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EBUP40: Faith Healing vs Healing Faith

Eric Butterworth Unity Podcast #40

Eric Butterworth Sunday Services — Faith Healing vs Healing Faith

When we really catch the message of spiritual healing, it is truly an exciting discovery. I want us to make a clear distinction between faith healing and healing faith. This is not just a play on words, this is very important insight. Faith healing is a term that is often used referring to any kind of non-medical healing. However, with the trends that are taking place in the medical industry, it’s important to highlight some important differences.


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When was the last time you really got excited about something? I mean in a positive way. I want to set the tone now that during this hour today, as you take a look at some new insights, you get excited about the truth. An excitement that will carry with you into all aspects of your life. I’m going to use the title, Faith Healing Versus Healing Faith. This is not to infer that there are two conflicting processes involved in the recovery from illness. Certainly, recovery is to be celebrated no matter by what means it comes about.

But as students of truth, we need to understand the basic principles involved so as to build a proficiency in affecting the healing experience within ourselves. When we really catch the message of spiritual healing, it is truly an exciting discovery. I want us to make a clear distinction between faith healing and healing faith. This is not just a play on words, this is very important insight. Faith healing is a term that is often used referring to any kind of non-medical healing. However, with the trends that are taking place in the medical industry, it’s important to highlight some important differences.

So I’m using the term faith healing to cover all the ways in which a healing is attempted by means of outside agencies. This would include the healing effort in an evangelical service often called charismatic healing. It would include the laying on of hands and what is called glossolalia, speaking in tongues. It would include the divine healing service in a more conservative church, using what is called intercessory prayer. And it might include psychic healing, what is called psychic surgery, but is sometimes referred to as paranormal healing.

In other words, faith healing as we’re using the term today, is a process or phenomenon where something is done on or to the patient and all of them calling for some kind of a miracle showing. Healing faith is basically an attribute or a level of consciousness where you take responsibility for your own life, working to open your mind to release the healing flow from within. You recall that Jesus said often to those who he introduced to a healing experience, “Thy faith, it may be whole. According to your faith, be it done unto you.”

Now quite often the motivation in back of the interest in faith healing is a desire for a quick cure, a miracle demonstration, and suddenly perhaps there’s an unwillingness to take any personal responsibility to the physical condition or its healing. Actually, there’s often a belief implied that the condition came through God’s will, that God laid it on you for some reason known only to him.

So the healing effort may be called the intercessory prayer, implying an attempt to plead with God to change his mind, set you free from the bondage of illness. We’re not passing judgment on either the healers or the healing methods in the faith healing field. We simply want to establish the fact that this is not what we mean when we refer to spiritual healing. There’s some question as to the depth of this healing for it could be said that one is not totally healed until it comes through a growth in the person’s own consciousness from within.

One of the most exciting and significant developments of all human history has been the exploration of space that we’ve witnessed in our lifetime. It has been nearly 30 years since I can remember curiously watching the pinprick of light that was Sputnik traveling across the sky, and perhaps many of you remember this. I had always been interested in astronomy from being a little child. It’s an unbelievable thing. I found myself saying over and over again, “Wow, wow.” In the three decades since, we have all had the opportunity through television of experiencing a very exciting space adventure. You may recall watching the landing of the moon and the return to Earth. As the poet says, “To be alive in such an age.”

The space era has broadened our horizons of perception in an almost unbelievable way. For whatever else we believe the universe to be, it is whole. In this we can all feel secure. Nothing can be taken out of the universe. Nothing is irrelevant in it. This means that you are important. You are whole. It means that you’re a child of the universe. You’re not to walk the path of life alone, the whole universe walks with you, is dynamically involved in you. The cosmic flow is ever expressing as you. Because of this flow in you of universal life, which is a healing flow, you’re always worthy of the full support of the universe and the lilies of the field and the birds of the air. Isn’t that exciting?

