Notes from a Faith Healing Meeting

 

I went to a healing meeting with my wife and it was as atrocious as I expected.  Nevertheless, I was happy to be there because it beat sitting home alone on a Friday night with a wide-open internet.

I don’t have a particular dog in the fight around the theology of healing.  I’ve heard the stories of the near-death woman over whom the church gathered for intercession and there she is now singing in the choir.  And I’ve heard stories that went the other way.  I can’t argue with someone’s experience.

Further, I would never fault a person for grasping at any kind of hope in times of distress and uncertainty.  Recently a young boy had a dreadful accident and was near death.  I received frantic emails and texts that it was now time for the church to rally and pray in order to see a miracle.  A special service at a local faith-healing church was quickly organized.

When the boy died, there was another glowing email stating that the prayer indeed was answered because in death, we get absolute healing.  This is not the time, of course, to point out the dubious sleight-of-hand language trick or duplicity in logic.  One must quietly listen and let the family work out their grief in their own way.

Nevertheless, this was just another example of a pattern I have seen repeated over and over again and it goes like this:  If you do x, then God will do y.  Over my fifty-year travels in the Evangelical world (and some travels into nearby religious neighborhoods) I have seen different versions of this pattern.

  • If you wait upon the Lord with all your heart, you will receive the power of the Holy Spirit.
  • If you fully die to yourself and give yourself completely to God, you will begin to live above the plain experiencing the abundant life of Christ.
  • If you become a totally broken vessel, then God will use you in powerful ways.
  • If you totally and fully repent, you will be free of that nasty sin that keeps bringing you down and live in Christian perfection.
  • If you and your church travail in prayer, God will send revival.
  • If you truly have faith, then God will heal.

Even looking across the street at the rosary, a beautiful Catholic tool to meditate on several points of the gospel, one will eventually stumble upon a website where it is clearly stated that if you pray the rosary for 40 days, Mary will make sure your prayer intention gets answered.  If you do x, then God will do y.

The healing meeting I attended with my wife was yet another version of this Christian once-for-all Triumphalism—if you do x and then God will do y bringing you triumphantly into a new state of being.  The leader maintained that the biggest crisis and problem we are facing in the church today is that we are unaware of “who we are in Christ”.  What he meant by this is the teaching that believing in Christ identifies the believer with Christ to the extent that what happened to Christ is efficacious to the believer and, in turn, God works through the believer as if the believer were Christ.

If we master this belief and make it our own, then God would respond and in this new state of being, physical healing would be spontaneous and automatic.  He went on to pepper his talk with examples of random encounters he had with people in airports and restaurants and shops who had miraculous results because he brushed by with his head and heart aligned with who he is in Christ.

This is all well and good, of course, as long as one holds it in a theoretical way as was evident by the serene smiles and affirming nods of the message-friendly audience who had no intention of rushing out as community faith healers after the meeting.  I as well thought his stories funny and entertaining in the same way watching the Mighty Ducks miraculously beat the sinister, black-uniformed, Russian-accented, Icelandic team makes for a feel-good evening.

But there were people at that meeting who were really sick.  In front of me was a woman with cancer kneeling in desperation as people around her put their hands on her and began to make demonstrative prayers ordering the cancer to leave.  To my left was a noisy, disruptive, Down Syndrome child and the mother who cared for her with similar intercession.  Interspersed in these spontaneous groups of prayer was a pastor from another healing meeting who walked around asking people about their shoulder pain.  He seemed to have some success when praying for someone with a shoulder pain of “eight” when his intercession reduced it down to a “three” – whatever eight or three means at any given moment.

I hope God really healed them.  I hope God heals everybody.  But if this “if I do x then God does y” scenario being taught really worked and children’s hospitals were being emptied and patients were rising from their cancer beds to return to work, you would think it would turn heads and make the news like it did in Jesus’ day.

I wondered about the woman in front of me with cancer if her husband would one day be speaking at her funeral saying that the prayers were answered because his wife is now completely healed in heaven.  I wondered if the mother of the Down Syndrome child would one day crack overwhelmed by the prospect of taking care of a special needs child for the rest of her life, toss her Bible in the trash, and say, “to hell with it.”

