Is It Safe for You to Trust Your Health to the Holistic Health Practices of Today? – Program 8

By: Dr. Norman Shealy, Dr. Robert Leightman, Dr. Jane Gumprecht, Dr. Paul Reisser, Dr. John Weldon; ©1994
The panel fields questions from the audience on the basis behind holistic medicine, the science involved, and the relationship between the Bible and the philosophy behind holistic health practices

Questions from the Audience


Today on the John Ankerberg Show, four medical doctors and a Christian theologian will debate the question: Is it safe for people to trust their health to the new unconventional medical therapies? The New England Journal of Medicine reports that one-third of all American adults now seek out and use unconventional medical treatments and holistic health practices. By definition, an unconventional medical therapy is a practice that not in conformity with the standards of the scientific medical community. But if so, how can the public know which therapies are safe? Who has tested the principles upon which each holistic health practice claims it can cure illness? And what about harmful spiritual effects? Haven’t some holistic health treatments incorporated parts of occult belief and practice?

During this series, doctors representing all sides of these issues will discuss the individual holistic health practices by name, and express how they may impact your physical and spiritual well-being.

My guests are: Dr. Norman Shealy, the founder of the holistic health medical association in America. He is a neurosurgeon and former professor of medicine at Harvard university; Dr. Robert Leichtman, a medical doctor, who is also recognized as one of the premier psychics in America; Dr. Jane Gumprecht, a Christian doctor who has warned the public about many holistic health practices; Dr. Paul Reisser, also a Christian doctor, who has written extensively on the medical dangers of unconventional health methods; and finally, Christian theologian Dr. John Weldon, who did his Ph.D. work on the beliefs and practices of the eastern religions. We invite you to join us as we investigate the question: is it safe for you to trust your health to the holistic health practices of today?