It’s the healing activity that is always present within you, which medical science refers to as the vis medicatrix naturae. Biology, Edmund Wilson calls it the natural configuration of the whole. An acupuncturist may call it vital energy. To the evangelist, it is the Holy Spirit. And a yogi would call it prana. But call it what you will. It’s the cosmic healing flow. Here’s the power that heals. It is God. It’s very subtle, but what this means is that health is not that you can get physically in pills or potions. You cannot get health anywhere. You can only be health.

Health is the reality of life, the normal condition of every person. Truly that’s something to really be excited about it. Health is the normal condition of your body. The whole person we seek to become through our study of truth is the consciousness of the whole person that we’ve always been. The healing and growth that is needed is always present within as a divine possibility. So true healing is not a matter of defeating illness, but revealing wellness. It is dealing with life and the attitude that wellness is as natural as a smile, as normal is a flower or a sunrise.

Medical science identifies the primary systems of the body as the circulatory system, digestive system, the endocrine system, the autonomic nervous system, the parasympathetic nervous system and immune system. Today, holistic doctors are working with two additional systems, the healing system and the belief system. Both are considered very valid and very important, and they work together. The healing system is the way the body mobilizes all its resources to combat disease naturally. The belief system represents the unique element in human beings that makes it possible for the human mind to affect the workings of the body, how a person responds emotionally, mentally, or spiritually to one’s problems has a great deal to do with the way the body functions. One’s faith or lack of it, and the possibilities of the healing flow to correct physical conditions will affect the very chemistry of the body, and it does.

In an important medical journal, the Annals of Internal Medicine, the November 1938 issue, there was a review of the importance of the patient’s faith in the physician as a significant factor in overcoming disease. The main point that emerged from this article, which has been quite influential through the years, was the patient’s faith in the healing power of the physician, that this faith is often more important than the treatment itself in reversing the course of illness. This has been called the placebo effect. It makes the doctor and his medication more effective. Quite often, the moment the doctor walks in the room or writes out a prescription, the healing has already commenced. So often a person calls on a spiritual counselor or calls or writes to Unity.

Because of the activation of the belief system, the person’s healing begins immediately. Many folks have reported that they’ve been writing to Silent Unity or the Unity Center about a healing need. The moment they posted the letter in the box, they felt a surge of life within their system right off, and they were already healed at that moment. All healing begins within. The greatest force in the human body is the natural drive to heal itself. It’s a building resource. Treatment of a patient, either by medicine or by prayer help, is incomplete if it is confined to such procedures which are being done for and to the person. It becomes complete only when the patient’s own resources are fully engaged, and the person is inspired to activate his own belief system through faith.

Dr. Richard Cabot of Harvard medical school, many years ago, wrote in the New England Medical Journal, “The body has a super wisdom which is biased on the side of life rather than death. It is 10 times as powerful as medicine’s invitation. What is this powerful force? It is God. And I recommend to the medical profession to let the patient know of this great force that is working within him. It does the healing practitioner no good to avoid the word God. Why not teach the people the truth?” This was a statement of a medical doctor. Certainly that is what I consider the nature of my work. Teach people the truth.

We witness the revival of life in the garden in this early springtime. We observe the steady growth of a child. We watch the healing cut on a finger. We may feel a compelling reverence for the body’s innate healing system. Shakespeare said, “What a piece of work is man.” It’s interesting and quite revealing to note that materia medica has long been seeking to overcome or cure disease. Today, the more enlightened perception is that life is not known by studying disease, any more than we can understand the world by studying it in the dark of night. Medical research is not putting more emphasis on the question, what makes well people well rather than what makes sick people sick.

The underlying cause of life is the divine life force. It’s not something extraneous to you in the competence or the ability of a person and the effectiveness of a pill or medication, not something that acts upon you when properly contacted. It is your very life. It does not come and go or start or stop. It does not step up its action through your prayer. Your prayer changes you in consciousness. so that more life is revealed. Life does not get old or sick or diseased. Life doesn’t die. Life is always whole.

