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The Misuse of a Biblical Doctrine

Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

The History of Christian Counseling and General Revelation

Samuel Stephens
Feb 23, 2018
Source: Biblical Counseling

Introduction

A movement cannot be rightly understood unless it is placed in the context in which it began and how it progressed – what we call history. History allows us to trace threads of ideas and themes through time. Within the movement and practice of Christian Counseling, a line of division surfaces as we look at sources of authority upon which counselors have depended through the years. This division occurs between biblical conviction and counseling practice. In this essay, I suggest that the integrative model of counseling, namely Christian Counseling, misses the mark concerning the search and identification of truth by abusing the biblical doctrine of general revelation. The field of Christian Counseling has consistently demonstrated a historical misrepresentation and biblical misapplication of this doctrine in an effort to provide a justification for the utilization of secular psychology.

What is Christian Counseling?

It is important to note that as a label Christian Counseling can refer to a wide spectrum of counseling approaches.1 A unifying drive of this counseling approach, however, is the effort “to integrate psychology and Christian theology.”2Everett Worthington defined Christian Counseling as:

[An] explicit or implicit agreement between a counselor who is a Christian and a client for the provision of help for the client, in which the counselor not only has at heart the client’s psychological welfare but also the Christian spiritual welfare.3

As a formative influence in the Christian Counseling movement, Clyde Narramore noted that “wise counseling requires that evangelical faith be carefully integrated with the theories, therapeutic methods and professional roles of the modern psychologies [emphasis added].”4 In his book Psychology and Theology, Gary Collins added, “The Christian who wants to understand and help change human behavior must have a good understanding of psychological techniques and knowledge in areas such as biological, cognitive, affective, social, and individual bases of behavior [emphasis added].”5 A theme found throughout Christian Counseling literature is an emphasis on the importance of professional credentials, the reliance upon social science, and a focus on assisting clients in overcoming spiritual maladjustments on their own.6

Integration: An Idea and Process

Christian Counseling cannot be fully understood without highlighting the concept and method of integration. According to John Carter and Bruce Narramore, Christian social scientists who study human behavior through the scientific method use the term integration to show a correlation between professional and scientific fields with Christian theology. They stated, “Most of these efforts are based on one essential philosophical underpinning—the belief that all truth is God’s truth, wherever it is found. This proposition is frequently referred to as ‘the unity of truth.’”7

Collins defined truth as “an abstract idea, a universal reality that exists and can be grasped by analysis or experimentation.”8 In the inaugural edition of the Journal of Psychology and Theology, Bruce Narramore argued that “the minister and psychologist are not the only ones caught up in this conflict. The theologian, the physician and the student of psychology and scripture all share concerns for the whole man. They know they cannot minister effectively if they neglect the contributions of related disciplines.”9 Within Christian Counseling, integration provided a clear path to discovering truth in which psychological science, in conjunction with Scripture, could present a “cohesive approach to the problems that confront us.”10

The Doctrine of General Revelation

Within the context of the broader Christian Counseling movement, general revelation has been used in such a way as to make available “pieces of truth that cannot be found in the Bible.”11 According to Bruce Demarest, general revelation had traditionally been “mediated through nature, conscience, and the providential ordering of history” for the sole purpose of providing “a universal witness to God’s existence and character.”12 Demarest continued, “Through the modalities of general revelation, man at large knows both that there is a God and in broad outline what He is like” (14). In the first volume of his Systematic Theology, James Leo Garett clarified, “‘General’ revelation is that disclosure of God that is available to all human beings through the created universe (nature) and in the inner nature of human beings (conscience).”13

Christianity has been recognized as a revelatory religion and some have gone as far as to say that Christian faith necessitates revelation. The doctrine of revelation distinguishes Christianity from pseudo-religions which have more in common with pagan philosophies.14The very concept of revelation also assumes the sinfulness of man and the fact that man is in spiritual bondage apart from God’s activity and self-disclosure. In Revelation and Reason, his landmark treatment on this subject, Emil Brunner noted that biblical revelation, both general and special, did not disclose “facts” or “something” but it unveiled and disclosed God himself.15

A Brief Biblical Witness

Psalm 19 and Romans 1 demonstrate the doctrinal significance of general revelation.16 In Psalm 19, King David exclaimed, “The heavens are telling of the glory of God; And their expanse is declaring the work of his hands” (Psalm 19:1).17In his commentary on this psalm, John Calvin noted:

Scripture, indeed makes known to us the time and manner of the creation; but the heavens themselves, although God should say nothing on the subject, proclaim loudly and distinctly enough that they have been fashioned by his hands: and this of itself abundantly suffices to bear testimony to men of his glory.18

Not only did the heavens and sun address the glory of God, but each also revealed truth (Psalm 19:3). Peter Craigie noted that “as mankind reflects upon the vast expanse of heaven, with its light by day and its intimation of a greater universe by night, that reflection may open up an awareness and knowledge of God, the Creator, who by his hands created by glory beyond the comprehension of the human mind.”19

The New Testament contains a biblical witness to the doctrine of general revelation as well. Thomas Oden stated that a majority of theologians in the early years of Christianity agreed with the concept of general revelation as seen from the perspective of Paul in Romans 1­­–3 as the “universal revelation in the cosmos and human nature—along with a corresponding affirmation of human suppression of this revelation.”20 Romans 1:20 states that God’s divine characteristics “have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made . . . .”21See W. E. Vine and F. F. Bruce, Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words (Old Tappan, New Jersey: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1971), 168. According to Vine, the Greek word translated understood (νοέω noeō) meant “to perceive with the mind, as distinct from perception by feeling.” The emphasis on understanding with the mind seems to demonstrate the clarity and purposefulness of God within the revelation of himself vis-à-vis creation.In his explanation of this verse, Dunn expounded upon the potential influences on Paul’s observations regarding revelation and truth:

