Breath Ministries closed in 2014 and John Huggett is now retired from full-time ministry. This article still offers valuable insights on this and similar ministries.
This article in no way attempts to validate or invalidate John Huggett’s Christian healing ministry, but simply calls into question Breath Ministries’ use of Complementary/Alternative Therapies/Medicines.Forthese I will use the abbreviation ATCMs as a general term for many of them, such as Acupuncture, Homeopathy, Reiki, Yoga, Reflexology and Herbalism. This abbreviation is helpful as there are different opinions as to whether an ATCM is an alternative, complementary or both, and whether they involve medicine or solely therapy, or again a combination of both. You will have to look at the context of what I am saying to gain a more specific picture.
Breath Ministries literature tells us it is ‘A National Ecumenical Faith Ministry of Healing, Teaching and Training’ and is a registered charity based in Kent. It is run by John and Christine Huggett who also have a ‘National Register of Christian Therapists’ (P.A.C.T.) published annually. It presently has 300 named contacts on the register.
Some years ago I wrote an article on Breath Ministries for Reachout Trust and this year John Huggett wrote to them to point out that the article was out of date as, “much has changed in Breath Ministries during the intervening period”. One such change has been the arrival of John Huggett’s book in 2004 called: Breath of Life. A Believer’s Guide to Healing, Wholeness and Complementary Therapies, published by Sovereign World.
I agree that the original article needed updating and will use John Huggett’s book as representative of their current stance and practice. My previous article was based on their literature at the time, as well as the views of several members of Breath Ministries from the PACT register.
One area I feel I must seek to clarify is Breath Ministries’ definition, understanding and application of ‘Life Force Energy’. According to John Huggett’s letter to Reachout Trust, they do not believe it is a ‘spiritual’ energy but rather physical, “a natural phenomenon” and “the neutral process of releasing natural energy”. Even so, they apply this ‘natural phenomenon’ holistically as they, “see [Complementary] therapies as one means towards wholeness that God provides”. So, there is actually a spiritual link of some kind in their minds. John Huggett sees these different aspects of their work (i.e. Christian healing ministry and ATCMs) as ‘interwoven’.
On the one hand, from the message of their book, I can confirm that this interweaving is attempted, but I do get the impression there are instead two conflicting messages that do not marry together. I consider this interweaving to be frustrated; I identify clear Christian teaching on what is traditional and biblical healing ministry, but then encounter conflicting teaching from the standpoint of ATCMs as he attempts to link the practices and concepts. He swings between God’s supernatural / spiritual / miraculous power and the concept of a natural / neutral / physical energy and gives the impression that he assumes both are the same sometimes. In his letter however he does express a workable link between the two:
“When the therapist or minister of healing is a Spirit-filled Christian the Lord can provide a ‘booster’. He can add the Holy Spirit’s supernatural power to aid the neutral process of releasing natural energy. He can add spiritual gifts to natural ones.”
There are a couple of problems with this. One is that Breath Ministries give no examples of this in the book, or in fact any up-to-date examples at all of healing through ATCMs. This is in spite of many examples of supernatural healings through the Christian healing ministry. So in that sense, the book does not address the subject of the title in regard to ‘Complementary Therapies’. Second, I feel it is presumptuous (as far as evidence is concerned) to suppose that God endorses this belief in a natural/neutral energy that has such a character that when it is unblocked/flows it brings about healing.
This brings me to another statement that John Huggett makes in his letter in regard to this energy:
“Energy is good in itself as it’s something which God created”
The Devil is not good in himself even though God created him, or even because God created him. Yes, in Genesis chapter 1 we see all that God created was good as was the Devil at the time before he fell through pride. But the world is now tainted and indeed cursed as a consequence of the fall of mankind (see the whole of Genesis chapter 3).
I can understand that physical energy can be ‘neutral’ and have no will of its own and no inherent aim towards good or bad, but this contradicts their belief that it is inherently a good/healing energy. I can understand that all physical energy is ‘natural’ as it is part of nature/God’s creation, but there is no biblical or scientific support for the concept of a Life Force as described above. Their belief is symptomatic of New Age roots, belief and practice in the realm of ATCMs; there is nothing within Scripture or medical science to back the belief in a healing energy within the body which always seeks to heal, and therefore, when it is unblocked, gives rise to healing because it is ‘good in itself’. (I wonder if this sentence could be explained better, I am not sure of what is actually being said) This to me is a westernised adaption of a traditional eastern mystical belief.
