Also sometimes referred to as secular, modern, or humanistic. This is an umbrella term for Protestant denominations, or churches within denominations, that view the Bible as the witness of God rather than the word of God, to be interpreted in its historical context through critical analysis. Examples include some churches within Anglican/Episcopalian, Lutheran, Methodist, Presbyterian, and United Church of Christ. There are more than 2,000 Protestant denominations offering a wide range of beliefs from extremely liberal to mainline to ultra-conservative and those that include characteristics on both ends.
|•||Belief in Deity |
Trinity of the Father (God), the Son (Christ), and the Holy Spirit that comprises one God Almighty. Many believe God is incorporeal.
Beliefs vary from the literal to the symbolic belief in Jesus Christ as God's incarnation. Some believe we are all sons and daughters of God and that Christ was exemplary, but not God.
|•||Origin of Universe and Life |
The Bible's account is symbolic. God created and controls the processes that account for the universe and life (e.g. evolution), as continually revealed by modern science.
|•||After Death |
Goodness will somehow be rewarded and evil punished after death, but what is most important is how you show your faith and conduct your life on earth.
|•||Why Evil? |
Most do not believe that humanity inherited original sin from Adam and Eve or that Satan actually exists. Most believe that God is good and made people inherently good, but also with free will and imperfect nature, which leads some to immoral behavior.
Various beliefs: Some believe all will go to heaven, as God is loving and forgiving. Others believe salvation lies in doing good works and no harm to others, regardless of faith. Some believe baptism is important. Some believe the concept of salvation after death is symbolic or nonexistent.
|•||Undeserved Suffering |
Most Liberal Christians do not believe that Satan causes suffering. Some believe suffering is part of God's plan, will, or design, even if we don't immediately understand it. Some don't believe in any spiritual reasons for suffering, and most take a humanistic approach to helping those in need.
|•||Contemporary Issues |
Most churches teach that abortion is morally wrong, but many ultimately support a woman's right to choose, usually accompanied by policies to provide counseling on alternatives. Many are accepting of homosexuality and gay rights.
Tuesday, November 30, 2004
A patient unable to walk for the past 19 years due to a spinal injury takes steps after receiving stem cell therapy at the Shilla Hotel in Seoul, Thursday.
By Kim Tae-gyu
A team of Korean researchers claimed Thursday they had performed a miracle by enabling a patient, who could not even stand up for the last 19 years, to walk with stem cell therapy.
During a press conference, the scientists said they had last month transplanted multi-potent stem cells from umbilical cord blood to the 37-year-old female patient suffering from a spinal cord injury and she can now walk on her own.
The team was co-headed by Chosun University professor Song Chang-hun, Seoul National University professor Kang Kyung-sun and Han Hoon, Ph.D, from the Seoul Cord Blood Bank (SCB).
``The stem cell transplantation was performed on Oct. 12 this year and in just three weeks she started to walk with the help of a walker,’’ Song said.
The patient’s lower limbs were paralyzed after an accident in 1985 damaged her lower back and hips. Afterward she spent her life in bed or in a wheelchair.
For the unprecedented clinical test, the scientists isolated stem cells from umbilical cord blood and then injected them into the damaged part of the spinal cord.
The sensory and motor nerves of the patient started to improve 15 days after the operation and she could move her hips. After 25 days, her feet responded to stimulation.
Earlier in October 2003, Song’s team also staged a clinical test with stem cells originating from umbilical cord blood by injecting them into another patient’s spine.
``Back then we injected stem cells into spinal fluid and failed to get a good result. This time around, we directly targeted the spine and the method made a difference,’’ Song said.
Song’s team look to further test efficiency of the new therapy with four more patients as soon as they get the green light from Chosun University ethics board and the government.
Song’s team plan to report their research to the scientific world within the first half of next year.
Immeasurable Upside Potential
Professor Kang and Han, Song’s colleagues who co-led the research, noted the new therapy has a huge upside potential when applied to real treatments, without arousing ethical disputes.
Seoul National University professor Hwang Woo-suk surprised the world last February by announcing his groundbreaking exploit of cloning a human embryo and taking stem cells from it.
The technology is expected to lead to breakthrough treatments for many hard-to-cure diseases, for instance, by creating replacement organs and tissues.
At the same time, however, the feat also fueled an ethical debate that spans science, politics and religion, especially regarding the possibility of reproductive human cloning.
In comparison, Kang said stem cells originating from the blood of umbilical cords would not raise such problems since that blood is routinely discarded after the birth of a baby.
``There have been many controversial debates on embryonic stem cells and also such stem cells are not practical due to their property of possibly causing teratoma (cancer of cells),’’ he explained.
Kang added that since cord blood stem cells are later than embryonic stem cells, they have little chance of causing the fatal teratoma.
``Embryonic stem cells are omni-potent in that they can divide into any thing even including a tumor cell. But cord blood stem cells are developed enough not to cause such troubles while retaining as powerful a differentiation capacity at the same time,’’ he claimed.
Another upside of cord blood stem cells is that they can adapt to the injected bodies without triggering a big negative inner reaction, which are common in other transplantations, according to Han, Ph.D, of the SCB.
``We don’t need a strict match between cord blood stem cell type and the immune system of a patient because the latter accepts the former pretty well thanks to its immaturity,’’ Han said.
In other transplantation operations, just a slight mismatch based on the human leukocyte antigen test would cause a catastrophic result due to immune system’s resistance.
The SCB currently retains blood from about 45,000 umbilical cords and they are enough to cover all Koreans, amply demonstrating the immeasurable potential of the new therapy.