[Paul] draws principally on influential Stoic ideas: that there is an innate rapport between the divine and the human because the divine logos immanent throughout the world is immanent also in man as the power of reason . . . however, it is Paul’s more Jewish perception of this divine relation which remains primary: what is known is an act of revelation personally willed by God (v.19b) in relation to a created order (v.20); and man is recognized as a responsible agent in face of this revelation . . . .22

Another New Testament scholar, Douglas Moo, generally agrees with Dunn’s assessment that general revelation was directed by God, revealed by God, and purposed to convey the glory and power of God. However, he viewed Paul’s presentation of truth in this passage, while derived from general revelation and accessible to both Jews and Gentiles alike, was still limited in scope. In itself, general revelation cannot provide salvation to sinners.23

Historical Perspective of General Revelation

The doctrine of general revelation has undergone scrutiny, served as the topic of debate, and has been used as a foundation for other church teachings.24Originating with Thomas Aquinas, theology came to be known as the queen of the sciences. Millard Erickson noted, “Until the thirteenth century, the term science was not applied to theology. Augustine preferred the term sapientia (wisdom) to scientia (knowledge).”25 As a scholastic theologian, Aquinas focused much of his philosophical musings on the idea of truth and knowledge, which included its definition, source, and purpose. He categorized truth in two realms one lower (nature) and one higher (grace). During the medieval period the church was in a unique dilemma where paganism and secularism, threatened the status of Christianity in the eyes of the common man. Instead of relying on Scripture as the authority of what is necessary for faith and practice, Aquinas chose instead to appeal to reason for an adequate defense of Christianity.26

From this effort, Aquinas formulated the concept of natural theology, which he later refined in his Summa Theologica. As defined, natural theology “is the attempt to attain an understanding of God and his relationship with the universe by means of rational reflection, without appealing to special revelation such as the self-revelation of God in Christ and in Scripture.”27Aquinas’ conclusion concerning natural theology was essentially a misguided attempt to create an apologetic from general revelation. This effect led the Catholic Church to place “Scripture and tradition next to each other” instead of recognizing the different natures, yet identical purposes, of special and general revelation.28Aquinas’ emphasis on the capability of man’s reason led theologians to view revelation as only necessary to explain “what is above reason.”29Therefore, Aquinas’ re-tooling of general revelation rested on two assumptions: first, that nature was wholly intact and yet only partially marred by the Fall of man (Genesis 3), and secondly that people had retained an integrity of reason and perception untouched by sin.

The Protestant Reformation of the sixteenth century brought more developments to the doctrine of general revelation. However, instead of the parameters of this doctrine being expanded, it was narrowed. There was general consensus among Protestant theologians that man’s reasoning abilities were tainted and skewed by sin and thus were susceptible to error.30As early at 1524 A.D., Balthasar Hubmaier, a German Anabaptist theologian, published Eighteen Dissertations in which he included a section refuting a widely accepted view of general revelation. He wrote, “All teachings that are not from God are in vain and shall be rooted up. Here perish the disciples of Aristotle, as well as the Thomists, the Scotists, Bonaventure, and Occam, and all teaching that does not proceed from God’s word.”31This bold representation of general revelation was echoed by another well-known reformer, John Calvin. Calvin’s doctrine of sin, like that of Hubmaier, was sophisticated and took “into account that sinful men corrupt the gifts of understanding and scholarship God gives.”32The rationalism of natural theology committed error in that it denied man’s “dependence in our present state of sin upon God’s past revelations of himself.”33

While the Protestant Reformation brought about many positive changes, the adverse impact of natural theology continued on through the nineteenth century. In 1870 the Catholic Church “announced that God could be known with certainty from that which had been created through the natural light of reason.”34 The modern era of theological deliberation, from the late eighteenth century through the mid-twentieth century, was characterized as having combined the man-centered philosophies of the previous century with a broad interpretation of general revelation.

Theological Implications of General Revelation

The first theological implication regarding general revelation is in the categorization of theology as a “spiritual science” as opposed to a man-centered social science. By the late nineteenth century, the definition of science began to shift from an orderly, systematic study of a particular topic to becoming almost synonymous with the discovery of truth. Writing prolifically on the topic of science and spirituality, Abraham Kuyper noted that due to man’s sinful nature, the scientific method imposed upon the study of theology would invariably lead to error. In his Principles of Sacred Theology, he wrote:

Science is entirely different from truth. If you imagine our human development without  sin, the impulse to know and understand the cosmos, and by knowledge to govern it, would have been the same; but there would have been no search after truth, simply because there could have been no danger of relying upon falsehood as a result of investigation.35

Kuyper defended an idea of truth that inherently pointed to non-truth, while modern science depicted a “thirst after knowledge” which attempted to know everything that existed.36 Commenting nearly a century later on this topic, Carl F.H. Henry noted that it is hypocritical for modern science to demand that religion fall in line when the hard and social sciences constantly re-evaluate and re-assess the veracity of previous conclusions. A consistent characteristic of modern science is that it was always “subject to ongoing revision of its judgments.”37 Erickson agreed with Henry that sciences not based on biblical revelation could indeed err. As such, general revelation can only be accurately understood when held in distinction from man-centered disciplines. Millard Erickson stated, “In an attempt to be regarded as scientific, disciplines dealing with humanity [e.g. psychology] have tended to become behavioristic, basing their method, objects, and conclusions upon what is observable, measurable, and testable, rather than on what can be known introspectively.”38

