faith healing, relief or cure of bodily ills through some religious attitude on the part of the sufferer. In the Jewish and Christian traditions prayers for cures and miracles are usual; thus the apostles developed a ritual of healing (James 5.14–16; see also miracle). In the Catholic churches healing has centered about the sacraments of the Eucharist and anointing of the sick and around shrines (e.g., Lourdes and Sainte Anne de Beaupré) and relics. Since 1800 there have appeared a number of Protestant faith-healing groups, e.g., that of John Alexander Dowie, the Emmanuel movement, and the Peculiar People. The followers of Christian Science, approaching the problem differently, do not consider their system one of faith healing. They consider humans as Godlike and therefore not subject to material ills. Faith healing is of interest in the fields of psychosomatic medicine and psychotherapy.
See M. T. Kelsey, Healing and Christianity (1973); S. Leek, The Story of Faith Healing (1973); D. E. Harrell, Jr., All Things are Possible (1976); J. Randi, The Faith Healers (1988).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.