15 pages

A Re-examination of Faith and Healing in the Gospels: Toward a Pentecostal Theology of Healing and Disability

of 15
All materials on our website are shared by users. If you have any questions about copyright issues, please report us to resolve them. We are always happy to assist you.
Paper on Pentecostal Theology of Healing and Disability
  11/27/2017 Faith, Healing, Disability 1/15   Faith, Healing, Disability  Home Up ChileanPentecostalism and Our Lord and Giver of Life? Faith, Healing,Disability Catholic-PentecostalReport#6  CYBERJOURNAL FOR PENTECOSTAL-CHARISMATIC RESEARCH #24   A Re-examination of Faith and Healing in the Gospels: Toward a PentecostalTheology of Healing and Disability   By Dr. Jennifer Anne Cox   INTRODUCTION A recent study of the Gospel of Mark has caused me to reconsider some of the passages which are often used toestablish the connection between faith and healing. Some Pentecostals and Charismatics claim that healing isalways given to those with sufficient faith. But this claim has proven to be problematic for many people,especially those who have not been healed despite their faith. Those who have not been healed, particularlyChristians with disabilities, have often felt condemnation because of the teaching about faith and healing. For this reason, it is worth re-examining the evidence of the Gospel narratives to see what they have to say about therelationship between faith and healing. My contention is that faith in the Gospels has far more to do with trust inthe person of Christ and his authority f rom God than it has to do with physical healing. The discussion has two central foci. The discussion begins with an overview of Pentecostal views of healing and its relationship to faith. This includes a discussion of the problems for people with disabilitiesresulting from some views of faith and healing. The second section involves a discussion of several passagesfrom the Synoptic Gospels which connect faith and healing. There are three types of healing narrativesexamined – those in which the person healed is the one with the faith; those in which the person healed is not theone with faith; and one in which faith is expressly said to be absent. I conclude with some implications for  preaching, teaching and practice. PENTECOSTALS AND HEALING  Pentecostal theology of healing  Candy Gunther Brown calls divine healing “an essential marker of Pentecostal and Charismatic Christianity as aglobal phenomenon.” It is divine healing, rather than speaking in tongues or prosperity, which mostcharacterises Pentecostalism as distinct from other forms of Christianity.[i]Healing is part of the Pentecostalfourfold gospel in which Jesus is proclaimed as Saviour, Healer, Baptizer in the Holy Spirit, and Coming  11/27/2017 Faith, Healing, Disability 2/15 King. Early Pentecostals were influenced by evangelical divine healing preachers and challenged the prevailingCalvinistic view that believers must patiently tolerate sickness in submission to God. They believed that theBible promised healing as a result of the death of Jesus. Most Pentecostals now see healing as an importantaspect of gospel proclamation and a component of salvation.[ii] The universality of the importance of healing inPentecostalism does not, however, imply a singular theology of healing.Pentecostal, and Charismatic believers along with them, admit to a variety of views onhealing. According to Henry Knight, Charismatic theologies of healing may be classified around two positions:those who assume that God has promised healing and is faithful to those promises and therefore believers areassured of healing if the right conditions are met; and those who believe that God is free and even enigmatic, sowe cannot know for sure that it is the will of God to heal a particular individual. Pentecostal believers fallsomewhere along this spectrum with some at the extremes and some taking a position in the middle. On the sideof God’s freedom falls Kathryn Kuhlman. Kuhlman believed that although it is necessary to have faith in order to be healed, such faith would not guarantee healing. Most important for Kuhlman was faith in and focus onJesus Christ. Influenced by Kuhlman, Charles Farah believed that although healing is in the atonement, notevery person can expect to be healed in this age. Why particular people are not healed is a mystery of God’ssovereignty.[iii]Francis MacNutt is a Charismatic Catholic who falls in the middle of Knight’s spectrum, believing that itis God’s will to heal and yet acknowledging that not every person with faith is actually healed. Focusing onfaith instead of God makes faith into a law and causes people to become deeply discouraged. For MacNutt, faithis a gift of God and cannot be drummed up from within. We have faith in the faithfulness of God, his wisdom, power and goodness, but not in our own faith. Yet MacNutt still believes that faith is important for healing. Hequalifies this by saying that all Christians have faith but some have the gift of faith (1 Cor 12:9). Faith is thecourage to ask God for healing. Knight also places the Third Wave in the middle of the spectrum. John Wimber and Ken Blue believe that healings are a vital part of evangelism. Some are not healed, but healing is thenorm. Faith is essential for healing; faith may be present in the healer or in the person desiring healing.[iv]A different understanding of healing has recently emerged from prolific Pentecostal scholar AmosYong. Instead of the standard Pentecostal expectation that all people with disabilities will be healed of their disabilities, Yong suggests that disabilities do not necessarily need to be healed. Since he views disability asmore of a social and political problem than a physical one, the person with a disability may need technologicalassistance and social changes, but can be a fruitful member of society and the church without the removal of theimpairment. From Yong’s disability perspective people with disabilities are already whole. He distinguishes between illness and disease as curable conditions and disability which cannot be improved. He does not evenassume that the impairment will necessarily be healed eschatologically.