Clergy And Medical Advice

All clergy mean well I’m sure. There is a problem with preaching God will save you when there is no chance you will survive.

People who have sought their clergy person’s advice naturally want to hear what he/she thinks about the latest health situation. The link explains that many clergy discourage letting the clock run out and forgoing heroic medical measures that have little if any chance for success. Instead, they tend to encourage options that make death more miserable than it needs to be.

The entire Christian enterprise is successful because it over promises. It tells people God hears their prayers and allows people to live happily after death. When a pastor hears the best option is hospice care to minimize pain and await death, it is an admission God can do nothing.

By promoting the notion that prayer can change things, Christianity has painted itself into a corner. When the inevitable time comes that there is no hope for to extend a life it has to go against its theology to help the patient. How much better it would be to have never made promises the faith cannot deliver.

There is the old adage, “Honesty is the best policy.” It would be refreshing to the faith to adopt that. It might say, “There may be an invisible spirit which no one has ever seen. There may not be one.”

Or, “There may be an afterlife, but there may not be one.” Finally,  “Prayers for you health probably will not help you.”

16 Responses

  1. Catcher

    Jon; A little broad brush here with your; “Entire Christian enterprise”, and “Painted into a corner”. Yes, there are faith healers, and those who take on the authority of a Dr. along with those who try their best to deny the inivitable. However, there are a vast number that don’t, nor give false hope. through conversation or prayer. The care and opinion of a Dr. is one thing, but pastoral care is another, and the line should not be crossed. A well trained pastor recognizes the difference.

    1. Catcher 8:33 I agree there are pastors who are careful about promises. The hospital chaplains I’ve known know that outcomes are often not going to be good. But, I think I’m accurate in saying the entire Christian enterprise (very liberal might be excluded) preach that god hears prayers and the god can do anything–praying for a miracle is rational because there are unlikely good outcomes and when they happen it is not because of some good luck but because of the god. They preach there is a happy ending after death.

      I’ll stick with the link that is based on good studies and illustrates the problem. Christianity and most all other religions would benefit by regular administration of truth serum.

      1. Catcher

        Jon @ 8;51; re. your (very liberal might be excluded). You “think” wrong. Often people’s prayer is wishful thinking. A “conservative” and responsible pastor or layman does not rely on wishful thinking, I’ve seen wishful thinking, which was actually denial of reality, where a prayer for peace and acceptance would have been more appropriate. I have seen that too, and the results were remarkable. No need for “truth serum”, as the truth of the situation has been acknowledged. This is not unusual.

      2. Catcher

        Jon; In fact, with terminal cancer the new norm these days, and other terminal situations such as organ failure, (We have had a number of them the last few years).. The private and congregational prayers for each of these individuals is for peace and comfort in their last hours, including those nearest to them.

        1. Catcher 9:35 I’m glad your church and pastors do it that way. The link surveyed the field and found most did otherwise.

          I’m sure your church tells of heaven. At funerals, I’m sure the message is the departed is in heaven meeting up with dead relatives. It does not really know the departed or relatives are in heaven. Attributing such power to the invisible god plays with people’s minds (if they believe it which many do not) about the power of the god over adversity.

          1. Catcher

            Jon @ 9;47; You surely must note the link said; “many” I rather doubt one of our clergy were asked in the research.

            I have NEVER heard the funeral sermon contain anything like; “Well, Charlie is up there playing whist with his brothers, and his mother is making coffee up there in heaven”, or just hanging out with old friends. Anything more than “He is now with the Lord” is simply speculation, and even that is qualified. We have hints, but that is all. Maybe all the angles are playing accordions. ER; that may be hell for some.

            Re. adversity. everyone dies. but “the God” (your words) does give comfort and peace of mind for those who believe, not thinking; “did I do enough”.

          2. Catcher 10:23 I have NEVER heard the funeral sermon contain anything like; “Well, Charlie is up there playing whist with his brothers, and his mother is making coffee up there in heaven”, or just hanging out with old friends.

