Dr. Frans J. Cronjé
MBChB (UP), MSc
Duke University - Spirituality & Health Research Program
Principal Investigator - Physical, Mental & Spiritual Health Study (PHYMSH)
SPIRITUAL ROOTS OF DISEASE
Dr Frans J Cronje is a South African medical doctor with a masters of science degree. He is the Associate Medical Director of the Baromedical Facility at Tygerberg Campus of the University of Stellenbosch near Cape Town.
This presentation was given at the 12th World Christian Christian Doctor's Network meeting in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia by Dr. Frans J. Cronje. The abstract of the talk is below the video window.
Background: The Fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22) are not only an essential part of our maturity as believers, they are also essential to normal physiology and health. Mankind has known intuitively that there is an association between ‘negative emotional states’ and ill health. However, it is only recently that science has started to delineate specific consequences.
Results: Science is confirming that the opposites of the Fruit of the Spirit produce susceptibility to illness also called Roots of Disease or the Fruit of the Flesh. Separation from God, others and ourselves makes all of us vulnerable to fear, guilt and shame (Gen 3:10-12 MKJV) or the amygdala responses of fear, anger and disgust. However, when we choose to react habitually according to our ‘natural’, fallen nature we produce the Fruit of the Flesh – also called anxiety, depression and low self-esteem. As these states persist, susceptibility to disease increases.
The associations are not random, however, and can be derived from basic embryology: Our bodies are woven together (Ps 139:15-16) from ectoderm, mesoderm and endoderm. The ectoderm forms the interactive, regulatory or relational structures; the mesoderm forms the mobile or behavioral structures and; the endoderm forms the absorptive and sustaining structures. Not surprisingly, the ectoderm is most vulnerable to relational stressors – the opposites of Love, Joy and Peace: Unlovingness compromises our skin (including psoriasis, eczema, etc.); Sadness affects the brain (including dementia and Parkinson’s disease, etc.); and Conflict affects the autonomic nervous system including regulation of blood vessels and organs. The mesoderm is affected by behavioral stressors which are the opposites of Patience (withholding the bad), Goodness (being functional), and Kindness (doing good): Impatience (hostility – Type A trait) affects our cardiovascular system (including coronary heart disease); Dysfunction affects our bone marrow (including autoimmunity and cancer); and Cruelty our musculoskeletal tissues (including arthritis). The endoderm is affected the opposites of Faithfulness, Gentleness and Self-Control: Unfaithfulness affects e.g., our liver (including Hepatitis B & C); Harshness affects parts of our endocrine system (including thyroid problems); and Self-indulgence affects our intestines (including obesity).
Conclusions: The purpose of showing these associations is neither oversimplification nor for the purpose of judging or condemning those with chronic illness. Rather we should all realize that true discipleship – which is learning to walk in love and expressing the Fruit of the Spirit – is not only important for our eternal destiny, it is also essential to our health.