- Mandy Rizzuto
Splankna or Skubala: Why Energy Healing Cannot be Redeemed
Updated: Jan 13
“See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ." Colossians 2:8
This Christmas I was gifted a book claiming that Energy Healing is being “redeemed” for the Kingdom of God. Typically, I would have scoffed at the book had I passed it in a book store, however because this was a gift, I was put on the spot to respond. As gracefully as I could I expressed my initial reaction that pagan practices cannot be redeemed, but I deeply love and care for the giver of this book, and so I decided that this was going to require a much more thoughtful response to its claims. I agreed to read it and realized just how pervasive the concepts of Energy Healing are in the world and how widely accepted it is among Christians.
In a technological age that connects more people around the world,
we are increasingly disconnected. We want more to life, and we were designed to know that fundamentally there is a deeper meaning to it. We walk around with a giant Jesus hole in our souls and our fallen sinful state is drawn to fill that hole with any philosophy that tickles our ears and satisfies our sinful hearts. Unfortunately, these foolish tangents to finding our deeper meaning are fruitless. They lend themselves to an endless path of enlightenment, that never enlightens us, and only obscures the truth. Subtly at first and then before we know it we’re enslaved, and we need Christ to redeem us.
Splankna claims to be a new frontier in energy psychology. It claims to clear emotional trauma from a psychological standpoint, but attempts to make a more broad argument that Energy Healing, which is primarily born out of occult world views, like New Age, can be redeemed. It claims that “the world of quantum physics is revealing that the sub-atomic, ‘energetic’ level of creation relates directly to our health both physically and emotionally.”(1) Healthcare, is inundated by Energy Healing practices. Holistic fields of chiropractic, homeopathy, massage therapy and acupuncture are a few examples where Energy Healing has become mainstream and many christians may like to be informed.
What is Energy?
There are two very different kinds of Energy that we are talking about when we define Energy. The combination of these two Energies is what is causing a lot of confusion for the Christian.
Energy in Physics is a quantitative property. It is something that can be measured. It’s recognizable in the performance of work, and in the form of heat and light. Quantum mechanics is the study of particles and sub-atomic particles that can’t be seen yet. What is seen and described as “particles” is actually fluctuations. What is being “observed” is more appropriately defined as, interacted with. (10)
Vital Energy or Life Energy is an occult concept. Occult refers to esoteric supernatural beliefs that fall outside of religion and science. Esoteric basically means special knowledge. Vital Energy is a force that is said to exist in all living things. It is not visible or measurable, but is an intelligent presence that directs and informs the organism on all levels. It is something that is distinct from a chemical or physical force, however is believed to be responsible for maintaining all physical functions, including life, and most importantly health. It is widely known as “Chi” in Chinese medicine but goes by many names. It is a force that is unquantifiable, invisible and non-measurable. (2)
The confusion is that these two fields are being falsely equated in order to make Vital Energy sound like a plausible scientific frontier. Splankna, and by extension Energy Healing, is based on this false equivalency. The following claims progress from scientific to spiritual, and from pagan practice to an attempt to “redeem” it for the Christian.
Splankna Claim #1: Quantum physics suggests all creation is in motion at its smallest level. What keeps creation in motion is a force we call energy. This force is affected by observation or intention of the human mind. (Thiessen, 2019)
Notice that this claim blends definitions from both Quantum Mechanics and Vital Energy. The scientific field does not suggest at all that our mere presence or intention to look at these particles is what causes them to move. The application for Quantum Mechanics is real and measurable, but intentions of the mind are not measurable. Quantum Physics is NOT Metaphysics (a branch of philosophy) which is the study of “ultimate meanings” and the relationship between mind and matter. Philosophy is non-measurable nor quantifiable, and Vital Energy is a philosophy. I believe the author bases her argument on the assumption that Quantum Mechanics proves an actual metaphysical theory.
Before I explain the next claim of the book, I need to define another term, which is Meridian System. "The Meridian System is a number of invisible channels in the body through which chi flows. For the Hindu it is called Chakras which are “wheels of energy”. These are developed from a spiritual belief that energy fields surround the body and are directly related to healing.”(2) The following claim seeks to bait the reader into the protocol while sounding very scientific.
