A reader wrote to us about meeting the Miami hypnotist Todd Goodwin whose Facebook page contained a very disturbing letter in which he asserts that Jesus was a hypnotist who was using hypnosis when he performed His miracles. The reader bravely asked us for any suggestions about how to evangelize in a situation such as this.
Goodwin is not the first hypnotist to repeat this bunk online – but this case is particularly egregious because he posted it on Christmas Day and used one of the most sacred holidays of the year to further his business aims!
For those of you who prefer not to look at this blasphemy by following the above link, Goodwin asserts in a kind of Christmas letter to his clients that “there can be little doubt that he [Jesus] was one of the greatest and well-known hypnotists in history.”
Other hypnotists, mostly.
Except for Ian Wilson, a convert to Catholicism with a degree in modern history who has authored numerous books on religion and science. Like Goodwin, Wilson also resorts to mutilating Scripture in order to make his absurd theories sound plausible.
Bible Gateway analyzed some of Wilson’s assertions, such as how Jesus may not have brought Lazarus back from the dead because Lazarus may have been in a deathlike trance induced by hypnosis. (I wonder who hypnotized him? It couldn’t have been Jesus because He wasn’t present when Lazarus died – which is why his sister Mary was so upset – “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died” (John 11:32).)
As for the resurrection, Jesus “could have effectively conditioned [the disciples] to hallucinate his appearances in response to certain pre-arranged cues (the breaking of bread?) for a predetermined period after his death,” Wilson writes.
Good grief. The man can’t be serious.
But he is, and goes on to claim that Jesus didn’t turn water into wine at the wedding feast of Cana but merely hypnotized everyone into believing the water was wine just like stage magicians sometimes do.
Rest assured, there’s not a single serious Bible scholar who has studied the Scriptures in the various languages in which it has been written (even the Greek which uses the word hypnos – meaning sleep – which is not hypnosis) who would do anything more than laugh at the mere idea that Jesus was a master hypnotist.
What is the best way to evangelize?For people who are buying into this nonsense, any of the above refutations should work to raise at least some doubt in people’s minds about the validity of this assertion about Jesus.
As for Goodwin, I would write him a letter and let him know how offended you were that he would post such a completely unfounded statement about Jesus Christ on Christmas Day. Then I would ask him why he feels he needs to bring Jesus into the discussion at all. Is this because he feels a need to legitimize himself and his occupation? Is it because he wants more Christian clients? I would also inform him that the Church does not condemn hypnosis when used by professionally trained medical personnel; however, because of the vulnerable state a person is in while under hypnosis, and the disrespectful manner with which he made these reckless assertions on Christmas Day, you would never consider using his services.
I would conclude the letter by telling him that you will be praying to Jesus for him in a special way, that the Lord might open his eyes and heart and help him to answer – for himself – some of the serious questions raised in the letter.
Leave the rest up to the Holy Spirit.