Another Child Dies from Faith Healing

Anyone here remember this case? A 15-month old girl died from an infection that could have been easily treated with antibiotics because her family refused to get her medical treatment, instead relying upon the promises of healing made in the Bible with the blessings of their Followers of Christ church. Well, her 16-year old cousin and fellow member of the Followers of Christ congregation just died from a condition that could have been treated with a simple catheter. Another tragic example of what happens when you trust in the supernatural to deal with mundane issues, and a ready rebuttal to the people who drop by and ask "If religion is false, why do you get so worked up about it?" I know I often challenge people to put their money where their mouth is when it comes to their faith and to rely on God for their mundane needs, but please, don't ever take me up on that challenge.

27 comments:

M said...

There are mountains more where that comes from, unfortunately:

http://www.whatstheharm.net/

Evan said...

I eagerly await the "prayer works but not in that way" crowd to weigh in on this.

Jason said...

This is an old argument and one that's been discussed at great length already.

The vast majority of mainstream Christianity don't promote or practice the concept of withholding medical treatment so your argument, in this case, would be with the Followers of Christ church.

Evan said...

And with the texts that they use to justify the practice.

Where, in the Bible, does it say to take your children to the doctor Jason?

I can point to many places in the Bible where it says to pray to God and the sick will be healed ... so how do you argue Biblically against what they do?

lee said...

Jason said "This is an old argument and one that's been discussed at great length already.

The vast majority of mainstream Christianity don't promote or practice the concept of withholding medical treatment so your argument, in this case, would be with the Followers of Christ church."

Vast Majority? Copeland, Hagin, Hinn, Hickey, Ect. Ect. Ect......Assemblies of God, Church of God, United Pentecostal or Pentecostalism as a whole.

Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary 2006 said that no less than 38,000 denominations exist in the Christian faith. No one group or individual can speak on behalf of biblical orthodoxy. That IS the problem, each denomination; all 38,000 of them think that only they possess truth. Debating christians is like herding cats.

Jason said...

Lee,

I think you're getting faith healing confused with withholding medical treatment. For example, many Roman Catholics believe in faith healing but they don't instruct their members to avoid doctors or hospitals. Nor do the Assemblies of God, United Pentecostal or Pentecostal as a whole.

The point remains: The vast majority of mainstream Christianity don't promote or practice the concept of withholding medical treatment.

Anonymous said...

Shygetz exactly! We must pause for a moment to think about these two young people and all the life that was snuffed out from them because believers took God at his word. Have faith and you can move this mountain. God can do anything if you have faith.

The only reason why Jason thinks this is wrong is because he accepts modern medicine and has learned, with these other denominations, to soften what the Bible actually calls upon believers to do.

Jason said...

John,

Until you can show me where Scripture explicitly instructs believers to withhold medical treatment, I, and every other Christian who thinks the same, are perfectly entitled to believe what we do on the matter.

Anonymous said...

Jason, there is so much to say and so little space to say it.

1) Why didn't your God create humans with a stronger immune system so that we’d never have pandemics like the Black Plague which decimated whole populations of people?

2) Barring him doing that, why didn't your God tell us how to discover penicillin the day after he created us?

3) Believers like the ones mentioned in the OP are just like you in many respects. You distrust modern knowledge from scientists and prefer instead the claims of an ancient superstitious collection of writings called the Bible. To me that’s the same mentality. You just refuse to see it.

4) You seem to be correct that the Bible does not “explicitly” instruct believers to withhold medical treatment, as far as I know. But then we have the canon within the canon problem. Which verses do you place more weight on than others? Some talk about treatment, others talk about exorcism, and faith healings done by faith. The verses you place the most stress on are the ones you’ve learned to stress because medical knowledge has progressed, that’s all.

5) And I can reverse what you just said. Take this: “Until you can show me where Scripture explicitly instructs believers NOT to withhold medical treatment, I, and every other Christian who thinks the same, are perfectly entitled to believe what we do on the matter. You see, that’s what these believers are asking of you, and you know what. It’s not there either!

6) Can faith move mountains or not? Yes or no? Those believers we’re talking about here actually believe prayer can achieve such results. In fact, they think it pleases God to do so.

