It's absolutely no secret that I, of late, have taken a deep dive into what many would consider to be “woo-woo” forms of healing and enhancing the human body and brain, including the use of modalities such as acupuncture, biofeedback, yoga, homeopathic medicine, chiropractic medicine, energy medicine, acupuncture, ayurvedic “energy points” and traditional Chinese medicine…
…along with a developed growing interest in the concept of chi, Prana, chakra and life force.
Before the 1960s, most of these practices such as sound healing, yoga, chiropractic, acupuncture, Reiki, therapeutic touch, meditation, martial arts, homeopathy, alternative anticancer diets, etc. were dismissed as medically and religiously questionable. But now that these once-suspect health practices have gained approval and been re-categorized as somewhat non-religious and instead of falling under the auspices of healthcare, fitness, or scientific modalities, they seem to have gained a great deal of cultural legitimacy because people interpret them as science instead of religion. Therapies such as acupuncture, biofeedback, and “Therapeutic Touch” (the laying on of hands to channel “Universal Life Energy” to the patient) are increasingly accepted and utilized by physicians, hospitals, and clinics across the country. The use of meditation and visualization are commonly prescribed to reduce stress. Chiropractic, long considered anathema by orthodox medicine, has recently acquired a new respectability, and spinal adjustments are not infrequently combined with more exotic forms of “energy balancing.”
And yet I've certainly been called out many times about the fact that I am a professing Christian who – despite having a strong belief in the power of prayer and the ability of God to spontaneously work miracles and heal – also embraces many of these so-called unconventional therapies that stem from non-Christian traditions.
Recently, I was listening to a sermon by pastor Toby Sumpter, in which Toby describes the link between spiritual health and physical ailments. It was a really great message, especially considering that while listening, I was attending a medical conference where there was a lot of chat among some of the world's top physicians about energy medicine and it's growing relevance and efficacy. So in an attempt to frame for myself (and you) how energy medicine and alternative healing modalities can best be presented from a Christian standpoint, I invited Toby onto the podcast.
Toby is the Pastor of Preaching at Trinity Reformed Church in Moscow, Idaho. He has an M.A. in Theological Studies from Erskine Theological Seminary and a B.A. in Liberal Arts and Culture from New St. Andrews College. He's the author of Job: A Son for Glory and Blood-Bought World and the host of the “CrossPolitic” show. He and his wife Jenny have four kids.
During our discussion, you'll discover:
-How Christians have been appropriating other religious traditions for centuries (such as Easter, which used to be a fertility ritual; you have bunny rabbits and eggs so that you'll get more babies) and the difference between yoga and Christmas…[11:45]
-What Scripture has to say about things like aromatherapy and essential oils…[29:05]
-If denial of energy medicine is a form of “flat earth” Christianity…[35:30]
-The two most important questions you must ask yourself about any alternative health practice before you dive into them…[42:40]
-Whether transcendental meditation (and other forms of meditation) is a form of idol worship or a practice Christians shouldn't do…[44:05]
-Whether Jesus and the apostles were using some form of energy healing…[52:10]
-The amazing effects that prayer and positive emotions can have upon molecules and matter…[55:50]
-Why we need a case-by-case analysis of each therapy, rather than a blanket rejection, before accepting or rejecting them…[58:50]
-The idea that these forms of energy involved the breath of life that God breathed into man, and whether this vital energy needs to be manipulated in our bodies to promote health as the basis of energetic medicine is essentially a pantheistic view and cannot be conformed to biblical theology…[66:00]
-Whether invisible energy forces are the common denominator of creation is not scripturally heretical and it’s only offensive to our traditionally accepted worldview…[67:20]
-If Christians these days spend an unhealthy amount of time focusing on health and engaging in “health idolatry”…[68:40]
-And much more…
Resources from this episode:
-The specific podcast episode on healing/energy medicine that Toby and Ben discuss
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Do you have questions, thoughts or feedback for Toby or me? Leave your comments below and one of us will reply!