Gifts Of Healing -- By: Edward M. Merrins

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 066:263 (Jul 1909)
Article: Gifts Of Healing
Author: Edward M. Merrins


Gifts Of Healing

Edward M. Merrins

Three or four years ago, a distinguished bishop of the Episcopal Church arraigned the Christian world for its lack of interest in the general uplifting of the great mass of our people, and urged that active steps be taken at once to cure their mental and physical as well as their moral ills. “What I should like to see,” said he, “is a greater understanding, a more active interest in the institutional church. I mean by that a church which provides for the social and physical welfare of its people with as much interest as it preaches at them from the Bible.” Conversely, it was being asserted in the secular press that, for the first time in the life of man upon the earth, the care and cure of the body had definitely taken precedence of the care and cure of the soul, and that much of the personal influence and mystical authority exercised formerly by the priest had passed over to the physician. Short as the time has been, a surprising change, traceable to a variety of causes, has since taken place. The soul is once more regarded as the dominant partner; and ministers, sighing for new worlds to conquer, are opening clinics in connection with their churches, where they under-

take to cure disease either by mental suggestion or moral persuasion, generally the former.

The treatment of disease by suggestion, of course, is nothing new, and it has long been employed in the service of religion. In the temples of the ancient world, elaborate systems of psychotherapy were practised which can hardly be equaled in our modern institutions. “Indeed, in the pilgrimage to the temples, the preparatory practices, the temple walks, the sacrifices with musical accompaniments, the prayers, the therapeutic conversations with the priests and, above all, the oracular dreams, we recognise a series of experiences so pregnant with psycho-therapeutic possibilities that we wonder whether some healers of today are not too simple, or too lackadaisical to make their work effective.”1

In the range of treatment and in the methods employed, the practitioners of psychotherapy differ somewhat from each other. Those in the Emmanuel movement confine themselves to nervous disorders certified by competent medical men to have no organic basis. Others use psychotherapy for the treatment of all disease, whether functional or organic, arguing that men have no right to limit the resources of Omnipotence, or that disease and all other forms of evil have no reality to a sound mind. The appeals and suggestions made to patients also differ, some being religious in character, others philosophical, or frankly secular. As the explanation w...

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