7) Besides, doesn’t your Bible also say God gave life so he can take it away? Then why not trust him to take it when the time is right? After all, when believers dies they go to heaven, and isn’t that much preferable to life in this world anyway?

That’s all for now.

lee said...

Jason: "Nor do the Assemblies of God, United Pentecostal or Pentecostal as a whole."

Your last three words, "as a whole," are huge. "As a whole" those three denominations are not consistent on any number of theological and doctrinal beliefs.

But I have been an AOG, and there are some in the denomination who believe that if you go to the doctor you are demonstrating your lack of faith. I had one friend who was killed in a tractor accident who left his family over $250,000. in debt because he believe it would be a lack of faith for him to own life insurance. He was not the exception to the rule.

Rotten Arsenal said...

John:"7) Besides, doesn’t your Bible also say God gave life so he can take it away? Then why not trust him to take it when the time is right? After all, when believers dies they go to heaven, and isn’t that much preferable to life in this world anyway?"

This has bewildered me for awhile. I look at my 92 year-old grandmother, who is practically an extension of the Baptist Church, who, despite being nearly deaf, having some alzheimer's, and generally complaining of numerous physical pains, does not seem to be all that eager to receive her reward. Her husband and eldest son (my father) are there and her qulaity of life is very poor. I'm not saying she should off herself, but why is she still here? Does she want to? Does her god not want her and would rather she stay here in suffering which in turn makes those around her suffer? I have to think that she's willing herself along to some extent at this point... but if so, why?

If heaven is everything you could ever want, why are so many people afraid of dying?

Even more, why are the christians so intent on keeping brain dead people alive through machines and drugs (SCIENCE!!!!) instead of letting them move on? If they can't survive without the science, then it would seem that god is ready for them.

Is there some nagging doubt in all of these faithheads that keeps saying "I'm fooling myself. There is no god. And when I die, that's it!"? Is that why they hang on so long, even when in terrible pain or a quality of life that just isn't worth it?

If God and Heaven are real... I'd have to say that these folks that let their kids die without getting medical treatment are probably the only ones doing the right thing.

Jason Long said...

In defense of the Bible, going to the doctor in those days - just to have them smear you with dung after breaking bird necks - was probably worse than doing nothing (i.e. praying). This is one example why the Bible cannot be a timeless declaration to the masses, but rather a collection of folklore for the Ancient Hebrews.

Manifesting Mini Me (MMM) said...

Shy, the problem of singling out a specific person or group to magnify their fallibility is that one misses the need for salvation in themselves and others. My past three relatives who passed away sought medical care and had their primary problems overlooked - they died prematurely - two due to medical negligence and one of medical malpractice - should I magnify an offense and wage a campaign against medical doctors?? No, not at all - it is enough that the physicians suffered the pain of coming to recognize their own error. Right now, as I write, a friend's mother, who had what is ordinarily considered a simple procedure, is in ICU following her 4th surgery to try and correct the original blunder and may be traveling onto heaven soon.

We all need grace for our fallibilities, whether it is in presumptuous and erroneous religious claims, prideful faith, or medical malpractice. There is grace for us to learn that God doesn't condemn us although we are pretty adept at magnifying one another's faults and lording our offenses over one another. At any rate, I believe that the Way we practice life and love and the values we shape in the here and now are what travel beyond the death of our physical bodies.

Thanks,
3M

Harry McCall said...

Here are Some Hard Cold Facts:

We know that, based on Jesus’ claims and promises in the Bible, he’s a damn liar.

Again, based on these same Biblical claims and promises of which Christians trust, he a murder too.

As such, any Christian who (on faith) trusts the claims and promises of this Jesus is a damn fool!

Trou said...

“Is there some nagging doubt in all of these faithheads that keeps saying "I'm fooling myself.”

This happened in my community so we are familiar with this group. I was listening to the radio today and a social worker said that in her experience with groups like this, when the courts orders an intervention in behalf of children of these groups, the parents always seem relieved to have the burden off their backs. They must not really believe it at some level. The peer pressure must be strong enough to withhold health care but court intervention gives them a way to say that they had their hands tied and could not do anything about it yet secretly they are glad to have been forced to let a doctor help their child.