But the divine life force flows into you in the degree that you accept it. Jesus says, “According to your faith, be it done unto you.” You see, what is called spiritual healing is not a befuddled attempt to get God out there to do something for you, to perform a miracle upon you. God is not a healer. God is life. Healing then is not something God does for us. Healing is something, in a sense, that you do for yourself. The only healer in all the world is you. Not in your ability to heal other people, but the ability to accept the wholeness of the life process within you. There’s a movement in consciousness in which we awaken the belief system and accept to a greater degree than ever before the unrestricted flow of that which eternally is.

God is life, whole and complete, no matter what the condition of the body. It’s important to keep a clear perspective that God is life, the inexorable healing flow within you, all the time. God is life all the time in you, not just when you’re prayerfully reminding Him that’s what He’s supposed to do and be. When a person, perhaps unconsciously, implies in his prayer efforts directed toward God, “Come on, God, get on the job. You’re supposed to be the heating life.” God is life. You don’t change that in any way, shape, or form or your prayer or your treatment. But you become more receptive to it, more responsive to it, more open in consciousness.

It was sad to me to observe a group of people praying for the healing of someone in a critical condition in the hospital. Begging, supplicating, pleading, interceding with God for a miracle of healing. Someone from another planet witnessing this could only conclude that this God must be cold and heartless, had to berate him and plead with him and beg him, supplicate him to make something happen. God is not a being to be supplicated. God is an ever-present force to be discovered and released. Frequently in the literature of the heating industry, there occurs the phrase, “The patient as a whole.” We’re seeing this more and more today. This represents an encouraging step in dealing with a patient who has a problem, instead of impersonally dealing with a problem that a patient has.

One of the sad commentaries in the typical practice of medicine is that far too many doctors know more about disease than about the person in whom the disease exists. There are still far too few people in the healing industry ... We’re talking basically about medical healing, faith healing, even metaphysical healing. Far too few people who realize that healing is primarily a spiritual process proceeding from within out, never from the outside, always from within, from the spiritual center to the circumference of the physical body. New holistic approach in medicine is making inroads into the problem. There’s still a long way to go.

500 years ago, Giordano Bruno wrote, “Nature is a living unity of living units, and each of which the power of the whole is present.” This is one of the most profound statements ever made. “Nature is the living unity of living units and each of which the power of the whole is present.” This is the insight that gave rise to the holism of Jan Christiaan Smuts and the holistic medicine of our day. In its simplest, it simply means that a seed can become a tree because the tree is in the seed. It’s simple and it’s profound. It’s self-evident, but we overlook it. A seed can become a tree because the tree is in the seed. By the same token, you can become whole in mind and body because the cosmic whole of you is ever within you as you. It is you. No matter what stage the plant may be in between the seed and the tree, the potential whole is always in the part. You may see the little shoot coming out of the ground. The little sapling begins to have branches and leaves and the sturdy oak standing in the forest.

Whatever level we may approach this growth process in between, the potential whole is always in the part. The whole oak tree is in every part of the process all the way down back to the seed and no matter what your condition may be, there’s always an allness even within your illness. That’s profound and that’s important. Whatever it is, is whole, whether you can see or experience it or not. The important aspect of this is that you can be healed because you are whole. Certainly that’s something to get excited about. It’s important that we deal with this whole process of truth to get to the full meaning and value of wholeness within our self.

One researcher calls sickness, “Struggling health.” The illness is an evidence that somewhere in our consciousness you’re frustrating or inhibiting the cosmic flow of life. A preacher of Ecclesiastes makes a statement, “God made man straightforward, but man invents endless subtleties of his own.” God made us whole and perfect. We’ve created or evolved certain patterns less than whole, part of the frustration of the wholeness within us. So health, as far as we’re concerned, is struggling trying to get out. Much attention is given to symptoms by a diagnostician. To him, symptoms point to the illness. But an important question that needs to be asked, many of asked it, perhaps you’ve thought of it yourself. Is the symptom the byproduct of the illness, or is it a causative influence that gives rise to the illness? That’s the question to ponder over.

