Should Christians Now Seek And Expect Cures By Such Methods?
Also: Dangers In Hypnotism And Spirit Healing
Also: Dangers In Hypnotism And Spirit Healing
A Philadelphia gentleman testifies as follows: "My little son fell and broke both bones of his arm below the elbow. My brother, who is a professor of surgery, was here on a visit. I asked him to set and dress the arm. He did so; put it in splints, bandages, and in a sling. The child was very patient and went about without a murmur all day. The next morning he came to me and said, 'Dear papa, please take off these things: 'Oh, no, my son, you will have to wear these things five or six weeks, before it will be well.' 'Why, papa, it is well.' 'Oh, no, my dear child, that is impossible. 'Why, papa, you believe in prayer, don't you?' 'You know I do, my son.' 'Well, last night when I went to bed it hurt me bad, and I asked Jesus to make it well. He did make it well.'
"I did not like to say a word to chill his faith. A happy thought came: I said, 'My dear child, your uncle put the things on, and if they are taken off, he must do it.' Away he went to his uncle, who told him he would have to go as he was six or seven weeks, and must be very patient; and when the little fellow told him that Jesus had made him well, he said, 'Pooh! pooh! nonsense,' and sent him away. The next morning the poor boy came again to me, and pled with so much sincerity and confidence that I more than half believed he was really healed. I went to my brother and said, 'Had you not better undo his arm, and let him see for himself? Then he will be satisfied. If you do not, I fear, though he is very obedient, he may be tempted to undo it himself, and then it may be worse for him.' My brother yielded, took off the bandages and splints, and exclaimed, 'It is well, absolutely well!' and hastened to the door for air to keep from fainting. He had been a real, simple-hearted Christian, but in his student days had wandered away; but this brought him back to the Lord."
This account seems to come in such a way as to be reliable. No Christian can doubt the ability of the Lord to heal now as in the past, and that God at times answers prayer by granting such a favor. However, the "times of refreshing" and "restitution" (Acts 3:19-21) when "there shall be no more curse" (Rev. 22:3), and when physical healing will be a common thing (Isa. 35:5, 6; Ezek. 47:1, 8, 9, 12; Mal. 4:2), have not yet come. Nor are we to confuse the above or similar answers to prayer with the "gifts" of the primitive Church. At that time the Church was not yet established, hence God bestowed the "gifts" upon it "for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not" (1 Cor. 14:22). Thus they were given to convince unbelievers, not saints, that the Christian teachings were of God. They did, however, assist in the edification of the saints, since the New Testament had not yet been given. We note that those who possessed the gift of healing did not pray in connection with its use, but instead commanded the healing (see, e.g., Acts 3:1-11). Also, they did not exercise this gift for the benefit of self-healing, nor for other members of the Church, but only for outsiders, as a witness.
IMPORTANCE OF SEEKING GOD'S WILL
In seeking to know God's will as to what we should expect along the lines of physical healing, we should remember that He can by faith be expected to do only those things that He has promised. The whims, desires or determinations of ourselves or others are not the foundations of faith's claims before God; His promises only are such (Rom. 4:17-21). And if God has not promised in His Word to heal the physical sicknesses of all who believe that He will heal them, He is not bound to heal them just because they believe He will. The statement, "Ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you" (John 15:7), is linked with certain conditions, found previously in the same verse, viz., "If ye abide in me and my words abide in you."
These limitations show who may ask — ye, believers, who are in Me, whose wills are buried or immersed into Mine; and not only so, but ye are privileged to ask thus, only so long as ye "abide in me"; for if any man abide not in Christ, he not only is "cast forth as a branch" (John 15:6), but also no longer has a share in the promise of having his petitions granted. Another condition is, If "my words abide in you." If we have a heartfelt desire to know the will of God, we will remember how Jesus studied God's plan as revealed in His Word, and how He endeavored to carry out that plan, and not plans of His own making and choosing; this will cause us likewise to give very attentive heed to God's Word, so as to have it abiding in us. These limitations evidently cut off from all share in this promise the vast majority of the prayers offered.
The spirit of faith and consecration which says, "Not my will, but thine be done," will not claim physical healings as God's promised will for the Gospel-Age consecrated, if it finds that such healings are not promised for them in God's Word; it will refrain from making such claims, since it knows that unauthorized claims in effect say, "My will be done regardless of what Thine may be." Consecration not only surrenders to God's will all we are and have, and all we hope to be and have, but in demonstration of loyalty to God actually uses up our little human all, which includes our health, in His service.
