Faith-Based Health and Healing – Part 10 – Biblical Characters Condemned for Pursuing Certain Forms of Healing

The Bible recognizes the great temptation inherent in healing by evil spirits and illicit healers. The Old Testament describes an intense conflict between legitimate and illegitimate approaches to healing and spirituality. An incident involving King Ahaziah, the eighth king of Israel, clearly demonstrates this:

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Now Ahaziah had fallen through the lattice of his upper room in Samaria and injured himself. So he sent messengers, saying to them, “Go and consult Baal-Zebub, the god of Ekron, to see if I will recover from this injury.”

But the angel of the LORD said to Elijah the Tishbite, “Go up and meet the messengers of the king of Samaria and ask them, ‘Is it because there is no God in Israel that you are going off to consult Baal-Zebub, the god of Ekron?’ Therefore this is what the LORD says:

‘You will not leave the bed you are lying on. You will certainly die!’ ”

So Elijah went.

2 Kings 1:2–4

In contrast, King Hezekiah of Judah became deathly ill and was told by the prophet Isaiah that he would not recover. Hezekiah responded differently, which resulted in God healing him.

Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the LORD, “Remember, O LORD, how I have walked before you faithfully and with wholehearted devotion and have done what is good in your eyes.” And Hezekiah wept bitterly.

Then the word of the LORD came to Isaiah: “Go and tell Hezekiah, ‘This is what the LORD, the God of your father David, says: I have heard your prayer and seen your tears; I will add fifteen years to your life.’ ”

Isaiah 38:2–5; see also 2 Kings 20:2–6

Interpretation of another incident has sparked controversy on the role of physicians. King Asa was a godly king in Judah during the early years of his reign. However:

“in the thirty-ninth year of his reign Asa was afflicted with a disease in his feet. Though his disease was severe, even in his illness he did not seek help from the LORD, but only from the physicians. Then in the forty-first year of his reign Asa died and rested with his fathers”

2 Chronicles 16:12–13

Some conclude from this passage that the Bible condemns using physicians and calls on people to seek healing only from God.

Yet Scripture refers to physicians and their role in healing (Jeremiah 8:22; Matthew 9:12), and Luke, the author of a gospel and of Acts, was a physician (Colossians 4:14).

Even the context of the passage about Asa makes it clear that Asa’s primary problem was not his use of physicians but his refusal to ask God for help. It is most likely that the physicians Asa relied on were Gentiles who practiced pagan magical healing.

Support for this view comes immediately after Asa’s death, when his son, who succeeded him as king, is praised because he followed God and “did not consult the Baals” or carry out the idolatrous practices of Israel (2 Chronicles 17:3–4).

Biblical examples show the need for discernment regarding where we turn for healing.

Such a decision was captured dramatically by C. S. Lewis in The Chronicles of Narnia. The series’ first book, The Magician’s Nephew, reaches its climax when Digory must decide whether to heal his mother or obey Aslan, the lion who plays the role of God.

The choice is stark, especially when the Witch describes what will happen to Digory’s mother. “Do you not see, Fool, that one bite of that apple would heal her? . . . Next day everyone will be saying how wonderfully she has recovered. Soon she will be quite well again. All will be well again. Your home will be happy again. You will be like other boys.”

Lewis skillfully raises all the usual justifications we think of when we struggle with whether to do the right thing or not.

What if Digory’s mother finds out he could have removed her pain and didn’t? Who will ever know that he stole the apple?

What has Aslan ever done to deserve obedience? Digory struggles, as we all do when something a little wrong seems able to bring about a lot of good.

But Digory finds the courage to make the right choice. He chooses to trust Aslan.

A similar choice faces those who look to alternative spiritual therapies for healing. Maybe they will bring a lot of good, though there’s no guarantee.

But, wouldn’t God be pleased at the good that could come about? Not if “good” comes by illegitimate means. God has warned us that certain spiritual practices are not just harmful, but wrong.

Are we going to trust him? Will we put our faith in him and his promises? If we do, we will avoid spiritual therapies that connect us with spiritual powers or beings apart from the God of the Bible.

The Gray Area of Alternative Medicine for Christians

Alternative therapies are practiced in different ways by different  people.

When Julie, a Christian who feels called to teach others about some alternative therapies, practices Therapeutic Touch, she prays to God and asks him to bring about healing. She honestly believes she is getting in touch with the power of God and being used by him to minister to those she treats.

Yet many others trained in the same technique call on a universal life energy to bring healing.

Do Christians who practice life energy therapies in the name of God avoid inappropriate spiritual connections?

Meditation can be practiced as a way to get general spiritual guidance, to become more at peace with one’s inner self, to simply relax — or to contact spirit guides.

Similarly, yoga can theoretically be practiced in spiritual and nonspiritual ways. Meditation and yoga are taught by both practitioners of the occult and some Christians!

How are we to discern which is which? How can we know whether an alternative therapy violates the Biblical commands to avoid inappropriate spiritual influences?

Some homeopaths believe they spiritually vitalize their preparations as they make them.

For example, Dana Ullman, president of the Foundation for Homeopathic Education and Research, wrote, “Homeopaths conceptualize a ‘life force,’ or ‘vital force,’ they describe as the inherent, underlying, interconnective, self-healing process of the organism. This bioenergetic force is similar to what the Chinese call ‘chi,’ the Japanese call ‘ki,’ yogis call ‘prana,’ Russian scientists call ‘bioplasm,’ and Star Wars characters call ‘The Force.’ ”

Some believe herbal remedies are effective because of the nature spirits they say dwell in them.

Rosemary Gladstar, an herbalist, says she decides which herbs to use by first examining a patient; “then I pray and let the spirit of the herbs guide me.”

What if a Christian happens to use one of these remedies? Have they spiritually “contaminated” themselves?

We’ll dive deeper into this topic in the next blog.

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You can read more on this topic in my book, Alternative Medicine: The Christian Handbook. You can find it here.

Also, citations to all of the studies quoted in this blog are found in the book.

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You can read more on this topic in my book, Alternative Medicine: The Christian Handbook. You can find it here.

Also, citations to all of the studies quoted in this blog are found in the book.

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Additional Blogs on Faith-Based Health and Healing:

    2 thoughts on “Faith-Based Health and Healing – Part 10 – Biblical Characters Condemned for Pursuing Certain Forms of Healing

    1. Harvey Whitney

      YOUR LISTING OF “Additional Blogs on Faith-Based Health and Healing” has Part 10 – Medical Characters Condemned for Pursuing Certain Forms of Healing.
      Shouldn’t it say “Biblical” and not “Medical” Characters?
      Many blessings to you and Barb for all you do in the name of God. -Harvey

    2. Dr. Walt Post author

      Harvey,

      Your “editor’s eye” is as sharp as ever. Thanks for the note. The correction will be made in all 12 of the blogs in this series when I post the last one next week.

      Dr. Walt

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