Faith healing

Faith healing

Overview
Faith healing is healing through spiritual means. The healing
Healing
Physiological healing is the restoration of damaged living tissue, organs and biological system to normal function. It is the process by which the cells in the body regenerate and repair to reduce the size of a damaged or necrotic area....

 of a person is brought about by religious faith
Faith
Faith is confidence or trust in a person or thing, or a belief that is not based on proof. In religion, faith is a belief in a transcendent reality, a religious teacher, a set of teachings or a Supreme Being. Generally speaking, it is offered as a means by which the truth of the proposition,...

 through prayer
Prayer
Prayer is a form of religious practice that seeks to activate a volitional rapport to a deity through deliberate practice. Prayer may be either individual or communal and take place in public or in private. It may involve the use of words or song. When language is used, prayer may take the form of...

 and/or ritual
Ritual
A ritual is a set of actions, performed mainly for their symbolic value. It may be prescribed by a religion or by the traditions of a community. The term usually excludes actions which are arbitrarily chosen by the performers....

s that, according to adherents, stimulate a divine presence
Divine presence
Divine presence, presence of God, or simply presence is a concept in religion, spirituality, and theology that deals with the omnipotent ability of a god and/or gods to be "present" with human beings...

 and power
Mana
Mana is an indigenous Pacific islander concept of an impersonal force or quality that resides in people, animals, and inanimate objects. The word is a cognate in many Oceanic languages, including Melanesian, Polynesian, and Micronesian....

 toward correcting disease
Disease
A disease is an abnormal condition affecting the body of an organism. It is often construed to be a medical condition associated with specific symptoms and signs. It may be caused by external factors, such as infectious disease, or it may be caused by internal dysfunctions, such as autoimmune...

 and disability
Disability
A disability may be physical, cognitive, mental, sensory, emotional, developmental or some combination of these.Many people would rather be referred to as a person with a disability instead of handicapped...

. Belief in divine intervention in illness or healing is related to religious belief. In common usage, faith healing refers to notably overt and ritualistic practices of communal prayer and gestures (such as laying on of hands
Laying on of hands
The laying on of hands is a religious ritual that accompanies certain religious practices, which are found throughout the world in varying forms....

) that are claimed to solicit divine intervention in initiating spiritual and literal healing.

Claims that prayer, divine intervention, or the ministrations of an individual healer can cure illness have been popular throughout history.
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Encyclopedia
Faith healing is healing through spiritual means. The healing
Healing
Physiological healing is the restoration of damaged living tissue, organs and biological system to normal function. It is the process by which the cells in the body regenerate and repair to reduce the size of a damaged or necrotic area....

 of a person is brought about by religious faith
Faith
Faith is confidence or trust in a person or thing, or a belief that is not based on proof. In religion, faith is a belief in a transcendent reality, a religious teacher, a set of teachings or a Supreme Being. Generally speaking, it is offered as a means by which the truth of the proposition,...

 through prayer
Prayer
Prayer is a form of religious practice that seeks to activate a volitional rapport to a deity through deliberate practice. Prayer may be either individual or communal and take place in public or in private. It may involve the use of words or song. When language is used, prayer may take the form of...

 and/or ritual
Ritual
A ritual is a set of actions, performed mainly for their symbolic value. It may be prescribed by a religion or by the traditions of a community. The term usually excludes actions which are arbitrarily chosen by the performers....

s that, according to adherents, stimulate a divine presence
Divine presence
Divine presence, presence of God, or simply presence is a concept in religion, spirituality, and theology that deals with the omnipotent ability of a god and/or gods to be "present" with human beings...

 and power
Mana
Mana is an indigenous Pacific islander concept of an impersonal force or quality that resides in people, animals, and inanimate objects. The word is a cognate in many Oceanic languages, including Melanesian, Polynesian, and Micronesian....

 toward correcting disease
Disease
A disease is an abnormal condition affecting the body of an organism. It is often construed to be a medical condition associated with specific symptoms and signs. It may be caused by external factors, such as infectious disease, or it may be caused by internal dysfunctions, such as autoimmune...

 and disability
Disability
A disability may be physical, cognitive, mental, sensory, emotional, developmental or some combination of these.Many people would rather be referred to as a person with a disability instead of handicapped...

. Belief in divine intervention in illness or healing is related to religious belief. In common usage, faith healing refers to notably overt and ritualistic practices of communal prayer and gestures (such as laying on of hands
Laying on of hands
The laying on of hands is a religious ritual that accompanies certain religious practices, which are found throughout the world in varying forms....

) that are claimed to solicit divine intervention in initiating spiritual and literal healing.

Claims that prayer, divine intervention, or the ministrations of an individual healer can cure illness have been popular throughout history. Miraculous recoveries
Miracle
A miracle often denotes an event attributed to divine intervention. Alternatively, it may be an event attributed to a miracle worker, saint, or religious leader. A miracle is sometimes thought of as a perceptible interruption of the laws of nature. Others suggest that a god may work with the laws...

 have been attributed to many techniques commonly lumped together as "faith healing". It can involve prayer, a visit to a religious shrine, or simply a strong belief in a supreme being.

The term is best known in connection with Christianity
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

. Some people interpret the Bible, especially the New Testament
New Testament
The New Testament is the second major division of the Christian biblical canon, the first such division being the much longer Old Testament....

