Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The dangers of Yoga and its incompatibility with Christianity

Yoga helps me stay in shape and helps me relax. What’s wrong with that they say. Yoga goes much deeper than that. Yoga cannot be separated from Hindu mysticism no more than Jesus can be separated from the Father and the Holy Spirit.

What yoga is from authorities of yoga.

One of the leading contemporary authorities on kundalini yoga is Gopi Krishna. In his article "The True Aim of Yoga," he says: "The aim of yoga is to achieve the state of unity or oneness with God, Brahman, [and] spiritual beings.
One of the most authoritative texts on yoga theory within the Hindu perspective is Pantajali's text on raja Yoga titled Yoga Sutras (e.g.,  596 ). In this text he puts forth the traditional eight "limbs," or parts, of yoga. These are defined within the context of a basic Hindu worldview (reincarnation, karma, and moksha, or liberation) and intended to support and reinforce Hindu beliefs. Each "limb" has a spiritual goal and together they form a unit. These eight limbs are:
Yama (self-control, restraints, devotion to the gods [e.g. Krishna] or the final impersonal God [e.g., Brahman]
Niyama (religious duties, prohibitions, observances)
Asana (proper postures for yoga practices; these represent the first stage in the isolation of consciousness and are vital components for "transcending the human condition" 601:54)
Pranayama (the control and directing of the breath and the alleged divine energy within the human body [prana] to promote health and spiritual [occult] consciousness and evolution)
Prayahara (sensory control or deprivation, i.e., withdrawal of the senses from attachment to external objects)
Dharana (deeper concentration, or mind control)
Dhyana (deep contemplation from occult meditation)
Samadhi (occult enlightenment or "God [Brahman] realization" i.e., "union" of the "individual" with God).
Because the eight steps are interdependent, the steps of "postures" and "breathing" cannot logically be separated from the others. Thus, the interdependence of all eight steps reveals why the physical exercises of yoga are designed to prepare the body for the spiritual (occult) changes that will allegedly help one realize godhood status.
Yoga authorities Feuerstein and Miller comment that the postures (asana) of yoga and its breathing techniques (pranayama) are much more than just physical exercises: Again, we see that the control of the vital energy (prana) by way of breathing, like also asana, is not merely a physical exercise, but is accompanied by certain psychomental phenomena. In other words, all techniques falling under the heading of asana and pranayama as, for example, the mudras and bandhas [physical positions or symbolic bodily gestures utilizing pranayama and concentration for physical or spiritual purposes] of Hatha yoga, are psychosomatic exercises. This point, unfortunately, is little understood by Western practitioners
Actually, yoga practice is intended to validate occult yoga theory. And as noted, yoga theory teaches that everything is, in its true inner nature, divine - not only divine but ultimately equal to everything else - everything from God and the devil to the athlete and the AIDS virus.
Yoga theory also teaches that in their outer nature, everything is maya, or illusion. For example, only in his inner spirit is man divine; his "outer nature," of body and personality, are ultimately a delusion that separates him from awareness of his real inner divinity. Thus, another purpose of yoga must be to slowly dismantle the outer personality - man's illusory part - so the supposed impersonal divinity can progressively "emerge" from within his hidden divine consciousness
This is why people who practice yoga only for physical or mental health reasons are ultimately the victims of a confidence game. They are promised better health; little do they suspect the end goal of yoga is to destroy them as individuals. As yoga authorities Feuerstein and Miller comment, yoga results in "a progressive dismantling of human personality ending in a complete abolition. With every step (anga) of Yoga, what we call 'man' is demolished a little more"
The concept of prana ("breath") is a key to the process. Pranayama refers to the knowledge and control of prana, or mystical energy, not merely to the control of one's physical breath  (979:592) . Prana is believed to be universal divine energy residing behind the material world (akasa). Prana is said to have five forms, and all energy is thoughy to be a manifestation of it.
According to Vivekananda, all occult manifestations are accomplished through yogic control of prana: We see in every country sects that attempted to control of prana. In this country there are mind healers, spiritualists, Christian Scientists, hypnotists, and so on. If we examine these different sects, we shall find at the back of each is the control of prana, whether they know it or not. If you boil all the theories down, the residuum will be that. It is one and the same force they are manipulating. Thus we see that pranayama includes all that is true even of spiritualism. Similarly, you will find that wherever any sect or body of people is trying to discover anything occult, mysterious, or hidden, they are really practicing some sort of yoga to control their prana. You will find that wherever there is any extraordinary display of power, it is the manipulation of prana. In other words, prana, God, and occult energy are all one and the same. The one who practices yogic breathing (pranayama) is by definition attempting to manipulate occult ("divine") energy.

