Dentistry, Paranormal(religion, spiritualism, and occult)
Through the twentieth century, several Christian healer/evangelists claimed to be a catalyst for the filling of tooth decays and other dental work. Among the first was A. C. McCabe, a traveling evangelist, but more famous is Willard Fuller. Born in Louisiana, Fuller was raised a Southern Baptist and after college attended that church’s New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. He pastored several Baptist congregations through the 1940s and 1950s before developing a debilitating disease that forced him away from his work. In 1959, he was healed of this disease and subsequently began a healing ministry in which the curing of dental problems became the most noticeable aspect. Through the 1970s he began to operate far beyond the Southern Baptist community, developed an independent Pentecostal theology, and became well known in New Age circles. He founded the Lively Stones Fellowship, the vehicle for his ministry. He also has trained and ordained hundreds of ministers.
Fuller’s itinerant healing evangelism is directed to all who are ill, but he has emphasized a ministry of dental healing. He has noted that although dental needs may be somewhat less crucial than some other conditions, the sudden change in such hard and stony objects as teeth tend to bring about a transformation in those who witness it. Over the more than four decades of his work, people have given numerous anecdotal testimonies of healings experienced and of gold suddenly appearing in their mouth. In spite of the audacious nature of Fuller’s claims, he appears to have had only minimal run-ins with skeptics or the law. In 1968, for example, he was charged, while in Australia, with not operating in line with the Dentists Act of New South Wales—a formal matter that was, in fact, true—although he was not charged with having violated any law since he did not practice dentistry. Fuller, in his eighties, lives quietly in Florida, at the headquarters of his ministry.
In 1999, the miraculous filling of teeth manifested at the Toronto Airport Fellowship, a charismatic congregation that has been the source of an international movement popularly called the Toronto Blessing. The church had become well known as the launching point for what was termed “holy laughter.” One evening in March, during a church conference, two female attendees from Capetown, South Africa, told a story of their father receiving a gold filling while watching a video of the church’s pastor, John Arnott, and his wife, Carol. This testimony was followed by Arnott offering to pray for anyone who needed healing, especially those who wanted God to fill their teeth. Within a short time, some 20 people reported that new gold had appeared suddenly in their mouth. Reports mounted as the service continued, with stories of gold fillings, gold crowns, and gold replacing older metal fillings.
Attempts were made to gather written testimony from those who claimed a healing, pictures of the gold teeth were taken and posted on the Internet, and reports of similar occurrences began to come from associated congregations in other countries. The church urged the people to go back to their dentists to seek verification of what had occurred. In less than five percent of the cases were dentists willing to admit that any significant divergence from the person’s previous dental records could be found. In some cases, individuals had forgotten they’d had gold fillings installed. In others, the change appeared to have been a mere polishing of previous fillings.
In May 1999, the situation at the Toronto church was complicated by the arrival of Silvania Machado, a Brazilian who claimed she had been healed of cancer and subsequently discoveredthat, during worship services, gold specks began to appear spontaneously on her face. After Machado spoke at the Airport Fellowship, Pastor Arnott collected some of the gold flecks and had them scientifically analyzed. Much to his disappointment, they turned out to be plastic glitter void of gold or other precious metal.
The reports of gold fillings led to significant criticism of the Toronto and associated groups from other Christians. Some saw the occurrences as unbiblical, while others criticized them as a trivial pursuit. Simultaneously, critics outside the church held the practice up for ridicule. The initial enthusiasm cooled as evidence of the Machado fraud surfaced and efforts to verify other incidents of supernatural gold proved difficult. Subsequently, emphasis on gold fillings faded quickly.