Blog Post

Isn't Energy Healing and Laying on of Hands the Same Thing?

MM asks: "There must be some element of truth in the practice of energy healers who use their hands to heal. Aren't their methods similar to what Christians refer to as the 'laying on of hands'?"

Great question, MM, and now that you ask it, I'm actually a little surprised that it took two years for someone to pose it.

The only similarity between the methods used by energy healers and Christians who lay on hands is that they both use their hands - and this is as far as it goes.

The Catechism clearly states that the use of the hands in Christian healing is as a “sign,” not as an energy channel. “Jesus heals the sick and blesses little children by laying hands on them. In his name the apostles will do the same,” the Catechism teaches. “Even more pointedly, it is by the Apostles' imposition of hands that the Holy Spirit is given. The Letter to the Hebrews lists the imposition of hands among the ‘fundamental elements’ of its teaching. The Church has kept this sign of the all-powerful outpouring of the Holy Spirit in its sacramental epicleses.”

In other words, the use of the hands in the Christian form is a symbol while in energy healing the hands have an actual function as a channel.

But that doesn't stop proponents of energy medicine from luring Christians into their practices by drawing attention to this similarity. Some even go so far as to suggest that Jesus was an energy healer because of how He used His hands during healings. William Lee Rand, founder of the pro-Reiki International Center for Reiki Training actually suggested that because Jesus sometimes laid hands on people while healing them, He may have been using Reiki.

“There are many similarities between the laying on of hands healing Jesus did and the practice of Reiki,” Rand writes.

Naturally, he goes on to list only those episodes in the Gospel where Jesus used His hands to heal, leaving out all other methods such as the casting out of demons and healing by command. By deliberately “cherry picking” Scripture in this way, the result is a myopic and distorted view of the nature and purpose of the healing power of Jesus.

“Jesus was not channeling a universal energy, but was acting with the power of God,” writes New Age expert Marcia Montenegro. “As Acts 10:38 says, ‘God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. He went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.’ The power of God was not coming through a technique or secret teaching, but from the Person of Jesus Christ. When Jesus conferred this power specifically to and only on His disciples, He ‘gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every kind of disease and every kind of sickness,” (Matthew 10:1, Mark 3:13-15, Luke 9:1). It is His authority over illness that Christ gave the disciples, not a secret teaching or technique.”

Perhaps the biggest difference between energy healers and the Christian laying on of hands is the fact that energy healers claim to be manipulating an alleged energy force. When Christians pray over one another, we're not trying to manipulate God's power. We're simply using our hands as a sign of intercession. Whether or not God wants to heal the person is left totally up to Him.

Energy healers have a whole different mindset. This is their power that they supposedly learn how to use through classes or attunement ceremonies such as those required for Reiki masters. True biblical healing is never based on a belief in one's own power, but is based solely on the power of God.

You should also beware of those who say Christians can participate in these practices simply by believing that the energy comes from God. This can be a very dangerous delusion, particularly in the case of techniques such as Reiki, which employ occult entities known as spirit guides.

Even if energy healers are Christians (sadly, there are many of them out there), they can't say their energy comes from God because God never revealed Himself to us as an energy force. He's a personal God who once identified Himself to Moses as "I am" not "It is."

Whether the healer believes it or not, the energy he or she is using during an energy healing session is a putative energy form (that has no scientific basis) which is believed to permeate the universe. The healer can call this energy anything they want, but it doesn't change the nature of it. It's still a putative energy form. Just by calling it God doesn't make it God. That would be like calling a dog a cat and expecting the dog to now be a cat. The energy is what it is and if the healer doesn't understand this, then they don't understand either energy medicine or basic Christian theology.  (This blog gives a more indepth explanation for why God cannot be called an energy force. )

The bottom line is that energy healers are to be avoided by Christians. They are not only practicing a bogus science that won't help you anyway, but many of them also dabble in other New Age modalities, some of which - such as Reiki - are effected through occult agencies.

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