The Association Forum

A round table discussion on true health reform.

By various authors. 

True Health Reform

By P.T. Magan, M. D.

True health reform is nothing more nor less than the working of the life of God within the soul,— the eternal principle of righteousness by faith.

Any system of " health reform " which is merely man-made is bound to come to naught. This is why fad­dists rise and fall, like the waves of the sea, and finally dash themselves to pieces on the rocks of prejudice and inertia.

True health reform has to do with the 'lusts of the flesh; whether those lusts be eating, drinking, lack of ex­ercise, or the viler things, makes no difference. It requires the power of the living God to keep a man perma­nently crucifying these evil tendencies. Consequently, he cannot go this road in his own strength; and as surely as he wavers in his spiritual allegiance to God, he wavers in his health reform principles. This is the reason that, in times past, some among us have become fanatical in regard to health reform. Such individuals were not guided by the movings of the Spirit, and set up man-made theories in the place of true health reform principles, with the result that eventually they led to worse evils than those they sought to cure.

Specific Definition

If I were asked to define specifically what I mean by health reform and health reform principles, I would say that anything which tends to re-form the image of God in the soul and body of man is health reform, and all fun­damentals of Christian living are health reform principles. Conse­quently, when the spirit of prophecy tells us that the eating of flesh foods will " animalize our natures," it is clear that abstaining from such food, in the fear and by the grace of God, is the practice of a health reform principle; for animal natures, propensities, and passions belong not in the realm of the kingdom of God.

Not long ago I received a letter from an old friend and colaborer, who is now president of one of our colleges, containing a sentence which to me seems almost a classic in the state­ment of a great truth. The sentence is this: " A stand on health reform constitutes a protecting edge on the great moral issues and many other problems that are a source of great tribulation to our young men and wo­men." It is true that the one who would succeed' in life must erect 'for himself a very fine type of barrier, far beyond the barriers that his school or church or anyone else would have erected for him.

Every once in a while we hold our breath and lower our heads in shame as we hear that someone among us, whom we have loved and revered, has fallen into some gross and terrible sin. We are apt to think of these sins as having been the product of one unguarded moment. But this is alto­gether wrong. Men do not go bad over­night. Spiritual resistance, like phys­ical resistance, must reach a low tide before a terrible calamity or disease can fasten its fangs upon us. In medi­cine, we speak of the " prodromes " of typhoid fever, the " prodromes " of pneumonia, et cetera. These are not disease in and of themselves, but signs and symptoms which always precede the disease. No doubt the same is true spiritually. The entertaining of evil thoughts, wicked imaginations, and the like; the eating and drinking of things which we know irritate and unduly stimulate the nervous system of the body, are the " prodroraes " which come before the great moral fall in the life.

Divine Elasticity

In a technical way, I think many have taken wrong views of health re­form. Recently one of our ministers told me of a camp meeting held in one of our larger conferences, in connection with which the people were asked to signify by standing that they vowed never again to partake of a piece of meat under any circumstances. To me, such a vow is like vowing never again to have an evil thought or speak a careless word. It is an old-covenant declaration. In itself it denies our tremendous daily and hourly need of the power of God to keep us from that which is evil. Then, again, it takes no cognizance of the fact, so clearly brought out in the word of God, that certain things at times are right or wrong according to circumstances, and not because of " Medo-Persian " law which altereth not. For instance:

The God of heaven made it very clear to His people in an early day that they should not marry the daugh­ters of the heathen. Nevertheless, when Joseph was the only servant of the true God in the land of Egypt, he became united in marriage to Asenath, the daughter of Potipherah, the prince of On. This woman was an Egyptian, a heathen, and a daughter of a heathen prince. She bore to Joseph two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh. Now it is very evident that God did not look with any disfavor upon Joseph for con­tracting this marriage, and certainly He numbered the two sons that resulted therefrom in the roster of the tribes of the children of Israel; and, in fact, the house of Joseph was the only one represented by two tribes among the people of Israel.

We have another illustration in the case of Ruth. God decreed that the Moabites should not be numbered in the congregation of Israel until ten generations had passed by, because they were the product of unspeakable relations between Lot and his own daughter. Nevertheless, when Ruth, a humble maiden, desired to enter into that congregation long before the ten generations were fulfilled, her prayer was not only granted, but she was honored by being made an ancestress of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself.

To my mind, these Scriptural truths go to show that there is a certain elas­ticity about even divine things, and that this is necessary in order to leave room for the Spirit of God to work upon the hearts of men.

