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Toward a Methodology and Public Discourse of Christological Concreteness: Lessons from a Discussion of Health Care Rationing in the United States

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image of International Journal of Public Theology

AbstractA recent passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has once again sparked fierce public debates within the United States over the permissibility of health care rationing. Unfortunately only a handful of public theologians have addressed this issue, and those who have often fail to draw upon Jesus’ ethical praxis. This article corrects this lacuna by offering a clarifying theological analysis and defence of one form of rationing, known as Comparative Effectiveness Research (CER), through a proposed method of Christological concreteness. The article begins by outlining which CER provisions are included in the ACA, and then discusses how they will re-shape US public health expenditures in the future. An examination of Richard Land’s and Jim Wallis’s theological evaluations of rationing is used to demonstrate that, while each is helpful in some respects, both omit the moral saliency of Jesus. To correct these shortcomings, the article draws upon some recent methodological trends within Christian ethics and devises a Christological method based upon a synthesis of integrative, canonical, reiterative, embodied and incarnational variables. Finally, a critical analysis of Allen Verhey’s discussion of health care rationing explains why his approach not only provides a compelling justification for using CER but also a preferable approach for public theology.

Affiliations: 1: Fuller Theological Seminary USA, URL:


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