|Vol. 1, No. 7||Page 13||July 1999|
One year, in early autumn, Granny fell ill. She was taken to a hospital in a nearby city. Granny's condition worsened over the next few days. Her doctor ordered a battery of tests for her. When the test results came back, the doctor recognized the problem. He realized that Granny needed immediate surgery. He went to Granny's room to tell her that while the surgery was needed immediately, her life could certainly be saved. When he walked into her room Granny said, "I do not want to hear any bad news. Just tell me that everything is all right." The doctor thought, "Whatever." He said, "Well then, everything is all right." The doctor then left the room. Granny died the next day never knowing the danger she was in.
Were this a true story, how would you feel about it? Perhaps you feel that Granny made a terrible mistake. Certainly, if one goes to a medical facility, one ought to seek the truth concerning his or her condition. It did her no good at all to be in the hospital since she insisted on hearing what she wanted to hear. Good woman though she was, she had a poor attitude toward the truth concerning her condition. Her desire to hear what she wanted to hear caused her to lose her life.
Did Granny's desire to hear what she wanted to hear relieve the doctor of his obligation? Was his ability to pacify her greater than his obligation to medical ethics? Certainly not. His duty as a doctor demanded that he inform her of this life-threatening situation whether she wanted to hear it or not.
It is not hard to see the errors made in this situation. It is easy to recognize that the attitude of hearing what one wants to hear, regardless of the consequences, is wrong. It is not hard to understand, that when one has knowledge which is vital to the survival of another person, and chooses, for the sake of pacification, to withhold that information, he is terribly wrong.
What if the doctor had not withheld the information concerning the need for surgery? What if the doctor performed the surgery but was not qualified to do so? What if he was apathetic in his work and had not kept his skills sharpened and had not been studious, and as a result of his incompetence, Granny died in surgery? It is likely that we all would be outraged. We would want his head on a silver platter. At the very least, we would want him behind bars for life.
These things are so easy to see when they have immediate results. But what happens when we begin to look at these same attitudes in the religious realm? What happens when the dangers go beyond physical life? What happens when these attitudes result in the loss of spiritual life? Do we suddenly divorce all of our previous convictions? Do we throw logic and sound reasoning out the window? Do we tolerate spiritual malpractice when we do not tolerate medical malpractice? If doctors have an ethical obligation and a responsibility to be well-studied, competent, and forthright, those who handle God's Word have an even greater obligation to be so.
What of the one who teaches that immersion in baptism is not essential to salvation? The Bible clearly teaches that baptism is essential to salvation. "And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned." (Mark 16:15,16.) Notice what God's Word says. It clearly states that baptism precedes salvation. That is not hard to understand. Some men teach as if this verse said, "He that believeth and is saved shall be baptized." They say that baptism is an outward sign of an inward grace. In other words, once you are saved you will want to be baptized. As poetic as these things sound, they are not found in God's Word. God's Word says that in order to be saved one must be baptized. Anyone who teaches contrary to this is guilty of spiritual malpractice.
What of those who teach doctrines written by men such as John Calvin, Martin Luther or the Pope? John the apostle, writing through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, gave clear warning concerning doctrines of this nature.
"Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds." (2 John 1:9-11.)Regardless of what some men teach, God's Word says that there is one doctrine only. That doctrine is the doctrine of Christ which is found in the New Testament. If anyone teaches anything that is not in harmony with the doctrine of Christ, he is guilty of spiritual malpractice. This other doctrine is not to be received and the teacher of it is to be avoided. That is what God's Word says.
We could continue to cite examples of this nature, but these should be sufficient to make the point. If we are outraged at medical malpractice, we cannot be complacent about spiritual malpractice. An incompetent or untruthful doctor may cause one to lose their physical life. An incompetent or untruthful teacher of the Gospel may cause one to lose his soul. We must not take this lightly.
What of an individual's approach to the Gospel? Have you really ever compared what you believe to what God's Word truly teaches? Do you go to your place of worship prepared to hear only what you want to hear? Granny went to the hospital, but she did not even listen to the truth concerning her condition. This would cause one to wonder why she even went to the hospital to begin with. If one goes to worship services or Bible study with his mind closed and one dismisses simple Bible truth because it is not what he wants to hear, why does he go to begin with? Why go to the source of all truth and not accept that truth? Why turn to the doctrine of Christ only to follow the doctrine of men? The Great Physician will save you only if you follow His prescription.