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The Spiritual Factors In Health

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Charles Fillmore

The above is the title of a stirring article by Dr. Harry Emerson Fosdick in Physical Culture for January.

Dr. Fosdick is in hearty accord with the necessity of a dominant spiritual note as fundamental in the healthy soul, and as the keynote to permanent health of body. His opening declaration is,

“One of the best known physicians in this country said to me recently that in his opinion the next forward step in scientific medicine would come from the recognition of the spiritual factors in health. Certainly it is high time that such recognition become more general and more intelligent. Health is a tunnel that must be dug from both ends, the physical and the spiritual. Every bodily condition has a spiritual repercussion; every spiritual attitude has its bodily echo. Only when both the visible and invisible aspects of a human being are normal and right is radiant and resilient health possible."

Dr.Fosdick proceeds:

"Faith is not primarily a pious matter, an affair of creeds and churches; it is simply the opposite of fear. It is a basic power in human personality, like love and hope, which, when well used, is a builder of wholesomeness and health.

Fear imprisons life; faith liberates it.
Fear paralyzes life; Faith empowers it.
Fear disenheartens life; faith encourages it.
Fear sickens life; faith heals it.
Fear narrows life; faith expands it.
Fear depresses life; faith gladdens it.

Whatever, therefore, displaces fear by faith makes for the health of the whole organism.


Many people who consult a doctor for physical complaints do indeed have bodily maladjustments to complain of, but these physical conditions are often only the symptoms of depressing needs. No doctoring of the symptoms only will clear the case. It is small wonder, therefore, that many cults devoted to healing by spiritual means flourish. I make no general plea for them. Many of them are doubtless congenial soil for superstition and quackery. I am a firm believer in scientific medicine. But the sooner scientific medicine acts on the fact that not only do physical conditions cause spiritual problems, but spiritual conditions cause physical diseases, the sooner will we get scientific medicine on a sounder footing."


Dr. Fosdick’s admission that the mind does distort the natural harmony and health of the body are far in advance of the vast majority of ministers. But his statements betray a cursory study of the fundamental principles of Christian healing. For example, to claim that "Spiritual conditions cause physical diseases” is incorrect. Christian metaphysics teaches that man is spirit, mind and body. Spirit is perfect, mind is the realm of free-will and can think both the perfect and the imperfect, and body is the result of that thinking. When man centers his attention on spirit his mind reflects the perfection of spirit and his body is correspondingly changed, "God is spirit," said Jesus. He also said, "Be ye perfect even as your Father in heaven is perfect." Paul understood the law by which man incorporates spiritual perfection into his character. In II Corinthians 3:18, he writes, "But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are transformed into the same image from glory to glory, even as the Lord the Spirit."

The spirit is perfect and by identifying our minds with spirit we shall become perfect.

Christian metaphysics is not taught in our schools or colleges and ministers are not spiritually logical, consequently, they do not perform the so-called miracles of healing. Of course there are no miracles, as the term is usually understood. When the slow processes of nature are whipped up by the dynamic energies of Snirit, it is called miraculous, but no fundamental law has been broken.

The great need of the Christian Church today, is a better understanding and application of spiritual laws by its ministers. They are standing in the shoes of the Pharisees of old, depending for salvation on their study of the Scriptures. It is written in John 5:39 that Jesus reprimanded those letter-bound keepers of the law in these words, "Ye search the scriptures, because ye think that in them ye have eternal life: and these are they which bear witness of me: and ye will not come to me, that ye may have life."

The Scriptures point the way to the living Christ who is yesterday, today and forever the same. "Let Christ he formed in you," then the Scriptures will become illumined and you will renew your mind and heal your body.

Why ministers like Dr. Fosdick, who accepts the truth that, as he says, "Health is a tunnel that must be dug from both ends, the physical and the spiritual," should admit that his faith is in materia medica, is beyond the logic of the average mind. If Jesus is the great physician, and he promised, "Lo, I am with you alway," Why should his ministers ignore his presence and power to heal their bodily ills?

Dr. Fosdick freely admits that Christian healing is plausible, but he is quick to assert his loyalty to materia medica: ”I believe in scientific healing.” Strange to say this is the attitude of the Christian ministry; with few exceptions. Yet, they are forced to admit that Jesus made healing a vital factor in his ministry and taught that his followers should prove their faith by doing the same works.

"And these signs shall accompany them that believe: in my name shall they cast out demons; they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents, and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall in no wise hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover." (Mark 16:17, 18.)

The fact is that Christianity, as taught today by its ministers, ignores its greatest asset, healing the sick. Instead, of encouraging faith in God as the source of health, the dominant trend of Christian literature and the Christian ministry is to weaken that faith. Not only does Jesus promise to heal our diseases hut to save us from the greatest and most dreaded enemy, death: "He that keepeth my words shall never see death." is the promise. Paul says in Romans 5:21, "As sin reigned in death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." Also in Romans 8:11

"But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwelleth in you, he that raised up Christ Jesus from the dead shall give life also to your mortal bodies through his spirit that dwelleth in you."

These promises that man can be bodily healed, and that health made permanent to the point of overcoming physical death, stare every Christian in the face who reads the New Testament.

The crucifixion of Jesus was to prove to the unbelieving that as Paul says, death could be overcome by all who have the same spirit in them that Jesus had in him.

That Christian minsters claiming to be educated in spiritual things could argue for the perpetuity of death is astonishing. Yet, in Tarbell's Teachers’s Guide, in the Lesson for February 1, 1931 David James Burrell is quoted as follows: "To insist upon the cure of every malady would obviously leave no room for any judgment but our own: and besides, if all such prayers were answered in accordance with the nearsighted petitioner’s work and will, no one would ever die. Then what a world this world would be!" But let us remember that John wrote in Rev. 21:3,

"Behold, the tabernacle of God is with man, and he shall dwell with them, and they shall he his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God; and he shall wipe away every tear from their eyes; and death shall be no more: neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain, any more; the first things are passed away."

However, there are well-known members here and there who are getting in touch with Jesus and being rewarded by his healing power. Among them is E. Stanley Jones, who tells in his book, The Christ of the Indian Road, how he was healed by Jesus. He says,

"I saw that unless I got help from somewhere I would have to give up my missionary career, go back to America and to work on a farm to try to regain my health. It was one of my darkest hours. At that time I was in a meeting at Lucknow. While in prayer, not particularly thinking about myself, a Voice seemed to say, 'Are you yourself ready for this work to which I have called you?' I replied, 'No, Lord, I am dene for. I have reached the end of my rope.' The Voice replied, 'If you will turn that over to me and not worry about it, I will take care of it.' I quickly answered, 'Lord, I close the bargain right here.' A peace settled into my heart and pervaded me. I knew it was done! Life—abundant Life—had taken possession of me. I was so lifted up that I scarcely touched the road as I quietly walked home that night. Every inch was holy ground. For days after that I hardly knew I had a body. I went through the days, working all day and far into the night, and came down to bedtime wondering why in the world I should ever go to bed at all, for there was not the slightest trace of tiredness of any kind. I seemed possessed by Life, and Peace, and Rest—by Christ himself."

"Nine of the most strenuous years of my life have gone by since then and the old trouble has never returned, and I have never had such health. But it was more than a physical touch. I seemed to have tapped new life for body, mind, and spirit. Life was on a permanently higher level. And I had done nothing but take it."

"I suppose that this experience can be picked to pieces psychologically and explained. It does not matter. Life is bigger than processes and overflows them. Christ to me had become Life."

— E. Stanley Jones, in The Christ of the Indian Road.

Brian Johnson Transcribed by Brian Johnson on July 15, 2018.