Trying to separate the religious from the physical.

As we have seen the teachers of Hindu themselves have acknowledged that there is no way yoga can be separated from its religious base."[However], Hatha-yoga is 'one of the six recognized systems of orthodox Hinduism' and is at its roots religious and mystical. It is also one of the most difficult and potentially dangerous [spiritually] forms of Yoga. "The term hatha is derived from the verb hath, which means 'to oppress.'... What the practice of hatha-yoga is designed to do is suppress the flow of psychic energies through these channels ["symbolic, or psychic, passages on either side of the spinal column"], thereby forcing the 'serpent power' or the kundalini force to rise through the central psychic channel in the spine (the sushumna) and up through the chakras, the supposed psychic centers of human personality and power. Westerners mistakenly believe that one can practice hatha-yoga apart from the philosophical and religious beliefs that under grid it. This is an absolutely false belief "You cannot separate the exercises from the philosophy. 'The movements themselves become a form of meditation.' The continued practice of the exercises will, whether you ... intend it or not, eventually influence you toward an Eastern/mystical perspective. That is what it is meant to do! There is, by definition, no such thing as 'neutral' Yoga"
Even when yoga is practiced innocently, it can eventually produce dramatic occult transformation. "Personality changes can be brought about in Hatha Yoga by changing the body so that it influences the mind."
It is important to note that historically, in the east, advanced yoga practice was only permitted within narrowly defined parameters. Students practiced under the strict guidance of a yogi in controlled, slowly advancing stages in stress-free settings. Higher levels involving breath work and energy work were always reserved for those initiates successfully completing years of the purification which decreased the likelihood of problems.
            Now, even in all but the most rigorous ashrams in the west, advanced yogic practices are imparted at weekend or week-long getaways and some yoga teachers receive certifications after only months of study. To suggest that one can derive solely physical benefits from Yoga without being affected -- in some way -- by its inherently spiritual foundation is to miss the mark. Yoga is not primarily about limbering up the body; it is about using physical means to achieve a spiritual end. So the question of separating the physical from the spiritual in yoga is really a contradiction in terms. In fact, if one consults the massive amount of yoga material available, it becomes clear that yoga was never intended to have any physical benefits. Yoga is consistently presented as being primarily about actualizing one's spiritual potential, attaining "freedom," transcending the ego, and the like.

Consider a Biblical example:

1 Cor 10:18-20 Consider the people of Israel: Do not those who eat the sacrifices participate in the altar? 19 Do I mean then that food sacrificed to an idol is anything, or that an idol is anything? 20 No, but the sacrifices of pagans are offered to demons, not to God, and I do not want you to be participants with demons. 21 You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons too; you cannot have a part in both the Lord’s table and the table of demons.

The meat sacrificed to the pagan idols was completely fine physically to eat yet Paul warns people not to eat it because of the underlying spiritual dimension.
Perhaps by analogy a Catholic may ask if it's possible to receive the Eucharist and not be participating in something religious. Or think of it another way. If an atheist takes and consumes a consecrated Host, could we validly maintain that has he not received the Body of Christ because he doesn't believe that that's what it is? Could we assert that he has merely "gone through the physical motions" of receiving but has not engaged in a spiritual activity? Technically speaking, the Eucharist has a spiritual reality independent of the receiver's beliefs, and I propose that the same is true for Yoga. Just as the Real Presence is contained within a consecrated Host whether or not someone believes it, so also does Yoga have a spiritual component that is real, whether or not it is the specific pursuit of the practitioner.
Donna Kocian, who is one who tries to combine Christianity and Hinduism says she wants to help people pause and find themselves in today’s frenetic world, “to pray within themselves, to pause, to reflect, to give thanks and to heal by yoga.” (Why do we need yoga to do that when we have Eucharistic Adoration, an opportunity to sit for as long as we want in the sacramental presence of the greatest healer who ever walked the earth?)
Kocian “Christianizes” her yoga class by incorporating Gospel readings and Christian music with yoga postures that are designed to give worship to any one of about 3 million Hindu gods. If this was possible, why couldn’t we just “Christianize” occult practices such as tarot cards and palm reading? How hard would it be to create a Christian deck of tarot cards and associate biblical prophecies with each one? And couldn’t we justify palm reading by saying that God created our bodies so when we read our palms, we’re just reading what God put there?
Bad side effects of yoga.

