominated for the post of surgeon general in the first place?

I doubt we'll ever know. Ronald Reagan had read my books Whatever Happened to the Human Race? and The Right to Live, the Right to Die. In his typically unorthodox political style, he went to his pastor at Bel Air Presbyterian Church, Don Moomaw, and asked him to get a sense from around the country of what Koop's peers thought of him. Almost immediately I started getting calls from my friends saying the President was interested in me.

You have said that as a surgeon you used to pray over specific procedures and that you had a sense of God being involved in your work. Did you feel anything similar during your time as surgeon general?

Oh, yes. I have frequently said that I could not have been a pediatric surgeon if I thought when I walked into the operating room that I was in complete control of what was going to happen. And when the surgeon general post came up (I had never sought public office), I believed that God plucked me out of Philadelphia and dumped me in Washington. I used to ask him a lot of questions about it! During the agonizing nine months of the nomination process, I would stare at the Bible on my desk, trying to understand what had happened. Looking back now, I thank the Lord for the great opportunity.

I am not a great prayer. But I go to work with the attitude that says, God, ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Read These NextSee Our Latest
Current IssuePreventative Play: Sesame Street and World Vision in Zambia
Subscriber Access Only Preventative Play: Sesame Street and World Vision in Zambia
A snapshot of Christian witness in the world (as it appeared in our July/August issue).
RecommendedWhy Max Lucado Broke His Political Silence for Trump
Why Max Lucado Broke His Political Silence for Trump
In the face of a candidate’s antics, ‘America’s Pastor’ speaks out.
TrendingDied: Tim LaHaye, Author Who 'Left Behind' a Long Legacy
Died: Tim LaHaye, Author Who 'Left Behind' a Long Legacy
Jerry B. Jenkins: 'Thrilled as I am that he is where he has always wanted to be, his departure leaves a void in my soul.'
Editor's PickPorn Is More Criticized and More Popular Than Ever
Porn Is More Criticized and More Popular Than Ever
There are so many problems with porn; it’s hard to pick just one.
Christianity Today
A Surgeon General's Warnings
hide this

In the Magazine

November 3, 1989

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.