Some weeks later, I talked to a friend who attended the healing meeting.  He and his wife attended the whole weekend while I opted to work in the yard on Saturday and go to my own church on Sunday.  He said that Friday night was good but Saturday afternoon was even better.  It was tremendous.

I wondered what he meant by that.  Did he mean that the speaker’s method of effective ministry took hold of my friend’s heart with such clarity and vision that he began to live a life of proclaiming God’s kingdom of definitive power and resurrection?  I knew my friend and his sedate lifestyle enough to not bother asking.  He simply liked the stories told Saturday night better.

Religion in general, and Christianity in particular, teaches us to pray.  It isn’t always clear why but the directive is unambiguous.  Leave it to us moderns, to turn it into something where we control God.  We can split the atom, after all, and create complex, self-driving cars.  Certainly, we can puzzle out the right formula to get exactly what we want in prayer.  There has to be a cause and effect somewhere.  There has to be an x I can do in order to obtain y.

The best advice concerning prayer I can give at this juncture is to ask God for wisdom that each day and moment, we may understand what His will is and be inspired to do the next right thing.  We pray that God gives us the strength to do the things he expects and what our responsibilities demand with an attitude of humility and trust.  We relinquish sin and resentment and fear replacing it with gratitude and acceptance.  We pray for others, holding the results with hope and expectation but loosely in order to gain a greater empathy and compassion for the needs of others.

And if in God’s wisdom and providence it happens that a miracle is to occur, it will find us.

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  1. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    Trying to reduce any relationship to a formula is likely to result in problems. Especially an intimate relationship. That doesn’t mean, of course, that there aren’t any good guidelines as to how we should treat and speak to others. 

    • #1
  2. Jim McConnell Member
    Jim McConnell
    @JimMcConnell

    I agree completely with the last two paragraphs of the OP. 

    • #2
  3. She Member
    She
    @She

    The words of the most-recited prayer in Christendom say something about “Thy Will be done.”  While hewing to that belief on one’s own part is sometimes a very hard lift, the alternative–a relationship with God in which we continually ask for specific outcomes or bargain for what we want, and what we’ll do in order to get it, versus what He Wills, is a recipe for either eventual unhappiness, or–as at pointed out in the OP–sneaky needle-threading in which we pretend that the outcome, whatever it was was the best thing to happen anyway.  Neither of those poses, I think, represents the faithful Christian viewpoint.

    In popular culture, and as portrayed in the movie Amadeus, I think the sour-faced Salieri is representative of the Christian who’s lost the plot.  Wolfgang “Love of God” Mozart, selfish vulgarian that he is, often seems to have much grace in and about him.

    Nothing makes me more uncomfortable than the vocal Christian who insists that his prayer for a man’s recovery was answered, and that next day, the man rose from his deathbead and walked out of the hospital, when it’s pretty clear that hubris is playing more of a role in the telling than humility and faith.  It’s a sad and indivious commentary on the person himself, and a false beacon to those he’s reeled into his narrative, whether they be Christian or not.

    David B. Sable:

    Religion in general and Christianity in particular teaches us to pray.  It isn’t always clear why but the directive is unambiguous.  Leave it to us moderns, to turn it into something where we control God.  We can split the atom, after all, and create complex, self-driving cars.  Certainly we can puzzle out the right formula to get exactly what we want in prayer.  There has to be a cause and effect somewhere.  There has to be an x I can do in order to obtain y.

    The best advise concerning prayer I can give at this juncture, is to ask God for wisdom that each day and moment, we may understand what His will is and be inspired to do the next right thing.  We pray that God gives us the strength to do the things he expects and what our responsibilities demand with an attitude of humility and trust.  We relinquish sin and resentment and fear replacing it with gratitude and acceptance.  We pray for others, holding the results with hope and expectation but loosely in order to gain a greater empathy and compassion for the needs of others.

    And if in God’s wisdom and providence it happens that a miracle is to occur, it will find us

    Amen.