Consider the experience of Christina Grof, who, prior to her experience with yoga, was an average housewife with normal plans for her life. She took up yoga entirely without suspicion as a practice that would help her physically during her pregnancy. After all, there are widespread claims that "during pregnancy, yoga exercises are extremely beneficial and will keep you supple and relaxed." What Christian Grof got was far more. She found herself transformed from a "conservative suburban housewife" into a New Age leader by means of hatha yoga. All she had to do was "join a hatha yoga class for exercise" and the logical progression ensued.
            One example of the physical dangers of yoga was at common workplace where power yoga was offered at lunchtime for a quick pick-me-up. The yoga instructor recently had the class perform an exercise designed to stimulate the pituitary gland - and one of students did not sleep the entire following night. The dangers of any kind of yoga can be schizophrenia, mental disorders, include abuse of power, unconscious motivations of teachers and students, as well as the ignorance of the physiological and psychological effects of yoga.
Feuerstein and Bodian note that experiences made possible through yoga include “. . . lucid dreaming, out-of-body states, clairvoyance, and other psychic abilities, as well as ecstasies, mystical states and, at the apex of them all, enlightenment.” They go on to assert that “yoga is at home with all these mental states and mind-transcending realizations” Given these candid admissions by yoga masters that the development of psychic abilities is a virtually unavoidable result of practicing yoga — in fact, it is the very goal — the believing Christian is left with a serious moral and spiritual dilemma:  should he pursue an activity whose ultimate goal is to cultivate “powers” that God expressly condemns?  There’s no avoiding the fact that yoga can and does foster these abilities, and there’s no avoiding the fact that God tells us they are spiritually harmful to His children
Dave Hunt in his book “Yoga and the Body of Christ” makes a connection between the effects of LSD and other Psychedelic drugs introduced in the 1960s with yoga. The Central Intelligence Agency’s investigation into these drugs for possible military use experimented with more than eighty college campuses under various CIA code names, which popularized LSD to thousands of graduate students.
Under the influence of psychedelics, millions discovered another dimension of reality that surely was not physical. But as long as the “trip” lasted, the adventure was as real as the physical universe—or, seemingly, even more real. It only remained to be discovered that yoga would produce the same “trip” without drugs—and yoga took off as the new cure all. Hunt tells of his conversation with a mother. “I remember the mother of a 20-year-old telling me with some sense of relief and little concern,” “Our son used to be heavily into drugs; but thank God he isn’t using drugs anymore because he started practicing yoga. I don’t know what yoga is, but it can’t be bad if it got him off of drugs!”
“My reply must have shocked her”: “I’m glad to hear that your son no longer gets ‘high’ on drugs. I’m sorry to inform you, however, that he can get a lot ‘higher’ on yoga than on drugs. Drugs were the kindergarten of occultism—yoga is the graduate school!”
Hunt notes it is both logical and biblical that God would build protection within man to prevent a take-over of the human mind by any other mind. One could, however, voluntarily allow this to be done by willingly submitting to hypnosis. Moreover, deliberately entering an altered state, whether through drugs, hypnosis, or yoga, is giving permission to evil entities to take over, whether one realizes it or not.
Anthropologist Michael Harner wrote, “A shaman...enters an altered state of acquire...special, personal power, which is usually supplied by his guardian and helping spirits.” John Lilly, who invented the isolation tank (in which one floats in a sea of heavy salt water, completely isolated from sights or sounds of the world) that inspired the movie, Altered States , declared: “Some people call it ‘lucid dreaming.’ It’s a lot easier if you have a psychedelic [drug] in you, but a lot of people...can just meditate and go into these alternate realities....” There are many recorded accounts by those who have experienced similar adventures and “possession” while practicing yoga.
The staff at the Berean Call (an evangelical ministry) says “I have interviewed people who became demon possessed through yoga. The great yogis all warn of the grave dangers involved, even though at the same time they promote the alleged benefits. Yes, you could benefit physically from stretching your muscles, etc. However, the spiritual price you pay is not worth it. If you are interested in physical fitness, then practice exercises designed for that, not those designed specifically for achieving union with Brahman!”

