A Pennsylvania couple was jailed after another of their children died from lack of medical treatment.
Herbert and Catherine Schaible were jailed after their 8-month-old son, Brandon, died from diarrhea and breathing problems. The Schaibels refused to seek medical treatment for their son. Another son died in 2009 after contracting pneumonia–again without receiving medical intervention. The Schaibles were convicted of involuntary manslaughter in that case and placed on ten years probation. See full USA Today article here.
The Schaibles belong to the First Century Gospel Church near Philadelphia. Members of this church are taught to believe that it is a sin to seek medical treatment. A sermon from the church said: “It is a definite sin to trust in medical help and pills; and it is real faith to trust on the Name of Jesus for healing.”
That is a bald-faced lie.
It simply isn’t true. And it is spiritually abusive. Yet folks continue to believe such distorted teaching. I have written more extensively about faith healing here.
In short, what these groups believe is a simplistic misinterpretation of scripture. While the Bible does talk about praying for healing (James 5:13-16), it never says that every prayer for healing will be answered, nor that great faith will guarantee healing, nor that medical treatment is sin. Indeed, one of the Gospel writers was a physician (Luke), and the Apostle Paul prescribed medical treatment for Timothy.
Let’s continue to educate ourselves and others about what the Bible actually says about faith healing: trust in God, yes, but also see a doctor. Maybe the miracle you’re asking for is disguised within modern medicine.
Update, 2/20/14: The Schaibles were just convicted of third-degree murder and sentenced to prison time and probation. “Philadelphia Common Pleas Judge Benjamin Lerner told the couple that it was not their son’s time to die. ‘You killed two of your children … not God, not your church, not your religious devotion — you,’ the AP reported.” Here’s the link to the HuffPost article.
The Death of Faith
Faith Healing? Trust in God, but See a Doctor
Wisconsin Faith-Healing Case May Set Precedent
My father years ago told me stories of his aunt and his cousin who were christian scientist with both of them dying absolutely riddled with cancer. It seems like such a small, or at least limiting, view of God to think that the only way that He will work is through miraculous healing. It seems to me that if that was the case then the ministry of Jesus on earth wouldn’t have been such a big deal since “God’s people” would have been healed through their faith all along. Even if it is a purely spiritual and miraculous box, if you hold this belief you are still putting God in a box.
I couldn’t agree more.
I believe in the power of prayer – collective good energy, the laying on of hands, therapeutic qualities of human touch – as one modality (among many others) that can promote healing. When the recipient believes, the human brain responds biologically. Neurons fire, endocrine responses are triggered, pathways open up, blood flow is increased. We’re built this way. It’s not a manifestation of a “miracle” that this happens. It’s not ‘Divine Intervention’. It’s human.
When churches and individuals that consider themselves more holy and blessed, more obedient to ‘God’s Will’, superior in the practice of religion, do this to manifest a miracle, they are requesting a sign from God and validation of nobility. God’s stamp of approval. An endorsement of their “faith” and the practice of it. Asking God for a favor and confirmation that they are special and righteous. Expecting God to throw a thunderbolt for them. A reward.
I see this as arrogant and foolish. Divisive. Selfish. And the ultimate lack of confidence in their own faith and security in spirituality.
→ Needing a “shout-out” from God means you are not sure that you are doing the right thing.
I think that this might be placing God into the opposite box. While I would agree that there are many churches out there that improperly place healing and miracles at the center of their experience; I would be hesitant to flat out deny the possibility of the miraculous. God obviously has built into the natural order things that can impart healing, but I think we are making the opposite error of the people above when we try to pin everything down to the natural world as God has created it.
I agree that the motivations that you speak of in the second half of your post are terrible, but I don’t think that it would preclude the possibility of miraculous healing.
Observing that there’s an organic natural human mechanism and response to faith-healing rituals isn’t to say that there isn’t miracles or denying the possibility.
There’s no genuine conflict inherent between science and spirituality. No need for throwing out one at the expense of the other. Most scientists ‘believe in” the miraculous, because it’s evident and they can observe it. There are many things that science method doesn’t explain – the science community is the first to acknowledge that.
“When churches and individuals that consider themselves more holy and blessed, more obedient to ‘God’s Will’, superior in the practice of religion, do this to manifest a miracle, they are requesting a sign from God and validation of nobility. God’s stamp of approval. An endorsement of their “faith” and the practice of it. Asking God for a favor and confirmation that they are special and righteous. Expecting God to throw a thunderbolt for them. A reward.
I see this as arrogant and foolish. Divisive. Selfish. And the ultimate lack of confidence in their own faith and security in spirituality.”
Yes, this is true in the sense of someone viewing God as a “genie in a bottle” giving in to the whims and fancies of a human. This type of notion is foolish and is not balanced, but extreme. God is so much more than that; He is a Creator with such precise and perfect balance. Plus, the miracles (even though I do believe in physical ones because there are countless examples of true healings of cancer and other ailments) I believe are the most prominent from God is the countless changed lives through the belief and faith through His Son Jesus Christ. Those who were drug addicts on their last trip in life who miraculously meet Jesus and completely change for the better WITHOUT any desire for a drug again; a Muslim cleric who is so immersed in radical terrorist activities and hate, gets a vision from the Lord Jesus, completely leaves and starts loving all of those around him. The miracle of nature and birth of a child. The miracles from God that have changed my own life are those that most people would not even look at as miracles- love, peace, patience, kindness, self-control. When I keep my eyes on Jesus and His love – THESE miracles occur. The biggest is Loving God and others besides myself- self sacrifice.
So yes I proudly proclaim that God does and is always performing miracles; most are too caught up in the realities of life to really notice them though.
Faith, I love your description of the everyday miracles of faith and sanctification which happen to followers of Jesus. Beautiful.
Prayers are answered. Miracles happen.
Real faith exists without a show of ‘proof’ from God.