, as teaching belief in, and practice of, faith healing. There have been claims that faith can cure blindness, deafness, cancer, AIDS, developmental disorders, anemia, arthritis, corns, defective speech, multiple sclerosis, skin rashes, total body paralysis, and various injuries.

Unlike faith healing, advocates of spiritual healing make no attempt to seek divine intervention, supporting an underlying belief system concerning Humanity
Humanity
Humanity may refer to:* The human species**The total world population* Human nature, psychological characteristics that all normal humans have in common**Compassion**Empathy**Altruism**Aggression**Fear...

's access to divine energy. The increased interest in alternative medicine
Alternative medicine
Alternative medicine is any healing practice, "that does not fall within the realm of conventional medicine." It is based on historical or cultural traditions, rather than on scientific evidence....

 at the end of the twentieth century has given rise to a parallel interest among sociologists in the relationship of religion to health.

The American Cancer Society
American Cancer Society
The American Cancer Society is the "nationwide community-based voluntary health organization" dedicated, in their own words, "to eliminating cancer as a major health problem by preventing cancer, saving lives, and diminishing suffering from cancer, through research, education, advocacy, and...

 states "available scientific evidence does not support claims that faith healing can actually cure physical ailments." "Death, disability, and other unwanted outcomes have occurred when faith healing was elected instead of medical care for serious injuries or illnesses."

In various belief systems


Faith Healing claims have been made by many religions and the sick have visited their shrines in hopes of recovery.

Overview


One use of the term faith healing is in reference to the belief of some Christians that God heals people through the power of the Holy Spirit
Holy Spirit
Holy Spirit is a term introduced in English translations of the Hebrew Bible, but understood differently in the main Abrahamic religions.While the general concept of a "Spirit" that permeates the cosmos has been used in various religions Holy Spirit is a term introduced in English translations of...

, often involving the laying on of hands
Laying on of hands
The laying on of hands is a religious ritual that accompanies certain religious practices, which are found throughout the world in varying forms....

. It is also called supernatural healing, divine healing, and miracle healing, among other things. In the Old Testament
Old Testament
The Old Testament, of which Christians hold different views, is a Christian term for the religious writings of ancient Israel held sacred and inspired by Christians which overlaps with the 24-book canon of the Masoretic Text of Judaism...

, Jehovah-Rapha, translated "I am the Lord your Physician" or "I am the Lord who heals you", is one of the seven redemptive names for Jehovah God. Healing in the Bible is often associated with the ministry of specific individuals including Elijah, Jesus
Jesus
Jesus of Nazareth , commonly referred to as Jesus Christ or simply as Jesus or Christ, is the central figure of Christianity...

 and Paul
Paul of Tarsus
Paul the Apostle , also known as Saul of Tarsus, is described in the Christian New Testament as one of the most influential early Christian missionaries, with the writings ascribed to him by the church forming a considerable portion of the New Testament...

.

Christian physician Reginald B. Cherry views faith healing as a pathway of healing in which God uses both the natural and the supernatural to heal. Being healed has been described as a privilege of accepting Christ's redemption on the cross.p Pentecostal writer Wilfred Graves, Jr.
Wilfred Graves, Jr.
Wilfred Graves, Jr. is a scholar, minister, mathematician, and published author. He is the first African American to graduate from Fuller Theological Seminary with a Ph.D. in Historical Theology. His doctoral dissertation was entitled “Popular and Elite Understandings of Miracles in Enlightened...

 views the healing of the body as a physical expression of salvation
Salvation
Within religion salvation is the phenomenon of being saved from the undesirable condition of bondage or suffering experienced by the psyche or soul that has arisen as a result of unskillful or immoral actions generically referred to as sins. Salvation may also be called "deliverance" or...

. says, "This [Christ's ministry of healing] was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah, 53:5 (NKJV): 'He took up our infirmities and carried our diseases.'" "Faith" in this context is based on biblical uses of the term. Faith has been called "the very nature of God." A classic definition of faith appears in the New Testament: "Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen…." Charisma
Charisma (magazine)
Charisma is a monthly Christian magazine based in Lake Mary, Florida, aimed at Pentecostals and charismatics...

writer Larry Keefauver considers it important to distinguish between the faith aspect in seeking a cure and the divine source of the healing. points to God as the source: "I am the Lord that heals you." "The truth is that God is the God who heals. Faith is trusting the God who heals. Faith is a radical, absolute surrender to the God who heals. Faith is not holding on for your healing but holding on to the God who can do the impossible."

Some Christian writers believe it extremely rare that God provides a supernatural intervention that actually reverses the natural laws governing the human body. Keefauver cautions against allowing enthusiasm for faith healing to stir up false hopes "so that a sufferer stakes all his or her faith on belief in miraculous healing at this level. We cannot build a water-tight theology promising physical healing, surely, for the most 'miracle-ridden' Christian will die in the end, yielding to the natural processes of senescence." Those who actively lay hands on others and pray with them to be healed are usually aware that healing may not always follow immediately. Proponents of faith healing say it may come later, but that it may not come at all.

Some biblical examples


In the four gospel
Gospel
A gospel is an account, often written, that describes the life of Jesus of Nazareth. In a more general sense the term "gospel" may refer to the good news message of the New Testament. It is primarily used in reference to the four canonical gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John...

s in the New Testament
New Testament
The New Testament is the second major division of the Christian biblical canon, the first such division being the much longer Old Testament....

