Today’s New Age Faith-Healing Evangelist!
I picked up the mail today and there was a flyer advertising an event called “Miracles Happen.” It advertised a miracle service coming to my area in Georgia in which one well-known woman evangelist was going to teach people “how you can lay hands on the sick and see them recover!” The flyer went on to say, “Enjoy an in depth hands on training and equipping with a Miracle Service! Reignite your passion to win the lost, rediscover what God has called you to do AND fulfill the God-given assignment on your life!” The evangelist being highlighted was Joan Hunter, “daughter of Charles & Frances Hunter, author of Supernatural Provision.”
I just turned 55 and when I was in my late teens (in some ways, it seems like yesterday), I was involved somewhat in the Charismatic Renewal that swept parts of the world. Looking back, I cringe now at some of what I saw, was taught, and even some of what I believed. Before I go any further, I’m not knocking you if you are still involved in aspects of the Charismatic Movement. That’s your choice and while I disagree theologically with it in its entirety, I hope that have thoroughly searched the Scriptures to determine the truth of it.
Because of my involvement with Charismania, all of the famous authors and speakers of that time were known to me. Frank Foglio, Demas Shekarian, Charles and Frances Hunter, Harold Hill, Jamie Buckingham, and a slew of others were household names. I still have many of their books I frequently use for reference. We tended to gobble up what they wrote and to my chagrin, I often placed their words above God’s Word. So intent was I in learning something “new” and “mysterious” and “supernatural” that I was willing to set quality study to the side and absorb the new teachings of the previously mentioned authors. I’m not saying that this was their “fault.” It was simply the way (and most of us then) approached these new teachings.
I recall the excesses in that movement. I recall the dubious theology and doctrine. I recall being taught how to speak in tongues. I remember being taught that God always wanted to heal His children without question. Those who were not healed lacked faith.
I understood that every day life, as a King’s Kid (as Harold Hill used to say) could be and should be one of excitement, laughter and praise for all that God is and all that He has done. There’s really nothing wrong with that, at least on the surface (especially where praise is concerned and in fact, I’m not sure I do that enough). We should always be filled with praise even when circumstances make it appear as though things are not good. Nothing beats praise.
The Charismatic Movement emphasized that without a “baptism in the Holy Spirit,” life as a Christian was often merely humdrum. One author described it like this (referencing the ministry of Charles & Frances Hunter), “Before their baptism in the Holy Spirit, they had laid hands on the sick with occasional results…After their baptism, it was not unusual for person after person to exclaim that his or her pain was gone, injured body parts were healed, or that sores and growths had shrunk or disappeared.” 
Shortly after Charles and Frances Hunter met and married (and were ostensibly baptized in the Holy Spirit), they “began leading large-scale crusades known as ‘healing explosions,’ which hundreds of thousands of people attended around the world. In 1990, they started the World Evangelistic Census, a campaign that mobilized people to evangelize door-to-door. Millions reportedly came to Christ through the outreach.” 
What I am very glad of is that the Hunters were both such ardent evangelists, even if I do not agree with their doctrinal beliefs regarding the Holy Spirit. What frustrates me though in general, is when I come in contact with or hear about ministries that focus primarily on physical healing.
True, who wants to be bedridden with some physical ailment? Who wants to be sick? No one that I know of and certainly not me. I cannot help but wonder whether or not God often uses sickness as part of the tribulations Christ said we would experience in this life, in order to become more ardent followers of Him and to appreciate the fact that like Paul, we will grow to become content in all things (cf. Philippians 4:11).
I think too many within Christendom wind up giving a false impression of healing in Scripture. First of all, Jesus healed to verify His deity. Second, He sometimes healed from a distance. Third, He did not heal everyone. Sometimes it was because of their lack of faith, but other times, healing for them was not meant to be.
Job was not healed until the entire debate between Satan and God had run its course. Look what he went through! Who among us could stand under that type of constant supernatural pressure? Certainly no one without God’s help.
To presume to believe that God without question wants everyone healed every time in this life is to miss some important lessons given to us by God. I myself suffer from an immune disorder; something the doctors call Lichen Planis Pilara. Though it is not fatal, it tires me out and there is no cure. It’s more of a great annoyance at times.