“Nor do the Assemblies of God, United Pentecostal or Pentecostal as a whole.”

I was raised AoG and both my mother and grandfather died from refusing timely medical care and treatment, both from easily treatable maladies. When my sister was young she had a severe stomach ache and the only treatment was prayer. She recovered so it must have been nothing serious but it could have been appendicitis and the delay could have been deadly. My father encouraged others to pray only but he would always go to the doctor which saved his life twice. I would say he was smart to do so but I have resentment with him because he was willing to let others die while encouraging them to keep praying.

Manifesting Mini Me (MMM) said...

Harry, according to you I am a damn fool - I'm glad that you are not God! Whew! I would be in hell for sure!

At any rate, Jesus didn't place a priority on regenerating our physical bodies, but instead, invited us to focus on maturing and demonstrating faithful and compassionate love.

Seeking a faith healing under compulsion, peer pressure or presumption is not the same thing as confessing one's lack of faith for the healing or, conversely, expressing healing out of inspired compassion.

Take care,
The damnable fool,
3M

sconnor said...

Delusional Jason, the Tom Cruise of the Christadelphian cult, said, Until you can show me where Scripture explicitly instructs believers to withhold medical treatment, I, and every other Christian who thinks the same...blah, blah, blah.

Here you go Jason.

In 2Ch. 16:12 god doth get pissithed, when Asa wants to use doctors instead of having faith in the lord.

2Ch. 16:10-13 Then Asa was angry with the seer and put him in prison *, for he was enraged at him for this. And Asa oppressed some of the people at the same time... In the thirty-ninth * year of his reign Asa became diseased in his feet. His disease was severe, yet even in his disease he did not seek the LORD, but the physicians. So Asa slept with his fathers, having died in the forty-first year of his reign .

At Blueletterbible.org, Matthew Henry gives his commentary from 2 chronicles 16:12

III. His sickness. Two years before he died he was diseased in his feet (v. 12), afflicted with the gout in a high degree. He had put the prophet in the stocks, and now God put him in the stocks; so his punishment answered his sin. His disease was exceedingly great; it came to the height (so some); it flew up to his head (so others), and then it was mortal. This was his affliction; but his sin was that in his disease, instead of seeking to the Lord for relief, he sought to the physicians.

And then we have good, old, James and how faith is beneficial. James is very clear that you should call for your pastors and clergy members, when you are sick, in lieu of any doctors.

James 5:14-15 Is anyone among you sick ? he must call for the elders of the church and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him.

They will put oil on that person in the name of the Lord. This is a request for God to act, because he is the source of all healing. They put oil into injuries to clean them and to aid healing. Oil is a sign of healing. The cure is not by means of the oil but by the power of the Lord. Those who pray with the sick person must believe. They must believe that God will answer their prayers. They must be confident that God will heal. It is the prayer with faith that God uses. It is prayer, not the oil, that leads to the healing of the sick person. In answer to the prayer, God will make the sick person well again.

Jesus also exclaims that faith is what makes the woman who was bleeding for twelve years all better in Matt 9:22, Mark 5:34 and Luke 8: 48 And He said to her, "Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace."

And Psalms reassures us who does all the healing.

Psalms 103:3 Who pardons all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases;

These are the verses that are used to justify faith healing, instead of a physicians help, by some of your more ignorant Christians. I know "more" ignorant is redundant, but entirely true. You either have an ignorant Christian or a more, ignorant Christian.

Can you show me explicitly, in scripture, you should not rely on faith to be healed and instead seek the best doctors?

--S.

Harry McCall said...

3m: “Harry, according to you I am a damn fool - I'm glad that you are not God! Whew! I would be in hell for sure!”

3m, a fool equals being stupid. I NEVER sad you would go to Hell. Only your loving Jesus is that sadistic.

Anyway, since liars and murders go to Hell (according to Paul), Jesus ended up there too after his death before God had piety on him.

3m, you can use most any famous figure from another religion and come out one hell of a lot better than with Jesus.

Remember, with Y’shua, you just can not be S’ure!

Aquaria said...

