Laying On Of Hands as Taught by Charismatics


In Charismatic circles, laying on of hands is taught as the way to transfer the Holy Spirit to another person. Ironically, the Assembly of God historically shunned the transference of the Spirit through the laying on of hands, though it is practiced practically universally in the Assembly of God churches today.


At a General Council meeting held by the Assemblies of God in Seattle, Washington in the fall of 1949 a resolution was adopted disapproving the practices of what was termed “The New Order of the Latter Rain.” A number of specific concerns were listed in this document. Among them were “the overemphasis to the imparting, identifying, bestowing and confirming of gifts by laying on of hand and prophesying,” and “the erroneous teaching that the Church is built upon the foundation of the present-day apostles and prophets.”1)Roger Oakland, New Wine and the Babylonian Vine, Understanding the Time, 2002, p. 171


Former New Age medium Johanna Michalsen wrote of the occultic technique as practiced in churches. “One of the ways occultic powers are transferred from a spiritist or witch to someone else is through the laying on of hands. Those who have occultic gifts of tongues or healing or prophecy can and do pass these on by laying their hands on people thereby transferring their occult gift to them.”2)Johanna Michelsen, The Beautiful Side of Evil, Harvest House Publishers, 1982, p. 186 AMG’s Encyclopedia of World Religions, Cults & the Occult defined in the glossary of the occult section:


Transference of spirits through laying on of hands

Demonic spirits are transferred from one person to another by “praying” over and placing one’s hands upon another. Note demonic tongues may be used.3)Mark Water, AMG’s Encyclopedia of World Religions, Cults & the Occult, AMG Publishers, 2006, p. 784


In her introductory book of Wicca, Lady Sabrina adds a glossary of basic terms used within witchcraft, in which she defines the term “Blessing” as “The laying on of hands to confer personal power, energy, or good will to a person of material object.”4)Lady Sabrina, Exploring Wicca: The Beliefs, Rites, and Rituals of the Wiccan Religion, New Page Books, 2000, p. 196

In The New Age Tower of Babel, David Cloud explains the occult practice of “transference.”


This is the practice of transferring spiritual energy through such things as the laying on of hands and massage. Reiki is called “the healing touch” and allegedly involves the transference of “life force energy.”5)David Cloud, The New Age Tower of Babel, Way of Life Literature, 2008, p. 44


Walter Martin identified, “Therapeutic touch, or Reiki healing, is a healing method for New Agers in which hands are laid upon the participant for healing.”6)Walter Martin, Jill Martin Rische, Kurt Van Gorden, The Kingdom of the Occult, Thomas Nelson, 2008, p. 212 Ray Yungen explained,  “The technique [in Reiki] consists of placing the hands of the recipient and then activating the energy to flow through the practitioner into the recipient.”7)Ray Yungen, For Many Shall Come in My Name: How the “Ancient Wisdom” is drawing millions of people into mystical experiences and preparing the world for the end of the age, Expanded 2nd Edition, Lighthouse Trials Publishing, 2007, p. 78 He cited Diane Stein who wrote in Essential Reiki, “For me, the Reiki guides make themselves the most felt while attunements are being passed. They stand behind me and direct the whole process, and I assume they also do this for every Reiki Master. When I pass attunements, I feel their presence strongly and constantly. Sometimes I can see them.”8)Diane Stein, Essential Reiki, Crossing Press, 1995, p. 107

Walter Martin mentions a popular Pentecostal “prophet.” “William Marrion Branham (1909-1965), was an American psychic healer who traveled from one end of the country to the other, preaching a variety of gospels and laying hands on people in an effort to heal them.”9)Walter Martin, Jill Martin Rische, Kurt Van Gorden, The Kingdom of the Occult, Thomas Nelson, 2008, p. 241 Similar to Diane Stein’s Reiki masters which were present in the healing sessions, Branham actually claimed he had an angel who performed the healing – not God. Branham’s associate F.F. Bosworth wrote about the manifestations that followed Branham’s healing services. “A strange sign about Branham, he had vibrations in his left hand. When the afflicting spirit would come in contact with the gift, it set up such a physical commotion that it became visible… and so real it would stop his wrist watch instantly… like taking a live wire with too much current in it. After the oppressing spirit is cast out in Jesus’ name, his red and swollen hand returns to normal condition.”10)F. F. Bosworth, Voice Of Healing, March 1950, p. 10 This however is not nor has ever been a sign of God working a healing miracle. Pastor Robert Lee Whitworth reminds us of “The boy in India who speaks and heals in the name of Buddha also has a swelling hand to heal.”11)Robert Lee Whitworth, God Told Me To Tell You!: An Expose On “The Word Of Knowledge” As It Is Being Misused Today!, New Leaf Press, Inc., 1988, p. 45

James Redfield offers the New Age interpretation of the occult laying on of hands. “As both science and mysticism demonstrate, humans are in essence a field of energy. Yet the East maintains that our normal energy levels are weak and flat until we open up to the absolute energies available in the universe. When this opening occurs, our ch’i – or perhaps we should call it our level or quantum energy – is raised to a height that resolves our existential insecurity. But until then we move around seeking additional energy from other people.”12)James Redfield, The Celestine Vision: Living the New Spiritual Awareness, Warner Books, Inc., 1997, p. 71 It is through the “laying on of hands,” “reiki,” or “shaktipat” which the transferal of this energy which Redfield refers to the ch’i – a universal deified energy force – that one receives a charge or additional energy. This is why one must seek a spiritually elite individual, what Benny Hinn calls one with the “anointing” to transfer this energy continuously, over multiple occasions “seeking additional energy from other people.” Ephesians 1:13 mentions:  “In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,” of which J. Vernon McGee commented, “I would like to remove the word after from this verse because these are not time clauses. They are what is known in the Greek as genitive absolutes, and they are all the same tense as the main verb. It means that when you heard and you believed, you were also sealed: it all took place at the same time.13)Vernon McGee, Thru The Bible with J. Vernon McGee, Thomas Nelson, 1983, vol. V, p. 225 Since “they are all the same tense as the main verb”- “heard” and “believed” which are both aorist particle expressing a simple action opposed to the continuous action of the present particle; if the Holy Spirit is received by laying on of hands there would be no need for the action to continue repeatedly as is practiced in charismatic circles. However, the verb is “heard’ and “believed” whereby the Holy Spirit is received and the believer “sealed” once and for all.

