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The lives of Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Albert Schweitzer overlapped during the early part of the 20th century. Both were ordained as Lutheran priests. Whilst Bonhoeffer’s focus was largely that of an academic theologian, Schweitzer also qualified as a medical doctor and founded a missionary hospital in the Gabon. Bonhoeffer’s work includes some embryonic thinking around the relative importance of the ‘penultimate’ versus the ‘ultimate’. Meanwhile, Schweitzer was developing his own underpinning philosophical imperative, which he termed ‘reverence for life’. Taken together, Bonhoeffer’s theological concepts found practical echoes within the missionary work and philosophy of Schweitzer. I suggest that an analysis of the two men’s work thus provides a dialectic in terms of theory and praxis, as well as a paradigm for establishing a Christian mandate for the involvement of the Church in 21st century healthcare.
Dr Robert Jaggs-Fowler is an ordinand, physician, writer and poet. He qualified in Medicine in 1985 (MB BS, London), is a Fellow of the Royal College of General Practitioners and was in clinical practise for 33 years. He is currently the Medical Director and Director of Primary Care for the NHS North Lincolnshire Clinical Commissioning Group. He additionally holds Masters’ degrees in Medical Law & Ethics (LLM, De Montfort, Leicester) and Spirituality, Theology & Health (MA, Durham), is currently researching for a PhD (Theology) at Durham University, and is training for ordination in the Anglican Church at the Lincoln School of Theology.
A former Major in the Royal Army Medical Corps, and a former Assistant Chief Commander for the St John Ambulance, Robert is also the author of several books, including a medico-legal text, a novel and two collections of poetry.
From a faith perspective, he describes himself as an Anglican-Benedictine- Contemplative. He has a particular interest in the inter-relationship between Christian theology and healthcare. He has been instrumental in introducing Chaplaincy Volunteers to GP practices in North Lincolnshire and is in the process of rolling the project out to other practices across the whole Diocese of Lincoln as part of an NHS England pilot. Robert is due to be ordained in June 2019.