A Theologian Looks at Ebola (Part 1 of 5)

27 Oct

What has theology to do with disease?  What insights might a Screen Shot 2014-10-19 at 7.12.13 AMteacher of theology have on such a heart-wrenching, tragic plague like the Ebola virus?

Screen Shot 2014-10-19 at 7.14.11 AMIf one’s theology, or worldview, does not include disease, it is incomplete.  A theology does not only summarize all the teachings of the Bible; it also reflects upon reality and seeks to account for both the pleasures and pains of life.

Webster’s defines a plague as: “a disease that causes death and that spreads quickly to a large number of people.”

Facts from CNN:
Ebola hemorrhagic fever is a disease caused by one of five different Ebola viruses. Four of the strains can cause severe illness in humans and animals. The fifth, Reston virus, has caused illness in some animals, but not in humans.

The first human outbreaks occurred in 1976, one in northern Zaire (now Democratic Republic of the Congo) in Central Africa: and the other, in southern Sudan (now South Sudan). The virus is named after the Ebola River, where the virus was first recognized in 1976, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Ebola is extremely infectious but not extremely contagious. It is infectious, because an infinitesimally small amount can cause illness. Laboratory experiments on nonhuman primates suggest that even a single virus may be enough to trigger a fatal infection.

Instead, Ebola could be considered moderately contagious, because the virus is not transmitted through the air. The most contagious diseases, such as measles or influenza, virus particles are airborne.

Humans can be infected by other humans if they come in contact with body fluids from an infected person or contaminated objects from infected persons. Humans can also be exposed to the virus, for example, by butchering infected animals.

While the exact reservoir of Ebola viruses is still unknown, researchers believe the most likely natural hosts are fruit bats.

Symptoms of Ebola typically include: weakness, fever, aches, diarrhea, vomiting and stomach pain. Additional experiences include rash, red eyes, chest pain, throat soreness, difficulty breathing or swallowing and bleeding (including internal).

Typically, symptoms appear 8-10 days after exposure to the virus, but the incubation period can span two to 21 days.

Unprotected health care workers are susceptible to infection because of their close contact with patients during treatment.

Ebola is not transmissible if someone is asymptomatic or once someone has recovered from it. However, the virus has been found in semen for up to three months.

Deadly human Ebola outbreaks have been confirmed in the following countries: Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Gabon, South Sudan, Ivory Coast, Uganda, Republic of the Congo (ROC), Guinea and Liberia.

According to the World Health Organization, “there is no specific treatment or vaccine,” and the fatality rate can be up to 90%. Patients are given supportive care, which includes providing fluids and electrolytes and food.

There are five subspecies of the Ebola virus: Zaire ebolavirus (EBOV), Bundibugyo ebolavirus (BDBV), Sudan ebolavirus (SUDV), Taï Forest ebolavirus (TAFV) and Reston ebolavirus (RESTV)

To think about:  If God is sovereign over disease, how can we fight disease without fighting God?


Posted by on October 27, 2014 in Ebola


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5 responses to “A Theologian Looks at Ebola (Part 1 of 5)

  1. john

    October 27, 2014 at 10:34 am

    Do I understand you right, that if we fight disease we fight God? You theologians need a reality check once in a while.

    • Dr. Larry Dixon

      October 27, 2014 at 8:18 pm

      You misunderstood my question, John. I believe we can fight plague and not be fighting God. Larry

  2. eileen Looby

    October 27, 2014 at 2:16 pm

    Jesus healed many deceased persons and also sent his disciples also to heal. In addition, James 5:14 stars Is any among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord
    That is not fighting God.

    • Dr. Larry Dixon

      October 27, 2014 at 8:19 pm

      I couldn’t agree with you more, Eileen. Thank you for your comment. I believe we can fight disease and plagues without fighting God. Blessings. Larry

  3. john

    October 28, 2014 at 11:37 am

    Your question opens with “If God is sovereign over disease…”.
    So, if He is sovereign, then it is His will to cause disease. To fight disease by us, would be against his will. Tell me what I have misunderstood in your quote.
    The question would only make sense when the conditional “if” would imply that you might think God is NOT sovereign over disease.


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