We go to a MD to get our physical bodies repaired, we go to a PsyD for mental health concerns, and we go to a pastor for spirit and soul related matters. In effect, 21st century healing is based upon 3 distinct professions, for which some of the time work together, but for which much of the time ignore one another, or even call one another’s expertise into question. A friend suggests that in doing so, we are splitting the mind, body, spirit, and soul into separate parts, rather than looking at them as a whole.
I think part of the driver for this is that the church walked away from the sciences once science started to call church power structures into question. Consider what happened to Gallileo, and that it took until 1992 for him to be vindicated by Pope John Paul II.
Consider the use of anesthesia and the pain of childbirth 100+ years ago. Genesis 3:16 states To the woman he said, “I will make your pains in childbearing very severe; with painful labor you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.” thus many Christians held to the view that anesthesia / pain killers should not be used during childbirth, as it does an end run around Genesis.
Consider Ben Franklin’s lightning experiments which brought about the lightning rod, at least for those outside of the churches power structure. 3000 people died and 1/6 of the city of Bresia was destroyed when the Church of San Nazaro was hit by lightning and the explosives located within detonated… all because if a lighting rod worked, it no longer was an act of satan, but an act of electrical charge distribution, and thus doctrine would be forced to change.
Today, non-believers, and many believers look at such and are incredulous. How could the church be so wrong? Was doctrine really all that important that it led to ignoring the obvious evidence right in front of people?
And yet, there are those who defend the churches view. Consider the philosopher Feyerabend. “The church at the time of Galileo was much more faithful to reason than Galileo himself, and also took into consideration the ethical and social consequences of Galileo’s doctrine. Its verdict against Galileo was rational and just, and revisionism can be legitimized solely for motives of political opportunism.”
So how does that square? I’m not a philosopher, but if the church says the square is blue, and with my own eyes I see that it is red… I’m going to have to go with red, irrespective of what the church says. Its really not a matter of faith, obedience, or trust, when clear and convincing observation says otherwise. I don’t see it in any other way than an issue of maintaining power. Ethical and social consequences may play a role, but preserving falsehoods to block the truth has a way of coming back to bite. Its the whole do a little evil that good may come that Paul warns us against in Romans 3.
This is not to say ethical and social consequences should be entirely ignored. I think those tend to be sold short to our peril… but the evidence should be plainly laid out for all too see, even if as Jack Nicholson spoke so plainly, “you can’t handle the truth”
At some point in the future, there likely will be similar folks looking back on the past and seeing the churches overt efforts to clearly break mind, body, spirit and soul apart from one another, all the while medicine/science is making inroads to put them back together.
Will that be a truth the church can handle?