Please join the Theology Workshop for the next in our series of discussions on “Imagining Evil,” on Tuesday, May 14th, 12:00-1:30 pm, in Swift 200. Ekaterina Lomperis, PhD student in Theology, will present her upcoming conference paper, entitled “Faithful Medics, Faithful Patients:  Non-Idolatrous Health Care in Martin Luther’s Theological Writings.” Tim Hiller, PhD candidate in Theology, will respond. Lunch will be served.

Abstract:

Is there a religiously appropriate way for a Christian medical caretaker to conceive of her work of helping others heal?  Does her offering preventative care or human-designed medical intervention to help sick Christians signify the lack of trust on part of both the doctor and the patient in God’s benevolence and healing power?  What are the ultimate ends towards which Christian medical care should be practiced?  The paper examines theological responses to these concerns as found in the works of Martin Luther. Informed by his perpetual worry about idolatry in Christian living and humans’ susceptibility to the deceits of the Devil, Luther’s theology of medical care addresses the proper regard of sickness by both patients and caretakers, affirmative view of medical care, and Christian doctors’ due understanding of their work as a self-sacrificial rather than gainful service.  Yet Luther’s ultimate concern was with the doctor and the patient’s internal dispositions towards the enterprise of healing rather than with external actions of curing.  For Luther, maintaining an attitude of hope in God alone, and withstanding the temptation of alternatively putting one’s trust in the effectiveness of medical science, while offering and receiving medical care, is a matter of greater importance than the material outcome of medical intervention.  Otherwise, both the healer and the healed risk falling into the trap of dangerous idolatries of self-reliance and the foolish lust for wellbeing.  My paper will demonstrate that such spiritual dangers, in a world deadly stricken by sin, are, for Luther, graver threats than the harm of physical sickness.

No preparation is expected of workshop participants. Persons with a disability who would request assistance, please contact Aaron in advance at athollander@uchicago.edu.

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