Monthly Archives: September 2015

After We Die: Theology, Philosophy, and the Question of Life after Death

After We Die: Theology, Philosophy, and the Question of Life after Death

After We Die: Theology, Philosophy, and the Question of Life after Death by Stephen Davis

In After We Die, philosopher Stephen T. Davis subjects one of Christianity’s key beliefs—that Christians not only will survive death but also will enjoy bodily resurrection—to searching philosophical analysis. Facing each critique squarely, Davis contends that traditional, historic belief about the eschatological future is philosophically defensible.

Davis examines personal extinction, reincarnation, and immortality of the soul. By juxtaposing two systems of salvation—reincarnation/karma and resurrection/grace—Davis explores the Christian claim that humans will be raised from the dead, as well as the radical Christian assertions of Jesus’ resurrection, ascension, and long-anticipated return. Davis finally addresses Christian thinking about heaven, hell, and purgatory.

The philosophical defense of Christianity’s core beliefs enables Davis to render a reasonable answer to the eternal question of what happens to us after we die. After We Die is essential reading for teachers and students of philosophy, theology, and Bible, as well as anyone interested in a reasoned analysis of historic Christian faith, particularly as it pertains to the inevitable end of each and every human being.

For more information regarding “After We Die,” visit the book’s page on MUSE.

Madness: American Protestant Responses to Mental Illness

Madness: American Protestant Responses to Mental Illness by Heather Vacek

Madness: American Protestant Responses to Mental Illness by Heather Vacek

Madness is a sin. The disturbed are shunned. Mental illness is not the church’s problem.

All three claims are wrong.

In Madness, Heather H. Vacek traces the history of Protestant reactions to mental illness in America. She reveals how two distinct forces combined to thwart Christian care for the whole person. The professionalization of medicine worked to restrict the sphere of Christian authority to the private and spiritual realms, consigning healing and care—both physical and mental—to secular, medical specialists. Equally influential, a theological legacy that linked illness with sin deepened the social stigma surrounding the mentally ill. The Protestant church, reluctant to engage sufferers lest it, too, be tainted by association, willingly abdicated care for the mentally ill to secular professionals.

While inattention formed the general rule, five historical exceptions to the pattern of benign neglect exemplify Protestant efforts to claim a distinctly Christian response. A close examination of the lives and work of colonial clergyman Cotton Mather, Revolutionary era physician Benjamin Rush, nineteenth-century activist Dorothea Dix, pastor and patient Anton Boisen, and psychiatrist Karl Menninger maps both the range and the progression of attentive Protestant care. Vacek chronicles Protestant attempts to make theological sense of sickness (Mather), to craft care as Christian vocation (Rush), to advocate for the helpless (Dix), to reclaim religious authority (Boisen), and to plead for the mentally ill (Menninger).

Vacek’s historical narrative forms the basis for her theological reflection about contemporary Christian care of the mentally ill and Christian understanding of mental illness. By demonstrating the gravity of what appeared—and failed to appear—on clerical and congregational agendas, Vacek explores how Christians should navigate the ever-shifting lines of cultural authority as they care for those who suffer.

For more information regarding “Madness,” visit the book’s page on MUSE.