, Volume 30, Issue 4, pp 287-298

Thinking theologically about modern medicine

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In the last century the dictates of modern science and technology have gained an unprecedented authority, sometimes heeded with a religious fervor once directed at religious bodies. Meanwhile, on many subjects, mainline Protestantism has withdrawn from the conversation. This is particularly the case when church and academy have tried to think theologically about the highly technical and at times dramatically nontheological problems of physical health. I propose to look at the ways in which this decline from dominance affects 1) mainline attitudes toward healing; 2) Protestant reflections on moral dilemmas in medicine; 3) religious ideals of ministry to the sick and the poor. After attending to the problems in each arena and then noting promising developments, I conclude with suggestions about reviving a vibrant theological witness in medical ethics and health care.