MLJ Trust Logo Image
Sermon #5073

Role of Medicine in Modern Society



Sermon Description

How has modern medicine shaped, and been shaped by, society? In this sermon titled “Role of Medicine in Modern Society,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones addresses the recent increase of public interest in medicine and examines the shifts that have occurred. A paradigm exists today where the doctor simultaneously has both more and less power. The mystique of a doctor is gone—they are nothing more than a normal person—but the doctor's independence and perceived expertise has created a culture of dependence on them. From such position and power, three new dangers are noted to have arisen. Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones discusses the realities of doctor and patient relationships, the influence of one’s personality and character by means of various drugs and operations, and the danger of a doctor’s declaration of authority over areas in which their dogmatism is not truly based on knowledge. How has the “personhood” of individuals been affected from the decreased emphasis on the “art” of medicine? Is this a good change? Dr. Lloyd-Jones foresees a future with increased psychosomatic focus and questions of issues with threats to individual liberty, reform, politics, amongst others.

Sermon Breakdown

  1. Dr. Lloyd-Jones begins by acknowledging the privilege of delivering the oration and expressing gratitude for the invitation.
  2. He notes the theme of the relationship between medicine and the community that the previous orations have established.
  3. He mentions his background in both medicine and ministry and how medicine has remained an interest of his.
  4. He says that medicine is the greatest of professions but notes the major changes that have taken place over the last 40 years. In the past, doctors were guides and knew patients personally but now the relationship is less personal.
  5. He lists the factors that have contributed to this change including: the National Health Service, advances in medicine like antibiotics and new treatments, doctors becoming more technical, increased public interest and scrutiny of medicine, TV medicine, the permissive society creating new problems, and conflicting medical opinions in court cases.
  6. He says doctors now have less power in some ways but more in others. They have less power due to losing the mystique of the profession but more due to increasing expertise and independence.
  7. He outlines the dangers and problems in the doctor-patient relationship, the power doctors have over patients, doctors as authorities, and ethical issues. The doctor-patient relationship is less personal, doctors have power to influence behavior and personality, some doctors claim too much authority, and doctors are seen as authorities on ethical issues like abortion though these are not medical questions.
  8. He argues for balance - doctors should not be dictators but also not slaves to the public. The greatest need is for good general practitioners who recognize the greatness of the profession.
  9. General practitioners should keep an eye on specialists, be humble, follow the principle of "do no harm," and show concern for the whole person. They need character, understanding, patience, and self-sacrifice.
  10. He believes medicine will settle down and find balance again if experts don't destroy civilization first. He hopes to convey the need for the ideals that inspired the founding of St. Bartholomew's Hospital.
  11. In conclusion, the chairman thanks Dr. Lloyd-Jones for giving the audience much to think about.

Itinerant Preaching

Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones

Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899-1981) was a Welsh evangelical minister who preached and taught in the Reformed tradition. His principal ministry was at Westminster Chapel, in central London, from 1939-1968, where he delivered multi-year expositions on books of the bible such as Romans, Ephesians and the Gospel of John. In addition to the MLJ Trust’s collection of 1,600 of these sermons in audio format, most of these great sermon series are available in book form (including a 14 volume collection of the Romans sermons), as are other series such as "Spiritual Depression", "Studies in the Sermon on the Mount" and "Great Biblical Doctrines". He is considered by many evangelical leaders today to be an authority on biblical truth and the sufficiency of Scripture.