Editorial: Discerning the Healing Spirits

A pastor went to a massage therapist for back treatment. Once on the masseuse's table he noticed crystals used by New Age channelers on the floor. What was he to do? Tell the therapist to remove the crystals? Rebuke the therapist? Get up and leave?

At first this pastor was fearful of subjecting himself to spiritual forces. Then he remembered that in Christ "all things in heaven and on earth were created … whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers—all things have been created through him and for him" (Col. 1:16, NRSV). This pastor decided the "all things" included these crystals. So he prayed that Christ would exercise his lordship over them and any evil spirits in the room.

Illness makes people receptive to all kinds of nostrums and remedies, particularly chronic health problems that don't yield easily to conventional treatment. A whole industry is emerging that provides alternative medical treatments, including acupuncture, biofeedback, homeopathy, massage therapy, and therapeutic touch (TT; see "Winding Paths Meet," p. 16). A third of all Americans have tried some form of alternative medicine or therapy.

Even health-insurance companies are starting to see the benefit of alternative forms of treatment. Alternative medicine tends to treat people holistically, inviting the patients to participate in their healing. There is not always a pill or injection for everything that ails us. Sometimes lifestyle changes are needed, such as diet and stress management. The best approaches blend conventional and alternative medicines: conventional medicine for trauma or major illnesses, alternative treatments for chronic conditions such as pain, headaches, fatigue, or recurring back pains. Yet, as the pastor's experience ...

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Editorial: Discerning the Healing Spirits
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