Which would be more bothersome:
Going to a doctor who is not a believer but recognizes the importance of spiritual health as it pertains to physical health, so encourages “spiritual treatment” as well as physical treatment.

 or

Going to the atheistic doctor who denies God’s existence and just deals with the physical make-up of the individual. And refuses to acknowledge any possibility of God in the healing process.

Now have at it!!! (it is impossible to not have an opinion…so please share)

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Spencer MacCuish
Spencer MacCuish served on staff (summers) at Hume Lake Christian Camps from 1991-98. During that time (1995-99), he also worked in the public school system where he taught English / History and coached volleyball. While teaching, he also served in the College Ministry at Grace Baptist Church in Santa Clarita. In 1999, he left teaching to lead the High School Ministry at the same church. He shepherded this ministry for three years before coming to Cornerstone. He has been serving at Eternity since 2003.

23 COMMENTS

  1. The second would be more bothersome because the one who denies the spiritual side of physical health is simply not as good a doctor. He is not accounting for a real component of the healing process. At least the first guy acknowledges it even though he doesn’t understand it. The one who takes the opposite position might be concerned that the first guy is being sloppy, and I agree that’s a valid concern – I’d take a meticulous empiricist over a sloppy agnostic any day.

  2. Andy,
    Great response…love the way you are thinking through this. Anyone else????

    (right now you are winning my unlisted and never before mentioned quote of the year with “I’d take a meticulous empiricist over a sloppy agnostic any day”)

  3. I promise I’m not trying to be politically correct here, but I wouldn’t find either of these bothersome–honestly, I don’t particularly lean toward one or the other. Both of these doctors are people who need to see the glory of God in the face of Christ. If I’m ill, I trust that God will take care of me (regardless of the beliefs of the doctor I consult). He could heal me, or He could choose not to. But the point isn’t whether I have good health. And the point isn’t which doctor’s worldview is closer to being biblical. Rather, it’s an opportunity for me to display the hope and freedom that the gospel gives even in the midst of suffering.

    Christians are to be holy. If I am imaging Christ (displaying Him) as I am called to, then both doctors will see and wonder. Perhaps they will ask about the hope I have (1 Pet. 2:15-16) and, after giving my defense, maybe God will grant them faith to believe in Christ.

  4. Well thanks Lance, for making everyone else’s answer suck. I am jsut going to ditto what he said, but I will also give a different response. I would probably rather going to the one who is an atheist that the spiritual doctor, because atleast the atheist would focus on just the pure facts about the situation. Some spi

  5. My doctor’s worldview is of little consequence to me. My Great Physician is over all thyings. I know the Healer and can rest in Him and shine His Light! I am much more dubious of a ‘spiritual’ viewpoint. Very often, this is idolatry and not Christ centered at all!

  6. Lance…you’re not being too PC…but you’re also not playing the game!

    To take the opposite side from Andy…I’d be more bothered by the first. The beauty of an atheistic doctor is that it’s very clear what you’re getting. A doctor who recognizes the “Spiritual” is far different than one who recognizes a biblical world view and treats patients accordingly. If I had an agnostic “spiritual” doctor, I would be tempted to think that he has insight in areas where he is actually still blind. With an avowed atheist, I can trust that he will not try to “spiritualize” anything, give me simple, clear, objective test results, and then I would address questions of a spiritual (or even psycho-somatic) nature with someone who had the biblical worldview necessary to do so accurately and wisely. Sloppiness is another issue, but when it comes to a medical doctor, I’d still take an unbelieving empiricist (in combination with a biblical “spiritualist”) over an unbelieving “spiritualist” (and the false confidence he may engender) any day.

  7. I agree with Lance H. (people with great names stick together). I don’t go to a doctor for spiritual healing, I know where to go for that. I go to a doctor, who has been given resources, knowledge, and ability by God (whether they acknowledge Him, or not), to deal with my physical health. In order for physical healing to take place God doesn’t have to be on my doctor’s side, He just has to be on my side. And, as Lance H. mentioned, the opportunities to reflect Christ exist in both settings.

  8. All great comments thus far, but I think our worldview is starting to show a bit. It’s important that we see our bias toward viewing medicine in purely secular terms. In other parts of the world (e.g., Africa) medicine is very much a spiritual enterprise. They might not focus on germs, but they see that there is a spiritual dimension to healing. In the Western world, we think that spiritual things (praying, Christian counseling, etc.) address spiritual issues, and physical things (pills, shots, surgery) address physical issues. There is a certain appropriateness to this, but the sharp compartmentalization doesn’t fit the biblical description of mankind as holistic beings. So I don’t think it’s as simple as saying “I’ll choose the atheist doctor because he’ll give me straight, unbiased, medical-only answers, then I can address the spiritual issues spiritually.” I don’t have a better answer, other than to say that when we go to a Western atheist doctor, we need to be aware that he may misdiagnose our condition because he doesn’t believe in supernatural realities. It’s not just that his medical expertise may need to be supplemented by spiritual expertise—he may well give me the wrong answer because he’s focused on germs and not spirits. And likewise, when I go to the African spiritualist doctor, I need to be aware that his unChristian worldview is incomplete and will probably not give me a completely accurate diagnosis or remedy. As with anything, we need discernment and wisdom.

  9. Ah, the myth of neutrality. Is there really much difference between the two? Both physicians are in absolute opposition to God, Each of them may be excellent and have aspects of their practice based upon truth revealed to them by God through general revelation. But both are fundamentally flawed in that they are built upon a flawed foundation.

