[The following is an adaption to a rebuttal (what we call, “I Object”) that we issued on Facebook in response to the image shown above.]
Whoever made this message would have to be omniscient, or, have some kind of special revelation from God, not only to know who all the “faith healers” are, but also to know what is going on in the daily life of every “single” one of them. So that’s an easy spot insofar as speculation being made by the claim.
Now, maybe someone will say that the message refers only to the people in the image.
Alright, so let’s work from that angle for a moment:
While it is easier to know what is going on in the lives of eight individuals, than an unknown quantity like with the initial claim, it would still require intimate knowledge to know what these people are doing 24/7. You would either need persons who are with them on a constant basis reporting their activities (back to meme makers?), or possibly cameras everywhere, like some kind of live streaming.
Either way, how the person who made the image came into possession of such information isn’t revealed. So they are either guessing, or the claim is unsubstantiated as it sets.
Still, someone might say that since we haven’t heard about any of these people going to hospitals and laying hands on the sick and dying, this means it never happened. But this would be an argument from silence. To demonstrate the error in such an idea, for the first time in my life I’m going to make a public confession: I listen to dubstep on almost a daily basis. This has been going on even though I never told you guys. If you had assumed that I didn’t, simply because I never said that I did, you would have been wrong.
See? In other words . . .
Something can be true, and you simply be unaware of it. These two concepts are not mutually exclusive. I feel silly pointing this out, but it obviously needed to be said, based on how common these types of messages are.
So, the claim in the image easily falls apart under the slightest amount of scrutiny.
But let’s push a little further because I want to demonstrate a few other ideas that I think deserve to be mentioned.
Let’s assume the message is true. None of these folks went to hospitals to lay hands on the sick and dying. What should be the conclusion to that? The first thing that comes to my mind is . . . Are people even being allowed to be around those who have tested positive for the virus in hospitals?
Seems bizarre and unlikely.
Finally, as mentioned in multiple other rebuttals I’ve issued—-hypocrisy and failure to live up to one’s preaching is by no means exclusive to the people in the image. So even if we assumed (again) they had the opportunity to lay hands on the sick or dying in hospitals and didn’t do it—-this would simply demonstrate that the same type of shortcomings which exist in every other area of Christianity, exist in this one as well.
Ask any Charismatic if they’ve ever seen or experienced the power of God to heal, and the responses are likely to be nearly 100% affirmative. But ask them to provide some kind of documentation for any of these instances, and you’re just as likely to be met with an overwhelming silence.
Is it possible for such a phenomenon to be happening in abundance and yet go undocumented?
By exploring the following variables, we will demonstrate just how easily this could be the case. We’ll also show that as much as some critics would like to claim they’re taking the side of science or logic, the mysterious nature of these factors will demonstrate that both sides of the debate are, in all actuality, predicated on faith.
In order to best understand the format of what you’re about to see below, I’ll use an allegory. Imagine a race track, obstacles, a runner, and a finish line. In this allegory, an authentic divine healing is represented by the runner, the questions we explore are represented by the obstacles that can potentially derail the runner from reaching the finish line, which represents public knowledge and a thorough documentation. In other words, a real healing would have to make it through all of these variables before it can be known, and considered legitimate by the average skeptic.
Let’s start here . . .
Obstacle 1: No Prediagnosis
How many, among those who experienced a divine healing, were never pre-diagnosed? This may be an especially high number in countries where people are too poor to ever see a qualified doctor. Obviously, without a pre-diagnosis, the prospects of a properly documented healing would be low in most cases.
Obstacle 2: A Misdiagnosis
In cases of healings where there has been a diagnosis, how many could be disputed as a misdiagnosis after the fact? Once again, under these circumstances, a legitimate healing would likely not pass a critic’s evaluation.
Obstacle 3: Other Potential Causes for the Healing
How many, among those whose diagnosis is not disputed, were being treated in some way? Obviously, if they were, and recovered, the healing could be attributed to the treatment, or placebo—thus lowering the number of verifiable healings even more.
Obstacle 4: Possibility of Spontaneous Remission
Spontaneous remission is a medically documented phenomenon that has been known to happen for no observable reason. How many doctors have witnessed a genuine healing miracle and instead of calling their local news or shouting it from the rooftops, simply chalked it up to one of these cases? Under these circumstances, we likely would not hear about it.