A second theological implication behind general revelation is that it is distinct from the process and idea of scientific discovery. The Greek word ἀποκάλυψις (apokalypsis) is used throughout Scripture and is most often translated as revelation, which denotes “an ‘unveiling’ and hence a disclosure.”39 Despite this connection, general revelation has been consistently subsumed under the pursuits of modern scientific exploration. Regarding the use of general revelation by the Christian counselor and psychologist, Gary Collins stated, “He [God] has revealed this truth through the Bible, God’s written Word to human beings, but he also has permitted us to discover truth [emphasis added] through experience, through research investigation, and through the insights that come through reflection, observation, and the words of books and sermons.”40 David Penley disagrees with Collins’ conclusions citing that this is an inaccurate view of general revelation. Christians cannot justify utilizing the social sciences by claiming they fall under the category of general revelation. He noted, “General revelation is not God revealing new things to us. He is revealing things about Himself that He also has revealed through special revelation in the Scriptures.”41 A correct understanding of general revelation precludes that God is infinite and man is not. To know God, He must make himself known.42

Christian Counseling: Context and Ideology

In one of the most comprehensive texts in the field of Christian Counseling, Gary Collins mentioned that man’s discoveries of “truth” in general revelation must be consistent with the Bible as revealed truth; however, he did not concede that psychological theory and methodology were based on anti-biblical presuppositions. He further concluded that counseling becomes ineffective and limited when counselors “pretend that the discoveries of psychology, neuropsychology, psychobiology, human genetics, and related fields have nothing to contribute to the understanding and solutions of problems.”43In this final section of the essay, it will be demonstrated that Christian Counseling has adopted an unbiblical concept of general revelation in order to justify attempts at integrating secular psychological models with Christian theological approaches to soul care.

A Modern Approach to Soul Care

The endeavors of philosophy and psychology have, in many ways, intersected with theology and the Christian church regarding the dealings, purposes, nature, and solution to the “basic problems of human nature.”44The early integration of philosophy with theology culminated in pastoral counseling becoming dominated by a scientific and psychological model. Modern trends in pastoral counseling have set it apart from its foundation as the biblical care of souls. In 1956, William Hulme stated, “In former days, the pastor’s counseling was oriented in pastoral theology [anchored in Scripture]; today it centers on pastoral psychology. The impetus for this new movement has come more from the laboratories of the psychological sciences than from the scholarship of theologians.”45

Among Protestants, practical theology no longer covered matters related to soul care and counseling but focused only on topics including preaching, missions, evangelism, and church government. When faced with issues that practical theology did not answer, pastors referred their congregants to the “secular experts” for help and counsel.46Carter and Narramore noted that while liberal pastors functionally abandoned theology for psychology in this area of ministry, conservative pastoral counselors, who were in the minority, were unaware of “the contributions of psychology to the understanding of personality” and therefore lagged behind their counterparts.47 Soon a small number of Christian psychologists began calling all evangelical pastors and counselors to embrace one another’s methods, both biblical and psychological, in an effort to construct a holistic integrative approach to soul care that would be acceptable to clinical psychologists and psychiatrists, efficacious to patients who were emotionally, mentally, and spiritually ill, while still remaining unapologetically Christian.48 Eric Johnson considered the 1960s and 1970s the “golden age of integration” where many Christian psychologists, mental health workers, and counselors largely favored the integration of faith and psychology. The key figures at the forefront of the Christian counseling movement held to a strong conceptual view of integration. Johnson noted that the task of what he labeled as interdisciplinary integration “ostensibly involves reflection of the propositions of modern psychology and the propositions of theology (and the Bible) in order for Christians to end up with discourse that includes both theological and psychological propositions and that is logically consistent with Christian faith.”49In an attempt to integrate, those who held to this approach divided the “revelations” of the Christian faith into two distinct categories. Special revelation involved theology as disclosed in Scripture while general revelation allowed for the study of sociology and psychology by humans in order to “discover” truth.50. Others affirmed that psychology, as a “scientific discipline,” not only had more impact on the church than any other theory, except perhaps Darwinian evolution, but that as a human-centered field of study similar to theology, psychology could “offer a great deal toward an understanding of the human race.”51 In identifying the objective of Christian counseling, Collins stated, “As a counselor, you are a change specialist. Your job is to help people deal with the changes that come into their lives and make changes that will improve their lives.”52However, this change is inconsistent to the concept of “change” as presented within the Bible.

