Knowing God in Dementia

What Happens to Faith When You Can No Longer Remember?

Authors

  • Patricia S. Williams University of Aberdeen

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.1558/hscc.v4i2.30960

Keywords:

Body of Christ, chaplain, dementia, dependence, faith, grace, image of God, memory, personhood, relationship

Abstract

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.

Author Biography

Patricia S. Williams, University of Aberdeen

Patricia Williams is at the University of Aberdeen completing her PhD research in practical theology – faith and dementia. Previously she has worked with a Christian charity as creative developer of Bible resources. She has written and published faith materials for those with dementia and has worked in a volunteer chaplaincy role with people with advanced dementia.

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Published

2016-12-15

How to Cite

Williams, P. (2016). Knowing God in Dementia: What Happens to Faith When You Can No Longer Remember?. Health and Social Care Chaplaincy, 4(2), 142-157. https://doi.org/10.1558/hscc.v4i2.30960

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Section

Articles