An example of this typical eastern belief and its clear link with spirituality can be seen from literature about Reiki. I looked for a couple of books about Reiki from my local city library and the very first book I picked up says:
“Physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being are all enhanced with Reiki energy…Around us is an energy field…The aura has…emotional, mental and spiritual levels.” (p.xvi ‘Reiki’ by Mari Hall (2000) Harper Collins)
“Reiki cannot be understood with the mind. It is not logical.” (p.xviii ‘Reiki’ by Mari Hall (2000) Harper Collins)
These statements are typical of traditional belief in the Life Force which promote the belief in an inherently good and healing energy. These beliefs go hand in hand with the belief that this energy is spiritual too. So much for the ‘natural’/physical only energy.
The second book on Reiki I picked up says:
“…the energy has an intelligence of its own and … attempts by the giver to direct the energy do not work.” (p.20 ‘Healing Reiki’ by Eleanor McKenzie 2003. Octopus)
So much for the energy being ‘neutral’.
Although I know that Breath Ministries would not completely agree with the quotations above, they do believe this energy is inherently good and healing, which is foundational to the New Age beliefs in regard to ATCMs, and has no basis in fact. I believe Breath Ministries’ teaching regarding this ‘neutral’/’natural’/physical energy in our bodies that is inherently good and healing, is exposing Christians and Non-Christians to New Age practices and beliefs as they continue to promote and use ATCMs.
We all have a human spirit which does not correspond to John Huggett’s view of a physical only healing energy. We all have a human soul but this does not correspond to John Huggett’s neutral energy since our soul holds our very personality (see also 1 Thessalonians 5:23).
Even our own heart/spirit, our inmost being, is corrupt, so to say part of our physical nature is ‘good in itself’ is quite a conflicting concept. Jesus said:
“But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and those make a man ‘unclean’.” (Matt. 15:18. NIV)
In addition to this Breath Ministries believe that this healing, inherently good, neutral/natural/physical only energy flows through the Acupuncture meridians, as John Huggett says in his letter:
“And the idea of energy flowing through the meridians is something we do accept.”
I feel that there is a very strong case for calling into question Breath Ministries’ use of ATCMs. They consider this to be part of their ministry of bringing wholeness, and herein lies the justification for my article.
Self-Healing and Natural Energy
In John Huggett’s book he states:
“I provide the right environment and allow the body to heal” (p.93)
I agree that some natural/physical bodily processes heal minor injuries and various ailments, and this is a gift from God in his creative process. For example, saliva helps to heal a cut lip, and scabs help to stem bleeding. Our immune system is amazing; if we are generally unhealthy (nothing to do with the balance of ATCM energy) then understandably our immune system is not as effective. Thus far I think John Huggett would agree: “When the human body is healthy it works well…” (p.95). But then he adds another dimension to our understanding in the next sentence: “Energy gets to the different parts of it [the body] in the right amount” (p.95). In one sense he is right, energy does ‘get to the different parts in the right amount’. However, we need to be careful here, as the context is clearly the energy he believes in, which is supposed to be a ‘healing’ and ‘good in itself’ energy that heals when it is unblocked in our bodies. This has nothing to do with the energy we would imagine from a physiological point of view.
Physical energy is everywhere: heat, light, movement, radiation, etc and I have not yet met anyone who does not believe in these. I feel that John Huggett gives a stereotypical picture of Christians that are cautious about the use of ATCM energy, with statements such as:
“A second reason why some Christians fear energy is …” (p.100)
People in my experience do not fear simple batteries which have stored energy, but they would be cautious about sticking a knife into a plug socket and rightly so. If someone is somehow stuck up a pylon they may well fear the energy present. I have also yet to meet a person who is afraid of being warmed by a reliable household heater. When God works in miraculous power Christians may understandably fear that, just as Jesus’ disciples did. This energy is spiritual and holy. When energy from a demonic being is present this can cause fear even for a Christian who knows God has the victory! But John Huggett fails to specify what he means exactly and as a consequence is in danger of misrepresenting Christians like myself who have concerns about the kind of energy Breath Ministries believe in and promote (see pp.97 and 206).
