Christian Bioethics

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Beyond Re-enchantment: Christian Materialism and Modern Medicine

Tue, 2019-11-05 00:00
AbstractThis article explores enchantment, disenchantment, and re-enchantment in reference to modern medicine’s view of the body. Before considering Weber’s enchantment paradigm, I question some core assumptions regarding sociology as methodologically scientific and value-free. Furthermore, I draw on Jenkins who helps to illustrate the difficulty of rooting terms such as enchantment, disenchantment, and re-enchantment; the question remains “which” historical and cultural period is employed as the basis for such sociological terms. Such questions are critical, but not entirely dismissive of modern medicine as “disenchanted”; with some more explicit foundational and presuppositional context, disenchantment can be a helpful notion for approaching questions of the “new body.” St. Gregory Palamas’ Christian materialism and mystical anthropology present such an explicit foundation. Moreover, this Patristic foundation moves past the postmodern aporia of emphasizing either immanence or transcendence—two polar attractions that factor heavily in the way modern medicine views the body.
Categories: Journals

Health Care as Vocation? Practicing Faithfully in an Age of Disenchantment

Tue, 2019-11-05 00:00
AbstractIn his 1917 lecture “Science as a Vocation,” Max Weber challenged current and aspiring scholars to abandon any pretense that science (Wissenschaft) bears within itself any meaning. In a disenchanted age, he argued, science could at best offer “knowledge of the techniques whereby we can control life . . . through calculation,” and any meaning or moral direction to scientific research—including religious meaning—must be imposed on it from without. Weber presciently anticipated that many present-day health care practitioners would struggle to find meaning for their work within complex “state-capitalist” health care systems, along with predictable quasi-religious responses. But how are Christian practitioners to practice faithfully in a disenchanted age? The authors of this special issue lean deeply into the loci of Christian theology and Christian practice, some challenging the views of the body and of nature that informed Weber’s theory of disenchantment, and all offering resources and paths by which practitioners might “look the fate of the age full in the face” with courage and wisdom.
Categories: Journals

Calling, Virtue, and the Practice of Medicine

Tue, 2019-11-05 00:00
AbstractThis essay argues that an account of vocation that ties one’s work with divine calling stands counter to the biblical witness of calling in the New Testament. Rather than calling to a particular profession, the biblical account of calling is to a unique way of living that is to exemplify the followers of Christ. Therefore, the re-enchantment of medicine is not accomplished when one makes the practice itself sacred simply by imagining it as one’s divine calling. Rather, the sacredness of medicine is rooted in the character of the physician whose daily decisions and patient interactions are the outcomes of virtues inculcated in worship, prayer, Bible study, and all other practices that mark the life of faith. Thus, the practitioner avoiding burnout asks not “Am I called to be a physician?” but “How as a physician in the daily practice of medicine might I exemplify my calling to Christ-likeness?”
Categories: Journals

A Re-enchanted Response to a Communal Call: Toward a Christian Understanding of Medicine as Vocation

Tue, 2019-11-05 00:00
AbstractModern concepts of vocation often refer to some ambiguous understanding of personal occupation or religious life. These interpretations appear to be in tension with the Christian understanding of vocation as the call of God given to a community to a certain way of living. Christian physicians live into this communal vocation when they remain present to the suffering as a sign of God’s faithfulness. This vocational practice of medicine is threatened by a distorted understanding of the body that stems from what Max Weber called the “disenchantment” of the world. By bringing an understanding of the medicine that stems from Weber’s disenchantment into conversation with the language and beliefs of the church, this essay will seek to explore practices that might serve to re-enchant an understanding of the body and the practice of medicine as a form of Christian vocation.
Categories: Journals

Re-Enchanting Nature and Medicine

Tue, 2019-11-05 00:00
AbstractResponding to Max Weber’s modern diagnosis of nature, science, and medicine as disenchanted, this article aims to reenvision nature and medicine with a sense of enchantment drawing from the Christian themes of creation, Christology, suffering, and redemption. By reenvisioning nature as enchanted with these theological themes, the vocation of medicine might be revitalized in terms of suffering presence, healing care, and works of mercy toward the neighbor in need.
Categories: Journals