If you will listen carefully to the voice of the Lord your God, if you pay attention to his commands and keep all his decrees, I will put none of these diseases upon youfor I am the Lord who heals you.
- Exodus 15:26
Newsweeks Nov. 10 cover story, Faith & Healing, and a similar report by Duke University a few years ago, reveal what people of faith - and large numbers of the medical profession - have known for a long time: Those who worship regularly, who pray and are prayed for, are likely to heal faster, live longer, and enjoy better health or endure chronic illness more easily than those who depend on grit and medicine alone.
The Christian physician Dr. S. I. McMillen made this connection more than 35 years ago, and compiled his findings in the fascinating book, None of These Diseases. Matching Biblical chapter and verse to a variety of common illnesses, McMillen provides convincing evidence that the Newsweek/Duke reports are the gospel truth.
This book was born out of a thousand sighs, he writes - sighs of the people who left his office without receiving adequate help for their complaints. He sighed, too, and wondered what else he could do for his patients besides prescribe the latest tests and pills. Thats when he turned to what he called the power of Scriptural prescriptions, and watched his medical success rate soar.
The title of McMillens book is a phrase from the Book of Exodus. Although the Israelites were leaving Egypt for an unknown land with neither medical personnel or knowledge, God promised they would suffer none of these diseases if they followed his rules. These simple rules were concerned mainly with food, water, cleanliness and sanitation. Years later, in 19th century Vienna, an obstetrician greatly reduced the death rate among the new mothers in his care by reading - and following - Gods simple advice to keep their clothes and bodies clean.
The body of McMillens book addresses what he calls, The nations No. 1 health problem: emotional or mental illness, and the physical problems these upsets cause. With chapter headings like: Its not what you eat, but whats eating you, Upset mind, upset body, The cost of getting even and David and the giant called "worry, the doctor brings out his prescription pad and writes away.
The majority of patients receive as their prescription one of Jesus simple but often repeated rules, Love your neighbor as yourself. Whatever the complaint or symptom, McMillen says, all therapy is an attempt to help the patient gain or regain his capacity to love other people. If this aim is not fulfilled, nothing but surface changes will result.
For diseases caused by substance abuse, overeating or other improper care of the body, he prescribes I Corinthians 6:19 and 10:31 to be taken daily with food: Dont you know your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit? So whatever you eat or drink, do it all for the glory of God.
For rundown bodies and excess fatigue he adds an extra prescription: Obey the 4th Commandment. Keeping the Sabbath Day holy is a reminder that one day each week should be a day of rest, for good health as well as for worship.
But lest his patients dwell too much on what they eat or drink, McMillen spends much of his time trying to determine what is eating them. With the last few verses of Galatians 5 as his medicine chest, he prescribes not only what to take for their ailments, but what to give up, in effect, placing them on a behavioral diet.
Theres so much more in this little book, outdated medically perhaps but in the words of Christian psychiatrist Dr. William Sadler, timeless: Some day man may awake to the fact that the teachings of Jesus are potent and powerful in preventing and curing disease. Some dayour boasted scientific development may indeed catch up with the teachings of the man from Galilee.
See you in church.
(Barbara Seaborn is a local, free-lance writer. E-mail comments to email@example.com.)
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