Fortunately, I’m not bed ridden, however, there are times when I have little inclination to do anything due to a severe lack of energy. Does God want me healed? Absolutely. Will it happen in this life? I have serious doubts and I’m okay with that because I belong to Him. I am His, bought with a price. If He wants me to suffer from something, He obviously has a reason for it. Here though, is where many faith-healers would enter to emphatically deny that God wants His children to suffer from poor health of any kind.
When my sister was on her death bed, I pleaded with God to heal her. Others joined me in that prayer. God said “No.” He took my sister home after two weeks in the hospital and she is so much better off than had He let her remain here. She is perfectly fine, completely free of sin, pain, and suffering. She is with the Lord. What could be better than that? Nothing.
I believe it is wrong to teach people how to heal others. I believe that healing can be part of God’s plan but it is not a guarantee. I simply don’t see that in Scripture, though I am aware that others do see it.
Can you really teach someone how to lay hands on a sick person so that they will recover (or improve their chances for recovery)? Forgive me, but it would appear then that the actual “healing” is the result of laying hands on someone rather than the fact that God has healed that person, if He decided to do that.
Should we have seminars on healing? I don’t think so. I think we should have seminars on giving ourselves to God in greater measure. I think we should have seminars and conferences on how to become better evangelists so that we can spread the gospel far more effectively. Even there though, we need to be careful that spreading the gospel does not simply become formulaic.
As one who was caught up in Charismatic “madness,” my heart goes out to those who are still caught up in it and still being taught things that are – from my current perspective – unbiblical.
As I said, God does want His children healed and one day, I will be completely healed in so much that I will no longer have the sin nature within me. Once that is gone, the source of the problem that has created everything else will also be gone. That is what will separate me from this life and the next. Though I enjoy eternal life now, I am still “sick” because of the sin nature, which even though Jesus overcame and conquered, remains with me until the day He physically removes it after my death.
It is the sin nature which is the reason for all of my ills, as well as the ills of all people. It is the sin nature that has caused the earth to become corrupted. But one day, God will fix it; all of it. Until then, should I insist (even through some type of conjured up faith) that I do not have to put up with sickness? Is sickness ever part of God’s picture?
I see that Joan Hunter has continued where her parents have left off. One of her books is titled How to Receive and Minister the Baptism of the Holy Spirit and another is Healings, Miracles, & Supernatural Experiences. There are a plethora of books out there by numerous authors that deal with these types of things and unfortunately, the ones I have read remind me far more of the New Age Movement than anything that is solidly based on a biblical foundation.
As human beings, we tend to place a great deal of emphasis on being physically healthy in this life. I’m not saying that if you are a Christian, it is wrong to ask others to join you in prayer that God might choose to heal you. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that at all. Like Jesus though, we need to be sure to understand that God always has the option to say “no” should He choose to do so. We need to be prepared to hear that option from God.
The idea that learning how to place your hands on someone so that the chances of their health improving are far better than merely asking others to join you in prayer may be a great way to have people join you in their seminar or conference where books can be sold, “love” offerings taken and all the rest. Unfortunately, there is nothing I can find in the Bible where Jesus pulled His apostles or disciples aside and showed them the “correct” method of laying on hands so that results were more or less, guaranteed. This is absurd, frankly. It’s actually offensive to me, especially considering the fact that I was once involved in the Charismatic Movement. I know the teachings. I witnessed the excesses. I saw it. I now avoid it.
Yes, miracles happen, every day. The thing we often forget is that the greatest miracle occurs when a person comes to true faith in Jesus Christ. Throughout the gospels, though Jesus performed one miracle after another, He did not focus on them as if they defined His ministry. His teachings, actions, and words together defined His ministry. His relationship to the Father under girded it.
When the 72 returned after being sent out by Jesus, they marveled because even the demons were subject to them. Jesus’ response to this was that they should not be excited about that, but instead should be excited about the fact that their names were written in the Book of Life (cf. Luke 10). Obviously, Jesus was saying something about the actual importance of eternal life there, vs. physical (or even supernatural) experiences.
I wish there was a greater emphasis on witnessing to the lost and equipping the saints for evangelism and growth in the Lord. Miracles are nice, but they are the exception to the rule (with the exception of the greatest miracle of all when another lost soul receives eternal life). I believe God is far more concerned about the spiritual welfare of people than in their physical welfare. This does not mean that He will not provide for us or meet our needs. It means that we often place more emphasis on the physical than we do the spiritual and it should be reversed.