Splankna Clam #2: Splankna therapy believes that a combination of special touch at various points in the meridian system combined with specific intention will release or resolve a stored emotion. (Circuitry +Intention)
This is a little ambiguous even if you’re familiar with these terms. Basically it means that through tapping or touching certain points on the body while focusing ones thoughts on a stored emotion, the energy is restored to normal energy flow (healed). This assumes that disruptions of energy cause disfunction and also are manipulated by touching and thinking.
The Vital Energy in the meridian system has some overlapping points to different physical body systems like the endocrine and lymbic systems, which may account for some area of study that the author sites. However, to claim this is a reliably observed scientific frontier because it’s combined with focused thought is purely a philosophical claim.
Proponents of Energy Healing think that if it works it must therefore be both helpful and legitimate, but when studied it regularly performs at less than levels of chance.(3) Thus the effective claims, are purely of a special sort of knowledge and according to the cultures that developed them, their effectiveness is based purely in spiritual practice. A point that the author acknowledges, and why the claims now shift to the spiritual christian discussion.
Splankna Claim #3: The Vital Energy in occult practice, is really God. It is the Logos described in John 1 which is the “intention and active will of God” (Thiessen, 89)
The Logos in John 1 is a title for Jesus that means He is the communicator and revealer of God the Father.(Rev.19:13) To the greeks, Logos was a philosophical concept that ordered reality. The New Testament term Logos went far beyond that, and made it personal - It was made flesh. It is Jesus, the promised King and ruler of all the Universe, Sovereign over it all. He is not energy, nor a concept.
It also must be mentioned that the “intention of God”(Thiessen, 89) defined in the book as “God’s Will” is neither this Vital Energy, nor synonymous with Jesus or the Holy Spirit. Thiessen seems to attribute the “energy” to “God’s Will”, “The Holy Spirit” and rarely “Jesus”, all at different times. The Holy Spirit is the most common. Jesus is only mentioned by name a handful of times in the entire book, which is a red flag in itself, especially since this is being attributed to a work of the Holy Spirit.
How Splankna Works
In practice, Splankna claims that after prayer for the “Holy Spirit” to search the client, He will direct the practitioner to the area where “He has chosen to work”. The practitioner finds this by having the client raise their arm and will ask certain questions in a defined “set” until the body gives an “incongruent” or “congruent” (binary system) response. This is called muscle testing and also called Applied Kinesiology. There is more to the method, and other aspects commonly found in deliverance ministries. Topics of demon oppression and deliverance, as well as repeated prayers are topics that other discernment teachers have addressed, so I won’t take the time here. This leads us to the final claim, which has a lot to address.
Before I get there, another couple definitions. In scripture the practice of divination is to uncover hidden knowledge by supernatural means. The word sorcery in Scripture is always used in reference to an evil or deceptive practice. This therapy assumes the body has an innate intelligent pathway that can tell us what God’s Spirit is working on in our hearts, and that through a series of questions to the body, we can harness an energy that reads the will of God in yes/no binary muscle responses. This is the same practice of divination and sorcery forbidden in scripture and is called a work of the flesh (Gal.5:19-21) in the New Testament. Divination and sorcery is specifically described as a pagan practice to uncover hidden knowledge, which is forbidden in the bible (Lev.19:31; 20:6, 27; Deut.18:1; Isa.8:19, Hos.4:12). A point Thiessen would not disagree with.
Splankna Claim #4: Energy Healing practices can be redeemed for the Kingdom of God because we find similar practices in biblical accounts to “inquire of the Lord”. It’s only a matter of Lordship and conclusion. The practice itself is just an observation and therefore neutral.