There is a tendency to carry health reform to fanatical extremes, in much the same manner as the Pharisees pushed the enforcing of the law to such hairsplitting conclusions that they finally wound up with the tragic words, " We have a law, and by our law He ought to die." Over against this, of course, we must not use our liberty as a cloak for licentiousness. The apostle Paul admonishes: " Use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh." The exact balance can be imparted only by the Spirit of God, N. hich comes to a man through prayer and the study of the word.

Los Angeles, Calif.

Its Relation to Evangelism

By Kathryn L. Jensen

To gain a clear conception of the true relationship of the health reform message to evangelism, we should give intensive study to the methods of soul-winning work which Jesus employed during the years of His public ministry. Through this study we find that the miracles which Christ performed, in both the physical and the spiritual realm, were not entirely, as we might suppose, to incite in His followers through succeeding generations down to the close of time, the expectation of performing miracles in just the way that Jesus did; but rather, through intensive demonstration of divine power in these miracles, to teach the methods which should be employed for winning souls to the allegiance of the God of heaven.

Concerning the miracles of Christ, we read as follows:

" The Saviour in His miracles re­vealed the power that is continually at work in man's behalf, to sustain and to heal him. Through the agencies of nature, God is working day by day, hour by hour, moment by moment, to keep us alive, to build up and restore us. . . . The words spoken to Israel are true to-day of those who recover health of body or health of soul. I am the Lord that healeth thee.' . . . He it is who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases; who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with loving-kindness and tender mercies.'"—" Ministry of Heal­ing," pp. 112, 118.

During three and a half years of public ministry, Jesus sought to emphasize to His disciples that ministry to the body and ministry to the soul must go hand in hand; and with this fact in mind, as we study the miracles of Jesus, we grasp more clearly the complete provisions of the gospel. In every case we see that Jesus recognized the real desire and need of the one who came to Him for help, and proceeded to minister to that need. Ofttimes it was physical healing that the applicant most longed for, and after healing the body, then came direct ministry to the still greater, though unrecognized, need that of the soul. (John 5:5-15 as example.) In other cases, Jesus knew that the greatest longing of the heart was to be free from the condemnation of sin, and then He first pardoned and afterward healed the physical maladies. (Mark 2:3-12 as example.) Often the ministry to the body and the ministry to the soul were so closely associated that one could not be distinguished from the other. For example, there is the case of the wo­man who " had spent all her living upon physicians, neither could be healed of any," and whose longing for physical healing is expressed in her own words, " If I may but touch His garment, I shall be whole." This wo­man touched Jesus' robe, and was made whole in body and soul, as is evi­denced by the words of Jesus when He said, " Be of good comfort: thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace." Luke 8:48.

In the work of healing, Jesus did not make any distinction as to which should be considered most important, — either the spiritual or the physical need. He sensed that humanity pre­sented various needs, and His heart so throbbed in sympathy for those needs that in Him the longing soul found a ready helper, whether the need bore a spiritual or a physical aspect. Never, however, did Jesus fail to recog­nize the physical need when it was uppermost, and never did He with­hold the spiritual help to accompany the physical need.

We are confronted to-day with the results of six thousand years of trans­gression of God's moral and physical laws; mental anguish and physical suffering abound in the minds and bodies of the people; and the methods of evangelism which will successfully and adequately meet these needs must embrace healing of the body and res­toration of the soul. While these meth­ods need not necessarily be bound up in one individual, they should be fully provided for in the group of workers associated together in an evangelistic effort.

In following the example of our Saviour in revealing "the power that is continually at work in man's behalf, to sustain and heal," we are to recog­nize God's plan of placing in the church diversities of gifts, all operating by the same Spirit. Every worker must, to some degree, be a specialist in the line of his particular gift, at the same time combining and blending his gift to the accomplishment of the " per­fecting of the saints," and " the edify­ing of the body of Christ." The evan­gelist must be a master in the tech­nique of soul winning, in which is embraced obedience to God's natural and moral laws. The Bible worker, while especially qualified to teach the truths of the word of God, should be able, not only to teach the principles of the gospel of health, but should know how to administer relief for phys­ical suffering, when this is the nature of the real need first to be met. Like­wise, the Christian nurse, while skilled in preventive and curative measures, standing as an educator and leader in the health reform message, must be ready, when the need so requires, to give first aid to the sin-sick soul, There is many a person who must be taught how to cast his burden of sin at the foot of the cross, before peace of mind can avail in producing physical heal­ing. This trio group — the minister, the Bible worker, and the nurse, with a physician available as consultant ­represents the happy combination in Christian service for revealing that same miracle-working power which the Saviour so often demonstrated and which is continually at work in man's behalf.

