September 2, 2020

Belief Matters

Even for your health!

Peter N. Landless & Zeno L. Charles-Marcel

Q:I heard about CELEBRATIONS® in church and that the “B” (Belief) somehow improves health. Isn’t that just a sneaky way to push religion into health?

A:We unapologetically affirm that belief in the God of the Bible in itself confers “health” to believers. Since the 1960s, scientific research has corroborated our position. But science is only catching up to what God knew all along. The nature of the God of our belief is vitally important. Religious beliefs that portray God as distant, uninterested, punishing, or vindictive provoke worse health than no belief in God at all.*

So what about belief in itself? Let’s consider two friends, “A” and “Z,” and see if their beliefs (in contemporary scenarios) lead to distinct health decisions.

Friend “A”Friend “Z”
The hunter-gatherer “paleo diet” is the way we were evolved to eat.A total vegetarian diet protects me from most diseases.
Mental disease is always a result of chemical imbalances.Mental disease is spiritual and requires faith and prayer.
COVID-19 is political hype, no worse than the flu.Hydrotherapy cured people in the 1918 influenza pandemic; it will do so with COVID.
God works through natural remedies and through medications shown to be helpful.Chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and vaccines are all poisons.
I have a right to decide what goes into my body and what I do with my body.I have a responsibility to do no harm to anyone or to endanger others, even at my own inconvenience.
What’s wrong with a few drinks? I can still drive.Any alcohol passing my lips is an unpardonable sin.

We hope you see that regardless of the “rightness” or “truth,” “wrongness” or “error,” of any of your “friends’” beliefs, the
content of the beliefs will affect their actions and health. Both “friends” have strong opinions in every scenario above, i.e., distant God, vindictive God, etc. Unfortunately, things become more complicated when they urge their beliefs—founded, unfounded, or in between—on others.

Beliefs can motivate urgent action, good or bad; delay action, to our benefit or detriment; or cause us to avoid actions or circumstances, in our favor or against us. Our beliefs create our
personal reality, but that “reality” may not harmonize with objective reality. So be neither too gullible nor too skeptical.

Be willing to grow in your understanding of tested, reliable information.

Instead, test and check everything you reasonably can against what’s proven to be true and reliable—the Bible; the Spirit of Prophecy; and evidence-based, peer-reviewed health science. Inquire as you did now—that’s healthy—but don’t take our word for it. Prayerfully and carefully evaluate the evidence before accepting its tenets as fact. Be willing to grow in your understanding of tested, reliable information.

What we believe and how we practice those beliefs can be a matter of life or death. But make no mistake: belief in God promotes wholistic health and well-being. To know Him is life eternal.

* Kenneth I. Pargament,
The Psychology of Religion and Coping: Theory, Research, and Practice (New York: Guilford Press, 1997).

Peter N. Landless, a board-certified nuclear cardiologist, is director of the General Conference Health Ministries Department. Zeno L. Charles-Marcel, a board-certified internist, is an associate director of Adventist Health Ministries at the General Conference.