The purposes of consecration to God and "faith healing" are found to be in direct conflict with one another. Those who have consecrated life, strength, mind, and all to God — a sacrifice which He has accepted — cannot, with propriety, ask to have back what they are sacrificing. All who have covenanted to "being made conformable unto his death" (Phil. 3:10) should realize that their final reward as overcomers depends on their being "faithful unto death" in laying down their lives in the Master's service and that, therefore, they are not to tell God what they would like Him to do as to their bodies which they have given to Him (Rom. 12:1).
NEW TESTAMENT RECORD EXAMINED
Search as we may, no record can be found in the New Testament of a consecrated person being healed miraculously of a bodily sickness. Neither Jesus, the Apostles, nor other consecrated ones in the early Church, were ever the subjects of miraculous healing. The power of Jesus was exercised in healing the people; but when He was weary, instead of seeking a supernatural supply of strength, He sat on the well (John 4:6). When the multitude hungered, He fed them by supernatural power, but when He Himself hungered, He would not command stones to become bread, to satisfy His hunger, but rather sent His disciples to a village to buy meat (John 4:8). Jesus, by asking, could have had more than twelve legions of angels to protect His life from death, but would not ask (Matt. 26:53). Because He had consecrated Himself to death, He could not ask nor use supernatural means to retain His hold on life. To such an extent was this true, that even His enemies remarked about it, saying of Him when on the cross: "He saved others, himself he cannot save." We thank God that He did not save Himself, else we would have no Redeemer.
When St. Paul "besought the Lord thrice" for the removal of a physical difficulty—"a thorn in the flesh" ("infirmity of the flesh"—Gal. 4:13, 14)—God refused to remove it, but told him that His favor (grace) would more than compensate him—"My grace is sufficient for thee" (2 Cor. 12:7-10). Similarly, though St. Paul possessed the gifts of the Spirit and, as one of the Apostles, the power to confer them upon others (Acts 19:6), yet we do not have any record of his seeking to prevent Epaphroditus from being sick, even nigh unto death (Phil. 2:25-30), and he did not pray nor send a handkerchief to cure Timothy's chronic dyspepsia, or indigestion, but wrote him, saying, "Use a little wine for thy stomach's sake and thine often infirmities" (1 Tim. 5:23). The wine was recommended, not as a beverage or intoxicant, but purely as a medicine. The point specially to be noticed is that, so far as we know, Divine power was neither invoked nor exercised on behalf of these consecrated brethren. They bore their infirmities and afflictions and got blessings out of them, using meanwhile the most suitable foods and remedies of which they had knowledge.
In view of the above considerations from the Scriptures (though not denying that the Lord may at times grant physical healing in answer to prayer, as in the case already mentioned), we maintain that those who beseech Him for physical healing give evidence in this respect of immaturity as Christians, no matter how well developed they may be otherwise. They would do better to ask the Lord for spiritual favors, such as an increasing measure of His Holy Spirit (Luke 11:13), of faith (Luke 17:5), knowledge (Eph. 4:13), wisdom (James 1:5) and righteousness (Matt. 6:33), and leave it to His wisdom to give them whatever measure of earthly blessings, such as physical healing, that He deems wise. Only thus can any be sure that they are not asking amiss (James 4:3).
We are aware that certain Scriptures are thought by some to be out of harmony with the foregoing and to teach that consecrated Christians are to expect to be healed physically, as well as now to heal others. Let us note some of these:
"HIMSELF TOOK OUR INFIRMITIES"
On the basis of the prophecy respecting Jesus, "Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses" (Matt. 8:17; Isa. 53:4), some "faith healers" ask: If Christ bore our sicknesses, why should we have them to battle with? Matt. 8:17, compared with Mark 5:30; Luke 6:19 and Heb. 4:15, shows clearly that this prophecy had its fulfillment at the First Advent, in the healing, not of the saints, but of the multitudes; and the object of His suffering pain from the infirmities of those He relieved was that He, being free from sin, sickness and pain, except as He thus "took" and "bare" it from others, might be touched "with the feeling of our infirmities." Also, He bore the penalty of our sins in order that in God's due time He might justify and, by a resurrection, deliver from death all who accept His grace. Thus there is nothing in this text that indicates that the Gospel-Age consecrated are to ask for and expect Jesus to heal their bodily sicknesses.
SIGNS TO FOLLOW BELIEVERS
Mark 16:17, 18. Many regard these verses as spurious, since Mark 16:9-20 is not found in the oldest extant Greek MSS., including the Sinaitic and the Vatican No. 1209. Vs. 17, 18 read as follows: "These signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents [St. Paul did this very thing (Acts 28:3-5)]; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover." We harmonize this passage with the above-mentioned principles of God's Word by "rightly dividing the word of truth" (2 Tim. 2:15) as follows: This passage, if genuine, applies during the time that the gifts of the Spirit were operative in the Church. Since these gifts have ceased, the passage would no longer apply.
