Apologetics Index
Faith Healing

Faith Healing


First posted: Sep. 1, 1996
Last Updated: Feb. 8, 2001
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Faith healing refers to healing that occurs supernaturally, as the result of prayer rather than the use of medicines or the involvement of physicians or other medical care.

But while faith healings do take place today just as they did in the early Christian church, the teachings of some churches, movements and individuals on this subject amount to spiritual abuse.

Legitimate churches and movements do not equal using drugs or receiving proper medical attention with unbelief, insufficient faith, or otherwise sinning against God.

What the Bible teaches on faith healing

The Bible does show incidences of faith healing:

Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. {12} As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance {13} and called out in a loud voice, ''Jesus, Master, have pity on us!'' {14} When he saw them, he said, "Go, show yourselves to the priests." And as they went, they were cleansed. {15} One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. {16} He threw himself at Jesus' feet and thanked him--and he was a Samaritan. {17} Jesus asked, ''Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? {18} Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?" {19} Then he said to him, ''Rise and go; your faith has made you well.''

Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. {15} And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. {16} Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.

However, the Bible does not condemn, forbid, or even discourage the use of medicines or other proper medical care. Matter of fact, Luke, who wrote the Gospel of Luke javascript popup window, was a doctor javascript popup window.

And the apostle Paul advised Timothy to use some wine for his stomach problems:

Stop drinking only water, and use a little wine because of your stomach and your frequent illnesses.

Note, too, that Paul does not criticize Timothy for his ''frequent illnesses.'' Nor does he even suggest that Timothy's illnesses indicate a spiritual problem such as lack of faith. Instead, Timothy is seen as a spiritual leader and a good example to all.

From sincere believers to con artists

The belief in, and practice of, faith healing is found among:
  • sincere Christians with a sound understanding of the Bible's teachings on the subject
  • sincere believers whose misinterpretation of Scripture (and/or use of private ''revelation'' that, implicitly or explicitly, contradicts Scripture)
  • Christians, pseudo-Christians, and non-Christians
  • people involved in the occult
  • con artists, including many so-called charismatic preachers (e.g. Peter Popoff)

False teachings on, and claims about, faith healing

False teachings on faith healing vary from group to group. Many attribute all sickness to demonic activity and include exorcism as a tool of faith healing. Others, especially certain teachers associated with the word-faith movement, blame sickness on anything from unbelief to sin, and often tie promises of healing to slick pitches for financial contributions.

Many preachers make false claims about alleged faith healings, or - when asked for verifiable accounts - come up with next to nothing (e.g. Benny Hinn).

Claims of faith healings are also rife in today's controversial renewal and revival movements:

Claims of miracles occurring at these services (or in distant countries where they cannot be verified) are multiplying and becoming more and more wildly unbelievable all the time. Those who do not accept second hand accounts of miracles giving no names or facts are derided as lacking ''faith,'' refusing to believe what does not fit ''their own tradition,'' or ''putting God in a box.'' ''Cessationist'' has become a dreadful thing to be labeled. It is amazing to see how many succumb to this peer pressure and check their minds at the mention of the word ''miracle.'' Yet so far there have not been any medically verified, true, supernatural, biblical miracles; it is pretty much the traditional faith healing story, with most claims concerning those ailments most susceptible to emotional influence, as in all the religions and systems of thought centered on producing healings.


Christian Is physical healing guaranteed in the atonement (Isaiah 53:3-5)? by Ron Rhodes
Secular Outlaw These Miracle Merchants The Nation (Kenya), Sep, 29, 2001 (Opinion) - Interesting opinion piece about 'miracle healers.'
The question, however, is: Who are these people who claim to have been cured? Where do they come from? Why is it that they are always strangers whom nobody has seen before? And why are they never seen again thereafter?

Each Kenyan town has its easily recognised blind beggars or cripples. If any of these were healed, the whole town would acknowledge that a miracle had been performed. But the great evangelists come and go, and these blind beggars and cripples remain exactly where they were before.

This is not in the biblical tradition of miracle healing. Jesus Christ, in whose name the evangelists claim their healing powers, performed his miracles in the open and invited verification. In Luke 5:12 javascript popup window, after Jesus had healed a man of leprosy, he told the leper to go at once and show himself to the priests for it to be confirmed that his leprosy had, indeed, been healed.

Secular Suffering Children and the Christian Science Church 1995 Atlantic Monthly article. "The unwillingness of many Christian Science parents to seek help from physicians for their critically ill children has led to many painful and unnecessary deaths and, increasingly, to legal actions that have become burdensome to the Church and its members "
Secular When faith fails children--religion-based neglect: Pervasive, deadly...and legal? Excerpted article from Humanist, Nov. 1, 2000. Written by former Christian Scientists who lost their son as a result of their religious beliefs regarding medical care.


Christian Behind the Scenes : The True Face of the Fake Faith Healers "A startling examination of the fraud and deceit present in the inner-most circles of today's most charismatic ministries such as Benny Hinn, Franz Anton Mesmer, etc. Brault reveals the acts of unscrupulous preachers and teachers who prey on the vulnerability of the unsuspecting masses." See this brief review by PFO
Christian Christianity In Crisis by Hank Hanegraaff. Addresses Word-Faith theology and its teachers
Secular Cults : Faith, Healing, and Coercion by Marc Galanter
Secular The Faith Healers by James Randi

- Multimedia -

- News - Current -
» Religion News Blog News about religious cults, sects, alternative religions and related issues.

Other Sources:
» NewsBooster News Collection, various sources

- News Articles Database -
» Database of archived news items
(Includes items added between Oct. 25, 1999 and Jan. 31, 2002. See about this database)

Older Items:
(Jul 21, 1999) House endorses compromise faith healing bill
(Jul 20, 1999) Judge Rules Finks Can't Use Religious Defense
(May 11, 1999) Parents of boy stung to death disappear before arrest
(May 11, 1999) Couple charged with child abuse in death of son
(Apr. 22. 1999) Chemo begins for Amish girl
(Apr. 21, 1999) Judge orders treatment for girl
(Apr. 12, 1999) Spiritual Healing Advert Falls Foul Of Watchdog
(Mar. 3, 1999) Baby dies after medical care withheld
(Feb. 20, 1999) Faith healing? It just hasn't got a prayer, researchers conclude
(Feb. 19, 1999) A religious tug-of-war: Often, beliefs are at odds with medical community
(Feb. 19, 1999) Faith-healing parents get probation
(Oct. 11, 1998) Pack off, Gujarat Govt. tells 'faith-healer'
(Oct. 7, 1998) Religion, health ties explored
(Oct. 6, 1998) Churches Critised over healing claims
(Oct. 3, 1998) Abuse laws still vague when faith is involved
(Oct. 2, 1998) Parents' past, faith investigated
(Oct. 1, 1998) It's freedom vs. responsibility - Religious beliefs go up against parental obligations when it comes to a child in need of medical help
(Oct. 1, 1998) Parents' religious group disdains medical care
(Sep. 30, 1998) Friends say family didn't know stings were fatal
(Sep. 25, 1998) Ordered to get doctors - Faith parents get 14-years probation
(Aug. 31, 1998) Why the law can't do a thing about the infant-mortality rate of an Oregon sect

See Also


Christian Did We Fail You, Debbie? "A child's cancer, and her family's escape from a cult like church."


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First posted: Sep. 1, 1996
Last Updated: Feb. 8, 2001
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