Catholic Medical Quarterly

The Journal of the Catholic Medical Association (UK)

Building knowledge. Building faith. Protecting the vulnerable.

Book Review

A Search For A Theology Of Resuscitation

Priscilla Noble-Mathews
AuthorHouse (2012)
ISBN 978-1-4678-9096-0

Book CoverWhat was uncommon and once seen as miraculous is now commonplace, namely, bringing a person back to life. Given that there are treatments for cardiac arrest, the author asks if there is a danger thatGod might be ignored when we have recourse to such procedures. Ought we not let nature take its course?

The author, who is a semi-retired Medical Practitioner, examines scripture, tradition and the Church Fathers to find a theology to underpin the ethics of resuscitation. There was, for example, the raising of Lazarus and this can be contrasted with the Resurrection of Christ. Bringing back someone to life cannot be compared to the final resurrection which is our Christian hope. Even Lazarus had to die after having been brought back to life.

It is noted that those resuscitated in both Old and New Testaments continued to serve the good of their neighbour,  bringing greater benefit to themselves as well before they die.

It is concluded that there is indeed a theology to underpin the ethics of resuscitation which firstly requires us to acknowledge God as the Author and giver of life. We do not have absolute autonomy over our own lives.

Given that this is primarily a work of theological reflection, it is not to be expected that the reader will find guidelines when and when not to resuscitate.

This is a well researched work and deserves a wide readership.