Apart from the two outpourings of the Spirit, to the Jews and to the Gentiles (Acts 2:1-4; 10:44-47; 11:15), the gifts of the Spirit were never given except by the laying on of the Apostles' hands (Acts 8:14-18; 19:1-6). We search the Bible in vain for the record of anyone other than an Apostle conferring the gifts of the Spirit. If this were not an exclusively Apostolic power, St. Paul could not have appealed to his exercising it as a proof of his Apostleship, against those who denied that he was an Apostle (Gal. 3:5), in his argument against them and in defense of his Apostolic office (Gal. 1:11—3:5). Since, therefore, the only human instruments through whom God bestowed the gifts of the Spirit were the Apostles, it follows that when the last disciple died on whom an Apostle had conferred these gifts, these gifts then ceased to exist.
GIFTS CEASED, BUT GRACES ABIDE
St. Paul contrasts the transitoriness of the gifts of the Spirit, as especially belonging to the time when God's revelation was incomplete, with the permanence of the graces of the Spirit: faith, hope and charity, which will remain throughout the Gospel Age, especially in its end, when that revelation would be completely understood. He says (1 Cor. 13:8-13): "Charity never faileth [never will cease]: but whether there be prophecies [one of the gifts of the Spirit—v. 2; 1 Cor. 12:10], they shall fail [cease to be exercised as one of the Spirit's gifts]; whether there be tongues [another gift of the Spirit—v. 1], they shall cease; whether there be knowledge [another gift of the Spirit—v. 2; 1 Cor. 12:8], it shall vanish away [cease to be given as one of the Spirit's gifts]. For we know in [on account of a] part [only a part of God's revelation having been given], and we prophesy in part [their having in the Harvest of the Jewish Age these gifts was due to the Bible's not yet having been fully given; and thus they were to supplement the incompleted revelation]. But when that which is perfect [complete, i.e., the completed Bible] is come, then that [the gifts of the Spirit] which is [exists] in [on account of a] part [only a part of the revelation having been given] shall be done away [the gifts were to cease after the Bible's completion]."
St. Paul then proceeds to illustrate by the things of childhood as having been put away as unsuitable to manhood, when one is a man: "When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought [reasoned] as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things [i.e., the gifts of the Spirit which pertained to the Church's childhood, not to its manhood]. For now [in the Apostle's day] we see through a glass, darkly [the revelation was not yet complete, nor was all of the part so far given clearly understood]; but then [in the end of the Age, the Harvest] face to face [Isa. 52:81] now I [the Church] know in part; but then shall I know [completely] even as also I am known. And now [throughout the Gospel Age—2 Cor. 6:2] abide faith, hope, charity [in contrast with the transitoriness of the gifts—v. 8]." The power of healing was one of the gifts of the Spirit (1 Cor. 12:7-11). Therefore, apart from the two outpourings, it was never given except through an Apostle. Hence, when the last Apostle died, it was no longer conferred, and shortly thereafter ceased to operate. Accordingly, we are to limit the application of Mark 16:17, 18 to early in the Gospel Age.
THE HEALING OF SIN-SICKNESS
As to James 5:14, 15, the connection proves that it refers to the healing of sin-sickness, not bodily sickness. We will quote vs. 13-20, with bracketed comments: "Is any among you afflicted [by sickness of body, losses, troubles, disappointments, etc.]? let him pray [for grace sufficient]. Is any merry? let him sing psalms [religious songs]. Is any sick [in spirit, sin-sick; the Greek word here used — astheneo — generally means to be weak (Rom. 4:19; 8:3; 14:1, 2; 2 Cor. 11:21; 12:9, 10, etc.); and this should be its translation here; for bodily sickness is covered in the preceding verse by the word afflicted,—hence another kind of sickness is treated of in this verse] among you? let him call for the elders [the elected Truth teachers] of the church; and let them pray over [for] him [that his sin-sickness may depart], anointing him with [spiritual] oil [the Word of God, which is a figurative medicine (Zech. 4:11-14, where the oil coming out of the two olive trees represents the Truth coming out of the Old and New Testaments; see also Rev. 11:3, 4)] in the name of the Lord [as God's authorized messengers]: and the prayer of faith [which the sin-sick one shall offer with the praying elders] shall save [from spiritual sickness and death] the [sin] sick [one]; and the Lord shall raise him up [from his sin-sickness]; and if [though (see John 8:14; 10:38; 11:25, where the same Greek word kan is translated though)—this is a concessive, not a conditional clause. It concedes that he has sinned, and for that reason is sin-sick] he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him. [Still continuing with the subject of sin-sickness, the Apostle says:] Confess your faults [sins] one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed [of your sin-sickness (Heb. 12:13); for]. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much [in the cure of sin-sickness]."