[v] On the other end of Knight’s spectrum falls the Word of Faith theology of healing. Of all of the varietiesof Pentecostal views on healing this is the most contentious and most problematic. For this reason, I willconsider it in more depth than other theologies of healing. Kenneth Hagin is credited with founding the Word of Faith movement, although it is generally claimed that he drew substantially on the ideas of E.W. Kenyon.[vi] For Kenneth Hagin, faith is what makes divine healing work. In exercising faith for healing, Christians areimitating God, because God exercised faith when creating the universe. With regard to Rom 4:17, Hagin writes,“Shouldn’t children of God act like God? … God is a faith God … And because we’re faith children of a faithGod, we’re to act in faith. And faith calls those things which be not as though they were.” [vii] It is necessaryto both believe in the heart and release faith by confessing with the mouth. Faith must be acted on. In order to be healed a person must disregard the symptoms of sickness and confess, according to 1 Pet 2:24, that he or she was  healed by the stripes of Christ. Even when power for healing is present, this does not automaticallymean a person will be healed. The sick person must activate the healing power by faith.[viii] Hagin claims tohave received gifts of healing, but even these cannot operate without faith. “[I]t works by faith and by faithonly.”[ix] Subsequent to Hagin many have preached this kind of healing theology, including Kenneth and GloriaCopeland, Jimmy Swaggart, Benny Hinn, T.D. Jakes and Creflo Dollar.  11/27/2017 Faith, Healing, Disability 3/15 Keith Warrington has critiqued Hagin’s view of faith. He criticises Hagin’s lack of scriptural backing for the assertion that faith is necessary for healing and also the contradictory nature of Hagin’s statements on thismatter. Hagin has an inadequate understanding of Jesus. He defines faith in terms of belief that a person willreceive healing or an expectation of healing. This view has no basis in the healing ministry of Jesus. Warrington warns that Hagin’s understanding of faith as a ‘law of God’ is akin to magic and implies thatanyone can harness this power with no need for a saving relationship with God.[x] Allan Anderson alsocriticises the Word of Faith movement because it lacks a positive theology of persecution or suffering. Other Pentecostals evidently share these concerns. Many would prefer not to be associated with these teachings.[xi]Despite these issues, the Word of Faith teaching has spread throughout the world, being proclaimed by prominent leaders such as South Korean pastor Yonggi Cho, founder of the largest church in the world, and Nigerian Bishop David Oyedepo.[xii] It is difficult to measure the scope of the influence of the Word of Faithteaching. Joseph Williams avers that the views of prominent preachers are likely to influence the way in whichaverage believers conceive of healing and the expectations which they have.[xiii] Kate Bowler notes in her history of the American ‘prosperity gospel’ that prosperity gospel networks intersect with many networks of Pentecostal denominations. Although a given denomination may not propound prosperity doctrines, a senior  pastor may influence a particular congregation.[xiv] Given the ubiquitous nature of electronic media in the21 st  century, whether or not a pastor in a particular congregation proclaims healing in the style of the Word of Faith movement, individual Christians may well be influenced by popular presentations of this view of healingas presented by Christian media ‘celebrities’.One indicator of the prevalence of the theology of healing which assumes that faith will automaticallyresult in healing comes from one British survey. William Kay conducted a written survey of British Pentecostal pastors (from the four main Pentecostal denominations there) who lived in Britain and were either presentlyministering there or had retired from ministry. His survey results showed that almost all (99.5%) believed thatGod heals today and that the Holy Spirit is active in healing (99.1%). There was, however, quite a lot of variation in regard to the statement, “Divine healing will always occur if a person’s faith is greatenough”. 19.8% agreed or strongly agreed with this statement. This result suggests that the view of about onefifth of Britain’s Pentecostal pastors is close to the Word of Faith movement. The percentage of pastors in thiscategory increased with age and decreased with theological education. Yet a significant number of younger  pastors are influenced by the Faith teachings of people such as Hagin and Copeland.[xv] The results of thissurvey suggest that a large number of Pentecostal believers in Britain are still hearing teaching that claims thatthose who have sufficient faith will definitely be healed. It is reasonable to assume that surveys in other westernnations would produce similar results.  Problems with certain Pentecostal theologies of healing in relation to disability Although Warrington observes that the perspective that lack of faith is the reason for a person not being healedhas been modified in much of Pentecostalism, the evidence suggests that problems still exist in a significant portion of Pentecostal circles in regard to the doctrine of healing and faith.[xvi] It has certainly been my ownexperience that many Pentecostals and Charismatics still hold to a belief that God desires to heal everyChristian. According to this theology, then, the reason that some Christians are not healed is because faith is notexercised appropriately.