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Faith Healing?


Yvonne
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What is your opinion on faith healing? The reason I ask is because my niece's husband claims to have had one. He has a genetic disease that causes all kinds of health problems, the most obvious (though not the worst) concerns his feet - the skin is literally peeling off all the time. He went to a faith healing and claims he was healed. I personally have not witnessed it, but two people, my sister (who tends to blow thing out or proportion) and my other niece (who is extremely practical) claim to have seen his feet and claim they are completely healed.

 

I cannot believe that God heals some people and not others. On the other hand, it would be really great if my nephew-by-marriage were healed. I just really don't know what to think. There are a lot of unexplained things in the world, and I'm open-minded enough to wonder at mystery.

 

What do you think?

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I think that a number of illnesses are psychosomatic and can be helped or 'cured' by psychological means which can include faith healing with a spiritual placebo effect.

 

FWIW, I think that Jesus was a 'faith healer.'

 

George

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I would agree with George. I have personally witnessed many healings and have been used in enough experiences that i have no doubt that what appears as 'faith healing' is in many cases true. The scientific details of how or why those actual healings take place i can not begin to say other than they did. Why some appear to be healed and others not i also can not say.

 

Joseph.

 

PS More related views can be found in a thread called "Does 'your' Christianity involve the Supernatural"

Edited by JosephM
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By your faith you are healed. Jesus said this often. This self-healing, I think, occurs occasionally with either permanent or temporary effect. I think some of the illnesses healed are psycomatic and some are not. We have that power in some unpredictable instances.

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Neon,

 

That very thing was said in the paper here (Western Australia) yesterday in an article on a church that is promoting faith healing here in our state. A skeptic said "My test for faith healers is simple. We would just go along with an amputee. If God is omniscient & omnipotent he would have no problem replacing the limb, right?".

 

Whilst I think the omniscient & omnipotent bit may not be relevant, certainly faith healing of an amputee would speak volumes.

 

I think George is on the money when he says "a number of illnesses are psychosomatic and can be helped or 'cured' by psychological means which can include faith healing with a spiritual placebo effect".

 

That answers it for me.

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I also think faith healing can be very dangerous to both a person's health and faith. It can damage your health by encouraging Chrisitans to hate science and doctors in favor of false promises when they might really need to see a doctor for their health. And it can damage a Christians' faith by placing a blame the victim mentality on the believer by teaching that if you're sick and not miraculous healed, then it's because you don't have enough faith and God must be punishing you for not really believing enough. Besides which, if God performs miracles, why do you need to turn to a preacher to be healed? Couldn't you just pray to God yourself for a miracle instead of being required to pay a so-called love "offering" to be healed? Aren't faith healers essentailly turning prayers into a commodity to sell, as if you can somehow buy God's love? What makes faith healers' prayers somehow more special than any other Christians' prayers? I thought Jesus was supposed to be the only priest that intercedes on Christians' behalf according to the bible?

Edited by Neon Genesis
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Neon, Paul, George, normally I would have agreed 100%. Now I don't know what to think. My nephew's illness was anything but psychosomatic. I forget what its called, its rare, its genetic, but it begins manifesting in the skin and eventually leads to heart failure - his father had it, his brothers have it, and one brother died of it. He went hiking today for the first time since the disease manifested more than 10 years ago. His feet have been raw hunks of flesh with sheets of skin hanging off (sorry to be so graphic), and now they appear normal. I'm still skeptical, but I'm happy for him that (at least for now), he's free from the pain.

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Couldn't you just pray to God yourself for a miracle instead of ....

sometimes healing and miracles need community.

 

I suspect the following is apocryphal:

"There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle." - Albert Einstein

 

Dutch

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One thing I've noticed though is that as society has become more modernized, the miracle claims of the faithful have become less sensationalized in the process. Like in the pre-scientific era of ancient times, you had all these fantasitical miracles that would completely revolutionize the way we think about reality if they were true, like Moses parting the Sea of Reeds or Jesus walking on water and bringing a dead man back to life after being in the tomb for several days. But now that society has become more advanced and modernized, we get less specatucular and frankly rather disappointing miracle claims like "God cured my artharitis that none of my other doctors could" or "I had a hallunication about Jesus and a shining light while I was on the operating table" or something. But you never hear anyone claim that they can raise someone from that was dead and in the grave for three days anymore and you never see anyone claim they can part the Atlantic ocean anymore.

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Perhaps I ought to take my own advice and simply let a mystery be a mystery. I guess there are things that simply have no immediate explanation. On the other hand, maybe I'm jealous because I'm in desparate need of physical healing myself. *sigh*

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Neon, Paul, George, normally I would have agreed 100%. Now I don't know what to think. My nephew's illness was anything but psychosomatic. I forget what its called, its rare, its genetic, but it begins manifesting in the skin and eventually leads to heart failure - his father had it, his brothers have it, and one brother died of it. He went hiking today for the first time since the disease manifested more than 10 years ago. His feet have been raw hunks of flesh with sheets of skin hanging off (sorry to be so graphic), and now they appear normal. I'm still skeptical, but I'm happy for him that (at least for now), he's free from the pain.

