Today’s guest blog is written by Kim Shippey, avid reader of books and articles on spirituality, and Boston-based writer and editor. You can also read his columns in the Christian Science Sentinel, a weekly print and online publication.
Note to readers: A complete review of this book will appear in the September 24 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel.
A recent book by Frederick Gaiser, Healing in the Bible (Baker Academic, paperback), opens up many of the areas discussed in these blogs, including the relationship between modern medicine and healing through one’s faith.
Gaiser is professor of Old Testament at Luther Seminary in Minnesota, where he has taught for more than 30 years. He offers expositions of nine texts from the Old Testament and six from the New, as he strives to put into perspective the contemporary church’s understanding and exercise of healing, touching at one point on the work of Dr. Herbert Benson, a pioneer in mind/body medicine at Harvard Medical School.
Not for one moment does Gaiser discount the role played by physicians in daily life, but having traveled and taught in Southern and East Africa, he has come to appreciate that Western medicine has no monopoly on truth.
He writes: “Healing . . . is God’s surprising gift to all people everywhere.” He says that this is the broader context in which we must understand biblical healing, which is vitally alive among 21st century Christians.
Those who study Christian Science need no persuading of this, especially in the light of founder Mary Baker Eddy’s conviction that the healing Science she revealed has “lost none of its divine and healing efficacy, even though centuries [have] passed away since Jesus practised these rules on the hills of Judæa and in the valleys of Galilee” (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 147).
I know someone who taught in a nursing program at the University of Virginia Medical Center, and was a key figure in women’s studies in a mainline Christian church. She found out about spiritual healing through a relative who practiced Christian Science, and it was a fairly easy transition for her because she already had a firm understanding of the role played by spiritual healing in the Bible.
“Fear is a huge underlying factor in many illnesses,” she continued, “and I found that my study of Christian Science was helping me to understand God’s absolute power and enveloping love which consistently removed the element of fear.”
She also said she agreed wholeheartedly with one of Gaiser’s main conclusions: “God heals people of every culture and every faith, and people without faith, through the normal avenues of physical, emotional, and spiritual care, and the people of God gladly point to this as God’s work.”
How good it is that this “surprising gift” of health and healing is so available, especially in today’s climate of healthcare choices.