Having been trained as a SOZO minister I know the dangers it presents first hand. The following is a well written article which relates to SOZO (Christianized inner healing with no basis in scripture.)
I know there are many of you out there with questions and concerns. I hope this helps shed some light on its origins and why we need to stay away. Christ is sufficient for all our needs. Every one of them.
Christian or Occult?*
- Healing of the memories, or inner healing, or healing of the emotions has its roots in the teachings of anti-Christian and occultist, Agnes Sanford. It was carried on after her death by those she influenced, such as lay therapists Ruth Carter Stapleton (deceased sister of Jimmy Carter), Rosalind Rinker, John and Paula Sandford (currently of Elijah House, a demon-deliverance and memory healing center in Port Falls, Idaho), William Vaswig (of Renovaré fame), Rita Bennett, and others. John Wimber, David Yonggi Cho, Robert Schuller, and Norman Vincent Peale are some of the well-known pop psychological practitioners of inner healing, but it has spread widely in so- called evangelical circles in a more sophisticated form through such “Christian” psychologists as David Seamands, H. Norman Wright, and James G. Friesen, as well as a number of lay therapists like Fred and Florence Littauer. (Two of David Seamand’s books, Healing for Damaged Emotions and Healing of Memories, are considered the “inner-healer’s bibles” in today’s psychologically-oriented pulpits.)
Inner healing therapies are offshoots of Freudian and Jungian theories rooted in the occult. They have destructively impacted secular society for decades and are now taking their devastating toll within the professing Church. A variety of “memory-healing” psychotherapies are masquerading under Christian terminology and turning Christians from God to self. Among the most deadly are “regressive” therapies designed to probe the “unconscious” for buried memories which are allegedly causing everything from depression to fits of anger and sexual misconduct, and must, therefore, be uncovered and “healed.”
- The basic teaching of inner healing is the theory that salvation or healing comes through the uprooting of negative memories or “hurts” caused by others in early childhood that are supposedly buried in the “subconscious” from where they tend to dictate our behavior without us even knowing it. Thus, the blame for one’s bad behavior (a.k.a. “emotional problems”) in the present is placed upon others (who are perceived to have sinned against us in the past) rather than upon ourselves where it belongs (cf. Ezekiel 18). In order to “heal” these “diseased memories,” the occultic technique of visualization (which is in reality a type of sorcery or divination which has been used by shamans, witchdoctors, and sorcerers for thousands of years, and is specifically forbid by the Bible) is frequently used to recreate the distressful childhood scene, “image” Jesus (if one is a professing Christian), bringing Him into the past situation as a “spirit guide”/”healing agent,” and then causing Him to sanctify the event, forgive the person who supposedly caused the hurt, and in most cases, even alter the reality of the situation in the subject’s mind, all so that the subject might be “delivered” from the “crippling emotional pain” associated with the past negative experience that supposedly “diseased memory” in the first place. (Charismatic Roman Catholic memory-healers employ the same techniques, but generally substitute Mary for Jesus as the “healing agent” whom the subject meets in the fantasy.)
- One of the seemingly attractive forms of inner healing is to have Jesus enter a painful scene from the past. The inner-healer helps the person recreate the memory by having Jesus do or say things that will make the person feel better about the situation. For instance, if a man’s dad had neglected him when he was a boy, an inner-healer may help that man create a new memory of Jesus having played baseball with him when he was a boy. Through verbal encouragement, he would regress him back to his childhood and encourage him to visualize Jesus pitching the ball and praising him for hitting a home run. Some inner-healers regress people back to the womb and lead them through “rebirthing” by guided imagery and imagination. Thus, through these psychoanalytic/occult techniques, inner-healers should not be surprised at the possibility of actually altering or enhancing the memory in their zeal to replace bad memories with good memories. Inner-healers are always in danger of unwittingly enhancing or engrafting memories through words or actions that mean one thing to the inner-healer, but may communicate something else entirely to the highly vulnerable subject.
- Inner healing is based upon the implication that we clearly need something more than God’s love and forgiveness in order to love and forgive others who are perceived to have wronged us in the past. Since the Bible distinctly teaches that Jesus can never be called-up and forced to “perform” at our command, any “Jesus” actually visualized would have to be a demon spirit and not of God. Of course, that is precisely the danger of the occult technique of visualization — subjects are being taught to experiment with things that God has repeatedly condemned in both the Old and New Testaments alike, not because the phenomena visualized (i.e. “spirit guides”) are not real, but rather because they are produced by demons determined to lead one into the worship of other gods and ultimate destruction (Deut. 13 ff.). The Bible repeatedly warns against becoming involved with the occult on any level, because of what the Bible identifies as “spirits of demons working signs” for the purpose of deceiving the whole world (Rev. 16:14; cf. 13:14). This exposure to the occult, however unintentional and innocent, could easily lead the undiscerning into far more serious spiritual or “emotional” problems than they ever dreamed possible. Unfortunately, the research is replete with such cases of demonic/occultic influence experienced by first-time dabblers.
