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 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 the pages of Between Life and Death, readers will find the medical knowledge and scriptural wisdom they need to navigate this painful and confusing process with clarity, peace, and discernment.
Between Life and Death will be released April 30th, 2019, and is available for pre-order on Christianbooks.com or on Amazon.
Endorsements for Between Life and Death
“If I face a critical, life-threatening illness, I will want an experienced clinician who is well versed in the most recent medical studies, who is kind and compassionate, and who respects my faith in Jesus. I will want someone who can coach me on the right questions to ask my medical team and help me make practical decisions. In short, I will want Dr. Butler. She will guide me to come to the end of life in a way that commends the gospel and brings glory to God. If she is not available, I will want to reread this book.”
―John Dunlop, MD, Internal Medicine Doctor, Geriatrics, Yale School of Medicine; author, Finishing Well to the Glory of God
“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, Challies.com
“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
“Dr. Butler has written a remarkable, unique, and timely book. Combining her medical expertise with biblical compassion and moral evaluation, she lucidly explains what we need to know about life-and-death medical situations. She does not offer vague advice, but grounds her counsel in medical facts, legal realities, spiritual principles, and real-life illustrations.”
―Douglas Groothuis, Professor of Philosophy, Denver Seminary; author, Walking Through Twilight: A Wife’s Illness―A Philosopher’s Lament
“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
“Dr. Kathryn Butler has taken her Christ-centered life as well as her experiences as a trauma surgeon to give the reader ways to assess end-of-life decisions to the glory of God in Christ Jesus. Her book emphasizes that we live by the grace of God in Christ Jesus. Dr. Butler has included numerous Bible references that are extremely helpful within the context of living and dying in Jesus Christ. It is a must-read for all Christians, church leaders, and medical professionals who are living through end-of-life dilemmas.”
―Bob Weise, Professor Emeritus of Practical Theology, Concordia Seminary
8 Comments Add yours
Just wonderful!—Terri Fites
I’m very much looking forward to reading this book. From here in Canada, thank you for writing it.
Thanks Nate! I pray it’s helpful.
This sounds like a really useful book. I would have needed it in 2014: https://victoriawhyte.wordpress.com/2015/03/06/belfast-city-hospital/
Oh, Victoria! 😦 I’m crying here in the US right now, typing through tears. What an ordeal for Leah, for you, and for your family. I pray the Lord heals your heart a bit more each year. . . although scars always linger, as a reminder of whom we loved. As an aside, your description of the “audience” in your family meetings made me wince, because I’ve been a part of those meetings firsthand, and wonder now how many we made more uncomfortable for loved ones with the mass of people. Thank you for humbling and refining me on this point. May God’s love enfold you.
Hello Katie, My 93-year-old mother died last month after a mercifully short period in hospice care at home. She never was a professing Christian. I felt confused many times. I also have an M.D. (but stayed home to be a full-time mom after getting pregnant during my internship year in pediatrics), so the medical jargon wasn’t an obstacle, but the ethical questions were difficult. I think some of the decision-making should be affected by whether the person dying (and those making decisions for her) can be confident that death will bring an end to suffering. I just discovered your book on Amazon and plan to read it soon, and I will also look forward to your next book. Do you address this question in either book? (Whether or not decisions should be different based on the dying person’s spiritual state.) Thank you.
Hi Martha, thank you so much for reaching out. I’m sorry to hear about your mother’s passing, through what sound like hard circumstances for you to navigate.
I don’t explicitly address the spiritual state of the dying in the book, although I do talk about life, death, and suffering from a Christian perspective. I do include a chapter specifically focused on surrogate decision making, and you might be able to extrapolate some of the principles there. Our role as surrogate decision makers is to speak on behalf of the dying, to be a voice for them when their own words fall silent. This is an extension of loving our neighbors, that doesn’t vary with the spiritual state of our loved ones. I can empathize, though, with the concern that a loved one might not be saved. Have you dialogued with a trusted pastor about this?
I pray God might grant you peace, comfort, and assurance of his mercy.
Thanks for your quick reply and your sympathy. I plan to reach out to a pastor about this. I did read somewhere on the Internet that some believers would be concerned that too much sedation or even painkillers could interfere with the “opportunity to repent” — I guess the idea is that often those who are near death and fully conscious sometimes come to repentance (thief on the cross, deathbed conversions), and it’s scary to think that a drug cocktail could get in the way. On the other hand, God is sovereign and no one can snatch His own out of his hand… And he does love to show mercy. Thanks for listening. And for writing.