Gary: Welcome to Search the Scriptures 24/7, a radio ministry of The Berean Call. I’m Gary Carmichael. Thanks for joining us. In today’s program, we begin a two-installment series of classics from our Search the Scriptures Daily archives, with the late founder of The Berean Call, Dave Hunt, and TBC executive director Tom McMahon. This week they address the question: “What Is Inner Healing?” And now, here’s Tom.
Tom: Thanks, Gary. The main topic for this week’s program is the rise of occultism in Christianity, and in particular its entry through psychology and inner healing. Last week we addressed the occult influences in the church of Christian psychotherapy. Today, we plan to discuss similar effects in the church brought in through inner healing ministries. Now, inner healing is a form of metaphysical healing which attempts to bring about peace and harmony between the soul, or mind, and spirit. Its methodology involves a mixture of biblical, psychological, and occult concepts and techniques. First of all, Dave, is there a difference between inner healing and Christian psychotherapy or is it all cut from the same tree?
Dave: Well, it is cut from the same tree, I guess you could say, but there are some differences - among them, psychotherapy can only be practiced by licensed psychotherapists. You have to have a PhD and be licensed by the state; inner healing is practiced by anybody who picks it up and starts to do it. Not all psychotherapy is like inner healing. In other words, inner healing basically involves not just going back in the past, which psychotherapy does, but visualizing Jesus coming alongside in some traumatic experience and working it out for you. There are many Christian psychologists who don’t advocate visualizing Jesus, but many of them do. So, yes, there are similarities and there are some differences.
Tom: Dave, last week we talked about Norman Vincent Peale being the father of Christian psychotherapy – psychology, really, and his background, as we mentioned, was the mind sciences. That’s really his theology. Now, it’s really interesting that the kind of…
Dave: Maybe we need to explain mind sciences…
Dave: These are the cults of Christian Science, Religious Science, Mind Science, as you mentioned, and the whole idea is that sin, sickness, death, and so forth - this was Mary Baker Eddy’s idea, which, of course, she got from a hypnotist - Quimby.
Tom: Right, Dr. Phineas Quimby.
Dave: Right, the idea is that these things don’t exist - they only exist in our minds, like the Power of Positive Thinking, or Schuller’s Possibility Thinking. You can change your circumstances - not just the way you feel about them, but your whole universe around you - by changing the way you think. So, Mary Baker Eddy, in fact, denied the reality of sickness or death. In fact, Jesus didn’t die on the Cross, because there is no such thing as death. So these are the mind sciences, and Norman Vincent Peale, in fact, is claimed by them. He spoke - I don’t know how many times, but a number of times - at Unity Headquarters at Lee’s Summit, Missouri. Unity is one of those, what they call the New Thought—the New Thought Alliance. The New Thought Alliance, which involves these various churches, (they are really cults; there is nothing biblical about them at all). They claim - both Norman Vincent Peale and Robert Schuller (Robert Schuller was Norman Vincent Peale’s main disciple; Schuller credits Peale as being his mentor), and the New Thought Alliance claims them as being part of - you know, they teach the same thing. Robert Schuller has also taught at Unity Headquarters in Lee’s Summit, Missouri. He didn’t go there to correct them; he went there to commend them and to share his church-growth principles with this horrible cult. He dedicated a Unity Temple in Warren, Michigan. He has spoken a number of times and blessed the Unity people. In fact, he had one of the major Unity ministers – well, she now is not directly affiliated with Unity; she was called in his brochure, Schuller’s brochure for his Church Growth Institute a couple of years ago, “the Reverend Dr. Johnnie Coleman.” She’s the pastor of Christ Universal Temple in Chicago.
Again, so their affiliation with Unity, with Science of Mind, is very clear. In fact, I think you are about to read a quote out of Seduction of Christianity.
Tom: Right. A lot of people were shocked when we stated that Norman Vincent Peale, his background and most of his teachings, were right out of Religious Science and Mind Science. And in Seduction of Christianity we quote Charles Braden, who - here’s a historian of New Thought, of Religious Science, and so on, and he writes, “Peale’s father once told his son ‘you have evolved a new Christian emphasis out of the composite of Science of Mind, metaphysics, Christian Science, medical and psychological practice, Baptist evangelism, Methodist witnessing, and solid Dutch Reformed Calvinism.’” Now, that’s really the heart of Religious Science and Unity and so on. It’s an amalgam - it’s a collection - of different ideas, but it all has sort of a Gnostic or metaphysical foundation.
