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The Dangers of Faith Healing

Updated on June 1, 2011

Concrete Proof Lacking

There is no concrete proof faith healing works. At least what the scientific community considers evidence.However, faith healing or “laying on of hands’” continues to be a common practice by some. Others believe it’s a dangerous practice which discourages people from seeking necessary important medical attention.

According to scriptures the apostles and Jesus did heal. However their healing was to authenticate their ministry. And when the Apostles healed, it was done the same way Jesus did…with a touch, instantaneously, totally and permanently, even to the raising of the dead. Ministries today don’t need this type of authentication, as there is testimony to it within the Scriptures.

Mainstream Christianity today believes things changed with the ascension of Jesus to Heaven. While the Apostles healed, God no longer healed everyone who desired to be healed. After the death and resurrection of Jesus, God no longer carried out a wholesale healing ministry. 

No Conclusive Evidence

It’s also obvious God didn’t intend everyone to be healed since even the Apostle Paul suffered from a condition which he prayed about, and God chose not to heal him.

Many medical professionals have concluded the practice is a far cry from being a science…but not exempt from being scientifically investigated. If there was any substance to miraculous cures claimed by faith healers, wouldn’t there be some type of scientific documentation? When healings have been investigated by qualified physicians, no conclusive evidence patients were helped has been found.

Faith healers can be con artists or self-deluded true believers. In either case, faith healing can also prove deadly when people are convinced they don’t need conventional medical treatment.

The Dangers

A newspaper story carried an article about this danger. An excerpt from the article says “Another couple from the Followers of Christ church in Oregon City stand accused of criminal mistreatment for deliberately withholding medical care from their child. Timothy and Rebecca Wyland of Beavercreek believe in treating sickness with prayer rather than medicine, even when prayer doesn’t work.”

Faith healers perform what appear to be healing miracles before an audience. But, many of these “healings” are simply illusions, tricks or outright fraud. For example a cripple becomes able to walk only to find out later it was only temporary. Everyone saw the healing, so what happened? Obviously the healed person must not have had enough faith. Sometimes deceptions, such as tricks or plants in the audience are used.

Faith healing is a belief certain people, places or things have abilities to cure. It can involve prayer, visiting a religious temple, or a strong belief in a higher power. Advocates claim there is nothing faith healing cannot do. Many religious sects claim miraculous healings.

Christian Scientists on the other hand, are known for not using medicine. They believe illness is only an illusion and can be vanquished through prayer by replacing false thoughts with spiritually true ones.

Scientific evidence doesn’t support claims faith healing can cure, but some concede it might promote peace of mind and reduce stress or anxiety. Although a small percentage with cancer may experience remissions not readily explained a logical explanation is usually found. Generally when a person believes strongly enough a “placebo effect” can occur. Credit is usually given to the healer. The power of suggestion can be quite powerful.

Adults can choose faith healing over conventional medical care, but communities often get involved when parents make such choices for their children. This concern has sparked organizations to work toward creating laws to protect children from inappropriate treatment by faith healers.

One report in 1998 examined 172 cases of child deaths among children treated by faith healing. Researchers estimated if conventional treatment had been administered, more than 90 percent would have survived. Another study found more than 200 children had died of treatable illnesses in the United States over the past thirty years because parents relied on spiritual healing rather than medical treatment.

What do the scriptures teach about healing? The scriptures tell us God heals, and still does today but only if it is His will. What they don’t teach is that God intends Christians to be disease free, all believers to be healed from illness or if someone isn’t it’s because they didn’t have enough faith.

The apostles never performed at scheduled public meetings. There was no religious service, preaching or singing of hymns. Their healings were done spontaneously, instantaneously and on the spot.

Modern day healings are significantly different from those of New Testament times. There are many failures or temporary results. In biblical times a man who had never walked was healed in an instant and could run for joy. Most faith healers today belong to non-Christian groups or are Spiritualists or charismatic personalities.

For these reasons the Bible admonishes to "try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world" (1 John 4:1).


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    • JY3502 profile image

      John Young 6 years ago from Florence, South Carolina

      Thanks Val for your great comments.

    • InfinityVal profile image

      InfinityVal 6 years ago from NNY

      Interesting article. I appreciate that you've broached this sensitive subject. I've seen amazing healing with energy healing - some could be attributed to placebo, others not. I've also seen no results at all. It's beyond me to explain why.

      As you've alluded - the danger isn't in using faith healing, but in relying on it even when it doesn't appear to be working and another remedy that God has given us the wisdom to develop and use is refused.

    • KatieCohen profile image

      KatieCohen 6 years ago from San Francisco, CA

      awesome job! Good writing.

    • JY3502 profile image

      John Young 7 years ago from Florence, South Carolina

      Thank you Button. You are one of the reasons I wrote this.

    • Buttonpatch profile image

      Louise Tippets 7 years ago from United States

      Very well done! A good read. I do believe in healing, but I also believe in doctors. I'm six months out of major surgery. I had been "healed" years ago and told that as my faith grew my healing would progress. Instead I ended up on a hasty life flight and emergency surgery that almost came too late. I am glad to be alive, but more aware than ever that even though I would love to see everyone healed, it's just not as likely to happen as some of those TV preachers want us t think.