We are led to believe that Homeopathy is an alternative to orthodox medicine (p.83) but I would not even consider seeing a homeopath to treat cancer in place of orthodox medicine or call a homeopath to reset a bone. Also, the ‘inherently good’ error emerges again in his statement regarding Homeopathy:
“remedies act as a trigger for releasing energy to speed healing.” (p.74)
We are led to believe that there is an energy constantly healing the body (never damaging it!) which gets frustrated when it is blocked in some way. It can then be released to continue its process by various means, one of them being homeopathic remedies which are so diluted that supposedly only a memory of the substance is swallowed.
Yet in spite of this seemingly total confidence the book states in regard to Homeopathy that:
“the exact mode of action is not yet known.” (p.147)
In these circumstances therefore I suggest that Breath Ministries do not show sufficient caution in regard to ATCMs and unfortunately are surprised when Christians use their spiritual discernment or common sense.
Also in spite of these uncertainties the book states:
“There is no danger of overdosing, dependence, addiction or side effects.” (p.146)
So one minute homeopathic remedies are so diluted that there are ‘no molecules’ (p.147) and are totally safe, and the next minute they are as powerful as splitting the atom (p.148) and capable of healing fear, anxiety, mental illness, shock, physical bruising, anger and violent tempers (see p.146).
Unlike all other physical energy we know about, this natural/neutral energy is believed by Breath Ministries to be always totally safe and healing on its release!
I suspect that it is partly because of these inconsistencies that many non-Christian practitioners of ATCMs attribute healings through this ‘energy’ to a ‘spiritual’ or a semi-spiritual Life Force. They realise there has to be a spiritual dimension to the belief in an inherently good energy. Breath Ministries may realise that to attribute any of this to a spiritual entity may quickly invalidate it from a Christian point of view, so are keen to think of this Life Force as purely physical.
John Huggett does refer to evidence of the efficacy of Acupuncture:
“The chief result was a diminished awareness of pain, such as migraine. Another study was made of the use of electro acupuncture. The result was that treatment of fibromyalgia produced significant benefit.” (p.74)
If this is the best kind of result from a fortune spent on clinical trials then it is truly amazing that Acupuncture has any support from the NHS at all. If Acupucture is generally better than this then why was the energy dormant in the tests? I suggest three possibilities:
1. Acupuncture is as effective as a placebo
2. Acupuncture is very effective only when a spiritual force is allowed to be in operation
3. There is a force of some kind making people reliant on something that is mostly physically ineffective as a treatment
In regard to the latter, a simple dissatisfaction with orthodox medicine (e.g. short consultations, waiting lists, side-effects, dangers of surgery) can encourage people to risk being dependent on alternative ideas. Alternatively, spiritual beings (such as demons) are keen to encourage people to be dependent on a mystical energy and get them hooked on false hope. And because people frequently try several ATCMs, they can easily become deceived into following New Age ideas and concepts.
Although in his letter John Huggett suggests this energy is not spiritual and ATCMs such as Homeopathy and Acupuncture are simply techniques to release a physical/natural energy, he appears to contradict that with a statement in the book about how Homeopathy works:
“[Homeopathy] is another whole person remedy.” (p.145)
He does acknowledge that we are all made up of body, soul and spirit and elsewhere in the book mentions 1 Thessalonians 5:23:
“May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (NIV)
Our whole person includes our ‘spirit’. So to say the healing process of releasing energy is purely physical and at the same time is a ‘whole person remedy’ is a contradiction.
We are also told:
“Perhaps the primary difference between orthodox medical treatment and complementary therapy, however, is that the former is usually reductionist and the latter holistic.” (p.70)
Instead I suggest two differences:
1. Orthodox medical treatment has strong scientific and clinical backing whereas ATCMs such as Acupuncture, Homeopathy, Reiki, Herbalism and many others do not at this present time, regardless of a fortune being spent on research.
