Sharing Faith in Practice Ethics Statement
As Christians we should share the good news of Jesus Christ. Christ has explicitly called us to make disciples.
As Christian physicians and dentists we seek the well-being of our patients in our covenantal relationship with them. Clinical studies have demonstrated the importance of spiritual health in physical well being. It is concern for the well-being of our patients that leads us to take a spiritual history from and share our faith with our patients.
As Christians we acknowledge the central role of the Holy Spirit in the process of evangelism. We rely on the discernment provided by the Holy Spirit to know when and how it is appropriate to share our faith. We recognize conversion is the Spirit's work, not ours.
Our faith should be implicit in our actions. We should be prepared to share our faith with patients and colleagues when our actions and the Holy Spirit prompt them to ask us questions. We should readily accept invitations from our patients to pray with them. We should offer to pray with our patients when they have indicated a belief in God and a practice of prayer. Some physicians and dentists choose to make their faith manifest through their statements, attire, or their office environment. Such indicators are not inherently disrespectful of patients and have the beneficial effect of making them aware of their doctor's faith perspective.
At times we may be prompted to initiate sharing our faith with our patients. In these situations, recognizing their vulnerability, it is appropriate to receive their permission for such an interaction. We should remain sensitive to patients' wishes in such interactions, especially when communicating with those who are of another culture or when caring for patients with diminished decision-making capacity.
Just as we respect our patients and their beliefs, our faith should be respected by the institutions in which we work. Policies that prohibit physicians and dentists from sharing their faith with others as described above restrict the freedoms of speech and religion of all involved and should be opposed.
Approved by the Board of Trustees, January, 1997
Approved unanimously as amended by the House of Delegates, May 9, 1997