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Medicine, Religion, and Spirituality in Theological Context 

Medicine, Religion, and Spirituality in Theological Context
Chapter:
Medicine, Religion, and Spirituality in Theological Context
Author(s):

Brett McCarty

and Warren Kinghorn

DOI:
10.1093/med/9780190272432.003.0021
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date: 27 October 2020

Beyond simply providing positive content for “spirituality” or fodder for bioethical debates, theology—considered both as the practices and language of religious communities and as secondary discourse about these practices—is integral to the past, present, and future of modern medicine and health care. Throughout medical history, theologically driven innovations such as the charity hospital have transformed cultural practices of care, and broader theological commitments such as the early Protestant Christian “affirmation of ordinary life” shaped the contours within modern medicine. In the present, theologically-informed institutions and practices such as the hospice movement birthed by Dame Cicely Saunders and the Church Health Center in Memphis, Tennessee continue to transform contemporary health care. And in a future marked by uncertainty and scarcity, theology can help religious communities to resist both secularism and religious triumphalism and instead to embody practices of faithful witness with regard to health and health care.

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