, Jesus
Jesus
Jesus of Nazareth , commonly referred to as Jesus Christ or simply as Jesus or Christ, is the central figure of Christianity...

 cures physical ailments well outside the capacity of first-century medicine. Most dramatic perhaps is the case of "a woman who had had a discharge of blood for twelve years, and who had suffered much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was not better but rather grew worse." After healing her, Jesus tells her, "Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace! Be cured from your illness." At least two other times Jesus credited the sufferer's faith as the means of being healed: and .

Jesus endorses the use of the medical assistance of the time (medicines of oil and wine) when he praises the Good Samaritan for acting as a physician, telling his disciples to go and do the same thing that the Samaritan did in the story.

The healing in the gospels is referred to as a "sign" to prove Jesus' divinity and to foster belief in him as the Christ. However, when asked for other types of miracles, Jesus refuses some but grants others in consideration of the motive of the request. Some theologians' understanding is that Jesus healed all who were present every single time. Sometimes he determines whether they had faith that he would heal them.

Jesus commands his followers to heal the sick and states that signs such as healing are evidence of faith. Jesus also commands his followers to "cure sick people, raise up dead persons, make lepers clean, expel demons. You received free, give free."

Jesus sternly orders many who received healing from him: "Do not tell anyone!" Jesus did not approve of anyone asking for a sign just for the spectacle of it, describing such as coming from a "wicked and adulterous generation."

The apostle Paul believes healing is one of the special gifts of the Holy Spirit
Holy Spirit
Holy Spirit is a term introduced in English translations of the Hebrew Bible, but understood differently in the main Abrahamic religions.While the general concept of a "Spirit" that permeates the cosmos has been used in various religions Holy Spirit is a term introduced in English translations of...

, and that the possibility exists that certain persons may possess this gift to an extraordinarily high degree.

In the New Testament Epistle of James
Epistle of James
The Epistle of James, usually referred to simply as James, is a book in the New Testament. The author identifies himself as "James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ", with "the earliest extant manuscripts of James usually dated to mid-to-late third century."There are four views...

, the faithful are told that to be healed, those who are sick should call upon the elders of the church to pray over [them] and anoint [them] with oil in the name of the Lord.

After Jesus' death, Peter and Paul heal the sick and cast out demons, make a lame man walk, and raise the dead.

Research of beliefs about miraculous healing


A study of beliefs about miraculous healing among the more religiously committed has indicated that there are significant differences in belief about miraculous healing even among people within the same denomination (Anglican). Researchers found that positive belief in faith healing was mainly a characteristic of conservative Christians, most especially those with charismatic experience. Belief about miraculous healing was seen as a subset of belief about health and well-being in general. Older people had less belief in miraculous healing or the sovereignty of God over illness, while those with experience of higher education had more inclusive beliefs about miraculous healing and saw human input as less important in the healing process. The study further showed that people with degrees or post-graduate qualifications can and do believe in the possibility of miraculous healing. No significant gender differences were noted.

Pentecostalism/Charismatic movement


At the beginning of the 20th century, the new Pentecostal
Pentecostalism
Pentecostalism is a diverse and complex movement within Christianity that places special emphasis on a direct personal experience of God through the baptism in the Holy Spirit, has an eschatological focus, and is an experiential religion. The term Pentecostal is derived from Pentecost, the Greek...

 movement drew participants from the Holiness movement
Holiness movement
The holiness movement refers to a set of beliefs and practices emerging from the Methodist Christian church in the mid 19th century. The movement is distinguished by its emphasis on John Wesley's doctrine of "Christian perfection" - the belief that it is possible to live free of voluntary sin - and...

 and other movements in America that already believed in divine healing. By the 1930s, several faith healers drew large crowds and established worldwide followings.

The first Pentecostals in the modern sense appeared in Topeka, Kansas
Topeka, Kansas
Topeka |Kansa]]: Tó Pee Kuh) is the capital city of the U.S. state of Kansas and the county seat of Shawnee County. It is situated along the Kansas River in the central part of Shawnee County, located in northeast Kansas, in the Central United States. As of the 2010 census, the city population was...

, in a Bible school conducted by Charles Fox Parham
Charles Fox Parham
Charles Fox Parham was an American preacher and evangelist. Together with William J. Seymour, Parham was one of the two central figures in the development and early spread of Pentecostalism...

, a holiness teacher and former Methodist pastor. Pentecostalism achieved worldwide attention in 1906 through the Azusa Street Revival
Azusa Street Revival
The Azusa Street Revival was a historic Pentecostal revival meeting that took place in Los Angeles, California and is the origin of the Pentecostal movement. It was led by William J. Seymour, an African American preacher. It began with a meeting on April 14, 1906, and continued until roughly 1915...

 in Los Angeles
Los Ángeles
Los Ángeles is the capital of the province of Biobío, in the commune of the same name, in Region VIII , in the center-south of Chile. It is located between the Laja and Biobío rivers. The population is 123,445 inhabitants...

 led by William Joseph Seymour.

