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An investigation into the phenomena and practices of spiritual healing: a comparative study of two churches

An investigation into the phenomena and practices of spiritual healing: a comparative study of two churches

Rose, F. Gwen (2011) An investigation into the phenomena and practices of spiritual healing: a comparative study of two churches. PhD thesis, University of Greenwich.

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This study addresses how ‘Spiritual Healing’ is administered in two Christian churches with similar doctrine but a different approach to how that doctrine is understood and practised. The divergence in eschatologies of the two different denominational congregations influences the way they integrate healing into their worship. There are also cultural differences in worship between them; the Black majority congregation engages in an animated charismatic style while the White majority practises in a more sedate and what may appear to an outsider to be a more passive style of worship. The study also examines the activities of prayer, laying on of hands and the use of music in the delivery of healing and as health promotion.

The methodology used is an ethnographic approach. Qualitative data was collected using participant and non-participant observation, and semi-structured interviews. This data is a result of the systematic ‘immersion’ of the researcher in the culture in a different way to simply attending church as she experienced prior to the beginning of the research. Observations were conducted in services on different sites including a convention at the parent church for the Black majority Pentecostal church. The participants in the interviews were selected from the main research congregations with the support of their ministers as ‘gatekeepers’.

The study compares and contrasts the theology and practice of the two congregations and their understanding of spiritual healing. It is also shown that spiritual healing can be part of and complementary to the approach that medical and nursing professionals utilise in their practice. Recipients of spiritual healing whose health seeking behaviour straddles the medical and the spiritual approach may or may not use medicine as prescribed by health professionals. In the UK, people usually have access to both, unlike people in Developing countries who have limited access to modern medicine and have no choice but to make the best use of folk medicine, and faith healers in their health seeking behaviour practices. The study recommends that more mutual understanding may facilitate the support of faith groups for the work of the NHS recommended by recent government policy.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information:
Uncontrolled Keywords: spiritual healing, Christian doctrine, theology, faith, sociology, health seeking behaviour, NHS
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BL Religion
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Pre-2014 Departments: School of Humanities & Social Sciences
School of Humanities & Social Sciences > Department of Social, Political & Cultural Studies
Last Modified: 14 Oct 2016 09:22

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