 

Yvonne,

I'm happy for him also. Some of us don't need explanations for everything. It is enough to be thankful that once he was afflicted but now he is healed. We can celebrate with him and it really doesn't matter if one says the healing is a fraud or genuine. One is free to believe or disbelieve or just be skeptical. I choose to believe from my own experience that such things do happen without scientific explanation and i am as you , happy for him..

 

Joseph

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Yvonne,

I'm happy for him also. Some of us don't need explanations for everything. It is enough to be thankful that once he was afflicted but now he is healed. We can celebrate with him and it really doesn't matter if one says the healing is a fraud or genuine. One is free to believe or disbelieve or just be skeptical. I choose to believe from my own experience that such things do happen without scientific explanation and i am as you , happy for him..

 

Joseph

 

The only thing I would say further to this question about the legitimacy (or not) of faith healing, is that it is a concern when people forgo professional medical treatment because they believe faith will heal them. This has had a fair bit of media attention in my part of the world where people have recently died of curable illness specifically because they forwent medical treatment due to a belief that a faith healer would heal them. Whilst in your nephew's case it is a joy that he has been healed of his affliction, I would disagree with Joseph that it doesn't really matter if the healing is a fraud or not. If it is a fraud (or he was actually healed by something else unidentified) but other people put their health in jeopardy because of such 'success' stories, then it is a concern.

 

Actually, another thing I would say further is that usually if a faith healer doesn't successfully heal somebody, it seems (to me) to be portrayed as a problem with the 'healee' and not the 'healer' - ye of little faith. I imagine that can't be good for the person who is told they don't have enough faith so as to be healed.

Edited by PaulS
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Paul,

 

I think you misread my post you quoted. You said " I would disagree with Joseph that it doesn't really matter if the healing is a fraud or not."

I said "We can celebrate with him and it really doesn't matter if one says the healing is a fraud or genuine." Note i did not not say a fraudulent representation of a healing didn't matter but rather in this particular case of Yvonne in which it is obvious to her that her nephew was once afflicted but now appears healed it doesn't matter whether wants to speak of it as a fraud or genuine because what is important is as far as he is concerned the affliction is not present in his body as it was in the past.

 

It seems to me that people put their health and life in jeopardy by success stories of others in all areas of life including doctors and medications. Personally I am not overly concerned with those choices of others. If they ask ones opinion, one can advise them of potential fraud or risk factors but ultimately the choice is theirs to make. Which of us truly knows what is best for the other?

 

Just my opinion,

Joseph

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Paul,

 

I think you misread my post you quoted. You said " I would disagree with Joseph that it doesn't really matter if the healing is a fraud or not."

I said "We can celebrate with him and it really doesn't matter if one says the healing is a fraud or genuine." Note i did not not say a fraudulent representation of a healing didn't matter but rather in this particular case of Yvonne in which it is obvious to her that her nephew was once afflicted but now appears healed it doesn't matter whether wants to speak of it as a fraud or genuine because what is important is as far as he is concerned the affliction is not present in his body as it was in the past.

 

Joseph

 

Sorry Joseph, you are correct in what you said, as obviously demonstrated by your post and my intial quoting of your post. I agree we can celebrate with Yvonne's nephew and simply be happy he is no longer afflicted.

 

The point I was trying to make was that I think it does matter whether one wants to speak of it as a fraud or genuine because of the knock-on effect to others. Others hear the claims of healing and hope it will work for them. Should they forgo medical treatment because of such a belief, they may suffer needless harm. If they are not healed by someone who has a record of 'healing' then it can be psychologically damaging for the person who can't (won't!) be healed.

 

Of course it is a wonderful thing that Yvonne's nephew is healed (hopefully forever), but in the context of Yvonne's questioning I think it is relevant not to just write off the event as simply a happy ending that doesn't warrant further consideration or validation. I see danger in that for the reasons I outlined earlier - others may expect the same thing.

 

Certainly as far as Yvonne's nephew is concerned I am sure to him the important thing is his afliction is gone.

 

Sorry if I sound like a grinch, but I thought it was relevant to the discussion thread.

Edited by PaulS
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You raise some valid points, Paul. I would agree that the hope of - or the psychosomatic effects of - s-called faith healing can have detrimental effects, especially on the gullible. And, even for the not-so-gullible. In the past, I heart that my inabililty to "be healed" was because I didn't have enough faith and wasn't "claiming the healing with all my heart". (Obviously, I no longer belong to that particular congregation.)

 

I have taken all your thoughtful comments to heart and thank you all for your contributions. I really have decided that it isn't important what happened, just that it happened. Unless of course it was related to what happens in spontaneous remission in cancer patients, and that the disease and/or its symptoms return. But only time will tell that.

 

I just hope my nephew contines with his doctor visits. After all, healing or no healing, I still have faith in science and doctors (at least partially!) :P

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I would quibble a bit with the "genuine" vs. "fraudulent" distinction. It is possible that some faith healing has a real psychological effect which would be as genuine as that performed by a credentialed psychologist. I suspect that conventional psychological treatments, to be effective, require some degree of trust (or faith).