Audience: Okay, my question: the AMA traditionally supports a widespread use of drugs in medical practice when it is known that more natural, safer substances can bring comparable results. Does any one of you here see this drug-oriented attitude as harmful, spiritually or otherwise?
Gumprecht: I’d like to just point out, number one, that natural products are not necessarily harmless. If you remember your table of elements in chemistry, everything in this world is an element, so natural products are chemicals also. H2O is water. That’s a chemical. And natural products can be very, very dangerous.
I’d also like to in response say that I went to medical school before we had scientific medicine. It was just coming in, in the 40’s. And I remember when children still had rickets; when I saw people die from diphtheria; when people had pernicious anemia which ends up in paralysis. And I could go down a list of about 20 different things that have been conquered, or even more than that, conquered by medical science, and I would challenge these two men to tell me one illness that has been cured by shamanism or going back to pre-1941 therapeutics which you advocate in your book, Dr. Shealy.
Shealy: Well, you’re misquoting me somewhat in that I certainly don’t believe that we should give up Vitamin B-12 injections for pernicious anemia and things of that sort. I am moderately significantly opposed to the use of tranquilizers. I think one of the great harms that has been unleashed in the last 40 years is the benzodiazepine drugs which help anxiety and create depression, for instance. I think those and narcotics are the most abused drugs in medicine today. And so there’s that part of the balance as well. I have always stated in everything that I write that you always do the traditional, acceptable, conventional medical therapy, if it’s appropriate.
Ankerberg: Jane, before we move on here and get our next question, you were at the University of Minnesota at a key point in history—I read in your book—when the polio epidemics went through the country. And that hit me because one of my best friends died of polio who was only 12 years old. Now, what I’d like to know is, there seems to be an application there. Would you tell us about that?
Gumprecht: This has to do with Sister Kenny. I don’t know if any of you remember Sister Kenny. If you’re as old as I am, you’d remember Sister Kenny. She was an Australian nurse who came over to the United States. She was sort of like a naturopath. And she came to the United States and she was absolutely convinced that polio was a muscle disease. While I was in medical school, she came to the University of Minnesota. She was a very impressive woman. And so she even convinced many MDs that it was a muscle disease. Well, I was going to school and I had seen the slides in pathology which showed that it is a disease of the spinal cord. And she even, for example, had some of us women, medical students, out to her home to try to sell us on the fact that it was a muscle disease. That’s when you put hot packs on; people were put into these big iron lung things to keep them alive if they got bulbar polio. Anyway, if scientific medicine hadn’t continued their research based on the fact that it was an injury to the spinal column due probably to a virus, we would still have hundreds of cases of polio because of people buying an intuitive diagnosis that Sister Kenny had made.
Shealy: That’s why I always say you have to do scientific evaluation of all of it.
Ankerberg: But you haven’t, though, have you?
Shealy: Well, I’ve certainly done enough analysis of the accuracy of the intuitive diagnosis with certain people to know that it works.
Gumprecht: But that’s based on for sure that your diagnoses were accurate.
Shealy: Well, it’s as good as any physician can be. If you can’t accept what medical science does as the basis upon which to make your diagnosis, then you can’t accept anything.
Reisser: Yeah, you know, this sort of ebb and flow comes up a lot. I even remember going to holistic meetings years ago where it seemed to be a very kind of a hostile, antagonistic relationship between the two. And I’m not hearing that from you, but I wonder if we had just been left without the Western scientific worldview and we were just left with shamans and….
Shealy: We’d be in serious trouble.
Reisser: We’d be in serious trouble. You acknowledge that readily.
Shealy: I don’t think there’s any question about that.
Gumprecht: Then why do you want to go back into shamanism?
Shealy: I don’t want to go back into shamanism.
Gumprecht: This is what you’re advocating when you use spirit guides.
Shealy: You’re misquoting me and I’m not advocating spirit guides. I don’t believe in it. I’ve said that before. I don’t talk to them. And, you know, you’re totally misquoting me.
Weldon: Dr. Shealy, doesn’t Ms. Myss use a spirit guide named “Genesis” and don’t you get diagnosis through Ms. Myss?
Shealy: Carolyn, most of the time, does not use anything except her own intuition.
Weldon: But how does she know that it’s her own intuition? For example, Dr. Leichtman, you have admitted several times you cannot distinguish when your own spirit guides are influencing you and giving you information from when you know that they are.
Shealy: How do you know when God is speaking to you?
Weldon: I know it from the Bible. I don’t hear voices.
Shealy: Well, many Christians…
Leichtman: I don’t hear voices either, but I use….
Weldon: But you don’t know when the spirits speak to you and when they don’t. And if that’s true…
Leichtman: I probably can.
Weldon: Well, but you don’t know for sure. You’ve admitted that publicly. And Dr. Shealy, how does Ms. Myss know whether or not the spirits are giving her information in her diagnosis and for an alternate purpose?
