When I first heard about the opportunity of joining this blog tour and reading Compassionate Jesus by Christopher W Bogosh, I was excited at the prospect of learning how Jesus’s compassion can be put into practice in modern healthcare. While this book did consider that to a certain extent, I was left with a general feeling of disappointment and confusion.
Using Jesus’s parable of the Good Samaritan, the author unpacks seven elements of biblical compassion: 1) putting other people’s needs before our own, 2) not discriminating against race, colour, creed, etc, 3) taking risks in order to help, 4) tending wounds and alleviating pain and suffering, 5) providing comfort and safety, 6) providing for extended care needs, 7) following up.
The author then argues that for many people (Christians included), health is their god. When ill or in pain, they live as if this life is all there is and will pursue seeking a cure at all costs. He writes: ‘…when hope in healing is the focus of a person’s life, then Jesus will be less important, and when this happens, idolatry prevails.’
He also discusses the difference between when the medical profession consider a person to be dead and when the Bible says a person is dead. Out of this, he looks at living wills and how these can be used for good, including ensuring that the individual’s organs are not harvested before their lungs and heart cease to function (the author’s experience is based in the US, I don’t know at what stage a patient’s organs would be harvested in the UK).
He provides wise and helpful advice regarding the sometimes agonising decision relatives face when switching off a patient’s life support: ‘Whether the person lives or dies rests in the hands of God.’
I was, however, puzzled by the author’s attitude to praying for physical healing. He states several times that ‘it is not wrong to pray for physical healing’, which seems rather a negative statement.
The last chapter is dedicated to the hospice movement, which in the US is heavily influenced by Kubler-Ross’s reincarnation beliefs. The author encourages churches to minister alongside hospices.
I struggled with this book. At times, the author comes across as a little narrow-minded, so focussed on the spiritual that he seems to disregard physical suffering, and biased against praying for miraculous physical healing. He frequently makes very strong, somewhat insensitive statements which he then unpacks; I suspect this is a way of getting the reader’s attention, much as preachers use hyperbole.