What about Christians using therapies such as chakras which use internal, spiritual energy?

Question:

I was wondering your position on a natural route of healthy living. I was reading a response you had about how it is not a sin to use modern drugs to help with physical pain or psychological disorders. What about alternatives to it? The more I get into natural ways to resolve health issues the more it seems to be connected to ancient spiritual practices of meditation and focus on internal energies to reach overall health (like chakras). Is this okay for a Christian to follow? For example instead of taking medications that have so many side effects is okay for a Christian to rely on acupuncture and qigong? I guess my question is it dangerous or advisable for believers to use alternative health methods although some overlap with spiritual practices of other religions for health? Or should we even focus on this and rely solely on God and science for physical/mental healing. Thank you for your time and your website for being so informational on so many topics.

Answer:

As a Christian, I naturally feel compassion for those who are sick. It is a common attribute of all Christians that they want to help the sick, both in their number and those who are not Christians as well. The very existence of hospitals goes back to early Christianity. About alternative forms of medicine–holistic approaches, acupuncture, chiropractic treatments–the Bible does not take a position on what is the best form of treatment. I suppose a reasonable Christian response is that a particular therapy actually works, then it can be considered a good thing for a Christian to use to help people.

A problem can arise, however, for a Christian to delve into practices which are pseudo-medical and pseudo-religious. I have known specific cases of Christians who went through this grey area right into theological problems. For example, some practices are so thoroughly tied up with Hindu or Buddhist theology that a Christian is best advised to stay away from these things. For example, if acupuncture can help a person to have less pain, then good, but the reality of spiritual energy or "chi" or things like a Hundu "third eye" or meditational techniques intended to find the god-self are all delving into troublesome territory. I strongly advise all Christians to stay away from accepting bad Buddhist or Hindu or other theology which is disguised as medical treatment. For example, the word chakra probably has no meaning outside a Hindu context. I advise you to not put your faith in these practices.

I am a scientist, so I tend toward the skeptical. What I tell my students is that if a particular therapy has no side effects, then it certainly also has no effects. I believe that this truism has something to be said for it. As a scientist and not a Christian I want to advise you to be a bit skeptical of therapies for which there is not actual scientific evidence that they work. These supposed "internal energies" are not accepted by science because there is no evidence for such energies. You should maintain a healthy skepticism of some of these alternative therapies, but this is not a Christian issue so much as a human issue.

John Oakes


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