    I speak as someone who believes she’s seen at least one actual miracle in her life.

    Thanks for this glorious post.

    • #3
  4. CarolJoy, Not So Easy To Kill Coolidge
    CarolJoy, Not So Easy To Kill
    @CarolJoy

    I attended such a meeting in 1975 when I was pregnant. A friend thought I could approach the healing minister whose service it was, and ask for the Divine to guide me thru a healthy pregnancy.

    But the minister had such a frantic, rather Alex Jones’ style of delivery I found it hard to remain in the building til the event was concluded.

    I do believe in prayer, and have several stories of people who have received a new lease on life after their church group did novenas to help them. One such miracle was my young cousin Kathy. Her kidneys were malformed and caused her many problems from age 2 to age 6. At age 6 her family was told she would not see her tenth birthday.

    Instead hundreds of people prayed off and on for months, and by age 8 whatever was wrong with her kidneys had righted itself. (Not to dismiss the good work doctors handled in keeping her alive along the way.)

    • #4
  5. HeavyWater Inactive
    HeavyWater
    @HeavyWater

    This reminds me of chapter 4 of Matthew, the temptation of Jesus.  

    NRSV Matthew 4:5-7

    Then the devil took him to the holy city and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, 6 saying to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down; for it is written,

    ‘He will command his angels concerning you,’
    and ‘On their hands they will bear you up,
    so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.’”

    Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”

    This is the problem, as I see it.  People have created a theology that isn’t falsifiable.  

    It’s a bit like Carl Sagan’s dragon.  Your neighbor tells you that he has a pet dragon in his garage.  You ask him to take you to his garage.  He takes you there but you don’t see any dragon.  Just an empty garage.  

    Your neighbor says his dragon is an invisible dragon.  So, you say, “Let’s take the temperature of the garage.”  But your neighbor counters that this dragon is not a fire breathing dragon, but rather a dragon that breathes at the surrounding temperature. 

    So, you say, “Let’s put lot of paint all over the floor of the garage so that we can see the dragon’s footprints.”  But your neighbor says that the dragon floats above the ground. 

    Eventually you realize that there isn’t much difference between your neighbor’s dragon existing and no dragon at all.

    • #5
  6. Skyler Coolidge
    Skyler
    @Skyler

    Bravery.  Not even I would attempt to discuss this topic.

    • #6
  7. OkieSailor Member
    OkieSailor
    @OkieSailor

    David B. Sable: Leave it to us moderns, to turn it into something where we control God. 

    If God is bound by my prayers then I am greater than God, obviously not so. If I can fully understand God then I am intellectually superior, again obviously not so.
    The foundational fallacies are manifold but the real problem is the same one Satan had before the creation of the world when he said, “I will ascend to the Most High.” We wish to be God. There is only room for One.

    Great post and very thoughtful, thank you for being brave and secure enough to write and publish it.

    • #7
  8. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    Christian theology does not teach God is a vending machine. That is for pagan faiths. Christianity is far more radical than that.

    Prosperity gospel is losing the plot.

    God does what God does. We are not able to bind Him.

    It is one of the reasons I have faith. 

    • #8
  9. Scott R Member
    Scott R
    @ScottR

    “Through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.” Phil. 4:6

    I’ve found that’s about as good as it gets to set my mind in the right state to live with gratitude, work through my own problems, and ease my worry enough to get to sleep at night.

    Yet my wife and I will get sick and die sometime before 2050 or so, if some other calamity doesn’t get us first. Very much doubt there’s much point in praying for an exemption from the human condition.

    • #9
  10. Mad Gerald Lincoln
    Mad Gerald
    @Jose

    Part of our lesson this morning included 1 Thess 2:18.

    Paul wanted to visit the church in Thessolinica, writing For we wanted to come to you–I, Paul, more than once–and yet Satan hindered us.

    Paul was prevented from his mission of evangelism by Satan.  God allowed it. 

    Sometimes the answer to our prayer is “no”.