Other health problems can be found here:

Christian Clergy on Yoga

R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Yoga is Hindu and the practice imperils the souls of Christians who engage in it.

Fr. James Manjackal, a Catholic priest who was raised in a traditional Catholic family in India, states: “Yoga is not an elaborate system of physical exercises, it is a spiritual discipline purporting to lead the soul to Samadhi, the state in which the natural and divine become one. It is interesting to note that postures and breathing exercises often considered to be the whole of yoga in the west are steps three and four towards union with Brahman.”

The late Fr. John Hardon SJ also affirmed that yoga is not compatible with Catholicism. “Inner Hinduism or yoga professes pantheism which denies that there is only one Infinite Being who created the world out of nothing. This pantheistic Hinduism says that followers will have brief tastes of heaven between successive rebirths on Earth.”

Dr. John Ankerberg states in his article Innocent Yoga? “Regardless of the school or spiritual tradition, yoga practice tends to alter a person’s consciousness in an occult direction. Even when yoga is practiced innocently, it can eventually produce occult transformation.”
There are those who claim there is nothing wrong with practicing Yoga for exercise purposes only, but even the teachers of Hindu have stated that the philosophy and the practice of yoga are inseparable. From Johanna Michaelsen’s book “Like Lambs to the Slaughter” (pp 93-95) she states, “You cannot separate the exercises from the philosophy… The movements themselves become a form of meditation.”

Exorcists on yoga.
The [UK] Daily Mail reported on May 24, 2008: posted this article:
Father Jeremy Davies, exorcist for Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, the leader of Catholics in England and Wales, says that activities such as yoga, massage therapy, reiki or even reading horoscopes could put people at risk from evil spirits.
In a new book, he also argues that people with promiscuous lifestyles could find themselves afflicted by demons.
And he says that the occult is closely linked to the scourges of ‘drugs, demonic music and pornography’ which are ‘destroying millions of young people in our time’.
The 73-year-old Catholic priest, who was appointed exorcist of the Archdiocese of Westminster in 1986, was a medical doctor before being ordained in 1974.
He has carried out thousands of exorcisms in London and in 1993 he set up the International Association of Exorcists with Fr Gabriel Amorth, the Pope’s top exorcist.
He adds that ‘perversions’ such as homosexuality, pornography and promiscuity are contributing to a growing sense of moral unease.
He writes: ‘Even heterosexual promiscuity is a perversion; and intercourse, which belongs in the sanctuary of married love, can become a pathway not only for disease but also for evil spirits...young people especially are vulnerable and we must do what we can to protect them.
‘The thin end of the wedge (soft drugs, yoga for relaxation, horoscopes just for fun and so on) is more dangerous than the thick end because it is more deceptive – an evil spirit tries to make his entry as unobtrusively as possible.
‘Beware of any claim to mediate beneficial energies (eg reiki), any courses that promise the peace that Christ promises (eg enneagrams), any alternative therapy with its roots in eastern religion (eg acupuncture).’
Fr Davies argues that occult practices such as magic, fortune-telling and holding seances to contact the spirits of the dead are ‘direct invitations to the Devil which he readily accepts’.
But the Oxford-educated priest, who is based in Luton, Bedfordshire, says there are different degrees of demonic influence, and the most extreme forms occur rarely.
THE appointment of a new exorcist by Sydney's Catholic Church precedes a warning by a senior clergyman that generation Y risks a dangerous fascination with the occult fuelled by the Twilight and Harry Potter series.
Julian Porteous, the auxiliary bishop of Sydney, warns that pursuing such ''alternative'' relaxation techniques as yoga, reiki massages and tai chi may encourage experimentation with ''deep and dark
spiritual ideas and traditions''

In an article published Nov 27 2011 from the Hindustan Times, New Delhi quotes Fr Gabriel Armoth who is the top Vatican exorcist. The article states: The controversial priest, who has carried out more than 70,000 exorcisms in 25 years, declared: "Both seem innocuous but they deal with magic and that leads to evil.”Father Amorth said: "Yoga is the Devil's work. You think you are doing it to stretch your mind and body. "But it leads to oriental religions based on the false belief of reincarnation."

