Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Signs and wondering about back-ache

On Sunday I went to a charismatic church. A local church had a special afternoon meeting, an internationally known and respected charismatic leader was preaching, and so it was a rare opportunity to see what really goes on. Not a lot, actually; it was a disappointment.

We were told that gold dust might materialise; it didn't. (I was glad about that; it would have been such a shame to be caught out without my dustpan and brush). There had, however, been miraculous manifestations of gold tea-leaves in one of the hotels over the weekend. Hmmm.

The singing was unexceptional; not good, not bad. The preaching was fine - up to a point. We were treated to a reasonable exposition of John 14, complete with quotes from Hendrikson. Jesus' promise not to leave them as orphans was fulfilled not by his resurrection, nor by the (still future) return in glory, but fulfilled by the coming of the Spirit at Pentecost. OK so far. Therefore Jesus was present in the church to do exactly the same as he was in the days when he walked with the disciples - an inference Hendrikson doesn't draw and would, I think, deny. Therefore, said the preacher, today he's going to heal those with back-ache: specifically, lower back pain with shooting pains down the leg and the sciatic nerve.

Over at Pyromaniacs (here, for example - where Spurgeon is being quoted - and don't miss the 'comments' section) the boys occasionally defend a cessationist position, and are lampooned for it. From time to time they issue a challenge: please, someone, show us a miracle. It's a fair challenge, surely? If Jesus is doing the same in the churches today as he did when he walked the earth, show us. Back-ache? Where's that in the gospels?

Please note: Sunday's experience was not a back-street charismatic church with a poorly-trained leader. The speaker was one of the big guys, one of the most respected men in the movmement. And all he could offer was back-ache relief.

Adrian Warnock should know better; he's a doctor - a psychiatrist in fact. But he doesn't - see here. The healing of anxieties and a stiff shoulder - what will Jesus do today? Indeed, what will he do!

What's the problem? Suggestion, that's what. Hypnosis can do all of this; hypno-therapists offer it in your high street. We don't need to invoke miracles and the power of Jesus to explain any of this - and Adrian, in particular, should know it. Where's the healing of those born blind, please? Where are the lepers being cured? Where's the raising of the dead - if Jesus is present in the church to do exactly what he used to do?

Over the years I've ridiculed charismatic meetings for their 'God is telling me somebody here has back-ache' pronouncements. Sometimes, I've felt guilty about that. But I cannot begin to tell you how unimaginably disappointed I was on Sunday to discover that my friends still haven't moved beyond it.

But worse than that - and please don't tell anybody, will you? - it actually made me wonder (for a short while) if the Christian faith is true. I mean, there has to be more to it than this, surely? And if it did that for me, what does it do for others - that is, for those unbelievers who don't leave their discernment at the door?


Michael J. Iliff said...

Hi Gary,

Welcome to the wonderful world of Blogging.

babybug said...

If I had known he was curing back ache I would have taken my wife along!

But I guess she wouldn't have had enough 'faith' for the ehaling to take place anyway!

Gary Brady said...

Although you wouldn't know it, I've been following what's being said on Genevanet and it has resulted in me entering the wonderful world of blogs for myself. I also now know what Michael Iliff looks like.
As for your blog, it's sad to know that thinsg are no better (pun intended) with the world of healers.

Jonathan Hunt said...

Welcome to the blogosphere - you can keep posting posts like this, for sure!



Artimus said...

Hi again Gary

After reading this post, I wonder, did you ever go back and find out if people were healed at that meeting?

Also, I wonder if there were many lepers, blind, lame, disfigured, limbless or dead at the meeting? If not, maybe that's why backs were on the agenda.

I don't know where you went, but as you are local, why not visit Citygate Church (as was Bournemouth Family Church.) I know they have seen people healed over the last couple of years, and yes I think some of that was from mundane things like bad backs, but if God does heal you from a backache then I'm not sure why that would be a bad thing.

Only a couple of weeks ago, I heard a lady give testimony to how she had been free from a back pain she had for many years as the result of a compression injury in a car crash, ever since Terry Virgo prayed for her at the end of 2006.

To Babybug, I can understand your comments which to be honest are wholly justified given some past and present histories of some of the faith healing movements and personalities.

I would say that in NewFrontiers, we don't hold to a theology that says 'you weren't healed because you didn't have enough faith'. That would seem to put the whole area out of God's hands and on shoulders of the individual.

We do believe that God is Sovereign, that He can heal, that He does heal, but that He doesn't always heal. Don't ask me why not. I don't know and at the end of the day I think that's His business.

We also don't ride in the wake of faith-healing movements other than the New Testament. Praying for healing is something that as a family of churches we are looking to God for more and more and growing in it. One of our magazines last year was quite helpful in looking at this. The 'L' Plates on the cover say it all really. http://www.newfrontiers.xtn.org/

Surely the test is the fruit. I wonder, it might only be backs at the moment, but if backs are getting healed then what are we to make of that?