Dave: You would not get that so obviously if you know the occult. You would very clearly get it in his most popular book The Power of Positive Thinking. But we could take you to other books by Norman Vincent Peale, for example: Positive Imaging. And in that, Norman Vincent Peale teaches directly occult techniques that if a pastor wants to increase the number of people in his congregation, he needs to visualize these people coming in.
Tom: Last week, we mentioned how he utilized occult techniques such as visualization. Particularly, he gave an example of how he got into fundraising through this methodology. Dave…
Dave: And you could even get somebody to write out a check for you by visualizing them doing it. So this is direct occultism.
Tom: Right, exactly. Now what’s interesting, and what I am leading up to here, is that as Norman Vincent Peale, with his mind-science background, is the founder of, really the one who introduced, the idea of Christian psychology. Agnes Sanford - she’s really the mother of inner healing. She really brought that into the church. Now, her background: she started out the daughter of a Presbyterian missionary in China, but her theology developed into Religious Science.
Dave: Tom, the teachings (and we don’t make this up - these are in her books; this is in writing) the teachings of Agnes Sanford are so incredibly unbiblical and directly occult that I don’t see how anyone can possibly deny it, and yet she is the mother, you could say - I call her the “Mary…—
Tom: I did say that…
Dave: …I call her the “Mary Baker Eddy of the Charismatic movement.” She is, indeed, the mother of the inner healing movement. She trained all of these people – well, she didn’t train all of them; the ones she trained, trained the rest, such as Ruth Carter Stapleton, Rosalind Rinker, John and Paula Sandford - who are still all over the country involved in inner healing; William Vaswig, Rita Bennett, and you’ve probably got other names you could add to it.
Tom: Well, Richard Foster - we’ve mentioned his involvement…
Dave: She didn’t directly train him, but he relied very much upon her.
Tom: …and recommended her in an early edition of his book Celebration of Discipline.
Dave: Yes, right and said he had learned a great deal from her; received a lot of insights from her…considered her to be very sound.
Tom: David Semands, certainly; Morton Kelsey - I am looking down a list here. Leanne Payne, of course; Francis MacNutt - these are people who are still very much involved in inner healing. And our concern here is that as sincere as they may be in trying to help people, the methodology, the techniques here, come right out of the occult.
Dave: Tom, let’s just get down to that. John and Paula Sandford say that Agnes Sanford was “for all of us the forerunner in the field of inner healing.” Now, when we exposed some of these things about Agnes Sanford, John Sandford said that he had cast a demon out of her.
Tom: Yes, and no relation - she has a son named John or Jack, but this is John and Paula Sandford.
Dave: With a “d” in it. Her name does not have a “d” in it.
Tom: Right. S-a-n-f-o-r-d.
Dave: He claimed that he had cast a demon out of her and led her to Christ, but nevertheless he says she was their mentor. Now this was before he supposedly cast a demon out of her and led her to Christ, but…
Tom: She was heavily involved in influencing people prior to that.
Dave: …But let me just give you a few quotes from Agnes Sanford: “God’s love was blacked out from man by the negative thought vibration of this sinful world. So our Lord lowered His thought vibrations to the thought vibrations of humanity and cleansed the thought vibrations that surround this globe…”
Where do you find that in the Bible? This is pure Science of Mind, positive thinking/negative thinking. “…Therefore, since He became a very part of the collective unconscious of the race, when He died upon the Cross a part of humanity died with Him and an invisible personalized energy of our spirits has already ascended with Him into the heavens. [Now this energy, you know] His blood, that mysterious life essence, remains upon this earth in plasma form blown by the winds to every land, exploding in a chain reaction of spiritual power. We direct this great flow of life into a closed mind by doing penance for the sins of the world or for a particular person, and by taking that one [that is, visualizing them] to the Cross of Christ and there receiving from him forgiveness, healing, and life.”
You know, I thought that salvation comes through proclaiming the gospel and those who believe it are saved. But you don’t have to proclaim the gospel; you can simply visualize. Now she called God – well, she said we could tap into this “flow of energy, this high voltage of God’s creativity.” She claimed we are part of God; she called God “primal energy” and Jesus “the most profound of psychiatrists.” And she said you could forgive other people’s sins through visualization.
