Knowing God in Dementia
What Happens to Faith When You Can No Longer Remember?
Keywords:Body of Christ, chaplain, dementia, dependence, faith, grace, image of God, memory, personhood, relationship
Advanced dementia raises profound questions for what it means to be a person of faith. This article reflects on challenges which it brings, particularly to evangelical Christian faith, including the nature of personhood, cognitive assent to propositional truth and responsive relationship with God. The author concludes that relationality in the body of Christ is a significant key to understanding. Drawing on the writing of theologians, practitioners and Christian scriptures, the article argues that it is consistent with biblical theology, and affirmed by the experience described by those with dementia, that ‘knowing God’ is a relationship available for all, including those with memory loss. Whilst reflecting on the issue of dementia from the perspective of a particular faith tradition, it raises concerns which are relevant to a wide range of mental health disorders and other faith traditions.
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