Can you be taught to lay hands on the sick so that they will recover? I just don’t see that in the Bible. Can you pray for someone so that they will recover? Yes. Are they guaranteed to recover? No.
While I am very glad that there is at least an emphasis on evangelism with Joan Hunter (and a few other ministries like hers), the truth seems to be that all too often (based on my own personal involvement and study of aspects of the Charismatic Movement), healings, spiritual experiences, and the like are the things that are emphasized.
It is disheartening to hear of people who teach or have been taught that God wants everyone healed (or wants all of us to materially prosper). When that does not happen, then of course, the blame is placed directly back on the person for their “lack of faith.” This is adding insult to injury.
There are a few times in Scripture where we are told that Jesus could not do many miracles in a certain place because of the people’s lack of faith (cf. Matthew 13; Mark 6). In those cases, the people essentially chased Jesus away! They were not coming to Him pleading with Him to heal them and simply lacked a strong enough faith. They didn’t even want Him to be in their area! The text tells us that they did not believe. Right, they did not believe that He was who He said He was! He scared them tremendously and they did not want to have to deal with Him.
Throughout the gospels, even the smallest amount of faith was rewarded with some type of healing by Christ, so it doesn’t seem to be that people lacked faith – the ability to trust Christ for healing – so much so that they lacked a general faith in who He was in the first place. There is a huge difference there.
I look at the people in my local church, people that we love and people who love God. These people are servants. They love the Lord and they show it through their actions, whether it is joining with someone in prayer, preparing meals for people who are laid up and can’t do it, or in any numbers of other ways that these people show their love.
When illness happens, the first thing we naturally do is cry out to our heavenly Father. That is natural and I want to be clear here in stating without equivocation that this is what children do with their earthly parents, so why would we shrink from taking these same type of concerns to our heavenly Father? We should go to Him in prayer immediately.
As far as the people in my church, when there is sickness, yes, the first thing they might ask for is that God would heal. However, there is always the addition of “yet not ours but Your will be done.” It seems ironic that in a church where people obviously love the Lord and want what’s best from Him, there are a number of people fighting cancers and other forms of sickness. What I have found is that even though these wonderful Christians really want healing from God, they have come to understand that whether or not He provides healing in this life (through prayer, doctors, or a combination of both), they always come to a point of being able to see God’s hand in the situation even if He chooses not to heal.
We need to get our priorities straight as Christians. Would you be a better witness for Jesus if you were in perfect health? If you had a million dollars, would that translate to more souls saved through your efforts? There is no direct connection there and it is clear that the miracles that Jesus performed that were related to health (and even resurrection of the dead, as in the case of Lazarus) were completed in order to verify the deity of Jesus.
Yes, certain apostles like Peter and Paul also had miracles done through them, but these were – I believe – more to call attention to the fact that God was with them. Peter did not raise anyone from the dead. He prayed that God would raise Dorcas from the dead (cf. Acts 9). Peter prayed first and after realizing what God was going to do, told Dorcas (Tabitha) to rise up. He didn’t go into that room and command her to rise. He prayed first and gained knowledge through the Holy Spirit that God intended to raise her back up from the dead. How did Peter know that God intended to raise Dorcas from the dead? He knew through prayer.
This is slightly different from when Jesus raised the little girl in Mark 5 (or with Lazarus in John 11). In both cases, Jesus referred to the little girl and Lazarus as having fallen asleep. He explained literally what He meant by that phrase to His disciples.
With respect to Lazarus, Jesus prayed prior to commanding Lazarus to “come forth,” but as noted in the text of John 11, He prayed this for the sake of those listening so that they would believe that the Father had sent Jesus (cf. John 11:42). Jesus – as the Author of Life (cf. Acts 3:15; Colossians 1:16) – can take life or give it as He wills. None of His followers can do that. No so-called faith healer can do that. None of us have the capacity to do that. The miracle of life is something God reserves for Himself.
Peter prayed for God’s will and may have prayed that life would return to Dorcas. God answered that prayer, which is why Peter knew to speak to her.
Many miracles were performed through Peter and Paul and with good reason. Both of these men were very important individuals within the chosen few. The book of Acts spends the first dozen or so chapters highlighting the work of the Holy Spirit through Peter. The second half of Acts highlights the work of the Holy Spirit through Paul. Each of them had specific callings and ministries to certain groups of people.