Then the Apostle, to prove that prayer is effective, cites the case of Elijah's prayers and how God answered them, and then proceeds to discuss sin-sickness further, saying: "Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth [which usually follows in the train of sin-sickness], and one convert him; let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way [through anointing him with the spiritual oil—God's Word] shall save a soul from death, and shall hide [under Christ's robe of righteousness] a multitude of sins [committed by the sin-sick soul]." This passage (James 5:13-20) therefore undoubtedly treats of sin-sickness and its cure, and not of bodily sickness and its cure.
HEALINGS UNDER THE LAW
The case of Hezekiah's healing in answer to his prayers and tears (2 Kings 20:1-7) is thought by some to teach that we as the Master's footstep followers are to expect to follow the same example and get similar healing. First of all, we should keep in mind that Hezekiah was not of the house of sons, but of the house of servants (Heb. 3:5, 6), under the Law Covenant. While that covenant made nothing perfect and none of the Israelites obtained or could obtain eternal life under its provisions, until Christ as the Prince of Israel fulfilled all of its requirements and inherited its reward of eternal life, it had special provisions relating to the physical health and prosperity of the Israelites (see Ex. 23:25, 26; Lev. 26:3-16; Deut. 7:11-15; 28:1-12, 15, 21, 27, 28, 37-42, 45-53, 59-61). If faithful to God, they would be blessed in temporal things above all other nations; but, on the contrary, if Israel would not obey the Lord, they were to receive extraordinary punishments. We understand Hezekiah's healing in answer to his tears and prayers to be in harmony with the promises of the Law Covenant, which promised physical health as one of the blessings for those who obeyed it.
Another case is that of king Asa, who, diseased in his feet, "sought not to the Lord, but to the physicians" (2 Chron. 16:12). He followed an opposite course to that of Hezekiah, in that he did not seek unto the Lord, hence did not receive the physical healing as one of the rewards of obedience under the Law Covenant. It was not wrong for Asa to seek the help of physicians; his mistake was in seeking only to them, and not first unto the Lord with a repentant heart for his defiance of God and His prophet (2 Chron. 16:7-10).
Psa. 103:2-4: "Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases: Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies." Any attempt to apply this to the Gospel Church as respects physical conditions must of necessity be lame and weak. Who does not know that from the first down to the last members of the Church, the Lord has not been pleased to heal all their physical diseases? However, God's consecrated people do contend with spiritual maladies, sicknesses, and this Scripture warrants them in expecting that such diseases may be so healed with the Balm of Gilead, so bound up with the great and precious promises of God's Word, so offset by the peace and joy that man can neither give nor take away, that disease of heart, unrest, may intrude no longer, where the love, joy and peace of the Holy Spirit abide and rule.
PRESENT-DAY "FAITH HEALING"
The careful Bible student will readily see from the above-mentioned Scriptures that God is not behind the great wave of "faith healing" that now is sweeping over Christendom, but rather that it is apparently in large part the work of Satan and his demons, who work their deceptions "with all power and signs and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness" (2 Thes. 2:9, 10), for their doctrines are "the spirits of devils, working miracles" (Rev. 16:14). "Faith healing" has set itself up in many Healing Missions, Healing Sanctuaries, etc., under the cloak of Christian religion (though in many cases denying the basic doctrines of Christianity), even as it has for centuries thrived in heathen religions. Many churches are captivated by it; and some denominations, such as the Christian Scientists, New Thought groups and the Holiness, Christian Alliance and Pentecostal sects, feature it as one of their main tenets.
Such "faith healers" as Oral Roberts (Pentecostal), Dr. Wyett, Dr. O.L. Jaggers, Jack Coe, John Maillard, etc., by their publications, by the public press, by mass meetings and by radio and television, have attracted much public attention and have done much to mold public opinion along this line. In their working of "miracles" they have amazed many; and it is reported of some of them that their coffers have been enriched greatly as a result of their efforts. Thus commercialism evidently plays a large part in this modern-day "faith healing." While some "faith healers" have been proven to be frauds, doubtless many of them are sincere people, as are also many of those whom they have thus been, perhaps innocently, the means of deceiving. We are not to forget that "Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light" (2 Cor. 11:14), and that in these "last days" (2 Tim. 3:1-13), when we see him casting out devils and healing diseases, we may know that his time is short. "For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect" (Matt. 24:24).