During the Azusa Street meetings, according to witnesses who wrote about them, blind, crippled or other sick people would be healed. Some of the participants would eventually minister extensively in this area. For example, John G. Lake
John G. Lake
John Graham Lake , usually known as John G. Lake, was a businessman who became known for his ministry as a missionary, faith healer, and founder of the Apostolic Faith Mission of South Africa...

 was present during the years of the Azusa Street revival. Lake had earned huge sums of money in the insurance business at the turn of the century but gave away his possessions with the exception of food for his children while he and his wife fasted on a trip to Africa to do missionary work. Certain people he had never met before gave him money and keys to a place to stay which were required to enter South Africa at the dock. His writings tell of numerous healing miracles he and others performed as over 500 churches were planted in South Africa. Lake returned to the U.S. and set up healing rooms in Spokane, Washington
Spokane, Washington
Spokane is a city located in the Northwestern United States in the state of Washington. It is the largest city of Spokane County of which it is also the county seat, and the metropolitan center of the Inland Northwest region...

.

Smith Wigglesworth
Smith Wigglesworth
Smith Wigglesworth , was a British evangelist who was important in the early history of Pentecostalism.- Early life :...

 was also a well-known figure in the early part of the 20th century. A former English plumber turned evangelist
Evangelism
Evangelism refers to the practice of relaying information about a particular set of beliefs to others who do not hold those beliefs. The term is often used in reference to Christianity....

 who lived simply and read nothing but the Bible from the time his wife taught him to read, Wigglesworth traveled around the world preaching about Jesus and performing faith healings. Wigglesworth claimed to raise several people from the dead in Jesus' name in his meetings.p

During the 1920s and 1930s, Aimee Semple McPherson
Aimee Semple McPherson
Aimee Semple McPherson , also known as Sister Aimee, was a Canadian-American Los Angeles, California evangelist and media celebrity in the 1920s and 1930s. She founded the Foursquare Church...

 was a controversial faith healer of growing popularity during the Great Depression
Great Depression
The Great Depression was a severe worldwide economic depression in the decade preceding World War II. The timing of the Great Depression varied across nations, but in most countries it started in about 1929 and lasted until the late 1930s or early 1940s...

. Subsequently, William Branham has been credited as being the founder of the pos-World War II healing revivals. By the late 1940s, Oral Roberts
Oral Roberts
Granville "Oral" Roberts was an American Pentecostal televangelist and a Christian charismatic. He founded the Oral Roberts Evangelistic Association and Oral Roberts University....

 was well known, and he continued with faith healing until the 1980s. A friend of Roberts was Kathryn Kuhlman
Kathryn Kuhlman
Kathryn Johanna Kuhlman was an American faith healer and evangelist.-Early life:Kathryn Johanna Kuhlman was born in Concordia, Missouri, to German-American parents...

, another popular faith healer, who gained fame in the 1950s and had a television program on CBS
CBS
CBS Broadcasting Inc. is a major US commercial broadcasting television network, which started as a radio network. The name is derived from the initials of the network's former name, Columbia Broadcasting System. The network is sometimes referred to as the "Eye Network" in reference to the shape of...

. Also in this era, Jack Coe
Jack Coe
Jack Coe was one of the first faith healers with a touring tent ministry after the Second World War in the United States. Coe was ordained in the Assemblies of God in 1944, and began to preach while still serving in World War II. In the following twelve years, travelled the U.S. organizing tent...

 and A. A. Allen
A. A. Allen
Asa A. Allen , better known as A.A. Allen, was a controversial evangelist with a Pentecostal healing and deliverance ministry. He was, for a time, associated with the "Voice of Healing" movement founded by Gordon Lindsay. He died at age 59 in San Francisco...

 were faith healers who traveled with large tents for large open-air crusades.

Oral Roberts's successful use of television as a medium to gain a wider audience led others to follow suit. His former pilot, Kenneth Copeland
Kenneth Copeland
Kenneth Copeland is an American author, public speaker, and televangelist. He is the founder of Kenneth Copeland Ministries, which preaches a “prosperity gospel”: "Prosperity gospel assures followers that the more they give including in the form of tithes to the church, the more they will receive...

, started a healing ministry. Pat Robertson
Pat Robertson
Marion Gordon "Pat" Robertson is a media mogul, television evangelist, ex-Baptist minister and businessman who is politically aligned with the Christian Right in the United States....

, Benny Hinn
Benny Hinn
Toufik Benedictus "Benny" Hinn הין; born December 3, 1952) is a televangelist, best known for his regular "Miracle Crusades" – revival meeting/faith healing summits that are usually held in large stadiums in major cities, which are later broadcast worldwide on his television program, This Is Your...

, and Peter Popoff
Peter Popoff
Peter Popoff is a German-born American faith healer and the president of Peter Popoff Ministries. He conducts revival meetings and has a national television program...

 became well-known televangelists who claimed to heal the sick. Richard Rossi
Richard Rossi
Richard Rossi is an American filmmaker, actor, producer, musician, church planter, and healing evangelist...

 is known for advertising his healing clinics through secular television and radio. Kuhlman influenced Benny Hinn, who adopted some of her techniques and wrote a book about her.

Catholicism



Faith healing is reported by Catholics
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

 as the result of intercessory prayer to a saint
Saint
A saint is a holy person. In various religions, saints are people who are believed to have exceptional holiness.In Christian usage, "saint" refers to any believer who is "in Christ", and in whom Christ dwells, whether in heaven or in earth...

 or to a person with the gift of healing. According to U.S. Catholic magazine, "Even in this skeptical, postmodern, scientific age—miracles really are possible." Three-fourths of American Catholics say they pray for miracles.
According to Notre Dame theology professor John Cavadini, when healing is granted, "The miracle is not primarily for the person healed, but for all people, as a sign of God's work in the ultimate healing called 'salvation,' or a sign of the kingdom that is coming." Some might view their own healing as a sign they are particularly worthy or holy, while others do not deserve it.

