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Ethics and Religion Talk: Who Needs Doctors When You have God?, part 2

Last week, Ethics and Religion Talk responded to a question from John challenging our response to a question on prayer and healing. This week, we share three more responses to John.

What is Ethics and Religion Talk?

“Ethics and Religion Talk,” answers questions of ethics or religion from a multi-faith perspective. Each post contains three or four responses to a reader question from a panel of nine diverse clergy from different religious perspectives, all based in the Grand Rapids area. It is the only column of its kind. No other news site, religious or otherwise, publishes a similar column.

The first five years of columns, published in the Grand Rapids Press and MLive, are archived at More recent columns can be found on by searching for the tag “ethics and religion talk.”

We’d love to hear about the ordinary ethical questions that come up on the course of your day as well as any questions of religion that you’ve wondered about. Tell us how you resolved an ethical dilemma and see how members of the Ethics and Religion Talk panel would have handled the same situation. Please send your questions to [email protected].

For more resources on interfaith dialogue and understanding, see the Kaufman Interfaith Institute page and their weekly Interfaith Insight column at

John wrote:

“I read something you talked about use of medicine. To me, God is able to heal without medicines. I live without any medicine and whenever I get sick, I pray to God and He answers my prayers, including a non-curable disease that He healed me from last year.

“See what God told Moses (Deuteronomy 32:39) - ‘I wounded and I will heal.’
-How can one treat what God has injured as a punishment?
-If the disease is meant as the means of one’s death by God, how can doctors protect from God's decision?

I cannot take medicine because I believe in the Power of the most High God who gave His son power over everything including diseases as He (Jesus) did in the New Testament. Even when sending His disciples, He (Jesus) gave them power over all diseases as they preach free salvation to all nations. He did this despite of having doctors full of knowledge. Finally, if doctors can heal, why do we have mortuary next to all hospitals?”

Fred Stella, the Pracharak (Outreach Minister) for the West Michigan Hindu Temple, responds:

“Before anything, I am very happy for the gift of health that has been gifted to our dear reader. His or her experiences are certainly a great testimony to clean living and disciplined living. The Hindu tradition certainly does recognize that healing can come from sources outside of allopathic (standard Western medical models) treatment. We have looked to the system of Ayurveda for millennia nature-based practices that can lead to a healthier life. We also acknowledge that there is a power of both mind and spirit that can bring about wholeness. That said, we do not dismiss modern medical science; nor do we feel that we are less spiritual by availing ourselves of its benefits. It is said that God is the source of all healing, whether in some direct “miraculous” manner, or being present in the medicines given. 

“And I would remind our correspondent that while patients die in hospitals daily, cemeteries are also filled with those who relied solely on prayer to deliver them from whatever ailed them. Sadly, parents have been persecuted for withholding medical treatment on religious grounds from innocent children whose deaths could have been prevented. Hindus are advised to use whatever efficient means are at hand to deal with illness. Of course, including prayer is always suggested.”

The Rev. Steven W. Manskar, a retired United Methodist pastor, responds:

“I am pleased that John has such strong faith and that God always answers his prayers for healing. 

“If his experience was universal, then there would be no need for medicine. But very few people have such faith. This is why God has given humankind intelligence and ability to develop medical sciences that prevent, treat, and cure diseases and alleviate suffering. An excellent example of this is the rapid development of the COVID-19 vaccines. The technology and skill needed to develop the vaccines were developed over decades by women and men dedicated to research aimed at protecting humankind from deadly viruses. 

“Medical science is the result of women and men obeying Jesus command to love God with all your heart, soul, and mind and to love who God loves. 

“God heals people of all religions, and no religion, through the skill and compassion of physicians, nurses, technologists, and researchers. Their hands and hearts are the hands and heart of God, the Great Physician.”

My response:

I’ll give you a Biblical response and I’ll give you an additional response from my Jewish tradition.

When men quarrel and one strikes the other with stone or fist and he does not die, [the assailant] must pay for his complete healing. [Exodus 21.19]

If is it not sufficiently clear from the language of the verse that the payment goes to a person expert in healing, a doctor, the rabbinic interpretation leaves no room for doubt: “Full permission is granted to the physician to heal the sick.” Not only that, but one Jewish interpretation of this verse even anticipates John’s challenge that the physician is subverting God’s decree: “Blessed is the physician who brings healing, even though he may be resisting a Divine decree from on high.”

John, I’ll leave you with a question of my own. I’m going to go out on a limb and suppose that in the history of your church, in the history of any church resembling yours, no one has yet evaded death entirely. Why is this, if the only thing necessary to heal is a faith like your own? Moreover, the Bible suggests that the ideal human life span is 120 years. How many people do you know from your faith community who have died at that age, with their eyes undimmed and vigor unabated, as Deuteronomy describes Moses at the end of his life?


This column answers questions of Ethics and Religion by submitting them to a multi-faith panel of spiritual leaders in the Grand Rapids area. We’d love to hear about the ordinary ethical questions that come up in the course of your day as well as any questions of religion that you’ve wondered about. Tell us how you resolved an ethical dilemma and see how members of the Ethics and Religion Talk panel would have handled the same situation. Please send your questions to [email protected].

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