My friend is a Christian who practices Reiki and thinks that it's the Holy Spirit working through her. She has a heart for healing and I don't want to discourage her from pursuing that or deny that the Spirit is at work in her. But I fear that these counterfeits are keeping her from realizing her true potential in Christ.
I guess I have two questions: how can I lovingly discuss with her what the Bible says about these practices, when she doesn't fully accept it as God's Word; and can you tell me more about Reiki from a Christian perspective?
Thanks for your questions. It's terribly difficult to reason with someone from the Scriptures if they do not already accept their Divine authority. If she's open to doing some reading in the area, you may want to encourage her to look into what conservative scholarship has said about the inspiration, authority, and inerrancy of Scripture. A General Introduction to the Bible, by Norman Geisler and William Nix is a fairly exhaustive treatment of the subject. Many books on Christian apologetics have chapters dealing with the trustworthiness of the Bible. One book you may want to recommend is I'm Glad You Asked, by Ken Boa and Larry Moody. It is an excellent, beginner's level text in apologetics and has a chapter entitled, "How Accurate is the Bible?," which might prove helpful. Suffice it to say, until a Christian accepts the Bible as the inspired word of God, it is difficult to use it as the final authority for proper Christian belief and practice. Such a person can always claim that the texts they don't like are simply not inspired by God, etc. Thus, this is a critical issue to deal with.
Having said that, I think you are exactly right about your friend. There are very good grounds for rejecting Reiki if one is willing to listen to the Bible. In a book entitled Basic Questions on Alternative Medicine, a corporate project by members of the Center for Bioethics and Human Dignity (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Kregel Publications, 1988), there is a short chapter on Reiki (pp. 61-63). I will draw some information from that chapter. Although Reiki claims to be an "ancient healing practice that Buddha (and Jesus) used," all records of it were lost. It was allegedly rediscovered by Mikao Usui, a Zen Buddhist monk, in the mid-1800s "during a psychic experience." Additionally, it is claimed that details about lost aspects of the practice have "been revealed through channeling." Channeling is the New Age term for mediumship and involves contact with, and usually possession by, "spirit guides." The authors of this chapter state that a second-degree Reiki practitioner "learns about spirit guides and how to contact and use them in healing sessions." They further state that third degree Reiki masters give "complete control of healing sessions to their spirit guides." Healing sessions appear to be based on the use of "life-energy" (i.e. ki, chi, or prana), which is sent from the practitioner into the patient's body.
The greatest concern would seem to be the identity of the "spirit guides." Since they are typically contacted in ways expressly forbidden in Scripture, and since they advocate unbiblical ideas and practices, it is honestly quite difficult to view them as anything other than the biblical demons. The authors of this chapter conclude by stating: "Reiki is antithetical to biblical Christianity. Channeling is a way of communicating with spirits to obtain information not otherwise accessible. It is denounced in the Bible as sorcery, mediumship, and spiritism (Lev. 19:26, 31; 20:6; Deut. 18:9-14...)."
It seems to me that Reiki has the potential to be spiritually harmful. I would pray for your friend and encourage her to give serious consideration to the biblical warnings mentioned above.
I wish you all the best with your friend.
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A former Reiki master who has become a Christian wrote this testimony to Sue Bohlin:
"Reiki is something that is very mis-stated, and misunderstood, by those outside of the Reiki circle. Having been in it, I can tell you everything you need to know. I will tell you right up front that it was a hard one to shake, that it was VERY real and beneficial, but that it is decidedly non-Christian.
"I highly recommend anyone looking into it to just stop. Prayer is very powerful, and is our direct link to God through Christ. If we petition directly for healing, it may come. If we have faith that it WILL come, our chances are far better. As with anything we are to test, does Reiki point either the practitioner or the client to Christ? No. Big no. It uses a Universal energy that is non-personal and can be manipulated. You can pray to God, to the Earth Mother, to Mother/Father God, etc. But it in fact leads you AWAY from Christ.
"It is all about what you FEEL in your hands, what you FEEL in your spirit, what the client FEELS in their body/emotions/spirit. In that regard it is very very real. My hands get hot, I hit a place of extreme peace and quiet, I heal people who feel a tingle or hot spot or whatever. Their headache, menstrual cramps, emotional distress, bruises, whatever, goes away. But is God glorified? No way. Is self glorified? Yes.
"If it is so good and right, why do practitioners go on to other things once they hit Master level? The teacher who taught me was going on to accupuncture and other new Reiki teachings. Always something else, something new, something you NEED to be a true master. Sound familiar? It is like everything else in this world, but Christ. There is no lasting peace, no connection with the universe, there is a big void in your soul that is not going away. WE ALL NEED CHRIST! I told my wife when she questioned my stopping in my search for peace once I found Christ (she had followed my years of searching through New Age theologies, etc) that Jesus Christ filled the hole. All the puzzle pieces fell into place and everything suddenly made sense. For a long time after that I tried to make Reiki fit into Christianity but it didn't. I prayed a lot about it. God firmly and solidly showed me in Scripture how it couldn't work. The two major things against it, regardless of how well it works, are 1) it does not point anyone to Christ and in facts points people away from a single triune God, and 2) it is no different than all the pagan rituals in the Old Testament that would have people pray to the rain god or fertility god, etc. They must have worked or people wouldn't have kept praying to them, and God's people wouldn't have been attracted to them. But either way it isn't what GOD has asked us to do. Everything we need is in Him. We can pray for any healing we need."
About the Author
Michael Gleghorn is a research associate with Probe Ministries. He earned a B.A. in psychology from Baylor University and a Th.M. in systematic theology from Dallas Theological Seminary. He is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in theology from Dallas Theological Seminary. Before coming on staff with Probe, Michael taught history and theology at Christway Academy in Duncanville, Texas. Michael and his wife Hannah have two children. His personal website is michaelgleghorn.com.
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