The Catholic Church has a special Congregation dedicated to the careful investigation of the validity of alleged miracles attributed to prospective saints. Since Catholic Christians believe the lives of canonized saints in the Church will reflect Christ's, they have come to actually expect healing miracles. While the popular conception of a miracle can be wide-ranging, the Catholic Church has a specific definition for the kind of miracle formally recognized in a canonization process.

Among the best-known accounts by Catholics of faith healings are those attributed to the miraculous intercession of the apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary known as Our Lady of Lourdes
Our Lady of Lourdes
Our Lady of Lourdes is the name used to refer to the Marian apparition said to have appeared before various individuals on separate occasions around Lourdes, France...

 at the grotto
Grotto
A grotto is any type of natural or artificial cave that is associated with modern, historic or prehistoric use by humans. When it is not an artificial garden feature, a grotto is often a small cave near water and often flooded or liable to flood at high tide...

 of Lourdes
Lourdes
Lourdes is a commune in the Hautes-Pyrénées department in the Midi-Pyrénées region in south-western France.Lourdes is a small market town lying in the foothills of the Pyrenees, famous for the Marian apparitions of Our Lady of Lourdes occurred in 1858 to Bernadette Soubirous...

 in France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 and the remissions of life-threatening disease claimed by those who have applied for aid to Saint Jude
Saint Jude
Jude was one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus. He is generally identified with Thaddeus, and is also variously called Jude of James, Jude Thaddaeus, Judas Thaddaeus or Lebbaeus...

, who is known as the "patron saint
Patron saint
A patron saint is a saint who is regarded as the intercessor and advocate in heaven of a nation, place, craft, activity, class, clan, family, or person...

 of lost causes".

The Catholic Church has given official recognition to 67 miracles and 7,000 otherwise inexplicable medical cures since the Blessed Virgin Mary first appeared in Lourdes in February 1858. These cures are subjected to intense medical scrutiny and are only recognized as authentic spiritual cures after a commission of doctors and scientists, called the Lourdes Medical Bureau
Lourdes Medical Bureau
The Lourdes Medical Bureau is a medical organization based in Lourdes, France. It is an official organization within the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes, but is administered and run only by doctors...

, has ruled out any physical mechanism for the patient's recovery.

Christian Science


Christian Science
Christian Science
Christian Science is a system of thought and practice derived from the writings of Mary Baker Eddy and the Bible. It is practiced by members of The First Church of Christ, Scientist as well as some others who are nonmembers. Its central texts are the Bible and the Christian Science textbook,...

 claims that healing is possible through an understanding of the underlying, spiritual perfection of God's creation. The world as humanly perceived is believed to be a distortion of the underlying spiritual reality. Christian Scientists believe that healing through prayer
Prayer
Prayer is a form of religious practice that seeks to activate a volitional rapport to a deity through deliberate practice. Prayer may be either individual or communal and take place in public or in private. It may involve the use of words or song. When language is used, prayer may take the form of...

 is possible insofar as it succeeds in correcting the distortion. This is not "intercessory" prayer, but recognition of the good believed to be already present behind the illusory appearance and gratitude for that good.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints


With claims of being the true and restored Church of Jesus Christ, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has had a long history of faith healings. Many members of the LDS Church have told their stories of healing within the LDS publication, the Ensign. The church believes healings come most often as a result of priesthood
Priesthood (LDS Church)
In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints , the priesthood is the power and authority to act in the name of God for the salvation of humankind...

 blessings given by the laying on of hands; however, prayer oftentimes accompanied with fasting is also thought to cause healings. Healing is always attributed to be God's power. Latter-day Saints believe that the Priesthood of God, held by prophets (such as Moses) and worthy disciples of the Savior, was restored via heavenly messengers to the first prophet of this dispensation, Joseph Smith.

According to LDS doctrine, even though members may have the restored priesthood authority to heal in the name of Jesus Christ, all efforts should be made to seek the appropriate medical help. Brigham Young
Brigham Young
Brigham Young was an American leader in the Latter Day Saint movement and a settler of the Western United States. He was the President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from 1847 until his death in 1877, he founded Salt Lake City, and he served as the first governor of the Utah...

 stated this effectively, while also noting that the ultimate outcome is still dependent on the will of God.
Most LDS members believe that healing is one of the signs of the true church of Christ, as Christ told his disciples to heal the sick as one of their duties(Matt 10:8 KJV); however, they also believe that healing is not just restricted to the true church. It is believed that faith in Jesus Christ is the most important thing in a faith healing; however, it is also believed that even the devil has some ability to heal and work other miracles (Matt 7:21-23 KJV, Rev. 16:14 KJV).

Spiritualism


Spiritualism
Spiritualism
Spiritualism is a belief system or religion, postulating the belief that spirits of the dead residing in the spirit world have both the ability and the inclination to communicate with the living...

 is a system of belief which holds as a tenet the belief that contact is possible between the living and the spirits of the dead. For this reason, death, as an outcome of disease, may not seem as frightening to Spiritualists as it does to those who practice other religions. According to the 20th-century Spiritualist author Lloyd Kenyon Jones
Lloyd Kenyon Jones
Lloyd Kenyon Jones was a newspaper journalist, lecturer, and author who was raised in Wisconsin and became associated with the religion of Spiritualism during the early 20th century....

