The Healing Reawakening (Francis MacNutt)

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Thesis: Jesus’s ministry illustrated deliverance on every level of our being.

Jesus’s basic mission is mapped out in Luke 4:18ff:
(1) Preach good news for the poor.
(2) give liberty to captives (exorcism)
(3) Give the blind new sight (spiritual and physical healing)
(4) Proclaim Jubilee

Jesus’s healings were not side issues but part of the teaching itself.

Baptism with the Holy Spirit

While I probably agree with MacNutt that baptism with the Holy Spirit often happens subsequent to regeneration, I don’t think the example of Jesus is the best one to use. In Mark 1 John the Baptist says the Baptism with the Holy Spirit is something Jesus does. So–is Jesus baptizing himself with the Holy Spirit?  

MacNutt has a fascinating section on the historical development of the sacrament of unction.  Since sacraments are always effective in the Roman Church, then we have a problem: people aren’t always physically healed when we anoint with oil.  That’s okay. They are spiritually healed. In any case, this takes place on the deathbed.

Here is another issue with “spiritual healing.”  Both Protestants and Catholics say this takes place (instead of physical healing, which is what the text actually says).  How many people in your church today are spiritually healed?  How many abused people undergo spiritual healing that restores their fractured psyches.  Spiritual healing is great, but a) that isn’t what you are doing and b) that isn’t what the text says.

One factual mistake.  He said David Hume was a leading proponent of “Scottish Realism.”  This is wrong. The Scottish Realist school led by Thomas Reid opposed Hume.  Hume, by contrast, was an empiricist. The larger point stands, though. With a few exceptions today, no one in Protestantism, liberal or conservative, questions the undisputed dominance of David Hume.

The book ends with a neat history of the “Pentecostal Century” and how the 3rd Wave was formed.  The takeaway from the book is that the church let go of the healing ministry in various ways. Protestants simply said (without evidence or argument) that all this stuff stopped with the apostles.  Catholics accepted that healings take place today, only you probably have to go to a shrine to get it done. In both cases, though, the individual wasn’t encouraged to offer healing prayers for others.  

Miracles Links Database

HT to Steve Hays for all of the hard work.

Cessationists tell me that if the gifts continued, we should see miracles today.  I point out miracles today.

“Those aren’t real, though.”

Lee Strobel Asks, ‘Are Miracles Real and Still Happening?’



Beginner’s Guide to Spiritual Gifts (Storms)

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Thesis: Spiritual gifts aren’t “stuff” but God himself working in us.

NT terminology:

Charisma(ta): it is a gracious work God has bestowed.

Pneumatikon: spirituals/spiritual things

Diakoinia: the purpose for spiritual gifts.

Energema: effects; gifts are concrete operations.

The prophecy of Joel says that the gifts would be given to all, not simply to those who hold an office or specific gift of x.

Gifts are not given to authenticate a message (at least not primarily).  Gifts are other-directed. They are for service.

>>Spiritual gifts vary in intensity and accuracy (1 Cor. 14:18; 2 Tim. 1:6).

Words of Wisdom:  to what degree is supernatural knowledge different from regular prophesy?  The NT isn’t quite clear but we have some precedents. Jesus knew the thoughts of scribes.  Words of wisdom seem to be knowing the thoughts of others, whereas prophecy is a revelation from God.

James’s use of Elijah counters the argument that miracles are “clustered.”  The point from quoting Elijah is that this is what you are supposed to do.

As to the Trophimus argument, even if the canon was completed and the gift had ceased (which doesn’t work in the cessationist timeline), the cessationist has to explain why Epaphroditus and Timothy weren’t healed.  In fact, Storms argues that if Paul were so distressed that he couldn’t heal Epaphroditus, he wouldn’t have drawn the same conclusion that cessationists do.

Healing is a divine mercy (Phil. 2:27).  It shouldn’t be viewed as a right. Those cessationists who say that healers should go into hospitals simply don’t know what they are talking about.

As to working miracles:  Paul’s actual word is “powers,” which has a very different nuance.  It’s also why the Eastern fathers called miracle workers “thaumaturge,” which is much closer in concept to the original.


Prophecy has three elements: 1) the revelation itself; 2) the interpretation of what has been disclosed; 3) application of that interpretation.  This reframes the problem of fallible prophecy. This is no more problematic than preaching an infallible word.

Some notes on tongues:

>If tongues are a sign to unbelievers, as some who reference Isaiah argue, then why does Paul counsel against their use when unbelievers are present?

>If tongues were always in a human language, then why would there need to be the gift of interpretation?  Anyone who was multilingual could suffice.  

>If someone who speaks in a tongue speaks to God and not men (1 Cor. 14:2), then why does it need to be in a foreign language?

>>And if they were in a foreign language, then an unbeliever who entered would not conclude they were mad, but highly educated.

Bringing the nous into the heart

This is from John Mcguckin’s The Path of Christianity: The First Thousand Years, pp. 862-869.  It is very difficult for many people to approach the ancient fathers on prayer.  For some, it looks too much like Buddhism.  And for many activists theologians, it doesn’t make sense to do hesychasm when you can be lobbying on Capitol Hill.  Nevertheless, the “stillness” model rests upon a particularly sophisticated anthropology, one that can help us in our technological age.  Indeed, one that can counter (with God’s help) deep state monarch programming.all flame

Have you ever prayed and felt dead?  Like the prayer wasn’t real?  Maybe it’s because you carried into prayer the mindset you had when you were watching the Kardashians ten minutes ago.  The Fathers teach us how to develop a mindset for prayer.  This mindset is important because it prevents us from having a “fractured psyche.”

