Dr. Koop

Christianity Today, in the wake of Dr. C. Everett Koop’s death this week, has re-posted a 1989 profile of Koop by its editor-at-large Phillip Yancey. Yancey writes about how Koop, who at the time of his appointment was hailed by conservatives and vilified by liberals, was later hailed by liberals and vilified by conservatives – all the while following his own beliefs as a Christian and a physician.

Some years after that profile, Yancey wrote one of my favorite books, Soul Survivor: How My Faith Survived the Church. The book is a series of profiles of people whom Yancey admired and whose examples had strengthened Yancey’s faith (later editions of the book altered the subtitle to make the book’s content a little clearer). They were honest profiles, not whitewashed, and Koop’s chapter included the scandal which came a few years after the earlier 1989 profile. Koop participated in, and allowed his name to be used for, a medical web site which didn’t disclose that some of its medical advice was advertising-driven.

Koop also testified before Congress about latex allergies without revealing that he’d been a consultant to a latex glove manufacturer; I don’t think this was in Yancey’s book, and I only read about it today.

Black marks aside, however, I think that Yancey’s 1989 profile reveals a man of compassion, principle, and a devotion to honest dialogue. I highly recommend you read it.