2. Orthodox medicine does not claim to heal the human spirit, whereas ATCMs do.
Even though John Huggett plays down any spiritual link in his letter in the realm of ATCMs, another statement in the same letter concerns me that the spiritual link is not taken seriously enough (and this is particularly important to Christians). He says:
“While the people listed on the ‘National Register of Christian Therapists’ have all signed an evangelical basis of belief, the reason for their inclusion is not to disassociate them from New Age ideas.”
This attempt to interweave ATCMs with Christian Healing Ministry has attempted to marry opposing forces. This all reminds me of James 3:10-12:
“Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers, can a fig-tree bear olives, or a grape-vine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.” (NIV)
In the following statement John Huggett combines ATCMs and Christian Healing Ministry in one significant paragraph:
“In the ‘vital force therapies’, such as homoeopathy, acupuncture, reflexology, kinesiology and healing, one of the main aims is to stimulate the energies of the body to heal itself. The release of energy may be triggered off by different stimuli: the touch, the needles, the homoeopathic remedy, the prayer, the anointing, etc.” (p.98)
There is no warrant for John Huggett to say healing through prayer, anointing oil or any other form of Christian Healing Ministry is a trigger to release a physical energy within our bodies that is inherently good and always healing on its release.
John Huggett states in his letter:
“New Testament prayers for healing … involve a definite transfer of energy which can sometimes be felt (see Mark 5:30).”
Is this the physical/natural/neutral yet inherently good/healing energy or the spiritual power of the Holy Spirit that is spiritually discerned and as a consequence experienced by body, soul and spirit? He does not say and his book does not clarify this either.
I suggest that prayer, laying on of hands, anointing oil in the name of Jesus is a very separate thing from the fictitious healing energy that Breath Ministries believes in. But before I look at this further I would like to examine Mark 5:30 and Luke 5:17.
God’s spiritual/supernatural power produces physical, emotional and spiritual healing. We read:
“The power of the Lord was present for him to heal the sick.” (NIV)
“The power of the Lord was with him to heal.” (ESV) The ‘power’ (Greek: dunamis) of the Lord is God’s supernatural/spiritual power. It was not simply acting as a “booster” to speed up a natural process of healing. This is Jesus’ miraculous power. It was manifested in such a way that the paralytic was miraculously healed and by God’s grace and power he received the forgiveness of sins as God’s Holy Spirit interacted with his human spirit. This is true holistic healing/wholeness.
A large crowd pressed around Jesus (verse 24). A very sick woman secretly touched Jesus’ cloak in faith (verses 27-28).
“Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering.” (verse 29 NIV)
“At once Jesus realised that power (Greek: dunamis) had gone out from him. He…asked, ‘Who touched my clothes?'” (verse 30 NIV)
There was indeed a transfer of spiritual energy here which could be physically felt. This spiritual power no doubt touched her emotions, mental state and probably also her human spirit. There is no indication of the activation of a natural/neutral yet inherently good physical healing energy that causes the miraculous healing on its release, or that natural/neutral yet inherently good energy was already healing her until it became blocked and God’s power released it and speeded it up. Rather this is based on a New Age belief in a spiritual counterfeit to the true power (dunamis) of the Holy Spirit.
Breath Ministries regard water-divining as ‘acceptable’, but they say in regard to pendulum swinging the “unprotected person may be opening himself up to Satan” (p.167-168). I find this quite contradictory.
I would argue that water-divining, pendulum swinging and intuition are all inspired by a spiritual being. We have no idea how the apostles ‘cast lots’ to seek God’s will for the identity of the twelfth apostle or indeed whether they were right to do so. This is a far cry from believing in a neutral/natural physical energy that can provide hidden knowledge. Divining/dowsing rods are physical objects and harmless in themselves, but when information is successfully obtained through them, such as the location of an object by tapping into a force, then there is cause for alarm. For example, the same rod can be used for locating water, finding buried objects, diagnosing conditions etc. The person has to focus on that intention or even speak to the rod to gain success for that particular request to the exclusion of the others. When accuracy is common then I am convinced a spiritual being has manipulated the rod and/or given the diviner intuition. Because divination is a sin (1 Samuel 15:23) God is unlikely to be involved, and the fact that God opposes divination is again an indicator that there is something unholy at work.
