[ JBEM Index / Volume 3 / Number 3 ]

Book Review

Healing and The Scriptures

Reviewed by Ed Payne, M.D.

Dr. Payne is Associate Professor of Family Medicine, Medical College of Georgia, Augusta, Ga.

This book is a jewel! It is written by a man who is quite familiar with both medicine and theology. Dr. D. Martyn Lloyd- Jones was trained as a physician, but early in his career answered (what was for him) the higher call of preaching the Word of God. He continued, however, his interest in medicine with regular reading of the medical literature.

This book is a collection of talks mostly from 1969-1974 with a few from earlier times. It was originally published by Christian Medical Fellowship (the British counterpart to the Christian Medical Society in the United States), as The Doctor Himself and the Human Condition. Until now, it had been difficult to obtain, since it was not available in this country.

Dr. Lloyd-Jones goes beyond most writers on medicine and medical ethics, not only because of his dual background, but because his fundamental commitment is to the Scriptures, not to the “science” of medicine. His insight is keen and at times sobering.

The chapter, “The Supernatural in Medicine,” is one of the best treatises anywhere on the interface of miraculous, supernatural, and medical healing. He covers false claims of miracles, the probable cases of true miraculous healing, his understanding of the Biblical principles for modern times, the reality of psychosomatic and psychophysiologic disease, the gift of “healings” (I Cor. 12:9), and the so-called “prayer of faith” that is supposed to guarantee healing. The book is worth its price for this chapter alone.

As he discusses the chapter, “The Doctor Himself,” he states,

Men have lost the true concept of what a living man is, and have taken to thinking of themselves in terms of possessions and success . . . Yet, surely our true riches consists in peace of conscience.

What a penetrating analysis that the “peace that passes all understanding” is the most important concept for the “physician himself.”

An example from “Medicine and Modern Society” shatters physicians’ claims to speak to ethical issues from their status as physicians’ alone.

These problems which 1 have mentioned – contraception, abortion, euthanasiaand the rest of them – are not really medical problems but theological problemspure and simple. They are moral, ethical and ultimately theological. What decides these issues is your view of man and of life, your view of death, your opinion about what may or may not happen after death. I could wish that more theologians and physicians were of this opinion. Too often, theologians defer to physicians who are weak in theology or physicians intimidate theologians who believe themselves unable to understand medical issues. (Such is what this journal is about.)

The chapter, “Body, Mind and Spirit,” is intriguing. While he does not argue that man is either bipartite or tripartite, he does dissect out causes of “mental illness” that are truly organic, purely spiritual, or likely demonic. It is not clear to me whether he believes that a purely psychological category exists. He does clearly recognize psychosomatic problems for which spiritual counseling is necessary. His insights are valuable, but I differ at some points. For example, he calls Jay Adams a “popularizer,” while I consider him to be the most solid theologian in the whole arena of Christians who are involved in psychology and counseling. Also, I have serious doubts that demonic “oppression” occurs and that demonic “possession” can occur in Christians. He clearly believes that these two entities exist.

Other chapters are:

  • On Treating the Whole Man
  • Will the Hospital Replace the Church?
  • The Doctor as Counselor
  • The Christian and the State — with Special Reference to Medicine
  • The Making or Breaking of a Senior Resident: A Study of Stress
  • Fullest Care
  • Appendix: The Moral Law

I highly recommend this book. It is a must for all who are seriously evaluating the practice of medicine from a Biblical perspective. It is a rare book that has so much theological substance on medical issues. While I do not agree with Dr. Lloyd-Jones at every point and do not think that he has applied needed Biblical principles at some points, I have deep respect for his theology and insights. I do not readily cast our disagreements aside, but use them in the hope that God will continue to refine us all in our understanding and application of His truth.

[ JBEM Index / Volume 3 / Number 3 ]