The title is a bit misleading as it is hard to word in order to convey the content of this article. The subject matter concerns the over-the-top attacks made against those who practice faith healing and shun modern medicine.
Having participated in discussions on faith healing with atheists just after another child had died from its use, one sees the hatred towards the practice and those who opt for the exercising of their faith.
The attacks are quite unrealistic and hypocritical. Their foundation are based in hatred towards anything religious and the attackers have firmly closed their mind to any reason or being reasonable. They feel everyone should do medical treatment their way, especially if a child is involved.
Faith healing is solely a religious practice and those who want to participate in it receive a lot of flak for doing so. The same can be said for those who merely support the practice by others. Jesus did say to His disciples, and to us by extension, that they are hated because people hate Him.
Those people who hate anything religious know that they can’t attack God or Jesus so they do the next best thing. They hurt them via attacking their messengers, their servants, their followers. Believers are vulnerable and the easiest target. Faulty faith healing does nothing to alleviate this scenario.
What is the whole story? let’s look at some statistics to get a better picture of the whole issue:
Faith healing: Asser studied 172 reported deaths of infants and children between 1975 and 1995. Deaths were found in 34 states among members of 23 religious groups. They belonged to families of Christian Scientist, Faith Tabernacle, Faith Assembly and several other religious groups that practice faith healing (http://www.religioustolerance.org/medical3.htm)
Modern Medicine: An average of 195,000 people in the USA died due to potentially preventable, in-hospital medical errors in each of the years 2000, 2001 and 2002, according to a new study of 37 million patient records that was released today by HealthGrades, the healthcare quality company. (http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/11856.php)
Do you see a problem? The faith healing statistics covered a 20 year span and only had 172 deaths (that was reported to this study) while modern medicine had 600,000 deaths approx. in 3 years. There is more and from the same links and quoted in the same order:
He compared the cause of death with the expected survival rates if the children had received routine medical care. They found:
140 children would have had a 90% chance of surviving if they had been treated medically. 18 children would have had a 50 to 90% chance of surviving 11 children would have received some benefits from medical care 3 would not have been helped from medical care
The 172 deaths are presumably some unknown fraction of the total deaths among children whose parents used faith healing in place of medical treatment.
Also unknown are the numbers of children who died after having received medical treatment who would have been saved by faith healing.
The problem with that analysis is that it is based upon the assumption that the people involved would respond to modern medicine. Hard to say since they are working on skeletons to come to this judgment. What about modern medicine, how many could be saved if things were done differently (I say that because we do not know if faith healing would be successful or not in treating those 600,000 people).
If we could focus our efforts on just four key areas – failure to rescue, bed sores, postoperative sepsis, and postoperative pulmonary embolism – and reduce these incidents by just 20 percent, we could save 39,000 people from dying every year,” said Dr. Collier.
So if changes were made to some practices of modern medicine, 120,000 people could possibly still be alive today. yet no one is demanding that the modern doctors and nurses be sent to prison for murder like they do for those involved in faith healing.
Those quotes only give an idea of what we are dealing with and the amount of unrealistic thinking that comes from the unbelieving side. They are more worried about 172 deaths over 20 years than they are 600,000 over 3:
One review published in 1998 looked at 172 cases of deaths among children treated by faith healing instead of conventional methods. These researchers estimated that if conventional treatment had been given, the survival rate for most of these children would have been more than 90 percent, with the remainder of the children also having a good chance of survival (http://www.cancer.org/treatment/treatmentsandsideeffects/complementaryandalternativemedicine/mindbodyandspirit/faith-healing)
But given the large amount of deaths at the hands of modern medicine, they really cannot make that claim. They do not know how many of those 172 people would have died under modern treatment. They do not care about that or it would have been addressed.
The one-sided argument presented by unbelievers, in the medical field as well, tends to tilt the playing field against those who want to use faith healing for whatever reason they have. The arguments presented against faith healing are not grounded in fact or reality but prejudice, bias and a hatred for anything religious interfering in their profession.
At this point, we really do not need to discuss the pros and cons of modern medicine as we know what it can do and has done. God does not say reject that field as an option when a family member gets sick since he used a doctor to write 2 books of the Bible.
God does say that medicine is not the end all of medical treatment either as the Bible relates the story of a woman who suffered for decades at the hands of the then modern medical practices and could not be healed. Having faith in Jesus and His healing power, available to believers today, did what medicine could not do; He healed her. So faith healing does have a part in people’s lives.
What does need to be discussed is how and when faith healing should be used. We all know that there are frauds out there, it is no secret and many people suffer at the hands of these con artists. That suffering could be financial, spiritual, or medical doesn’t matter, that they suffer does.
Finally, a few “faith healers” have been caught using fraud as a way to get others to believe in their methods. These people often solicited large donations or charged money for their healing sessions. (http://www.cancer.org/treatment/treatmentsandsideeffects/complementaryandalternativemedicine/mindbodyandspirit/faith-healing)
The believer or religious person really needs discernment when looking at faith healing as an option to their troubles. They also need to seek God’s direction in this matter so that they do not run afoul of the frauds. Desperation is a characteristic these frauds look for in order to perform their cons.
As is over-emotional parents or others. We cannot let emotion influence too much as it does make one susceptible to the wrong suggestions as a solution to one’s medical problems.