Is the symptom the byproduct of the illness, or is it a causative influence and gives rise to the illness? You see, illness is not something we have, but something we’re doing. And the symptoms give us the best insight into what we’re doing. Fatigue, depression, headache, and lethargy, what is being repressed? Maybe conditions or relationships that you do not think you can cope with. Maybe a frustrated desire or hurt or a feeling of what you should be doing with your life. For some reason you’re not listening. The symptoms may be telling you what you need to eliminate in your thinking and feeling, telling you where and how you’ve repressed the energy that is life, refusing to remit it to flow easily into expression.

Drugs and medications soothe the symptoms. But only you, as you get in touch with yourself and give way to the cosmic healing flow, can eliminate the symptoms and experience the wellness that is your nature to experience. This is an extremely important factor to be dealt with in the study of reality of spiritual healing. And we consider the implications of the whole person, of an allness that is ever the pattern and potential of our being within, present at all times, no matter what the condition. You may begin to question, how then do we turn from allness to illness? How do we get sick with this powerful healing, renewing force, ever present within us?

One of the first discoveries that you make in working with basics of spiritual healing is that illnesses do not just happen. You don’t just happen to get sick. We talk of catching a cold. I always visualize that like a baseball player catching a pop fly in the infield. So facetiously I would say, “Don’t catch it. Let it drop.” In a practical sense, don’t get into conversations about the flu season or what is going around these days. Dr. Meerloo [Joost A. M. Meerloo, Mental Contagion], who talks about psychic infection, that’s what he’s talking about. One of the major causes of illness. You talk about contagion and about something we got from somebody. The important thing is within you is a healing life force. It has but one motivation, one will, if you will, that is to heal and renew you and keep you in perfect health.

Illnesses do not just happen. Everyone participates in some way in his physical condition, to the attitudes or moods or complexes with which he deals with things, and of course by the quality of his diet and the amount of physical exercise. All malfunction of physical system is a kind of human behavior. That’s kind of startling when we think of it, but it’s an important thing to deal with. All malfunctioning of the physical system is a kind of human behavior. It’s one of the ways in which the body responds to experiences. So it must follow that everyone participates in his healing in much the same way as everyone participates in the sickness.

See, the assumption has been that healing is something that has done to you, or something that is worked upon you. If you have a physical problem, your responsibility is simply to call your doctor, make an appointment, go in and see him. Go talk to a healer who will heal you. But no matter what the healer does, we participate in the results through our attitude toward life, through getting in touch with ourselves, through our belief about the treatment and our faith in the healer. And the really exciting thing about this is that healing is an inside job, and the cosmic healing process does not come to you as from doctors or remedies or even prayers as metaphysical treatments from without. It comes through you in accordance with your own inner healing system. You’re a functioning belief system.

At any time and in any condition, you can like the prodigal son, wake up, come to yourself, open your heart to the healing flow. This is not to say that it is easy. Sometimes people say, “You’re oversimplifying.” It’s not easy. It’s not to say that you may not have strong dependence on others to help, as we have strong dependence on drugs or treatments. But it means that you are never alone. You’re never without help. And no condition is ever without hope. The great healer is the presence within you, which is never absent. As it functions through you, through your own faith, you become the healer, the only healer in the world who has the power to heal you from your condition. No one else but you can say to you with authority, “This condition cannot be healed.” It won’t accept your acquiescence in the negatives that you catch like the fielder catches the pop flies.

A cardiac patient who was a student of truth had been hospitalized for a serious condition. His doctor came into his room and told him, despite the fact that he’d been expecting to be released from the hospital the next day, the doctor told him that as a result of some aberrations on the electrocardiograph reading, he was going to have to stay for another two weeks. He asked the doctor if he would leave him, come back in an hour, and give him the test again. The doctor thought this was rather strange, but he did acquiesce. He left. The man took time to get still, relaxed, got centered in the cosmic healing flow, visualized himself at the center of a dynamic, renewing force, seeing himself open to the inflow of a perfect heart idea in God Mind.

