faith healing (Christian)

faith healing (Christian)
Faith healing is supernatural healing (yibing) from physical ailments, usually through intercessory prayer, charismatic rituals or individual psychological release through conversion. Practised in various forms by China’s Protestants, faith healings are particularly common among rural populations, accounting for up to 90 per cent of all conversions to Christianity in rural areas. The practice of faith healing traces its roots in part to traditional Chinese religion, and in part to the charismatic practices introduced by American Pentecostal missionaries in the early twentieth century which fuelled much of Protestantism’s growth in China before 1949.
The most common form of faith healing occurs through intercessory prayer. Church members often pray for those who are ill, petitioning God to heal them. Such prayer does not usually require any special healing charisma or ecclesial status, but can be practised by any believer or group of believers. In rural areas, church congregations often organize teams of members to visit the community’s ill. They typically read Bible verses, sing hymns and pray for God to heal them. Intercessory prayer is often combined with other charismatic rituals such as the laying on of hands.
Church members will place their hands on the infirm person’s head and shoulders, praying simultaneously and aloud, creating an electric environment that comes alive with faith and the expectation of healing. These practices often result in an alleviation of symptoms in the ill person. Healing also often appears to occur from psychological release. Many converts claim that long-standing ailments such as perpetual migraines, digestion problems, partial blindness, fainting spells, and so forth, cease after conversion. In other cases, the afflicted convert responds as a result of the love and concern expressed by the church members, irrespective of any change in their physical illness.
Pursuant to the state’s opposition to ‘superstitious’ practices, leaders in the official Protestant Three-Self Patriotic Movement (TSPM) and China Christian Council deride faith healings among China’s Protestants as evidence of believers’ ‘low quality of faith’ (see wenhua shuiping). The gulf between the official position and grassroots congregations is one of many sources of division between the Chinese Church’s official bearers and the church body.
Währisch-Oblau, C. (1999). ‘Healing Prayers and Healing Testimonies in Mainland Chinese Churches: An Attempt at Intercultural Understanding’. China Study Journal 14. 2:5–21.

Encyclopedia of contemporary Chinese culture. . 2011.

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