Most rational adults would consider it foolish to seriously believe in make-believe characters like Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny, or that one had an imaginary friend. Delusional would apply, too. We put people in mental homes for such thinking, unless they believe in the pretend imaginary friend known as God/Jesus.

Manifesting Mini Me (MMM) said...

Harry wrote: "Remember, with Y’shua, you just can not be S’ure!"

Well, to some extent, I agree in this way - that idolotry can and does infect religious practices. But in fact, Jesus/Y'shua/God/etc. heals fear and insecurity so that we can be assured that we, as individuals, and mankind on a wholesale basis, is worth loving.

Although Jesus never gave justification for one man's offense over another, people use their offenses to claim their own righteousness and justify castigating and hating others.

Trou wrote: "he was willing to let others die while encouraging them to keep praying." Double standards are hurtful to witness and be subject to - a pretty serious subject -one I've had to confront in my own life.

Thanks,
3M

Shygetz said...

mmm said: My past three relatives who passed away sought medical care and had their primary problems overlooked - they died prematurely - two due to medical negligence and one of medical malpractice - should I magnify an offense and wage a campaign against medical doctors?? No, not at all - it is enough that the physicians suffered the pain of coming to recognize their own error.

Apples and hand grenades, my friend. Was this the first time your relatives sought medical care? The second? The fifth? What, over each of their lifetimes, would you say the success/failure rate of medical care was (and don't bother estimating the number of diseases they would have caught had modern medicine not come up with vaccines). I'll give you a hint; the average American has gained about half a century of living due to advances in science.

If we go back to Medieval Britain (where faith was strong, but science not so much) average life expectancy was 20-30. Modern medicine and sanitation had not come around yet, but Yeshua was at the height of His popularity. Where was your God's miraculous healing? Now, in modern Britain where faith is weak and rapidly vanishing and science is strong, average life expectancy is about 78, and we routinely bring people back from the brink of death and cure/prevent previously debilitating and deadly diseases with a simple shot or a few pills.

Now, this analysis takes no faith and very little statistics--life expectancy inversely correlates with faith, indicating that faith cannot be a strong indicator of life expectancy. Life expectancy correlates strongly with advances in medical technology.

At any rate, Jesus didn't place a priority on regenerating our physical bodies, but instead, invited us to focus on maturing and demonstrating faithful and compassionate love.

You're absolutely right...read the Gospels and Acts and you will see that Jesus never spends time healing the physical bodies of people. Why, that's unheard of in the Bible!

Oh, wait, that doesn't sound right...

We all need grace for our fallibilities, whether it is in presumptuous and erroneous religious claims, prideful faith, or medical malpractice.

James 5:14-15 "Is any sick among you? Let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him."

Just one example of many. And tell me exactly how the promises of healing in the Bible are presumptuous or erroneous? These people's error was in taking the Bible at its word on something that really matters. Turns out, that's a mortal sin.

Shygetz said...

mmm also said: Double standards are hurtful to witness and be subject to - a pretty serious subject -one I've had to confront in my own life.

Let me get this straight, mmm...your primary problem with trou's father's behavior is NOT that he advocated faith healing as an alternative to medicine, but that he was hypocritical in doing so?

Manifesting Mini Me (MMM) said...

Shy, my parents and aunt were extremely healthy and only went to doctors for routine medical checkups until the time of their demise. It isn't that they were biased against doctors, but they just proactively sought to be healthy.

About faith healing: So how do you explain, (scripturally) the cases in which not all were healed? Please explain, okay? Granted, spiritual healing would be the ultimate pursuit, but it is a pursuit, with the process and time for maturation and grace that goes along with it. Faith is not an "instant compliance with a set demand" - it is a growth process towards trust. There are the words in scripture and then there is the overall process - Grace is not about all or nothing, black or white - it's about the time needed to form and shape conviction , whether it be from a foundation of fear or a foundation of faith.

I don't attack those who pursue medical intervention any more than I would someone who seeks spiritual healing. We have the liberty to express what is important to us - as far as imposing an ideology on another who does not yet have a personal say, that is a position of great responsibility and accountability.

As far as your last comment -did you ever consider that faith and hypocrisy are diametrically opposed positions? Light and darkness have no relationship, Shy. So no, my problem is not that one is hypocritical about their faith - it is that they cannot be practiced in tandem.