The Search for Truth

The question of the nature of truth serves as the impetus behind the psychologically-informed Christian Counseling movement. The goals and methods of Christian Counseling are concerned with both psychological and spiritual matters. Christian counselors and psychologists hold that the Bible, however useful for spiritual matters, never claims “to be a textbook on counseling” and “never was meant to be God’s sole revelation about people-healing.”53The logical conclusion of this claim on the nature and source of truth was expressed by Stanton Jones when he suggested that Christian counselors had a duty to their clients to share any knowledge of psychological theory they had in their possession. He also seemed to suggest that to withhold such knowledge would make the counselor not only irresponsible, but even negligent.54

Two related assumptions are shared by those who engage the integrationist approach to Christian Counseling. The first assumption is that God is the source of all truth. Carter and Narramore defend this assertion by stating that all disciplines share a basic unity of truth and this unity serves as the legitimate basis for all attempts at integrating the Christian faith with professional, clinical, and theoretical psychology. The view that Christian theology shares subject matter and philosophic jurisdiction with secular psychology leads them to conclude that God is the source of the truth found in these two often opposing sources. They claimed, “If we believe that God is the source of all truth, we assume that there is no inherent conflict between the facts of psychology and the data of Scripture [emphasis mine].”55

The second assumption generally held within Christian Counseling is that man is able to know/discover all truth. According to Collins, science serves as the vehicle for studying and making sense of the natural world (via general revelation). In essence scientific methodology provides an illumination into the teachings and truths of Scripture in a way that man can grasp. A Christian psychologist must be a solid student of both general and special revelation and “continually test his scientifically derived facts against the revealed truth of the Bible.”56 Larry Crabb conceded this point by stating, “The Two-Book View (which is the implicit view behind much current thinking on integration) elevates the conclusions of empirical research to the same level of decisiveness as the conclusions of biblical study.”57

Historical Misrepresentation

Christian Counseling perpetuates the historical misrepresentation of general revelation by equating scientific studies and empirical data with God-given revelation. Concerning the use of general revelation in related literature, Deinhardt noted:

The importance and theological soundness of the stance taken on it is virtually ignored in the Christian counselling [sic] literature, in spite of the fact that it has a key role in determining what materials are to be included in theories of counselling [sic] and what methodologies will be employed in counselling [sic]. Moreover, to the extent it is mentioned, it is typically done so in a manner not representative of traditional evangelical theology. Instead, “all truth is God’s truth” is often used as a theological catch clause so-to-speak whereby one can uphold biblical authority, while in good conscience adding in whatever other “truths” one might deem worthy from other sources.58

In agreement with this assessment, Jim Owen stated, “Although ‘Christian’ psychology claims to integrate Scriptural truth with ‘discovered’ (i.e., scientific) truth, integration is not occurring; Integration is virtually impossible. ‘Christian’ psychology sets aside the historical-grammatical method of interpreting Scripture and replaces it with a hermeneutic centered on pathology.”59Jones views special revelation as an exalted gift; however, it is insufficient in providing what counselors need to fully understand human beings. Modern psychology, provided to man through general revelation, offers “legitimate and strategic” aid in helping the Christian therapist better understand human nature.60

Admitting that not all Christian Counselors and integrationists have adequately represented general revelation, Mark McMinn and Clark Campbell stated that this doctrine was “more authoritative on issues left unaddressed in the Bible” including examples given such as “constructing microprocessors or treating bacterial pneumonia.”61However, general revelation, as previously mentioned, is never referred to as an ambiguous truth that was to be discovered by “reasonable” men.62 General revelation was provided to man by God for the purpose of revealing man’s inherent sin, guilt, and need for reconciliation to His Creator. Scripture, as special revelation, brings explicit clarity to this relationship.63Henry, Revelation and the Bible: Contemporary Evangelical Thought, 19. See also, Packer, Ferguson, and Wright, New Dictionary of Theology. Pinnock stated, “The two species of revelation stand together in a complementary relationship. We should not forget that God is the source of revelation in both cases, and that two types of revelation work together to the same goal” (585).

Theological Misapplication

Collins reimagines not only the historical but the biblical definition of revelation. His model “begins with the assumption that God exists and is the source of all truth. This truth is revealed through the Bible (disclosed truth) and nature (discovered truth).”64The biblical definition of truth is re-framed by Collins and Crabb in the form of expanded empiricism. Collins noted, “I would agree with Crabb that the Bible is our primary source . . . But the Bible does not claim to be a textbook on psychology. We can and must draw from nonbiblical sources if we want to intervene to bring about maximum change through counseling.”65

In his book, Psychological Seduction, sociologist William Kirk Kilpatrick argues that the good intentions of Christian integrationists often leads to the secular overtaking the sacred. He stated, “True Christianity does not mix well with psychology. When you try to mix them, you often end up with a watered-down Christianity instead of a Christianized psychology.”66 In differentiating Christian counseling from biblical counselors, Ed Bulkley noted that the “controversy centers on the issues of authority and the source of truth.”67 As has been shown, the misapplication of general revelation in order to affirm extra-biblical sources of truth is not a new concept when the Christian counseling movement was first conceived; regardless, as a movement, this approach was widely applied.68 Years earlier, Abraham Kuyper noted that truth that is scientifically established has come to be known as universally valid. However, Scripture never presents truth as a force that depends upon corporate agreement in order to retain its validity.69

Conclusion

While it is a vitally important biblical doctrine, general revelation has been at the center of theological debate throughout church history. Unfortunately, this doctrine has been often misrepresented leading to error regarding the nature, source, and application of truth itself. Through this essay, I have argued that those adhering to an integrationist approach to Christian Counseling have perpetuated an incorrect understanding of general revelation in an effort to utilize both secular psychology and Christian Scripture. Ultimately, integrative counseling functionally identifies and utilizes two different types of wisdom: one found in the Bible and one found in secular psychology.70 At the same time, modern soul care practices pay lip-service to the sufficiency of Scripture while simultaneously denigrating the inherent authority of the Word of God. A proper historical and theological understanding of general revelation recognizes not only its place as subservient to special revelation, but also that revelation is not synonymous with empirical inquiry, incidental discovery, or truth-making but instead demonstrates an active and purposeful unveiling of God’s nature and plan to those who are made in His image.

