Question

Faith Healing

What is the history of faith healing?

A Answers (1)

  • ADebra Fulghum Bruce PhD, Healthcare, answered
    The use of faith healing, or the laying-on of the hands to heal human illness dates back thousands of years in history. Evidence for its use in ancient Egypt is found in the Ebers Papyrus dated at around 1552 BC. This document describes the use of the laying-on of the hands for medical treatment. Centuries before the birth of Jesus Christ, the Greeks used therapeutic touch therapy in their Asklepian temples for healing the sick. The writings of Aristophanes define the use of the laying-on the hands in Athens to restore a blind man's sight.

    Faith healing may occur in relation not only to specially gifted persons, but also to specific places. Studies conducted by the medical office of the Catholic church have documented 36 "miracles" at Lourdes in which a person was cured of documented disease. Since 1800 a number of Protestant faith-healing groups have appeared, including that of John Alexander Dowie, the Emmanuel movement, and the Peculiar People (“chosen people”), a name applied to numerous Protestant dissenting sects such as the Plumstead peculiars. This group, founded in London in 1838 by John Banyard, refused medical treatment as an article of faith.

    There are a host of unorthodox religious groups in America—Seventh-Day Adventists, Christian Scientists, Mormons, Jehovah’s, and Pentecostals—who have all had a strong interest in faith healing, including using laying-on of hands and healing touch. Ellen Gould White (1827-1911) and Mary Baker Eddy (1821-1910) founded their religious group around healing experiences. Other women healers, including Maria B.Woodworth-Etter and Aimee Semple McPherson, were instrumental in forming groups of Pentecostals at the turn of the century.

    Based on healing experiences, Mary Caroline (“Myrtle”) Fillmore (1845-1931) founded the Unity Church. As a spiritualist, Fillmore and others communed with the departed by passing hands over the body to unblock vital fluid. These healers are the direct forerunners of New Age trance channeling. Kathryn Kuhlman is yet another faith healer who held miracle services from the early 1950s until her death in 1976. Kulhman had a strong following across the nation and even held her famous miracle healing services in Carnegie Hall for 20 years, filling the great auditorium to capacity every time.
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