I am an Ordained Minister of Religion and a Christian by confession. I served as Christ’s ambassador (or some may say, ‘servant’ which is what I embrace joyfully) as a pastor in Perth, Western Australia. I was also an adjunct bible school/seminary professor in theology, psychology and counseling for many years.
After my stint as a pastor, and since I was already trained in psychology (and corollary to that training, I was also trained in hypnotherapy), I decided to return to my first love to augment my financial support in the ministry. By doing this, I could use the practice of hypnotherapy as a financial vehicular mode for my ministry (as a tentmaker) to teach in places that would have no financial means to support me. With my practice as a clinical hypnotherapist, I could continue my ministry as a pastor, bible school teacher and missionary without being burdensome to those who cannot pay my wage.
Then, the bombshell dropped on me. I was suddenly stopped from my teaching job as a bible school adjunct professor in theology, psychology and counseling. It was not that my pedagogical skill in delivery was substandard. I was getting good feedback from the students. My classes in theology, psychology or counseling were packing in. Even the Academic Dean (of these two bible seminaries) attested to the fact that my students’ feedback was so good that they (these seminaries) were not even wanting to take the albeit current and future students’ feedback of my teaching. They knew of my standing as a bible school teacher.
What I learned later was that I was dropped as a bible school teacher because I started my practice as a hypnotherapist and they would not have anything to do with me as a hypnotherapist. In light of this very narrow minded view of the church, I thought it was good that I write something about the truth of hypnosis and hypnotherapy (from a Christian’s point of view). That is the reason for this article.
Hypnosis has been present since the dawn of mankind as an ancient healing treatment. The popularity of its use has gone up and down, according to societal factors. Early man used drums and chanting to create altered states. The Roman empire, in particular, was especially keen on hypnotic states and their healing effects. Christianity was spreading when the Roman empire was about to collapse. Many early Christian leaders frowned upon hypnotic practices and fulminated against it as white witchcraft. Many evangelical authors referred to hypnotists as “charmers” and “enchanters” They believed that hypnosis put the soul in jeopardy by putting it in a passive receptive state, thereby opening the door to morbid spiritual influences.
What made the early priests and rabbis take such a strong stand against hypnosis? Part of the reason was because healing in hypnosis seemed to take place without God. Priests were afraid that people would no longer believe in the power of God. The concern may not even have been religious. It was a politics of numbers. If more followers fell away from Christianity, the priests would lose their power.
Today, hypnosis is neither anti-religious nor pro religious. Most religious groups accept the proper and ethical use of hypnosis for helping people. Hypnosis is steadily gaining recognition in the world as the means to help people be successful and experience abundance in their lives. The late Pope Pius gave his approval of hypnosis, stating that the use of hypnosis by health care professionals for diagnosis and treatment is permitted. In the context of medical hypnosis, patients are in safe hands, and on the road to recovery. Practitioners have an ethical code, and it is important to note that hypnotists have no mind control powers. They can’t read the future, can’t cast spells or talk to the dead.
There is also an irrefutable safeguard of hypnosis that keeps hypnotists from abusing the power. Any suggestion or idea not in accordance with the patient’s beliefs, morals, wishes, principles, or desires will quickly and automatically be rejected. No one can make anyone do anything they do not wish to do through hypnosis. If the hypnotist gives a suggestion and the person absolutely does not want to accept that suggestion, then he will not do it. No one can be hypnotized against his/her will. As God’s creatures, humans have the freedom to choose and decide and act.
When evangelical authors wrote that hypnosis opened the door to evil spirits, they did not fully understand the Word of God. Jesus says that light and darkness cannot live together. Christ is the light, so if you are saved, that means Christ lives within you. If Christ lives in you, it means no demon or evil spirit can take residence. The light of Christ drives out the darkness. It is much like the case of the leper – those with faith in their therapists, who trust and believe that hypnotherapy can heal them will get well. Those with faith well-placed can and will be healed, inside and out. It is true that there are still some among us who are a little wary of hypnosis.
In actuality, hypnosis is a powerful and valuable tool God has given to man to heal the mind and body. God created hypnosis for the good of man. He has a purpose in allowing us the ability to alter our consciousness, even if it seems to take place without Him. But nothing takes place without his knowledge and permission. Hypnosis and faith in God can work hand in hand to turn lives around.
