„Today there are coming into educational institutions and into the churches everywhere spiritualistic teachings that undermine faith in God and in His word. The theory that God is an essence pervading all nature is received by many who profess to believe the Scriptures; but, however beautifully clothed, this theory is a most dangerous deception….

“If God is an essence pervading all nature, then He dwells in all men; and in order to attain holiness, man has only to develop the power within him.

“These theories, followed to their logical conclusion, sweep away the whole Christian economy. They do away with the necessity for the atonement and make man his own savior.” (Ministry of Healing, p. 428, 429)

Truth and Error

We have seen in the lessons before that disease and death are the ultimate result of sin and that the plan of salvation is to restore health and life through Jesus Christ. There is no other gospel. That is why healing and preaching and teaching must be together.

There is only one truth but countless errors. Any deviation from truth becomes an error and new ones appear continually. We must study the true methods of healing as presented in the Bible and Spirit of Prophecy (Ministry of Healing, Counsels on Health, Counsels on Diet and Food, Temperance, Medical Ministry). Everything else that does not harmonize with truth is a falsification. “In true science there can be nothing contrary to the teaching of the word of God, for both have the same Author. A correct understanding of both will always prove them to be in harmony. Truth, whether in nature or in revelation, is harmonious with itself in all its manifestations.” (Testimonies for the Church, vol. 8, p. 258)

Once we understand the true methods of healing, based on physiological laws, it will be easier to recognize deceiving theories. It is not necessary to study all false methods of healing. This would only confuse our minds and be a waste of time. Here is a pertinent counsel of Ellen G. White:

“I am instructed to say to you that it is not best to dwell upon the spiritualistic sentiments, the strange, misleading theories, which have for years been coming in among us.

“It is not best to preach on the subject of Pantheism or to read quotations from authors who write on this subject, and the specious, deceptive errors that lead to it. The statements made in Testimonies, volume 8, are sufficient to warn our people to avoid these errors. These statements will do more to enlighten minds than all the explanations or theories that our ministers and teachers may put forth concerning these matters.

“If you try to handle these subjects, you will be led to repeat the sophistries of Satan, and thus you will help Satan to present his false theories to the people. Resolve never, never to repeat error, but always to teach the truth. Fill hearts and minds with the solemn, sacred truth for this time.” (Evangelism: Meet Sophistries With Truth, p. 623)

God and Nature

Basically it can be said that true healing comes from God and correct methods are based on the laws of nature (scientific laws). Of course, God sometimes performs miracles.

False methods of healing deny God as the supreme Creator and put the powers of nature in His place. God becomes an impersonal omnipresent energy and nature is often attributed “superior knowledge”. This is the essence of pantheism. Both look quite similar and require clear discernment to distinguish truth from error. Ellen G. White warns about confusing God with nature:

“In dwelling upon the laws of matter and the laws of nature, many lose sight of, if they do not deny, the continual and direct agency of God. They convey the idea that nature acts independently of God, having in and of itself its own limits and its own powers wherewith to work. In their minds there is a marked distinction between the natural and the supernatural. The natural is ascribed to ordinary causes, unconnected with the power of God. Vital power is attributed to matter, and nature is made a deity. It is supposed that matter is placed in certain relations and left to act from fixed laws with which God Himself cannot interfere; that nature is endowed with certain properties and placed subject to laws, and is then left to itself to obey these laws and perform the work originally commanded.

“This is false science; there is nothing in the word of God to sustain it. God does not annul His laws, but He is continually working through them, using them as His instruments. They are not self-working. God is perpetually at work in nature. She is His servant, directed as He pleases. Nature in her work testifies of the intelligent presence and active agency of a being who moves in all His works according to His will. It is not by an original power inherent in nature that year by year the earth yields its bounties and continues its march around the sun. The hand of infinite power is perpetually at work guiding this planet. It is God’s power momentarily exercised that keeps it in position in its rotation.

“The God of heaven is constantly at work. It is by His power that vegetation is caused to flourish, that every leaf appears and every flower blooms. Every drop of rain or flake of snow, every spire of grass, every leaf and flower and shrub, testifies of God. These little things so common around us teach the lesson that nothing is beneath the notice of the infinite God, nothing is too small for His attention.

