What is the role of the church in ministering to the sick? This book argues that it is not what is now called the “healing ministry,” with its frequent claims of remarkable cures from physical illness. J. Keir Howard asserts that little critical attention seems to have been paid to the validity of these claims, which, if genuine, would be producing clearly observable effects on the levels of morbidity and mortality in society. Similarly, he claims the important ethical and moral questions the movement raises have also been very largely ignored. In this volume he explores how a huge edifice of muddled theology, together with highly questionable practice, has been built upon very shaky foundations. It is the purpose of this book to examine seriously the claims and teaching of the modern healing movement, as well to explore any possible dangers, in order to encourage Christian people, both ordained and lay, to exercise a more critical approach to the healing movement. The book concludes by outlining a framework for a return to a more biblical emphasis on proper pastoral care in the church’s ministry to the sick.
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The grace and fluidity of Howard’s writing makes this a highly accessible text. Informative and thought provoking, it poses an effective challenge to the widely held but largely unexamined belief that the Christian church should have a healing ministry.
—Tamar Posner, integrative psychotherapist
Howard’s loss to the clinical field is now being balanced by his contribution to setting the record straight in his analysis of Scripture and the clarification of what constituted ‘healing’ in biblical times. . . . Despite being replete with scholarly reference and density, the book is easy to read. The case studies are particularly moving and poignant and force us to confront our own unexamined superstitions about the power of prayer.
—Nerys C. Parry, registered psychologist
In this well-written book, The Healing Myth, Keir Howard challenges much of the woolly thinking and exaggerated claims found in the contemporary church about the subject of Christian healing ministries. I believe it is important particularly for proponents of such ministries, faith healing, exorcisms, etc. . . . With a lifetime of research in medicine, particularly in epidemiology, as well as a second PhD in New Testament, Howard is well placed to consider the true nature of Christian healing ministry.
—Murray D. Gow, senior minister, St. Andrews First Presbyterian Church, Auckland
J. Keir Howard is a retired consultant physician and Anglican priest with doctorates in both medicine and theology. He has been involved in academic teaching, as well as holding senior hospital and public medical posts, and remains active in the ministry of the Anglican Church. He is author of several books, including Medicine, Miracle and Myth in the New Testament (2010).