I Would Rather be Treated by a Smart Turk than an Untrained Christian

The idea of a comprehensive understanding of salvation that traces the influence of redemption (which is different from creation) to all positive developments in human society and culture is nonsense.

The statement doesn’t say, but the implication is that Christians by virtue of faith, regeneration, the Bible, trust in Christ, are somehow competent to conduct scientific investigations, perform medicine, and write laws and public policy simply by virtue of their faith. These writers may assume that to work in medicine or science you need to be trained in math, the hard sciences, and lots of other areas of study about which the Bible is explicitly silent.

 

Some dispute that Martin Luther ever said that he would rather be ruled by a wise Muslim than a foolish Christian, but apocryphal or not, it suggests an important insight in Luther’s theology that has implications for the way that Christians understand and live in the modern world. In the non-Lutheran part of the Protestant world, the desire to integrate faith and learning or to have a Christian worldview view of the world about all areas of earthly existence may lead some of these Reformed and Presbyterian believers to think that Christians have had and should continue to have a Christian view of medicine. Here is a recent example from students at the Presbyterian Church in America’s Covenant College:

An individualistic view of salvation is devoid of the important contributions of kingdom and resurrection theology—cornerstones of the Reformed tradition. The resurrected King Jesus, the righteous king who renders justice to the oppressed (Psalm 72), is reconciling all things to himself (Col 1:19-20). This redemption is cosmic. Christ will stand as preeminent Lord over all creation, with the Church as the primary instrument for the advancement of his Kingdom. The Gospel’s power is far broader than individual salvation—it’s about renewing creation to be the temple of God’s dwelling that it was always meant to be. Many lay believers forget that much of the goodness we take for granted in our governmental structures, marriage, education, medicine, business, scholarship, and the like, is directly related to past Christians proclaiming God’s kingdom far and wide. Hospitals, for instance, are the legacy of gospel-centered Christian stewardship (e.g., see Charles Rosenberg, The Care of Strangers: The Rise of America’s Hospital System; and for earlier Christian influence, see Gary Ferngren, Medicine and Healthcare in Early Christianity).Wilberforce and other evangelical abolitionists labored tirelessly to make the English slave trade illegal. American checks-and-balances style government had its inspiration from the Presbyterian understanding of total depravity. Literacy and liberal democracies grow in a more robust fashion in countries around the world which received proselytizing Protestant missionaries (e.g., see the Christianity Today article by Andrea Palpant Dilley, “The Surprising Discovery About Those Colonialist, Proselytizing Missionaries”). The renewal of the gospel is not limited to personal salvation, but extends into all creational structures.

There you see what happens to dissatisfaction with personal salvation and the “gospel”‘s extension into all walks of life. The statement doesn’t say, but the implication is that Christians by virtue of faith, regeneration, the Bible, trust in Christ, are somehow competent to conduct scientific investigations, perform medicine, and write laws and public policy simply by virtue of their faith. These writers may assume that to work in medicine or science you need to be trained in math, the hard sciences, and lots of other areas of study about which the Bible is explicitly silent. If these writers do believe that an M.D. is necessary to practice medicine, then we have the possibility referred to at the start, namely, that it is possible to be a doctor and not be a Christian. It is even conceivable that a specialist in oncology can be a non-believer and that a Christian would trust his health to someone who does not acknowledge Jesus Christ as her Lord and savior.

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