God knows everything and has wisdom when to impart that knowledge. Evil spirits have limited knowledge but often know things that we do not. They may well have communication links over distances as we do with telephones etc., but we cannot tap into a hidden knowledge somehow floating around in natural/neutral energy, to enable us to hear about the past or see events that are to take place in the future. Our subconscious minds and even our human spirit may be aware of things more than our conscious minds, especially picking up indicators of the mood of a person in our presence, but this is a far cry from becoming aware of completely hidden information such as where an object is buried. It is also a far cry from seeing a picture of a tragedy to take place in the future. God communicated mysteries to His prophets all the time. There is no indication that these things are obtained by a natural, neutral ability called ‘intuition’. When it is not God it is clearly demonic. This we can see from Acts 16:16 where we see that a woman had an evil spirit by which she predicted the future. It had to be cast out of her and as a consequence her employers knew they could not successfully make money through her anymore as her ‘gift’ left with the demon (see also verse 16-19).
Interestingly, a Rector once told me that his wife used to have an ability that enabled her to know the future amongst other things. When she became a Christian she did not lose this ability, but as soon as she was filled with the Holy Spirit the ability left her permanently. They at one time even wondered if God would replace it with a gift of knowledge or discernment, but He did not. This, to me, illustrates the origin of this kind of intuition. It is being an open channel to receive information from a spiritual being. If the source is not the Person of the Holy Spirit or an angel sent by God then it should be shunned. God can communicate with anyone such as Pilate’s wife (Matthew 27:19) or King Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel chapter 4), but it is always for the right reasons.
Intuition is frequently used by practitioners of ATCMs, even Christian practitioners. A Herbalist I knew said she used her ‘intuition’ all the time because there were too many possible combinations of treatment to consider. She also believed that the results could not be due to the plants themselves but rather the activity of a ‘Life Force’ energy.
Intuition can be understood in different ways. If it simply means relying on a hunch based on years of experience or relying on thought impressions from the sub-conscious mind based on information forgotten by the conscious mind, then that is natural and understandable. But again, this is a far cry from hidden information being tapped into about future events. In this latter case a spiritual being is at work.
Although I know Breath Ministries oppose tarot card reading, I would like to use this to illustrate my point. When I was in my late teens (before I was a Christian) I practiced tarot card reading. It very soon occurred to me that to successfully read the cards I would need to be given information or inspiration directly from a spiritual being. For example, rearranging the cards so that the right cards turned up, and to control the card shuffling; then each card and each combination of cards could have so many different interpretations (sometimes quite contradictory) that it was a total waste of time if I did not have the direct help of a spiritual being. Although throughout my childhood and teens I believed strongly in the supernatural and fortune telling I did not believe in invisible spiritual beings. This experience alone made me consider otherwise. The cards were simply an aid to activate this ‘intuition’ (obtaining hidden information by an evil spirit usually under the guise of something else).
I believe hidden knowledge is obtained spiritually/supernaturally, and information obtained supernaturally/ spiritually is imparted by a spiritual being. Pull the threads of hidden knowledge and there will be a spiritual being on the end of them.
Are ATCMs Mentioned in the Bible?
I believe John Huggett makes inaccurate comparisons between biblical healing and ATCMs. We are told that:
“Some therapies are specifically mentioned and encouraged in Scripture.” (p.78)
He refers to 12 that he believes are specifically mentioned or encouraged (see pp.78-82). They are:
1. Christian Healing
3. The spoken word
4. Nutritional therapy
5. Herbal medicine
So he refers to all of these as therapies, as though ATCMs are simply therapies like Laying on of Hands in the name of Jesus seeking a miraculous healing. ‘Christian Healing’ is not a therapy! As far as ATCMs are concerned there are none ‘specifically mentioned’ and none encouraged. Not only are the titles Nutritional Therapy, Herbal Medicine and Aromatherapy not even mentioned, these ATCMs are not even alluded to in Scripture. I will briefly look at all of these.
