Is It Safe for You to Trust Your Health to the Holistic Health Practices of Today? – Program 9

By: Dr. Norman Shealy, Dr. Robert Leightman, Dr. Jane Gumprecht, Dr. Paul Reisser, Dr. John Weldon; ©1994
Should a Christian allow himself to be treated using one of these holistic health practices?

Holistic Health and the Christian


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?

Ankerberg: Let me ask a question to you two doctors. I’ve asked this to Norm and to Robert before. The question is this then. If you see a difference in worldviews here, okay? You’ve got the biblical God of the Bible who is separate from His creation, and you have a pantheistic view where we are part of God and everything is interconnected, therefore we can say “I’m God” and we can control this energy of the universe. If you say that’s part of holistic health, then should any Christian holding the Christian worldview, should he partake of holistic health?
Gumprecht: I personally don’t think they should, because there is danger there in that you might get led into that type of worldview. For example, I went to church, regular church, and also we studied Unity. And so, you know, you can get into this through those type of practices. With my parents it was because my mother had a health problem. And so she went into Christian Science, you see, and mind over matter type of thing seeking help.
Reisser: I want to add though, I personally believe that I find that the worldview that underpins so much the holistic movement—we’ve talked about it for several weeks now—I really believe that it is not compatible. I believe that is a problem. But that is not to say that there are not spiritual issues in health. And I guess, and I suppose from Norm’s and Robert’s viewpoint, they would just say, “Well, fine. Just define the spiritual issues however you want and just address them. I want to say right now that it is important that we not ignore how our bodies are functioning and how our minds and our spiritual state affect them. The question is, what map do we follow? What guidelines do we use? Who’s got the right map? And three of us here have an honest difference I think of opinion about what the map is, what the right map is. I don’t believe in the chakra system. I think that’s a wrong map. But we are going to probably go our separate ways, you know, in spite of that. But I think that I see so many Christians who attempt to hold the biblical worldview who still feel that they can do this. And I don’t think they’re compatible.
Weldon: I think what bothers me the most is that so many people get into one technique or another without really knowing what is involved and where it leads to. About 20 years ago I came that close to joining a cult. They didn’t tell me what they really believed. They didn’t tell me what they really practiced. And if I had joined that cult I would have been in big trouble. But they seemed like very sincere, nice, caring people. And that’s what you find in a lot of the New Age medicine—very sincere, caring, nice people. And yet you don’t really know what’s going to be the end result of this particular technique being practiced on you or occult energy being put into your system or anything else. You don’t know if it’s really true scientifically; you don’t know what the spiritual implications are; you don’t know where you’re going to end up and what road you’re going to be on. And if people knew that before they were going in, that would be one thing. But most don’t.
Shealy: And I would say you will find just as many crooks in the evangelical movement and I think that’s been amply demonstrated in the last few years.
Ankerberg: But don’t you see a difference in terms of, there are certainly people who have disobeyed the standard. That’s the way we knew they were wrong, okay? What if the standard on your side is wrong?
Shealy: Well, I don’t think that that is a supposition that you’re making. The standard is just as likely to be right in my spiritual perspective as yours.
Ankerberg: We’ve got a key, I think, and the key that unscrambles that is what do we think about Jesus Christ. Because if Jesus Christ is God and He makes a pronouncement on that, then we go with Him.
Shealy: It is the interpretation one puts, and as you know, the basic difference between various divisions in Christianity is the interpretation of the word of Christ.
Ankerberg: Well, interpret this one for me, okay? Here’s a straight deal that comes up all the time. And this thing of interpretation, it’s a straight Bible verse, and this is how we got this view that Jesus is the one that died on the cross. Exegete or interpret this verse for me any way you want to according to these words: 1 Peter 2:24: “In himself…in his own body he bore our sins on the tree.”
Shealy: I do not feel that that unequivocally states that we can go out and sin and it has been forgiven already.
