I was talking to a friend earlier tonight and I mentioned how I hate unbalanced teaching on divine healing, i.e., the kind that says God will always heal as long as we have “enough” faith. I used to believe that with all my heart; to the point where I was insensitive when preaching it.
I recalled an incident when I was in my friend’s barber shop checking up on things while he was on vacation and I struck up a conversation with a widow whose son was getting a haircut. She told me that her husband had been a man of faith and that he had seen many faith healers and yet he still died of his disease. My response was something like, “I don’t know everything, but I know that if he had enough faith he would have been healed.”
Needless to say she was offended. And she should have been. To start, I lacked tact, but in addition to that, it’s bad theology. The fact of the matter is that God doesn’t heal everybody at all times and we can’t always chalk it up to a lack of faith. Paul tells Timothy to no longer drink only water, but use a little wine for the sake of his stomach and frequent ailments (1 Tim. 5:23) rather than telling him that if he had enough faith then he’d have no ailments.
But let me close by saying that I absolutely believe in divine healing—how could I not?—I’ve been healed on more than one occasion! But I don’t think healing is as cut and dry as some would like it to be. There’s so many moving parts (e.g., the roles that faith and sin play or the cause of the sickness, etc.) and every circumstance is different. We shouldn’t try to systematize something that God hasn’t systematized.
The problem with so much prosperity preaching is not just that it lacks tact, but it lacks imagination and creativity, by which I mean that it treats healing as some kind of uniform act of God that can be figured out and then rinsed and repeated. It doesn’t allow that God can have a purpose in someone being ill (and God forbid anyone suggest that God actually caused the illness!). It just says, “Believe and be healed!—Not healed?—You didn’t believe!”
7 thoughts on “Lack of Tact”
Interesting. I used to be the exact opposite. Whenever people claimed they had been healed through faith, I would roll my eyes. I remember asking more than one person, “If God still heals people like that, why do we need doctors?”
Keener’s recent work on miracles addresses both extremes well.
I hate the prosperity gospel with a vengeance, for it is not a real gospel at all. However: I also am Charismatic / Pentecostal in that I believe in the Baptism of the Holy Spirit and that God still manifests all of his gifts today.
Those manifestations are God working in, through and over our midst. I also have been healed in the past in remarkable ways. I also have / am still recovering from a long term sickness, in which I have had to learn patience among many other things. The hardest thing I ever heard God tell me was that he still wanted me to pray for people to be healed, even though I was in a wheel chair at the time. I remember his rebuke to me well, when I asked him how could I pray for people while I was still sick…his reply was, “What has your condition got to do with it?”
Derek: If you had asked me that I suppose I would have said something like, “For the same reasons that they needed them back in the NT times.” I guess I’ll get around to getting Keener’s Miracles sooner or later, but to be honest, I’m not all that excited about it. I really don’t need two big volumes full of endnotes (?) to prove something I already know to be true.
Craig: Awesome! I am definitely going to share that testimony with some people!
Share away Nick! During that time the Lord dealt with my pride and got rid of any notion in me that I had something to do with answered prayer. I have learnt more about pastoral care through being sick and in long term recovery, then what I ever did when I was fit and healthy.
The night before I collapsed at work, the Spirit of God filled my bedroom while I was reading Peter. The scripture said, for now you go through various trails to prove the genuineness and refine your faith…I wept on the bed for ages. The next day at work, at 2:45 pm, I collapsed outside the milking shed, paralysed on the right side and a high temp. Later diagnosed with Viral Encephalitis. While I laid there, my mind was filled with that Scripture and I knew the Lord was taking me through the trial. I had received a number of prophecies over the years that said the Lord would refine me with fire.
I thought yeup, a few days in hospital, I will get healed, doctors and others will get saved because of the miracle. Never happened like that. Far from it. Went from bad to worse. 2 months in hospital to come home to an abusive wife. Mentally, physically, financially, spiritually and emotionally. 14 months later found myself homeless for 6 weeks, where I lived out the back of a small van. Still disabled. Church I had been going to blackbanned me from fellowship because I walked out on my wife and kids. Though the time I left I had been encouraged to do so by the police, because I had been bitten on the wrist to the bone, punched in the head, threatened to be stabbed with a knife and had glass and crockery thrown all over the floor.
I had been dragged around the church carpark by an elder and some other twits, for 40 minutes with my right leg trailing dead behind me one night after mens group. … then they started to run with me…twits!!! I stopped going to the men’s group and was considered a back slider.
So lets see.
I was told I had sin in my life so God was punishing me. True, I had sin in my life and God was dealing with it. Pride, presumption, pride and more pride. Was God punishing me. Nope, he took my punishment on the cross. Was he getting it out of me, you bet yah he was.
There was a lack of faith for me to be healed and the marriage to be restored… man, this one crippled me big time. I believed I would be healed. Others believed with me. When it didn’t happen, I thought I had lost my salvation. Huge black night of the soul journey….took a couple of years to get through that one. The result, is that I know Christ has done every thing for me. I can’t do a thing, except trust him in all things. He opens the doors and he shuts them for me. I can’t open doors that are not meant for me, nor can I shut doors that are meant for me to walk through.
Serving others…I loved to help people…now my pride was being dealt with in that I needed to be served.
Learning to worship God in all occasions. I crapped and pee’d myself a number of times because I couldn’t hold my bowels. Even at church, while on day release from the hospital. I have sung the words to a song, I will praise you always… even in the midst of having an assisted shower and changing out of soiled clothes. Big lesson.
Unconditional love… when the church black banned me from fellowship and I had been told I lost my salvation, my brother invited me to play poker with him at the pub. There I found unconditional acceptance. The Lord took me through the story of King David at the time, when he was running from Saul. His only companions were robbers and bandits. Because of this experience, I too have learnt and am learning to unconditionally accept and love people. Rule will not change anyone. But God’s love can and will.
Just have faith was the oft cry I had made and had heard many times in the past.. well its going through the midst of the dark times and meeting some wise pastors that I believe has truly grown my faith.
Craig: Wow! Praise God for getting you through it all! That’s got to be one of the most gut wrenching testimonies I’ve ever heard.