Thinking theologically about modern medicine
- Bonnie J. Miller-McLemore
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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 Meanwhile, on many subjects, mainline Protestantism has withdrawn from the conversation.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.
- See, for example, Marty, M. E., “If It's Not ‘Mainline,’ What Is It?”Christian Century, November 8, 1989, 1031.
- Novak, M., “Public Theology and the Left: What Happens After Reagan?”Christian Century, May 4, 1988, 455.
- Clebsch, W. A., and Jaekle, C. R.,Pastoral Care in Historical Perspective. New York, Aronson, 1964, p. 42.
- See, for example, Gottschalk, S., “Spiritual Healing on Trial: A Christian Scientist Reports,”The Christian Century, June 22–29, 1988, 602–605. Because his article raised so much controversial discussion, a later issue published two of the letters to the editor and allowed Gottschalk to respond (“Spiritual Healing and the Law: A Dispute,”The Christian Century, October 19, 1988, 926–929).
- Dalbey, G., “Recovering Christian Healing,”The Christian Century, June 9–16, 1982.
- See Marty, M. E., “Tradition and the Traditions in Health/Medicine and Religion.” In Marty, M. E., and Vaux, K. L., eds.,Health/Medicine in the Faith Traditions: An Inquiry into Religion and Medicine. Philadelphia, Fortress, 1982, pp. 19–21, 27. See also Cuddihy, J. M.,The Ordeal of Civility: Freud, Marx, Lévi-Strauss, and the Jewish Struggle with Modernity. New York, Basic, 1974; and Parsons, T., “Christianity and Modern Industrial Society.” InSecularization and the Protestant Prospect. Philadelphia, Westminster, 1970, pp. 44, 46, 49, 55, 69 as good examples of reflection on the problems of differentiation in the modernization process and the resulting “wholeness-hunger” left in its wake.
- McElhinney, T. K., “‘Pardon Me, Reverend, I've Got Work to Do’: Medical and Pastoral Relationships in the Changing Scene of Health Care.” [source unknown]
- See Marty, M. E., “Religion and Healing: The Four Expectations,”Second Opinion: Health, Faith and Ethics, 1988, 7, 76.
- See Reiser, S. J.,Medicine and the Reign of Technology. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1976, pp. 227–231.
- Marty, M. E., “Religion and Healing,”op. cit., 74.
- See, for example, Miller-McLemore, B. J., “Doing Wrong, Getting Sick and Dying,”The Christian Century, February 24, 1988, 186–190.
- Marty, M. E., “Religion and Healing,”op. cit., 75.
- Cousins, N.,The Anatomy of an Illness as Perceived by the Patient: Reflections on Healing and Regeneration. New York, Bantam, 1979; Siegel, B.,Love, Medicine and Miracles: Lessons Learned About Self-Healing from a Surgeon's Experience with Exceptional Patients. New York, Harper and Row, 1986.
- See Callahan, D., “Religion and the Secularization of Bioethics,” in a special supplement ofThe Hastings Center Report, July/August 1990, 2–4.
- Tracy, D.,The Analogical Imagination: Christian Theology and the Culture of Pluralism. New York, Crossroads, 1981, p. 13.
- Gustafson, J. M., “Theology Confronts Technology and the Life Sciences,”Commonweal, 1978,105, 387.
- op. cit., p. 25, 27.
- Mudge, L. S., and Poling, J. N., eds.,Formation and Reflection: The Promise of Practical Theology. Philadelphia, Fortress, 1987, p. xiii.
- Shelp, E. E., ed.,Theology and Bioethics: Exploring the Foundations and Frontiers. Dordrecht, Holland, D. Reidel, 1985, reviewed by Boone, K. C.,Hastings Center Report, October 1986, 41–43.
- Fulton, R., and Geis, G., “Death and Social Values.” InDeath and Identity. New York, Wiley and Sons, 1965, pp. 70, 72.
- Miller-McLemore, B. J., “Reassessing the Death and Dying Movement: A Study in the Formation of Culture,”Second Opinion, 1988, 9, 28–51; “The Sting of Death.”Theology Today, January 1989, 415–426; andDeath, Sin and the Moral Life: Contemporary Cultural Interpretations of Death. Atlanta, Scholars Press, 1988, especially the Introduction and Ch. 4.
- Fichter, J. H., “Religion and Pain,”Theology Today, 1981,38, 1, 2; see also Spilka, B.; Spangler, J. D.; and Rea, M. P., “The Role of Theology in Pastoral Care for the Dying,”Theology Today, 1981,38, 1, 16–29.
- Marty, M. E., “Religion and Bioethics in America,”Bulletin of the Park Ridge Center, January/ February 1988, 6.
- See Starr, P.,The Social Transformation of American Medicine. New York, Basic Books, 1983, p. ix; see also, chapter 6, “Escape from the Corporation, 1990–1930.”
- See articles in Miller-McLemore, B. J., guest ed., “Religious Institutions and Issues of Health Care,”The Chicago Theological Seminary Register, including Schreiner, S., “The Parish Nurse/Minister of Health Program: A Promising Wholistic Health Concept,”The Chicago Theological Seminary Register, 1988,78, 3, 26–35; and Solari-Twadell, A., and Wylie, L. J., “Health and the Congregation: A Time of Renewal,”The Chicago Theological Seminary Register, 1988,78, 3, 19–25.
