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Edited by Edward R. Canda

World Religious Views of Personal and Social Health

By Aaron Ketchell, Loretta Pyles, and Edward R. Canda

Health and Healing in the New Testament

By Kris D'Atri

Roman Catholic Views of Personal and Social Health
By Aaron Ketchell

Mainline Protestant Views of Personal and Social Health

By Aaron Ketchell

Methodist Views of Personal and Social Health

By Phillip Dybicz and Aaron Ketchell


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            Alhough recognition of the association between religion and health is currently growing in popularity, this connection actually has always been embedded in the major religious perspectives of the world.  For example, God is sometimes described as the Great Physician, shamans are community-based healers, and meditation and yoga practices are ways to actualize the union of mind, body, and world.  When we learn from the stories, symbolism, and theology of a variety of religious traditions as they relate to individual and community health, we are better able to understand spiritual resources for health and well-being.  Numerous studies have emerged in recent years that reveal how individuals use spirituality for resilient response to illness and how spirituality and religion can improve health-related outcomes.  (Click here for an extensive resource list.)  There is also a small body of literature that combs religious texts and writings for health-related wisdom.  The essays in this Spiritual Diversity Resource Center summarize some of these insights through introductions to a variety of religious traditions.

            Please note that these essays are only brief introductions intended to pique readers' interest to explore further.  They do not provide comprehensive coverage of relationships between spirituality and health within the traditions discussed.  In addition, we are not promoting any particular worldview or theology, but rather wish to pay respect to insights about health and well-being conveyed throughout religious traditions.  We also recognize that there can be controversies and conflicts within and between various religious groups.  And sometimes, most regrettably, religious ideas are used to rationalize violence, war, and injustice.  However, we believe that is all the more reason to encourage the potentials for healing, helping, and cooperation available through the world's religions.  For more information and pictures related to the spiritual perspectives discussed herein and others, click here.  

            In respect for religious diversity, we begin with an essay introducing ideas from a diverse sample of several world religions:  Buddhism, Confucianism, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, and Shamanism.  This essay offers a brief account of ideas in each religious tradition regarding physical, mental, social, and spiritual aspects of health.  Links are provided to internet websites for more information.  The Gallery of Spiritual Diversity provides more insights about these and some other religions and spiritual themes.  

            The remainder of the essays focus on Christian views of health and well-being, since most Americans have Christian affiliations and Christianity is one of the most widespread religions in the world.  The second essay covers views of health and healing as expressed in Christian New Testament writings.  By employing a literary and historical approach, this essay provides readers with a succint introduction to Jesus' healing ministry and other biblical accounts of the spirituality and health connection.  Roman Catholic views of personal and social health are discussed in the subsequent essay.  As this church has the longest history, it is covered first, setting a context for discussions of Protestant Christian denominations.  This piece offers a small glimpse into the multiple permutations of the spirituality and health relationship as expressed in the ancient, medieval, and modern periods.  The fourth paper examines a sample of Protestant denominations that identify themselves as "mainline," with special focus upon American understandings of personal and social health.   Finally, as this website emerged from the Health through Faith and Community Project, supported by the United Methodist Health Ministry Fund of Hutchinson, Kansas, the concluding essay presents some United Methodist understandings of health.