With this conception of true evan­gelism, the health reform message be­comes an indispensable part of all such effort. Instead of being made a side line, to serve as entertainment, the health reform message becomes an integral part of the evangelistic pro­gram for the evening. It is just as consistent for the twenty-minute health talk to follow the period of silent prayer on entering the pulpit, taking its logical place in the opening exer­cises, as it is for the soloist to do his part. But on all sides it is apparent that there is need of placing and keep­ing this health reform phase of evan­gelism in its rightful setting. The general plan seems to be to put the health talk as a thing apart from the evening service. Is not this a segrega­tion which is unwarranted when seek­ing to follow the methods of the Master?

When there exists between the evan­gelist and the medical worker a thorough co-operative understanding, it is possible for the health talk to prove a very effective means of pre­paring the way for the spiritual mes­sage. For example, let us suppose that the evangelist chooses as his subject " Jesus, the Sinner's Friend." It would be quite appropriate for such a stirring revival sermon to be preceded by a health study on the power of the sun's rays in healing disease, for we are told that " the sun rising in the heaven is the representative of Him who is the life and light of all that He has made."—" Ministry of Healing," page 412. While the health worker need make but little application to the spiritual phase, the setting forth of the discoveries of the marvelous heal­ing power of the sun's rays, would add force to the message of the evan­gelist as he endeavors to impart knowl­edge of the divine provision that " unto you that fear My name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in His wings."

It is the moral setting of the health reform message that makes it differ from the health message of the world. If the health reform message which Seventh-day Adventists proclaim deals with intellectual acceptance alone, and lacks the setting forth of our moral obligation to serve God, body, mind, and soul, those to whom we talk may as well listen to a public health worker representing the welfare organizations of the world. Ours is a reform mes­sage, and as we lead men and women to understand that to conform to God's natural laws results in their health and happiness, they will more readily un­derstand that it is not an arbitrary command of God which requires their obedience to His moral law.

Our instruction is definite: " To make natural law plain, and to urge obedience to it, is a work that accom­panies the third angel's message."­" Counsels on Health," p. 21. The mes­sage of health reform which is not in harmony with natural law, or, being genuine, is used merely to attract, to entertain, and to serve as a bait to catch the interest of the masses, brings discredit to God's cause, and violates the very spirit of the Saviour's meth­ods of evangelism. We are told that " Jesus was not satisfied to attract at­tention to Himself merely as a wonder-worker, or as a healer of physical dis­ease. He was seeking to draw men to Him as their Saviour.... Mere worldly success would interfere with His work. And the wonder of the careless crowd jarred upon His spirits."—" Ministry of Healing," p. 31.

Washington, D. C.

The Trained Nurse in Action

By R.S. Lindsay

In conducting a recent evangelistic effort it was my privilege to have the services of two Christian nurses, and I have no hesitancy in saying that for the success of city evangelistic work the services of the trained nurse are indispensable. I am far from being convinced, however, that the preaching of the great doctrines of the message should in any way be made secondary to the health message. in other words, I do not feel that the health message should be the outstanding feature in a series of meetings to that extreme degree which leads the public to be­lieve that a "health institute" is in operation, which has the backing and support of the evangelist, instead of an evangelistic series of sermons on present truth, in connection with which trained nurses deal with the gospel of health in the most practical and help­ful manner.

The health reform message is as closely related to the third angel's mes­sage as is the right arm to the body. A soul in preparation to meet Christ at His coming would be as truly crip­pled without the health message as the human body would be without the right arm. The value of the right arm lies in •the fact that it is a strong mem­ber of the body, and actively and effec­tually ministers to the body. Severed from the body, it would be useless.

As to the method by which the evan­gelical and medical combined in the evangelistic effort, our program an­nounced a health talk and demonstra­tion,each night, for a half hour before the sermon began. During the day the nurses visited the people who had handed in their names requesting liter­ature or had especially requested a visit by the nurse. The professional standing of these workers gave them prestige with the people, and opened the way for presenting the message. The service rendered by these nurses was a great asset to the work, not so much from the standpoint of the pub­lic talk preceding the sermon, as by the house-to-house visitation during the day. The public talk should not be in any way discounted, however. It created interest, and served as an open­ing wedge to the homes of the people, where true medical missionary work was called for. These nurses carried a heavy An.ogram, acting somewhat in the capacity of Bible workers during the day, and as health instructors at the time of the evening service. Some value should be attached to the public health demonstration, but in my opin­ion this is meager compared to the value of the personal work rendered by the Christian nurse in the homes.

Baltimore, Md.


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By various authors. 

May 1929

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