WHY JESUS PERFORMED MIRACLES
But, one may ask, why did Jesus perform miracles, heal diseases and raise the dead, if these things are not to be done by His followers today? The Bible tells us (John 2:11), "This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory." His miracles were a part of His preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom—the coming Kingdom, in which God's glory will fill the whole earth (Num. 14:21) and His will will be done in earth, even as it is done in heaven (Matt. 6:10), when "all that are in the graves shall hear his [Jesus'] voice, and shall come forth" (John 5:28, 29; Dan. 12:2; 1 Cor. 15:22), when "the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. Then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing" (Isa. 35:5, 6). Indeed, this will be the "new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness" (2 Pet. 3:13; Rev. 21:1-5), for "times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord [Jehovah]; and he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things [therefore, Paradise Lost will not become Paradise Restored until after the thousand-year reign of Christ following His Second Coming]" (Acts 3:19-21).
In preaching this coming Kingdom, in which He with His Church, as Abraham's Seed, will bless all the families of the earth (Gen. 12:3; 22:18; Gal. 3:8, 16, 29), Jesus illustrated some of its physical blessings by the miracles He performed. While the early Church with the "gifts" of the Spirit could perform similar miracles, this Divinely-given power in its various features was to "cease," to "vanish away," as indicated above. This is why we do not see Christians today raising the dead, though certain "holy men" of Hindu religious cults, spirit mediums, powwow, voodoo and Christian Science practitioners and "faith healers" claim to "cast out devils," and they do "many wonderful works" (Matt. 7:22), sometimes through trickery, sometimes through natural means, sometimes by the aid of supernatural power, though they are in many cases ignorant of its source. We should remember that the present is not the time for Divine deliverance of the fallen world of mankind from its bondage to the curse of sin and death, with its concomitants of sickness, pain, etc. God "hath appointed a [thousand-year] day [2 Pet. 3:7, 8], in the which he will judge the world in righteousness" (Acts 17:31), after which "the inhabitant shall not say, I am sick" (Isa. 33:24), for God will then have wiped away all tears from their eyes; "and there shall be no more [Adamic] death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain" (Rev. 21:4). Then "there shall be no more curse" (Rev. 22:3). Well may we pray, "Thy kingdom come."
DANGERS IN HYPNOTISM AND SPIRIT HEALING
No doubt many who are identified with the various schemes of "mind healing"—Christian Science, New Thought, Unity, Rosicrucianism, hypnotism, etc.—are well-meaning and conscientious; but we believe that in most cases they are unaware of the great danger in which they are. We do not deny that cures are accomplished in some cases by these means, and that some of the proceedings and theories are legitimate enough, but we claim that the truth and the rationality connected with these theories are the sugar-coating which covers the underlying poison. This sugar-coating consists, e.g., in the extending of kindly sympathy to the sick, the distressed and the bereaved, and in the promise of healing mental and physical illnesses. The poison connected with all of these theories, the great danger in them, is the power of Satan, the great Adversary, and the fallen angels, which thus can be exercised in its most subtle form, viz., mental suggestion.
The "faith-in-God-hypnotic-suggestion" method of healing has captivated nominal Christians to such an extent that it has been extensively adopted and is attracting the public by the thousands; many such "healers" have sprung up on every hand, using the radio, television, magazines, newspapers, etc., for their advertisements and solicitations in connection with what they have found to be a very profitable "trade." The faith element connected with the hypnotic influence gives the matter sufficient religious bent to make it welcome in some church practices. The poor groaning creation, in its natural longing for relief, is easily attracted by any kind of physical and mental healing, whether administered by Roman Catholics with supposedly miraculous powers emanating from a statue of the Virgin Mary or from the bones of some saint (?) or some other relic, or by some of the Protestants in their many methods of approach — e.g., a Boston preacher is reported to have made almost miraculous cures by "faith-in-God-hypnotic-suggestion"; and a New York preacher offered to cure hysteria, insomnia, neurasthenia, drunkenness, religious melancholia and suicidal mania by this same method.