<a href="https://biblicalcounseling.com/multi_author/samuel-stephens/">Samuel Stephens</a>
Samuel Stephens

Samuel Stephens serves as the Director of Training Center Certification at ACBC.

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Too Many Americans Still Mistrust the COVID-19 Vaccines. Here’s Why

Here’s What’s Behind Americans’ Uneasy Relationship With Vaccines
BY JEFFREY KLUGER  JANUARY 5, 2021 9:36 AM EST
Source: Time

If you’re feeling impatient waiting your turn for a COVID-19 vaccine, here’s a little good news: Angela Padgett will gladly give you her place in line—at least for now. Padgett, president of a day spa in Raleigh, N.C., is under no illusions about the mortal danger the pandemic poses to herself, her family and the world writ large—indeed, she had COVID-19 back in July. But as for the vaccine that is supposed to put an end to all of the suffering at last? Not today.

“I am a little bit hesitant,” she says. “I can appreciate President Trump trying to get this moving fast and I’ve taken pretty much every vaccine [for other diseases]. But I think it was rushed through very early, very quickly. So I would like a little more data.”

Padgett is not alone. According to a December survey undertaken by the Pew Research Center, nearly 40% of Americans say they will definitely not or probably not get the COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes available to them. Gallup polls put the number at 37%. That’s bad news not just for the vaccine refusers themselves but for the public as a whole. Experts including Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, had previously concluded that achieving herd immunity—the point at which a population is sufficiently vaccinated that a spreading virus can’t find enough new hosts—would require anywhere from 60% to 70% of Americans to take the vaccines. But lately, he and others have been inching that number upward, now estimating that herd immunity could require as much as 85% vaccine coverage.

The holdouts have multiple reasons for their reluctance. There are, of course, the dead-enders in the anti-vax community, for whom no vaccine is safe or acceptable. There is, too, a faction peddling conspiracy theories about the COVID-19 vaccines in particular. As one falsely goes, the disease is caused by 5G cell towers, so a vaccine would be useless against it. (The rumor has been repeatedly debunked on Snopes.com and other sites.) Another spuriously claims the vaccines are a plot by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation—or, alternately, Elon Musk—to inject microchips into Americans. That last one—debunked herehere and elsewhere—has gained enough traction in the fever-swamp corners of the Internet that it prompted a rare acknowledgment from Bill Gates himself. “It doesn’t help that there are false conspiracy theories about vaccines, including some that involve Melinda and me,” he wrote in a foundation letter he released on Dec. 22.

But most people in the COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy camp are more rational, more measured—informed enough not to believe the crazy talk, but worried enough not to want to be at the head of the line for a new vaccine. “For first responders and for older people with underlying conditions it’s a godsend,” says Padgett. “But I do believe this was rushed. I’m reasonably healthy. Six months to a year just to get more data on it is what I’d need to be vaccinated.”


For all the urgency to get as many vaccines into as many arms as possible, the reluctance of such a large swath of the population to be among the early adopters is not completely without merit.

“I think it’s reasonable to be skeptical about anything you put into your body, including vaccines,” says Dr. Paul Offit, professor of pediatrics at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and director of its Vaccine Education Center. Coming from Offit, a vocal proponent of universal vaccination and a particular boogeyman of the anti-vax camp, that carries particular weight. He goes further still, acknowledging that the speed with which the COVID-19 vaccines were developed can cause people special concern. “The average length of time it takes to make a vaccine is 15 to 20 years,” he says. “This vaccine was made in a year.”

Then too there is a question of effectiveness. Both of the vaccines that have been authorized for emergency use in the U.S., one from Pfizer-BioNTech and one from Moderna, have what Offit calls “ridiculously high efficacy rates—in the 95% range for all [COVID-19] disease and for Moderna’s product 100% for severe disease.” But in the haste to get the vaccine to market, test subjects have been followed up for only two to three months, so it’s impossible to say with any authority how effective the vaccines will remain at six or nine or 12 months.

Finally there are the side effects. Anaphylaxis—or a severe allergic reaction—is possible with any vaccine, though medical protocols call for people who have received the shot to wait 15 minutes before they leave so that they can be treated if they do have a reaction. More troubling are spotty reports of Bell’s palsy—partial facial paralysis—following COVID-19 vaccinations. But those numbers are exceedingly small. One false Facebook posting purported to be from a nurse in Nashville who got the vaccine and suffered Bell’s palsy, but that too has been debunked, as repeated searches have turned up no nurse in the Tennessee health system under that name. All the same, it sparked outsized fear of a real but minimal risk.

“There were four cases of Bell’s palsy within a month or month and a half in the Pfizer trial out of 22,000 recipients,” Offit says. “So that works out to roughly eight per 10,000 per year.” Such a case count may be low, but it does exceed the average background rate of Bell’s palsy in the general population, which is 1.2 per 10,000 per year, Offit says. Other sources put the incidence as a somewhat higher 2.3 per 10,000.

Armed with numbers like that, however, humans are not always terribly good at calculating risk. On the one hand even an eight in 10,000 chance of contracting facial paralysis does sound scary; on the other hand, about one out every 1,000 American was killed by COVID-19 this past year. The mortal arithmetic here is easy to do—and argues strongly in favor of getting the shots.