Thanks!3M

Bruce said...

Luke was a doctor. Do we suppose he only treated non-believers (because believers only had to pray to be healed?). Seems unlikely.

Even Jesus said "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.". Doesn't this implicitly condone using doctors?

Paul gave medical advice to Timothy, "Stop drinking only water, and use a little wine because of your stomach and your frequent illnesses." (1 Timothy 5:23).

My reading of 2 Chronicles 16:12 is that Asa sinned by not seeking God's help - not because he saw a doctor. It is possible to do both.

As a Christian I'm happy to accept the benefits of medical knowledge. I'm also aware though that doctors only help facilitate healing - they can't actually do it themselves. The actual healing is up to God, or up to the ability of the body to heal itself (a capability given by God). In my view of course.

Drow Ranger said...

This reminds me of the joke where the guy's sitting on his roof, waiting for rescue from an overflowing river. A boat comes by, and the guy refuses to get in the boat, saying "God will save me". Another boat comes along and he says the same thing, choosing to stay on the roof. Finally a helicopter comes, and guy still says, "God will save me." Copter goes away, guy drowns. Guy's in heaven, saying to God "Why didn't you save me?" God says, "What are you talking about? I sent you two boats and a helicopter!"

Shygetz said...

bruce: As a Christian I'm happy to accept the benefits of medical knowledge. I'm also aware though that doctors only help facilitate healing - they can't actually do it themselves. The actual healing is up to God, or up to the ability of the body to heal itself (a capability given by God). In my view of course.

Let's test this. Let's take a man with sepsis who has faith and give him antibiotics. Then take a man with sepsis who has no faith and give him antibiotics. Then, we can take a man with sepsis who has faith and NOT give him antibiotics, letting him rely upon "God, or up to the ability of the body to heal itself".

Oh wait, history has done this experiment. The results show that the antibiotics are sufficient to cure cases of advanced sepsis; no God required. It works on animals, too, which have no personal relationship with God. Heck, I can just kill the germs even if they are not making a host sick...is God doing that too? At what point in your depersonalization of God do you and Spinoza collide, and God becomes defined as "the universe, no supernaturalism required"?

Or, if you don't want to read my blathering, my point in comic form.

mmm: Shy, my parents and aunt were extremely healthy and only went to doctors for routine medical checkups until the time of their demise.

Really? No sinus infections? No strep? No broken bones, eye infections, cavities, pneumonia, bronchitis, ear infections, burns, asthma, sprains, dislocations, hernias, tonsilitis, appendix ruptures, food poisoning, or the dreaded gum disease gingivitis? Did they take over the counter medication for anything, especially topical antibiotics like neosporin? I have never, in my entire life, met anyone who lived past the age of five who never went to the doctor for anything but well-checks. Were your relatives really that fortunate?

Or is it that you, like most people, don't consider these to be pressing medical issues so they never occurred to you to include in your relatives' medical history? Because let me assure you, they used to be VERY serious medical issues, in a time not so long ago when faith in your God was much more prevelant but science was not. A few hundred years ago, a simple eye infection often led to blindness, a simple sinus infection could lead to sepsis, and appendicitis was a death sentence, but God was everywhere.

As far as your last comment -did you ever consider that faith and hypocrisy are diametrically opposed positions? Light and darkness have no relationship, Shy. So no, my problem is not that one is hypocritical about their faith - it is that they cannot be practiced in tandem.

You missed my point entirely--you were not shocked and dismayed that this person was counseling people to not get medical attention for serious problems, thereby putting their health at risk. You were shocked and dismayed that he was hypocritical about it, which indicates that he had little faith himself. As a humanist, I find your priorities absolutely appalling-he's counseling people (perhaps to their deaths) and you are concerned with how his religious practices reveal little faith.

About faith healing: So how do you explain, (scripturally) the cases in which not all were healed? Please explain, okay?

Oh, that's easy--it's fiction (albeit perhaps unintentional fiction, like folk tales), and people who clamor for absolute consistency in fiction as opposed to powerful storytelling are like the annoying Trekkies who whinge about continuity errors. If you don't like my explanation, I encourage you to make your own known; you are the one who puts stock in these writings, not me.