 

George

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This is NOT a diagnosis. There is a disease called pityriasis rubra pilaris which has peeling feet, among other things, and which sometimes progresses to heart failure. It has both an inheritable form and the other kind. The cause is unknown. The cure is unknown. In the non-inherited kind there are spontaneous recoveries. Not so much in the inherited kind. In every kind of serious disease which has the possibility of spontaneous remission the remission is indistinguishable from a miracle when the remission happens. Your nephew has experienced a miracle. Or not. Either answer is equally defendable. I say it is a miracle and your nephew should enjoy it as such. Do you know what happened to Lazarus? Later on he got sick from something else and died for good. Celebrate with your nephew about the miracle but keep him going to doctors when he gets sick.

 

Hollis

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I would quibble a bit with the "genuine" vs. "fraudulent" distinction. It is possible that some faith healing has a real psychological effect which would be as genuine as that performed by a credentialed psychologist. I suspect that conventional psychological treatments, to be effective, require some degree of trust (or faith).

 

George

 

True George. Whilst fraudulent probably could be used for some who are intentional frauds, the word doesn't really suit those who genuinely think they are a part of the healing process, albeit perhaps they actually aren't. I think that certainly some faith healing could be attributed to psychology and 'belief' that healing is possible, and that some are healed is simply terrific.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Jesus does still heal people, I have witnessed it.

 

Someone close to me was experiencing a narcotic withdrawal, and was shaking and crying and in extreme pain because of it. I laid my hands on them and prayed to God in Jesus' name for their pain to stop, I prayed for awhile, and then all of a sudden they stopped shaking. Their fever left, and they told me later that they had felt a supernatural warmth come over them, a peace that can't be explained. And they were able to rest and get some sleep.

 

God does choose to heal some people and not others. Why? Because sometimes the best option is for someone to be healed, but sometimes it might not be the best option for them to be healed. I'll give a personal example with me and my OCD. Now that isn't as extreme as a case as sicknesses that others have, but it is like a constant battle in my mind everyday. I remember being in my bed crying to Jesus, asking Him why He doesn't just heal me when He has all the power to. But now I look back on that moment, and I'm thankful that I have OCD. God has used my disorder to teach me strength and endurance, and to teach me how to discern as to what are my thoughts and what aren't. He's still teaching me.

 

So yes, people get sick and suffer. Sometimes it is best for them to be instantly healed in that moment, but sometimes it isn't the best option for them to be instantly healed. You have to remember that this life on earth is so temporary. Heaven is much more real than earth is. We may not understand in the moment why us suffering is being allowed to happen, but God is allowing it to happen for a reason. And always remember:

 

Romans 8:28 (NKJV) "And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. "

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Color me skeptical!

 

I was part of a church ministry charged with investigating claims of faith healing in the 80s. We looked at over 200 claims, ALL of which turned out to be either so vague as to be unprovable (like I was healed from excessive gum-chewing), or downright fraud. Ironically, our goal was to FIND proof of faith healing. We figured the law of large numbers was on our side. The group continued long after I left it - and still came up empty.

 

One of the early nails in the coffin of my faith.

 

If G-d heals, it heals through the hands of skilled surgeons and physicians. Believing in faith healing to me is like believing someone with a mental illness is demon possessed.

 

NORM

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We may not understand in the moment why us suffering is being allowed to happen, but God is allowing it to happen for a reason.

 

7,600,000 children die every year caused by poverty, hunger, easily preventable diseases and illnesses, and other related causes. Or as you seem to indicate - God.

 

I couldn't imagine such a cruel God.

 

I know people who do believe that the God of the OT did actually order the Israelites on about a dozen occassions to commit genocide (sort of like a Tutsi/Hutu conflict but with God's nod), but again, I couldn't ever imagine a God like that.

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7,600,000 children die every year caused by poverty, hunger, easily preventable diseases and illnesses, and other related causes. Or as you seem to indicate - God.

 

I couldn't imagine such a cruel God.

 

I know people who do believe that the God of the OT did actually order the Israelites on about a dozen occassions to commit genocide (sort of like a Tutsi/Hutu conflict but with God's nod), but again, I couldn't ever imagine a God like that.

 

Yes, this is why faith healing makes no sense. It all seems so random, and makes G-d capricious.

 

The most offensive thing said to me at both my mother's and father's funeral was that their passing would "serve a greater purpose." My mother suffered horribly the last week of her life. What was the "purpose" in that? My father died from complications from a routine surgery - he probably would have lived another 20 years. What "benefit" could G-d derive from that?

 

No, I'm not buying it.

 

NORM

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I must admit Norm, that it does make me angry when people suggest God is causing or allowing suffering for a greater purpose. I just cannot imagine squatting down on the dirt in some squalid refugee camp somewhere in Somalia, telling a skeletal 6 year old that his parents have been raped and murdered and he is starving to death because it's all part of God's plan!

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