, "This does not mean that sickness is unreal. It is real enough from the mortal viewpoint. The spirit feels the pain, senses the discomfiture of the flesh-body, even though the spirit is not ill." Spiritualism does not promote "mental" cures of the type advocated by New Thought; however, help from the "spirit world" (including advice given by the spirits of deceased physicians) is sought and may be seen as central to the healing process. As with practitioners of New Thought, Spiritualists may combine faith healing with conventional medical therapies. As Jones explained it, "We are not taught to put the burden on our minds. We do not 'will away' illness. But – we do not fear illness. [...] When we ask the spirit-world to relieve us of a bodily ill, we have gone as far as our own understanding and diligence permit. [...] We have faith, and confidence, and belief. [...] If medicine at times will assist, we take it – not as a habit, but as a little push over the hill. If we need medical attention, we secure it."

United States law


The 1974 Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act
Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act
The Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act provides federal funding to States in support of prevention, assessment, investigation, prosecution, and treatment activities and also provides grants to public agencies and nonprofit organizations for demonstration programs and projects...

 (CAPTA) required states to grant religious exemptions to child neglect
Child neglect
Child neglect is defined as:# "the failure of a person responsible for a child’s care and upbringing to safeguard the child’s emotional and physical health and general well-being"...

 and abuse
Child abuse
Child abuse is the physical, sexual, emotional mistreatment, or neglect of a child. In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Department of Children And Families define child maltreatment as any act or series of acts of commission or omission by a parent or...

 laws in order to receive federal money. The CAPTA amendments of 1996 state:
Thirty-one states have child-abuse religious exemptions. These are Alabama, Alaska, California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Virginia, and Wyoming.

Scientific investigations


While faith in the supernatural is not in itself usually considered to be the purview of science, claims of reproducible effects are nevertheless subject to scientific investigation.

A Cochrane review
Cochrane Collaboration
The Cochrane Collaboration is a group of over 28,000 volunteers in more than 100 countries who review the effects of health care interventions tested in biomedical randomized controlled trials. A few more recent reviews have also studied the results of non-randomized, observational studies...

 of intercessory prayer found conflicting evidence for claims of a positive effect, but there was a conclusion that "evidence presented so far is interesting enough to justify further study." A recent study not included in the review also found inconclusive results for the effect of intercessory prayer on the outcome of heart surgery. (See also Studies on intercessory prayer
Studies on intercessory prayer
Although religious beliefs are often untestable by the scientific method, some more specific claims can be tested in this manner. One such claim is that praying for somebody who is sick can have positive effects on their health.-Introduction:...

)

A group at Johns Hopkins published a study in 2011 reporting no significant effects on pain, mood, health perceptions, illness intrusiveness, or self-efficacy, but a small improvement in reported energy in a double-blind study to test the efficacy of spiritual exercise in chronically ill adults.

Criticism


According to the American Cancer Society
American Cancer Society
The American Cancer Society is the "nationwide community-based voluntary health organization" dedicated, in their own words, "to eliminating cancer as a major health problem by preventing cancer, saving lives, and diminishing suffering from cancer, through research, education, advocacy, and...

:
The American Medical Association
American Medical Association
The American Medical Association , founded in 1847 and incorporated in 1897, is the largest association of medical doctors and medical students in the United States.-Scope and operations:...

 considers that prayer as therapy should not be a medically reimbursable or deductible expense.

Skeptics of faith healing offer primarily two explanations for anecdotes of cures or improvements, relieving any need to appeal to the supernatural. The first is post hoc ergo propter hoc
Post hoc ergo propter hoc
Post hoc ergo propter hoc, Latin for "after this, therefore because of this," is a logical fallacy that states, "Since that event followed this one, that event must have been caused by this one." It is often shortened to simply post hoc and is also sometimes referred to as false cause,...

, meaning that a genuine improvement or spontaneous remission
Spontaneous remission
Spontaneous healing, also called spontaneous remission or spontaneous regression, means an unexpected improvement or cure from a disease which usually is taking a different course. Both terms are mainly used for unexpected transient or final improvements in cancer. Spontaneous remissions concern...

 may have been experienced coincidental with but independent from anything the faith healer or patient did or said. These patients would have improved just as well even had they done nothing. The second is the placebo
Placebo
A placebo is a simulated or otherwise medically ineffectual treatment for a disease or other medical condition intended to deceive the recipient...

 effect, through which a person may experience genuine pain relief and other symptomatic alleviation. In this case, the patient genuinely has been helped by the faith healer or faith-based remedy, not through any mysterious or numinous function, but by the power of their own belief that they would be healed. In both cases the patient may experience a real reduction in symptoms, though in neither case has anything miraculous or inexplicable occurred. Both cases, however, are strictly limited to the body's natural abilities.

There have been case studies of claims made. Following a Kathryn Kuhlman
Kathryn Kuhlman
Kathryn Johanna Kuhlman was an American faith healer and evangelist.-Early life:Kathryn Johanna Kuhlman was born in Concordia, Missouri, to German-American parents...

