General Hospital

Dr. George Barna, a physician attending to the American Church, stands over his patient. He looks down at her slender body. She is asleep, not aware that he has just taken a thermometer from her lips. Her face has wrinkles, showing her age, but beneath the lines is an attractive woman. He knows she is not fully aware of her sickness. She only submitted to the tests to prove she was healthy.

The doctor wonders how he can tell her the truth without destroying their relationship. Perhaps she will reject his prognosis and claim he is only trying to scare up business. He looks at the thermometer and shakes his head. The nurse looks at him expectantly (she has relatives in the church). Her quivering voice breaks the silence, “Doctor ... is it?”
“Yes, nurse. My tests are conclusive. The patient has use of only 10 percent of her vital organs. Her body is racked with cancer.”

“But how is that possible? She seems so healthy. Church attendance is up from last year, 43 percent of Americans go to church, and 84 percent of Americans want to be identified as ‘Christian.’ So that means evangelists are doing a good job, doesn’t it?”

“Yes, nurse, it all looks good on the outside, which makes it all the harder to tell her the truth. Perhaps the most disturbing fact is 83 percent of Protestant pastors describe their congregations as evangelical and conservative. That looks good on paper. But my tests show conclusively only 10 percent of American Protestants really are evangelical, and that’s only 5 percent to 8 percent of Americans.”

“But doctor, what does it all mean?”

“It means we’ve got a very sick woman on our hands. Not only is she sick, but, because she thinks she’s healthy, she keeps doing the things that make her sick.” The doctor’s face turns red as he suddenly grabs the woman’s shoulders. “I’d like to wake her up and knock some sense into her!”


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