Ankerberg: No, I didn’t say it did, but I think that it says that He is the one that paid for the sins. Or take another one where He would say, in Exodus 3 you have God saying to Moses, “Go and tell Pharaoh that Israel is leaving” and Moses saying, “Listen, who am I? They’re going to ask me, ‘Who sent you?’ What’s your name, God?” And God says at that point, “My name is the great I Am. And for all generations my name will be ‘I Am.’” [Ex. 3:14] In John 8 the Pharisees are talking to Jesus and Jesus says, “Before Abraham was I’m the I Am.” [John 8:58] And they picked up stones to kill Him. John 10 Jesus says—again they’re picking up stones to kill Him—and He says, “For what reason are you going to stone me?” And they say, “Because you, being a man, make yourself out to be God.” [John 10:32-33]
Now, there’s a difference right there. Either He was telling the truth—He was God and gave us the proof by His resurrection and we ought to believe Him and follow Him—or we ought to come up with some good reasons for saying Jesus was mistaken, or He was a nut or, the fact is, something else. But that’s evidence that is historical, on the books. And it’s not just one saying. He said a bunch of things just like that: “I am the light of the world. He that follows Me will never walk in darkness.” [John 8:12] “I am the resurrection and the life; you believe in me, you’ll never die.” [John 11:25] Things like that that no mere man could go around and say. So what I’m saying is, do we have a key in history and evidence for it capped off by the resurrection that would say, “Okay, here’s a focal point. Now what does this guy have to say about some of these techniques and the fact is he says a lot.”
Shealy: And I would say that the principle is that one is supposed to live the same principles that Christ lived, and that’s what I think He preached.
Ankerberg: But are the same principles in terms of what He taught to believe? In other words, are you living the same principles if you disagree with what He taught?
Shealy: I don’t think that we know what He taught unequivocally because there’s a great deal of disagreement in the various books of the New Testament and I’m not able to quote those without getting….
Ankerberg: What kind of disagreements?
Shealy: There’s tremendous difference in the stories that are told of the life of Jesus in several of the different books, and that’s a basic difference between liberal and…
Ankerberg: It’s very interesting you would bring that up, Norm, because the next program we’re going to show across the nation has to do with a trial lawyer in both England and in America debating a U.S. diplomat on that very question [“Did the resurrection Really Happen?,” ]. And the conclusion of the debate is that the evidence, if you brought it into a legal courtroom and presented it to a jury, would win hands down. That’s why Simon Greenleaf at Harvard University, the guy that wrote legal evidence in this country, became a Christian after his students challenged him and said, “Look, you are the man that wrote legal evidence. Why don’t you check out the Gospels and see what conclusion you come do. Do you think these men were truthful eyewitnesses?” And he says, “Okay.” And he did. And Simon Greenleaf became a Christian on the basis of the evidence in those books.
Weldon: I’d like to add, John, that I’ve just completed a study, a detail study, of the resurrection accounts and several other things in the New Testament. There are no contradictions between the Gospel accounts. They match up incredibly well.
Ankerberg: In fact, that’s your next book that you’re writing. Is that correct?
Shealy: And as a Baptist theologian, Dr. William Staten, at Thomas Jefferson Medical School, a doctor of theology, who indeed says quite the opposite, that he can find tremendous differences in them.
Weldon: I would wonder if he knows what a real contradiction is. If you first establish a standard definition of what a contradiction is, I’ll stick with that and my conclusion.
Ankerberg: Or, be like Simon Greenleaf and simply say, “If it stands in a court of law, that’s legal evidence, that’s good testimony.” But let’s move on here and ask another question.
Audience: John, thank you for letting me be here. This has touched my heartstrings. I grew up in an era quite different from it where a lot of the music and things that I associated with gave me these beliefs before I came to know Christ, and I didn’t realize until studying afterwards that they too come from the Eastern holistic idea.
Ankerberg: What’s your question?