            I’ve heard it several times. I heard it two weeks ago at a sister-in-law’s funeral in Madison, WI.

          3. Catcher

            @ 10;29; When I said “Never”, I was referring to our church. I wouldn’t be surprised you heard it in some post-reformed, It would be a warm fuzzy, but it is again speculation.

          4. Catcher 10:49 When I said “Never”, I was referring to our church. I wouldn’t be surprised you heard it in some post-reformed, It would be a warm fuzzy, but it is again speculation.

            SPECULATION!!! Are you claiming your denomination does not engage in speculation? Are you saying there is no reference in Missouri Synod funerals to the afterlife?? I’d bet my last dollar there are many references to heaven, meeting up with Jesus/God and such stuff. That is every bit as speculative as that at my sister-in-law’s funeral where references were made about here wonderful singing and how she is now singing with her sisters in heaven. Going to heaven or meeting God is every bit as speculative as singing with other dead people. It is talking of an imaginary world that no one has ever seen. It is clever but deceptive.

          5. Catcher

            Jon @ 10;29; re. friends and relatives in heaven; Beyond a couple hints,the Bible is remarkably silent on this subject, There is speculation, and speculation is not reliable. beyond providing a false comfort.
            I would ask that pastor in Wisconsin what is the biblical source . I know of none that are concrete.

          6. Catcher

            Jon ; @8;59. Stay on topic ! The current subject is hanging out with departed relatives. You introduced it in your 9;47.

            The original topic was “Clergy and medical advice”. A different topic entirely before your segue. Don’t confuse medical advice and dead relatives.

            That Christianity believes in an afterlife in heaven is not the topic. If you choose to speculate there is no after life, you are free to do so.

          7. Catcher 9:25 Stay on topic ! The current subject is hanging out with departed relatives. You introduced it in your 9;47.

            I am staying on topic. The blog included the problem Christianity causes with its marketing effort of over promising. An example of over promising, or your word “speculation”, is closely related to promises God will provide a miracle and make the terminally ill patient leap out of bed, happy and healthy. I can see you did not realize the mistake you made by introducing “speculation”.

            I happened to have a conversation about this with an atheist at our Sunday brunch yesterday. We were talking about our fathers, it was Father’s Day. He told of a conversation with a relative at his father’s funeral. The relative said, “Well, you sons sure emphasized the fun your father had fishing and telling jokes. You did not discuss whether he is in heaven. Is he or isn’t he in heaven?”

            The fellow says he told the relative, “We know only one thing for sure. Dad is dead.”

          8. Catcher

            Jon @ 9;45; There is not one word of dead relatives in your original topic. You slipped that in later. I provided a reply to the clergy / medical issue, to which you approved. Then you introduced talking to the dead relatives, to which I responded to. Two different issues. Now you introduce; “Promising terminally ill jumping out of bed happy and healthy”. Pure hyperbole. That may happen in the hollars of the deep south, but they dance with snakes too. No, your argument has become a dishonest dance. You’re starting to sound like Trump.

      3. entech

        “In a better place now”, is a commonly heard platitude from well known religious figures when some one or some few die.

  2. entech

    Jon, legitimate medical advice can sometimes leave you hanging. For years my physiotherapist said live with your arthritis the best you can, put off the operation because techniques are improving almost day by day. A year or several ago the message was turning towards, don’t put it off too long they may say you are too old. Today I was doing a follow up with the vascular surgeon who chopped a few toes off nearly two years ago, because my knee is staring to play up more than a bit I asked him if I was to have an operation should I get the surgeon (orthopaedic) to check with him first. He said yes, preferably. Then went on to say that I should seriously consider what benefit I could get from surgery, given the risks involved due to vascular problems, neuropathy and the amount of vascular bypass already done, plus they would probably need to do a heavy duty tourniquet with the with the possibility that the blood flow would not fully resurrect itself.
    (Nothing to do with clergy but I did want to get something in hence the “resurrect”).

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