I don't attack those who pursue medical intervention any more than I would someone who seeks spiritual healing. We have the liberty to express what is important to us - as far as imposing an ideology on another who does not yet have a personal say, that is a position of great responsibility and accountability.

I have no moral issue with adults who want to pursue faith "healing"; they are adults, and are capable of killing themselves in whatever manner they choose. However, when methods that have been proven to NOT WORK are inflicted upon minors who have easily treated diseases, then I am not satisfied to sit back and solemnly mumble about it being a "position of great responsibility and accountability." These parents should have their children taken from them and should be placed in jail. Then they can fire their lawyers and pray for God to set them free. Unfortunately, in this case that will not happen. For some reason, the state thinks that while 16 years old is too young to drink or vote, it's old enough to refuse a goddam catheter because Jesus wouldn't like it.

Faith is not an "instant compliance with a set demand" - it is a growth process towards trust. There are the words in scripture and then there is the overall process - Grace is not about all or nothing, black or white - it's about the time needed to form and shape conviction , whether it be from a foundation of fear or a foundation of faith.


Jesus healed people he had just met. He healed people who just crawled up to him and touched his garment. And he promised healing to all who believed in him. Was he lying? Or did he just misspeak, and meant to say "Oh, these people here are exceptions. The rest of you have to view faith healing as a process, which should only be practiced in conjunction with, you know, real healing"? Or, is it fiction, and you are struggling to reconcile reality with the clearly false promises made in the Bible so as not to overload your personal limit of cognitive dissonance?

bruce: Luke was a doctor. Do we suppose he only treated non-believers (because believers only had to pray to be healed?). Seems unlikely.

The whole Bible story seems unlikely (to put it mildly), but that has never stopped any of you before. So show me scriptural evidence that Luke practiced medicine on believers. I have already shown you scriptural evidence that claims true believers would have no use for his services.

Even Jesus said "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.". Doesn't this implicitly condone using doctors?

No, unless you argue that I Thessalonians implicitly condones nighttime theivery.

Paul gave medical advice to Timothy, "Stop drinking only water, and use a little wine because of your stomach and your frequent illnesses." (1 Timothy 5:23).

And how do you square that with Jesus' teachings? Was Paul just unaware of them, seeing how the Gospels had not yet been written so Paul didn't know about Jesus' promises? Or was Jesus speaking in some Gnostic code, and he wasn't REALLY promising healing?

drow ranger, the real punchline of your joke is that the only role God played was in keeping that man on the house; his rescuers were all just concerned people trying to help out their fellow man. I love it when religionists tell that joke like it helps their cause, when it really makes the point we've been talking about here at DC all along.

Manifesting Mini Me (MMM) said...

Shy wrote:: "Jesus healed people he had just met. He healed people who just crawled up to him and touched his garment. And he promised healing to all who believed in him. Was he lying? Or did he just misspeak, and meant to say "Oh, these people here are exceptions. The rest of you have to view faith healing as a process, which should only be practiced in conjunction with, you know, real healing"? Or, is it fiction, and you are struggling to reconcile reality with the clearly false promises made in the Bible so as not to overload your personal limit of cognitive dissonance?"

Look, grace is the foundation for faith -compassion. It is a growth process- a Way, a practice. Instant gratification and arrogance and presumption - God doesn't enable these attitudes - why would He?. For myself, I know of the inner, spiritual healing that God is bringing about to remove presumption and arrogance in me- sin is suffering-it is the punishment - God saves people from condemnation.

"You missed my point entirely--you were not shocked and dismayed that this person was counseling people to not get medical attention for serious problems, thereby putting their health at risk."

Of course I missed your point! I don't cooperate with lose/lose patterns anymore! :-) Some people chose to insist on misinterpreting and taking offense because their intentions aren't to extend mercy or gain understanding, but instead to express punishment and condemnation-that wouldn't be you,would it? I hope not!

BTW, my family didn't go to the doctor for colds,etc. My mom practiced holistic health before it was called such - sorry to disappoint! Why would this incite cynicism? I'm wondering.

Thanks!
3M