God is definitely at work healing people today! If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my journey as a physician, it’s that God’s ways are indeed higher than our own (Isa. 55:9). Still, we must take seriously the apostle Paul’s advice to “examine everything carefully,” especially as it relates to the “false teachers” among us who are looking to prey on the faith of innocent and unassuming believers.
When you next hear the word “miracle,” I encourage you to keep these points in mind. Could the astonishing healing be hearsay? Could the human body have healed itself—temporarily or permanently—from a cyclical or self-limiting disease? Did the doctor truly believe that natural forces could not explain the healing in any way? Is the layperson’s information surrounding the “miracle” medically accurate?
The amount of medical confusion and misinformation in church services, the media, and on the Internet is staggering. If you or a loved one is eagerly awaiting a miracle of healing from God, remember that His answers to our prayers for divine intervention may indeed come in the form of a miraculous healing. However, they might also come through natural forces that God has already set in place. And sometimes, they may not come at all—or at least not in a way that we can immediately recognize. In whatever form the answer comes, though, we must continue to trust God and rest in His perfect love for us.
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 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.
So, should Christians go to doctors? God created us as intelligent beings and gave us the ability to create medicines and learn how to repair our bodies. There is nothing wrong with applying this knowledge and ability towards physical healing. Doctors can be viewed as God’s gift to us, a means through which God brings healing and recovery. At the same time, our ultimate faith and trust is to be in God, not in doctors or medicine. As with all difficult decisions, we should seek God who promises to give us wisdom when we ask for it (James 1:5).
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.
Matthew lived a week longer in intensive care on a respirator and then died. Immediately afterwards, my husband and I left the Christian Science church. Sadly, our experience isn’t unique. There have been far too many other children who have suffered and died under similar circumstances. This is why my husband and I founded Children’s Healthcare Is a Legal Duty, Inc. (CHILD), a national membership organization that promotes the rights of children to medical care and opposes religion-related abuse and neglect of children. And this is why we think it is important to share not only our own story but those of other parents and their children.
“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.”
Faith is easy when everything is going our way, but when suffering and an overwhelming sense of loss visit us? Winston tells the stories of several devout believers in faith healing who maintained their faith while awaiting a miracle that didn’t come, and attained greater compassion and empathy as the fruit of their misfortunes. Theirs are heartbreaking tales of misplaced faith and the pain caused by the zealousness of false prophets, and many will shed tears of righteous anger at the needless suffering of innocent children, no matter how well intentioned were their faith-healing parents and guardians. Offering no judgments, Winston allows the stories to speak for themselves. She also presents a brief history of faith healing, from biblical times and texts to the televangelizing of Oral Roberts and Jimmy Swaggart, and comments on the Jewish healing movement, which looks to 6,000 years of Jewish tradition for wisdom. Despite its dark subject matter, this slim volume is an inspirational triumph, powerfully appealing to those who have experienced sorrow and tragedy.
Are there people chosen by God to heal bodily ailments through the power of prayer alone? Randi’s answer is “maybe,” but on the basis of his three-year investigation into faith healers, he hasn’t found any evidence of it and suggests it may be nothing more than a religious con game. The author, a professional magician, has made it a sideline to expose fraud and misconceptions in the realm of the paranormal. Leading evangelists such as Oral Roberts, Peter Popoff, W. V. Grant, Pat Robertson, and others are all shown to use tactics that are at best misleading, to guide the faithful into believing that they have been supernaturally cured by prayer alone. At worst, some of these men are shown to be cynical frauds preying on the desperation of the seriously ill.
Relying on religious traditions that are as old as their faith itself, many devout Christians turn to prayer rather than medicine when their children fall victim to illness or injury. Faith healers claim that their practices are effective in restoring health – more effective, they say, than modern medicine. But, over the past century, hundreds of children have died after being denied the basic medical treatments furnished by physicians because of their parents’ intense religious beliefs.
The tragic deaths of these youngsters have received intense scrutiny from both the news media and public authorities seeking to protect the health and welfare of children. When Prayer Fails: Faith Healing, Children, and the Law is the first book to fully examine the complex web of legal and ethical questions that arise when criminal prosecutions are mounted against parents whose children die as a result of the phenomenon known by experts as religion-based medical neglect.
Do constitutional protections for religious liberty shield parents who fail to provide adequate medical treatment for their sick children? Are parents likewise shielded by state child-neglect faith laws that seem to include exemptions for healing practices? What purpose do prosecutions really serve when it’s clear that many deeply religious parents harbor no fear of temporal punishment?
Peters offers a review of important legal cases in both England and America from the 19th century to the present day. He devotes special attention to cases involving Christian Science, the source of many religion-based medical neglect deaths, but also considers cases arising from the refusal of Jehovah’s witnesses to allow blood transfusions or inoculations.
Individual cases dating back to the mid-19th century illuminate not only the legal issues at stake but also the profound human drama of religion-based medical neglect of children. Based on a wide array of primary and secondary source materials – among them judicial opinions, trial transcripts, police and medical examiner reports, news accounts, personal interviews, and scholarly studies – this book explores efforts by the legal system to balance judicial protections for the religious liberty of faith-healers against the state’s obligation to safeguard the rights of children.
– Source: Book description, Amazon.com
Children’s Healthcare Is a Legal Duty (CHILD, Inc.) is a non-profit national membership organization established in 1983 to protect children from abusive religious and cultural practices, especially religion-based medical neglect. CHILD opposes religious exemptions from duties of care for children. CHILD is a member of the National Child Abuse Coalition.
More children die because of faith-based medical neglect in Idaho than in any other state. The combination of Idaho’s terrible laws and several congregations with religious beliefs against medical care has cost the lives of hundreds of children. Only eight other states have a statutory religious exemption from manslaughter or negligent homicide of a child.
The main sect in Idaho with beliefs against medical care is the Followers of Christ. Others are the Church of the Firstborn and the Christian Science Church. The Followers and Firstborners have similar historical roots and congregations in Oregon who have also lost children because of medical neglect. After Oregon repealed its religious exemptions in 2011, some Oregon Followers have reportedly moved to the safe haven of Idaho where faith-based medical neglect of children is legal.
– Source: Child faith deaths in Idaho. Links added.
Note: This entry was first published on Sep. 1, 1996. It was entered into our new content management system on Jan. 19, 2007