DOI: 10.1093/cb/cbad019 ISSN: 1380-3603

Salvation and Health in Southern Appalachia: What the Opioid Crisis Reveals about Health Care and the Church

Brett McCarty
  • Philosophy
  • Religious studies
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)


This essay examines the interconnected nature of salvation and health, and it does so by engaging both recent qualitative research and three scriptural accounts from the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. In doing so, the essay argues that salvation and health—and their conceptual pairings, sin and disease—are never individualistic. These realities are always cosmic, communal, and interpersonal, even as sin and disease are fundamentally disintegrating and isolating. The salvation and health of people suffering with substance use issues are bound up with the transformations of governing principalities and powers, social realities, and relationships. Health care practitioners and clergy should be wise, communal guides offering care and accompaniment in the pursuit of salvation and health.