In continuing our series on the book What if Jesus Had Never Been Born? and examining the impact of Jesus Christ on Western civilization, the next item I wanted to examine is the influence of Christianity in the area of hospitals and how they came about. Dr D. James Kennedy and Dr Jerry Newcombe write in Chapter 10 of their book that....
"Prior to the influence of Christ , we find that in some cultures there were a few scattered, rudimentary places where the sick were brought. This includes military hospitals for roman soldiers, and in ancient Greece, temples of Asculapius, where supersition abounded and where patients were taken advantage of by unscrupoulous priests.
Life was cruel prior to the influence of Jesus Christ. So caing for the nonuseful sick was not a priority. For example, Plautus, a Roman philosopher of the egoistic school said "A man is a wolf to a man whom he does not know."
The chapter goes on to point out that the Council of Nicaea in 325 AD instructed "every cathedral city in Christiandom" to "start a hospital". The historian George Grant stated that Saint Basil of Caesaria in the 4th century establish what could be described as the first "non-ambulatory hospital" that is, a medical center that had beds for it's patients. Also mentioned is "A wealthy Christian woman, Fabiola, , a disciple of St Jerome, is credited with having built the first hospital in the western world, in Rome, circa AD 400."
"The oldest hospital still functioning in the world today is the hotel Dieu (God) in Paris, established by st Landry around AD 600. It was a medical establishment then as well. I. Donald Snook, author of Hospitals: What They Are and how They Work wrote "Even by current standards, this early French hospital could truly be called a medical centre, since it embraced many of the varied activities necassary to care for the sick."
"The oldest hospital in the New World still in existance today is the Jesus of Nazereth hospital in Mexico City, established by Cortez in 1524. "
Compare the work of Christians in the field of health with that of atheists. "During the French Revolution there was a revolt against the Church-the hospital system essentially broke down. As many as one-third of France's hospitals ceased operating." In fact, according to author Colin Jones (The Charitable Imperative: Hospitals and Nursing in Ancient Regime and Revolutionary France), during that anti-clerical regime that "private charity seemed to dry up altogether".
Let me conclude by saying it was through the work of two dedicated Christians that many lives were saved as the work of hospitals was transformed. First was the father of modern bacteriology Louis Pastuer and the second was Joseph Lister who pioneered antiseptic surgery. were it not for these two dedicated Christians, who knows how many more lives would have been lost?