It is Biblical for Christians to Undergo Hypnosis?

Pastor Hammond

On November 10, 2010, the Connecticut Post published an article by Steve Slon, titled “Hypnosis:  Myths and truths.”  In this article, Slon argues that popular misconceptions of hypnosis in the media have clouded the potential value of hypnosis in the treatment of various medical problems including:  obesity, nicotine addiction, uncontrolled pain and ADHD. 

Slon explains that hypnosis involves placing a person into a “hypnotic trance” where “the mind drifts freely.”  He referenced the teaching of Milton Erickson, the so-called father of modern hypnosis. According to Slon, Erickson held that “our subconscious minds are most open to learning when in a trace state.” Erickson held that trance states are “the best condition for making positive changes in behavior.”

The American Society of Clinical Hypnosis defines hypnosis as “a state of inner absorption, concentration and focused attention ..."  They argue that "because hypnosis allows people to use more of their potential, learning self-hypnosis is the ultimate act of self-control," (asch.net, accessed November 10, 2010). 

Why Shouldn't Christians Undergo Hypnosis?

1.  Believers are called to be mentally alert and on guard against potentially improper influences.  Brother David Cloud notes that “the Bible exhorts the believer to be sober (1 Peter 5:8). To be sober means to be in control of one’s mind, to be spiritually and mentally alert. It means to be on guard against danger. It is the opposite of allowing oneself to be put into a trance. The Bible warns that demons transform themselves into angels of light (2 Cor. 11:13-15). Unless the believer remains sober and vigilant, he is in danger of being deceived. Thus, even a “mild” level of hypnotism can be spiritually dangerous,”  (WayofLife.org, accessed November 10, 2010).   Christians must understand that Biblical forms of meditation and prayer never involve relinquishing control of one’s mind to anyone or anything other than the LORD!     

2.  Believers are called to be yielded to the Holy Spirit rather than to self.  In Ephesians 5:18, Paul wrote, "...be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit." Paul was urging the believers at Ephesus to be controlled by the Holy Spirit.  In this verse, we see clearly that to be yielded to the Spirit is to be filled with the Spirit.  

3.  Believers are called to recognize that the Lord is the one who produces positive change in our lives.    Hypnotist Frayda Kafka argues that, in hypnosis, “the change always comes from the individual.”    However, in 2 Corinthians 5:17, Paul teaches that “if any man bein Christ, he isanew creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”  It is Christ who produces positive change in our lives, not our own efforts.  When we place our faith in Christ, we become “…partakers of thedivine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world…” (2 Peter 1:4) and we are “conformed to the image of his Son,” (Romans 8:29).  The Bible is clear that none of this is accomplished through our own strength - or through trance states!

 4.  Hypnotic trances can produce occult phenomena.  In his 2008 article on this topic, David Cloud noted that “the danger of hypnotism is evident from the fact that it can produce a wide variety of occult phenomena, including past life experiences, multiple personalities, speaking in unknown languages, automatic writing, clairvoyance, telepathy, seizures, spirit possession, astral projection, and psychic diagnosis,” (Encyclopedia of New Age Beliefs).   Christians are called to refrain from any association with the occult.

5.The end doesn’t justify the means. The observation that hypnosis sometimes appears to be effective does not justify willful disobedience to the LORD.   “Many support hypnotic therapy because ‘it works,’ but just because something works does not mean it is right,” observes brother David Cloud.  “There are innate powers within man that can be manipulated and there are satanic powers. The magicians in Egypt were able to perform amazing feats and could even duplicate some of the divine miracles,” (Exodus 7:10-12, 19-22; 8:5-7). 

Summary

Christians should refrain from involvement in the hypnosis and other forms of contemplative mysticism.  Instead, we should (1) recognize that we have been made new creatures in Christ; (2) yield to the Holy Spirit to produce positive change in our lives; and (3) pray for the Lord’s strength to overcome unhealthy habits.

For more information:

  • David Cloud articles regarding Contemplative Mysticism.  view