 1967 fellowship in Philadelphia, Dr. William A. Nolen
William A. Nolen
William A. Nolen, M.D. , was a retired surgeon and author who resided in Litchfield, Minnesota. He wrote a syndicated medical advice column that appeared in McCall's magazine for many years, and was the author of several books...

 conducted a case study of 23 people who claimed to have been cured during her services. Nolen's long-term follow-ups concluded there were no cures in those cases. Furthermore, "one woman who was said to have been cured of spinal cancer threw away her brace and ran across the stage at Kuhlman's command; her spine collapsed the next day, according to Nolen, and she died four months later." In 1976, Kuhlman died in Tulsa, Oklahoma
Tulsa, Oklahoma
Tulsa is the second-largest city in the state of Oklahoma and 46th-largest city in the United States. With a population of 391,906 as of the 2010 census, it is the principal municipality of the Tulsa Metropolitan Area, a region with 937,478 residents in the MSA and 988,454 in the CSA. Tulsa's...

, following open-heart surgery
Surgery
Surgery is an ancient medical specialty that uses operative manual and instrumental techniques on a patient to investigate and/or treat a pathological condition such as disease or injury, or to help improve bodily function or appearance.An act of performing surgery may be called a surgical...

.

There are also some cases of fraud (faking the condition) or ineffective healing (believing the condition has been healed immediately after the "healing" and later finding out it has not). These are discussed in following sections.

Negative impact on public health


Reliance on faith healing to the exclusion of other forms of treatment can have a public health impact when it reduces or eliminates access to modern medical techniques. This is evident in both higher mortality rates for children and in reduced life expectancy for adults. Critics have also made note of serious injury that has resulted from falsely labelled "healings", where patients erroneously consider themselves cured and cease or withdraw from treatment. For example, at least six people have died after faith healing by their church and being told they had been healed of HIV and could stop taking their medications. It is the stated position of the AMA that "prayer as therapy should not delay access to traditional medical care."

Christian theological criticism of faith healing


Christian theological criticism of faith healing broadly falls into two distinct levels of disagreement.

The first is widely termed the "open-but-cautious" view of the miraculous in the church today. This term is deliberately used by Robert L. Saucy
Robert L. Saucy
Robert L. Saucy is an American Biblical scholar and professor of systematic theology.-Biography:Saucy was born in Salem, Oregon, and educated at George Fox College and Westmont College , earning his A.B. in history. He went on to earn both his Th.M. and Th.D. in systematic theology at Dallas...

 in the book Are Miraculous Gifts for Today?. Don Carson
Don Carson
Donald Arthur Carson is a Canadian-born evangelical theologian and professor of New Testament.-Background and education:...

 is another example of a Christian teacher who has put forward what has been described as an "open-but-cautious" view. In dealing with the claims of Warfield
Benjamin Breckinridge Warfield
Benjamin Breckinridge Warfield was professor of theology at Princeton Seminary from 1887 to 1921. Some conservative Presbyterians consider him to be the last of the great Princeton theologians before the split in 1929 that formed Westminster Seminary and the Orthodox Presbyterian Church.-Early...

, particularly "Warfield's insistence that miracles ceased," Carson asserts, "But this argument stands up only if such miraculous gifts are theologically tied exclusively to a role of attestation; and that is demonstrably not so." However, while affirming that he does not expect healing to happen today, Carson is critical of aspects of the faith healing movement, "Another issue is that of immense abuses in healing practises.... The most common form of abuse is the view that since all illness is directly or indirectly attributable to the devil and his works, and since Christ by his cross has defeated the devil, and by his Spirit has given us the power to overcome him, healing is the inheritance right of all true Christians who call upon the Lord with genuine faith."

The second level of theological disagreement with Christian faith healing goes further. Commonly referred to as cessationism
Cessationism
In Christian theology, Cessationism is the view that the miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit, such as tongues, prophecy and healing, ceased being practiced early on in Church history. The opposite of Cessationism is Continuationism...

, its adherents either claim that faith healing will not happen today at all, or may happen today, but it would be unusual. Richard Gaffin
Richard Gaffin
Richard B. Gaffin, Jr. is a Calvinist theologian, Presbyterian minister, and Charles Krahe Professor of Biblical and Systematic Theology at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.-Biography:...

 argues for a form of cessationism in an essay alongside Saucy's in the book Are Miraculous Gifts for Today? In his book Perspectives on Pentecost Gaffin states of healing and related gifts that "the conclusion to be drawn is that as listed in 1 Corinthians 12(vv. 9f., 29f.) and encountered throughout the narrative in Acts, these gifts, particularly when exercised regularly by a given individual, are part of the foundational structure of the church... and so have passed out of the life of the church." Gaffin qualifies this, however, by saying "At the same time, however, the sovereign will and power of God today to heal the sick, particularly in response to prayer (see e.g. James 5:14,15), ought to be acknowledged and insisted on."

Fraud


Skeptics of faith healers point to fraudulent practices either in the healings themselves (such as plants in the audience with fake illnesses), or concurrent with the healing work supposedly taking place and claim that faith healing is a quack
Quackery
Quackery is a derogatory term used to describe the promotion of unproven or fraudulent medical practices. Random House Dictionary describes a "quack" as a "fraudulent or ignorant pretender to medical skill" or "a person who pretends, professionally or publicly, to have skill, knowledge, or...

 practice in which the "healers" use well known non-supernatural illusions to exploit credulous people in order to obtain their gratitude, confidence and money. James Randi
James Randi
James Randi is a Canadian-American stage magician and scientific skeptic best known as a challenger of paranormal claims and pseudoscience. Randi is the founder of the James Randi Educational Foundation...

