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triple helix: winter 2014

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Cheap Grace

Many Christians are suspicious of ethics. They think it undermines grace and distracts from the preaching of the gospel. They also fear that it leads to legalism. They want to emphasise, quite rightly, the fact that salvation is a gift that we cannot earn. (1) (2) Salvation is indeed...

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Assisted suicide

Lord Falconer's Assisted Dying Bill (1) (2) reached Committee Stage in the House of Lords on Friday 7 November. It seeks to legalise assisted suicide (but not euthanasia) for mentally competent adults (aged over 18) with less than six months to live, subject to 'safeguards' under a two doctors' signature...

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End of life care

A survey published by the Royal College of Nursing in early November (1) suggested that the large majority of nurses felt unable to give the right level of care consistently to dying patients. This frustration was laid at the door of poor staffing levels, inadequate resources and lack of training....

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Expensive mistakes

A recent reply by the Government to a Parliamentary question on the number and cost of so-called 'wrongful birth' cases elicited some startling findings. (1) Government figures show that since 2003, the NHS has paid out more than £95 million on 164 successful claims for damages from parents wanting compensation...

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One small step...

It is 45 years since Neil Armstrong uttered his now famous words. Within the last few weeks other noteworthy steps were taken that have been hailed as 'more impressive than man walking on the moon'. This is no tabloid hype, but the opinion of Prof Geoff Raisan, Chair of Neural...

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To fast track or not to fast track?

key points There have been mixed reactions to the 'easy access to medicines' scheme. Fast-tracking ZMapp to treat Ebola appears to be a success story. Clinical research is highly regulated for good reasons. While costly and time consuming, it ensures protection against drug disasters. It's possible to over-estimate the likelihood...

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New Approaches

key points Disciplined prayer and Bible study must be the basis of our faith. Listening to national colleagues is always better than thinking 'we know best'. Creating partnerships yields huge benefits. There is a place for mission hospitals but there are many other possibilities for Christians. Keep...

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Saying 'yes' to broadcasting

key points An ever-growing agenda of medical issues presents huge opportunities for Christians to work with the media. Winning over your audience can be almost as important as winning the argument. The status of being a doctor is an enormous benefit. Always focus on the main message...

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Christian doctors on the front line

key points Ebola has triggered a unique crisis: an escalating epidemic of a disease with no known treatment or vaccine. It has already taken a toll among health workers. At the time of writing, WHO estimates that 546 health workers have been infected and 310 have died. ...

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'It's just a PD'

key points The concept of PD was known by the ancient Greeks and most recently referred to as 'antisocial personality' (DSM III, IV). Depersonalising language is unhelpful and can reveal underlying prejudices. The view that PDs were untreatable has altered over recent decades and a range of treatments have...

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Kaleidoscope of cultures

In 1963, the first International Congress of Christian Physicians (the forerunner of ICMDA) was held in Amsterdam with 80 delegates from a dozen countries. In July 2014 the jubilee congress was held in the Netherlands again – this time in Rotterdam – a year late for the jubilee for logistical...

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Junior doctors and the local church

Why is it that junior doctors find it hard to become part of local church life? It should not be like this. Paul tells us that the church is God's way of showing his wisdom. (1) Church is the only place where an eclectic mix of people from all walks...

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No greater love

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends.' (1) These words are quoted often at events commemorating those lost in war. Here are stories of two Christians in the Great War who knew the greater love of Jesus; love that extends to their...

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The question that never goes away

Shoving sweeping statements and apologetic commiseration aside, Philip Yancey follows up his bestselling book Where is God when it hurts? with a very different approach to pain than we routinely encounter. In this book, he chooses to travel through the 'land of suffering' and tell us what he's learnt. It...

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Sex, dating and relationships: A fresh approach

Both these books are helpful. Though reaching similar conclusions, the approach taken differs markedly. Sex, Dating and Relationships could be recommended for its opening chapter alone. A challenging and refreshing exposition of sex as an expression of the gospel sets the book's tone. Arguing that the Bible defines three...

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Inspiring hope: Helping churches to care for the sick

This helpful, practical and innovative book encourages churches to engage more fully and effectively in palliative care. The introduction reminds us 'We are called to build God's kingdom, spreading Jesus Christ's good news of love, forgiveness, salvation and hope, through the power of God's Spirit at work among us'. ...

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Good news for the public square

Christian political and social involvement has a long and rich history, but leaves many believers today confused. Some churches' teaching and some secularists' campaigning have left many Christians asking if we should engage with the public square at all, let alone why and how we should. This theologically and...

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Attitudes to ageing and dying

A thoughtful and perceptive book on the subject of our later years and our deaths. Movingly discussed by David Powell, a godly man remembered by many old Cardiff CMF students with much affection. He says he was 82 on starting this book: would that more older Christians wrote out their...

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Far from the tree

What defines disability? In this wide ranging book, the prolific author and psychology lecturer Andrew Solomon – himself the father of a disabled child – explores the lives of hundreds of children who don't fit the mould. It shows how having an apple that falls 'far from the tree' can...

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Just the two of us?

Perhaps the most helpful people on the hard road of suffering are those who both know God deeply and can understand our struggle deeply. Just the two of us amply supplies both. Eleanor Margesson and Sue McGowan have blessed the church with this beautiful word to those struggling with childlessness....

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At the end of the day

This is an excellent review of the approach Christians should take when considering ethical and pastoral issues at the end of life. Brendan McCarthy's introduction starts with core beliefs, from which guiding principles are derived, and these lead to particular policies and practices. Those who don't necessarily hold our...

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Eutychus

General practice crisis deepening We recently drew attention to the deepening crisis for general practice (see 'Primary Care in Crisis' Triple Helix Summer 2014). According to the Royal College of General Practitioners, while nine out of ten patient contacts within the NHS are managed by general practices, just 8.39% of...

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It sounded like a prayer

'We thank you, Tony, for being a loving husband and father. We thank you for being a great doctor and for your holistic approach to healthcare. We thank you, Tony, for your integrity, your compassion, your warmth. We remember your gifts. We thank you for sharing your life with us,...

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