The doctrine of "Peace, troubled soul!" is certainly a good and wise one, particularly when based upon a Scriptural faith in Jesus (John 16:33; Phil. 4:7) as our ever-present help in every time of need and when it promotes loyalty and obedience to Him. However, if built upon false doctrines and erroneous suggestions and hypnotic influences, this spirit of restfulness and so-called "peace with God" only hinders the soul from a proper approach to the Life-Giver and opens the way for the attacks of the Adversary. As Christian Science and other kinds of "mind cures" tend to pervert reason and thus destroy the power of reasoning logically, so hypnotism undermines the will, weakens it, and prepares the way for intrusion from the fallen spirits. The widespread indulgence of the so-called Christian world in such practices is causing an undermining of faith and will power. This has opened the way more and more for the evil spirits to intrude into human affairs, through the entanglement of human wills, weakened by hypnotism and other forms of mental subserviency, and is thus at least indirectly accountable for much of the crime wave now sweeping over the world.
One cannot be hypnotized, for purposes of healing or otherwise, unless he subjects his mind and will to that of another. This is why the mentally disabled and infants cannot be hypnotized. With a mind of average intelligence and a will that is willing to become subject to that of another, with a forceful personality as the master mind and a moment's deep concentration—and the mind of the subject is ready to take suggestions for reality. Now the hypnotist may instill his suggestions: You can go to sleep now; just relax—let go; you will not feel any more pain; there is no such thing as sickness; it is all in your mind; so just think you are well—you are well! Hypnotism is based on a supine submission to authority. It is a perversion of the proper response of child to parent, of follower to leader. It is akin to the spirit of "angel worship," which is forbidden by God (Col. 2:18).
DISASTROUS RESULTS OF HYPNOTISM
The ultimate results of seeking relief from physical and mental ills through hypnotism are sometimes disastrous. We give a few examples:
(1) An Arizona housewife, who for months had suffered sleepless nights, is reported to have sought relief through hypnotism. She found peace—a hypnotic peace—and could really sleep again at nights, undisturbed. But later on the real cause of her former restless nights was discovered—a small tumor in her breast; it had spread unnoticed because, under her hypnotic suggestion-deception, she had imagined herself healed—hypnotism had blotted out the symptoms. Happily for her, she was awakened to her real condition before it was too late.
(2) Horace K., a young trombonist in a well-known band, suffered with paralysis of his arm, but by faith-hypnotic-suggestion was cured, only later to suffer the same trouble in his leg, from which he was similarly relieved. Then he lost his voice. He could not understand these repeated afflictions, but decided to give faith-hypnotic healing one more chance. Again he was healed. His voice came back, but soon he was totally blind! Careful questioning finally brought to light his real trouble. He had been struggling with an emotional problem involving his wife and mother. When this was attended to in a conscious, reasonable way, the problem was solved and his physical maladies disappeared. They were merely escape valves, so to speak, for the bitter emotional struggle taking place.
(3) A certain hypnotist boasted that he had stopped many from drinking liquor, and that he had kept one habitual drinker on the water wagon for a whole year. "It was easy," he said. "I'd put the fellow into a trance twice a month and tell him that whisky would taste like castor oil. He wouldn't touch a drop! I gave him will power." But did he give the drunkard will power? No! He was destroying the drunkard's will power, and making it subject to his own through a hypnotic spell. The subject was merely acting out a post-hypnotic suggestion over which he had no control.
Thus it is evident that hypnotism, whether connected with a religious faith (credulity?) or not, has in it certain concealed dangers. It is nothing new—it was known to and practiced by Hindu fakirs, voodooists and Indian medicine-men centuries ago. Magicians, sorcerers, necromancers, wizards, witches (now called "spirit mediums"), etc., practice the same or similar arts today, all of which have to do with "occultism." Let us notice a few of the underlying dangers:
THE UNDERLYING DANGERS
(a) Physically: Symptoms are often thus removed, as in (1) above, and the afflicted ones may think themselves healed, whereas the illness may be merely obscured, suppressed or prolonged.
(b) Mentally: Where a mental illness is thus allayed and a false or surface feeling of hypnotic, imagined or emotional peace and security is given instead of turmoil of mind, as in (2) above, the cause of the mental unrest thus not being reached and corrected, a personality may thus be injured, and a person hindered in or deprived of the privilege of coming to Jesus in true repentance for sin, in true justification by faith, which alone brings the true peace with God (Rom. 5:1) as the first step of attaining to the peace of God and having it rule in the heart and mind (Col. 3:15; Phil. 4:7; Isa. 26:3; John 14:27).
(c) Morally: Hypnotic influence exercised by one over another, either fully or to a limited degree, brings the subject proportionately under the mental control of the one exercising such hypnotic influence, and thus to that extent breaks down his will power (Prov. 25:28; 16:32), as in (3) above, and weakens his moral qualities of character.
