Guest / Limited Access /

This article originally appeared in the Oct. 23 1995 issue of Christianity Today.

As the Oregon assisted-suicide law is contested in the courts and the "Kevorkian versus Michigan" legal marathon continues, we cannot forsake asking this critical question: What are physicians for?

Is medicine an industry, just another consumer-wants-satisfaction enterprise? In that case, doctors are technicians, and their customers can tell them precisely what to do. Or, is medicine something else? Maybe it is what we used to call a profession. A profession is a job, grounded on a professed moral vision, mutually accepted by its members, be they academics, lawyers, or whoever.

Americans still trust their doctors, generally speaking. But whether we are patients or physicians, we just cannot make up our minds: Do we want technicians who have a monopoly on key skills? Or do we want what we used to have—a vocation driven by moral vision?

Now is a good time to be reminded of the origins of the medical profession, because it started with these very questions. And unexpectedly, Hippocrates, the famous physician of antiquity, is in the news once again. Although almost nothing is known of his life and work, he gave birth to centuries of medical tradition in Western civilization.

Among recent developments, a group of distinguished doctors and ethicists, including some Christian leaders, have signed a modernized version of the famous oath. That may not be too much of a surprise, since Hippocrates was the father of all prolifers. On the twin life issues of abortion and euthanasia, he made the definitive statements: No, No.

More surprising has been the Russian Ministry of Health, which, in its search for a regrounding of medical values went back beyond the "Oath ...

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
RecommendedOnline Christian Higher Ed Skyrockets
Subscriber Access Only Online Christian Higher Ed Skyrockets
Liberty, Grand Canyon universities turn to an unlikely innovator to super-charge distance education.
TrendingMark Driscoll Resigns from Mars Hill
Mark Driscoll Resigns from Mars Hill
"I do not want to be the source of anything that might detract from our church’s mission."
Editor's PickA Word Can Be Worth a Thousand Pictures
A Word Can Be Worth a Thousand Pictures
Why the pulpit—and not the screen—still belongs at the center of our churches.
Comments
Christianity Today
Doctors Under Oath
hide thisAccess The Archives

In the Archives

November 2001

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