A case can be made that human physicians do not have the ability to cure any of us. Instead, physicians diagnose ailiments [sic], cut (surgery), burn (radiation), recommend/prescribe/dispense drugs (including chemotherapies). At best, the drugs attack pathogens or stimulate our bodies’ own curative abilities. Physicians also offer advice, but none of what they do is inherently curative. Successful medical treatments, even via “alternative” medical approaches, rely on our bodies’ natural recuperative powers and/or on supernatural authority. The natural recuperative powers are provided by our Creator. The topic of the supernatural brings us back to our Creator, Who provides Divine healing.
That, in itself, is not a good enough reason to avoid doctors. But with all of the promises of divine healing in the Bible, it can seem that medical treatment is an unnecessary evil in a world that is already too dangerous for the unsuspecting Christian. As I’ve written before, I believed this way when I was in my teens and early twenties.
I know that I used to believe in divine healing, but I’d forgotten the lunacy of some of the teaching I’d heard — and believed — over the years. I’ve recently recalled a lot of interesting and ludicrous things that I once believed, with the help of tapes, books, mp3s, and YouTube.
The research I’ve been doing for my memoir is very different than what I’ve done for any of my previous knitting books. Instead of traveling and learning new things about history and cultures around the world, I am looking back into my own past and dredging up memories that have been buried for a long time. I’ve been reading my old Bibles to see what notes I’d put in the margins, and listening to tapes of sermons I heard in the 1980s.
I attended Kenneth Copeland’s East Coast Believer’s Convention with Ernie and Helene Catalano, the pastors of the church I was attending at the time. It was the first time I heard Norvel Hayes speak, and probably the spark that inspired me to attend New Life Bible School in Cleveland, Tennessee, the following year.
The tapes in this photo are recordings of Kenneth Copeland‘s East Coast Believer’s Convention from 1982 in Atlanta, Georgia. The Bible is the Kenneth Copeland Reference Bible. I found the Bible in my mother’s garage, and the tapes on eBay, although I did own a copy of these tapes in the 1980s.
Looking back, it’s amazing at the ridiculous things I believed in. Norvel, for example, preached that headaches were caused by little devils wrapping themselves around your head, that promiscuity was caused by the demon of lust getting inside of you, and that homosexuality could be cured by exorcism. I believed if you spoke to a disease you could cause it to die. I thought that the Bible was a supernatural book that gave me power over the physical universe. I thought I could “move mountains” with my words.
These types of beliefs caused a lot of pain and harm to the people around me in Tennessee and it’s so sad to see that this garbage is still being preached today. How did I get from diving head first into this doctrine to seeing it for the bogus fantasy that it is? Well, that’s the story I’m telling in my book, and I keep remembering more twists and turns in my own mental development. So you’ll have to wait to read it and find out!
I’ll tell you one secret, I don’t think most of the people involved in this kind of teaching are hypocrites. Some of the preachers — especially the televangelists and mega church pastors — may just be in it for the money. But virtually all of the people I knew well, including preachers and pastors, really believed what they were preaching. They were sincere and loving people who were trying to do good and help people. But they had been deceived into believing nonsense by their own desire to make a difference in the world. It’s very sad.
So, what’s the point of this post? I guess it’s just that we should never write off people because they believe in stupid things. That doesn’t mean they are stupid people, and even the most fanatical or devout believer can be influenced by seeds of doubt and reason that are planted in their minds. The results may not be instant or even as extreme as we like, the person may never become and atheist or a skeptic, but if we can influence just one person to think for themselves a bit more, if we can help one person to escape from fundamentalism and fantasy, then it’s all worthwhile. If I could change my mind and escape the delusional walls I built around myself, I believe that anyone can.