  10. Well, Spencer, I certainly feel out of place in this nicely stacked little discussion you have going here.

    Needless to say, if you have to ask your physician whether or not he believes in god, perhaps you’d better see a priest instead, as doctors, both believers and non-believers, practice the SAME medicine.

    As a nurse, I can tell you that I have never ONCE seen a doctor (again, whether believer or non-believer) bring up his or her own faith, or lack thereof, when speaking to a family, or in the operating theater, or the doctors/nurses lounge.

    And, BTW, Spencer, exactly WHICH god are you asking about here? They are SO many, you know.

    No, wait. Let me guess. It’s the Christian god, right? Right?

    Because all other gods are false gods, right?

    That is, unless you are a Muslim, in which case you think the Christian god is false.

    Or a Hindu, in which case you think the Christian AND the Muslim gods are false.

    Or, you are any of the over 100+ OTHER religions on this planet, in which case you think everyone’s god is a fake except your own.

    You getting my point, yet? Next time, at least TRY to ask a balanced question.

    Regards,

    Michael, RN

  11. “They might not focus on germs, but they see that there is a spiritual dimension to healing.”

    We in the medical field have always believed in the great abilities of the human spirit to aid in healing.

    Whether that comes from a god, a patient’s believe in his or her own spirit or a milk bottle, that battle can never be ours to fight.

    We can only ever do battle with the physical universe.

    Regards,

    Michael, RN

  12. “The second would be more bothersome because the one who denies the spiritual side of physical health is simply not as good a doctor.”

    Wow. And you can tell this how?

    I’ve known some deeply religious physicians who were incredibly intelligent and caring.

    I’ve also known some deeply religious physicians that were little more than functional morons.

    Same goes for the atheistic set.

    Regards,

    Michael, RN

  13. “Both of these doctors are people who need to see the glory of God in the face of Christ.”

    Why?

    If these physicians are simply dealing with your physical ailments (you priest or pastor attends your spiritual), why do they “need to see the face of Christ” to do their work?

    Regards,

    Michael, RN

  14. “I am jsut going to ditto what he said, but I will also give a different response. I would probably rather going to the one who is an atheist that the spiritual doctor, because atleast the atheist would focus on just the pure facts about the situation.”

    The majority of physicians, whether religious or not, focus on the physical facts.

    Their beliefs (or non-beliefs) do not enter into the equation. (+/- 3%…lol)

    Regards,

    Michael, RN

  15. “Lance…you’re not being too PC…but you’re also not playing the game!”

    This is a game to you?

    “The beauty of an atheistic doctor is that it’s very clear what you’re getting.”

    No. It’s not.

    “A doctor who recognizes the “Spiritual” is far different than one who recognizes a biblical world view and treats patients accordingly.”

    No. He’s not.

    Both physicians will act according to the facts before them. Religion does not enter into treatment.

    “With an avowed atheist, I can trust that he will not try to “spiritualize” anything, give me simple, clear, objective test results,”

    Both physicians would do the exact same, regardless of their spiritual beliefs.

    “and then I would address questions of a spiritual (or even psycho-somatic) nature with someone who had the biblical worldview necessary to do so accurately and wisely.”

    You would need someone with a “biblical worldview” to discuss your lower back pain?

    To those not following, lower back pain can often be attributed to psychosomatic issues. As can stress, high blood pressure, peptic ulcers and irritable bowel syndrome, to name a few physical disorders.

    “…and the false confidence he may engender…”

    Best not bet on ANY physician with this attribute.

    Regards,

    Michael, RN

  16. “I don’t have a better answer, other than to say that when we go to a Western atheist doctor, we need to be aware that he may misdiagnose our condition because he doesn’t believe in supernatural realities. It’s not just that his medical expertise may need to be supplemented by spiritual expertise—he may well give me the wrong answer because he’s focused on germs and not spirits.”

    And he may give you the wrong answer because he is NOT focused on germs (as he should be) and on spirits (as he should not be.)

    Again, physicians heal the PHYSICAL, priests and pastors the SPIRITUAL. Don’t be foolish and mix the two together.

    Physicians don’t.

    Regards,

    Michael, RN

  17. “Ah, the myth of neutrality.”

    There is a myth of neutrality in the medical field? One I have obviously not heard of in 26 years of practice.

    “Is there really much difference between the two?”

    No. There is a great difference between the two.

    “Both physicians are in absolute opposition to God”

    No. Neither physician brings god into it, other than the religious physician believing that his god with provide him with a steady hand and a nimble mind and the other believing that he, himself will provide the steady hand and nimble mind with no outside interference.

    “Each of them may be excellent and have aspects of their practice based upon truth revealed to them by God through general revelation.”

    You are projecting your beliefs upon others, whose mind you cannot possibly know. An atheist/agnostic physician would be offended and amused that you cannot understand the meaning of atheism.

    “But both are fundamentally flawed in that they are built upon a flawed foundation.”

    Then why ask the question, biased as it was, in the first place?

    Regards,

    Michael, RN

  18. Thank you for taking over 40 minutes of your time to comment on a blog that you just came across. Your comments are appreciated, but I did want to address an area of concern; namely, your tone. You seem really angry & hostile (and unashamedly biased towards Western thinking). Your comments about medicine are coming from a distinctively Western tradition with almost no regard for anyone from any other perspective.
    The purpose of the question was to expose a bias in our worldviews. Specifically how those in a Western context are given to naturalistic thinking.
    Would love to continue the dialog if you are interested.