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Natural remedies

Dr. R. Battista, Librarian and Teacher at Facoltà Avventista Teologica, Firenze

"Test all things; hold fast what is good". (1 Thessalonians 5:21)

The meaning of the Bible verse at the beginning, to clear any doubt, is that one must not demonize anything a priori. Usually, we welcome everything that fulfills its purpose; whether it is a natural remedy, or one obtained by synthesis.
These reflections are based on practical experiences observed in real life. Our point of view is that of the common man in the street for we are not medical doctors, nor therapists of natural medicine. However, we have noticed a trend that is catching on in regards to cancer therapies based solely on diet, fasting, herbs, body wraps, in total alternative and exclusion of surgery and chemotherapy.

Furthermore, for some people all of this is associated with prayer and faith to form a sort of iron bridge linking natural therapy and religious experience. Hence, I started asking myself some questions, whether or not «natural» must necessarily correspond to «spiritual». I know that in the background, a complex world of information is still there, telling us that the obvious interest of the pharmaceutical lobbies is in selling their products and probably not in highlighting the benefits of prevention. Their job is basically just to produce medications. Therefore, it is more than a suspicion; some medicines do not seem to be the best that you could have, but the logic of the market sometimes forces companies to go in a certain direction that does not coincide with the well being of the people. Here I do not want to deal with the difficult theme of corruption in business, the bad faith of those who stop scientific research instead of making it go forward in the interest of humanity (in practice, the problem of why today we have an automotive engineering that produces internal combustion engines, as in the nineteenth century.!)

My point of view is only philosophical-theological, not medical or scientific. I do not have an absolute orientation in therapy, but as a SDA member I strongly welcome all the inheritance of studies and knowledge about the crucial need of prevention and the importance of lifestyle. Last but not least: I am not a fan of medicine. However, is what is natural always decisive?

As a Christian do I need to configure my life in harmony with God and nature, as equal elements in balance? A second, more urgent question: "As a Christian, do I have to be first in harmony with nature to be then truly and fully in harmony with God? Does the fact that I resort to medicines reveal perhaps my lack of faith in God and in the remedies God might have created for my well-being? And lastly; it is not a provocation, but rather a question that arises from the observation of facts that happen. Is it better to die following natural cures, perhaps assisted by prayer, or living having resorted to traditional medical care?

I decided to deal with the problem head on; focusing on the philosophical roots of the relationship between natural cures and the conception of God. For this purpose, I will claim to be a creationist and believer in a personal God. I am also aware that the belief in a creator God, from the biblical point of view, can not be separated from the assumption that original sin has disrupted the harmony between man and creation, and nature in itself. Moreover, God, before and after the Fall of Adam and Eve, proves to be in a ratio of otherness compared to His Creation

In the Bible, never, is there confusion between the nature of God and His creation. Finally, creation is not an emanation of God. The concept of integration of my self with creation, possibly imbued with a divine energy, belongs to theosophical and anthroposophist schools. My body is not a microcosm that has to be in tune with the macrocosm. Such a view is not biblical, but of Eastern matrix. Creation, in this economy, has an ambiguous nature, the balance of which is based on complex forms of adaptation, where the overpowering of one organism at the cost of another is often the key to the survival. Often we tend to associate the adjective “natural” with something good, but it is not always so. The hemlock is definitely a natural product. In contrast, “synthetic” associates with something fake, artificial, and often harmful, while in the correct context, the word means; obtained by synthesis or reproduced on an industrial scale, steady and fairly inexpensive.

My well-being is, of course, based on communion with God and observance of His physical, moral and spiritual laws. Compliance with these laws concerns of course, the right amount of interaction with nature, in the knowledge that everything, however, must be well compared to what it means today, for example, be in the sun with the risks involved. It is just an example to reiterate that we must have in mind one goal - a long and happy life - which can be achieved in several ways, never stiffening into a single ideological vision. On the other hand, I must say in fairness, that the use of drugs as a way to do what we want regardless of the consequences of an unbalanced lifestyle, is to be condemned. As mentioned, the base of the Adventist philosophy of health, prevention, remains strong. But, what to do when a serious illness, such as cancer, threatens our life? Are the natural remedies that some schools of thought suggest sufficient or even better compared to traditional medicine? This is a difficult question to which I will not give specific answers, but neither will I support naturalistic spiritual theories for I do not believe they are based on the biblical view of God, man and the world. However, let me leave this page with one last question:

Would you try to stop a serial killer with Bible study? Definitely not. But, surely you would avoid walking around alone at night in a bad neighborhood.

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