The author gets a few things right when discussing our heart posture and the Lordship of Christ, but let me jump right into the issue here. Splankna uses a tool of divination called medical dowsing in the form of muscle testing. "Dowsing is a means of accessing information not readily perceptible. It can assist in determining factors that affect health positively or adversely and what treatments or therapies will be most beneficial. It is useful for locating blockages or other disharmonies in the meridians, chakras, mind, or aura.”(4) Dowsing seeks to discover secret knowledge and works by receiving yes/no binary responses from an unknown power. It is a is a tool of divination that cannot be separated from its spiritual beliefs. Meridian systems of energy are completely spiritual in nature, not physical.
The "Right" Conclusion
The argument to redeem dowsing practices like muscle testing, is that if you acknowledge the God of the Bible, then the conclusion won’t be pagan. The assumption is that using a tool of divination will remain neutral. Unfortunately, scripture clearly does concern itself with the practices we use. In a nutshell, Thiessen is essentially arguing that the bible might say not to practice divination, but we actually can and should practice divination for God. She explains further that this is about reigning with Him, “His will is constitutive [having the power to establish or give organized EXISTENCE to something] So is mine. Imago Dei.”(Thiessen, 90). Even though Thiessen claims to put one step between God’s ultimate power and our limited power, these statements that assume equality with God are sprinkled throughout the book and always followed with the latin for “Image of God”. I find this incredibly disturbing.
The author tries to back up this redemption argument with discussing the Bronze serpent in Numbers 21. She wrongly asserts the serpent is a graven image made by Moses at God’s command, and that it had healing powers when people looked with intention. (Thiessen,125) Let’s actually discuss what the Bronze serpent means. The serpent is not an idol (house for a god), although the Israelites later turn it into one. In 2 Kings 18:4, God destroyed it. The Bronze Serpent is a picture of Christ. The serpent and ultimately Christ was a representation of the people’s sin (Rom8:3), and was lifted up as the only hope (John3:14) that God would save them. The real point comes down to the fact that we prove WHO our Lord is by being obedient to His revealed word.(1John 2:3-4)
Thiessen goes on to correlate muscle testing and tapping to the Ephod and its two stones called the Umim and Thummim. We don’t know exactly how it worked but they affirm or point out certain information supernaturally, when one “inquired of the Lord”. Prescribed for us in the law (Exodus28), we find the making of the Ephod and the stones being described are given to the priest to “bear the judgement of the people of Israel on his heart before the LORD”(Ex.28:30). This was no small matter and it didn’t work for just anyone. Saul attempts to “inquire of the Lord” by the Ephod and God does not answer Him, which drives him to a medium(1Sam28). Meanwhile, God is answering David who has the support of the priest, and is the newly anointed King.(1Sam.23:9-12; 30:7-8). The practitioner of Splankna is not an ordained priest and muscle testing is not the Ephod. This is not a proof text on how to redeem divination tools.
These are Thiessen’s strongest arguments for “redeeming” Energy Healing practices. Both fall miserably short as hollow, deceptive philosophies. They prove to be the work of men and not of God, and they prove the point I agree with Theissen on, that she has a Lordship issue.
You may be familiar with chiropractors, and other holistic practitioners who use these divination tools in their practice. When I originally started researching what all these terms meant, I was saddened to realize my own chiropractor had been using this, without my knowledge. I genuinely thought this was to test my muscle strength after an adjustment, in a strictly physical sense. I had no idea this was a practice of getting energetic intelligent information from my body.
I realize that many people who are genuinely hurting, and are being helped by nutritionists and therapy sessions using Energy Healing will have a much more weighty decision to make. We may even be tempted to interpret our positive experience as God’s permission to benefit from the divination tools being used on us. But let’s be reminded of Judas betrayal of Jesus. God permitted him to break His law, “it is not to be understood as permission in the moral sense of His granting us a moral right. His permission gives us the power, but not the right to sin”(Sproul,72) The question we must ask ourselves is do we trust God with our health? If God, who is in control of our healing, is not granting it, am I really free to use divination tools in order to obtain it?
