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The Sacramental Nature of Medicine 

The Sacramental Nature of Medicine
Chapter:
The Sacramental Nature of Medicine
Author(s):

Michael J. Balboni

, and Tracy A. Balboni

DOI:
10.1093/med/9780199325764.003.0011
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date: 18 August 2019

There is an underlying structural bond between medicine and religious monotheism. There are shared assumptions, values, and institutional structures that create a deep underlying unity between these two spheres. There are five broadly shared connections between secular medicine and the monotheistic religions—especially akin to Jewish and Christian traditions—where medicine and religion mirror one another in values and structures. These five points of connection include sickness/sin, the role of the healing mediator, therapy, patient disposition, and the healing milieu. When the spheres of medicine and religion become overtly disconnected from one another as partners, as now is the case in secular medicine, medicine rises perilously to the level of a functional-like religion. While contemporary medicine attempts to be consciously neutral toward traditional religions, medicine’s internal structures mirror deeper religious concepts, in tension with secular interpretations.

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