Diachronically, the care of the ill seems to be perceived as a particular form of charity beneath the Church, although, it is also the matter of honor due to the emphasis put on it by the founder of the Christian faith. Since the first centuries, the visiting of the ill has become a pattern of the Christiansâ€™ duty. Besides, the tradition takes its roots from the deacons and deaconesses who were prone to take the poor and homeless people into their homes and care for them. Certainly, there was no technical preparation for that kind of service, and the leading force was viewed in devotion to the faith, omnipresent love, and, surely, obedience to the Christian duty of hospitality and service for the sake of others. With the time span, lots of charities have been centered in hospitals requiring qualified personnel. More often, those people were the members of the Church or the widows. With the rapid growth of the monastic movement, after the sixth century, large numbers of voluntary celibates men and women joined religious orders, and the care of the sick, helpless and infirm became in many cases their permanent vocation (Donahue, 1996).
Christianity spread throughout the world as a religion based on the teachings of Jesus Christ, and provoked the emergence of the concept of a loving God towards the whole humankind. Thus, the nursing proper is based on the principles of Christianity in terms of transformation of love and brotherhood of Christâ€™s teachings into the field of health care. â€˜Organized nursingâ€™ was a direct response to these teachings and epitomized the concept of pure altruism initiated by the early Christians (Donahue, 1996). The term altruism was not a new concept at that time and presupposed being thoughtful and caring for others. Such approaches as animist, Judaist, Buddhist, and others taught that service for the sake of others would store up merit in heaven.
The notion of altruism evolves the care of the sick as an act of true mercy. Therefore, it obtained a sort of spiritual meaning concerning Christian idealism that had made a significant impact on the practice of nursing. Besides, the Christian devotion to caring for the sick stemmed from the Christ's teachings and instances of healing without any use of medicine. Faith healing was presupposed by the Christian belief.
According to Culliford, Medicine, once fully bound up with religion, retains a sacred dimension for many (Mcsherry, 2006). Thus, the effect of medical treatment is meant concerning the relationship between spirituality and health care practice. From the Christian perspective, a human is a spiritual being, and there is a direct relationship between people and God due to the notion of God as Creator. Moreover, a human being is not viewed separately as the body and the soul, but is defined as a psycho-physical being. Spirituality is another concept that does not come separately from a person. Christian spirituality embraces the world in all its fullness that includes suffering and pain as well as joy (Gustafsson Parfitt, 2002). Additionally, healing relationships can be built only in terms of loving and caring for others in order to actualize the image of Christ within them.
Concerning Christian dogma, central concept beyond the health context is the doctrine of sin. Often, sickness is regarded to be equal to consequences of an accomplished sin. It serves as another proof of relational connection between Christianity and nursing field as far as Christian nursing aims at imaging Jesus Christ in his mission to the whole humanity. The Christian response to suffering is not condemnation but compassion (Gustafsson Parfitt, 2002). Compassion and caring are the central values according to the biblical theology. Thus, people who feel they are devoted to caring for those who are infirm or sick have found their vocation of nursing that is considered a deeply theological concern.
The concepts of nursing, human being, theology, sin, suffering, health, and some others are those upon which nursing practice is based. Nevertheless, Christian worldview is not necessarily the constraint of successful nursing practice for all of the medical representatives. Mainly, the prior concepts of health care for the majority of clinical professionals are based on the secularist dogma. In addition, the concept of secularism may be defined as an exclusion of religion and religious belief. Hence, the current American nursing practice is based on principles of Christian truth. According to the viewpoint of such scholars as Doornboos, Groenhout, and Hotz, Christian faith has qualified and shaped nursing practice from its inception (Doornboos et al, 2005).
Christianity has been interested in healing from the rimes of its emergence. After all, Jesus Christ was a healer. Thus, nursing has its theological foundations and Christian nurses are prone to Christian faith for health care practicing. Additionally, Christian nursing is determined as a ministry of compassionate care for the whole person, in response to God's grace toward a sinful world, which aims to foster optimum health (shalom) and bring comfort in suffering and death for anyone in need (Lick Verhey, 2001). As far as this definition seems to be quite broad, it does not provide the specific characterization of the particular nursing care. Although, it undoubtedly embraces a context, within which nursing is called a Christian vocation. Besides all the prescribed procedures and medications that need to be given, nurses have to remember about caring and paying attention to a patient. Sufferer needs compassion and caring: sometimes in terms of silent presence, hackneyed conversation, or sharing mutual values in order to show the patient that he/she is needed, which may serve as an action of remedy the suffering.
On the contrary to the confessional-oriented nursing, secular kind of nursing has been developing since the second half of the 19th century that has its vivid sample in the Red Cross Nurse service. The representatives of secular nursing do not accept themselves as imitators of God. Moreover, they are regarded to be anthropocentric and philanthropically-oriented. Their prior task is to achieve the good result rather than the holy one. They consider this good has to be regulated in terms of working hours, and should be paid (Kppeli, 2008). From the perspective of the secular approach, a qualified nurse does not need any religious act to feel a patient, his/her soul, body, and needs. Therefore, within the frame of the relationship between medical personnel and a sufferer, the act of motherhood is being realized. Previously, to work hard without expecting gratefulness or pay was a religious ideal. Now, this service is presented as an inner necessity of women or as a principle of motherhood (Kppeli, 2008). Historically, an act of compassion and caring for the sufferer was considered to be submitted under God and was required by the Church. These values have been transmitted to the service of physicians and have been paid so far. Nonetheless, the financial concerns have been changed leaving the principles untouchable. From the second half of the 20th century, the secular nursing practicing has almost excluded previously popular religious approach. Although Christian nursing finds itself in crisis, there are still such nurses whose practice is based on religious considerations. In Switzerland 40% of the secular nurses confirmed that they want to nurse patients amongst other reasons because of religious or spiritual motives (Kppeli, 2008).
Being either a secular or a Christian nurse should not change the fact that a nurse is expected to be professional, qualified, educated, caring, and sympathetic. Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, or Atheistic must not determine the value of nursing practicing. Taking into account the viewpoint of Ann Begley, the quality of care depends on the intellectual and moral character of the nurse, not on whether he or she is spiritual or secular, there is no the unanimously right consideration of what the perfect nurse has to be (Begley, 2009). Though, from the perspective of professional ethics, it is obvious that it is really does not matter whether a nurse is secular or religious. Nonetheless, a nurse is expected to be professional in the way of caring for her/his patient. According to Doornbos, care is a concern for the well-being of others (Doornboos et al, 2005). Nevertheless, a nurse must not necessarily love God to act in a caring manner towards a patient. Therefore, caring does not determine a belief in God.
Van Loon admits that in the Bible in 1 John 3:18, there are the following words: let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth (Van Loon, 2005). Therefore, I assume that nurse has to be caring compassionate, although, it does not necessarily depend on the person's religious convictions and believes. Nursing is a non-religious vocation that is aimed at serving for the sake of others. Although, it should not depend on a financial means in terms of salary as a main goal in the health care practice.