CC 300 CX - Medical Missions

3 Credits
TR 2:50-4:05pm - Professor Grundman
Cross-listed with THEO 346 X & THEO 546 AX
Fulfills upper level theology requirement.

Medical missions, both secular and religious, are held in high esteem. They are looked at as something unquestionably benevolent and thus exert a notable fascination. They stimulate commitment to dedicated service in response to urgent health care needs of mainly poor people at home and abroad. While such service is a demonstration of genuine humanitarian concern and solidarity, to the common public Christian medical missions is a kind of tangible witness for God’s loving and caring presence amidst suffering. Christian medical missions’ personnel were among the first who realized that relief work is not the sole purpose of medical missions. The community based care for the prevention of diseases in order to avoid health disasters, especially among the underprivileged, like malnutrition, leprosy, or AIDS (also called primary health care) has become part and parcel of any genuine Christian medical missions’ initiative today. This course will examine the coming about of medical missions in 19th century, its subsequent global expansion, and the development of the Primary Health-Care Program (PHC), which was finally accepted as official health care policy by the World Health Organization (WHO).

The rationale of medical missions and the various concepts propagated in its support, as well as the controversies it created among mission boards and churches concerned, will be discussed in the second part of the course. Special emphasis will be given to the theological arguments implicit in any such dispute, such as the valuation or devaluation of the human body and its needs as God’s creation (and subsequent repercussions on the belief in the incarnation).

As will be seen, the concept of medical missions provides a powerful critique of conventional perceptions not only of the Christian faith and the practice and theology by the church but of the practice of medicine in general as well. In a final section the problems entailed by any medical missions’ initiative (clash of cultures; danger of dependence; medical missions as subtle justification for other vested interests) will have to be looked into. This is done for the sake of attaining as sober minded as possible an understanding of what medical missions and the healing ministry is all about.

Course Texts:

• Christoffer H. Grundmann (2005), Sent to Heal! – Emergence and development of Medical Missions, Lanham/Boulder/New York, University Press of America, 2005
Heralds of Health - The Saga of Christian Medical Initiatives. Stanley G. Browne, Frank T. Davey, and W. A. R. Thomson, eds., London, Christian Medical Fellowship, 1985
• McGilvray, James C., ed. (1979), The Quest for Health and Wholeness, German Institute for Medical Missions, Tübingen, 1982

NB: Additional papers and materials will be handed out and availed of during the course of the class!