Shealy: Actually, when she does communicate with this entity called “Genesis,” she goes into a trance. So there’s a big difference in Carolyn between when she’s just talking to me and when she’s in trance.
Ankerberg: Let’s get another question here.
Audience: Dr. Weldon, what exactly do you see is contradictory to Scriptures regarding Dr. Shealy’s philosophy of holistic healing?
Weldon: The basic problem I would have is the pantheism, in terms of philosophy, the idea that man is part of God. And then in the practice, the spiritism which is clearly condemned in Scripture is dealing with the demonic.
Ankerberg: Question.
Audience: Okay, my question is to Dr. Norman. He says he’s a Christian, and I wonder what he attributes becoming a Christian to? I’m a Christian. I’ve totally committed my life to Jesus Christ. And I attribute mine to the Word of the Gospel in the Bible and I totally commit my life to that. And I can’t understand why men like him would circumvent the Word of God by publishing a book to show us there’s another way. I’d just love to know why you reached that attitude.
Shealy: I don’t think that all Christians share common philosophy. I think there’s as much controversy among the different divisions of Christianity as there is among scientists.
Ankerberg: I’m sure we all agree in Christianity there are slight differences, but how about on the Apostles Creed: Who God is; who Jesus Christ is; is there a heaven; is there a hell; how does a person come into a relationship with God? Those things have stood for 2,000 years now, and we haven’t disagreed on those.
Shealy: I think that’s rather minor compared to the big differences in the various divisions of Christianity. Those are basic, but what distinguishes a Baptist from an Episcopalian or a Methodist from a Presbyterian goes well beyond that frequently.
Gumprecht: I’d also submit that a lot of the cults, like, for example, that I was in, say that they are Christian. When I was in Unity School of Christianity, I thought I was a Christian. I was thoroughly convinced that I was a Christian. It wasn’t until I met Jesus Christ personally at the age of 39 and committed my life to Him that it all fell into place.
Ankerberg: What was the difference? I mean, how many years were you in that then?
Gumprecht: Well, I drifted out of the New Age Movement partly because of this episode of Sister Kenny when I realized that this type of intuitive reasoning was false.
Ankerberg: When you went through medical school did you have a conflict then with what you had as religious?
Gumprecht: No, I was sort of like Bernie Segal. I believed the scientific aspect of what I was learning, but I also felt being in Unity that I could influence people as a physician by presenting to them these alternate ways of healing through the mind.
Ankerberg: That brings up this question…I’ve got a quote here somewhere in the papers from Bernie Segal where he talks about when he had this altered state of consciousness and he got this great new worldview, he thought, “Well, should I change professions,” cause, I mean, it was really into it and still is. And he went to his spirit guide George and said, “What do you think?” And George says, “No, no, no. Stay in it because now as a doctor you can talk to all your patients.” And he had this new word, his wife coined the word for him, he said he can be the “clergery.” And as a doctor, he could still present religion. Now, I want to know, do you guys think that’s honest?
Shealy: Well, I think it’s as honest to present one’s spiritual views. And again, I distinguish routinely between religion and spirituality, because I think they’re very different things.
Ankerberg: But isn’t the worldview of, we’re all interconnected and the fact that the life-force flows through, isn’t that just basic Hinduism?
Shealy: I don’t think that’s at all basic Hinduism. I think that’s a basic pattern of Christianity.
Ankerberg: How would it differ with basic Hinduism, Norm?
Shealy: Well, I don’t know enough about Hinduism to state that. If you want to talk about Christianity….
Ankerberg: Weldon, you wrote a 7,000 page encyclopedia on the Far Eastern religions. What is basic Hinduism and does it match what we’re hearing?
Weldon: This is an awful lot of Hinduism. Hinduism teaches a pantheistic view that everything is God; that inwardly our true nature is divine; that we achieve spiritual enlightenment through certain specific techniques, yoga meditation. You say that yoga is essential for spiritual health in your book. This is a lot of Hinduism. And it’s diametrically opposed to the Gospel. And I think it’s also interesting—a point that I wanted to mention is that I have studied spiritism for over 20 years—I have yet to meet one single spirit, in terms of reading the book, that that thing has dictated that does not diametrically oppose the Bible and the teachings of Christ at every major point.
Ankerberg: Alright, we’ve got some tension here. Let me see if I can relieve it a little bit. What if Norm came back and said, “They might match up. I just don’t believe in a religion.” Understand? In other words, I might hold the same concepts, but I just don’t call it religion.
Weldon: I think it’s use of religion versus spirituality. Spirituality to him is what I would call the occult. I think religion to him is what I would call orthodox traditional Christianity that has been accepted for 2,000 years.
Shealy: Well, if spirituality, as I define it, means living a life which is in harmony with certain principles of forgiveness and tolerance and compassion and motivation to do right, faith, hope, charity and love, if that is occultism, I would be delighted to be part of that, because to me that’s the basis of Christianity.