(d) Religiously: As mentioned above, one cannot be hypnotized unless he subjects his mind and will to that of another—the master mind. This tends to destroy man's proper submission to God, for "no man can serve two masters" (Matt. 6:24). Our minds and wills should be subject only to God. "Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve" (Luke 4:8). To surrender one's mind or will to anyone other than God is, therefore, a sin against God and a subversion of true religion.
Therefore, hypnotism is dangerous and contrary to God's instructions for His people, whether administered in a secular way, or in a religious way, mixed with a "faith-in-God-complex," either to an individual, or en masse in a church service accompanied with high nervous tension or a fervor of extreme emotionalism which in large measure, at least temporarily, unbalances one's mental composure and renders him powerless "to think soberly" (Rom. 12:3), to exercise the spirit of "a sound mind" (2 Tim. 1:7). We do not deny that marvelous healings are sometimes thus accomplished—but we warn against the injury to character thus experienced, and against thus opening the mind and will to the power of Satan, and to his veiled and subtle substitutions for true religion and its benefits that are found in the semi-hypnotic, emotionalistic imaginations that are so prevalent in the religious world. Satan is more than busy substituting such practices for the true, joyful and yet sober religion instituted by Jesus for His people.
A STILL GREATER DANGER
Furthermore, perhaps the greatest danger to which such occult practices lead, through the mental impotency produced by the subjecting of one's mind and will to the mind and will of another or by working oneself up into a frenzy of emotionalism, whether this resultant mental impotency be temporary or permanent, is the opening of the doors of one's mind for the entrance of master minds from the angelic realm. The evil angels, who were "sons of God" on the spirit plane, "kept not their first estate" (Jude 6; Gen. 6:2), but took upon themselves bodies of flesh, and, living as men, produced a hybrid race of giants (Gen. 6:4), referred to in ancient myths as the demigods (half angelic, half human). These were drowned out in the Flood; but their angelic fathers, because they were spirit beings, could not be drowned—instead they were tartarused (mistranslated cast down to hell in Jude 6), i.e., degraded and imprisoned under restraints of darkness in this earth's atmosphere.
These demons have wrought on nations, groups and individuals. They have resorted to all sorts of methods and means to get influence and control over these. In all Satan's methods and means of obtaining control of mankind they have been the agents to bring these into operation among men, using false religious theories more than any other things to achieve their ends. Thus these fallen angels duped the race into believing the foundation and supporting doctrines of Satan's empire, as well as hordes of other errors of doctrine, practice, organization, ceremonial and custom. Very fertile in deceptive contrivances have they been through the doctrine of the consciousness of the dead. In Deut. 18:9-14 and Isa. 8:19, 20, a list of these is given, among which are mentioned: making children pass through the fire, divination, observing times, enchanting, bewitching, charming (hypnotizing), consulting familiar spirits (Spiritism as practiced by fortune tellers), necromancy (alleged talking with the dead, actually with demons impersonating the dead).
In their approach to individuals the demons have set as their ultimate goal complete control, and to gain this they proceed through five distinct steps: (1) suggestion of whatever thoughts they consider advantageous to them for each individual case (in hypnotic and highly emotional conditions a person is most susceptible to such suggestions); (2) diversion of one's attention from that on which he desires to fix his mind to such thoughts as would interfere with one's direction of his own thoughts; (3) impression of all sorts of vagaries, dreams, visions, hallucinations, etc., on one's mind in order to make it wander and to weaken his will for logical thought, feeling and action (as one succumbs to such influences he often manifests an erratic and incoherent tendency in his conversation, conduct, letter writing, etc.); (4) obsession, whereby a partial control over the will is obtained, and finally, (5) possession, in which the person's will is entirely controlled by the demons, who would thus make their victims act as foolishly, wickedly or insanely as they might desire. It is claimed that at least two-thirds of the inmates of insane asylums are cases of obsession or (in more violent cases) possession.
THE BIBLE'S TESTIMONY
The Bible has much to say of demoniacal possession and of Jesus and the disciples freeing people therefrom (1 Sam. 16:14-23; Matt. 8:16, 28-34; 9:32, 33; 12:22, 43-45; 15:22-28; 17:14-18; Mark 1:23-26; 9:17-27; 16:9; Luke 9:38-42; Acts 5:16; 8:7; 16:16-18; 19:12. We all recall how the demons caused Jesus to be accused of demoniacal possession (Mark 3:22-30; Luke 11:15; John 7:20; 8:48; 10:20). To discredit Jesus and the Apostles they attempted to give testimony of them (Matt. 8:29; Mark 1:23, 24; 3:11; 5:7; Luke 8:28; Acts 19:15).
