Is Health the Absence of Illness?

A couple on a walk through autumn leaves. One person is in a wheelchair. They are both throwing leaves.​I’ve been working on a new introduction for my next book (To Be Made Well: An Invitation to Wholeness, Healing, and Health). My editor felt like I needed to do a little more in the opening pages to welcome people into the big ideas throughout the book, and not just my own story within it. Here’s a sneak peek at one of the new paragraphs in the intro (which also speaks to my post from last Friday):


As theologian John Swinton has written, our modern concept of health relies on the idea that we are healthy when we are free of illness or injury. Swinton suggests that instead we should turn to an ancient and biblical understanding of health, not as the absence of illness but as the presence of God. 

He writes:

“Health is a relational concept which has nothing to do with our bodily shape, the number of our chromosomes or the sharpness of our minds . . . The most hedonistic, intellectually astute athlete can be in need of healing (restoration to right relationship with God), and the most deeply impaired individuals can be healthy and indeed beautiful.”


Is health the absence of illness? There are approximately 49, 500 other words in the book, so this is just a very small taste of what I’m thinking and writing about.

I hope you’ll join me in conversation about these ideas and how we can participate in God’s healing work in our lives and in the world. You can pre-order To Be Made Well now. It comes out mid-March.


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Hi, I’m Amy Julia.

I write about faith, family, disability, and privilege.

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