Inner healing beliefs and techniques continue to deceive many Christians. A central belief is that we are the way we are because of past hurts that need to be healed through reliving the past and bringing Jesus into past events. This is a deceptive combination of Freudian psychology and occult visualization. The inner healer is convinced that present problems are expressions of past wounds that must be healed before the person can overcome problems of living and get on with life.

The inner healer, through various techniques, encourages the person to remember past events and to connect them with present problems or pain. He may use hypnosis or he may simply make suggestions about what might have happened. Such suggestions often act in the same way as hypnosis for people who are susceptible to suggestion and who have strong imaginations. The healer may guide the person back through past events, which may or may not have happened, through visualizing these events.

The healer helps the person not only to relive the actual or created past, but also to feel the pain and agony. This highly emotional part of inner healing is similar to Freud’s abreaction. Either prior to or at this point of emotional intensity, a Jesus figure is brought into the scene to bring healing. Some inner healers do this through guided imagery, others make suggestions about what Jesus may be doing or saying, and still others let the person who has already been led to this point of intensity to wait expectantly for Jesus to speak or act. This is all highly suggestive and, because of the use of occult-type visualization, the Jesus being visualized, having been created by the healer or the client, cannot be the Jesus of the Bible.

While different inner healers may have their own combination of techniques and therefore claim that what they do is quite different from the above brief description, they all attempt to change present problems by changing some aspect of the past through bringing the client back to a painful event (either actually remembered or created under suggestion) and by helping the person to reexperience the pain of the past. There are far more inner healers than one can know about, but some of the prominent names are Agnes Sanford, Ruth Carter Stapleton, John and Paula Sandford, Leanne Payne, David Seamands, Dennis and Rita Bennett, and Ed Smith, even though he claims that his “TheoPhostic Counseling” is different from inner healing.

Jesus works miraculously in our innermost being through the Word of God and the work of the Holy Spirit and therefore brings about what some may call “inner healing.” But that’s where the similarity ends regarding what Jesus does and what the inner healers do. The similarity is only in the use of the words “inner healing,” but that’s why it is so deceptive. People assume that, because Jesus works on the inside, all inner healing must be from Him. Nevertheless, while the inner healing movement claims to be Christian and uses a great deal of Scripture and brings a visualized Jesus onto the scene, the inner healing movement comes from the world, the flesh, and the devil. It relies on psychological ideas and techniques gleaned or absorbed from the world. It appeals to the flesh because the flesh would rather be “healed” than reproved of sin. And, it often uses Satanic methods of suggestion and occult visualization.

Dr. Jane Gumprecht’s book Abusing Memory reveals the history of the movement and its founder, Agnes Sanford; describes what goes on in inner healing; reveals its occult rather than Christian roots; and warns Christians to stay away. We recently received a letter from Dr. Gumprecht in which she says that she receives calls and letters about her book because of John and Paula Sandford’s continuing worldwide influence in spreading inner healing throughout various churches and denominations. Dr. Gumprecht’s book includes quotes from the Sandfords’ books, which clearly indicate they are devoted followers and promoters of Agnes Sanford’s deceptive inner healing practices. Abusing Memory is an important book for anyone who needs information about inner healing.

Other materials offered by PsychoHeresy Awareness Ministries having to do with the dangers of inner healing, in addition to Abusing Memory, are: “‘Damaged’ Emotions: ‘Healing’ or Holiness?” in which Debbie Dewart critiques David Seamand’s book Healing for Damaged Emotions; “Healing the Homosexual Pain? A Critique of The Broken Image and Crisis in Masculinity by Leanne Payne,” in which Dewart critiques Payne’s inner healing teachings; and our book TheoPhostic Counseling Divine Revelation? or PsychoHeresy? in which we critique Ed Smith’s combination of psychotherapy and inner healing.

(PAL V8N2 * March-April 2000)