    • #10
  11. Lawst N. Thawt Coolidge
    Lawst N. Thawt
    @LawstNThawt

    I wasn’t sure where you were going with the post but seems to have wound to the point it makes sense to me, for whatever that’s worth.   

    Prayer is something I have studied on and off.  I have a separate notebook for bits and pieces related to prayer that I come across when reading.  

    I think it is entirely possible for a person who believes they can do so to throw a tree or a mountain into the sea.  Along the same lines, I think it is incredibly hard for a person to believe they can toss mountains and trees about.  Stepping partly away from theology (but maybe not) for a moment, the human mind is an incredibly capable mush of wonder.  Modern medicine seems to be recognizing this more than in previous decades.  We have plenty of evidence of the benefits of a positive atmosphere for healing.  What else does this positive atmosphere do, except reinforce the belief?

    The flip side of positive thoughts healing is the negative thoughts that promote illness.  How many times have we heard of someone who felt fine, a routine checkup finds they have terminal something and a few weeks later, they have died?

     

     

    • #11
  12. CACrabtree Coolidge
    CACrabtree
    @CACrabtree

    Skyler (View Comment):

    Bravery. Not even I would attempt to discuss this topic.

    Yeah, after Oral Roberts and Ernest Angley, I don’t know of many people who want to talk about it.

    • #12
  13. JoshuaFinch Coolidge
    JoshuaFinch
    @JoshuaFinch

    The ingathering of the Jewish people in the Land of Israel is proof positive that prayer works.

    Ever since they were exiled from the Land of Israel by the Romans 2,000 years ago, Jews prayed three times a day for God to return them to Zion.

    Yes, there was Jewish activity on the ground to make it happen, as in God helps those who help themselves. But without those daily prayers, expressing the deepest longing of the Jewish heart, a return to the land would never have happened.

    • #13
  14. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western Chauvinist
    @WesternChauvinist

    I have a prayer card in my Magnificat (abbreviated liturgy of the hours with daily meditations and lives of the saints) for The Surrender Novena. It’s my intent (y’all know how that works out) to pray it every day using Day 1 for calendar days 1, 11, 21, 31, Day 2 for calendar days 2, 12, 22, etc. . . (on the zeroes I pick a Day at random). I learned this method from a friend who was a malade on our pilgrimage to Lourdes with the Order of Malta (my daughter, Little Miss Anthrope, was a malade for her condition and I was her companion).

    And, it gets to the point of this post exactly. It is God talking to us about how we pray all wrong, as if He’s a cosmic butler, and how He really wants us trust Him. It is an act of faith to say, “you take care of everything!,” and mean it, knowing that doesn’t exempt you from suffering, nor does it mean He’s unable to work all things to the good. Here’s a sample (Day 5, which I prayed at adoration this morning):

    And when I must lead you on a path different from the one you see, I will prepare you; I will carry you in My arms; I will let you find yourself, like children who have fallen asleep in their mother’s arms, on the other bank of the river. What troubles you and hurts you immensely are your reason, your thoughts, and worry, and your desire at all costs to deal with what afflicts you

    O Jesus, I surrender myself to You, take care of everything! (10 times)

    There are healing miracles that take place at Lourdes at the invitation of Our Lady, both physical and spiritual. I don’t think LMA received either kind. In fact, she had a second recurrence of her brain tumor the year after we returned. But, sometimes the graces you’ve been given aren’t all that obvious at first. And we can never know what we’ve been spared, at least until we see more clearly from an eternal perch.

    Mary is a great exemplar of prayer: state the need (they have no wine) and let Jesus take it from there. Just do whatever He tells you. 

    • #14
  15. Charles D Chrisman Coolidge
    Charles D Chrisman
    @Charles D Chrisman

    JoshuaFinch (View Comment):

    The ingathering of the Jewish people in the Land of Israel is proof positive that prayer works.

    Ever since they were exiled from the Land of Israel by the Romans 2,000 years ago, Jews prayed three times a day for God to return them to Zion.

    Yes, there was Jewish activity on the ground to make it happen, as in God helps those who help themselves. But without those daily prayers, expressing the deepest longing of the Jewish heart, a return to the land would never have happened.