I listened to a sermon by Eric Alexander on A Biblical Perspective on Healing, which was so helpful to this discussion. He says in part that “God is sovereign over all healing whether physical, social, mental or spiritual. A biblical perspective on healing will show us that the process of healing is the transformation of everything out of line with God in our lives. Matthew 8:17 & Isaiah 53:4 do promise us healing in redemption. Healing for our souls burdened by sin, healing for our conscience burdened with guilt, healing for our minds that cannot find peace with God, others or ourselves and healing for our relationship with God. It is a great evil to insist that God deal with just one area that’s out of line. We misuse God’s word when we claim healing of a physical ailment, to which God is not fundamentally interested. A sick soul, in a healthy body is not a healthy person.”(6) If God chooses to miraculously or providentially heal our ailments, it is by His Sovereign will, His divine knowledge. “There is healing for our bodies, but there is a particular timing for the process of bodily healing. This promise belongs to heaven and not to earth.”(6)
Implications of Ignoring Scripture
How is it, that one moment we can feel completely in line with the scripture and seemingly wake up the next day and find ourselves so far from God. Hosea 4:6 says “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge, because you have rejected knowledge” and the New Testament goes to great lengths to describe our constant battle with our flesh. To sum this all up, I want to point out a couple overall themes from the book that seemed pivotal in turning the heart of this author to a false hope in Energy Healing.
The entire Splankna protocol was designed because of an experience that piqued the interest of the author. She described a personal method of testing that I don’t think is strange to popular teaching in the church today. She says, “…when I have a decision to make… I’m going to ask [God] to direct my heart - to align my heart with Yours on the subject. From then on I’m going to assume that the direction my heart leans is from You and move on it.”(Thiessen, 14)
God’s word indeed warns us that we are to be on guard against false prophets who secretly bring in destructive heresies.(2Pet 2:1-3) But it also warns, “The heart is more deceitful than anything else, and incurable - who can understand it?”(Jer.17:9) It says in 2 Thessalonians to “test all things; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil.”(5:21-22) and 1 John 4:2-8 give us a scriptural standard for how to test new philosophies and revelations. In the book “Strange Fire”, MacArthur helpfully points out 5 questions to ask about new revelations from 1 John 4:2-8 in plain english. “(1) Does the work exalt the true Christ? (2) Does it oppose worldliness? (3) Does it point people to the Scriptures? (4) Does it elevate the truth? (5) Does it produce love for God and others?”(MacArthur, 39) It’s clear that Splankna fails in every test that scripture would ask.
This begs the question about how Christians should make decisions. You’ve heard the catch phrase “It’s a relationship not a religion”. The concept of a personal God and knowing God’s will are central points to the Christian’s life. She poses the question, “How can one navigate life without knowing the perfect will of God?” (Thiessen, 3) “I realized I could never really know God’s specific lead. I could ask and have a hunch, but I didn’t hear from God like our biblical forerunners so in essence it was always a shot in the dark.”(Thiessen,13) She criticizes making decisions by lining up His general principles for holiness, as agnostic, with little assumption that God is personal or available to us in any real way.(Thiessen, 14). This is another main theme throughout the book, to which the author hinges her pursuit of redeeming Energy Healing.
Sufficiency of Scripture
When we make decisions within the guidelines of God’s Word which is “living and active”(Heb.4:12) we are free to do what we want with God’s blessing. “In the Wisdom Model [for decision making], God has revealed His will for us in Scripture. Provided we are within the parameters of what Scripture reveals, we have freedom to choose any option without fear of being disobedient.”(Osman,248) Lets not turn our nose up at the scripture by assuming that it is insufficient to answer the questions of our era. We should “no longer be little children, tossed by the waves and blown around by every wind of teaching, by human cunning with cleverness in the techniques of deceit.”(Eph.4:14)
We need to correct our thinking about how to search out the will of God. God is not going to relieve our desire to find His will in every aspect and decision of life. That is the oldest lie in the book, (literally) to be like God, knowing all things.(Gen.3) “If the will we are seeking is his secret, hidden or decretive will [that will by which he sovereignly ordains everything that comes to pass], then our quest is a fool's errand. The secret council of God is His secret. He has not been pleased to make it known to us. Far from being a mark of spirituality, the quest for God’s secret will is an unwarranted invasion of God’s privacy. God’s secret counsel is none of our business.”(Sproul,72)
God IS Personal
God is indeed a personal God, and that means He came in the flesh as a man, as Jesus Christ who was the “exact imprint of his nature”(Heb1:3). “That He desires an intimate relationship with us (Jhn1:12; 14:6; 3:16), that He loves us, and that He acts or intervenes on behalf of those who call upon His name.”(7) Knowing and acting within the parameters of scripture is a freedom that we enjoy as saints. When we strive to know the Lord, we find that even though the words were written 2,000 years ago, it is deeply personal.
