The “New” Religio Medici and why it matters

Sir Thomas Brown was a 17th century physician and theologian.  He wrote a treatise called Religio Medici (The religion of a doctor).  In reviewing this treatise as well as writings from Herman Boerhaave (18th century), William Osler (19th century), Albert Schweitzer (20th centry) and Francis Collins (21st century), a theme emerges.  These representative physician-theologians were able to maintain a sense of humanity and respect in the application of the science of their time to the practice of medicine by building a theistic worldview which informed their practice of medicine.  As we explore these writings a new religio medici emerges.  By building a deeper understanding and appreciation for the “theological” in our practice of medicine, we can reinvigorate our commitment to patients, the profession and our colleagues.  Albert Schweitzer put it this way (Anthology p.140), “no one should compel himself to show to others more of his inner life than he feels it natural to show.  We can do no more than let others judge for themselves what we inwardly and really are, and do the same ourselves with them.  The one essential thing is that we strive to have light in ourselves”  This is the NEW religio medici.

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