Between Life and Death: A Gospel-Centered Guide to End-of-Life Medical Care

Between Life and Death: A Gospel-Centered Guide to End-of-Life Medical Care

Product Code: 9781433561016

Butler, Kathryn (MD) | Crossway


Regular price $22.99

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“To prepare yourself to make difficult medical decisions in a distinctly Christian way, you won’t do better than to read Between Life and Death.” Tim Challies

Modern medical advances save countless lives. But for all their merits, sophisticated technologies have created a daunting new challenge, namely a blurring of the expanse between life and death. The dying process is often hidden behind a complex web of medical terminology, statistics, and ethical decisions, making it difficult for patients and loved ones to know how to approach the end of life in a dignity-affirming, God-honoring, faith-filled way.

This book offers a distinctly Christian guide to end-of-life care. It equips readers by explaining common medical jargon, exploring biblical principles that connect to common medical situations, and offering guidance for making critical decisions. In these pages, readers will find the medical knowledge and scriptural wisdom they need to navigate this painful and confusing process with clarity, peace, and discernment.

224 pages

View an excerpt here.

“It is inevitable that at some point, each one of us will face difficult or even heartbreaking medical decisions. We may have to make decisions related to our own care or, even tougher, the care of someone we love. To prepare yourself to make such decisions in a distinctly Christian way, you won’t do better than to read Between Life and Death. It will inform, encourage, strengthen, and equip you to act in ways that honor our humanity while bringing glory to our God.”

--- Tim Challies, blogger,

“Some of our weightiest decisions wait until the end. When death draws close, what medical treatments will we embrace or reject? Even Jesus-loving Christians struggle to know how to answer these questions, and we need a seasoned doctor to educate us on the options and their pros and cons. Dr. Butler educates the mind, answers the questions, and takes the imagination on an unforgettable ride, made vivid with the descriptive prose only a gifted writer and experienced trauma surgeon could offer us. This remarkable, Christ-centered book is loaded with reality checks and soul checks, and it will serve Christians and pastors for many years to come as they make these final decisions out of faith and not fear.”

--- Tony Reinke, journalist; author, 12 Ways Your Phone Is Changing You

“This is a marvelous book. Dr. Butler, a Christian intensive-care specialist, has woven together a clear explanation of detailed and complex medical issues with an intimate knowledge of Scripture to bring forth a book of immense value for patients, loved ones, and clergy as they face the seemingly insurmountable questions of ICU and end-of-life care. It is well written, illustrated with real-life dilemmas, and oozing with compassion, both her own and that of our Savior.”

--- Robert D. Orr, MD, CM, clinical ethicist; author, Medical Ethics and the Faith Factor

“As a pastor’s wife, a parent, a daughter, a granddaughter, a friend, a neighbor, and a member of the church, the issues in this book regularly loom over my life and the lives of those around me. How do we best love the sick and dying? How do we know when to pursue medical interventions and when to allow our loved ones to, as Dr. Butler puts it, ‘relax into the embrace of Jesus’? These are complex questions without easy answers. But Between Life and Death provides a helpful framework of biblical wisdom to illuminate otherwise murky scenarios. Dr. Butler explains the dense medical terminology that can baffle already-overwhelmed caregivers. And, with unflinching (but not unsympathetic) clarity, she brings us to the bedsides of the suffering and tells us what it is like to experience CPR, a ventilator, or artificially administered nutrition. The actual impact and likely outcome of such treatments is far from the glamorous glow of TV medical dramas, but we need to know the stark reality in order to make God-honoring and merciful choices for ourselves and our loved ones. Thankfully, this book also has an expiration date. One day, gathered in the near presence of Christ, we will no longer need to know how to make decisions about death. But in the meantime, I’m glad to have this book on my shelf.” 

--- Megan Hill, author, Praying Together and Contentment; Editor, The Gospel Coalition

“Dr. Butler has done a masterful job in giving us a clear and comprehensive guide to navigating the difficult and complex waters of end-of-life care. Although Between Life and Death is written with patients and their families in mind, this book is a welcome and valuable resource for guiding Christian healthcare students through these challenging issues, in addition to providing the necessary biblical grounding and foundations.”

--- Bill Reichart, Vice President of Campus and Community Ministries, Christian Medical & Dental Associations

“For all the blessings of modern critical care, we have not sufficiently reckoned with its dark underside: what happens when medical technology and intervention do not preserve life but prolong death? With her keen medical training and experience on display, Dr. Kathryn Butler parts the curtain on an array of life-threatening situations that might befall us or those we love. In Between Life and Death, Dr. Butler points us to the hope of the gospel, showing what Christian discipleship might look like in some of the most agonizing moments in life. May this book serve as a useful guide and conversation starter as we prepare for death and gaze on Christ.”

--- Ivan Mesa, Books Editor, The Gospel Coalition


Table of Contents:


Part 1: Dying, but Alive in Christ

  1. Framing the Issue
  2. Wisdom Begins with the Word

Part 2: A Detailed Look at Organ-Supporting Measures

  1. Resuscitation for Cardiac Arrest  
  2. Introduction to Intensive Care
  3. Mechanical Ventilation
  4. Cardiovascular Support: Vasopressors, Inotropes, and Lines
  5. Artificially Administered Nutrition
  6. Dialysis
  7. Brain Injury

Part 3: Discernment at Life’s End

  1. Comfort Measures and Hospice
  2. Physician-Assisted Suicide
  3. Advance Care Planning
  4. Being a Voice: Surrogate Decision Making

Appendix 1: Summary Chart of Organ-Supporting Measures
Appendix 2: Sample Advance Directive
Appendix 3: Scripture Passages for Comfort
Further Reading
General Index
Scripture Index

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