Christianity and Therapeutics -- By: A. A. Berle
BSac 70:278 (April 1913) p. 261
Christianity and Therapeutics
Among the most remarkable manifestations of the larger applications of religion in our times is its invasion of the field of therapeutics. Not that there has not always been a - subconscious relation between religion and medical practice, but that, until lately, it had not attained the distinct consciousness of itself or attempted to define those relations as it is doing with increasing emphasis today. It is not an extravagant estimate to say that this emphasis will increase as time goes on. In a certain sense, the relation will become more and more accentuated and lead to very considerable modifications of medical practice, as, in some quarters of the world, it has already.
But it would be a great mistake to suppose that this is a new thing or one that ought to excite a great deal of surprise. It is merely when historically examined the resumption of a very old relation and one that came most naturally and almost inevitably with the introduction of Christianity into the world. But even long before Christianity appeared, in the ruder forms of social life, the medicine man and the priest were one and the same person. In some of the forms of primitive life, which, in remote quarters of the world, still remain, the functions of medical practitioner and minister of religion still reside in the same individual and are practiced as the normal domain of the religious teacher. To what may
BSac 70:278 (April 1913) p. 262
relatively be considered a late period of civilization, this alliance of therapeutics with religion still continued, though it generally took forms which we are now pleased to call superstition.
Considering the question, however, within the period called Christendom, even into the period when there emerged what we now call science, and even to the present day, that hereditary connection between medical service and religion has never quite disappeared. Though subjected in the more recent years to every form of ridicule and shown to be scientifically worthless and often distinctly harmful to both body and soul, the belief has continued that there was somewhere a definite relation between the thing which a man calls his religion and the welfare of his body. Nor is it at all strange that this should be the case. Here again we are faced with the fact that Christianity brought to the world a very distinct conception of the value and influence of bodily relations and states upon spiritual conditions and expectations. The Hebraic origin of Christianity made it inevitable that the Christian church should have a very large consciousness on this particular subject. The earliest Christians were Hebrews, and the Hebrew literature on this subject is so full, so minute, and a...
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