This is my fourth post on Reiki and my third on Christian Reiki specifically. In the first post, I discussed Reiki in general, ignoring for the moment the Christianized varieties of it. In the second, I touched on two somewhat peripheral issues, Reiki in worship and the use of spirit guides, and in the most recent, I laid out the reasons I think Reiki is not really very much like the healing and laying on of hands which happens in the Bible and is rather dangerous for Christians to be involved in.
But I would like to wrap up this series by asking one more question: If Reiki does good, how can it be bad?
The main arguments for Christian Reiki seem to fall in two camps. The first looks at things that happen in the Bible and basically says “Reiki is similar to such-and-such so it is okay too.” These are the arguments I looked at in part two of this series.
But the second set of arguments looks at the results of Reiki and argues for it based on its (alleged) positive outcomes. This is based largely on Matthew 7:
‘ “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.'” (Matt. 7:15-20; ESV)
The argument here is that Reiki bears good fruit and therefore is good and from God.
In order to analyze this argument, I think we must first ask if the passage is being properly applied. If Reiki does good, is this enough to justify it? Secondly, we must ask if Reiki really does good or not.
In its immediate context, Jesus is in this passage giving some criteria for recognizing false prophets. I don’t see that this necessarily applies to Reiki. Are its practitioners claiming to be prophets? Not that I have heard thus far. We may still ask if the criteria holds true in a broader environment. Is doing good as sign that one is good? Scripture must interpret Scripture and in this case, I think that we have evidence from elsewhere in the Bible that what seems good on the surface does not always betray good beneath. Things are often turned upside down in God’s world. Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery but he told them that though they meant it for evil, God meant it for good. (This is of course a case of God using man’s evil for His good which is the opposite of what we are talking about here.) In the book of Isaiah God calls the Persian King Cyrus His servant (Isa. 44:28; 45:1). He does not mean that Cyrus worshipped Him; there is no evidence of this; but that He in His providence had Cyrus do good for the Israelites (allowing them to return from exile).
I think it is true on one level that good trees produce good fruit, but I also think we must view things from God’s more long-term perspective. Often what seems good to us here and now will prove itself false in the end. It is very similar to the question of why the wicked seem to prosper in this life. Proverbs in particular seems to promise long life and blessings and prosperity to those who are godly and pursue wisdom. And yet Ecclesiastes is all about man’s struggle with the reality of his world: that the wicked seem to prosper while the good perish. The psalmists also often struggled with this reality that does not seem to fit the promises. But the answer they always come to is to persevere in godliness and to trust one’s Creator because God will work it all out in the end so that His promises come true.
I hope I do not seem to drift too far off topic here My point is that I think this statement about the trees and the fruit is similar. Things often for a time do not seem to work out as promised but we must trust that in the end, in God’s time, we will see that they do.
Indeed, the very next paragraph in Matthew 7 seems to imply that there are some who will appear to be doing God’s work who will not be accepted into His kingdom:
““Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’” (Matt. 7:21-23; ESV)
These people apparently did mighty works like prophesying and casting out demons (and perhaps healing??) and yet they are not counted among God’s people. So I do not think that we can automatically conclude that because something appears good that the person or practice behind it is good.
And then we may also ask what the good Reiki claims to do is. It does not claim to heal specific diseases. It is designed to complement other forms of healing by promoting stress reduction and relaxation. “Reiki treats the whole person including body, emotions, mind and spirit creating many beneficial effects that include relaxation and feelings of peace, security and wellbeing” (“What is Reiki?” from Reiki.org). In Christian Reiki specifically, it is claimed that one’s relationship with God is affected. From ChristianReiki.org, I find the following anecdotal evidence:
“My Christian clients have reported intense experiences of the Holy
Spirit revealing God’s presence and Love during their Reiki sessions.” (“Christian Reiki” by Judith White)
“Personally, I have found that Reiki greatly benefits my prayer life in the peace that I have myself and in the confidence I have in the Lord to hear my prayers for others. Something about the fact that I cannot control Reiki and make it do what I want it to do for a person has deepened my ability to ‘let go and let God’. Less and less do I tell God what I think He should do and how He should do it. More and more I simply take a person or situation before Him in prayer and trust that He knows far better than I what is best.” (“Christian Reiki” by Judith White)
“Some clients report feeling Jesus’ presence and the touch of his hands; others tell about being held and embraced in love. There are accounts from others of diminished physical pain, tumors shrinking, surgeries postponed or not needed at all. Emotional growth and healing of relationships as well as spiritual changes are common place! People come to understand more deeply that their God loves them and separation from God is not truth.” (“Reiki and the Teachings and Values of Jesus” by Marita Aicher-Swartz)
It is interesting to me that Christian Reiki here claims to actually heal disease whereas it seems that secular Reiki (for lack of a better designation) does not. I don’t know quite what to make of that aspect of it.