So too does the way the vaccines were developed—which is actually not as rushed as the calendar would make it seem. The Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines both use mRNA—or messenger RNA—to prompt the body to produce a coronavirus spike protein, which then triggers an immune response. That is a novel method for making a vaccine, but the basic research was by no means conducted within the last year.

“The technology for the vaccine has actually been in development for more than a decade,” says Dr. Richard Pan, a pediatrician and a state senator in California. Pan has pushed hard over the years for laws mandating vaccines for children to attend school and, like Offit, has earned the animus of the anti-vax community for his efforts. He is just as big a booster of the COVID-19 vaccine—though he would not propose mandates until there are enough doses for everyone to get a shot—and tries to reassure doubters that no matter how soon they get the vaccine, there are a lot of people who went before them.

“I point out to people that when you get the vaccine you’re definitely not the first,” he says, “because there are tens of thousands of people who have been involved with clinical trials.” Health care workers who are already being vaccinated increase that number dramatically—some 2 million have gotten the shot in the U.S. as of this writing.


Offit’s and Pan’s reassurances will surely not assuage everyone, and here demographics play a role. As with so much else in the U.S., vaccines have become a political issue. The Gallup organization has been tracking vaccine attitudes by party since July and has found Democrats consistently more likely to get vaccinated than Independents or Republicans. In a poll taken at the end of November, 75% of Democrats said they would be willing to take the COVID-19 vaccine, compared to 61% for Independents and 50% for Republicans. Age plays a role too, with willingness to be vaccinated generally tracking susceptibility to the disease. In the December Pew Research Center poll, for example, 75% of adults over 65 reported that they intended to be vaccinated, compared to just 55% under 30.

But nowhere is the difference starker than among racial and ethnic groups, with 83% of Asian-Americans surveyed expressing an intent to be vaccinated, compared to 63% in the Latinx community and 61% among Whites. In Black American respondents, the numbers fall off the table, with just 42% intending to be vaccinated.

This is of a piece with a long history of medical disenfranchisement and much worse. Some of the mistrust goes back as far as the infamous gynecological experiments J. Marion Sims conducted on enslaved women—without anesthetic—in the 19th century; as well the Tuskegee experiment that began in the 1930s and involved decades of studying the progress of syphilis in Black men without informing them that they had the disease or offering them the antibiotics needed to treat it. But the structural inequality and bias continues today.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) the death rate from COVID-19 is 2.8 times higher for blacks than it is for whites and the hospitalization rate is 3.7 times higher. Dr. Ala Stanford, a Philadelphia-based pediatric surgeon and founder of the Black Doctors COVID Consortium sees a lot of reasons for that disparity, not least being that in the neighborhoods in which she works, Blacks and other minorities were being tested for COVID-19 at only one-sixth the rate of white communities, which tended to be higher-income, according to data from Drexel University. “[The tests] had to be scheduled from nine-to-five, when most people were at work,” Stanford says. “There were no evening or weekend hours [and] they weren’t accepting children.”

What’s more, Black Americans are disproportionately likely to be front-line or essential workers like home-health aides and are less likely to have the kinds of other jobs that would let them work from home. Less social distancing plus less testing means more sickness and death, which plays into the lived reality for many people that Black lives are valued less than white lives in the U.S. That, in turn, breeds more suspicions of the system as a whole—including of vaccines.

“The main fear I hear [about vaccines] is that someone is injecting coronavirus into my body,” says Stanford. “And I answer in as detailed a way as I can about the mRNA and the protein and how it looks like coronavirus but it’s not.” That kind of clarity, she says, can help a lot.

Offit hears even starker—and more poignant—fears from Blacks. “One particular man did not want to get the vaccine and I asked him why,” Offit says. “He said, ‘because for my race they make a different vaccine.’”

One way Stanford sought to push back against such suspicions was to offer up herself as a living example, getting vaccinated on camera through the Philadelphia Department of Public Health. The local media sent a pool camera and the footage was shown on the evening news. Dr. Brittani James, a professor at the University of Illinois Hospital and executive director of the Institute of Anti-Racism in Medicine, did something similar, streaming her vaccination online.

“I talk until I’m blue in the face,” she says, “but there’s something I think for people to see me or see other Black people getting it that can really do a lot to soothe their fear. Like hey, guess what? If I’m wrong, I’m going down with you.”

Whether that kind of role-modeling and example-setting will work to reduce resistance is impossible to know at the moment, simply because vaccines are still unavailable to the overwhelming share of the population. If you can’t get the shot in the first place, it doesn’t matter how hesitant or receptive you are to it. Offit, who is white, does believe that efforts like James’s, to appeal to members of her own community, can be truly valuable.

“I think if someone like me says something, people are just going to see it as ‘Of course he’d say that,’” Offit says. He cites by way of example the effectiveness of TV ads by the National Medical Association, a professional organization of Black American physicians, showing one Black nurse inoculating another with the COVID-19 vaccine. “It’s subtle,” Offit says, “but they’re trying to create those images.”