The Magesterium of the Catholic Church on Yoga
            In a 1989 Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on Some Aspects of Christian Meditation (hereafter Aspects), the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith focused on various Eastern spiritual practices and the legitimacy of their inclusion into the spiritual lives of Christians. In a footnote contained in Number 2, Aspects specifically states that "The expression 'eastern methods' is used to refer to methods which are inspired by Hinduism and Buddhism, such as Zen, Transcendental Meditation or Yoga." They said that yoga can "degenerate into a cult of the body" that debases Christian prayer. Further, the Church leaders cautioned, "The love of God, the sole object of Christian contemplation, is a reality which cannot be 'mastered' by any method or technique."
 So the Magisterium clearly has yoga in mind when addressing the issue of Christians using Eastern spiritual practices. It also affirms that bodily considerations (such as yoga's postures, for instance) can indeed impact us spiritually: "Human experience shows that the 'position and demeanor of the body' also have their influence on the recollection and dispositions of the spirit.

A Call to Vigilance Pastoral Instruction on the New Age by Archbishop (now Cardinal) Norberto Rivera Carrera wrote Jan 7, 1996 saying:
32. These practices were unquestionably born as spiritual disciplines or religious acts within traditional religions (as in the case of Zen, tai chi, and the many forms of yoga), or in sects or new religious movements (as in the case of transcendental meditation and dynamic meditation). At times an attempt is made to "christianize" these forms, as occurred, for example, with "centering prayer" and "focusing," but the result is always a hybrid form with slight gospel basis.
33. However much proponents insist that these techniques are valuable merely as methods, and imply no teaching contrary to Christianity, the techniques in themselves always involve serious drawbacks for a Christian:
a)       In their own context, the postures and exercises are designed for their specific religious purpose. They are, in themselves, steps for guiding the user towards an impersonal absolute. Even when they are carried out within a Christian atmosphere, the intrinsic meaning of these gestures remains intact.

In 2003 the Catholic Church's Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue released a document entitled Jesus Christ: The Bearer of the Water of Life (hereafter Bearer). While the focus of this document is the New Age movement, we again find the subject of yoga included: "Some of the traditions which flow into New Age are: ancient Egyptian occult practices, Cabbalism, early Christian Gnosticism, Sufism, the lore of the Druids, Celtic Christianity, mediaeval alchemy, Renaissance hermeticism, Zen Buddhism, yoga and so on" (#2.1).
Yoga, zen, transcendental meditation and tantric exercises lead to an experience of self-fulfillment or enlightenment. Peak-experiences (reliving one's birth, traveling
to the gates of death, biofeedback, dance and even drugs – anything which can
provoke an altered state of consciousness) are believed to lead to unity and
enlightenment. (#2.3.3)

Islam on Yoga.

In 2008 the leading Islamic council in Malaysia issued an edict prohibiting the country's Muslims from indulging in the practice of yoga. Abdul Husim  the Chairman said, "Yoga destroys a Muslim's faith." “There are other ways to get exercise. You can go cycling, swimming." If it can destroy a Muslim faith it can destroy a Christian one also.


Alternatives to yoga

PraiseMoves was developed by Laurette Willis, a Protestant and former Hatha yoga instructor who returned to the Lord after being convicted of her involvement in yoga. Here’s a link:
Other alternatives.


Anonymous said...

Brian, God bless you! I have been a Catholic all my life and I am so grateful to God for converts like you who share your testimony and put the Kingdom of God before all things in their life. The Church is under attack from the New Age through many different angles (like Yoga) and sometimes it is easy to get discouraged. But Christ has already won. Satan knows his days are numbered. We must continue to fight the good fight as you are doing. God bless you!

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Anonymous said...

Yoga is way of leading to peaceful life & helps to attain the spiritual enlightenment. It doesn't conflict with any faith. May god bless you!

Brian said...

