Subscribe now

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
Buy this book »

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

Book Reviews

Read our latest book reviews

Star RatingStar RatingStar RatingStar RatingStar Rating
Grace Defined and Defended: What a 400-Year-Old Confession Teaches Us about Sin, Salvation, and the Sovereignty of God
Kevin DeYoung

This year sees the anniversary of the Synod of Dort which concluded its deliberations in May 1619. Much has been written about this, mainly from a Reformed perspective which rightly views its findings as worthy of being set alongside other…

See all book reviews
Star RatingStar RatingStar RatingStar RatingStar Rating
Why Should the Devil Have All the Good Music? Larry Norman and the perils of Christian rock
Gregory Thornbury

What are we to make of Larry Norman, the controversial pioneer of Christian pop music in the late 1960s and ‘70s? Gregory Alan Thornbury (son of occasional ET contributor John) tells the fascinating story with riveting style and careful accuracy.…

Star RatingStar RatingStar RatingStar RatingStar Rating
That Hideous Strength: How the West Was Lost
Melvin Tinker

A book offering to tell us ‘how the West was lost’ has set itself a very ambitious target. Perhaps it needs a few more pages to quite hit that target. But it succeeds admirably in drawing our attention to a…

John Henry Newman: Becoming Rome’s first ecumenical saint
Star RatingStar RatingStar RatingStar RatingStar Rating
John Henry Newman: Becoming Rome’s first ecumenical saint
Richard Bennett and Michael de Semlyen

The German-born Pope Benedict XVI is due to carry out a state visit to the UK from 16-19 September. The climax of this visit is a Mass in Coventry at which the Pope will beatify John Henry Newman (1801-1890). Newman…