More Healing info...

I wrote this for King's Seminary. It is the nuggets that I enjoyed from MacNutt's books Healing and The Power to Heal and Blue's book Authority to Heal. While I like Bethel churches approach to healing a bit more, I think these books help give a good understanding to healing too. I will warn you that it is a bit long. It also is written in the first person due to the nature of the paper.

Healing is a primary theological issue in the church today. There are all sorts of debates regarding it: does God really heal? Does He do so today? Is this normal to expect to happen? Francis MacNutt and Ken Blue are authors with healing ministries. Their desire to see lives changed through healing has been one verified through extensive ministry and through their writings. In Mac Nutt’s books, Healing and The Power to Heal, and Blue’s book, Authority to Heal, they give an apologetic for the healing ministry, share their beliefs regarding healing ministry, and give ministry experience. From there works, I have pulled out the nuggets that I found to be particularly valuable to my understanding of healing. Consequently, this should not be seen as a manual on healing or a complete understanding of healing, but rather additions, clarifications, or even simply putting into words in a better way what I already believed on healing. As a result, it should not be seen as a comprehensive report on healing, in a similar way that 1 Corinthians 12 is not a comprehensive understanding of gifts but only a response to what was already occurring. From Blue and MacNutt’s books on healing, I have organized the nuggets I have gleaned into the categories of apologetics for healing, theology of healing, and technique in ministering.
Often, before the truth about healing can be understood, the negative understandings must first be removed. Consequently, it is important to have an apologetic for healing ministry. This will include adding ideas to a refutation of cessationism (the belief that miracles stopped with the last of the original twelve apostles), understanding the difference between sickness and suffering, removing ideas about divine determinism or an ultra-Calvinist approach to healing, and a couple of miscellaneous thoughts.
If cessationism were correct, there would have been no healings after roughly 100 or so A.D. when the last of the apostles died. However, since pagans were most interested in Christianity in the first three centuries because of exorcisms and healings, healing could not have ended with the last apostle dying off. As Dr. MacMullen of Yale University argued, the reason why ancient pagans accepted Christianity had much less to do with excitement over doctrine and much more to do with the power of God being greater than their gods.
Cessationism can, in the lives of some theologians, be a fundamental root issue with valuing non-essential doctrines over impacting another person positively. This is a problem that can occur in the academic community. It can be manifest through thinking that Jesus healed more to make a theological statement than that He loved people (although, at times, He did both, and not to confuse this further, but healing is a theology lesson). This can cause people to debate a theology of the importance of having compassion for the sick when praying, rather than actually having compassion. Healing is not about debating a doctrine, but about faith expressed in love for one another.
Most of the thought in Chritiandom today on suffering and sickness comes more from a Roman Stoicism’s idea of suffering than what Jesus said and did. Jesus did not divide people between body and soul and only care about one. He came to save the whole person. Blue notes that the word for suffering, pascho, appears sixty-five times in the Bible and only once is it referring to sickness and in that case the sickness was clearly caused by a demon (Mt. 17:15). In addition, when the word suffering was used in Mark 5:26, it was not used to describe the sickness, but to how the woman was treated by the doctors! James 5 further emphasizes this point by giving different remedies to those who suffer and to those who are diseased. It should be clear that the New Testament’s value for suffering should not also include sickness as the NT clearly views them as two separate things. It should also be very clear from when Jesus often lumped healing the sick with casting out of demons, that disease was inherently a bad thing, not a gift from God. There are no churches today that encourage people to remain in demonic torment because it is good for them to build character. In the same way, the church should not do that with those who are sick.
Another faulty view plaguing the American church is that sickness is a gift from God and when it does not go away when one prays it is due to His sovereign will. However, in the few instances in the Bible where sickness was from God, there was always a specific direction in order to receive healing. When Paul was struck blind by the Lord, it was not seen to be God’s will for him long term, but rather something only temporary after a change in Paul’s attitude and behavior. This makes sense. As Blue notes, “A parent’s discipline is only fair and helpful if the child knows what it is for.” In Mark 9, when the disciples were not successful in healing a boy through casting out a demon, they were not encouraged that this was because God’s will was for the boy to remain mute. They were accused by Jesus of shoddy work! This is not to heap condemnation on the body of Christ, but should cause all of us who do not pray with less than perfect results to have a desperation to have more of God’s power flowing in and through us and a much greater humility about any successes He does through us! Claiming God’s will is not to heal, though, is like saying it is God’s will for people to starve to death in Africa. Simply because something is occurring does not mean it is God’s will even if we did pray once for the opposite and did not notice a difference.
There are a couple of random thoughts that I liked. In regards to healing being only psychosomatic: “If Christian ministry and prayer can effect this type of psychosomatic cure they will have made a notable contribution to present-day medicine.” However, in defense of the doctrine of healing, clearly the following is often the most true: “For the believer no argument is necessary; for the unbeliever no argument will prove sufficient.” The particularly remarkable thing is that these people will argue adamantly for every supernatural thing in the Bible occurring but against every single one happening today. They should note the hypocrisy of this line of thinking.
After making additions to an apologetic for healing, there are numerous things to be added to a theology of healing from both the Word of God and from others’ experiences. Jesus gave his disciples as much of a command to heal as teach, so one would think that would apply to us as well. He also gave authority. Authority should not be understood as something Christians possessed as much as exercised. To exercise it, one must be under the authority of Him whose authority is being possessed. From looking at the Bible, it should also be seen that the afflicted does not need a “noble” motive for healing to occur. In other words, they do not need to desire a healing so that the doctor or some family member will see the healing and come to salvation. Jesus often did miracles just out of compassion for the person in need. When studying the Bible, there also is no evidence that healing is restricted to the extremely holy. Instead, we see normal people praying for others and the afflicted being healed. Consequently, there has to be a paradigm shift to seeing that this is for everyone and is a normal part of everyday life.
Healing is an extremely simple, yet extremely complicated issue. Healing, like sanctification and so many other aspects of a Christian’s walk, is so full of paradoxes and mystery that if one only wants simple answers and complete clarity they likely will be frustrated. It is so simple a little child can pray for another and see them healed. It is so difficult that there are numerous theological principles that touch on it and so it cannot be made overly simple like some have with statements like, “If you just had more faith, you would be healed.” Consequently, an experience should not create a universal method, like claiming a healing.
There are different things to be gleaned from other’s experiences that can aid in our understanding of a theology of healing. There are three traits that Blue found through all of the different healing ministries in the various denominations that are universal: a belief that God desires people to be healed rather than sick, a compassion for those with health needs, and personal investment and taking of risk in praying for others. MacNutt believes that healing is often a process. Many times there is improvement, but not a complete healing in the first prayer session. He also notes that in some instances where people believed they lost their healings, what likely occurred is that people thought the healing was complete but a little bit of the ailment was left and the rest grew back. It should also be noted through studying experiences of different cultures that expectation, an aspect of faith, clearly relates to seeing the miraculous. Blue notes that in places with little to no expectation for the miraculous, that healing rarely, if ever, occurs. However, in places where it is routine to expect the power of God, it often occurs.
After studying a theology of healing, it is also important to learn technique from Blue and MacNutt. There is knowledge to be learned about the importance of compassion, understanding about faith, the importance of soaking prayer, and some miscellaneous ideas. If I am filled with the compassion of Christ, I will reach out and touch another even if it is against my own best interests. Jesus’ healings on the Sabbath were generally not looked at as a positive thing to the religious community of the day. But His compassion caused Him to extend healing.
It is not profitable to focus effort on gaining faith. For then I am putting faith in faith rather than the God of faith. Faith is having “Chutzpah,” a Yiddish slang term, or “going for it.” It is a boldness in believing God will show up! This is seen with the woman with the issue of blood doing anything legally or illegally to be healed. As John Wimber has said, “Faith is spelled R-I-S-K,” and it has much more to do with obedience and boldness in our God than taking ourselves too seriously. Canon Jim Glenon told Blue that the healing ministry is like “walking perpetually on the brink of disaster and on the verge of a miracle.” However, Blue notes, “If people are not lied to, if they are not flogged for their lack of faith, if they are assured that nothing can separate them from the love of God, then there is no reason for them to be damaged by prayer.”
There is a need for soaking prayer, especially with some of the “bigger” requests. MacNutt believes that many more of these requests would be answered if people could simply spend fifteen minutes a day in soaking prayer for the individual in need, much like radiation treatments. Now, instead of seeing a cripple and wondering if there is hope, when he sees a cripple wonders just how much healing could occur if there were only people willing to sit beside him in soaking prayer for many extended sessions.
There are a few more miscellaneous ideas related to technique in ministering. Their appears to be a much greater breakthrough in healing services than sometimes occurs when MacNutt is praying on his own. If we want to help more people, more large healing services are essential. MacNutt notes, “It is necessary that we be free of the need to prove anything, that we be free of any personal desire for achieving results.” Also, in general, it will be most helpful if a healing model will evolve through the practice and successes of a church rather than imposed from the outside.
Through careful study of Blue and MacNutt’s books on healing, I have organized the nuggets that have been gleaned into the categories of apologetics for healing, theology of healing, and technique in ministering. As I finish writing this, it has awakened me even further to the importance of healing being involved in the church. The ancient prayer quoted by Blue adequately summarizes the churches’ (as well as my own!) need for understanding on healing, “From cowardice that shrinks from new truth, from laziness that is content with half-truth, from arrogance that thinks it knows all truth, O God of Truth, deliver us.”