“The mechanism of the human body cannot be fully understood; it presents mysteries that baffle the most intelligent. It is not as the result of a mechanism, which, once set in motion, continues its work, that the pulse beats and breath follows breath. In God we live and move and have our being. Every breath, every throb of the heart, is a continual evidence of the power of an ever-present God.

“It is God that causes the sun to rise in the heavens. He opens the windows of heaven and gives rain. He causes the grass to grow upon the mountains. ‘He giveth snow like wool: He scattereth the hoarfrost like ashes.’ ‘When He uttereth His voice, there is a multitude of waters in the heavens; … He maketh lightnings with rain, and bringeth forth the wind out of His treasures.’ Psalm 147:16; Jeremiah 10:13.

“The Lord is constantly employed in upholding and using as His servants the things that He has made. Said Christ: ‘My Father worketh hitherto, and I work.’ John 5:17.

“Men of the greatest intellect cannot understand the mysteries of Jehovah as revealed in nature. Divine inspiration asks many questions which the most profound scholar cannot answer. These questions were not asked that we might answer them, but to call our attention to the deep mysteries of God and to teach us that our wisdom is limited; that in the surroundings of our daily life there are many things beyond the comprehension of finite minds; that the judgment and purposes of God are past finding out. His wisdom is unsearchable.

“Skeptics refuse to believe in God because with their finite minds they cannot comprehend the infinite power by which He reveals Himself to men. But God is to be acknowledged more from what He does not reveal of Himself than from that which is open to our limited comprehension. Both in divine revelation and in nature, God has given to men mysteries to command their faith. This must be so. We may be ever searching, ever inquiring, ever learning, and yet there is an infinity beyond.

“The mighty power that works through all nature and sustains all things is not, as some men of science represent, merely an all-pervading principle, an actuating energy. God is a spirit; yet He is a personal being, for man was made in His image.” (Testimonies for the Church, vol. 8, p. 259-261)

Some Terminology

First we need to clarify some concepts. Two centuries ago medicine was mainly empirical and not yet based on science as it is today. The unpleasant symptoms of diseases were combated with medications that produced contrary effects. Diarrhea was treated with anti-diarrheals, high temperature with hypothermics, excitement with sedatives, etc. This was called allopathy. Many of such medications or drugs had toxic side effects. Samuel Hahnemann, a German physician developed a different theory treating the symptoms with small doses of substances that produced similar symptoms when administered to healthy individuals. This was called the principle of similarity (similia similibus curentur) and is the philosophical basis of homeopathy. Those two lines of thinking were not compatible with each other. It was a matter of either/or and became an alternative to the common medical practice. During many years these two lines combated each other.

Specialization and time restraints brought as a result that physicians often restricted their care to the diseased organ or part of the body, forgetting the patient as a whole individual. Patients reacted against this situation by seeking alternative healers who may treat them in a more holistic way. Besides of that, alternative healers claimed to possess some additional resources, especially of spiritual nature, that common medicine did not have, therefore offering some extra hope for allegedly incurable cases.

Today medical methods of treatment are much broader including hydrotherapy, diet, psychiatry, and other branches. Science is coming to realize the importance of mental and spiritual factors in the processes involved in health and disease. On the other side, alternative medicine incorporated many other methods – natural and mystical – especially originating from Eastern pantheistic philosophies. As a result, both parties are coming together and instead of being exclusive they are becoming inclusive. Alternative methods are now called complementary because they aim to assist or complement the other, let’s say the standard treatments. At present many physicians practice both kinds of medicine, traditional and complementary. By doing so they can please the desires of many patients who believe in esoteric methods, without running the risk of losing them. It is sometimes a matter of convenience and financial interest.

Natural Healing Methods

What are “natural” methods actually? The answer should be easy but the problem lies in the different meanings given to the word “natural” and how it is used, or misused.