Stanford believes Black churches can play a role too. During one of the testing drives she helped organize, church parking lots were used as sites to administer the tests—which helped increase turnout. “We know that in the African-American community, [the church] is a trusted institution,” she says. “Even if you don’t go to church, you know that’s a safe space.”Dr. Ala Stanford receiving her COVID-19 vaccine. Stanford's vaccination was televised in order to promote the safety and efficacy of the shot.Dr. Ala Stanford receiving her COVID-19 vaccine. Stanford’s vaccination was televised in order to promote the safety and efficacy of the shot. Emma Lee
Source: Time
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In all communities, it helps too if doctors and other authorities listen respectfully to public misgivings about vaccines, explaining and re-explaining the science as frequently and patiently as possible. But there is a burden on the vaccine doubters themselves to be open to the medical truth. “Questions are fine as long as you listen to the answers,” Pan says. “So talk to your doctor, go to sources like the CDC and our incredible mainstream medical organizations. Those are the ones you should be getting information from.”

Adds Stanford: “My belief is that you don’t coerce or convince, you listen to concerns and you understand the fears and are empathetic with people. Then you educate and allow one to make their own choice.”

Pan also sees a role for social media companies, which must better control misinformation on their platforms. Journalists too must step up, avoiding false equivalency or both-sides-ism; there is no need to give equal time to rumor mongers or conspiracy theorists simply to appear balanced.

Ultimately, no vaccine is perfect, and the COVID-19 vaccines do have more questions associated with them than others, because there hasn’t been that much follow-up time since the study volunteers got their shots. But those questions are less about safety than about just how long the shots will prove protective. The truth is that they work.

Another truth, of course, is that for now, in the early stages of the vaccine rollout, masking and social distancing remain the best methods for protecting ourselves and others—and they will be part of our lives for at least many months to come. But slowly, over time, the vaccines will eliminate that need. What’s required now is trust in the power of the shots or, as Stanford puts it, in “faith and facts over fear.” Pandemics eventually stop raging. It’s vaccines that hasten that end game—and save millions of lives in the process.

WRITE TO JEFFREY KLUGER AT JEFFREY.KLUGER@TIME.COM.

As the article states the average time to actually develop a vaccine or new drug is 15 – 20 years. This vaccine has be developed in under a year. Why do you think people are hesitant around the world to take the COVID 19 vaccine? How often have pharmaceutical companies been fined for the drugs they develop and why? How effective or ineffective has the FDA been in protecting the public at large from predatory drugs and drug epidemics? Why? Why not?

Share your comments with the community by posting them below. Share the wealth of health with your friends and family by sharing this article with 3 people today. As always you are the best part of what we do. Keep sharing!

If these articles have been helpful to you and yours, give a donation to Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook Ezine today. All Rights Reserved – Shidonna Raven (c) 2025 – Garden & Cook.

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‘I’m not an anti-vaxxer, but…’ US health workers’ vaccine hesitancy raises alarm

Coronavirus

With up to 40% of frontline workers in LA county refusing Covid-19 inoculation experts warn that understanding and persuasion are needed

Amanda Holpuch

Amanda Holpuch in New York @holpuch
Sun 10 Jan 2021 03.00 EST
Last modified on Sun 10 Jan 2021 10.07 EST
Source: The Guardian

Registered nurse Valerie Massaro administers the second dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine to health care workers at the Hartford HealthCare at the Hartford Convention Center in Hartford, Connecticut on January 4, 2021.
 Registered nurse Valerie Massaro administers the second dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine to health care workers at the Hartford Convention Center in Hartford, Connecticut, this week. Photograph: Joseph Prezioso/AFP/Getty Images
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Susan, a critical care nurse based in Alaska, has been exposed to Covid-19 multiple times and has watched scores of people die from the illness. But she did not want to get the vaccination when she learned it would soon be available.

“I am not an anti-vaxxer, I have every vaccine known to man, my flu shot, I always sign up right there, October 1, jab me,” said Susan, who didn’t want to give her last name for fear of retaliation. “But for this one, why do I have to be a guinea pig?”

The two authorized vaccines, made by Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech, are safe according to leading expertsand clinical trials – for one thing they contain no live virus and so cannot give a person Covid – and with tens of thousands of patients, they have had about 95% efficacy. But across the country, health workers with the first access to the vaccine are turning it down.

Misinformation ‘superspreaders’: Covid vaccine falsehoods still thriving on Facebook and Instagram

The rates of refusal – up to 40% of frontline workers in Los Angeles county, 60% of care home workers in Ohio – have prompted concern and in some cases, shaming. But the ultimate failure could be dismissing these numbers at a critical moment in the US vaccination campaign.

Dr Whitney Robinson, an epidemiologist at the University of North Carolina, told the Guardian if these early figures coming from healthcare workers are not addressed: “It could mean after all this work, after all this sacrifice, we could still be seeing outbreaks for years, not just 2021, maybe 2022, maybe 2023.”

Vaccine hesitancy is common – 29% of healthcare workers said they were vaccine-hesitant, according to a survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation published last month. And it’s not exclusive to the US – up to 40% of care workers in the UK might refuse to have the vaccine, the National Care Association said in mid-December.

The numbers coming from hospital and care homes are unique in that they give a more specific picture of who is refusing the vaccine and why. Once vaccines are available to the general public, patterns will be more difficult to identify because the US does not have a centralized system to track vaccinations.

“If we don’t understand the patterns of who is not vaccinated, it will be hard to predict where outbreaks might spring from and how far they might spread,” Robinson said.

It will also leave underfunded public health agencies scrambling to identify and respond to hesitancy in the community.

“We can’t just write off somebody’s decisions and say, well that’s their personal decision,” Robinson said. “Because it’s not just their personal decision, it’s an infectious disease. As long as we have pockets of coronavirus anywhere in the world, until we have mass global vaccination, it’s a threat.”

