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Sunday, October 11, 2015

The Divergent Challenges of Medicine and Religion

With whom do you find it easier to talk more openly: your doctor or your pastor? Why do you think this is? (Serendipity Bible Fourth Edition, page 192).

The crux of the matter is the person's evaluation of what the pastor or doctor want.  The doctor wants the unvarnished facts; the pastor may or may not want this.  With the doctor we are discussing a physical ailment; with the pastor the malaise may be physical, psychological, social, or spiritual.  With the doctor we have some assurance that if we are completely honest, then so long as the medical arts can apply a cure we are justified in our hope and expectations.  With social, psychological, and spiritual issues, the skepticism is greater--we are not so certain that a cure is coming or can be applied.  Largely, we are one-one-one with the doctor and realize that the professionals he may consult or refer us to will be as objective and skillful as the doctor.  With the pastor we have to worry about the intellectual, emotional, and ideological responses he may have as well as those of his peers and even the broader tenor of the congregation--and the possible institutional adulteration of religiosity (quack religion).  In short, because the nature of physical aliments can be more objectively defined and dealt with, the role of the doctor is ironically more simplified than the subjective minefield within which pastors often find themselves. 

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