- See “The Congregation as a Place of Healing,”Second Opinion: Health, Faith and Ethics, 1990,13, 74–137. See also The Park Ridge Center series: Feldman, D. M.,Health and Medicine in the Jewish Tradition: L'Hayyim—To Life. New York, Crossroads, 1986; Holifield, B. E.,Health and Medicine in the Methodist Tradition: Journey Toward Wholeness, New York, Crossroads, 1986; Marty, M. E.,Health and Medicine in the Lutheran Tradition: Being Well. New York, Crossroads, 1983; McCormick, R. A.,Health and Medicine in the Catholic Tradition: Tradition in Transition. New York, Crossroads, 1987; Numbers, R. L., and Amundsen, D. W., eds.,Caring and Curing: Health and Medicine in the Western Religious Traditions. New York, Crossroads, 1986; Peel, R.,Health and Medicine in the Christian Science Tradition: Principle, Practice, and Challenge. New York, Crossroads, 1988; Smith, D. H.,Health and Medicine in the Anglican Tradition: Conscience, Community, and Compromise. New York, Crossroads, 1986; Vaux, K. L.,Health and Medicine in the Reformed Tradition: Promise, Providence, and Care. New York, Crossroads, 1984; Rahman, F.,Health and Medicine in the Islamic Tradition: Change and Identity. New York, Crossroads, 1987; Sullivan, L. E., ed.,Healing and Restoring: Health and Medicine in the World's Religious Traditions. New York, Crossroads, 1989; Desai, P. N.,Health and Medicine in the Hindu Tradition: Continuity and Cohesion. New York, Crossroads, 1989.
- See Miller-McLemore, B. J., guest ed., “The Church and Wellness,”The Chicago Theological Seminary Register, 1990,80, 2. See also Jefferson, W., “The Black Herbalist,”The Chicago Theological Seminary Register, 1988,78, 3, 36–46.
- See papers from the conference by C. Everett Koop, James O. Mason, Jimmy Carter, William Foege, Rosalynn Carter, and Martin E. Marty in Second Opinion: Health, Faith and Ethics, 1990, 13, 10–72.
- Gustafson, J. M.,Treasure in Earthen Vessels: The Church as a Human Community. New York, Harper & Row, 1961. See also Browning, D. S.,Religious Ethics and Pastoral Care: Protestant and Catholic Ethic and the Cure of Souls. Philadelphia, Fortress, 1983, pp. 120–122.
- See Parsons, T.,Social Structure and Personality. New York, Free Press, 1964.
- Browning, D. S., “Pastoral Theology in a Pluralistic Age.” In Browning, D. S., ed.,Practical Theology. San Francisco, Harper and Row, 1983, p. 188. See Browning, D. S.,Moral Context of Pastoral Care. Philadelphia, Westminster, 1976; Browning,Religious Ethics and Pastoral Care, op. cit.
- Two pivotal works opened up the discussion: Whitehead, J. D., and Whitehead, E. E.,Method in Ministry: Theological Reflection and Christian Ministry. Minneapolis, Seabury, 1980, and Groome, T. H.,Christian Religious Education: Sharing Our Story and Vision. San Francisco, Harper & Row, 1980. Several others followed: Browning,Practical Theology, op. cit.; Parley, E.,Theologia: The Fragmentation and Unity of Theological Education. Philadelphia, Fortress, 1983; Poling, J., and Miller, D.,Foundations for a Practical Theology of Ministry. Nashville, Abingdon, 1985; Wood, C. M.,Vision and Discernment: On Orientation in Theological Study, Chico, Calif., Scholars, 1985; Hough, J. C., and Cobb, J. B., Jr.,Christian Identity and Theological Education. Chico, Calif., Scholars, 1985; and more recently, Mudge, L., and Poling, J.,Formation and Reflection: The Promise of Practical Theology. Philadelphia, Fortress, 1987; Stackhouse, M. L.,Apologia: Contextualization. Globalization and Mission in Theological Education. Grand Rapids, Michigan, Eerdmans, 1987; and Hough, J. C., and Wheeler, B., eds.,Beyond Clericalism: The Congregation as a Focus for Theological Education. Atlanta, Scholars. 1988.
- See Gustafson, J. M.,Theology and Christian Ethics. Philadelphia, United Church Press, 1974, Pt. III, “Ethics and the Sciences” andEthics From a Theocentric Perspective, vol. 2:Ethics and Theology. Chicago, University of Chicago, 1984; May, W. F.,The Physician's Covenant: Images of the Healer in Medical Ethics. Philadelphia, Westminster, 1983; Hauerwas, S.,Suffering Presence. Notre Dame, University of Notre Dame Press, 1985; andCharacter and the Christian Life: A Study in Theological Ethics. San Antonio, Trinity University Press, 1975; Lebacqz, K., “Bioethics: Some Challenges from a Liberation Perspective.” In Lammers and Verhey, A., eds.,On Moral Medicine: Theological Perspectives in Medical Ethics. Grand Rapids, Michigan, Eerdmans, 1987, pp. 64–69, and “Peter and His Doctor,”J. Current Social Issues, Fall 1975.
- Interview with Pellegrino, E. D., “Competition: New Moral Dilemmas for Physicians, Hospitals.” In Lammers and Verhey, eds.,op. cit., p. 650.
- Verhey, A., “Sanctity and Scarcity: The Makings of Tragedy.” In Lammers and Verhey, eds.,op. cit., p. 654.
- Thinking theologically about modern medicine
Journal of Religion and Health
Volume 30, Issue 4 , pp 287-298
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- Kluwer Academic Publishers-Human Sciences Press
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- Author Affiliations
- 1. Chicago Theological Seminary, USA