- Inner healing practices of regressing into the past, fossicking about in the unconscious for hidden memories, conjuring up images, acting out fantasies and nightmares, and believing lies, all resemble the world of the occult, not the work of the Holy Spirit. An imaginary memory created under a highly suggestible, hypnotic-like state will only bring imaginary healing. It may also plunge people into a living nightmare.
What is being taught as inner healing/healing of memories is nothing but basic sorcery, which is an attempt to manipulate reality in the past, present, or future, and denies God’s omnipotence by implying that He needs our “creative visualization” in order to apply effectively His forgiveness and healing, while simultaneously, sets us up as gods who can, through prescribed rituals, use Him and His power as our tools. In fact, inner healing/healing of memories is nothing but “Christianized psychoanalysis” that uses the power of suggestion to solve so-called problems, which the technique itself has many times created.
- The Bible has much to say concerning the healing of memories (besides condemning its methodologies). The Bible clearly teaches that moral choices rather than past traumas determine our current condition and actions, and thereby, our responsibility; the Bible has always taught that it is not the act in the past but how one reacts to the act that determines “which soul has sinned” (Ezekiel 18 again). Since there is no Biblical evidence that any prophet, priest, or apostle ever dealt with anything remotely related to buried or repressed emotions or memories, then shouldn’t one question why this is so if inner healing is the big truth that its practitioners say it is?
- If prayer and Bible study and the power of the Holy Spirit are not enough for saints today to deal with life and problems, then the saints of old, including the apostle Paul, must have been greatly lacking. Despite his many hardships described in Scripture, Paul was able to function and rejoice in the Lord without the help of psychoanalysis. Paul forgot the past and pressed on toward the prize (Phil. 3:13-14) promised to all those who love Christ’s appearing (2 Tim 4:7-8).
Likewise, throughout Church history Christians have managed the same when they should have been at a great disadvantage without the “insights” of modern psychology. It is a dangerous heresy to insist that we must accept this new “revelation” by psychologists or live deficient lives. The past is of little consequence if Christians truly are new creations for whom “old things are passed away [and] all things are become new” (2 Cor. 5:17). Searching the past in order to find an “explanation” for one’s present behavior conflicts with the entire teaching of Scripture. Though it may seem to help for a time, it actually robs one of the Biblical solution through Christ. What matters is not the past, but one’s personal relationship to Christ now.
- The people who are most vulnerable to inner-healers are those who are at a low point in their spiritual walk or who are experiencing difficult circumstances. The inner-healers entice through all kinds of direct and implied promises for healing damaged emotions, healing roots in the past that prevent personal growth, and enabling a person to have a closer walk with God. They circle about congregations like vultures, waiting for the opportunity to swoop down on those who are near to dropping from “spiritual exhaustion.” They assure their prospective victims of their sincere desire to help and they communicate a Biblical facade by using butchered Bible verses and Christian-sounding conversation. However, once their talons pierce the person, a penetrating parasitic process begins. And the host/parasite relationship continues as long as the host continues to look to the inner-healer to make him emotionally well and spiritually whole.
- Instead of being healed, there is a very strong possibility that the recipients of inner healing are now living on the basis of a lie from the pit of hell. Inner healing is not based upon truth. It is based upon faulty memory, guided imagery, fantasy, visualization, and hypnotic-like suggestibility. And, while the inner-healers may conjure up a “Jesus” and recite Bible verses, such inner healing is not Biblical. Jesus said, “If ye continue in My Word, then are ye My disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (Jn. 8:31-32).
Moreover, inner healing is insulting to God when the “healers” attempt to take away His power to bless “emotionally-distressed” people simply in response to their repentance and prayers. It is extra-Biblical, blasphemous, and carnal in its visualization and manipulation of the Son of God. It is dangerous in the way it forces people into childish self-interest, subjectivism, and emotionalism. And it is wickedly presumptuous in its priestly bestowing of forgiveness and assurance.
* Major portions of this report were adapted from: (a) the Fall 1989 issue of PsychoHeresy Update (now the PsychoHeresy Awareness Letter), (b) the 2/93 issue of The Berean Call, (c) two articles in the September 1990, Media Spotlight Special Report entitled “Latter- Day Prophets: The Restoration of Apostles and Prophets and the Kansas City-Vineyard Connection” and “Testing the Fruit of the Vineyard,” and (d) the books The Seduction of Christianity, Beyond Seduction, and The Healing Epidemic.