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Disease and Evil

Rev. W. Cairns Henderson

In Biblical times sickness was regarded as punishment for sin, and in various forms this punitive theory of disease has survived to the present day. We know from the Writings that all causes are in the spiritual world, and that evil is the real cause of disease. If there were no evil, disease, and suffering and death by disease, would not exist; and it is possible that when diseases first appeared they did so in men who were in the particular evils to which they corresponded.

Yet we may not say now that our sicknesses are an index to specific evils in ourselves, or draw conclusions as to the states of others from a knowledge of their mental or physical diseases and of their correspondences. If a certain evil were to cease, it is reasonable to suppose that the disease corresponding to it would eventually die out; yet this does not mean that those who suffer that disease are in the corresponding evil, or even that appropriated evil is the direct cause of their sickness.

Diseases now are rather among the ultimate signs of the general weakness and corruption of the human race as a whole. Generations of hereditary evil have resulted, in ultimates, in the multiplication of bacteria and pests, and at the same time have rendered men susceptible to mental and physical disorders; and we are therefore taught that diseases do exist among men from natural causes, without reference to their individual spiritual states. Spiritual judgments are impossible, and they may not be attempted on the basis of health or sickness.

New Church Life, 1953

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Disease and Evil

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