The Practice of Biblically-Based Medicine: Definition and Significance

Introduction: The series: The Practice of Biblically-Based Medicine: Definition and Significance explains this misunderstood and important subject. We live in psychologized and medicalized world which woos people from biblical truth.

I. Theological Mountains – what is life all about? Proverbs 1:7; Ecclesiastes 12:13-14

A. Is there a proper way to practice medicine – to be a doctor? YES
B. Is there a proper way to receive medical care – to be a patient? YES
C. PBBM: the practice of biblically-based medicine

1. Defined: the MD brings biblical truth to bear on the doctor, the patient, and his problem realizing that the person is a whole person, duplex being – inner and outer man – who thinks, desires, and acts according to the standard of pleasing God His way.

a. In its simplest form theology is a systematic understanding of what Scripture teaches about various subjects including man – who he is and how he is to function – apply biblical truth. .
b. The practice of medicine cannot and is not done apart from theological commitments.
c. The MD functions first as a theologian – because he is!

1) Every person has a belief about God.
2) Every person is relationship to whether denied or not.
3) He thinks and is morally responsible because he is an image bearer of God.

d. The MD who practices biblically-based medicine does not compromise biblical truth for so-called science. Truth, science, and faith are linked.
e. In the area of medicine, the MD is to remember that the person/patient is a whole person – body and inner man and the two are linked in such a way that each influences the other.

2. Goal of: the MD ministers to the patient with the primary goal of pleasing the Triune God by functioning as a God-pleaser himself and moving the patient to do the same.
3. Standard of: The Bible properly understood and properly applied. It is not a medical science book but it gives every believer all they need to live a godly life.
4. Manner/mode of: the application of biblical principles to bring about change in the person, his condition, and his response to his condition which is a response to God.

D. The fact of the practice of biblically-based medicine flows from a proper theology: a proper view of God and of man.

1. Throughout the gospels Jesus used the metaphor of a “sick” body and physical healing to express spiritual healing.
2. He used the physical and the sensual – that which is seen, heard, and felt concerned with the now. He wanted His people to focus on and interpret “life”–according to an eternal perspective which resides in the inner man, the seat of saving faith.
3. Seeing was to be with the physical “eyes” but the information was always to be interpreted by the heart – the spiritual eyes.
4. Jesus did not intent to compartmentalize or dichotomize man who is a whole person.
5. The MD must follow that format: treat the whole person although the body and its care will be his initial focus AND will be an entry into the whole person: thoughts, desires, and actions.

II. Science is not the issue.

A. A godly MD is a godly theologian and only he is able to practice biblically-based medicine.
B. Science is one of God’s gifts.

1. It discovers and scientists interpret by some standard.
2. Science does not reveal.
3. Rightly understood, science is never the problem.
4. The scientist uses the gift of science and knowledge to attack or glorify the Creator.

C. The scientist and physician interpret the whole person via their worldview/mindset. So do patients.

1. Duplexity: outer and inner man unity and linkage – the whole person is considered.
2. Duality: outer and inner man separation and dichotomization. This leads to division.

D. The spiritual-supernatural is to be rightly understood and in proper relation to the material, physical – natural and vice versa:

1. Spiritual understanding (suprasensual approach to evaluate “life”) involves thoughts, desires, as well as actions and it is not opposed to or in competition with the sensual. It is one aspect of the whole person.
2. Spiritual understanding is not anti-science or anti-scientific but pro-God.
3. Spiritual understanding does not exclude reason but it brings faith and reason together.
4. By God’s creational design, every person is faith-based and a rational, emotive being. He thinks, desires, and acts according to a standard and his commitment to it and the standard maker.

