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...

The Skeptics 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.

Pentecostal 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.

The question 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.

The most 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)

Modern 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.

A sequence 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.

As remissions 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.


References:

Harris, L. Divine Healing (Adelaide, no date)

Winters, A. Divine Healing—Design or Delusion in The Southern Skeptic, Autumn 1986 (Adelaide)

http://users.adam.com.au/bstett/

http://ed5015.tripod.com/