To show that God was with them both, the Holy Spirit worked through them miraculously. This does not somehow translate to all believers in Christ who come after Peter and Paul; that we will somehow gain this same ability. Yet, many believe that it does.
Only so many people were used by God to author parts of His holy Word, over a period of roughly 1,600 years. The Canon is closed and has been for some time. Yet, I know of people who believe that they are also apostles, equal in authority to the original twelve and that when they write, their writings are as inspired as the Bible. This is obviously and patently false, but their egos say otherwise.
Yes, the Bible says through Paul that to some God gave the gift of apostleship, while to others, evangelism, etc., (cf. Ephesians 4:11). It is funny how many people tend to believe that God is still giving the gift of apostleship today. I don’t believe He is doing that. In fact, I have a difficult time believing that Matthias was chosen by God to replace Judas (cf. Acts 1). I believe that the man who was chosen to replace Judas was actually Paul and he was directly chosen by Jesus Himself, just the same way Jesus chose the original twelve. I realize that there are those who would disagree with me and that’s fine. I could be wrong about it, but it simply makes sense to me that Paul is the man, not Matthias, for a variety of reasons.
So the question surrounding the main issue of this article is whether or not God uses people to heal today, as He did during the first part of the first century of the Church? I believe we have established that God can and does heal today. To me, that is not even a question. However, the idea that people can be taught to some how learn the proper method of laying on of hands in order to nearly guarantee positive results is quite a biblical stretch, as far as I’m concerned. In fact, I simply do not see it as being biblical at all. Others of course, disagree with me and a stable of books have been written on the subject, both pro and con. It is up to you to study the Word yourself to determine what God says on the subject. It will not do to choose a side based on what a person teaches, which is reflected in their own choice in the matter. You must even take my words and compare them with Scripture to determine whether or not what I am saying coincides with God’s truth as revealed in His Word.
This world is headed for judgment and it is going to be severe. I fear that too many Christians are concerned with physical healing, material wealth, and spiritual experiences, rather than ensuring that as many people as possible hear the gospel of our Lord Jesus. He came to heal us first and foremost, spiritually. The final culmination of that healing occurs after this life is over when the sin nature is eradicated and we receive our eternal bodies that will match and perfectly fit our eternal spirit.
These bodies that we currently reside in our corrupt. They are dying. We will get sick in this life. Some will succumb to illnesses like cancers and other things that will wind up taking physical life from us. In many cases, this is how God has designed our passage from this life to the next. It is merely a doorway through which we cross.
Some people will die instantly in a car accident, or from a heart attack. Others will linger for a time before they pass on. However, barring those who are alive at the Rapture, all of us will pass from this life to the next through the door of death.
Some believers will experience trials and tribulations related to their health for long periods of time before the Lord takes that person home. For others, the battle with a terminal illness will be shorter. We can and should always pray about these things. Just as sure as we should always pray, we should always arrive at a point where our desires match God’s. Just as Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane that only the Father’s will would be accomplished, and just as Paul learned over time to be content in whatever set of circumstances came his way, so to should we learn and understand that the most important thing we have going for us is our spiritual health and that only comes when we receive the only salvation that is available; through Jesus Christ. Aside from that, we actually have nothing, even if we think we have everything (our health, prosperity, family, etc.). All of these things pass like vapors. The only thing that will last is eternal life in Christ.
My life – your life is so short here. It is truly like a vapor – here today and gone tomorrow. What does a man gain if he gains everything he thinks he needs but loses his own soul to eternal death and destruction (cf. Luke 9:25)?
Look around you. Ask yourself this question: who needs to hear the gospel of Jesus today? Could it be that God can (and will) use your less than perfect health to create within you the character of Christ as you submit your will for His? The more you have willingly given yourself to Christ, the more of His character will be seen in and through you. Could this be the very thing that God wants to use in order to draw more people to Him, while perfecting you?
If we are truly owned by God (cf. 1 Corinthians 6:20), then we are no longer our own, right? If we are no longer our own, then we take what our Master provides for us, correct? Since He paid for us (not merely for our freedom, but for us), then we really have nothing to say about it, do we?
The most important thing we can do is submit ourselves to Him. He will take care of our true needs. He will deal with our personal cares. He will deal with our health issues as He sees fit. We need to understand and accept His will in these matters. Moreover, we need to be about our Father’s business, just as Jesus lived for the Father. If we are truly concerned with following our Lord, then the most important thing we can do is introduce the lost to the Giver of Life.
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