A person presented with the diagnosis of incurable illness is faced with many considerations. Perhaps the most important is the possibility of cure through means not practiced by the physicians who have given the verdict of incurability. Hope does spring eternal, and even terminally ill patients seek a heavenly respite—now as in the days when Christ brought Lazarus and Jairus’ daughter back from death itself.
The patient in this predicament and mood is in danger of falling victim to charlatans, “cancer quacks,” and others who take advantage of the hopeless and the dying to satisfy their personal desire for financial gain. Nonetheless, extra-medical areas of help do exist for the otherwise hopeless. These must be considered, especially in an age when there is no apparent help or cure for many illnesses despite all available modes of therapy.
We refer particularly to what is known as “the ministry of healing” or “Christian healing.” Is the patient who has been “given up” justified in asking help from the “healing church”? An extension of the question is, what is the Christian obligation of the physician who professes to be a follower of Christ? Should he pray the “prayer of faith” for his patients and expect “signs and wonders” to follow? What of physician-clergy cooperation in the therapy of the whole man?
Much thought is being given to these considerations by physicians and nurses, by the clergy, and by the laity. The annual conferences of the International Order of St. Luke in Philadelphia have been a great stimulus toward rethinking the entire field of Christian healing. In Europe the Thirteenth Annual Conference of the “Bossey Medical Group” under Paul Tournier, M.D., also in an interdenominational setting, has served a ...1
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