[xvii] Since these theological assumptions are still prevalent in many parts of thePentecostal movement, it is important to consider both whether these assumptions are biblically underpinned andwhat the implications of these claims may be.The assumptions made by those who proclaim that healing will definitely take place when faith is presentcan have some unwanted consequences for people with disabilities and those suffering from chronicillness. Nancy Eiesland, in her seminal book The Disabled God, comments on divine healing with regard to people with disabilities:  11/27/2017 Faith, Healing, Disability 4/15 Healing has been the churchly parallel to rehabilitative medicine, in which the goal was ‘normalisation’ of the bodies of people with disabilities. As Nancy J. Lane writes, ‘Healing is expected to change the person whohas a disability into one who does not. The burden of healing is placed totally on the person who is disabled,causing further suffering and continued alienation from the Church.’ Failure to be ‘healed’ is often assessedas a personal flaw in the individual, such as unrepentant sin or a selfish desire to remain disabled.[xviii] Matt Edmonds comments similarly in  A Theological Diagnosis that those in the Word of Faith movementare sure “that health will come to those who believe in the right way”.[xix] Because of this assumption thathealing must take place, those who proclaim faith-healing are under pressure to produce healings, with the resultthat faith healers sometimes ‘edit’ the testimony of people with disabilities in order to give the impression that ahealing has occurred when this is not so.[xx] Another result of the assumption that healing must occur is atendency to blame the person with a disability if that person fails to be healed by the ministry of faith-healing. Blame for a failed healing must fall somewhere when the assumption is made that faith-healing cannotfail.[xxi]Steven Fettke, a Pentecostal theologian who has a son with severe autism, makes some pertinent remarksto add to this discussion. In reflecting on his own Pentecostal tradition, he observes that although he and hiswife have needed help over the years with their autistic son, Pentecostal churches have provided very littlehelp. He attributes this shortfall to some cultural factors in Pentecostalism. Included in Pentecostal culture isthe implicit condemnation of people with disabilities, because they are assumed to have a lack of faith. Thisassumed lack of spirituality results in marginalisation of people with disabilities. Pentecostals have also appliedthe perfectionism of the holiness tradition to disability, giving rise to expectations of healing. Another factor inPentecostalism is a desire for success in ministry, which is generally ‘achieved’ by concentrating on people whohave few problems, leaving people with disabilities on the outer in the local church.[xxii] Poignantly, heremarks about his son: [T]he Pentecostal church I have known does not love him, serve him, or even know him. The Pentecostalchurch I have known in relation to my son only wants to cast demons out of him or ignore him. He is notdemonised; he is a human for whom Christ died.[xxiii] Australian Pentecostal scholar Shane Clifton has been an incomplete quadriplegic since 2010, despite being the subject of concerted prayer by many Christians from around the world. He reflects on his ownexperience and the experience of others in Pentecostal circles, observing that people with disabilities are ‘theelephant in the room’ when healing is being preached. Clifton wants Pentecostals to own up to the reality thatmiraculous healings are in fact rare. When healing is proclaimed those who are not healed becomemarginalised.[xxiv] In regard to Pentecostal doctrines of healing he opines: Yet while the extremes of the faith movement are not universal, so that many Pentecostals affirm themysterious nature of sovereignty and do not blame the sick for their illness, nevertheless, at the heart of thePentecostal worldview is the idea that healing is God’s will, that Jesus’ healing ministry is an expression of his compassionate love and is paradigmatic, that people are virtuous if they persevere in prayer (for years if necessary), and that faith should be manifest in the supernatural. As a result, there is very little in Pentecostalself-understanding that enables it to make room for permanent illness and disability.[xxv] There are further indications that people with disabilities do not always feel welcome in Pentecostalchurches. In the 2011 National Church Life Survey commissioned by Christian Blind Mission Australia,Pentecostal Christians had the least personal contact with people with disabilities of all the denominationssurveyed.[xxvi] In my personal experience a Pentecostal leader told me, “We don’t have people with disabilitiesin our church because we get them healed.” However, I suspect that the absence of people with disabilities inthat church has another cause. It appears that the culture of faith healing in Pentecostalism is often notconducive to welcoming people with disabilities. It is therefore evident that there are some issues which need to be addressed in regard to the way in which faith and healing are connected in Pentecostal thinking and
Related Documents
View more...
We Need Your Support
Thank you for visiting our website and your interest in our free products and services. We are nonprofit website to share and download documents. To the running of this website, we need your help to support us.

Thanks to everyone for your continued support.

No, Thanks

We need your sign to support Project to invent "SMART AND CONTROLLABLE REFLECTIVE BALLOONS" to cover the Sun and Save Our Earth.

More details...

Sign Now!

We are very appreciated for your Prompt Action!