Tuesday, August 21, 2007

DIVINE HEALING: Beware the popular teaching

 The question of healing today is one that should concern us greatly. Firstly, the widening gap between the rich and poor of the world impacts on provision of health services to the multitudes of needy people. Secondly, the majority of the poor people of the world are found in the third world which also happens to be where Christianity is growing in leaps and bounds. The type of Christianity that is on the rise across the world is the Pentecostal - Charismatic one. One of the major characteristics of this form of Christianity is its belief in the availability and practice of divine healing today. As a Pentecostal, I too maintain the availability and practice of divine healing. But I have a serious concern which I think should be shared broadly. Popular teaching on divine healing seems Scripturally fraudulent and dangerous to many desperate people in Pentecostal - Charismatic churches and those without. This is what concerns me greatly. I shall go about arguing this point under the following headings:
  1. The fraudulance of popular teaching on divine healing
I hope to submit part 2 on the subject later. Its aim would be to propose a way of talking about the subject of divine healing in a manner that assists the sick to maintain faith in God regardless of whether healing manifests or not.
The fraudulance of popular teaching on divine healing
In order to establish whether popular teaching on divine healing is indeed Scripturally fraudulent or not, one needs to remember most sermons by itinerant tent evangelists concerning healing as well as beliefs held by most Pentecostal - Charismatic folks regarding healing. I have been raised in the circles of Pentecostals to believe that 'God heals.' Pentecostal meetings feature prayer for the sick. And every form of physical malady is prayed for. Everytime prayer is offered for physical sickness, it is underlined by a belief that 'God heals'. Listening to the accompanying teaching, one hears it proclaimed that all manner of sicknesses stand no chance in the presence of God and the application of his power. In some circles, it is taught that divine healing is for all believers for all time secured by Christ through his death. Consequently, a 'child of God' should live in health - for that is the sign of God's blessing. All these give a glimpse of the teaching around the subject. Now, the question that we want to ask is whether this teaching is Scriptural or not.
The scripturality of a teaching or belief depends on such a teaching being warranted in the Bible. I have argued that the teaching that 'God heals today' has warrants in the Bible, in history and contemporary experience (see God still heals today). But the problem that that particular study was dealing with, was a doubt if not a negation of God's involvement in today's healing activity. Now in this piece, where the concern is with fraudulence of popular teachings regarding divine healing, the question is: what is fraudulent about this so called popular teaching? I think that the fraudulence of popular teaching lies in its pretence that sickness and faith are opposites which can never be found together, that when a believer is sick, it points to either slackness in faith or God's disfavour, that religious repentance and faith expressed through confessions of the 'Word' and 'giving to God' are panacea for all ills of the body a believer can come across. That such a belief is fraudulent is borne firstly by Scriptural record and second by experience. The next section presents some evidence from the Bible against which the above stated belief should be seen.

1 comment:

Pete Pentecostal said...

It grieves me when people blame the lack of faith in a sick person as the cause of not receiving healing. I know of a pastor who basically "kicked" his parents out of his church because his father lacked the faith needed to be healed of cancer.

In Acts 3 at the Gate Beautiful it was the faith of Peter and John that raised the lame man. It was not the lame man's faith.

We just simply do not understand why God chooses to heal or not to heal. Certainly God knows best.