On Derren Brown’s “Miracles for sale”

by László Balogh


A few days ago I watched “Miracles for Sale” by Derren Brown and I had a number of thoughts after that. Basically, Derren Brown exposed what was already exposed. It was not that necessary to make a profitable TV show out of this because any honest pastor could have told you that these things are happening in the church.

I am currently reading a book written by a pastor who is describing how disillusioned he is with the church. Church leaders are striving for acclaim, respect, positions, control and money in the name of God. Very sad. I have heard it preached from the pulpit that some pastors collect information on people in the congregation and reveal them during the service as if God showed them those facts. People know about these scams, it’s already out. But, scandal is always a good business, I guess.

Exposing the wrong is necessary, but how it’s done is a great responsibility! I will go through a number of details and I’ll point out where the big picture got misrepresented.

There are very obvious things that are wrong that some preachers do. I don’t deny that. Some of those are for example asking for money if one wants to get healed; blaming the sick person for not having enough faith when healing doesn’t occur; telling them they must have secret sin in their life, that’s why their healing is blocked. People should never be blamed for not getting healed! What is the healing evangelist for after all? The reason people go to him is because they can’t get healed on their own faith and want to rely on the preacher’s faith. If my own faith can heal me, why bother go to a preacher? When a preacher doesn’t have enough power to get someone healed, that’s when they have to come up with excuses and gimmicks. It’s very sad that it’s happening, but this is not a secret. Some honest preachers are exposing this already. Most people in the church world know that there are charlatans.

The other thing I agree with is that people should never be encouraged to throw away their medicine. What the sick person’s stance is on medicine should not influence the preacher’s faith. Again, it should be the preacher’s faith that heals anyway so what does it have to do with what the sick person does or believes? The point is to get somebody well and not put them in danger. If healing doesn’t take place supernaturally, you will need your medicine. Simple.


I’d like to say something about imbalance. An issue can be presented in imbalance when somebody is ignorant and simply doesn’t know the other side, or they have an agenda and purposely stay quiet about the other side. I can’t say what happened in this case, but I see a major imbalance here. Derren Brown does however mention in the very end that this is not an attack on faith or the church or preachers who truly believe in what they’re doing. Kind of like a legal clause to avoid law suits; like the fine print that nobody reads. But it’s very obvious that if you’re bashing something for an hour and thirteen minutes, nobody is going to remember your fifteen second disclaimer. Having read a lot of the Youtube comments on the show, it was very clear that the message people got out of this was that all faith healing is a scam.

Another real tactical move was that he interviewed a Christian who got out of the healing movement. He said he realized it was a “scam” and people just showed symptoms of being healed because of the adrenalin rush. Well, to be correct the healing movement is on the rise and gradually more and more Christians follow it after they encounter a healing they cannot deny or get to understand how it works and start practicing it themselves. And for a fact, a lot more sicknesses get healed at a healing service than what an adrenalin rush can fix. Leukemia doesn’t just leave your blood because of an adrenalin rush.

Only the people who watched the show will understand this, but I’d also like to comment on the way Derren Brown presented the whole project to his candidate. He did what he knows best. His presentation was full of suggestions coated in the disguise of heroism, like they’re on some holy crusade against evil. He made him believe about faith healing what he wanted him to believe.


There is a whole lot to say about faith healing, but this is a commentary on Derren Brown’s TV show, so I will stick to the specifics he brought up. First of all he claimed that “no healer was ever able to produce a single piece of evidence for a single piece of healing.” That is an outrageous claim because you can only say that if you examined every single healing of every single faith healer, and you really found no evidence. This is practically impossible. There are thousands of faith healers in the world and there are thousands of healings that take place every day. You know, arguing about faith healing only works until you start healing your own family members who obviously will not lie to you. No cameras, no TV show, nothing – just you and them. Once you find out the truth for yourself, nothing can take it away from you. Derren Brown was never there when I prayed for a family member in the middle of the night. They didn’t have to lie to me, there was nobody to watch “the show”. I don’t have a church that pays me because I’m the “magic man”. But the pain left them, they showed no symptoms of the sickness anymore and I didn’t have to rush with them to the emergency room. There is my very own evidence, and I don’t care who believes me.