Dr. Rodney Romney former Senior Pastor of the First Baptist Church of Seattle wrote, “For centuries it was known in the Eastern countries that a powerful, invisible force seemed to flow through the hands and arms of the so-called holy people. People who consciously identified with God seemed to have an abundance of energy which was healing in its effect. Certainly this was true of Jesus.”14)Dr. Rodney Romney, Journey to Inner Space: Finding God-In-Us, Abingdon Press, 1980, p. 73 The Holy Spirit is frequently treated as an energy – ch‘i – being controlled through occult transference by holy men of the east. When Jesus called the disciples and “gave them power” He did not lay hands on them (Matthew 10:1; Mark 6:7; Luke 9:1). “If He [the Holy Spirit] is a force, then He is impersonal, however powerful, and perhaps in some instances at least it could be a great force and control Him.”15)Charles C. Ryrie, The Holy Spirit, Revised and Expanded, Moody Press, 1997, p. 20 Those who believe and teach the Holy Spirit can be imparted by the laying on of hands are in effect treating the Holy Spirit as a force that can be controlled by the individual and passed around like a hot potato.

Albert James Dager revealed,


[Alice] Bailey was describing the manifestation of the healing properties of the healthy human aura (the energy field which emanates from the body) ministering to the infirm human aura. This is employed in occult healing practices through the laying on of hands. Another technique is to simply wave or hold one’s hands above an afflicted area, touching aura to aura. This has been a method employed to a large extent by the Vineyard movement, although they would deny that they have adopted any New Age beliefs.

Bailey’s angels are the spiritual hierarchy of demon spirits masquerading as ascended masters guiding man’s evolution toward godhood. It should be mentioned that much occult healing, even in the New Age Movement, is done in the name of Jesus.16)Albert James Dager, Vengeance Is Ours: The Church In Dominion, Sword Publishers, 1990, p. 135


Thirty-Third degree Freemason Manly P. Hall wrote:


When the Mason learns the key to the warrior on the block is the proper application of the dynamo of the living power, he has learned the mystery of his Craft.

The seething energies of Lucifer are in his hands and before he may step onward and upward, he must prove his ability to properly apply energy.17)Manly P. Hall, The Lost Keys of Freemasonry, Macoy Publishing and Masonic Supply Company, Inc., 1976, p. 48


His interesting chose of the word “dynamo” which derives from the Greek word dunamis translated as “power or virtue” (Mark 5:30) is constantly presented by charismatics as their power being transferred through their hands for healings. Rick Renner defines,


…the word dunamis (du-na-mis), and it describes “explosive ability, dynamic strength or power.”18)Rick Renner, Spiritual Weapons to Defeat the Enemy: Overcoming the Wiles, Devices & Deceptions of the Devil, Albury Publishing, 1993, p. 9


Manly P. Hall defines this dynamo as the mystery of the Masonic Craft which the lodge member needs to learn how to properly apply as it is the energy of Lucifer in the Mason’s hand. Attempting to defend this quote of Manly P. Hall, “christian”-Masonic apologist Michael Glenn Maness inserts words to change the intent of the original quote claiming Dave Hunt misquoted Hall. He cites Hall with his thoughts in brackets, stating “The seething energies of Lucifer are in his hands and before he may step onward and upward [like out of Lucifer’s hands], he must prove his ability to properly apply this energy.”19)Michael Glenn Maness, Character Counts: Freemasonry If a National Treasure and a Source of Our Founders‘ Constitutional Original Intent, Revised Second Edition, Author House, 2010, p. 28, brackets his; citing Manly P. Hall, The Lost Keys of Freemasonry, Macoy Publishing and Masonic Supply Company, Inc., 1976, p. 48 Manly P. Hall’s quote is obviously stating that a Mason must learn mystery of the Craft by properly applying the energy of Lucifer to move onward and upward in the Craft – not escaping Lucifer’s hands. It was Dr. Criswell, a Freemason, who laid hands on Rick Warren which in Warren’s view was “that holy experience [that] confirmed in my heart that God had called me to pastor a local church.”20)Rick Warren, The Purpose Driven Church, Zondervan, 1995, p. 27 This “holy experience” determined Warren’s destiny.

It is also significant how Johanna Michaelsen identified transference of psychic powers through four different ways, including laying on of hands and selling one’s soul to the devil, which have a synonymous outcome.


There are basically four ways for a person to become psychic. The first is through inheritance. It is a well-known fact among occultist that psychic powers frequently come down in the family line….

The second way to acquire psychic abilities is through personal experimentation with the occult. It doesn’t make a bit of difference that you weren’t serious in your dabbling…. The third way is through the laying on of hands. A powerful psychic can transfer the attention of the spirit producing psychic powers to you in this way. When Jeanne Dixon was a child an old Gypsy grasped her hand and transferred power to her. The fourth way to acquire psychic power is a way which a growing number of our teenagers are opting for today: selling their souls to the devil.21)Johanna Michaelsen, Like Lambs To The Slaughter, Harvest House Publishers, 1989, p. 84-85


If you liked this article, you may also be interested in Crept In Unawares: Mysticism by Heath Henning is available for purchase here.