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Healthcare and Hospitals in the mission of the church

As a virus pandemic rages across the globe, Christian History magazine reveals how Christians founded “Healthcare and Hospitals – in the mission of the church,” Issue 101.

Christian History Institute (CHI), publisher of Christian History magazine (CHM), offers its latest issue, #101, titled: “Healthcare and Hospitals – in the mission of the church.” The issue examines how a core Christian belief, that humans are made in the image of God, inspired the notion of healthcare and founded the institution known as the hospital. These two ideas help define the modern world where solutions are sought and care is provided in contrast to a pre-Christian era in which the sick were cast out and the dead were left to rot unattended, causing increased suffering and death.

This issue, #101 Healthcare and Hospitals – in the mission of the churchfeatures a collection of in-depth articles chronicling how, from its earliest days the Christian church carried out active ministries of philanthropy and care for the sick. Christian medical care is founded on the biblical belief that human beings are created in God’s image. The Bible reads: “And God said, “Let us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness….” God’s creation of human beings in his image (rationally, spiritually, morally, volitionally) implies that human life is precious and must be protected.

Early Christians valued the body and the medical arts necessary to heal it as gifts from a loving God. The roles of the doctor and nurse emerged from Christian communities and European monasteries that during the Reformation began to practice and model the Great Shepherd. Christians taught  the parable of the Good Samaritan, Luke 10:25–37, as did Jesus, who stated that it was the despised Samaritan who proved himself a neighbor, having compassion on a wounded man and giving him medical aid when even priests and Levites of his own religious community passed him by.

The editor and contributors to this issue, ask challenges questions that are faced the world today: How should the church respond to the devastating global epidemics and pandemics being faced today? How can healthcare workers bring their faith to bear within today’s secular institutions? How can family members and ministers help patients to negotiate the maze of the twenty-first-century healthcare system while keeping a sense of God’s presence in the process of healing? As in so many areas, there is still much to learn from our forebears.

CH issue #101, contains 14 features and shorter side-bar articles; a chronology timeline; an archive of rare artwork & photos; a ‘letter to the editor’ section and an extensive reading list compiled by the CH editorial staff. The magazine is fully available on-line and can be conveniently read on screen at:

The following major articles (click to select) can be accessed on-line and reprinted with permission:

A New Era in Roman Healthcare  by Gary B. Ferngren, professor of history at Oregon State University.
How the early church transformed the Roman Empire’s treatment of its sick

Basil’s House of Healing  by Timothy S. Miller, is a professor of history at Salisbury University (Maryland).
How a fourth-century monk pioneered the hospital

From poorhouse to hospital  by Timothy S. Miller, professor of history at Salisbury University (Maryland).
How the Christian hospital evolved from a house of charity that cared for the poor to the medical institution we know today

The hospital experience  by Jennifer L. Woodruff Tait is adjunct professor of history/church history at Asbury Theological Seminary, Huntington University, & United Theological Seminary.
What would it have been like to receive care in a medieval hospital?

“Our lords the sick”  by Theresa M. Vann, the Joseph S. Micallef Curator of the Malta Study Center at the Hill Museum & Manuscript Library, St. John’s University (Minnesota).
Christian thinkers Adopted Jewish symbols—but mistrusted their sources

The charitable revolution  by Adam J. Davis is associate professor and chair (Medieval Europe) in the history department of Denison University, Granville, OH.
Why did the twelfth century bring a wave of new hospitals?


Christian History Institute
Worcester, PA, March 24, 2020

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Category: Church History, Winter 2020

About the Author: The editors are Raul Mock, Mike Dies, Joe Joslin, and Jim Dettmann with significant input from other writers including John Lathrop, Amos Yong, Tony Richie, and Kevin Williams.

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