Some believe that “natural” is synonymous to good, correct, harmless, not using “chemicals” or drugs. By contrast, they consider that conventional medicine, because it uses “chemical” medications, must be harmful, incorrect, unnatural and bad. Both beliefs are too generalized and may be true, or partially true in some instances, but also false in others. Another and much bigger problem is the mixture of truth and error within some healing methods.

We, as Adventists have the tendency to believe blindly in any treatment that calls itself natural because Ellen G. White emphasizes the use of natural remedies. “Pure air, sunlight, abstemiousness, rest, exercise, proper diet, the use of water, trust in divine power – these are the true remedies. Every person should have a knowledge of nature’s remedial agencies and how to apply them. It is essential both to understand the principles involved in the treatment of the sick and to have a practical training that will enable one rightly to use this knowledge.” (Ministry of Healing, p. 127)

Notice two things that EGW mentions in that paragraph. First, she calls the “true” remedies by name. Not everything offered as “natural” on the healing market is recommended here. Secondly, she emphasizes that “It is essential to understand the principles involved in the treatment”. True remedies work according to understandable physiological mechanisms as explained in chapter 3, on the immune system. This is the reason why we should thoroughly study her counsels on health and also be informed about the basic functions of our body.

“It is our duty to study the laws that govern our being, and conform to them. Ignorance in these things is sin. … To become acquainted with the wonderful human organism, – the bones, muscles, stomach, liver, bowels, heart, and pores of the skin, – and to understand the dependence of one organ upon another for the healthful action of all, is a study in which most mothers take no interest.” (Healthful Living, p. 13)

Now you will be surprised to read the following list of healing methods propagated as “natural” by the Swiss Union of Natural Healing (Zieglerstrasse 30, Postfach 386, 3004 Bern 14, Switzerland):

Looking through this list you may find some acceptable methods like breathing techniques, fasting, use of herbs, hydrotherapy, Kneipp therapy, classic massage and nutrition counseling, but most of the rest are undoubtedly mystical and in disagreement with the biblical ideology.

Some methods may not be clearly mystical or pantheistic, nor have a physiologically valid explanation. They may not harm nor cure. What shall be done? We need to use sound judgement in the selection of healing methods.

Criteria for Identification

There are hundreds of alternative methods on the market, continuously appearing new ones or modifications of the existing. Each world region and culture has its own preferences. It is therefore impossible to make a complete and infallible list of non-acceptable methods. One way would be to analyze the origin of the method. However, some Christian practitioners say that they only use the method separated from its philosophy. This may not really be possible because usually the philosophy explains the supposed mechanism of action. For example, if you belief that a certain disease is caused by bacteria, you may want to combat these bacteria using antiseptics or antibiotics. If you belief that some disease is caused by the bad will of spirits, you may wish to calm the anger of the spirits with some pertinent method. If you believe that a certain disease is caused by cosmic energies not flowing correctly through the body, you may wish to correct this situation using methods that supposedly can restore the pathways of energy flow. But, if you believe that disease is caused by a wrong lifestyle, you will try to correct the wrong habits and implement a healthy lifestyle.

Here are some questions that can be of help:

  1. Does the effect base on known laws of physiology?
  2. Does the philosophy behind agree with the Biblical world view?
  3. Does this method lead to Jesus, or instead, to the harmony with the universe?

There are many different methods but most of them claim to manipulate some kind of unknown energy. With some experience you will recognize the pantheistic background. It could be the supposed energy flow between yin and yang, or energies flowing through imaginary meridians, or crystals that impart energy to sick organs, injections into old scars to unblock the energy flow, or any other means to foster the energy flow from the universe (macro cosmos) to the body (micro cosmos). The fantasy knows no limits!

