Thursday, July 3, 2014

The Dark Side of Prayer for Healing

My friend Dr Shane Clifton (pictured in the photo below, you'll work out who he is) was left a c4/5 incomplete quadriplegic after a serious accident in October 2010. Shane was my Professor of Theology throughout the course of my Masters Degree and is a humble and genuine guy with an incredibly sharp mind and beautiful ability to write.

He has recently had a paper published that explores the dark side of prayer for healing. It is thought provoking and insightful and, to be honest, address a myriad of questions that many of Christians want to ask but may not feel they should (because it might be a lack of 'faith') in regards to miraculous healing that does and doesn't happen.

Here are three snippets. The link to his blog post is below and from there you can link to the full article. Please, find some time to read the whole article is an incredibly worthwhile read!

Indeed, Pentecostals have elevated the importance of miraculous healing to such an extent that it is inextricably bound to theories of the atonement and conceptions and practices of faith. There is, however, a dark side to this emphasis that is rarely acknowledged. This paper seeks to unmask the negative impact of pentecostal theologies and practices of healing upon people with permanent illnesses, injuries, and disabilities.

And this...

With this in view, my first premise is that supernatural healing is rare, and that Pentecostals almost never acknowledge this rarity. Of course it is difficult for me to prove a negation. I might argue on the basis of definition: that if divine healing is miraculous, then it must be rare (or it would not be a miracle). More significantly, my argument is grounded on the assertion that there is no substantive
evidence that many people with severe and permanent injuries and disabilities—in other words, those for which healing might unquestionably be considered supernatural—are supernaturally healed. And if this is so, it is possible to generalize and say that the same is likely to be true across the board. At this point I am making an appeal for honesty. It is one thing for the healing evangelist to excite the crowd attending a one-off event with assertions that supernatural healings are an everyday reality for people with faith, but a pastor who lives with her congregation week in, week out appreciates the fact that sickness is a part of life and permanent disability isn't set aside by the thrill of the moment.

And finally...

This only makes sense because life is difficult and messy, because we need hope, and because in one
way or another we are all disabled—some more obviously than others, and if not today than almost certainly tomorrow (or perhaps the day after). Creamer notes that to be human is to be subject to “embodied limits,” and that such limits need not be understood negatively but, rather, as “normal.” The concept of well-being recognizes the reality of our limits. So, rather than seeking to escape our finitude, it looks to individual and communal flourishing in the midst of our limitations.

Shane's blog post can be found here and from there links to the article in full. 

Thank you so much Shane!

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