We give a lot of quotes in this book, and we could go on and on, but I think that’s enough for anyone to recognize that this woman is not only unbiblical; she is teaching some very dangerous and destructive concepts of the occult. And yet this is the founder, really, the forerunner, in the inner healing movement. And these people still look up to her and honor her, and her books are still sold in Christian bookstores. Now, what does that say about the discernment not only of these people but of those who still follow them to this day?
That’s one reason for this radio program. Tom, we are just pleading with people—we’re not trying to run anybody down, we are not making false accusations, we’re simply saying, “What do they teach?” We give you the quotes, we give you the documentation, and then we say let’s get back to the Bible.
Tom: But, Dave, it isn’t just a matter of them having fond memories of or ideas about Agnes Sanford. They utilize the techniques that she is talking about that come out of the occult. We talked about psychology and Carl Jung last week. Agnes Sanford was a Jungian to the max! That’s where she got most of her ideas. For example, the collective unconscious - she believed, as you mentioned in the quote earlier, that Jesus - and everything - is a part, all of our memories are a part, of a collective unconscious that you learn how to tap into.
Dave: Tom, let me just go back a minute, because Richard Foster would be a name that would be well known. He has the Renovaré ministry, now, in which he is taking this across the country and around the world. His books, beginning with Celebration of Discipline and so forth, have sold, I would say, hundreds of thousands of copies. He’s been very popular. Now, after what I quoted of the beliefs of Agnes Sanford, listen to what Richard Foster says: “I have been greatly helped in my understanding of the value of the imagination in praying for others by Agnes Sanford. This advice of prayer through the imagination, picturing the healing, and much more, was given to me by Agnes Sanford.”
Well, I guarantee you, Tom, that wasn’t given to her by God. It is not in the Bible. This is an occult technique. Foster endorsed Sanford and her books. He said, “I have discovered her to be an extremely wise and skillful counselor.” And yet she openly taught Eastern mysticism and occultism. She taught that humans existed in heaven prior to coming to earth trailing “a cloud of glory with an unconscious memory of that pre-earth existence,” and so forth.
Now, how can we honor a woman like this when we really consider that she is really behind the inner healing movement? That gives you some insight into what this movement is really about and the dangers that are involved. And yet, Tom, these people persist in this in spite of the fact that it is not biblical, it is contrary to the Word of God, and it uses the imagination to visualize Jesus, to visualize people, as though you can create reality in your mind. Tom, if I had any hair left I would pull it out, I guess. It becomes a little bit frustrating after a while.
Tom: Dave, I remember going back to the beginnings of the Vineyard movement. Ken Gulliksen actually founded the Vineyard movement before John Wimber was involved. But Ken had tapes then, and he very much got into inner healing. His wife got involved, and then he got involved out of her encouragement from that. When John Wimber joined the Vineyard movement, this was a major part – inner healing was a major part - of what the Vineyard movement was all about, and it was all based, again, on Agnes Sanford and her teachings.
Dave: Yes, they offered her tapes, her books…
Dave: What we’re seeing is: you follow the leader, you get some new idea - the Bible is not sufficient. What we need is some new technique for dealing with people’s problems. This is how psychology got into the church. This is how inner healing got into the church. But once you turn away from Scripture, the sufficiency of Scripture - is this God’s Word? Is this the Manufacturer’s Handbook? Has He, as Peter says in his second epistle, chapter 1, “given us all things that pertain unto life and godliness?” Is the Bible, as Paul says in 2 Timothy 3, it will make you…the man of God will be “perfect, mature, complete, thoroughly furnished unto every good work.”
Now, as soon as we say, “No, that’s not true. We need some help from other techniques,” then you’ve lost your moorings, you’ve lost your compass, you have no basis left for determining whether this thing that you are involved in is true or false. It seems to work. You take a pragmatic approach. In fact, this was the approach that John Wimber took, way at the very beginning. He had a Calvary Chapel, a large Calvary Chapel - and you know the story. Chuck Smith was concerned about some of the things that were happening, and finally, he said to John, “Are you going to go by the Bible or by experience?”