Weldon: I think all those terms need to be defined. For example, faith in what? How do you define love? Jesus Christ said that we had to have faith in Him, true faith, in order to have our sins forgiven, and if we didn’t, we would end up separated from God, forever in hell. Now, to me that’s a very important issue. Is Christianity really true? Is Christ the way? As He said, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No man comes unto the Father but by Me.” [John 14:6]
Ankerberg: Let me jump in here and let’s see if we can get another one that gives us a differentiation. In The Creation of Health, Norm, you said that, “Meditation is as much a part of Christianity as it is of Buddhism.” And there’s no doubt; there’s meditation in both. But I think there’s a difference. And, Jane, you had the meditation before you became an orthodox Christian. What were the differences?
Gumprecht: Well, in Unity School of Christianity they call it “silence.” But it’s the same type of meditation. You go deep down within yourself. You empty your mind and go into a transcendent state. It’s just called silence in Unity, but it’s the same type of thing as you find in yoga, in visualization, in all of these things that are in holistic health.
Ankerberg: Okay, give us the other side of the tracks. What was the difference when you became a Christian in meditation?
Gumprecht: Well, as a Christian, when I meditate, I meditate on either the Word of God [or] the attributes of God. My mind is not empty, it’s filled with adoration of a specific God of the Bible.
Shealy: And I agree with that. Meditation is not… I don’t think you can make your mind empty. I think that’s ridiculous. I think it’s almost impossible. You concentrate upon attunement with a spiritual principle of truth, of beauty, of God, of goodliness, of Christ.
Reisser: I don’t think there’s any argument about these qualities you’re describing as spiritual qualities. I think those are taught throughout Scripture as well. And I don’t think that’s really the issue. I think where the parting of the ways comes and where I still find it hard for holism, as we have discussed it, to encompass Christianity is on this single issue of did Christ atone for sin or not. And in holistic thinking it has been brought up that that idea really doesn’t hold. You know, you can talk a lot about the things we agree upon. We agree about stress. We agree about love. But when you get to that one, the ways part. The spirit guides part. They say, “That’s ridiculous. There is no need to be redeemed. There is no sin problem. It’s just we’re not enlightened.”
Shealy: This is the difference between what I would call Fundamental Christianity and Evangelical Christianity and mainline Christianity. The Episcopal church, for instance, does not say that you have to believe that God…
Weldon: I think that’s a very good point…
Shealy: …that you have to believe that God atoned for your sin. You’re responsible for your own sins….
Reisser: Alright, that is…
Shealy: …and I don’t think that you can ever get away from moral responsibility no matter what you call yourself.
Reisser: That’s exactly right. You cannot get away from moral responsibility, but as far as, again, there’s such a strong thrust throughout the whole Scripture that that is really the pivotal issue and that’s, you know, despite all the other talk about things we can all agree with, it’s right there that holism and the whole world you associate with, it really departs from Christianity. What I would call biblical—I don’t like the word “fundamental” because to me that has a pejorative kind of meaning of, you know, wild red-neck fanaticism and I hope not to be a part of that—but I think, you know, at least I would like to acknowledge you know that we have that difference.
Shealy: There is a difference…
Reisser: . There is that fork in the road, and that to the degree that holism or holistic medicine presents itself as a spiritual, has this whole spiritual message, I keep coming back to say, “Why is that map—the map of the chakras, the map of the unity of all things—any more valid than another map, a biblical map or a map that says God is not inside of us, God has redeemed us?”
Shealy: Again, I leave it to the individual choice and responsibility. I think you are responsible for your actions and your thoughts and your behavior, and you can never put them on anybody else’s doorstep.
Weldon: I think the bottom line is an issue of the evidence. In other words, you do have different forms of what’s called Christianity. A lot of what goes on under the name of Christianity isn’t biblical Christianity. You have the liberal tradition and you have the conservative or evangelical tradition. And the issue comes down to where does the evidence lie? What does the Scripture really teach? If the Bible is the Word of God, then you have a 2,000 year history of consistent doctrine that fits not the liberal tradition but the conservative evangelical tradition that was validated by Jesus Christ when He rose from the dead. He is the only man in human history who has ever been crucified, buried and has actually risen from the dead on the third day. No one else has ever done that. That validates His claims and His message and His message to us was that we needed to repent, we were sinners and we had to have forgiveness. And that could only come about by believing in Him.
Reisser: Could I add, though, that in that I want to say that Dr. Shealy has made reference to the antics, the shenanigans, the excess, the evil within that movement, and I grieve for that, and I hope that is not ever accepted as representing the core of the teaching. Because as you say, you are rejecting some of the antics and shenanigans and foolishness that you feel is within your movement. And I think we have to realize that, you know putting all that aside, we do have that difference in opinion.

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