    Forgive me, but I would disagree with you in the finer point that “prayer” brought about the restoration of Israel to it’s historic land and language.  When ha Shem made what we call the “Abrahamic covenant”, He made that covenant with Himself, not Abraham.  Abraham was the beneficiary, to be sure, but did not participate in the making of it.  While our desire to see it, our joy in seeing it is something for thanks in prayer, our prayer has no effect on what He purposed from the beginning, the ownership by Israel for the land in ultimate obedience to Him. It neither hastens nor slows what He does.

     

    In the book of Zechariah, there’s an interesting series of names:  “Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, son of Iddo”.

    Zechariah:  God remembers

    Berechiah:  God blesses

    Iddo: In His time

     

    “In His time”.  Prayer is “the breathing of the soul towards God” in my view.  It is our expiration of His causing us to inspirate His Spirit.  When we are His, it is our nature to pray, to talk to Him.  It is our joy when He speaks in return to us, through circumstance or His Word, bringing us the knowledge that He is Good and may be trusted even when we doubt. When He is ready, we receive the goodness of His will. That doesn’t mean that we don’t talk to Him in the meantime

    • #15
  16. Charles D Chrisman Coolidge
    Charles D Chrisman
    @Charles D Chrisman

    @ Dave  Thank you my brother for your love and friendship these many years.  One more well written article.

     

    I think “I wondered about the woman in front of me with cancer if her husband would one day be speaking at her funeral saying that the prayers were answered because his wife is now completely healed in heaven.” touched me greatly today.  I am that man and today is the 4th anniversary of when my wife was healed.  Pardon me as I wipe my face.

    It never occurred to either of us to pray for physical healing, a thing which would have been a spectacular miracle in that she died 4 weeks after we even were aware of her cancer.  The year before she was expecting me to die of an undiscovered heart defect from birth, sitting in my hospital room and with tears pour down her cheeks, she told me ” I will not beg God for your life”.  I knew what she meant. I told her that my prayer for her was that she die before me.  She knew what I meant.  God did what He chose to do with those who belonged to Him. When she knew she was dying, she did her best to bless those around her with what time she had left here, even to the point of the day she was to have a biopsy done.  She went with the nurse and returned quickly. They couldn’t do the biopsy because she was so far gone that she would have bled to death right then.  The nurse was in tears as they came back and my wife was comforting her.

     

    There is one unequivocal thing we are supposed to pray:  “In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.”  It is His will that we give thanks.  You don’t have to like that for which you give thanks.  Even Jesus said in His humanity, “let this cup pass from Me, never the less, not My will, but Yours”.  It is a discipline of hope, acknowledging evil in life, yet great expectation and hope for Life Himself, living in His presence finally.  That’s where my love has gone.  She now lives with Love Himself and I have nothing to offer her to come back.  But I shall go to them.

     

    His will is not onerous, it is life, eternal, personal Life.  When we pray, that’s what we should focus on in all things.  He is beyond mere worthiness of our thanks.  He is the Hope of all we could really want, the satisfaction of all good desires.  That’s where our prayer should take us, not the small, temporary desires of this life.

    In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus. Worthy is the Lamb!

     

    Thanks again Dave!

    • #16
  17. Charles D Chrisman Coolidge
    Charles D Chrisman
    @Charles D Chrisman

    @HeavyWater

    “This is the problem, as I see it. People have created a theology that isn’t falsifiable.”

    While I understand your desire for falsifiability, it seems essentially that what you ask for is “proof” in the sense of a chain of evidence which points inexorably to one possible conclusion which is forced on all.  This really doesn’t work from either an anthropocentric POV or a theocentric POV.  Such “proof”, like art, is in the eye of the beholder, frustrating as it may be time to time.  All people believe.  All come to the table with bias, with prior assumptions upon which they frame their understanding of evidence and the logical conclusions which may arise from it.  This is the anthropocentric POV: imperfect and incomplete background knowledge interpreting insufficient perceptions.  We’d call it “a best guess” hypothesis/theory”.