And John Wimber said, “We are going to go by experience. If it works, that’s what we are going to do.”
And that was when Chuck Smith, to his credit, said, “Then please don’t use the name Calvary Chapel anymore.” And this is where the Vineyards came from. Now…
Tom: That’s the thrust that they took.
Dave: Yes, you had some Vineyards already. I used to speak at them. These were good people; I loved them, but I began to warn them about John Wimber and some of his ideas. And, of course, when he then called himself the Vineyard, he was well known and most people think he was the founder of the Vineyard movement.
But the point we are trying to make is that when you get away from the Bible and you go by experience…you can get all kinds of experiences - on drugs; I have talked to people all over this world, Tom - Moral Re-Armament people, they’ve got their headquarters are in Caux, Switzerland. They could give you experiences – fantastic experiences. I’ve talked to Hindus and Buddhists, occultists - incredible experiences! And some of them - they think they’ve had experiences with God. Carl Jung - the Holy Ghost appeared to him in the form of a dove. He picked up a spirit guide, as we have mentioned in the past.
Tom: Right, Philemon the demon.
Dave: So this is experience and where it will lead you. I’ve got to get back to the Word of God and have my confidence in this.
Tom: Dave, I just want to add this. When John Wimber began healing, he was looking for signs and wonders. That was his thrust. And as the inner healing started, it involved physical healing. Now that was the same way with Agnes Sanford, except she wasn’t having much luck with regard to organic problems that people had. So then she made her shift to the healing of the soul, basically back to the mind science roots, which she had. But that’s the trend that we see. They start out with signs and wonders, looking for physical manifestations, but then they have to fall back to the spiritual, and they push it to the realm. Again, the spiritual and the experiential, but no real basis for objectively…
Dave: Okay, Tom, why do we even talk about this, and why do we name peoples’ names? Well, because they may come to your church, or you may pick up their books; they may be recommended to you by someone, and the next thing you know, you are caught up in this. So, it’s amazing how many people can sit under someone’s ministry and not recognize the false teachings that are coming forth, not realizing where they are being led, until finally there they are. So we’re simply trying to warn people; we’re trying to give some facts. We’re letting you know what these people teach, where the teaching comes from. It comes out of the occult. It involves occult practices. And we are simply saying, “Compare it with the Word of God. Get back to the Bible, and let’s renew our confidence in God’s Word as being sufficient for our needs.
Tom: Dave, just to add to that - if these individuals that we’ve mentioned are teaching things that are biblical, fine. I mean to their credit, if that’s the case, but people have to be discerning as to whether that’s the case or not.
Dave: There’s a mixture Tom, because not everything they teach is wrong, and that is more deadly. Because the good stuff then causes you to accept what is not of God.
Tom: Dave, earlier I mentioned Gnosticism. That’s a term we don’t hear much these days, but really what it is - this is a problem that the church dealt with early on. These are the early heresies - we could say they were Gnostic heresies. And it had to do with, first of all, a mixture of different beliefs. Some out of the East, some dealt with mysticism, some dealt with secret knowledge and gnostic, you know, it means “gnosis” - knowledge…
Dave: It goes back to the Garden of Eden, the Tree of Knowledge.
Tom: Right, but this is really the root of so many of the problems that we see that have come into the church. It’s really at the heart – we’re talking about mind science, religious science - it has to do with the spiritual being more profound or important than the physical side of life to the point where the actual physical side is denied, and everything must be spiritualized. We’ve talked in other programs about positive confession, positive mental attitude, the Word Faith teaching; these are all Gnostic heresies to one degree or another.
Dave: Amen, so let’s get back to the Bible and see what it says. Don’t believe us. We give you the facts, we give you the quotes, but mainly we want to teach the truth from the Word of God.
Gary: You’ve been listening to a special edition of Search the Scriptures 24/7 with Dave Hunt and T.A. McMahon, a radio ministry of The Berean Call. We offer a wide variety of resources to help you in your study of God’s Word. For a complete list of materials and a free subscription to our monthly newsletter contact us at PO Box 7019 Bend, Oregon 97708; call us at 800.937.6638, or visit our website at the bereancall.org. I’m Gary Carmichael. Thanks for tuning in, and we hope you can join us again next week. Until then, we encourage you to Search the Scriptures 24/7.