Obstacle 5: Medical Silence
In his book*, Dr. Scott J. KolbabaI discusses what it is like to be an MD, and the struggle to keep a scientific mind in the face of the miraculous. For this reason, he argues, oftentimes doctors will not talk about the things they’ve seen. How many are sitting on information for fear of ridicule? Under these circumstances, again, we likely would never hear about the healing.
Obstacle 6: The Romans 1:18 Factor
Of those doctors whohave witnessed a divine healing, how many simply are suppressing the truth due to their spiritual enmity with God? We certainly shouldn’t assume it’s zero. Under these circumstances, even more legitimate healings would go undocumented.
Public Access Issues
Obstacle 7: Media Silence
Even if legitimate divine healing cases somehow made it past 1-6, how many would never make it to the public eye because the news media decided not to cover it due to bias, disinterest, or Romans 1:18?
Obstacle 8: Lost Records
Of the cases the media did report, how many can we be aware of today? There’s Google, and YouTube (but even if we assume search engines are not suppressing or manipulating search results)— not everything stays preserved. For example, one of our videos (see above) mentioned a CNN IMPACT story reported back in the 90’s that admitted to documented healings taking place in Benny Hinn meetings. Yet we were unable to find a video of the segment. Only the transcript. In these cases, knowledge of such documentation would be reduced even further.
Obstacle 9: Unwillingness to Publish
Of those who are healed, how many would give permission for their video, and or personal medical information to be shared with the public? In the past, people may have been more willing to do this. Nowadays, with the internet, “Twitter mobs” are making everyone think twice about what they are willing to go public with. Not only are there plenty of secular groups that will jump at the opportunity to attack every single facet of such a story, but there are also believers who literally do this sort of thing full time (onward, Christian soldier).
Lack of Interest Issues
Obstacle 10: Documentation not Prioritized
The majority of people who claim to heal the sick will tell you they have little interest in trying to prove anything to skeptics. Attacks on those who have attempted to provide documentation that meets all the demands of critics in the past may have convinced them that it’s more hassle than it’s worth. Or worse, that it does more harm than good (accusations of fake videos, paid actors, slandering of persons involved etc).
And can anyone really blame them? Consider the instances in Scripture where people mockingly demanded to see a sign, and either did not see any, or ended up unconvinced by one if they did (Matt 12:38-39, 16:1, 27:42, Mk 8:11-12, Luke 23:8, 4:23-27).
This being the case, it comes as little surprise that quite a few ministers simply don’t make documentation a priority.
1. I think it’s worth mentioning that there isn’t a single recorded incident in the Gospels or Acts where the person who performed a healing, sought to have a medical authority to authenticate the miracle, for the purpose of using as a witness later. In other words, it doesn’t seem like Jesus or the apostles were that interested in trying to prove their miracles beyond the initial people who were present.
It’s only recently occurred to me that this attitude may not be entirely separate from what’s required in an environment to cultivate a healing in the first place. Is the faith that, “produces” a miracle, conducive to a mindset that seeks to gather evidence for one? If the answer is no, then that would go a long way in explaining the lack of documentation. People who are trying to convince themselves, or their critics, may become side-tracked from operating in faith and the Spirit. It’s difficult to quantify what effect this mentality could have on the atmosphere required for a supernatural manifestation. The end result possibly being more miracles when there is less focus on documenting them.
2. Both Matthew and Mark record an incident where the unbelief of the people in the city had an effect on Jesus (Mt 13, Mk 6). The Bible says He did not do many mighty works because of their unbelief. But it doesn’t stop there. It goes so far as to say He couldn’t do them. There is a consistent theme throughout Scripture that connects unbelief to a failure to experience the miraculous—which makes one wonder: is there more unbelief in the world today than back then? Jesus Himself asked, “when the Son of Man returns, how many will He find on earth who have faith?” (Lk 18:8 NLT)
What kind of impact does the active unbelief of the world and of Christians today have on this phenomenon?
All these unknown variables taken into consideration, some might say it’s a miracle in itself that we have as much documentation* as we do.
When all is said and done, it would seem that the same pattern we see in Scripture we also see today: those who believe either saw and experienced it firsthand, or they believed the testimony of someone else. A second category consisting of former critics whose demands for evidence were fully met, doesn’t really seem to exist.
And who knows . . . Maybe that’s the way God intended it.