The first thing, after asking God for help is to not dismiss the option of medical treatment. God may want you to use modern medicine, doctors and nurses to cure you. In today’s world there are many medical professionals who do to belive in God or acknowledge that He exists thus they need contact with believers to learn the truth.
Also, the medical professionals need to see God in action. There are many documented cases where doctors have pronounced judgment upon a patient, only to see a complete healing at a subsequent visit. They need to see that God does things that science cannot.
A third reason is to teach the believer that faith healing is not the only option available. They need to learn that even using modern medical facilities and treatment is an exercise in faith. This comes through answered prayers as the believer sees the timing involved, the doctors involved, etc., and the impossibility of all taking place without faith in God and His working in the lives of people.
Having God direct the believer to just the right doctor, who has just the right treatment or medicine on hand, or in the correct restaurant or department store with medicine on hand, is a miracle of faith as well. Believers do not need to reject modern medicine simply because its supporters and practitioners do not believe in God.
Believers just need to consult God first, even a hurried prayer in an emergency can bring miracles and save a loved one’s life. Let Him direct them so that HE gets the credit and glory and so the unbelieving world can see that God does care about individual lives.
We cannot deprive the unsaved world of such lessons and examples. Does this mean that we ignore faith healing? No, for faith healing may be the only option available or the only way God will get the glory. It also might be the only way to get the medical professional’s attention.
We do not know thus we need to let God decide what kind of treatment should be used and then we need to confirm that the direction is really of God. How we get the answer varies and depends upon one’s spiritual state. In other words be careful in making this determination.
Sometimes, a decision along the lines of ‘better safe than sorry’ is wise. By that I mean, if you are not sure, then opt for the hospital but still rely on God. Not everyone has the faith to do faith healing and those that think they do probably don’t.
With faith healing, one has to be absolutely sure and it has to be done where it is all God. So seek God in this issue as lives depend upon it.
Now who can seek faith healing? This is a complicated issue as believers have their own personal not biblical ideas they thrust upon this situation but from the evidence we have in the biblical record it doesn’t matter if they are unbelievers or believers. What did matter to Jesus was the faith of the person making the request.
From the gentile woman saying ‘even the dog’s eat the crumbs of their master’ (paraphrased), to the Roman centurion to the 10 lepers we have examples of those who believed that Jesus could solve their medical dilemma. In the case of the 10 lepers we see that, as far as we know, the 9 who did not come back remained healed even though they did not follow Jesus or return to thank Him.
Healing was for all both believer and non-believer and few were rejected. Given John’s words at the end of His gospel, I doubt we will fully know the scope or breadth of Jesus’ healing ministry. Withholding healing simply because one is not a believer or does not attend your church is not a smart route to take.
Now a few words about cultic practitioners of faith healing:
The Watchtower periodical Awake once showed pictures of Jehovah’s Witnesses children who followed the churches ban on blood transfusions and died (http://www.religioustolerance.org/medical3.htm)
That quote will merely represent all cults and false religions. Their members can partake in healing from Jesus but it depends upon whom they are asking. In the biblical accounts, the non-jewish petitioners came to Jesus alone and not to their version of Jesus to seek healing.
Is God hearing the prayers of those cult members who want their loved ones healed? it depends. Are they approaching their version of God and Jesus or are they putting their false beliefs aside and coming to the real Jesus who does heal and answers prayers?
If it is the latter then the answer to their requests are up to God. The Bible does say ‘ He will have mercy upon those He chooses to have mercy’ (paraphrased) which means that if true believers are approached by cultic members and asked to use their gift of healing, then their denial should only be the result of being told by God to deny them.
Cultic members are like the medical professionals. They need to see the real God in action and they need to see that God cares about them and their loved ones. One would hope that after experiencing God in this way those cultic members repent and turn to Christ for the rest of their lives..
One final word and it is a warning. God has given each individual so long on this earth and then they will die. There will be no help from modern medicine or faith healing if one’s alloted time is over. Of course, some people get a reprieve BUT they eventually die. God is not going to change that restriction.
What this means is, that when that time comes it doesn’t matter what medical option one chooses, the person is going to die–doesn’t matter their age. This means that the attacks against faith healing are frivolous and without merit. Why? Because those attacking faith healing do not factor in this fact nor accept it.
This fact of life also makes one question the need for machines to prolong a patient’s life. The Hippocratic oath contains the words, ‘do no harm’ but the quest to mechanically or medically extend a life does do harm in many cases.
It harms the patient’s or their families financially, medically, emotionally, and spiritually thus those doctors trying too hard to keep their oath end up violating it. This medical extension really needs to be questioned and not blindly accepted simply because a doctor recommends it.
Yes many patients are afraid to die, even believers, and they want to remain on earth longer but that is more of a spiritual problem than a medical one. it is also a situation between God and the patient and their family.
Afterall of this what does a believer do when these attacks come? 1. They need to be able to turn aside the arguments against faith healing with facts and solid information; 2. They need to be prepared to face persecution as Jesus said we would; 3. We need to be wise and seek God in all medical matters instead of rushing off to the doctor without consulting Him; This point alone helps people avoid mistakes in medical care; 4. We need to be inclusive not exclusive when people need healing; 5. We need to approach faith healing correctly and biblically; and most important, 6. we need to make sure God gets the glory correctly.
We do not seek the glory but direct people to Him and what God did.