Insight on the News
Cause for Church Disunity
● Two theologians of Canada’s largest Protestant body, the United Church, warn that their denomination may be on the verge of falling apart. Why? Serious disagreements. These became evident recently at sessions of the General Conference of the religion at Halifax. Newspapers reported differences over abortion, political activism and other issues. One report called for ordination of some homosexuals and acceptance of certain situations where premarital sex and infidelity in marriage occur. Some clergymen spoke out against such practices as being unscriptural. But why the disunity? The clue is given in what one newspaper reported: “Delegates said they found themselves in a dilemma trying to reconcile the absolute demands of the Gospel with the reality of the human condition.”
The real problem here is whether religious leaders accept the Bible, “not as the word of men, but, just as it truthfully is, as the word of God.” (1 Thess. 2:13) That done, the decisions are not hard ones. Writing under divine inspiration, the apostle Paul pioneered the view of the early Christians when he warned: “Do not be misled. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men kept for unnatural purposes, nor men who lie with men, . . . will inherit God’s kingdom. And yet that is what some of you were.” They changed when they became Christians. (1 Cor. 6:9-11) But some men would change Christianity rather than call for a change by wrongdoers. No wonder they suffer disunity and the threat of breakup!
Fear and Health
● Speaking at an international convention of physicians in Davos, Switzerland, Professor Hans Schäfer of the University of Heidelberg said that fear is a serious risk factor in maintaining health. The German newspaper “Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung” commented: “Fear exerts a one-sided strain on the psyche that causes sickness: fear of the future, fear of losing face, fear of being degraded, fear of one’s superiors and sometimes even fear of one’s marriage mate.” Fear works through the hormones of the adrenal gland to harm the health. “If fear is one of the more important risk factors, then confidence is the best factor in maintaining good health,” said Professor Schäfer. “Health education must be carried on in harmony with moral demands,” which is impossible “without reviving old religious values.”
Such “old religious values” can be found in the Bible; they stem from man’s Creator and replace fear with peace of mind. “Do not be anxious over anything,” is the divine counsel, “but in everything by prayer and supplication along with thanksgiving let your petitions be made known to God; and the peace of God that excels all thought will guard your hearts and your mental powers by means of Christ Jesus.”—Phil. 4:6, 7.
● “A good book is good medicine” was a recent headline for the syndicated medical column “The Doctor Game.” The Canadian doctor who wrote the article said: “The use of books and other reading material to treat illness” is what is called “bibliotherapy.” Is it effective? The column tells of several people who have definitely been aided more by good reading than by many pills. To one of his own patients, the doctor recommended:
“You’ve been complaining of pain, fatigue and tension for the last 10 years. But you’re still breathing. Different doctors have X-rayed you from head to toe without finding anything wrong. You’ve had every laboratory test in the books. You have enough drugs in the house to open a pharmacy. Why don’t you toss them all out, get a library card and read some good books?”
That would be especially beneficial if the world’s best seller, the Bible, was at the top of the list of books to be read. It would also give a sound hope for the future. Commenting on the state of affairs in medicine today, the doctor concluded: “Regrettably, 20th century medicine has given too many people a false impression of what constitutes good health. It has produced a nation of hypochondriacs.”