Guest / Limited Access /
What Christians Need to Know about Alternative Medicine

When Candy Gunther Brown interviewed Christians in the Pentecostal tradition for her 2012 book, Testing Prayer: Science and Healing, she made a surprising discovery. Many Christians who believed in the healing power of prayer were also using alternative medical practices such as homeopathic medicine, chiropractic medicine, acupuncture, and yoga—practices stemming from non-Christian traditions. In her new book, The Healing Gods: Complementary and Alternative Medicine in Christian America (Oxford University Press), Brown, a religion professor at Indiana University, explores the faith underpinnings of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) and the ways Christian America has appropriated it. CT reporter Ruth Moon spoke with Brown about why CAM appeals to some American Christians.

Why examine the religious underpinnings of CAM?

Some Christians, if they knew more about the religious connections of alternative medicine, wouldn't want to participate. Some people I interviewed started off as enthusiasts for different alternative medicines. But once they found out about the religious dimensions, they didn't want anything to do with it.

There's also evidence that practicing something connected with religion can actually change people's beliefs. Christians, in particular, tend to think a person's intent determines whether something is religious. They don't realize that active participation can actually change someone's intent. Over time, people who start off attracted to an alternative practice because there's a perceived health benefit start to embrace the religious ideas underneath these practices.

How are these practices different from Christian faith?

Many CAM practices share ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

From Issue:
Read These NextSee Our Latest
Also in this IssueIsrael's Arab Christians and Jews: Brothers in Arms?
Subscriber Access Only Israel's Arab Christians and Jews: Brothers in Arms?
A priest and a sea captain’s solution to saving Mideast Christianity: Join the Israeli military.
Recommended
How God Can Use Your Anxiety for Good
Good news for the many women facing an anxiety disorder.
TrendingBen-Hur
Ben-Hur
A new twist on the tale of the Christ.
Editor's PickThe Good (and Bad) News About Christian Higher Education
The Good (and Bad) News About Christian Higher Education
‘Christian colleges are as strong as they’ve been since the 1920s,’ says historian William Ringenberg. But there are challenges on the horizon.
%%var.bookTitle%%
The Healing Gods: Complementary and Alternative Medicine in Christian America
Oxford University Press
2013-08-29
336 pp., $31.95
Buy %%var.bookTitle%% from Amazon
Christianity Today
What Christians Need to Know about Alternative Medicine
hide thisNovember November

In the Magazine

November 2013

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.