's The Faith Healers
The Faith Healers
The Faith Healers is a 1987 book by magician and skeptic James Randi with a foreword by Carl Sagan, that documents Randi's exploration of the world of faith healing, and his exposing the sleight of hand trickery and deceit by its practitioners....

investigates Christian evangelists such as Peter Popoff
Peter Popoff
Peter Popoff is a German-born American faith healer and the president of Peter Popoff Ministries. He conducts revival meetings and has a national television program...

, who claimed to heal sick people and to give personal details about their lives, but was receiving radio transmissions from his wife, Elizabeth, who was off-stage reading information that she and her aides had gathered from earlier conversations with members of the audience. The book also questioned how faith healers use funds that were sent to them for specific purposes. Physicist Robert L. Park
Robert L. Park
Robert Lee Park , also known as Bob Park, is an emeritus professor of physics at the University of Maryland, College Park and a former Director of Public Information at the Washington office of the American Physical Society...

 and doctor and consumer advocate Stephen Barrett
Stephen Barrett
Stephen Joel Barrett is a retired American psychiatrist, author, co-founder of the National Council Against Health Fraud , and the webmaster of Quackwatch. He runs a number of websites dealing with quackery and health fraud. He focuses on consumer protection, medical ethics, and scientific...

 have called into question the ethicality of some exorbitant fees.

There have also been legal controversies. For example, in 1955 at a Jack Coe
Jack Coe
Jack Coe was one of the first faith healers with a touring tent ministry after the Second World War in the United States. Coe was ordained in the Assemblies of God in 1944, and began to preach while still serving in World War II. In the following twelve years, travelled the U.S. organizing tent...

 revival service in Miami, Florida
Miami, Florida
Miami is a city located on the Atlantic coast in southeastern Florida and the county seat of Miami-Dade County, the most populous county in Florida and the eighth-most populous county in the United States with a population of 2,500,625...

, Coe told the parents of a three year old boy that he healed their son who had polio. Coe then told the parents to remove the boy's leg braces. However, their son was not cured of polio and removing the braces left the boy in constant pain. As a result, Coe was arrested and charged on February 6, 1956 with practicing medicine without a license, a felony in the state of Florida. A Florida Justice of the Peace dismissed the case on grounds that Florida exempts divine healing from the law. Later that year Coe was diagnosed with bulbar polio, and died a few weeks later at Dallas' Parkland Hospital on December 17, 1956.

See also


  • Anointing of the Sick
    Anointing of the Sick
    Anointing of the Sick, known also by other names, is distinguished from other forms of religious anointing or "unction" in that it is intended, as its name indicates, for the benefit of a sick person...

  • Neil Beagley
  • Efficacy of prayer
    Efficacy of prayer
    Determining the efficacy of prayer has been attempted in various studies since Francis Galton first addressed it in 1872. Some studies have reported benefit, some have reported harm, and some have found no benefit from the act of praying. Others suggest that the topic is outside the realm of...

  • Folk medicine
    Folk medicine
    -Description:Refers to healing practices and ideas of body physiology and health preservation known to a limited segment of the population in a culture, transmitted informally as general knowledge, and practiced or applied by anyone in the culture having prior experience.All cultures and societies...

  • Followers of Christ Church
  • Gifts of healing
    Gifts of healing
    In Christian theology, the Gifts of healing are among the spiritual gifts listed in 1 Corinthians 12. As an extraordinary charism, gifts of healing are supernatural enablements given to a believer to minister various kinds of healing and restoration to individuals through the power of the Holy Spirit...

  • T.B. Joshua
    T.B. Joshua
    Temitope Balogun Joshua , commonly referred to as T. B. Joshua, is a Christian, minister, televangelist and faith healer...

  • Kara Neumann case
    Kara Neumann case
    The Kara Neumann case was an incident in which parents of a sick child refused to treat her with anything other than prayer, resulting in the child's death...

  • Nganga
    Nganga
    Nganga is a Bantu term for herbalist or spiritual healer in many African societies and also in many societies of the African diaspora such as those in Haiti, Brazil and Cuba....

  • Pseudoscience
    Pseudoscience
    Pseudoscience is a claim, belief, or practice which is presented as scientific, but which does not adhere to a valid scientific method, lacks supporting evidence or plausibility, cannot be reliably tested, or otherwise lacks scientific status...

  • Sangoma
    Sangoma
    A sangoma is a practitioner of herbal medicine, divination and counselling in traditional Nguni societies of Southern Africa .The philosophy is based on a belief in ancestral spirits...

  • Studies on intercessory prayer
    Studies on intercessory prayer
    Although religious beliefs are often untestable by the scientific method, some more specific claims can be tested in this manner. One such claim is that praying for somebody who is sick can have positive effects on their health.-Introduction:...

  • Therapeutic touch
    Therapeutic touch
    Therapeutic touch , also known as Non-Contact Therapeutic Touch , is an energy therapy which practitioners claim promotes healing and reduces pain and anxiety. Practitioners of therapeutic touch state that by placing their hands on, or near, a patient, they are able to detect and manipulate the...