By Pastor Greg Boyd*, Woodland Hills Church, St. Paul, MN (Reprinted from ReKnew.org with permission)
Some people who understand that God wants to free people from their infirmities mistakenly disparage the role that doctors play in fighting these afflictions. These people mistakenly assume that relying on doctors to get well is evidence of a lack of faith in God’s healing power. Sometimes this wrong-headed view of faith can be fatal. My dad’s sister died of rheumatic fever when she was twelve-years-old because my grandmother listened to faith healers who instructed her that taking her daughter to a doctor was evidence of unbelief.
This goes beyond being misinformed. It's insane! We pray for God to give us daily bread, and we know God is able to send bread from heaven and that Jesus is able to miraculously multiply food (John 6). But we don’t for this reason disparage the work of agricultural specialists who figure out better ways of growing wheat! Nor do we refrain from going to the grocery store to buy the bread they grow! God can provide blessings supernaturally or naturally, and there’s no reason to celebrate the first while disparaging the second.
The fact is that God originally commissioned humans to exercise loving, powerful dominion over the earth, and he gave us brains to help us do it. When we use our brains to figure out how to grow wheat better, we’re carrying out our original commission. There’s no reason to think things are any different when we use our brains to figure out how to fight things in our fallen physical environment that afflict people. We’re simply carrying out our original commission to exercise loving-dominion over the earth.
Our reasoning capacity is part of our imago dei--that is, our being made in the image of God. It’s of course true that we can and do often use our reason for evil. Almost every advance in science has eventually been applied to invent ways of killing people more effectively. But this evil use of reason doesn’t prove that reason, or the technology it produces, is inherently evil. It simply proves that everything that has a potential for good also has a correlative potential for evil. When we invent new ways of killing masses of people, this is obviously evil. But when we invent new ways of saving masses of people, this is obviously good.
The problem is not with reason, but with the use some fallen people put it to.
It is thus completely consistent with Kingdom faith to not only make use of modern medicine when necessary, but to view providing medical attention for people as a Kingdom activity. This is, in fact, no different than providing food for people who are hungry. In both cases we are simply expressing God’s love by addressing the physical needs of people.
*ACTIVATE THE CURE agrees with the views expressed in this article written by Pastor Greg Boyd but does not necessarily agree with all of his views.
SCRIPTURES THAT SPEAK ABOUT MEDICINE
Prepare a poultice of figs and apply it to the boil and he will recover. Isaiah 38:21
Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there? Why then is there no healing for the wound of my people? Jeremiah 8:22
Babylon will suddenly fall and be broken. Wail over her! Get balm for her pain; perhaps she can be healed. Jeremiah 51:8
"Son of man, I have broken the arm of Pharaoh king of Egypt. It has not been bound up for healing or put in a splint so as to become strong enough to hold a sword. Ezekial 30:21
Fruit trees of all kinds will grow on both banks of the river. Their leaves will not wither, nor will their fruit fail. Every month they will bear, because the water from the sanctuary flows to them. Their fruit will serve for food and their leaves for healing." Ezekial 47:12
Jesus answered them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. Luke 5:31
Luke was a doctor. Colossians 4:14
Stop drinking only water, and use a little wine because of your stomach and your frequent illnesses. 1 Timothy 5:23
On hearing this, Jesus said, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. Matthew 9:12
But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him. Luke 10:33-34