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How can one apply James 5:12 to taking the medical oath (Hippocratic oath)?

Especially where it links with the Hippocratic oath medical practitioners needs to take.

James 5:12

AMP - 12 But above all [things], my brethren, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or by any other oath; but let your yes be [a simple] yes, and your no be [a simple] no, so that you may not sin and fall under condemnation.

Clarify Share Report Asked August 23 2017 Final avatar Nicola Calitz

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Physician pic Melanie Spindler Imperfect Christ-Follower, lover of God, seeker of Truth
I am a physician, an MD, with a specialty in internal medicine and a sub-specialty in endocrinology. I take my work to uphold certain standards and evidence-based practices very seriously. I hold these standards and my proper treatment of patients inviolate. To do anything less would not only make me a bad doctor, but an indecent human and a worse Christ-follower (actually not a Christ follower in point of fact). 

The “Hippocratic Oath” has historically been recited upon graduation from medical school, but times, they are a changin'. Gone are the days when most traditional medical schools have their new graduates recite any oath but instead make a statement about upholding medical standards. Even when I graduated 15 years ago, there was no mention of "healing gods" nor of the Great Physician Himself. We stated that we would reject harm ("first do no harm" is mythically believed to be part of the Hippocratic oath), and would help to our best ability the person in front of us, upholding the standards of decency and respect of all human life.

Reciting any oath by Hippocrates, quite frankly, has not been done since 1847. There are many versions of "oaths" including the original or modified Declaration of Geneva, oath of Maimonides, or a declaration authored by students and/ or faculty of a particular school, whereas all nineteen osteopathic schools in the US use the Osteopathic Oath. To use the word "oath" however is a bit of a misnomer, and it is not done by the name of God nor anything in heaven nor on earth as in James 5:12 (I’m not sure that this is necessarily a good thing, however, but that’s a discussion for a different time). 

The Declaration of Geneva actually describes itself as a "covenant" which I think is appropriate. It is a promise, an acknowledgement, a declaration of what I uphold, very much like my declaration of faith. "I promise that I will respect...apply...remember...not be ashamed...prevent…" These are the words I spoke as a covenant agreement with my patients. I have promised to uphold certain standards based on my knowledge and training in medicine, of right and wrong, of good and bad practices, of being someone trustworthy that the sick and dying can turn to. And I promise to do this with joy in my calling to help heal or ease suffering.

As a Christian, I covenant to do this all to the best of my ability, as working for God and not man, to the glory of God.

August 24 2017 0 responses Vote Up Share Report


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