*Physicians’ Untold Stories: Miraculous Experiences Doctors Are Hesitant to Share with Their Patients, or Anyone
The first time I ever prophesied I was about 16 years old. I was part of the leadership for a local youth group and I was invited up on stage to pray one night. While I was praying I heard these words well up on the inside, “If you’ll get real with Me, I will get real with you.” Prophesying is downplayed today, just like the Bible warned against (1Thess 5:20). But those words have stuck with me all these years. I know what God meant when He said that. And it’s that most of us, when you get right down to it, are not really dealing in reality when it comes to our relationship with Him. It’s kind of fake. Kind of imaginary. It just has the feel of one-sidedness. Almost as if deep down, we don’t even really know if we believe there is a God, but we carry on somehow convincing ourselves otherwise.
Some may be offended I’m even saying these things out loud. But I don’t think it does anyone any good to avoid talking about it. After seeing a lot of my friends and family fall away, or fade off into oblivion concerning their Christianity, I think it’s finally time that this be addressed head on:
God feels fake for a lot of us because the majority of Christians have never actually benefited from believing in or serving Him. Now, I understand the churchy cliches’ about how we shouldn’t serve God for our own benefit. Or how we should just be happy that we’re not burning in hell (and we should), but the reality is, there’s a lot the Church has downplayed in this area and it’s been to our own detriment.
God is a Pragmatist
From the very beginning when God first spoke to Abraham it was about giving him land and making him rich (Genesis 12:1). Later, it was the same promise for the Israelites. In fact, God creating Covenant was an introduction to a legal partnership with Israel which involved all kinds of material and observable benefits. If you read in Deuteronomy (chapters 27-28) you see that tangible blessings were God’s way of manifesting His end of the Agreement. The Jews had a palpable way of knowing if they were holding up their end of responsibility.
Then we go to Proverbs and find a book packed full of practical wisdom on how to avoid tragedy, how to stay healthy, live long, and be rich (1:33, 3:15-16, 22:4).
In the New Testament, Jesus is going around manifesting signs and wonders in response to faith in Him (Matt 8:9-13, 9:2, Mk 5:34).
In Acts, when the Jews saw the Gentiles filled with the Holy Ghost and speaking in tongues, they knew He was at work (Acts 10:44-47).
Over and over again, we see observable ramifications due to actual encounters with God.
What am I getting at? God has always expected certain actions from man, and in response, He has promised to act.
In a lot of ways, that makes God a pragmatist.
A pragmatist is someone who is concerned with measurable results. They don’t like being tangled up in ideas that don’t produce definitive outcomes.
On the other end of this spectrum are idealists. Most believers really fall into this category. An idealist likes to be occupied with things that might seem right, or feel right, in theory—even if there is no tangible reality or benefit behind them. We pray. But our prayers are generic. So generic that our culture has begun to switch out praying for someone with the words, “our thoughts are with them.” What does that even mean?! Prayer has become so indistinct and ineffective in our minds that the whole concept has been reduced to little more than an abstract thought.
We witness. But there are no signs or wonders to accompany the message. Instead of the people being filled with fear and awe in the presence of the Living God, they’re filled with dread hoping and wishing that we stop talking so they can get away.
We go to church. But most of us walk away with nothing. When we say, “it was a good service” at best it means it gave us a good feeling. It made us feel nice. At worse, it means we lied and can’t even remember what it was about.
Obviously, there are exceptions to what I’m saying—but by in large, I just described the majority of our experiences. And the truth is, most people are not going to continue down this road forever. People crave substance. They crave real. And you know what? That’s okay because God does too.
What is Normal?
I used to think this was normal until one day someone told me about a guy by the name of, Smith Wigglesworth. I found out that there were multiple reports of people literally being raised from the dead under his ministry.
You know what my response was when I first heard this?
“Was he a witch?!”
Imagine that! Being so programmed to expect so little, that any manifestation of the supernatural, I automatically assumed was from the devil!
Then I began hearing about others. People who essentially just said, “The Bible says it, I believe it, that settles it!” And would live as though the book of Acts never had a conclusion.
And that was when God and I had the talk.
I told God one day (and since then, I’ve told Him this multiple times), “I can’t do this. I can’t live normal. What I’ve experienced can’t be all there is to Christianity. If you’re real—-The same God I read about in the Bible—- then I refuse to settle for average things. I’m not going to put up with it anymore. I want what I read about in this Book. And I won’t accept anything less.”
Some people are afraid to talk that way to God. But I was just being 100% honest.
Then things began to happen:
Crazy answers to prayer.
Even supernatural knowledge of events before they took place.
It all starts with what you’re willing to be satisfied with. Don’t be afraid to get painfully—-brutally honest with God. This was all His idea anyway. He is the one who brought up healing. He’s the one that brought up miraculous answers to prayer. He’s the one that told us to expect and believe for the fantastic. It’s time to get real with God.
