How Shall We Then Practice?

Medicine as Gift, Power and Christian Vocation

by Farr A. Curlin, MD
Today’s Christian Doctor – Winter 2010

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in the journal Health & Development, published by the Christian Community Health Fellowship (CCHF), information about which can be found at: www.cchf.org.

What is medicine? Is it a science? Is it a profession? Is it an industry? What has the Christian tradition to say about medicine? And does what the Christian tradition says really matter in the end? In hopes of beginning to address these questions, this essay explores three Christian metaphors which apply to the practice of medicine, namely medicine as gift, medicine as power, and medicine as vocation. For each metaphor, I will attempt to identify errors and blind spots toward which we are prone, point to resources within the Christian tradition for correcting our mistakes, and suggest some very preliminary steps toward what I hope is a way forward.

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