“The apostles of nearly all forms of spiritism claim to have the power to cure the diseased. They attribute their power to electricity, magnetism, the so-called ‘sympathetic remedies’, or to latent forces within the mind of man. And there are not a few, even in this Christian age, who go to these healers, instead of trusting in the power of the living God and the skill of well-qualified Christian physicians.” (Evangelism, p. 606)

“These Satanic agents claim to cure disease. They attribute their power to electricity, magnetism, or the so-called ‘sympathetic remedies’, while in truth they are but channels for Satan’s electric currents.” (Evangelism, p. 609)

It must be mentioned that technology also entered into the mystical healing world. There are all sorts of computerized devices that claim to detect, interpret, and repair wrong currents or cellular oscillations. Some methods even claim to be able to predict the risk for developing diseases or cancer in the future. Who is not at risk with this modern lifestyle?

Some methods are visibly mystical. Others look like being scientific and use some pseudo-scientific vocabulary. Words like “vital”, “energetic”, “dynamic”, “bio”, “regulation”, and similar are usual. Since the importance of the immune system became part of common knowledge, it is frequent to read that a method or a medication aids or strengthens the immune system. Who can disprove it? We should also be cautious with the following situations:

  1. Therapies which claim to manipulate “unknown energy”.
  2. Alternative therapists, who seem to utilize psychic knowledge and/or power.
  3. Practitioner who has a therapy with which no one else is familiar.
  4. Omnipotent cures.
  5. Explanations that don’t make sense.
  6. All success-testimonials-casuistics.
  7. Therapies which rely heavily on altered states of consciousness.
  8. Therapists who claim to be on pure Christian ground but use strange “ceremonies”.

The Christian physician considers disease as the ultimate result of sin (Romans 5:12 and 6:23), not as an imbalance of cosmic energy, and directs his patients to Christ as the only true savior and healer. Then he asks for obedience to God’s laws: physical laws (healthy lifestyle), and moral laws (10 commandments). The Christian physician also believes in the existence of supernatural powers – Christ versus Satan – and prays for divine help in this invisible battle between good and evil. It is a Christ-centered approach.

“Holistic medicine”, for the secular physician, means to accept scientific and non-scientific methods of diagnosis and healing, which includes all kinds of oriental pantheistic philosophies.

“Wholistic medicine” 1) The commonly used term is “holistic” but in the Christian setting we use “wholistic” that gives the meaning of wholeness. , for the Christian physician, means that body, mind and spirit, have to be considered always as a unity. Sin and disease, salvation and healing, preaching the gospel and caring for the sick, go together. This is the Biblical approach to the problems of humanity.

It must be acknowledged that for a non-medical person it is not always easy to distinguish truth from error, especially when the methods are practiced by physicians with valid diplomas. And the number of such is increasing! Even more bewildering is the fact that some health insurance companies recognize mystical treatments as part of their repertoire. Although not all information in the Internet is reliable, there are some recommendable sites that may be of help: Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine ; and also .

How Can Mystical Cures Be Explained?

Many people think that the success, real or apparent, is a proof of the validity of a treatment or method of healing, and consider that the person who practices it is “right”, or has the “truth”. This is a dangerous reasoning. And even beyond, some conclude that all other methods of healing must be, by exclusion, wrong. This reasoning is also dangerous.

Here are some explanations for the success of any treatment, be it scientific or not:

  1. It is generally accepted that 80% or more of all consultations are related to problems which are originated in wrong habits of life and thinking. At this initial stage, their problems are so-called “functional”. The organic examination and the lab tests can’t find anything wrong. This does not mean that the patient is inventing symptoms or a disease. No, his problems are real.
    Such kinds of troubles usually get better with any treatment, be it rest, fasting, garlic capsules, hydrotherapy, medicinal teas, vitamins, massages, etc., or even without treatment, just by giving it time.
  2. Alternative treatments are often combined with fasting, rest, healthy diet, hydrotherapy and positive thinking, which by themselves strengthen the immune system and therefore promote healing of any disease, even of malignant tumors.
  1. The “placebo effect” is a powerful factor which acts through the thoughts, and could by itself, be responsible or at least be associated with many cases of healing.
  2. Wrong or false diagnosis. Specially quacks (because of ignorance), or unscrupulous professionals (for justifying a long treatment, or high fees, or to boost themselves), have a tendency to exaggerate the severity of an illness or to diagnose an illness falsely as being “cancer”. After their treatment the patient is obviously “healed”.
  3. False success. Mass media often report healings produced by faith healers which cannot stand the criteria for objective healing. The patient frequently experiences a subjective feeling of improvement which does not last long.
  4. Besides of divine miracles there are also not deniable supernatural healings produced by practitioners of mystical methods. These healings do not justify the method because God gave clear instructions not to use them (Deuteronomy 18:9-12; 1. Samuel 28:6,7).

