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Cautious Co-belligerence? The Late Nineteenth-Century American Divine Healing Movement and the Promise of Medical Science


71. Dowie’s writings on the medical profession must be read in light of the persecution he faced, especially during the mid-1890’s, at the hands of the Chicago medical community, who brought Dowie and his Healing Homes under the scrutiny of the Chicago press, Health Department, Building Department, Police Department, and, even, the local Post Office.

72. “Where is the science in medicine? There is none. There are no physicians of any standing to-day in any department of medicine who will declare it to be a science” (Dowie, “Opening of the Beautiful Gate,” 5). “There is no science in medicine; not the first atom of foundation for science in medicine” (Dowie, “Zion’s Onward Movement,” 390).

73. Dowie, “Opening of the Beautiful Gate,” 5; Dowie, “Doctors and Medicines,” 61–63.

74. Dowie, “Zion’s Onward Movement,” 390.

75. “THE ALLEGATION THAT DOCTORS AND SUREGEONS ARE IN THE POSSESSION OF A FORMULA OF A WELL ESTABLISHED SCIENCE, IS AN ABSOLUTE LIE” (Dowie, “Zion’s Onward Movement,” 390). Note that all capitalizations in Dowie quotations in this section are original to Dowie.

76. Dowie, “Zion’s Onward Movement,” 393.

77. “I believe, and I can prove it, that doctors and medicine do not heal” (Dowie, “Prayer and Testimony Meeting,” 84). “The alleged cures are not cures, and the patent poisonous drugs are shams and lies” (Dowie, “Zion’s Onward Movement,” 394). The abandoned crutches, braces, etc., that were displayed at the front of the tabernacle show Dowie’s belief that Divine Healing is powerful and effective and that medical science is impotent. These appliances were aids, at best, and never cures.

78. Dowie, “Zion’s Onward Movement,” 389.

79. Dowie, “Doctors and Medicines,” 61.

80. Dowie, “Zion’s Onward Movement,” 390; John Alexander Dowie, “A Letter to the Friends of Zion Tabernacle,” Leaves of Healing 1:22 (February 15, 1895) 337.

81. John Alexander Dowie, “Divine Healing and the Chicago Doctors: A New Attack on the Divine Healing Homes,” Leaves of Healing 1:36 (June 14, 1895) 563.

82. Dowie, “Prayer and Testimony Meeting,” 84.

83. Dowie, “Zion’s Onward Movement,” 392.

84. Dowie, “Zion’s Onward Movement,” 389.

85. Dowie, “Zion’s Onward Movement,” 390.

86. Dowie, “Zion’s Onward Movement,” 390, 393.

87. Dowie, “Zion’s Onward Movement,” 393–96.

88. “Men were doubtless willing then, as they are now, to give glory to one another, and account for Divine Healing in every way but the right way.” Dowie, though, is also sure to note that many within the Church are accomplices in this move. “They declare that medical science has taken the place of Divine Healing, and that no longer do we go to Christ but to the doctor. This is the teaching of a great part of the church concerning Divine Healing to-day” (Dowie, “Opening of the Beautiful Gate,” 5; Dowie, “Zion’s Onward Movement,” 393).

89. Dowie, “Zion’s Onward Movement,” 394.

90. Shryock, Medicine in America, 150–51. John Duffy notes “while individual physicians were admired, the profession collectively continued to have little public respect”; Duffy, From Humors to Medical Science: A History of American Medicine, 2nd ed. (Urbana, IL.: University of Illinois Press, 1993) 167.

91. James H. Cassedy, Medicine in America: A Short History (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1991) 67.

92. Shryock, Medicine in America, 152.

93. Duffy, From Humors to Medical Science, 167.

94. Shryock, Medicine in America, 152.

95. Robert C. Fuller, Alternative Medicine and American Religious Life (New York: Oxford University Press, 1989) 16.

96. The men who would bring about this change “were [not only] far better educated than their predecessors, [but] nearly all of them had studied [outside of America] in Vienna, Paris, and other European medical centers” (Duffy, From Humors to Medical Science, 192).

97. Shryock, Medicine in America, 151.

98. Shryock, Medicine in America, 171.

99. Fuller, Alternative Medicine and American Religious Life, 13.

100. Shryock, Medicine in America, 155.

101. Fuller, Alternative Medicine and American Religious Life, 14; A. J. Gordon lists these as well, showing not only their ineffectiveness but their barbarism (Ministry of Healing, 176).

102. Fuller, Alternative Medicine and American Religious Life, 14.

103. Shryock, Medicine in America, 151.

104. Duffy, From Humors to Medical Science, 190. Simpson pointed to the Garfield case, and that of President McKinley, as well-known examples of the ineffectiveness of physicians and medical treatment; Simpson, Lord for the Body, 131; Albert Benjamin Simpson, “The Doctors and the Lord,” Living Truths 1:6 (December 1902) 307.


This excerpt from: Amos Yong, ed., The Spirit Renews the Face of the Earth: Pentecostal Forays in Science and Theology of Creation (Pickwick Press, 2009) 9781606081969. Used by permission of Wipf and Stock Publishers.




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Category: Church History, Summer 2010

About the Author: Bernie A. Van De Walle, Ph.D. (Drew University), is Professor of Historical and Systematic Theology and theology program convener at Ambrose University College in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. He is the author of The Heart of the Gospel: A. B. Simpson, the Fourfold Gospel, and Late Nineteenth-Century Evangelical Theology (2009), Rethinking Holiness: A Theological Introduction (2017), and contributor to other works including The Spirit Renews the Face of the Earth: Pentecostal Forays in Science and Theology of Creation (2009), Dictionary of Christian Spirituality (2011), and The Holy River of God: Currents and Contributions of the Wesleyan Holiness Stream of Christianity (2016). He has served as the President of the Christian Theological Research Fellowship and sits on the Steering Committee of the Wesleyan Holiness Connection. Amazon Author page

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