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by Jacob Ninan

Hippocrates, a Greek physician who lived during 460-370 BC, is often called the father of medicine in the Western world. The Hippocratic Oath, which is attributed to him, describes the standard of ethics which physicians all over the world are taught to uphold. An operative part of it says, “I will use treatment to help the sick according to my ability and judgment, but never with a view to injury and wrong-doing. Neither will I administer a poison to anybody when asked to do so, nor will I suggest such a course. Similarly, I will not give to a woman a pessary to cause abortion. But I will keep pure and holy both my life and my art.” There was a time when a doctor could be trusted to abide by the good intentions mentioned above, and follow the ethics of fair practice. When we go to a doctor we would like to believe that he has our best interests at heart, and till recently we would have never believed that the doctor would knowingly hurt or exploit us. Sad to say, that is no longer to be taken for granted! We would like to think that when someone wants to go through the rigorous period of training to become a doctor, his intention is to serve the people and help in their healing. But we can no longer be sure of it with many doctors.

It is not very rare to read in the newspapers that when a patient went in for some surgery, he has come out with one of his healthy organs, such as a kidney, missing. It is more common to see people being referred to surgery when it is not really required. The doctor asks for many different (expensive) tests to be done, and the patient gets referred to one specialist after another. Of course, we must realise from the doctor’s side that there are some patients who would not be content if they are given a clean chit of health, and so some doctors would prescribe some harmless medicines (placebo) or tests to make the patient feel that he has been taken seriously! But nowadays many hospitals are there just for the money, and their goal seems to be to squeeze out as much money as possible from the patients, even if it hurts the patients even to the point of death. In a country like India, there have been far too many cases where poor people have had to sell off everything they owned in order to meet their medical expenses, which later turned out to have been inflated above the level that was needed.

Expensive medical tests are many times associated with kickbacks from the equipment manufacturers to the doctor who prescribes them. When a doctor refers a patient to a specialist, he gets a commission from the specialist. The hospital also gets a cut! So, when a patient gets admitted, a lot of people seem to get benefitted! Is it any wonder if more and more tests and referrals are carried out without any real need? It also looks as if many times the tests are done mechanically and treatment is given symptomatically without the doctor exercising his clinical skills sufficiently.

Thankfully, there are some hospitals and doctors even now, especially the Christian ones, who are holding on to godly standards. But they are becoming more and more rare.

We see another dimension when we look at the world of the pharmaceutical companies. It is not cheap to do research and discover new medicines, and so when some discovery is made, the companies try to maximise their profit. One way is to make the medicine expensive. But another way is to mislead doctors into prescribing their company’s medicines.

A lot of medical research is funded in academic institutions and hospitals by the pharma companies. Sometimes, the doctors are paid to manipulate and present their results in ways that are favourable for the companies. Another way of influencing the research specialists is to sponsor their visits to international conferences, and to offer other material benefits. There are several cases of ‘scientifically’ lowering the test criteria so that more patients fall into the ‘sick’ category that needs the company’s proprietary medicine. Practising doctors are also encouraged to accept these ‘latest scientific findings’ and prescribe the company’s medicine, along with commensurate benefits.

What can we call this, except as an apostasy from the ethical standards of the medical profession?

Another example is in the food and agricultural industry. We would have thought that hardly anyone would dare to add ingredients to foodstuff or use chemicals in the agricultural processes that are clearly known to hurt those who eat the final products. But this is being done on a very rampant scale, sometimes openly too. As a result, the general consumer is getting ingested with harmful chemicals that can damage his body or cause extremely serious sicknesses. The fact of the matter is that such practices are so common that it is becoming extremely difficult to obtain food items that are really healthy. Advertisements use falsehood so freely that we wonder where conscience has disappeared.

When we look around we can see that apostasy has infiltrated every area of life. There are, thankfully, a few who still stand for uprightness, but the great majority of people seem to be affected to a greater or lesser extent by this apostasy.

Apostasy is defined as “the state of having rejected your affiliation, religious or political beliefs, or principles (often in favour of opposing beliefs or causes).” Principles and values do not seem to matter much anymore. It is all about money. The operators do not care if other people suffer or even die as long as they can make more money.

We would have liked to say that we Christians do not stoop so low! But what about the way the Gospel is preached? Many times it looks obvious that the preacher’s goal is to add more members for his church than to save them from their sins. Prosperity, healing and miracles are what are being offered as baits for people to come to Christ, in the place of salvation which He came to offer. Many people in churches are not even aware of what salvation means because they have not heard or understood what sin is! Entertainment is the focus in many church meetings, with the main attraction being the choir accompanied by the state-of-the-art musical equipment, lights and smoke! Pastors are very careful not to offend anyone, and pack their sermons with ‘profound’ looking statements and humorous anecdotes to keep the audience enthralled. Sensational topics that would catch people’s attention are presented such as end time events and the news items that seem to point to the end of the world. Dealing with problems that people face is easily done through ‘anointed prayer’, casting out demons, prayers for breaking generational curses, witchcraft and black magic, etc. ‘Fasting and prayer’ (with much singing and preaching, and not much fasting or prayer, and no repentance – see 2Chr.7:13,14) can give a ‘spiritual’ appearance to the church. Activities and projects are arranged in which even unbelieving church members can participate.

As we saw in the case of what is happening in the field of medicine and food, the ‘church’ is ending up hurting the people for eternity, not having shared the truth of the Gospel or prepared them for the life to come. Instead of helping people, it ends up hurting them!

Is this not apostasy? The Bible talks about ‘a great falling away’ before the revelation of the Antichrist (2Thes.2:3). We cannot say that it is what is happening now because there are still many churches that are standing with the Lord. But just as many antichrists get revealed before the main one comes (1Jn.2:18), we could say that these apostasies that we see are all heading towards the final one.

We wish we could heal this apostasy. God is able to do that (Hos.14:4), but it would call for deep repentance on the part of the church (v.1). If we, as individuals, love the Lord and care for His honour (Ezek.9:4), we need to be extra careful these days to stand faithfully before Him, not compromising for the sake of ‘filthy lucre’ (1Tim.3:3 KJV). Hopefully, as the light and salt of this earth we can be of some influence to the world which is on its slide downwards, and especially to the church. God wants false prophets and teachers to be exposed and the true Gospel to be proclaimed. “For there are many rebellious men, empty talkers and deceivers, … who must be silenced because they are upsetting whole families, teaching things they should not teach for the sake of sordid gain” (Tit.1:10,11).

-- Editorial in the Light of Life magazine, May 2018

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