Even after two thousand years of attempting to adjust to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, the Church still finds the literal life and ministry of Jesus Christ too extreme to follow (or even teach).
Initially, none sound too radical—so long as they stay on the pages of the Bible (you know . . . where they belong). But strip your mind of the fairy tale-type mentalities that surround them. Imagine these literally happening today—-in your church on a Sunday morning. What I think you will realize is that when we remove centuries of caked on commentary, and religious jargon, it quickly becomes apparent that there is little place for the Jesus of the Gospels in our churches. In many ways, He was and is everything the modern Christian disdains.
Don’t believe me?
Have a look 🙂
1. He both taught, and demonstrated speaking to inanimate objects to make them obey you (Matt 21:20-21).
Theologians can explain it away all day (and they do). If there were any doubt about what Jesus was referring to when He told His disciples to talk to mountains, the preceeding verses remove it. When read in context, we see Jesus had just spoken to a real tree, and says “not only will you be able to do what was done to the tree but if you say to this mountain . . . ”
2. He taught 100% success in prayer (Matt 7:7, Matt 21:22, John 16:24).
This was before the days of, “sometimes God says yes, sometimes He says no, sometimes He says wait a while.”
The idea of not receiving what you ask in prayer is completely foreign to the life and teachings of Jesus.
He also rejected weird religious idioms that still surround the concepts of prayer today. Such as the genie mentality that claims if you ask God for something, you can never truly be sure what to expect (Matt 7:8-11). He may give it to you . . .
. . . Or He may decide to kill you instead.
And if you think that is an exaggeration of what many mainstream churches are teaching—–I truly wish it were!
3. He made, “cruel and heartless” statements in times of tragedy that connected sin to physical calamity (Luke 13:4-5).
Jesus uses a recent accident in which 18 people were killed by a falling tower, and warned that unless there was repentance, more would perish. Young’s Literal Translation says they would perish in like manner. He also told a man who had been crippled for 38 years to stop sinning otherwise a worse thing would happen to him.
4. He scolded His disciples for not being able to perform a miracle (Matt 17:15-20)
A man’s son is suffering from seizures. The disciples try, but are unable to help him. Upon seeing this, Jesus could have said something like, “It’s okay guys, you’re only human. I shouldn’t expect so much from you. The reason it didn’t work was because it was all part of God’s sovereign plan. He has decided to use the suffering of this child for His glory.“—Let’s be honest—- if it were 21st century jesus, that’s what it would have sounded like.
Instead of such comforting strokes that we so often hear in times of hopelessness and unanswered prayers, Jesus straight-up rebukes His followers. “You perverse and twisted generation! How long do I have to put up with you!?” (punctuation added).
5. He said the devil was behind disability (Lk 13:11-16, Mk 9:25).
In a world where God and Satan have apparently switched jobs (now a days God is blamed for sickness and disease) man, oh man would Christians get their panties in a bunch over such a claim. And it wouldn’t even need to happen on multiple occasions. Just once and someone would catch it on video or audio, and it would be thrown onto YouTube where it would then be devoured by ravenous Christians who confess to believe in the supernatural, so long as nobody actually takes it seriously.
6. He emphasized faith for miracles (Mark 11:23-24).
And no, it was not some general faith in God as sovereign, or that it’s, “all in His hands.”
No. It was purposeful, specific faith in the desired outcome. Contrary to popular opinion, Jesus very seldom (and one could argue—never) spoke about faith in God when it came to answered prayers. (We discussed this lie in a recent article.)
On another occasion He even said to a person, “your faith has healed you.”
“Blasphemy! Faith doesn’t heal anyone. God does!”
7. Most of His teachings on prayer were centered around how to get things (Mark 11:24 John 16:24)
He didn’t talk about how we are supposed to spend hours, “listening” for God’s voice in prayer (although I think we should). And He didn’t talk about how we should spend more time just thanking God in prayer (although I think we should.)
Now a days, all of us are trying to downplay asking God for things. Always coming up for reasons why prayers aren’t answered. How He isn’t a, “Cosmic Bellhop” etc etc. . . And yet—–When we actually read the accounts, we seethat time and time again, Jesus is teaching us how to get what we need, and even what we desire by prayer. And He does it unabashedly and with great frankness.