Is Alternative Medicine Harmful?

Many alternative treatments are not harmful by themselves and if the disease is not dangerous, than no harmful outcome should be expected. The situation is different when a serious disease is not diagnosed correctly in time or when a life-saving treatment is neglected because of a long alternative treatment. Some alternative healers prevent the patient from seeking medical advice.

There are, however, many methods based on clear pantheistic and spiritualistic philosophies that were clearly prohibited by God. By using such methods deliberately the patient puts himself in a dangerous field. Ellen G. White describes this situation vividly in the following words:

“The mother, watching by the sickbed of her child, exclaims, ‘I can do no more! Is there no physician who has power to restore my child!’ She is told of the wonderful cures performed by some clairvoyant or magnetic healer, and she trusts her dear one to his charge, placing it as verily in the hand of Satan as if he were standing by her side. In many instances the future life of the child is controlled by a satanic power, which it seems impossible to break.

“Those who give themselves up to the sorcery of Satan, may boast of great benefit received, but does this prove their course to be wise or safe? What if life should be prolonged? What if temporal gain should be secured? Will it pay in the end to have disregarded the will of God? All such apparent gain will prove at last an irrecoverable loss.” (Evangelism, p. 606-607)

What shall be done?

Mystical methods of healing presuppose mystical origin of the diseases. There are enough theories blaming the unlucky position of stars, bad spells, disturbances in the energy flow through meridians or chakras, or the wrath of gods as causes of disease. The mechanism for origin and for treatment must fit into the same philosophical system. Mystical treatments correspond with mystical causes.

The biblical understanding of the origin of disease is different. “Disease is an effort of nature to free the system from conditions that result from a violation of the laws of health.” And the text continues showing the logical approach to treatment. “In case of sickness, the cause should be ascertained. Unhealthful conditions should be changed, wrong habits corrected. Then nature is to be assisted in her effort to expel impurities and to re-establish right conditions in the system.” (Ministry of Healing, p. 127) Such approach is in perfect harmony with the entire plan of salvation that we have been studying.

God has given abundant and clear instructions on prevention and treatment of diseases in the Bible and through Ellen G. White. He advised in the establishment of sanitariums and schools of medicine. The principles on which such institutions are based include the following:

  • Christ is the true physician. (Ministry of Healing, p. 111)
  • Prayer for the sick. (Id., p. 225-233)
  • Use of rational methods of diagnosis and treatment. (Id., p. 232)
  • Abandon sin and wrong habits of life. (Id., p. 128-131, 227-229)
  • Teach a healthy lifestyle. (Id., p. 125, 126)
  • Physicians well prepared scientifically. (Medical Ministry, p. 57, 69, 75)
  • Medications – minimum possible. (Selected Messages, vol. 2, p. 281-284, 286-291)
  • X-Rays are acceptable. (Id., p. 303)
  • Blood transfusion is acceptable. (Id., p. 303)
  • Surgeons are guided by God. (Medical Ministry, p. 34, 35; Selected Messages, vol. 2, p. 284, 285)


In God’s plan of salvation, religion and medicine are intimately linked together. There is no separation. In fact, most if not all religions include components of healing. The majority of people are indifferent to these matters; some others are extreme and fanatic. God calls for reformation:

“The Lord gave me special light in regard to the establishment of a health reform institution, where treatment of the sick could be carried on altogether different lines from those existing in any institution in our world. It must be founded and conducted on Bible principles, and be the Lord’s instrumentality, not to cure with drugs, but to use Nature’s remedies. Those who have any connection with this institution must be educated in health restoring principles.” (Letter 205, 1899, p. 1. To Dr. J. H. Kellogg, December 19, 1899.)

