Global Health after Pentecost: Toward Theological Reflection as a Religious Health Asset. 11/2014.
Published at Christian Journal for Public Health
Written by Matthew Braley
This article examines the recent turn on the part of global health leaders to Christian communities as allies in the response to the HIV pandemic. A cursory survey of this turn highlights how global health leaders have used the language of religious health assets to revalue the activities of faith-based organizations, including Christian churches. In this way, religious health assets—tangible and intangible—become valuable if they can be rendered intelligible and appreciated using the existing lexicon and logic of global health. As a result, the primary activity of religious entities in partnerships with global health institutions is limited to conforming their practices to the best practices of HIV programs. But a closer examination of this revaluation reveals how it obscures a distinctive dimension of Christian participation, namely, critical theological reflection.
The current turn to religion as a global health ally presents an opportunity to re-imagine the spaces in which complex social phenomena are described, interpreted, and responded to. Christians live into the role of co-participants in these spaces when they seek to develop a greater competence for engaging the complex arena of global health policy and programming. This competence emerges from demonstrating understanding of the empirical context in which global health is carried out as well as showing in an imaginative and compelling manner how the theological resources from their own tradition illumine the patterns and processes of human suffering.