Sent to heal! - About the biblical roots, the history, and the legacy of medical missions.
The article situates medical missions within the broader context of the healing ministry of the Christian Church. In its first part it sketches the biblical tradition of this healing ministry and its meaning in the life of Jesus and his disciples. The second section provides a survey of Christian healing initiatives and care for the sick from the Early Church until the emergence of medical missions in the nineteenth century. The third part focuses on the development of the concept medical missions and its changes up to the present, while the final part briefly reflects on the lasting legacy of medical missions which is seen in that, if Christians ignore and neglect corporeality, they disgrace God the Creator and God's incarnation in Jesus Christ. The article therefore concludes that medical missions remind the Church that at the root of too spiritual a concept of mission and too materialistic a concept of health lies a misconceived, non-biblical anthropology which profoundly distorts the Christian witness to God incarnate in Christ.
Scripture passages are quoted from the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV), 1989.
For a solid exegetical study of the topic see Van der Loos H. The miracles of Jesus. Preston TS, translator. Leiden, Boston: Brill; 1962. See also Seybold K, Mueller, UB. Sickness and healing. Stott DW, translator. Nashville: Abingdon; 1981.
There are several additional summary accounts of like activities in Acts. See 5:15-16; 8:6-7; 19:11-12; 28:9. Other references to “wonders and signs” of the apostles may be found in Acts 2:43; 5:12; 6:8; 14:3.
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Namely in constitution 18 (Clerics to dissociate from shedding blood); See Tanner NP, editor. Decrees of the ecumenical councils: From Nicea I to Vatican II. Washington DC, MD: Georgetown University Press; 1990. [vol. 3] p.244.
See Grundmann CH, Sent to heal! — Emergence and development of medical missions. Lanham, MD: University Press of America; 2005. p.22-37.
See the anatomical drawings of Leonardo da Vinci [1452-1519] in O’Malley CDE, Saunders JB de CM, editors. Leonardo on the human body — The anatomical, physiological, and embryological drawings of Leonardo da Vinci [with translations, emendations, and a biographical introduction]. New York: Gramercy Books; 2003. Vesalius A [1514-1564]. De humani corporis fabrica libri septem [Seven books on the structure of the human body]. Garrison DH, Hast MH, editors. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University; 2003. Harvey W. [1578-1657]. The works of William Harvey. Willis R, translator. London: Sydenham Society; 1847.
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See Anderson GH. Peter Parker and the introduction of western medicine in China. In: Mission Studies. 2006: 23(2); p. 203-238. For a more general overview see: Balme H. China and modern medicine — A study in medical missionary development. London: United Council for Missionary Education; 1921.
This selection of quotes is based on The medical missionary society in China — Address with minutes of proceedings; Canton 1838; p.11-5,18-21. Original emphasis.
Walls AF. “The Heavy artillery of the missionary army”: The domestic importance of the nineteenth century medical missionary. p.290. See also: Browne SG, editor. Heralds of health — The saga of Christian medical initiatives. London: Christian Medical Fellowship; 1985.
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