The book makes a distinction between Christian Healing, Touch and The Spoken Word. But these are all part and parcel of traditional, typical, biblical healing done in the name of Jesus, in the style that Jesus has demonstrated. These were usually done simultaneously and in every case a miraculous healing took place by the power of the Holy Spirit. There is no specific healing energy in touch itself, or even in the spoken word itself. Even when you consider therapeutic benefits of encouraging words and a sense of acceptance through a hand shake or a friendly arm round the shoulder, this is a far cry from being a ‘therapy’, and even further from belonging to a list of ATCMs. Even anointing oil in Christian Healing is not massaged into the skin but rather placed or poured on the person as a symbol that all parties are trusting in the Holy Spirit to perform a miraculous healing.
Eating healthily is not a therapy, although it maintains good health. To say that it is identified as a therapy in the Bible is inaccurate. Herbal Medicine is not backed by Scripture either, although there is no doubt that organic material has always been used by every people on earth throughout the whole of history. Western orthodox medicine uses organic material too. John Huggett says that Luke in his capacity as a Doctor was “almost certainly a herbalist” (p.80). But picture a typical herbalist of today and see the philosophies, practices and their reasoning behind their prescriptions – this is not Luke!
Fasting is not a therapy, but setting aside food for a while to focus on God in prayer. Rest is therapeutic but not a ‘therapy’. Relaxation techniques used in ATCMs are totally absent in Scripture. Dreaming is not a therapy. Any ATCM that calls itself ‘Dream Therapy’ needs very careful scrutiny. Just because the Bible mentions that people have dreams does not mean that it supports Dream Therapy. Simply, however, if someone is bothered by recurring dreams then it may give some insight into a particular emotional problem, but that is not a technique or an ATCM in itself. Biblical meditation is always in the context of pondering upon the Scriptures and how they can be applied to life-style and worship. There is no meditation therapy referred to in Scripture.
Aromatherapy is not even alluded to in Scripture. How is Mary’s anointing of Jesus’ feet aromatherapy? Yes, pleasant smells can affect our mood (such as the perfume of flowers on a Summer’s day), but people have their own preferences (hence, different choices of perfume). Attaching specific aromas to the healing of specific ailments is totally absent in the Bible.
Music is not a ‘therapy’, although it is therapeutic and can be relaxing (is there anyone who will deny this?). This is not evidence to support today’s healing therapies that use music. There is certainly nothing in the Bible to support its use as structured therapy for particular ailments. However, being encouraged to dance or relax to music is therapeutic. It is a gift from God. King Saul was temporarily relieved from the oppression of an evil spirit when David played the harp. I suggest David’s style and skill pleased Saul so much that he laid aside his guilt, woes, temper and fears temporarily, which loosened the demon’s grip for a while. But one thing we must not forget is that in choosing David’s services he was in the presence of an anointed, godly young man.
John Huggett uses the quotation in 1 Timothy 4:8: “…physical training is of some value…” (p.81). This has never been in doubt, other than the fact that many of us may be so consumed in sacrificial ministry that we neglect our bodies. I think this is the closest he gets to finding evidence of a therapy mentioned in the Bible. Exercise is part of having a healthy life-style.
So, we have seen that the Bible gives no backing whatsoever to ATCMs as outlined above. Neither does it support the view that resting your hand on someone’s shoulder sets into motion an inherently good/healing physical energy that would otherwise be blocked. Neither does it give credence to Acupuncture, Homeopathy or Reflexology.
Breath Ministries’ beliefs regarding ‘Touch’ concern me, as they believe that Touch in the Bible is an Alternative Therapy in its own right (see above). Touch in the sense of massage can be a therapy. But in the Bible, the examples are the Laying on of Hands (not massaging) while praying for a miracle in the name of Jesus, believing that the spiritual power of the Holy Spirit will act upon the human body, soul and spirit. The touch has no power of its own other than being a sign of reassurance and faith in Christ. It has nothing to do with the transfer of an inherently good/healing physical energy. Physical warmth may be transferred, which is nice, and may give a sense of comfort and reassurance, but it is not a specific healing energy. Clearly, John Huggett’s attempt to interweave these concepts and beliefs is frustrated.
