A Christian Physician: Combining Conscience, Philanthropia, and Calling

Gregory W. Rutecki, Michael J. Sleasman

Christian Bioethics

Abstract: When physicians today appeal to “conscience,” it has been alleged such exercises pejoratively reflect “conscience without consequence” as contemporary practitioners are said to be insulated from the consequences of such decisions. It has also been implied these physicians avoid traditional professional responsibilities—including providing charity care and making house or night calls. The assertions demand clarification. Fundamentally, what traits constitute an integrated professionalism specific to Christian physicians? Historical evidence verifies sanctity-of-life affirmations by Christian physicians throughout Church history. However, surveying Christian medical practices in the initial centuries of the Common Era, and more recently in the United States, supports integration of conscience with philanthropy and a rigorous definition of a medical vocation. These suggest there may be deterioration in a holistic commitment to medicine in the United States. Reclaiming an integrated professional paradigm—wherein conscience, philanthropia, and vocation are combined—is essential to an authentic contemporary witness.

Sleasman MJ, Rutecki GW.  A Christian Physician: Combining Conscience, Philanthropia, and Calling. Christ Bioeth (2016) 22 (3): 340-362