1 Francis MacNutt, Healing (Notre Dame, IN: Ave Maria Press, 1999), 13.
2 Ibid., 46.
3 Ibid., 35.
4 Ibid., 49-50.
5 Ken Blue, Authority to Heal (Downer’s Grove, IL: IVP Press, 1987), 28-29
6 MacNutt, Healing, 64-65.
7 Blue, 26.
8 MacNutt, Healing, 67.
9 Francis MacNutt, The Power to Heal (Notre Dame, IN: Ave Maria Press, 2007), 70.
10 Ibid., 67.
11 MacNutt, Healing, 9.
12 Blue, 157.
13 MacNutt, Healing, 79.
14 Ibid., 74-75.
15 Blue, 151.
16 MacNutt, Healing, 108.
17 Blue, 122-123.
18 MacNutt, Power, 32.
19 Blue, 60.
20 MacNutt, Healing, 85.
21 Ibid., 95.
22 Ibid., 103-105.
23 Blue, 114.
24 Ibid., 115.
25 MacNutt, Healing, 161.
26 MacNutt, Power, 55.
27 Ibid., 175.
28 Ibid., 186.
29 MacNutt, Healing, 122.
30 Blue, 120.
31 Ibid., 18.

Edit: For whatever reason, it did not put the little footnote numbers in my paper when copied it over here, so if anyone really wants to know which quote lined up with which endnote, let me know and I can find it.