He spent the remainder of this hour quietly relaxing in a consciousness of faith, letting the healing process flow through him into his mind and his body. The doctor came back, fully expecting that things would be about the same. He gave him another electrocardiograph test. It was a complete return to normalcy. The doctor shook his head. He said there was really no reason to keep him there and he was released the next day. The doctor probably thought that somebody had made a mistake in the first test. But the man knew different. This should not be relegated to an experience of faith healing, usually described as God’s visitation to work his miracle.

It may startle you when I say ... Well, not those of you who’ve heard me before. God didn’t come into that room. God didn’t heal the person. God never went out of that room. God was the healing presence that was always present. The difference was in his acceptance, his faith, his willingness to let the process work. You see, in an orderly universe in which there is no caprice, a chalice dropped by a priest in the cathedral and a test tube dropped by a chemist in his laboratory, crashed to the floor by the selfsame force of gravity. Life is the acting principle of being, whether its energy is activated by meditation or medication, affirmation of truth, or by physical treatment. The cardiac patient experienced not faith healing, but healing faith, which he very profoundly participated in the process in which he exercised deep discipline and sincere faith.

As we say often, deep within every one of us, we have the privilege of a constant healing life force. It’s present eternally, never absent. But ours is the responsibility of keeping in tune, keeping open, keeping responsive, building and maintaining a healthy mind and consciousness that supports this natural healing and renewing process. As we’re told, “Thou would keep him in perfect peace, whose mind has stayed on thee.” In other words, it’s the amazing promise that God will keep you in the free flow of radiant life and health if you keep yourself centered in the awareness of your oneness with God, the responsibility is yours.

Again, a student of truth does not look for the quick solution of faith healing. He takes responsibility for the discipline and focus of his mind. He works to build up a healing faith, which opens the flow of his own healing energy. It can be helpful to have a regularly scheduled quiet time of centering, the inner prayer of wholeness, not praying for something to happen, not praying for God to do something for you. But praying in the sense of becoming aware of that which God is and always has been. And the time of visualizing the body functioning smoothly like a finely tuned engine, every organ function performing its integral work. Seeing the circulatory system as a cleansing and renewing stream with the white blood cells and antibodies routing out any destructive organisms.

In other words, get excited about the heating process. Get excited about the truth of your wholeness, feel joy and enthusiastic about the body’s performance. If you will, almost like rooting for the home team in an athletic contest. Just sit back and say, “Hey, great, great, wonderful. It’s marvelous.” Get excited about what’s happening within you all the time. It is taking responsibility for the outworking of the cosmic healing force, even more, taking pride in the manifestation and sustaining of perfect health. Let’s carry this excitement over for a minute in the stillness. First of all, I would like you to give vent to something which I hope you’ve felt within you. Let’s just say together, wow, wow.

Everybody has a wow experience where we see how wondrously we’re made, how marvelous is this creative force within us, how ever-present and completely eternal is the God activity within us. Let’s determine that we will never again let ourselves fall unconscious to where we feel sorry for our self, wonder why God has allowed this to happen to us. God hasn’t allowed it to happen. God doesn’t have any part in the happening. God is the allness and the wholeness with which you can rise out of the unconscious of the happening and realize it can be healing force of God. Remember, there is within you this marvelous healing system which is being discovered and worked with in the medical profession as well as in the healing movement.

A belief system is your consciousness and the power to lay hold of this healing activity that it may do its perfect work in you. Paul said it. Stir up the gift of God within you. This is your responsibility. The gift of God is always in you, never diminished, certainly never separated from you. You can’t lose it because you’re a creative activity of the universe, which is whole, and you’re whole. Yours is the responsibility to stir it up, quicken it to activity, to the forefront of your consciousness, and believe, and accept, and rejoice, and give thanks. So once again, just to articulate and to give focus on something that’s working in us, an excitement we feel about it. Let’s just say together, wow, wow.


May you carry that wow with you today. How wondrous, how beautiful, how complete are you created. What a piece of work is man. what a piece of work you are. How great is the idea that the universal flow it’s everywhere, active within you. How enthusiastic we can and should become. And we realize that this healing stream has never diminished to work within you now, all the hours and days to come. Your need is to give focus to it, celebrate it, and rejoice in it. You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. So be it.