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Between Life and Death: A Gospel-Centered Guide to End-of-Life Medical Care

By Kathryn Butler
November 2019 | Review by Louise Morse
  • Publisher: Crossway Books
  • ISBN: 978-1-433-56101-6
  • Pages: 224
  • Price: £14.14
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Book Review

Dr Kathryn Butler is a Christ-centred trauma and critical care surgeon with years of experience caring for patients in the intensive care unit. She has observed relatives struggle to reconcile what is happening with their faith, asking questions such as ‘why is God allowing my loved one to suffer?’, and crucially, ‘when is it right to turn off life-sustaining equipment?’

Although modern critical care can save lives, ‘when an illness cannot be cured aggressive interventions prolong dying, incur suffering and rob us of our ability to speak with loved ones and with God in our final days’ (p.15). Yet Dr Butler has known relatives insist that patients ‘linger on machines days past the point of hope’, praying and waiting for God to intervene. One daughter knew that her father was dying, but said, ‘You need to keep the ventilator going. I’m praying for a miracle’ (p.37).

The book is written to help patients and their families understand the end of life process, and provides a helpful framework of biblical wisdom to navigate by faith through their emotions and decisions at these times. Dr Butler handles ‘the Word of truth’ (2 Timothy 2:15) as expertly as she describes medical procedures and equipment.

Chapters towards the end give valuable information and advice, as well as appropriate Scripture verses. At the close of each chapter are ‘take-away points’ crystallising the essentials.

This is the clearest, most compassionate Christian book I’ve encountered in this context, and agree with the reviewer who said that it is a must-read for all Christians, church leaders and medical professionals who are living through end-of-life dilemmas — or could encounter them at some point.

Louise Morse

Cwmbran

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