E. Where is the Church? Train and teach both doctors and patients to be godly theologians.

III. Proposed Models of disease:

A. Medical Model: It is presumed that the body is sick and that symptoms, signs, and behavior are caused by an abnormality in some organ or tissue causing malfunction of the body (molecular model of disease). This would include mental illness.
B. Biopsychosocial Model: Since the early 1990’s, medicine has moved toward the more inclusive BPS model of disease and patient care, emphasizing the role and importance of biology, “psychological” factors, and “environmental” factors on health and bodily function.
C. Biopsychosocial spiritual Model: The model adds a “spiritual” dimension to the presumed cause of symptoms, conditions, and disease. Spiritual is always non-Holy Spirit.

IV. Non-negotiable facts/truths:

A. Everyone is a theologian and they bring their theology to the office, home, church, and prayer meetings.

1. God is; man is;
2. Human existence including living and dying is a theological activity: Romans 5:12-14.
3. Every person has beliefs about God and self and thinks, desires, and acts according to those truths.
4. Everyone is a theologian: he has beliefs about God, is faith-based (which has content and an object), and is in or out of proper relationship with God in varying degrees and at varying moments.
5. Therefore, everyone has a vertical and horizontal reference – the two are linked: Matt. 22:37-40.

B. Life is theologically-based because everyone is a theologian and:

1. Everyone has an origin, identity, purpose, and destiny.
2. Everyone has a standard, authority, doctrine/belief, and practice/application.
3. Everyone has an identity, motivation, an agenda, and pursues it.
4. Everyone lives (works: doctors and patients give and receive medical care) in response to (influenced by) his view of God and His providence, and the significance the person places on his relationship with God in Christ by the Holy Spirit.
C. Sin, failing bodies, misery, and death are givens in a fallen world.
D. The practice of biblically-based medicine acknowledges these facts and uses them.

1. The question is how?
2. The goal of the practice of biblically based medicine is pleasing God and not simply relief or a “happy” patient or doctor.

E. Stewardship is a theological activity and everyone is a good or bad steward.
F. Every patient encounter is a theological activity for the physician and the patient.
G. A true theologian: his relationship with God impacts his thinking, wanting, and doing in every situation of life including the giving and the receiving of medical care.
H. The physician helps bring this mindset to his patient.
I. A central issue: what kind of theologian/steward are you, doctor and patient?

V. Proper Anthropology is a must for the practice of biblically-based medicine – it can be termed biblical holism but only if rightly understood.

A. Man is a whole person, a duplex being: outer and inner man and an image bearer of God.

1. Man is not man unless he is a duplex being. The outer man and inner man are linked.
2. Man thinks, desires, and acts in his inner and outer man as a patterned lifestyle.
3. Thoughts, desires, and actions are linked and inseparable .

a. These occur in both the inner and outer man and are habituated – patterned.
b. Habituation is a characteristic of man, believer and unbeliever, and involves all three activities which occurs in both the inner and outer man.

4. Feelings flow from thoughts, desire, and actions in both the inner and outer man (IM and OM).

a. Feelings never “just are.” They have an origin.
b. They are always the result of the interaction of thoughts, desires, and actions.
c. They result from physiological changes in the body or from stimuli within or without the body.

5. It is always correct to refer to man as a whole person with whole-person problems.
6. The outer man influences the inner man but it is a whole-person response.
7. The inner man influences the outer man but it is whole-person response.

B. Symptoms and signs are distinct, can occur together, but must be separated.

1. Symptoms are subjective; signs are objective: feverish/fever, palpitations/rapid heart rate.
2. Outer man and inner man: feelings: their source and the person’s response to them.

C. Know the significance of and difference of something wrong or going on in the body and something wrong with the body.
D. Defining and pursuing life goals apart from the motivation and desire to glorify and please God and biblical truth are counterproductive and lead to increased symptoms (perhaps signs), futility, and bondage.
E. Responding to God and His providence from His perspective via biblical truth rightly applied simplifies life and is victory.
F. The presence of the indwelling Holy Spirit influences the whole person from the inside out.

VI. As a physician or patient, your relationship with God in Christ by the Holy Spirit is the key.

A. Joshua 24:14-15: who will you serve doctor, patient, and pastor?
B. What follows logically is the application of non-biblical truth or biblical truth for both patient and physician: Matthew 7:24-27

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