     

    On the other hand, the theocentric POV is dependent on there being a “Theos” existing to have such a POV.  Should God exist, particularly one who is both transcendent and imminent, no anthropocentric POV could or would really touch on Him.  He would have to reveal Himself in part to men and “proving Himself” wouldn’t be possible as a result.  Carl Sagan thought of too small a god, a “dragon” which could be contained in a garage, but not the Dragon which holds the universe in one claw.  How would such a Dragon leave “footprints” in a garage?

    Here’s what Nebuchadnezzar said of this Dragon: 

    “But at the end of [that period, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High and praised and honored Him who lives forever;

    For His dominion is an everlasting dominion,
    And His kingdom endures from generation to generation.
    All the inhabitants of the earth are of no account,
    But He does according to His will among the army of heaven
    And among the inhabitants of earth;
    And no one can fend off His hand
    Or say to Him, ‘What have You done?’ “

    Daniel 4, my favorite chapter in the Bible.

    • #17
  18. GrannyDude Member
    GrannyDude
    @GrannyDude

    I would be so interested to know what you make of this book? https://www.amazon.com/Beginners-Grace-Bringing-Prayer-Life/dp/1439184275/ref=sr_1_1?crid=34LXDDWWP8SIR&keywords=Beginner%27s+Grace&qid=1641849068&sprefix=beginner%27s+grace%2Caps%2C68&sr=8-1

     

    Weirdly, after this book came out, I was interviewed by Dr. Oz.

    I had no idea who he was at the time, but my agent seemed excited about it, so we set a time and Dr. Oz called me up at home. I remember this vividly because it seemed so funny (and so efficient!)  to be interviewed and simultaneously empty the dishwasher…while not having to fuss with clothes or have someone put make up on my face, as would happen for a tv interview. But I also recall that he clearly wanted me to make a claim for the healing power of prayer.  I think my agent sorta wished I’d expressed more faith in the vending-machine God too, if only because it might’ve boosted sales?

    Anyway, I wouldn’t.   The most I would say is that, in my own times of grief and trouble, the knowledge that others are praying for me or have prayed for me, or might pray for me if I asked…provided me more comfort and strength than, to my own skeptical mind, it ought to have.   

     

    • #18
  19. HeavyWater Inactive
    HeavyWater
    @HeavyWater

    Charles D Chrisman (View Comment):

    @ HeavyWater

    “This is the problem, as I see it. People have created a theology that isn’t falsifiable.”

    While I understand your desire for falsifiability, it seems essentially that what you ask for is “proof” in the sense of a chain of evidence which points inexorably to one possible conclusion which is forced on all.

    Imagine if I told you that I had lunch on the moon and had dinner here in my home in Indiana.  I suppose one can’t rule out that this did, in fact, happen.  But it seems to go against what we think of as likely or even  possible.  You might think that I am delusional as I tell you my “I had lunch on the moon and was back home before dinner” story or you might think I am lying.  But then again, if one has watched enough Star Trek, my story might be believable.  

    With any given “story,” some people believe it and some people don’t.  

    • #19
  20. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    There is no way to prove God exists to everyone. That is because there is no level of evidence that cannot be explained away as not God by a determined mind.

    The Bible is full of people who had actual miracles in front of them for whom that was not enough.  

    • #20
  21. JoshuaFinch Coolidge
    JoshuaFinch
    @JoshuaFinch

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    There is no way to prove God exists to everyone. That is because there is no level of evidence that cannot be explained away as not God by a determined mind.

    The Bible is full of people who had actual miracles in front of them for whom that was not enough.

    People arguing about the existence of God are like fish arguing about the existence of water.

    • #21
  22. HeavyWater Inactive
    HeavyWater
    @HeavyWater

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    There is no way to prove God exists to everyone. That is because there is no level of evidence that cannot be explained away as not God by a determined mind.

    The Bible is full of people who had actual miracles in front of them for whom that was not enough.

    The key question, however, regarding those stories in the Bible where people had miracles in front of them is this: Are those stories based on actual historical events or were they merely generated by the imaginations of the authors and/or the sources of the authors?  