Jesus showed that the strong man's house would be broken into, and his goods spoiled (Matt. 12:29; Mark 3:27; Luke 11:22, 23). We understand that this strong man represents Satan; that here in the end of the Gospel Age our Lord is overpowering and binding him (Rev. 20:1-3; see Bible Standard No. 192 for details—a copy free on request), and that here in this great time of trouble (Dan. 12:1; Matt. 24:21, 22) his evil empire is gradually being overthrown (Isa. 13:4, 5; Joel 3:9-14; Zeph. 3:8; Nahum 1:5; Mal. 4:1; 1 Thes. 5:1-3; Rev. 2:26, 27; 16:14; 17:14; 19:11-21).
As this work progresses, Satan and his fallen angels are trying everything possible as a last resort to maintain their hold over the human race in the face of the greatly increasing light now flooding mankind as a result of "the bright shining of the presence of Him whose presence is during [see Thayer's Greek Dictionary of the N.T. on the word kata with the accusative, p. 327, col. 2, under subdivision 2, line 10 from bottom] an energy of Satan by all power, and signs, and wonders of falsehood and every deception of iniquity" (2 Thes. 2:8-10—Improved Ver.). This will account for much of the recent great influx of miracles and the numerous methods of counterfeiting the "gifts" of the Holy Spirit given to the early Church for its establishment, which were to pass away after accomplishing their purpose (1 Cor. 12:31; 13:8-13). Ours are the special times of which it was prophesied that the boasting of working miracles as grounds of demanding special recognition from the Lord would be done (Matt. 7:22, 23); and Jesus answers the boasters that He never recognized them in such works. Consequently their miracles must be of Satanic origin.
How could Satan be interested in healing disease, since he has brought so much sickness, pain, sorrow and death? He is not, except in so far as it has helped him to maintain his control over the human family. Satan's interest in healing disease is a sign that his kingdom is divided against itself, for, "If Satan cast out Satan, he is divided against himself; how then shall his kingdom stand?" (Matt. 12:26). Sometimes the demons keep themselves quite in the background and lead their dupes into thinking that their healings, etc., are from the Lord, knowing that otherwise they could not captivate them; but sometimes they come more into the open in letting it be known that they are performing the miracles. In addition to working through hypnotism as a means of getting the human family under their control, they also work along the lines of Spiritism, in which they impersonate the dead, and communicate with humans, thus furthering Satan's original lie, "Ye shall not surely die" (Gen. 3:4; John 8:44). Of course, many Spiritistic phenomena are sleight-of-hand trickery, but other cases are the work of demons.
EXAMPLES OF "SPIRIT HEALING"
There are many examples of how these demons work in healing the sick. A notable one is connected with the late Edgar Cayce, a Hopkinsville, Ky. salesman who died a few years ago.
According to report, he became interested in hypnotism in early life and through it endeavored to help others. Though having little formal education, and knowing next to nothing about medicine, when in a hypnotic trance he spoke like a physician, using accurate physiological and medical terminology in the diagnoses he made. In his trances he experienced total amnesia and had no control over what he said. Doctors were astonished at the accuracy of his diagnoses and the recommendations that he gave for relief. As his clairvoyant powers became known, many cases of illness were referred to him, by doctors and patients from far and near, and some 30,000 "health readings" came from his hypnotic trances, many of which were recorded verbatim.
Another example is that of Harry Edwards, a famous psychic healer in England. His house of magic is called the Sanctuary. In the room where the healings take place is a long oak table, on which stands a symbolic image of a cross surmounted by a circle. On the walls hang three pictures—one of Jesus, and, of all things! two "spirit portraits" of Pasteur and Lister.
Miraculous, indeed, are the healings accomplished there—healings of practically every ailment to which the human body is susceptible, a large majority of the cases previously having been given up as incurable. In one folder he displays over 500 cases of "incurable" cancer which have been healed, many of them having been attested as such by qualified medical evidence. Mr. Edwards is reported as being "controlled by various doctors in the spirit world, notably Lister and Pasteur, who use him as a channel for the unlimited healing resources of the Infinite." It is said that in his art of "spirit traveling" or "absent healing" he projects his spirit (probably meaning his mind) to distant hospitals and sick rooms, and there performs his miracles of healing.
Consecrated Christians will, if faithful, refrain from consulting "faith healers" and "spirit healers." They will submit their minds and hearts to God only (Prov. 23:26) and carefully avoid coming under the control of hypnotists, remembering that "no man can serve two masters" (Matt. 6:24). Our minds and wills should be subject to God only. "Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve" (Luke 4:8). To surrender one's mind or will to anyone other than God is, therefore, a sin against God and a subversion of true religion.
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