The body of Christ and Alzheimer's disease a theological account of the church's capability and responsibility to respond well to Alzheimer's disease

Date of Award


Degree Name

M.A. in Theology


Department of Religious Studies


Advisor: Brad J. Kallenberg


This thesis shows that the church has both the responsibility and capability to meet the challenges of Alzheimer's disease. Although Alzheimer's disease appears to destroy memory, a communal understanding of memory points to the need for those with Alzheimer's disease to have a community to help them remember. Herbert McCabe's account of human existence shows that such a community exists because of the person of Jesus and his resurrection, cleverly avoiding the confusion involved with discussion about the nature of the human soul. With the institution of the church as the Body of Christ, hierarchies are radically reversed as the weak and forgotten become vital members joined in a new way of living. The story of Basil of Caesarea provides an example of how the Body of Christ can function in this manner. However, liberalism, with its emphasis on the rational, autonomous chooser, is shown to be incommensurable with the Body of Christ. As Christ's body, the church possesses practices of presence that can support those who are overlooked in liberal society, including those with Alzheimer's disease. These practices include prayer, the Eucharist, and funeral rights. Furthermore, a renewed emphasis on the virtues of Christian love, patience, and memory can inspire and support the church as it aims its practices towards those with Alzheimer's disease.


Church work with Alzheimer's patients, Alzheimer's disease Religious aspects Christianity, Sick Religious life Christianity, Church and social problems

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Copyright © 2012, author