Our methods of healing shall not follow any of the existing models in the world. We don’t call ourselves allopaths, homeopaths, or naturopaths. The expression “nature’s remedies” refers to the true natural agents – nutrition, exercise, water, sunshine, temperance, air, rest, and trust in God – with the exclusion of all mystical agents even if they falsely use the label of being “natural”. Satan is a deceiver and uses medicine to bring his sophistries into religion. A better wording coming into use recently is “Lifestyle Medicine”. May God help us to follow His way!

“Then I saw another angel flying in mid-air, and he had the eternal gospel to proclaim to those who live on the earth – to every nation, tribe, language and people. He said in a loud voice, ‘Fear God and give Him glory, because the hour of His judgment has come. Worship Him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea and the springs of water.’” (Revelation 14:6-7)

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(Voted at Silver Spring, April 4, 1996)

Scientific progress offers good perspectives in health care. At the same time there is a growing number of approaches using evolutionary, and spiritualistic philosophies.

For this reason and with the desire to assist and orient the church, the Seventh-day Adventist General Conference Health and Temperance Department World Advisory agrees with the following convictions:

  1. Human beings were created in the image of God. Man is a whole, indivisible unit, so the suffering of every part will affect all the other areas.
  2. The basis of diagnostic and therapeutic systems used in the prevention and treatment of diseases is established on human physiology, Bible, and inspiration.

Adventists promote the teachings of living in holiness, including the use of natural resources that Ellen White calls “true remedies” in maintaining and recovering health.

  1. We believe that the Lord has given to man the resources and mental power to increase knowledge in the area of biology, physiology, and the mechanisms of disease causation. For this reason we believe that the development of scientific medicine be incorporated in the medical missionary work as far as it does not contradict the principles of revelation.
  2. In reference to healing procedures of uncertain ideologies and multiple origins, known as alternative health practices, we should be very cautious.

In view of the great number and variety of existing alternative health practices, and considering that there are constantly appearing new methods on that market, we

RECOMMEND, that the Adventists neither practice, nor use, nor promote any kind of procedures

  • the philosophic and ideological bases of which are in opposition to the principles of Christian revelation, and
  • which are not consistent with known scientific laws.

We also

RECOMMEND, that continuing study be given to these matters and the church be informed about new criteria and recommendations.

Although the above general Position Statement is applicable to any kind of diagnostic or therapeutic approach, there are many lay people who may not know the background or the mechanism of function of a given method. In order to assist in the process of selection, the General Conference of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church included in its Working Policy a comprehensive chapter called “Statement of Operating Principles for Health Care Institutions” which every health professional or employee connected with such an institution should know.

Here is a paragraph from that chapter concerning the use of alternative methods of healing:

“Adventist health care and ministries are to promote only those practices based upon the Bible or the Spirit of Prophecy1, or evidence-based methods of disease prevention, treatment, and health maintenance. ‘Evidence-based’ means there is an accepted body of peer reviewed, statistically significant evidence that raises probability of effectiveness to a scientifically convincing level. Practices without a firm evidence-base and not based on the Bible or the Spirit of Prophecy, including though not limited to aromatherapy, cranial sacral therapy, homeopathy, hypnotherapy, iridology, magnets, methods aligning forces of energy, pendulum diagnostics, untested herbal remedies, reflexology, repetitive colonic irrigation, ‘therapeutic touch,’ and urine therapy, should be discouraged.” (GC Working Policy 2016-2017, p. 359)

A future without diseases

At the conclusion of this book we can look forward with confidence when God will renew everything and there will be not any more diseases:

“And I saw a new heaven and a new earth. For the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. And the sea no longer is. And I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down from God out of Heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her Husband. And I heard a great voice out of Heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away all tears from their eyes. And there will be no more death, nor mourning, nor crying out, nor will there be any more pain; for the first things passed away. And He sitting on the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And He said to me, Write, for these words are true and faithful.” (Revelation 21: 1-5)


– o – O – o –


1 The commonly used term is “holistic” but in the Christian setting we use “wholistic” that gives the meaning of wholeness.