St Gregory of Sinai clearly states that forgetfulness of God is a disease of the soul and of the faculty of reason. It has a direct impact on human memory, which ends up divided, diffused and fragmented, a prey to tempting thoughts. If I forget God, my memory will crumble into pieces, resulting in scattered, wayward thinking: “Dia-logismos”.

Now, on to McGuckin: “The heart is the inner place where the creature stood before God” (Path 865).  Heart isn’t quite the same thing as nous.

  • It is a biblical cipher for the whole spiritual personality.
  • It is sometimes expressed by the word wisdom (Prov. 19.8).
  • It is a synonym for the innermost self (Rom. 7.22).

So how does this apply to prayer?  Where does the doctrine cash out?  The fathers practiced the monologistos prayer.  It was a short phrase from Scripture that was repeated over and over until it soaked the consciousness (870).  That sounds like it violates Jesus’s command not to pray over and over like the heathen, but several things need to be noted:

  • He probably meant pagan incantations.
  • You are going to have something soaking your mind anyway.  Your mind is never neutral.  You will either soak it with God or with Katy Perry songs.  Take your pic.  Would you rather wake up in the middle of the night singing, “Romeo save me/I can’t ever be alone” or with

McGuckin notes the effect of this practice, “Charging and reorienting the human  consciousness, focusing it, as it were, like a lens on the singleness of the idea of the presence of God” (871).  The ancients knew that our minds wonder during prayer.  This trained us to begin the struggle of prayer.

The Anthropology of Prayer

We have a body (physical impulses), soul (feelings and desires), and nous (spiritual intellect). If the body was agitated, the other two “ranges” of consciousness would be pulled down as well (871).  Therefore, the monks knew that bodily needs are controlled by redirection.

That takes care of the body.  What about the soul?  Our prayer lives are usually by default rooted in our soul (consciousness).  This is where we live habitually. The monologistos prayer quiets down our soul. McGuckin succinctly points out, “Thoughts generate thoughts.  Words make words.  Monologistos prayer kills those unnecessary words” (872).

When the soul is finally quieted, the nous descends to the heart and one reaches stillness. This is what the hesychasts knew.  You aren’t just doing funny breathing.  At this point when you slow down the breathing, your body calms even more.

Everyone wants to claim that the human person is a body-soul unity, or some kind of unity.  I think it is the genius of Palamas to see how the person is a unity.  There is a dynamic interplay between body, soul, and nous.

Safe Sects: Healing

North on Charismatics, Calvinism, and Healing.  Summarizes my own journey.  Let’s put aside all of the “in your face” stuff like prophecy and tongues. I understand the case against continuationism. I really do. (I admit. I don’t understand any case for or against tongues). But where in the New Testament do you get the idea that Jesus will pull the plug on healing once the ink is dry on Revelation?

Cessationists say, “But where is healing today?”  To which I say, Look around.  The evidence is there if you want to find it.  But the case for healing is more than just the overwhelming amount of evidence.  It is the nature of the covenant.  I love what North writes,

If God heals in history, then He must bring judgment in history. To deny the one is to deny the other. Yet the modern church denies either or both of these aspects of God’s work in history. Churches do not want judgment, for it begins at the house of the Lord (I Peter 4:17). So, they reject the biblical idea of healing. They are consistent — consistently wrong.

The apostle James presupposed something we don’t know. Oil has judicial qualities.  It’s not just “advanced medicine.”

Modern charismatics aren’t completely correct, to the extent that they are individualists.

On the other hand, by preaching physical healing through the authority of the church, the charismatics raise a crucial issue: establishing the limits of God’s healing in history. God heals individuals, not cultures, insist the traditional charismatics. By what theology can such limits be placed on God’s healing? Dispensationalism? But dispensationalism denies the legitimacy of all church-invoked, church-administered healing, not just cultural healing. Traditional dispensationalism is in this sense consistent; charismatic dispensationalism isn’t.


False Assumptions in Cessationism, part 1

I haven’t done a real blog post in a while, mainly book reviews.  And this post is from a book, but to include it in a formal review will make it unwieldy.  Note, in saying these are false assumptions in cessationist arguments I do not imply that cessationism is necessarily false.  I think it is, but that’s not the argument in question.

Deere’s most important chapter is “The Real Reason Christians Do not believe in the miraculous Gifts” and in it he undoes a number of cessationist non-arguments.

False Assumption 1: NT Healing was “Automatic,” meaning the NT Christian could heal anyone at anytime.  But the NT never claims this and makes statements that are quite odd if true: “And the power of the Lord was present for him to heal the sick” (Luke 5.17, quoted in Deere, 59). If Jesus could heal “any place, any time,” then why did Scripture mention the power of the Lord being present?

Why at some places does Jesus heal all yet at Bethesda he only heals one person?  In fact, at Nazareth Jesus did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith” (Matt. 13.58).

Finally, the answer is that the NT does not see spiritual power as “automatic.”  Jesus gave the apostles all authority over demons and sickness (Matt. 10.1; Luke 9.1), yet they could not heal a demonized boy (Matt 17.16).  What gives?  I thought healing power was automatic?  Obviously, the cessationist is wrong.