This section is from the book "Faith - Healing. Christian Science And Kindred Phenomena", by James Monroe Buckley. Also available from Amazon: Faith-Healing, Christian Science and Kindred Phenomena.
In examining the healing works both of Christ and the apostles, it appears that there is not a uniform law that the sick should exercise faith, and that it was not necessary that their friends should exercise it, nor that either they or their friends should do so. Sometimes the sick alone believed; at others, their friends believed and they knew nothing about it; again, both the sick and their friends believed, and on some occasions neither the sick nor the friends. No account of failure on the part of Christ, or of the apostles after his ascension, to cure any case can be found. Neither is there a syllable concerning any relapse or the danger of such a thing, nor any cautions to the cured, "not to mind sensations," or that "sensations are tests of faith," nor any other such quackery, in the New Testament.
Claims of Christian faith-healers to supernatural powers are discredited by three facts:
(1) They exhibit no supremacy over pagans, spiritualists, magnetizers, mind-curers, etc.
(2) They cannot parallel the mighty works that Christ produced, nor the works of the apostles.
(3) All that they really accomplish can be paralleled without assuming any supernatural cause, and a formula can be constructed out of the elements of the human mind which will give as high average results as their prayers or anointings.
That formula in its lowest form is " concentrated attention." If to this be added reverence, whether for the true and ever-living God, false gods, spirits, the operator, witches, magnetism, electricity, or simple unnamed mystery, the effect is increased greatly. If to that be added confident expectancy of particular results, the effect in causing sickness or relieving it may be appalling. Passes, magnets, anointings with oil, are useful only as they produce concentration of attention, reverence, and confident expectancy. Those whose reputation or personal force of thought, manner, or speech can produce these mental states, may dispense with them all, as Mesmer finally did with the "magnets," and as many faith-healers and the Roman Catholics do with the oil.1