Some employers and unions are seeing the numbers for what they are: an alarm in need of a response.

In New York City, the firefighters union found last month that 55% of 2,000 firefighter members surveyed said they would not get the vaccine.

But Covid cases are climbing at the FDNY. Twelve members have died and more than 600 were on medical leave in late December.

So, the Uniformed Firefighters Association (UFA) president, Andrew Ansbro, collected questions from some of the roughly 8,200 firefighters his union represents. A virologist friend had been helping Ansbro shape the union’s response to Covid-19 and answered their questions in a recorded video. The 50-minute video has now been viewed about 2,000 times.

“I actually received a couple dozen phone calls and messages from members that said it changed their mind,” said Ansbro, who was vaccinated on 29 December. “I think the vaccination numbers are definitely going to be higher than 45%.”Advertisement

He said people were concerned about how new the vaccine was, had read misinformation online and were worried about long-term effects. In other workplace surveys, people have shared concerns about how it could affect fertility or pregnant women. Some healthcare workers infected with Covid don’t think it’s necessary while they still have antibodies.

Each of these questions can be answered. And national surveys have shown that in general, vaccine hesitancy is decreasing.

But these surveys also suggest action is still needed to address populations more likely to be distrustful because of the country’s history of medical abuse.

Recent surveys show that Black people are the most vaccine-hesitant. In mid-November, 83% of Asian Americans said they would get the vaccine if it was made available to them that day. That sentiment was shared by 63% of Hispanic people, 61% of white people but just 42% of Black people, according to a Pew Research report.

Dr Nikhila Juvvadi, the chief clinical officer at Loretto hospital in Chicago, told NPR that conversations with vaccine-hesitant staff revealed mistrust was an issue among African American and Latino workers.

She said people specifically mentioned the Tuskegee Study, when federal health officials allowed hundreds of Black men with sexually transmitted diseases to go untreated to study disease progression. The study lasted from 1932 to 1972.

“I’ve heard Tuskegee more times than I can count in the past month – and, you know, it’s a valid, valid concern,” Juvvadi said.

Juvvadi, who administered vaccines at the hospital, said one-on-one conversations validating these concerns and answering questions had helped people be more comfortable with the vaccine.

Vaccine hesitancy in healthcare workers has also put pressure on health systems intent on getting doses to as many people as possible, as quickly as possible.

Georgia’s public health commissioner, Kathleen Toomey, announced last week that the state would expand vaccine access to adults 65 and older and first responders because healthcare workers were declining to take it.

Dr Toomey said that while hundreds of healthcare workers were on waiting lists to get the vaccine in the state’s urban center, Atlanta, in rural areas the vaccine was “literally sitting in freezers” because healthcare workers there did not want to take it.

At one of the Texas hospitals hardest hit by the virus, Doctors Hospital at Renaissance in the Rio GrandeValley, workers contacted local EMTs, paramedics and medical workers from outside the hospital to distribute their remaining vaccines because of their limited shelf-life.

Susan, the nurse in Alaska, said her preference would be for her parents to get the vaccine first because they are more vulnerable.

She has made peace with the vaccine and plans to get it the next time it is offered. She said she was ultimately convinced to get it after speaking to other health professionals who did not dismiss her concerns and listened to her questions.

Now, however, there is another hurdle. Susan has declined the vaccine twice because of logistics. She is currently on a temporary crisis assignment in rural Texas and the travel meant both times she was offered the vaccine, she would be in a different state when it was time to take the second dose. Susan said: “I feel terrible I’ve said no.”

Why do you think medical professionals are hesitant to take the vaccine? Shouldn’t one lead by example? If they are unwilling to do it, why should you be willing? Will you take the COVID 19 vaccine?

Share your comments with the community by posting them below. Share the wealth of health with your friends and family by sharing this article with 3 people today. As always you are the best part of what we do. Keep sharing!

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Gardening during a Pandemic

Green Roma Tomato Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

During World War II food rationing was introduced in the United States, prompting Americans to grow their own fruits and vegetables in order to sustain themselves during tough times. It’s estimated that by 1944, roughly 20 million victory gardens were grown, resulting in 8 million tons of food. That’s was about 40 percent of the country’s supply of fresh produce at the time!

Though we are currently not experiencing a food shortage crisis, being self sufficient and resourceful at a time when essentials (honestly, where is the garlic?) are frequently sold out at grocery stories, isn’t a bad thing. Plus, are we all looking for a new hobby during quarantine?

We used this book when starting our own garden.

During uncertain times being proactive and not waiting for the next crisis to hit is a good idea. Indeed staff at garden centers and nurseries have reported an increase in those purchasing garden supplies. People have several of their own reasons for starting a garden and the pandemic seems to be chief among them. What do you need to get your own garden started? What is your reason for starting your own garden? What do you do differently now since the pandemic? Share your comments with the community by posting them below. Share the wealth of health with your friends and family by sharing this article with 3 people today. As always you are the best part of what we do. Keep sharing!

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Source: Forbes

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Michelle Obama: Nutrition

Did you know that obesity leads to health concerns? Did you know the Trump administration is trying to end the hard won Michelle and Barack Obama school nutrition Act for kids? How do you feel about your tax dollars being spent on good nutrition for your children? Share your comments with the community by positing them below. Share the wealth of health with your friends and family by sharing this article with 3 people today. As always you are the best part of what we do. Keep sharing.

If these articles have been helpful to you and yours, give a donation to Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook Ezine today.