Jesus indicated by his teachings that we should help people to live life to the fullest and to relieve pain whenever possible. Hypnosis is a means to help people live a better and more abundant life and is a means of reducing and/or eliminating pain.
The Bible records several instances of hypnosis. Gen 2:21-22 “So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon man, and while he slept, took one of his ribs and closed up in its place with flesh, and the rib which God took from man. He made woman and brought her to man.” In this case, God used hypnosis as anesthesia so Adam felt no pain when his rib was taken out. In the book of Acts, it mentions, “Peter fell into trance.” In the same book, there is also a reference to an apostle healing a person by gazing into his eyes. “This man was listening to Paul as he spoke, who when he had fixed his gaze upon him, and had seen that he had faith to be made well, said with a loud voice, ‘Stand upright on your feet.’ And he began to walk.” There are also various hypnosis acts performed by Jesus to manifest miracles. Hypnosis has been used in place of anesthesia in World War I, and is used in modern day to rid unwanted behavior, relieve headaches, induce pain-free labor etc.
We were made in the image and glory of God. Every faculty of our mind and soul reflects the Creator’s glory. Hebrews 2:7 – Endowed with mental and spiritual gifts, Adam and Eve could discern the wonders of the universe ….. Many Christians find lack and limitations. They do not see themselves living with the splendor of the Creator. How do we live with glory? I believe the answer lies in the depths of our untapped subconscious mind. Our subconscious mind is a suggestible instrument, easily accessed through hypnosis.
Often, patients seeking therapy experience lack and problems because of limiting beliefs or values. In hypnosis, the subconscious mind directs millions of neurons to produce positive mental pictures. A patient can hold and project the idea and image of abundance within the mind, causing it to happen in reality. This therapy is in accordance to Christian beliefs. Jesus said, “I come so that you may experience life in abundance.”
St Paul wrote in Galatians 6:7, “Whatsoever man soweth that shall he reap.” and Proverbs 23:7 also states that as a person thinketh in his or her heart so is he/she. This can be interpreted that whatever images or thoughts held in the mind becomes reality. Picture happy moments, experience it again in your mind. By thought, you make feelings present again. The use of positive imagery improves life and health.
The brain is the channel which God communicates with Christians. By using hypnosis to overcome the ruinous effects of negative thinking, anger, discontent and selfishness, we can keep our minds pure for God.
Frequently, unhappiness and discontentment are caused by our reaction and thoughts to situations. It is estimated that 75% of cancers and body pains are caused by unresolved emotions. In the Bible, God calls us to experience a renewing of our minds. As we change the way we view things via hypno-suggestions, the same positive changes are manifested in our lives. We are able to let go of the bad habits we once clung to. We attract the abundance we desire. We dissolve our hurts and sorrow.
During the storm in the sea of Galilee, the apostles panicked. “Wake up, Jesus, don’t you care that we perish?” Jesus said, “Have no fear. I am with you. Peace be with you” And the disciples grew calm.
If you are a Christian in the midst of a crisis, God is present amidst your broken hopes and dreams and stress. If you can hear Jesus speaking to you, you can experience calmness, despite the problems still being there. Peace can be felt with or without a change in your circumstances.
In life, when the harsh winds of illness or injury blow, when we experience sorrow or grief, realize that we can, too, experience peace in the midst of the storm. This peace comes from knowledge that He is with us to endure it all. Through positive thinking and optimism, relaxation and imagery induced by hypnotism, life can get better. The past is still there, but we can begin where we are. With hopeful expectations comes a new life.
In Christ, suffering is not removed. It is transformed into victory. The setback experienced causes the patient to forge a closer bond with God, and becomes an entrance into the kingdom. In the years ahead, may those who discount hypnosis come to see its value as a gift from God to heal us and the means from which we can experience his blessings.
Jesus said, “The spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to teach the gospel to the poor. He hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised.” (Luke 4:18)
Following this guidance, and with the proper use of hypnosis, we can heal the brokenhearted, bring deliverance to those in captivity to pain, fear and phobias, we can give sight to the emotionally and spiritually blind, and set at liberty those bound by unwanted habits.
It is my prayer that Christian workers open their eyes and see the truth of the benefits of hypnotherapy: for did not the bible itself make mention of the fact that ‘my people will perish for lack of knowledge’?
Casey Chua, Ph.D. (1950 – 2009).