But at any rate the most broadly made claim for Christian Reiki is that it provides s sense of closeness to God. It is very hard to evaluate another’s spiritual experience and I hesitate to do so, but let me make some general observations:
I quoted Jeremiah 8 last time in which the prophet criticizes the priests who say “peace, peace” when there is no peace (this passage also appears in Jer. 6). So too we must be very wary of giving people a false sense of peace when there is no peace. The true peace that all of us need is to be reconciled to God through the forgiveness of our sins. This is something only Jesus could do and only He can give. Which is not to say giving people physical relief is bad. But it is not the only or the most important thing. And I am concerned that Reiki may give people a feeling of closeness to the divine without giving them the real restoration they need, in which case they are really worse off than before because they are not in a position to see their need of God clearly.
All of which is to say I suppose that I don’t doubt the feelings that these people who have done or had Reiki done to them have. I believe they have the feelings they say. But our feelings like the rest of our human natures are fallen and capable of being easily led astray (see this post on reason being led astray too). We always need to judge ourselves and our experiences by the Word of God.
Another reason I tend to think that the things people experience through Reiki are not genuine is that the picture of Jesus that Reiki’s proponents give does not seem to me to be accurate or well-rounded. That is, the Jesus they describe is different in certain key ways from the Jesus I know and whom I believe to be shown in the Bible. He is a healing Jesus, but there is little talk of Him being a saving Jesus. There is lots of talk about following His example, but little mention of the things he has done for us that we are forever incapable of doing for ourselves.
One example of this, in my opinion, wrong understanding of who Jesus is is here:
“Where did his values come from? I believe they spring from a deep understanding of his Oneness with God, being a “beloved Son” which was the focal point of his entire life. His was a realization and embodiment of a God who was close, personal, and intimately present within human beings.” (“Reiki and the Teachings and Values of Jesus” by Marita Aicher-Swartz)
The author claims in this article to be Roman Catholic, or at least heavily influenced by the Catholic church, but this is not the Catholic understanding of who Jesus is. He is not an embodiment of God. He is God.
In another article, it says:
“It is not known whether Jesus was born with the ability to heal through touch or if this was something he acquired. His activities between age twelve and thirty are not mentioned in the Bible. It has been suggested by several researchers that during this time Jesus traveled to the East and was schooled in many of the mystical teachings of India, Tibet and China. If this is so, it is possible that Jesus was initiated into a healing technique, during this time.
On the other hand, it is possible that Jesus was taught directly by God or the Holy Spirit or simply had these abilities from birth.” (William Lee Rand, “Similarities between the Healing of Jesus and Reiki,” from ChristianReiki.org)
This is again not a biblical understanding of who Jesus is. Jesus did not learn to heal nor was he taught by God or the Holy Spirit. Orthodox Christianity states that Jesus was and is One with God the Father and the Holy Spirit.
I could go on with many more examples but let me just say that if the articles on ChristianReiki.org are any indication, the practitioners of Reiki do not hold to orthodox views of who Jesus is. He is God. He is not just a good example to us though he certainly is that. He is much more. He is the only way to the Father.
Which brings me to one last quote which I think sums up the picture I get of Reiki’s good as its Christian practitioners see it:
“In the words on one student ‘Reiki brings you closer to God.'” (John Curtin, “Reiki Strengthens Connection to God” from ChristianReiki.org)
What is wrong with this? Surely closer to God is good and is what we all strive for? Yes, it is. But we are also told that there is only one way to God, through the death and resurrection of his Son. Reiki cannot save and if it provides a sense of peace where there is no real salvation, it puts souls in jeopardy and its practitioners should be very wary as they may be calling the wrath of God down upon themselves. Are there things which provide peace? Yes, they are the sacraments given us in the Bible, baptism and the Lord’s supper, as well as the Word of God itself (read and preached) and prayer. These are the means God has given us both to draw closer to Him and to find peace.
I think I have one more post in me which will touch on Reiki but it is again on more peripheral subjects. So as a conclusion to this series, let me say that I do not see any clear, definitive connections between Reiki and any of the practices we see in the Bible. There are surface similarities but I think Reiki’s proponents have not delved deeply enough to ask if these are really the same thing. It is not enough to justify a practice to say “look, it is vaguely similar to something we see in God’s Word.” And there is much on the opposite side to make us wary and to caution us that if we pursue Reiki we are entering into very dangerous ground. I do not think it is responsible of Christian people to do so. They put their very souls, and those of others, in jeopardy.