In Phillipians 3:8 Paul says, “I also consider everything to be a loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. because of Him I have suffered the loss of all things and considered them filth (skubala) so that I may gain Christ.”
Skubala is a greek word that quite literally means “animal excrement”. Since Splankna is a play on the greek word for “gut” and “subconscious”, “a gut feeling”(Thiessen,136), I through it an appropriate conclusion that I also use a greek word to explain that this "gut feeling" on Energy Healing has been consciously and objectively passed through the test of scripture and come out as skubala, "filth", "dung" - you get it.
I have friends and family who are practicing occult divination. They don’t just dabble, but are fully enslaved to its false gospel, thinking they are on a path towards “enlightenment”. Be wise. Splankna has a gospel message too, but it is foreign to scripture. It seeks to offer you a hope of healing through the use of divination tools and sorcery practices. I pray you are not deceived about redeeming pagan practices for the Kingdom of God. “For what partnership is there between righteousness and lawlessness? or what fellowship does light have with darkness? What agreement does Christ have with Belial" (2Cor.6:14-15) I pray that my attempt at trying to unravel some of the deception is a help to you, and to those I love. Splankna is not the first, nor will be the last of these attempts. People need to hear that true enlightenment is only found in Christ who is our only hope.
Finally, God’s word tells us that “All scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” (2Tim. 3:16-17) and “His divine power has given us everything required for life and godliness through the knowledge of Him.”(2Peter1:3). So, “How can a young man keep his way pure? By keeping [His] word. [We] have sought [Him] with all [our hearts]; don’t let [us] wander from Your commands. [We] have treasured [His] word in [our] heart so that [we] may not sin against [Him].”(Psalm119:9-11). Friends, “Let us strive to know the Lord.”(Hos.6:3).
Thiessen, Sarah J. Splankna: The Redemption of Energy Healing for the Kingdom of God. WestBow Press, 2019
Montenegro, Marcia “The religion of life force energy” Christian Answers for the New Age, May 2015 christiananswersforthenewage.org/Articles_Religion%20of%20Life%20Force%20Energy.html
Weldon, John. “Dowsing - AKA Water Witching and, Mediumistic and Occult Power with Helps for Deliverance” Blessed Quietness Journal, Unknown date. www.blessedquietness.com/journal/housechu/dowsing.htm
“Radiesthesia: Medical Dowsing – Energy Medicine” Hands-of-FaithHolisticHealingCenters, March 8, 2012 Web hofholistichealingcenters.com/2012/03/08/radiesthesia-medical-dowsing-energy-medicine/
Sproul, R.C. Essential Truths of the Christian Faith, Tiyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1992
Alexander, Eric; Rosebrough,Chris “A Biblical Perspective on Healing” Fighting for the Faith, October 2017 www.piratechristian.com/fightingforthefaith/2017/10/a-biblical-perspective-on-healing?rq=healing
“What does the bible say about applied kinesiology” (2022 January 3) www.gotquestions.org/kinesiology.html
MacArthur, John. Strange Fire: The Danger of Offending the Holy Spirit With Counterfeit Worship. Nelson Books, 2013
Osman, Jim. God Doesn’t Whisper. James C. Osman and Kootenai Community Church, 2020
Hobbs, Bernie “What the bleep are they on about” ABC Science, June 2005 www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2005/06/30/2839498.htm?fbclid=IwAR0dPIZw7gjqWun1S7VGjyoqjLSykcOQoY-JzEEmXkGqLGxjTW8fFIWqZIk