All Christians believe that God matters. Yet the way many Christians use our health care system implies that God doesn't matter. Joel Shuman and Dr. Brian Volck say in Reclaiming the Body: Christians and the Faithful Use of Modern Medicine that Christians navigate the world of doctors, drugs, and hospitals much like non-Christians. They give greater-than-deserved power to what the authors describe as the "mysteriously animated social force" of medicine. Reclaiming the Body is a well-researched and skillfully crafted argument calling Christians to understand and utilize medicine "as if God mattered."
Shuman and Volck begin by outlining the sociopolitical groundwork that underlies many of our American assumptions about health and medicine. The book debunks the myth that Christianity and modern medicine are pursuing identical goals. Modern medicine, the authors argue, emphasizes the autonomy of the individual and holds up the supreme end of bodily perfection. These goals are not only unattainable, but more importantly, are inconsistent with the Christian faith. The book points out the dangers of society's worship of and allegiance to medicine for its perceived ability to defeat or forestall death. While our Christian beliefs should protect us from this deification of medicine, the authors remind us that we often fall into the same trap.
As a remedy, Shuman and Volck emphasize the practical nature of living in Christian community. They assert that a vital component of a Christian approach to medicine is to proactively engage in "the smelly acts of bodily care." Most readers will see the title and assume that the body we are to reclaim is our physical body, when in fact we are encouraged to reclaim the body of Christ, the church, ...1