Healing in the Name of God

by Ted Schwartz, Zondervan Publishing,
Grand Rapids, MI, 1993, 203 pages

The subject of miraculous healing is one that seems to always be one of extreme views. Atheists, of course, deny any kind of divine healing, and many religious writers take a similar view. On the other end of the spectrum, you have writers who seem to find incredible miracles taking place on a regular basis. In between, these extreme views, you have all kinds of qualified opinions trying to explain what is a valid miracle and what is not. This book is the closest thing to an objective approach on the subject we have seen, but there are some serious problems even with this effort. Schwartz makes a great summary statement in his introduction when he says, "I don't have trouble believing that God heals people. What troubles me deeply is the shape of contemporary faith healing" (page 9).

The first part of this book focuses on those who claim to perform healings. The author points out biblical healings and then examines modern healers. Not only does Schwartz examine specific people like Oral Roberts and Ernest Angley, but he also contrasts "professional faith healing" with local ministers. This is mostly a good debunking exercise using the studies of people like James Randi and Dr. Joseph Barnhart. There is a whole chapter devoted to Friedrich Anton Mesmer and the Christian Science movement as well.

The rest of the book explores positive aspects of healing with some good material on healing the spirit as something different than physical healing. The role of faith and prayer are discussed and demonic influence is presented in a critical way. Touch healing and an interesting discussion of the history of healing and of medicine and religion's interaction with each other is also discussed.

The book ends with some useful approaches to the question and some ways of establishing credibility. The author is too accepting of some religious claims in this book and the concept of God's justice if one person is healed and another is not is only dealt with in a oblique way. In spite of these weaknesses, this is a useful book in a subject area that most of us struggle with from time to time.

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