Original Research

What does God have to do with my health?

Peet J. van Dyk, Alta C. van Dyk
Verbum et Ecclesia | Vol 35, No 1 | a1313 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ve.v35i1.1313 | © 2014 Peet J. van Dyk, Alta C. van Dyk | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 11 November 2013 | Published: 18 August 2014

About the author(s)

Peet J. van Dyk, Department of Ancient and Biblical Studies, University of South Africa, South Africa
Alta C. van Dyk, Department of Psychology, University of South Africa, South Africa


Perceptions about God’s involvement in the health of people have always been an issue in Christianity. Conflicting views regarding the transcendent versus immanent nature of Godhave therefore played a prominent part within theological discussions. The purpose of this empirical survey was to explore the extent to which South African Christians directly attribute their health and/or diseases to the hand of God. A total of 3000 structured questionnaires were distributed of which 575 were received back. The IBM Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS 21) statistical program was used to analyse the data. Most participants disagreed with the view that God largely determined their health, although the majority did think that diseases (including AIDS) were sent by God, whilst playing down the role of natural causes.In conclusion, one could say that health beliefs amongst South Africans are closely linked to supernatural agents, although the direct role of God is seen mostly in terms of the sending of occasional diseases rather than constant involvement in general health.

Intradisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: The study challenges the applicability of a secularised medical model within the South African context and its relevance for prevention programmes.


Health beliefs; transcendent God; Aids


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