Another thing is that it’s not only chosen individuals who can channel the Holy Spirit to cure diseases. There have been a lot of faith healers in the past who didn’t know how to teach others to heal or just plainly didn’t want to so they could keep their “special” status. But this is changing. There are a great number of ministries that teach thousands of people why healing works and how to do it. If you want to stay in business, you’re not going to multiply your own competition for free. But this is what many Christian ministries are doing nowadays. What I know, I know because of that, and it didn’t cost me a dime. Healing is a privilege of every born-again Christian and as far as God’s concerned it’s available for all.

In real faith healing services everybody gets a chance to receive healing. The individuals are not selected by the faith healer’s team. Whoever has a sickness can line up for healing. That alone should exclude scams because if you are the sick one, you will know if healing took place or not.

The next thing Derren Brown says is that a healing service is similar to hypnotism. There is chanting and a meditative type of music being played to put the congregation in a trans-like state. I know for a fact that this is happening in many of the churches, but I have to say this: you only have to apply gimmicks when you don’t operate in power and you have to rely on people’s state of mind! Healing can take place in many ways, and many preachers rely on “working up” the people first, but it doesn’t have to be so. Many true faith healers know now that they can’t afford to rely on how “hyped up” somebody is, because what if you can’t work them up? They don’t get healed? That’s just not an option. Many faith healers now simply bypass the person, and deal straight with the sickness. I know this brings up a lot of questions, but I’m speaking of experience. I didn’t intend this article to be a direct teaching on healing, so I will just stick to commenting on the TV show. If the Spirit of God is operating in you, you have to be able to heal anybody, anytime, anywhere – busy street and unbelievers should not be a problem.

Derren Brown says he doesn’t believe faith healers channel the Holy Spirit, but they use the same tricks magicians do. That’s correct, he doesn’t know – that’s what he believes. But it’s more like the other way around: magicians try to duplicate what the Spirit of God is capable of. Derren Brown is experienced in how the human psyche works, but it seems his experience is limited to that and he’s trying to explain the big picture from the perspective he’s familiar with. A very common error is when people interpret something based on solely what they know.


His explanation of faith healing greatly relies on the adrenalin rush issue. He says you only experience pain relief that was brought on by suggestion. He obviously has not explored the full scope of faith healing that’s going on in some churches. There is a whole lot more sicknesses that get healed than what adrenalin can fix. People are getting healed of serious sicknesses such as cancer and HIV, etc. Your adrenalin rush will not heal that! And these are not selected people who appear on the stage and claim healing that nobody can verify. Anybody can walk up and ask for prayer. You can walk in with a stranger, or an unbeliever friend and they will pray for them. You can get your very own proof, you won’t have to watch videos anymore and listen to other people’s assumptions. Find out the truth for yourself!

I have prayed for somebody once with severe infection and pain and the result didn’t seem to come right away. Instead of an adrenalin rush for the prospect of getting healed, the person got a panic attack because my prayer “didn’t seem to work”. That is anything but an adrenalin rush. There was no pain relief in any shape or form I can assure you. Yet after about a half hour the pain subsided and the person got healed of that particular illness that usually takes up to ten days with antibiotics. I followed up on it, I know. I can’t afford to rely on the person’s state of mind, I need to take authority over the sickness itself.


When Derren Brown’s candidate “prayed” for people on the street, the only thing he could rely on was to work up the people’s faith and suggestion brought on the pain relief. The only thing he proved with that was that there is a certain method that works. There are a lot of methods that work. Just because you figure out one, you can’t claim exclusivity for that particular one. Just because you can replicate something somehow, that doesn’t mean that’s the only way.

Faith is a metaphysical law and it will work for everybody every time. If you have the ability to induce faith in somebody, the faith of that person is going to produce the result without fail. It’s inevitable. Real faith healing takes this to the next level. If certain knowledge induces faith in me that I can change circumstances outside of me and without the involvement of another person, that will also work without fail. Metaphysical laws work if you can provide the right ingredients. This can also be learned just as Derren Brown learned how to work through somebody else’s mind.


With this article I was just trying to expand the picture that Derren Brown’s narrow interpretation provided. He only went as far as exposing the fake healers and showed that he is also able to produce fake healing. With his effort he smeared the real faith healing movement as well, even if that was not his intention.

Image by Michael Schwarzenberger from Pixabay

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