The Laying on of Hands in the Bible is likened to Touch in ATCMs. He says:
“Touch is also an important factor in therapies such as osteopathy, chiropractic, reflexology and aromatherapy.” (p.79)
We are told that:
“The qualified [Reflexology] practitioner is able to massage or manipulate … to bring about immediate release of energy.” (p.84)
The aim of this manipulation of the feet is:
“to remove blockages and speed healing.” (p.84)
John Huggett’s belief regarding Touch can also be seen from the following statement:
“Massage combines the healing power of touch with other techniques.” (p.84)
So, he believes that touch itself has ‘healing power’. I have no problem with him defining touch this way if all he means is what we know for sure, that the act of massage itself can relieve stress through relaxation and toning of muscles. But in the context of the book he goes beyond this. He believes that inherently good/healing energy is released.
This mistaken interweaving of the Laying on of Hands and ATCMs can be seen clearly from the following statement:
“The particular value of touching the affected part of a person’s body when we pray (John 9:6) is that the healing energy can soak in at that point …” (p.58)
A similar contentious opinion is demonstrated elsewhere in the book:
“It is not usually wise to lay hands on yourself as you are the one with the problem, and it has the effect of ‘short-circuiting’ the blessing.” (p.153)
I see no warrant for believing God is restricted in such a way. Quite the contrary, the Holy Spirit is not restricted by the position of an arm! In Christian Healing the Laying on of Hands is an act of faith, as is the case with anointing oil. It represents our trust that God will touch and minister to that affected area. Jesus healed many people from a distance without any physical contact.
I believe the attempt by Breath Ministries to interweave traditional Christian, Biblical Healing Ministry with ATCMs has failed. They are based on very different belief systems. Even de-spiritualising ATCMs to remove fear of spiritual danger from practices such as Homeopathy, Reflexology and Acupuncture has not worked.
ATCMs are often based on this fictitious energy called the Life Force and John Huggett’s book has far from convinced me that ATCMs involve a neutral and perfectly safe energy source. To accept that any physical energy is always totally safe is naïve to say the least. Breath Ministries acknowledge that using some techniques deemed safe and neutral can be a vehicle for Satan to gain a hold on someone in certain circumstances, yet they are surprised when a Christian questions the source of many ATCMs such as Homeopathy and Acupuncture. I suspect the practice of many ATCMs invoke spiritual forces more than John Huggett accepts. He says in the context of seeking scientific reassurance:
“It is better to accept the overwhelming general evidence that these therapies normally work…” (p.100)
I think that in the light of the frequent New Age connections evidence should be staggeringly important for a Christian. For the person who becomes a Christian John Huggett says:
“Thus to natural and psychic gifts are added charismatic gifts.” (p.101-102)
Surely we can see the conflict here. We have already taken note of the psychic woman in Acts 16:16-21. Psychic gifts are given, but not by God. The source was removed from the woman in question along with the so-called gift.
Breath Ministries is promoting these beliefs and practices not only in this country, but they seek to do so globally. They also seek to promote ATCMs such as Homeopathy, Acupuncture, Herbalism, Reflexology and Aromatherapy whether or not the practitioners have renounced New Age practices and beliefs. They have an eight-point emphasis on pages 218-219 in regard to propagating ATCMs worldwide and church-wide.
Breath Ministries have already:
“Enabled thousands of pastors, churches and individuals to go on in healing ministry and many other Christians to become involved with complementary therapies.” (p.18)
I am sure that there will be aspects of some questionable ATCMs that will highlight therapeutic effects that are not so visible at the moment. But at present, and on the whole, I believe they are either not much more effective than any placebo, or only particularly effective when spiritual forces are at work. Unfortunately, those spiritual forces will use anything to bring bondage to one thing or another; for example, to encourage people to explore other ATCMs or other practitioners that have a more profound spiritual power to bring an obsessive bond and clouding of Christian belief.
I am also sure that energy such as heat, light, sound, radiation and magnetism will continue to be used in medical care and more techniques discovered and developed. But this in no way backs up the use of traditional Acupuncture, Homeopathy, Reflexology etc. that Breath Ministries promote as they are all based on the belief in a fictitious Life Force energy.