Christians are touting that the greatest compromise of the Church today is a spineless, watered down Gospel. Instead of telling people about the dangers of sin and impending judgement, we talk about how to achieve success and happiness with the help of God. Instead of calling on the sinner to repent, we simply say, “Jesus loves you and has a plan for your life.”
There’s no lack of critics for ministers like Joel Osteen or, “seeker sensitive” churches that, “fail” to present the Word of God in it’s entirety. The great outcry has been for a return to a preaching as seen in the New Testament demonstrated by Jesus and the apostles.
Yet when we raise the question about another missing aspect in modern evangelism, the silence is deafening:
What about the signs and wonders?
The Church, by in large, has not earned the right to preach fire and brimstone like we see preached in the Bible. Why? Because we are not backing it up with the miraculous like we see in the Bible. We go on and on about how necessary it is that we stay biblically accurate in our preaching yet we ignore that the biblical presentation nearly always had signs following the message.
Think about it. Miracles and healings are what set the stage for the Gospel to be preached. It gave Christians a platform. It set them apart from other religions that only had words. This is what’s missing in our modern attempts to preach the same message they did. We have not shown ourselves to be an authority on the issue. We want people to listen but we don’t give them any reason to.
“Well, the Gospel itself is the power of God. We have the Holy Spirit as our authority.”
Cop-out. The early church had both the Holy Spirit and the Gospel too yet it didn’t stop there. Are we saying that we don’t need something that was so central in the ministry of Jesus and His apostles?
Drawing Attention to Ourselves
People want to criticize me for talking like this because they say we shouldn’t be focusing on signs. I’m not focusing on signs. I’m focusing on preaching the Gospel in the manner the Bible says it should be preached.
“Healings and miracles will only draw attention to yourself.”
Yes! That is EXACTLY what needs to happen.
F.F. Bosworth used to say that healing is the dinner bell. The sinner is no different today than he was 2000 years ago. He will be drawn to the extraordinary and consider the Message like never before when it is confirmed. Christians are the sign post that points to Christ. But people only pay attention to sign posts that are backed by authority.
Does the Bible Really Say It?
Some argue that the bottom line is we are commanded to preach the Gospel in it’s entirety and we have failed to do so.
I know this may throw a huge theological monkey wrench into our previously tidy doctrine but . . . Where does the Bible even tell the average Christian to preach the Gospel?
“In the Great Commission! Right before Jesus left He told us to go into all the world and preach it.”
No, He told His apostles that. If we want to take what He told them and apply it to us, I’m all for it—as long as we are consistent.
Matthew 10:5-8 “These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying . . . go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand. Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give.”
See, if you want to run with the big boys and wear the big boy pants, you better have the underwear.
Otherwise, maybe we should stop criticizing Christians for spreading the message about Jesus in their own way. The, “watered down” and, “compromised” Gospel is often just an unconscious recognition that we’re missing something. I don’t think most of us are even able to pinpoint what it is, but we notice it’s missing and we’re trying to compensate for it.
Then there are those who ignore this aspect of the Bible, go out anyway and try to preach like the apostles—And fall flat on their faces. They can’t grab the attention of the sinner like the men of God in the Bible did and instead end up sounding like raving lunatics that people avoid. Then they blame the unbeliever and say, “these people have closed their ears and hardened their hearts just like they did in Jesus’ time . . .” Here’s another thought– maybe they haven’t closed their ears or hardened their hearts. Maybe they’re just tired of hearing a bunch of talk and are wondering what sets our message apart from any other religion.
Be Ready to Give an Answer, Not Necessarily a Sermon
Does that mean we are not supposed to tell people about Jesus? Of course not. Christians are exhorted to always be ready to give an answer for the hope that is in them. That is a broad statement though. It does not say, “be ready to tell people about how sinful they are, the wrath of God, and genuine repentance.” Don’t get me wrong, that may be the answer some Christians have to the question (although it seems a bit forced), but it is definitely not a command to lay it out that way. We are demanding things of one another that God does not demand.
There is definitely a place and time that the sinner should know the whole truth, but since the Scriptures do not specifically tell us WHEN or WHERE then we all individually must rely on the Holy Spirit to guide us in this area.
As for the fire and brimstone preaching, I believe it is needed. But it must be presented in a manner of power and authority as we see in the Scriptures otherwise people will just tune you out. Unfortunately, the spiritual nursery is running at full capacity in this area and no one wants to give up their bottle.
So until we are willing to look in the mirror and admit we have already compromised the biblical presentation of the Gospel, then we’ll just have to make due with a watered down one.