When prayer and medicine collide: Christian Scientist who advocates physical healing solely through prayer to speak in Tyler

Published on Friday, 2 May 2014 23:27 - Written by Rebecca Hoeffner rhoeffner@tylerpaper.com

Christine Driessen has never had a drop of medicine in her life, she said. She’s 66 years old.

Mrs. Driessen will be coming to speak at 2 p.m. Sunday at First Church of Christ, Scientist, 106 East Second St. The title of her talk is “Healing with Scientific Certainty through the Christ.”

“There are divine laws which govern and maintain us — the science of perfect God, perfect man,” she said. “Spiritual healing through this scientific prayer is reliable, immediate, and accessible to people anywhere in the world. Christ Jesus demonstrated this healing power and taught us to do the same.”

Christian Scientists historically eschew medical intervention, but many, even other Christians, see their views as possibly dangerous.

There have been several cases of preventable death, most notably in children of Christian Scientist parents.

In 1998, Dr. Seth Asser and Rita Swan published a study in Pediatrics of their investigation of 172 child deaths where medical care was withheld on religious grounds in the two decades after states began exempting faith healing (28 of the cases were Christian Scientist cases). Their study suggested that 140 of these children would have had a 90 percent likelihood of survival had they received routine medical care.

Mrs. Driessen blames those cases on the secular culture of the time.

“That was a very secular period, all the religions dwindled during that period,” she said. “It was a very challenging period for Christian Scientists. Many people began doubting and wondering. Many people turned away from the Bible itself and looked for the easy way out. They just read a few passages and prayed when they needed something. That’s not how it works. We don’t use prayer to get things; it’s about doing God’s will. When you do that, you find you don’t get sick, or it gets healed very quickly. The secularism of the 70s, 80s, 90s, was so aggressive.”

Mrs. Driessen is a full-time Christian Science healing practitioner and teacher. She is a member of the Christian Science Board of Lectureship, lecturing internationally, with special focus on medical and interfaith talks. She lives in New York City.

According to Mrs. Driessen, mental and physical wholeness are natural to all people as children of God, but fear, ignorance, and sin undermine health. An understanding of God as infinite good and ever-present Love brings healing, she said. Mrs. Driessen shared countless stories of healing in her childhood, from everything to bee stings, cuts and bruises, and broken bones.

“God didn’t create evil or disease,” she said. “God’s work is perfect, and God made us perfect. Genesis 1 is the scientific basis for prayer. If we pray from that basis, that God is love alone, and God is our life, if that’s the substance of our being, then when we bring our thoughts, words and actions in line with Christ Jesus’ teaching, we find health is our natural state.”

This is not to say that mainstream doctors don’t consider spirituality in their evaluations, said Dr. Jonathan MacClements, dean of medical education at the University of Texas Health Science Center in Tyler.

“All medical students go through a humanities course that addresses spirituality,” he said. “Our role as a physician is to take care of the whole patient. If I’m faced with a patient who has a values system, I explore all those options. At the same time, we take an oath to ‘do no harm.’ If we think something won’t be in the best interest of the patient, we talk about it with the family. Often people make decisions without knowing what all the options are … prayer is one of the main tools at our disposal. We want to support the family through their spiritual needs.”