From spring 2000 - Cure for Life (Book Review)
(Right click and choose 'save as...' to download a printable version of this article)
The content is derived from a Christian basics course that the author and others have run over many years. There are three main parts: an excellent defence of the biblical account of Jesus Christ in history; why and how to become a Christian; and, some indications on how to live a Christian life. Such comprehensive cover is a tall order for such a slim pocket book, but it succeeds surprisingly well!
The section on the historical Jesus: his birth, life, death on the cross and resurrection is closely written and well argued. His medical background, comes through both in his tidy marshalling of facts, and in his detailed physiological knowledge. Having recently suffered from an acute pericardial effusion, I was interested in and convinced by his clinical argument that Jesus died from cardiac tamponade. This is based upon the account in John's gospel of the piercing spear bringing a sudden flow of blood and water; the possible medical explanation of which could be the presence of fibrinolysins in Jesus' blood ante-mortem following suffering on the cross, resulting in separation into unclotted red cells and serum post-mortem.
The middle section explains the need for accepting Jesus Christ personally and how this can be done. It starts with the big question: 'What was the purpose of Jesus' coming?', and assumes the level of knowledge of the current person in the street - more or less pagan with some atavistic Christian memories. Big and contentious concepts such as sin and redemption are dealt with honestly, clearly and in straightforward language.
The final section on the Christian life is perhaps somewhat limited by the context in which the book came to be written - developed out of a discussion course on the basics of Christianity. It was slightly too constrained into one type and shape of Christian experience for my liking, but others may well disagree.
This is not a medical book or specifically related to the work of health professionals. However, their needs for secure and living faith in Jesus Christ and committed Christian practice are just as great as those of others. The test for this little book is how useful your friends will find it when you give it to them. In the three years since its publication there have certainly been many letters of appreciation, and I believe that it will have a valuable place in speaking to contemporary British society.
Andrew Sims MB MA MD FRCP FRCPsych DPM Eng
Professor of Psychiatry, University of Leeds