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Faith Healing vs. Modern Medicine, Pt. 1

Updated on January 17, 2019
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Dr. David Thiessen is an educator, writer, pastor, and speaker. He has authored several books on a variety of topics including Archaeology

Introduction

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.

The Comparison

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.

What God Says

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.

{Go to part two}

© 2019 David Thiessen

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