Audience: My question is to Dr. Shealy. You’ve mentioned several things such as life energy and reincarnation, intuition and spirit beings. And in using them you stated that it boils down to what a person believes and how they use these type of things. You’ve also stated, being an Episcopalian, some of your beliefs. But the question hasn’t been answered as to taking from scriptural perspective, eternal life comes from Jesus Christ apart from our own works as Ephesians 2:8-9 would tell us. Who or what exactly are you trusting for eternity?
Shealy: I trust my concept of God and Christ.
Ankerberg: Okay, we’re going to wrap this up here. And this is a man who has written a book that became a bestseller. Over a million copies have now sold in America. And he said concerning folks like Bernie Segal and others like Carolyn—and I’m not sure this applies to you fellows on the platform—but for those that make such claims, he says, “Such individuals are certainly entitled to have whatever experience they desire. They’re also entitled in their enthusiasm to share with others what has happened to them and even to do all they can to persuade others to go the same shamanistic rite of initiation into the world of sorcery.” He was talking about Bernie Segal’s initiation. “We would not question the sincerity of these” he calls them “evangelists. They should not, however, deceptively present the perennial occultic religion of the spirit guides as medicine, psychology, self-improvement methods, science or something other than what it actually is.” He said, “Increasing numbers of highly regarded professionals are violating the public trust by deliberately evangelizing with Eastern mysticism those who look to them for help and guidance medically.”
Now, I think what would clear it up for him would be if you deal with the realm of the spirit, are the people informed that the views that are being presented, are they aware that they parallel historic beliefs out of shamanism, out of witchcraft, out of basic Hinduism? If that was told, Norm, how many people do you think would then try out the technique?
Shealy: Well, if I believed that that’s what I was doing, then I would certainly be willing to tell that. But I disagree that that’s what we’re doing and therefore there’s no reason why I would say that.
Ankerberg: But if it looks like a duck, and walks like duck and sounds like a duck, then why don’t we just says it’s a duck? And the fact is, if you match them up and you just parallel them right down the line, what would tell you that it’s not? In fact, the guy that wrote the foreword to your book says that what you’re presenting is shamanism.
Shealy: Well, I don’t agree often with what other people say, but I do respect their right to say it.
Ankerberg: Yeah. Robert, what do you think? Do you think that you should tell? I mean, there’s no problem with your holding your views. And you are very articulate in doing it and both you fellows, you just have the nicest personalities and I really appreciate your attitude and all this because we’ve had a tough conversation. But the fact is, the point I’m getting to, are holistic health people being honest? Maybe some of them don’t even know, okay? They have never paralleled it and they don’t realize they’re presenting Hinduism or basic shamanism, but should the people that come to them be told that the basics parallel shamanism right down the line? And then if they want to get into it, to get into it.
Leichtman: No, I don’t think they should. First of all, I think the average patient that goes for this stuff wouldn’t understand what shamanism is. They wouldn’t recognize the name.
Ankerberg: You could say, “Hey, that’s what the witchdoctors do.”
Leichtman: But I would say this. A friend of mine says, “Roller-skates and trucks both have four wheels but they’re not the same thing.” And you shouldn’t go out saying, “Just because so and so uses visualization this is going to lead to occultism and the devil’s going to get you and so forth.” I think that’s just pure hysteria. And you’re undermining a valuable technique to help people heal themselves if you throw that out.
Ankerberg: Unless you’ve got a Christian that’s face to face with Jesus Christ and you’ve got straight words that say, “Don’t do it.”
Leichtman: Fine. I always work with patients on the basis if they reject something, then we won’t push that. I don’t try to convert anyone. I don’t try to shove my ideas down anyone’s throat. You can only help people if you can get them to cooperate, and I would never try to convert them. The idea, though, is that if…let me say something that I have often had thrown at me, and that’s the quote where Jesus always said that when you measure people, look at what they do. You know, “by their fruits they are known.” And if anyone ever was promoting pragmatism, I think that’s an elegant sort of spiritual pragmatism. if people persistently get good results in what they do. The advice they give people, they solace them, they help them heal their bodies, help them heal their minds. They must be doing something very worthwhile, something more important than instilling fear in them and driving them into rather a narrow, frightened state of neurosis. I am a stickler on that and I realize that makes me controversial.
