Likening the practice to Santa Claus giving out gifts, Pat Robertson struggled to explain faith healing to the viewers of the "700 Club" this week.
On Monday, a viewer asked about faith healing and how it works. In response, the TV evangelist -- who has himself conducted many faith healings -- said the practice is a "manifestation of the Holy Spirit." He said the powers to heal come not from human effort but from God.
"Listen, when we're praying together, the word of knowledge, the Lord, just shows us what he's doing at some point of time. [It's] not what we're doing, it's his do," he said, later adding: "I do not believe in 'a resident gift to heal.' I don't think that's biblical. I think it is a word of knowledge, it is gifts of healing."
Still struggling to find the right words, Robertson went on to compare faith healing to Santa Claus.
“It’s like Santa Claus," he said. "He has a pack on his back and he has gifts and he’s passing these gifts out but they come from God. Only God can heal people."
As Right Wing Watch notes, the hosts of the Christian Broadcasting Network show often conduct faith healings on the air, promising sick viewers that their prayers will serve to heal all of their ailments.
"Jesus went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed of the devil and all who were sick," Robertson writes on the "700 Club" website. "Everyone who came to Him for healing got healed. I don't know of anybody He turned down, so it is God's plan and will to heal people -- physically as well as spiritually."
Last year, during an episode of the show, Robertson announced that healings only fail when people lack faith, adding that ailments may be "Satanic" and need to be "rebuke[d]."
Medical experts, including those at the American Cancer Society, have warned that relying completely on faith healing can be dangerous. Earlier this year, fundamentalist Christian couple Herbert and Catherine Schaible were charged with murder after their 8-month-old son died of pneumonia. The couple had prayed over him instead of seeking medical care. Years before, another of their children died in a similar way after the couple attempted to use faith healing in lieu of modern medicine.
According to the Associated Press, about a dozen children die in the United States each year because their parents turn to faith healing instead of seeking medical help.