CMF on Facebook CMF on Twitter CMF on YouTube RSS Get in Touch with CMF
menu resources


spring 2015

From triple helix - spring 2015 - Flourishing [p21]

PDF version
(Right click and choose 'save as...' to download a printable version of this article)

Health, disease, and bioethics in theological perspective
Neil Messer
  • Eerdmans, 2013, £23.99, Pb 238pp, 9780802868992
  • Reviewed by Cheryl Chin, CMF Public Policy Researcher

There are times when I wonder what exactly I'm doing as a doctor. If we think the purpose of medicine is to defeat death, the failure rate is 100% – death comes to all of us. What should we understand by health, disease and illness? And what difference does loving and following Christ make to our understanding of these concepts? What does it mean to 'flourish' in light of what Jesus has achieved on the cross?

In this book, Neil Messer traces and reflects on the varying accounts of health, disease and disability to guide us into a comprehensive theological understanding of health and disease. He draws from theological giants such as Aquinas and Barth to form a complex and nuanced perspective. 'Health is a penultimate, not an ultimate good.' Our ultimate end is our union with God and therefore human good such as health must be placed within the context of understanding our ultimate end.

This book has an academic tone and would appeal to the philosophically and theologically astute reader. Messer painstakingly combs through varied accounts of health and disease in order to synthesise and conclude his theses regarding health; the last two chapters are worth their weight in gold. Our understanding of these fundamental concepts, now often forgotten, have important consequences for health practice and for life practically.

More from triple helix: spring 2015

  • How should Christian doctors vote?
  • Assisted suicide
  • The spectre of excess males
  • Freedom of conscience
  • Three-parent embryos
  • Hope in dark places
  • Malawi revisited
  • Becoming the leader you need to be
  • Leadership as Christian service
  • Leadership in hard times
  • Growing to full potential
  • The demographic time bomb (that probably isn't)
  • Respect, trust and consent
  • Philosophy grows no cabbages
  • Face the Future
  • Flourishing
  • Sharing the journey
  • Eutychus
  • Created for relationship
  • Christian Medical Fellowship:
    uniting & equipping Christian doctors & nurses
    Contact Phone020 7234 9660
    Contact Address6 Marshalsea Road, London SE1 1HL
    © 2019 Christian Medical Fellowship. A company limited by guarantee.
    Registered in England no. 6949436. Registered Charity no. 1131658.
    Design: S2 Design & Advertising Ltd   
    Technical: ctrlcube