For starters, I’ve always found it fascinating that the folks who claim these ideas are cruel, are often the same ones who claim these, “faith healers” exist because people have “itching ears.”
I mean, it’s not exactly a feel-good message being talked about here, is it? Who would ever seek out a preacher to tell them such a thing?
. . . But I guess that’s what’s going on?
Anyway, before delving into whether or not these claims are, “lies” I want to address the “cruel” aspect. Because I suspect that in many cases, this is the real issue people are having with the ideology. Could it be that our perception of such ideas as being cruel has led to our conclusion that they must, therefore, be lies?
Emotionally charged topics have been known to cloud one’s judgment.
So maybe before attempting to evaluate the subject at hand, it would help to step back and do some introspection first. Ask ourselves if we are allowing our disdain for these concepts to either keep us from looking more into them or poisoning the investigation if we do.
A Little Perspective
Obviously, the answers to such questions are going to vary from person to person. But allow me to inject a little bit of perspective here that I think might be helpful in removing some of the potential bias:
Which is worse? To be in a wheelchair your entire life, or to burn for all eternity in hell? The latter, right? Yet Christians will say that those who go to hell, go there for nearly the same reasons these, “faith healers” purportedly are giving for when a person isn’t healed: unbelief.
Think about that for a moment.
So when it comes to evaluating concepts that, on the surface, seem cruel or unusual, it may help to remind ourselves that if we’re truly Bible-believing Christians, we already subscribe to extremely uncomfortable ideologies.
But it doesn’t stop with orthodox Christianity. We could explore more naturally occurring travesties to further this point as well. How about all the children who died from polio before the vaccine? Do you mean to tell me that all those innocent people who suffered tragic deaths could have been saved if a vaccine had been discovered earlier? That they were simply born at the wrong time in history? What about people who forgot to put their seatbelts on before a deadly car accident? How inhumane is it to actually look their loved ones in the eye and tell them that a simple oversight led to such a disastrous end?
And yet, these things remain true, nonetheless.
The bottom line is that we live in a world of cruel, unfortunate realities. Concepts which are by no means constrained within the sermons of ministers we don’t like. And very often, they’re directly related to and even caused by, us. This being the case, merely pointing to the emotional difficulty induced by certain ideas not only doesn’t make them untrue, it arguably makes them more congruent with these realities.
With that backdrop in place, hopefully, we can now proceed in the evaluation process with a little more clarity of mind and conscience.
The next step is to ensure this isn’t a straw man being put forth by the quote. Because, while I think I’m familiar with the type of teaching being referred to in the message, not all ministers subscribe to it. For example, Curry Blake is considered by many to be the world’s foremost authority on divine healing and yet he teaches that, according to Mark 16, and James 5, it’s the one praying/laying hands that are supposed to believe. The recipient bears no other responsibility than to simply make themselves available for prayer. Kenneth E. Hagin would say that he never blamed the sick who fail to be healed. He blamed himself for not teaching them properly.
There are also other causes often mentioned for why a person may fail to be healed. For example, in his book, Christ the Healer, F.F. Bosworth has a chapter that explores 22 reasons a person may fail to receive healing from Christ.
So I think we need to be careful not to paint with such a broad brush on this issue.
So . . . Is it True?
Now comes the big question: are people who fail to be healed guilty of a lack of faith, sinful unbelief, or a negative confession?
Well, truth is, the Bible doesn’t answer this question one way or the other. There is no passage that says, “when someone isn’t healed it is because of XYZ” and there is no passage that says, “when someone isn’t healed, it is not because of XYZ.”
So neither are falsifiable claims.
However, the kind of ideology being attacked in the quote doesn’t come out of thin air. You may be surprised to know just how much the Bible does indeed connect faith to things like healing and miracles.
Let’s take a look at a few instances:
Mark 11:23 mentions believing as well as confessing in order to move the mountain.
Mark 11:24 talks about believing you receive, in order to get answers to prayer.
Mark 9:23 goes so far as to say ALL THINGS are possible to the one who believes.
We also see these laws in action in multiple instances throughout the Gospels.
For example, in Matthew 8 there is the account of the Centurion who confessed that by Jesus simply speaking a word, his servant would be healed. The Bible says that Jesus intended to go and heal the servant but upon hearing the Centurion’s confession, marveled at his faith. And instead the servant was healed without having Jesus present, just like the Centurion confessed he would be.
A similar thing happened with the woman with the issue of blood whose faith, Jesus said, healed her (Mark 5).
Even in the Old Testament, Joshua and Caleb believed and confessed that they could slay the giants and take Canaan. And they did. The other Israelites believed and confessed they would die in the wilderness. And they did (Numbers 14).
I could keep going, but hopefully, you get the general idea.
Now, Jesus does not and cannot lie. If you do what He said, you’ll have what He said you would have.
This is a fact.
So I suspect the thought process outlined in the quote—-however rudely stated—-is a result of simple deductive reasoning based on the aforementioned Scriptures.
We use this kind of logic all the time not only in everyday life but when it comes to deriving important theological truths as well.
To hearken back to an example from earlier:
The Bible says if you repent and believe on Christ, you will be saved.
Person X is not saved.
Therefore, Person X did not repent and believe on Christ.
We could flip it and say:
The Bible says if you repent and believe on Christ, you will be saved.
Person X repented and believes on Christ
Therefore, Person X is saved.
Thus, the logic being implemented in the quote goes like this:
The Bible says if you believe, you will receive answers to your prayers.
Person X did not receive an answer.
Therefore Person X did not believe.
So while many may disagree with the conclusion, the type of logic used is hardly outside the norm for how we typically process information.
Personally, I don’t even think you need the conclusion. Folks are smart enough to figure that part out on their own. Instead, we can just stay with what the Word of God says and leave it at that: whatever you desire, when you pray, believe that you receive it and YOU WILL have it (Mark 11:24).
Obviously, this discussion lends itself to much broader topics such as whether or not it is always God’s will to heal. Check out our FAQ on the topic for more information.
Separating the Emotion from the Analysis