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By Bob Cutillo


196 pp., Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2016, $17.99, paperback & ePub.


REVIEW: Bob Cutillo, a physician, asks whether health is a possession or a gift, as an entry point for a discussion on how Christians should interact with the healthcare system. He proffers that Christians should see health as a gift given by God, to which we are called to be stewards.

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First, Cutillo looks at health and our desire to be in control, examines the need for certainty in healthcare, and presents a biblical perspective on health and illness. He reviews the created order and the role of sin in disease.


In the second part, Cutillo looks at how medicine has divided the body into constituent parts and made pain a disease instead of a symptom. Clinical efforts are aimed at treating the parts and eliminating pain. He discusses the role statistics play in evidence-based care. This section concludes by looking at the incarnation of Jesus and why the Creator took on the flesh of the people he created in his image.


The third section discusses our greatest fear-death. Cutillo returns to our desire to be in control of all things, including death. But death is inevitable, despite our best technology. He explores the resurrection of Jesus to help us understand how that event changes the way Christians view death and reexamines the allocation of limited resources in the final stages of life.


The final section examines the role of the community and the church in health and healthcare. Striving for justice in healthcare, something he committed his life to, Cutillo suggests that justice may be succinctly stated in three strange and unseen truths: (1) Seeing you depends on seeing me in you; (2) my health depends on your health; and (3) the health of society depends on how it cares for its poorest members. Cutillo details the apparent disagreement between faith and science, saying medicine must acknowledge its limits, while presenting its contributions, and the church must confess its failure for deferring to healthcare professionals, while claiming its contribution to health as part of the gospel message. He describes ways the church and healthcare can come together.


This is a beautifully written book. The content is well presented, thoughtful, and challenging. In some ways, it is contrary to the way society, culture, and the church approach healthcare. Stories of patients and experiences from years of medical practice in the U.S. and in DR Congo among the urban poor offer background and illustration. Quotes from literature, theology, and philosophy provide poignant additions. Those who are concerned about the integration of faith and health, the role of the church in health, the justice of access to healthcare for everyone created in God's image, and the practice of whole-person healthcare will find this book essential reading.-Grace Tazelaar, MS, RN, Villa Park, IL.




Freeing Missions from the Christian-Industrial Complex


By Scott A. Bessenecker


201 pp., Downers Grove, IL: IVP Books, 2014, $16.00 paperback or eBook.


REVIEW: In Overturning Tables, Bessenecker, Director of Missions for InterVarsity Christian Fellowship USA, examines how the capitalistic mindset has inserted itself into the Christian church and mission. He questions if this is biblical and if there are alternatives, noting, "Nearly all the places we work have assumed the outline of a commercial business enterprise. Even health care (emphasis mine) and public education, the last bastions of altruistic human service, are being conformed more and more by the for-profit, corporate paradigm" (p. 23).

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Using the story of Jesus overturning the tables in the temple to address the injustices and exploitation by the religious aristocracy, Bessenecker asks if we should be more discerning in the way churches conduct business. He goes back to the Protestant Reformation and observes how the history of missions is tied to the advent of limited liability corporations, such as the British East India Company that allowed investors to reap large profits with limited risk. The spread of the gospel was inexplicably tied to political and economic expansion. Because the capitalistic model worked well, it was used as an organizing framework by the Protestant Church to spread the gospel.


The capitalistic corporate model values competition, leading to many churches competing for members (i.e., success). Corporations exist to serve individuals and provide profits and status. Churches can seek to serve individual members, as opposed to individuals coming together in communal worship of God and to serve him. Our faith becomes a private, personal matter rather than a communal identity. Bessenecker identifies other ways in which the capitalistic corporate model has impacted Christian organizations. He skillfully questions the veracity of the underlying assumptions on which this model is built and suggests alternatives.


In some ways, I resonate with Bessenecker. I have long been weary of measuring ministry success in numbers of converts (something dependent on the work of the Holy Spirit), instead of kingdom values of justice, righteousness, and holiness. The business model values success, money, and status-none of which will be taken into eternity. Bessenecker writes, "This mission cannot be packaged as a product. It cannot be reduced to a privatized exchange. It is not a mission of individual prosperity but of communal shalom. It is a cosmic mandate to work with the Savior in replenishing all things corrupted by brokenness and sin" (p. 110).


To his credit, Bessenecker recognizes that the capitalistic corporate model is deeply ensconced in society and will not be easily changed or replaced. His work with InterVarsity missions has provided opportunities to observe other ways of advancing God's kingdom among the poor and underserved, which he shares. He has been captivated by the "young friars," the subject of an earlier book, those who live among the poor in the slums and garbage heaps to bring hope and the Good News. He has seen how the majority world is sending out missionaries without the benefit of mission-sending organizations, to live and work in the countries where God led them as bivocational missionaries. He examines the New Testament church and the way it sent Paul and Barnabas as missionaries, offering insight for today's missions.


Although Bessenecker makes excellent points, I found some ideas a bit harsh, resorting to stereotypes. I sometimes felt that I had contributed to the current state of affairs because I come from northern European Protestant descent. Although he admires the poor who are bivocational, he does not mention the Reformed theologian and Dutch prime minister, Abraham Kuyper, who taught that all work is done to the glory of God, whether as clergy or a garbage collector. The evangelical dichotomy between sacred and secular vocations is favored over Reformed teaching of vocation as calling. I readily admit to mistakes made throughout my missionary nursing career, which has given me a deep appreciation of God's redemptive power. Through these errors, I've learned that God can use not only our successes but our failures in building his kingdom. It would be better if Bessenecker acknowledged that truth, as well.


This is a well-written, provocative book. It needs to be carefully read by North American leaders of Christian churches and organizations. Although the capitalistic corporate model is successful for business enterprises, its wholesale adoption by the church and ministries is long overdue for scrutiny. Although this book is directed to Christian organizations, as Christian nurses who believe that our vocation is also our calling, and who are subject to the frustrations of working in settings that have adopted a capitalistic model, we need to consider how the capitalistic model impacts the future of Christian nursing.-Grace Tazelaar, MS, RN, Villa Park, IL.


Editor's Note: Listen to Scott Bessenecker's podcast at aimed at growing the global fluency of Americans on topics that impact our world.


Going Deeper

Going Deeper helps you dig deeper into JCN content, offering ideas for personal or group study with other nurses-great for Nurses Christian Fellowship groups!


* Covenant and Code: Read Fowler, 216-224.


1. Discuss the difference between the nine provisions and the respective interpretive statements.


2. Fowler states, "Current concerns for moral distress, moral resilience and the like, do not originate in the 2000s." Describe the rational noted for this statement.


3. Review Table 1. What might you add to the list?


4. Using the sidebar scenarios, discuss the situations and answers.


5. Read Hosea 11. In what ways does do Hosea's words represent current culture?


* Genetic Testing: Ethical Issues: Read Clayton, 246-249.


1. What does the author suggest as the pros and cons of genetic testing for Tay-Sachs disease?


2. Review the two dominant worldviews noted in Table 1. How do these backgrounds influence genetic testing and outcomes?


3. Discuss the author's statement: "Genetic testing for the Jewish community is not a pro-life or a pro-choice approach, but an educational opportunity."


4. Read Psalm 139:13-16. How does God view "birth defects?"


* Educational Failures and Retakes: Read Wynn, 232-235.


1. On campus, what is the role of the mental health practitioner?


2. What spiritual interventions were illustrated in the article?


3. Recall a time when you failed, whether an exam or a life experience. How did you handle the setback? What did you learn about yourself?


4. Consider Psalm 40:1-3. Where do you believe God is when you struggle?