Ankerberg: I appreciate that. Let me give you an illustration. I’ve had a Satanist on the platform tell me, “You know, Jesus said by your fruits you’ll know them. And our movement, the fruits of our movement, we’re growing rapidly in America.”
Leichtman: Oh, that doesn’t count. That’s just mere popularity. Hitler was popular too.
Ankerberg: That’s right. And what I’m saying is so then what does Jesus mean by “fruit?” Because, again, in Matthew where Jesus said, “By the fruit you will know them,” in the same chapter He said there’s going to be people that are going to do miraculous things and they’re going to do all this stuff with energies and it’s going to come true but they’re still false prophets. And beware of them and don’t follow them. [Matt. 7] Now, at that point, the fruit is not just the fact of what can be done, because we’ve all agreed tonight there are things that are being done, both sides of the fence here, that we agree it’s happening. The question is, what’s in back of it? Is there a deception going on that’ll damn people’s souls forever, or is it just simply a technique that we’re really going toward in science in the future and Jesus Christ was wrong?
Leichtman: I think when you see people blossom with greater manifestation of the fruits of the Spirit, where they can walk around with greater peace and serenity, they can walk around and deal with their lives, their careers, their families with more compassion, more forgiveness, more courage, more perseverance in trying to be decent people and do good things, I think you’re seeing a flourishing of the life of spirit in that person, in their lifestyle. I think that’s proof you’re dealing with good powers. I think it’s proof that you’re dealing with the life of spirit, the life of God, rather than some demonic force.
Weldon: Well, I think even the Scripture says that Satan masquerades as an angel of light. [2 Cor. 11:14] I don’t know how many people saw the movie Aliens, but that alien, that entity, is a good illustration of what a demon is in its reality, but it appears as an angel. Okay, it’s like Jesus said, “Beware of false prophets…. Many are on the broad path that leads to destruction; few are on the narrow path and few find life.” [Matt. 7:13-14] And the natural question to that is “Why?” And He says in the next verse, “Beware of the false prophets who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.” [Matt. 7:14] And so there is a real issue of spiritual warfare that is in operation here.
Ankerberg: Okay. Jane and then Paul and we’ll close it out.
Gumprecht: It’s the same way with our Unity teacher that I had when I was growing up. The first time I saw her I was in the 4th grade. She was a very handsome woman. And she had a tremendous quality of peace around her that really attracted me to her. At the same time, I remember very distinctly, and it’s years ago because I’m retired now, I remember the aura I saw around her at the same time. So she definitely was in the occult. If I had continued to believe what she had taught me over the years when I die I would go to hell. But thank God He reached me.
Reisser: I think, you know, so much has been said I can hardly add to this except perhaps on a slightly different tack, and that is that I think I would call for people who are looking into alternatives and even with their own physician not to go into a kind of blind, worshipful attitude toward that individual and do exactly whatever they say. Question: Does it make sense? What are the underpinnings? Don’t be afraid to raise those issues when they need to be raised with whatever therapy is offered, even one that’s from the standard practitioner. I think that’s a positive trend that’s going on in medicine right now and I plan to see it continue. But to anyone seeing any therapist, look that person in the eye; find out what they really believe. Take the time if you need to make an appointment to do so before you go.
Weldon: I think there’s one more thing that is key and that is, this has been a discussion about health. And yet the fact is that all of us are going to die. And Jesus said that, “What will it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his own soul? What will a man give in exchange for his own soul?” [Mark 8:36-37] All of us at some point our health is going to give out permanently, but we still have to deal with the issue of eternity.
Ankerberg: I just want to say thank you to Paul and to Jane and to John and for Robert and for Norm. You fellows and you folks have been very gracious to all of us tonight. And in your disagreement I hope that you still remain friends. I think that we all have and I really appreciate the fact that everybody would tell it like they see it. But I want to say thank you to all of you for being here and being such special guests for us. Thank you very much.

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