Clergymen and Physicians

A very striking but entirely explicable phase of the irrepressible conflict between the spiritual and the material has presented itself in a rather undignified interchange of condemnatory compliments between some of the prominent ministers and the equally prominent physicians of one of our cities. The charge made by a clergyman that the moral atmosphere and influence of a certain medical institution is unwholesome, is answered by the claim that "Christianity is not words or creeds, but a life," that physicians are devoting their energies to practical work in aid of humanity, while clergymen are doling out undermonstrated theories, etc.

In reply to this, a minister gives expression to a point of view which clearly differentiates the modern from the Apostolic church. He says, "The doctor is doing God's work, and deserves a high reward, but at a certain point his work ceases, and that point is where the physical wants of his patient end and the spiritual needs begin. Then comes our work, and we do a lot of it." This conviction that it is not the business of preachers to heal the sick, but that, while it is "God's work," it is properly committed to those who may or may not have the spiritual motive and unblemished life which has always been exacted of the ministry, — this as we think, fairly represents the attitude which has been, and is still maintained by the great majority of Christian clergymen. A technical knowledge of the human anatomy and its diseases, and of some system of therapeutics, has always been exacted of physicians, but while they include many earnest Christian men, we do not recall that a high order of spiritual attainment has ever been demanded of them; nevertheless if their work be "God's work," it certainly becomes godly men, and they only are fitted for its doing; and it is most astonishing that this has not been seen long since.

The Scriptures in no way intimate that the disciples required a knowledge of materia medica in order to fulfil their Master's command to preach the gospel and heal the sick, nor do they give the slightest ground for the assumption that while it is still incumbent upon the "ambassadors of Christ" to honor his instructions, they are not now called upon to honor the instrumentality of healing which he designated and used. On the other hand, if the physician is to-day called to do "God work," can it be true that he needs no spiritual equipment? Surely no one is better able to settle this question of the work we shall do and how it shall be done, than was the Master, who taught his disciples, not of matter and medicines, but of God, of Truth, of Life and of Love, and then sent them out, commissioning each and every one both to preach and to heal. Are the ministers to-day more competent than was he to decide this matter? The teaching and practice of Christian Science is leading the world to see how utterly incongruous and untenable has been the position of the Christian Church with regard to spiritual healing, during all the centuries; and while the facts to which we have referred indicate that there is yet sore need of enlightenment, there are many evidences of awakening thought among the elergy upon the subject.

Knowledge is Power
May 28, 1904

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