A GODLY CANCER CURE?
Lana. C. De Winter
(Investigator 6, 1989 May)
The Autumn 1986 edition of The Southern Skeptic
(the official organ of the South Australian Branch of the Australian
Skeptics) carried a story investigating the claims of a woman who
believed that she was cured of cancer by God.
She was a
Pentecostal and attended an Assemblies of God church. Pastor Rodway of
the Adelaide-based Christian Revival Crusade alerted the Skeptics about
this case and trumpeted it as a genuine case of divine healing. The
Skeptics obtained medical reports for Mrs. Fry (in his article Winters
referred to her as Mrs. Cook to protect her privacy) along with
numerous documents from the Christian Revival Crusade backing up this
seemingly miraculous cure...
also sought an explanation from an independent specialist source, and a
letter from the Anti Cancer Foundation of South Australia strongly
suggested that Mrs. Fry had a spontaneous remission of the disease —
rare, but not unknown.
It is not yet
fully understood by the medical profession what causes remissions in
cancer sufferers but it is possible that lowering of stress levels
brought about by religious beliefs (in Mrs. Fry's case prayer) could
have a role to play. Yet atheists and non-Christians also have
remissions — which is, in itself, evidence that there are other, as
yet, underlying factors involved. In any case Mrs. Fry believed she had
been cured and there was even an article about her in Australian Evangel as an example of Divine Healing.
sects see a difference between Divine Healing which is performed by the
Holy Spirit and Faith Healing which is simply a case of mind over
matter at best or Satan as an Angel of Light at worse. However, Mrs.
Fry was pointed out by her Church as a genuine case of Divine Healing.
Reproduced below are some extracts from a pamphlet entitle Divine Healing by Leo Harrris (now deceased) a founder of the Christian Revival Crusade:
"Divine healing is ... healing by the power of God.
Those who adopt Scriptural attitude toward sickness call it what the Bible calls it — THE OPPRESSION OF THE DEVIL...
How to prepare yourself to receive your healing
a) Sickness is from Satan...
b) It is God's will to heal you...
c) Cast aside all fear...
d) Forgive everybody...
e) Have a positive attitude of mind...
f) Base your faith on God's promises...
g) Release your faith...
h) Resist symptoms
Sometimes healing is instantaneous and other times it is gradual or else delayed." (pp 7-9)
In theory then
Mrs. Fry's illness (i.e. cancer) was caused by the Devil's "oppression"
and that the "Son of God" would "destroy" the "oppression" thus
rendering the person "healed". As Leo Harris put it "healing might be
secured for us once and for all".
This whole theory suffered from one fatal flaw: On 9 February 1986 Mrs. June Viola Fry died of renal carcinoma aged 56.
arises that if the patient dies then "Divine healing" must be pretty
ineffective at the very least. I tried to interview Pastor Rodway for
his comments on what went wrong but he refused to see me. Nor has a
promised letter arrived. It seems that the death of Mrs. Fry is an
embarrassment to his Church.
important question that remains is why did the Christian Revival
Crusade declare that Mrs. Fry was a genuine case of "Divine Healing",
and in so doing, possibly shortened her life. As she has stated in her
Testimony she refused to have a kidney removed because "I didn't want
the operation, that what God had started He would surely finish."
(Australian Evangel, April 1985, pp 16-17)
Pentecostal churches place a great deal of emphasis on the "Gifts of
the Spirit" (See 1 Corinthians 14:12 in any New Testament) and it is a
matter of theological debate whether these Gifts are still available
today. Be that as it may, these Gifts still exist as far as modern
Pentecostalism is concerned.
follows: the congregation knows that Mrs. Fry was ill and they started
praying for her; then she apparently got much better; the most
convenient answer as to why is God, through the Holy Spirit, cured her.
The fact that she died showed a basic fault in the theory.
along with seemingly miraculous cures also appear among non Christians
it would seem that the linking of a remission with action from God is
like taking a leap in the dark. This is not to say that God cannot
heal, what is being said is careful investigation is required before
such a judgment should be made.
This case is one
of the few whereby "Divine Healing" can be refuted by the facts: the
lady died of what she was "healed" of and in a very short time.
The case of Mrs.
Fry is a sad one of delusion. The problems that can arise from the
positive publicity given to this lady by the Pentecostals are
horrendous as many more people may refuse life saving medical
procedures in the thought that God may heal them.
Harris, L. Divine Healing (Adelaide, no date)
Winters, A. Divine Healing—Design or Delusion in The Southern Skeptic, Autumn 1986 (Adelaide)