Just by your two sentences you have put christianity in conflict with yoga. Christians do not do exercises and controled breathing to obtain spiritual enlightenment or mabye the christian equivelant term would be sanctification or salvation. Christians recieve salvation by a gift of Gods grace.

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Brian said...

Thanks Jackie. This has been one of my more popular blogs. If you want more on this visit and call their customer service number and order a small booklet on the subject. I am not aware of any other resources than this.

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Anonymous said...

Thank you so much Brian - a great post, a very interesting and excellent essay -

I do agree this is a subject the importance of which we cannot overemphasize.

To the subject of perils and dangers of Yoga - especially for Christians - I would like
to caution against the teachings of the late P. Yogananda (P.Y) and of his disciples and followers under a society called Self-Realization Fellowship.

P.Y does not only combine Hinduism and Christianity, but through his teachings offered through thousands of pages of his several books he accomplished the following:

- P.Y randomly picks, combined and interprets parts of the Bible and by doing so he re-engineers Jesus' teachings into Hindu teachings
- P.Y states that he was sent by Jesus Christ for the purpose to clarify the Scriptures for the "mislead" Christians and to offer them the fastest way to reach salvation according to ancient Hindu teachings
- P.Y places Jesus Christ in the first place of an alleged "line of gurus", Krishna into the second place, and himself as the last "guru" in the line, thus he appoints himself the guru who fulfills the purpose of all other gurus:

- P.Y declares his own teachings the "last ones" in that line and declares his teachings sealed, thus P.Y replaces Jesus' sealed teachings with his own sealed teachings
- P.Y claims that by offering his unique methods to practise Kriya Yoga he offers the fastest way for Christians to attain salvation; P.Y. states that this is the way Jesus taught his disciples to become one with the Heavenly Father
- P.Y claims that Jesus taught a slower and less effective way to obtain salvation through practising "mercy, love and foregieveness" only to the "ordinary" people
- P.Y claims that his effective yoga techniques and his knowledge are based on an ancient truth that Christian clergy leaders have kept secret from the faithful masses
- in effect P.Y places himself in the role of Jesus Christ and by false, deceptive claims he lures Christians into following occult Hindu practices to reach salvation that he interprets as "unity" with God
- when someone practices the Kriya Yoga as per P.Y's teachings the student will enter a guru-disciple relationship with P.Y and will be attuned to a line of dead gurus
- P.Y advises such disciple to leave behind all other spiritual paths and religious practices in order to obtain the "best and fastest results" of Kriya Yoga
- following from above Kriya Yoga is an individual religion established by P.Y for the purpose to replace the Christian faith (also to replace Hinduism) with his own new religion, and to make himself - by replacing both Jesus Christ and Krishna - the leader of this new, hybrid religion.

Marianne said...

RE: The bad side effects of yoga and the way to HEAL from these effects

According to renowned psychoanalyst Carl Jung:

"One often hears and reads about the dangers of Yoga, particularly of the ill-reputed Kundalini Yoga. The deliberately induced psychotic state, which in certain unstable individuals might easily lead to a real psychosis, is a danger that needs to be taken very seriously indeed. These things really are dangerous and ought not to be meddled with in our typically Western way. It is a meddling with Fate, which strikes at the very roots of human existence and can let loose a flood of sufferings of which no sane person ever dreamed. These sufferings correspond to the hellish torments of the chönyid state..." C. G. Jung, Introduction to The Tibetan book of the Dead *

The good news is that the physical and mental healing is possible for those who have been trapped into kundalini and are suffering from its hellish effects!
Jesus came to this world to save both the righteous and those who are lost, whenever they turn to Him.

Healing is possible if the person falling for the yoga & TM deception stops all forms of new- age or Hindu occultism, turns ONLY to Jesus Christ as his/her Saviour, prays and repents constantly, keeps his/her faith in Jesus and reads the Bible daily.

"Freedom from many of the symptoms of kundalini has come through prayer and ministry received from several Christian inner healing and deliverance ministries. Increasingly, freedom has come through a deepening relationship and a more complete surrender to Jesus Christ. The Lord Jesus Christ is the true healer."

One of the testimonies the website refers to at:

"I am a changed person today: not because of any "blessing" from Toronto, nor because any "spirit" was cast out of me (I was responsible for my own state of anxiety), but because of the blessings that have come from submitting to God's Word."