    • #22
  23. David B. Sable Coolidge
    David B. Sable
    @DavidSable

    Charles D Chrisman (View Comment):

    @ Dave Thank you my brother for your love and friendship these many years. One more well written article.

     

    I think “I wondered about the woman in front of me with cancer if her husband would one day be speaking at her funeral saying that the prayers were answered because his wife is now completely healed in heaven.” touched me greatly today. I am that man and today is the 4th anniversary of when my wife was healed. Pardon me as I wipe my face.

    It never occurred to either of us to pray for physical healing, a thing which would have been a spectacular miracle in that she died 4 weeks after we even were aware of her cancer. The year before she was expecting me to die of an undiscovered heart defect from birth, sitting in my hospital room and with tears pour down her cheeks, she told me ” I will not beg God for your life”. I knew what she meant. I told her that my prayer for her was that she die before me. She knew what I meant. God did what He chose to do with those who belonged to Him. When she knew she was dying, she did her best to bless those around her with what time she had left here, even to the point of the day she was to have a biopsy done. She went with the nurse and returned quickly. They couldn’t do the biopsy because she was so far gone that she would have bled to death right then. The nurse was in tears as they came back and my wife was comforting her.

    . . .

    Thanks again Dave!

    Thank you @charles-d-chrisman!  There is much in Christian theology that is easily taught from the pulpit to an affirming crowd that looks much different when one has to work it out in practical terms.

    • #23
  24. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    HeavyWater (View Comment):

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    There is no way to prove God exists to everyone. That is because there is no level of evidence that cannot be explained away as not God by a determined mind.

    The Bible is full of people who had actual miracles in front of them for whom that was not enough.

    The key question, however, regarding those stories in the Bible where people had miracles in front of them is this: Are those stories based on actual historical events or were they merely generated by the imaginations of the authors and/or the sources of the authors?

    It does not matter for the message to be understood. 

    A parable transmits wisdom regardless. 

    You do not believe in God, I assume because you have not seen evidence of God’s existence. What would it take for you? My guess is, whatever you come up with, I can offer an alternate position. 

    • #24
  25. CarolJoy, Not So Easy To Kill Coolidge
    CarolJoy, Not So Easy To Kill
    @CarolJoy

    HeavyWater (View Comment):

    This reminds me of chapter 4 of Matthew, the temptation of Jesus.

    NRSV Matthew 4:5-7

    Then the devil took him to the holy city and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, 6 saying to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down; for it is written,

    ‘He will command his angels concerning you,’
    and ‘On their hands they will bear you up,
    so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.’”

    7 Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”

    This is the problem, as I see it. People have created a theology that isn’t falsifiable.

    It’s a bit like Carl Sagan’s dragon. Your neighbor tells you that he has a pet dragon in his garage. You ask him to take you to his garage. He takes you there but you don’t see any dragon. Just an empty garage.

    Your neighbor says his dragon is an invisible dragon. So, you say, “Let’s take the temperature of the garage.” But your neighbor counters that this dragon is not a fire breathing dragon, but rather a dragon that breathes at the surrounding temperature.

    So, you say, “Let’s put lot of paint all over the floor of the garage so that we can see the dragon’s footprints.” But your neighbor says that the dragon floats above the ground.

    Eventually you realize that there isn’t much difference between your neighbor’s dragon existing and no dragon at all.

    My father was an agnostic. A very staunch agnostic.

    Sometimes at dinner parties or social events circa the 1960’s, I can remember people saying “But I bet you prayed during The Battle of The Bulge, right?”

    And he’d say, “If you don’t believe, why would you pray?”

    But he also said when he died, if he met up with The Big Guy, he certainly would not start arguing with Him  about His Existence.

     

    • #25
  26. Charles D Chrisman Coolidge
    Charles D Chrisman
    @Charles D Chrisman

    HeavyWater (View Comment):

    Charles D Chrisman (View Comment):

    @ HeavyWater

    “This is the problem, as I see it. People have created a theology that isn’t falsifiable.”

    While I understand your desire for falsifiability, it seems essentially that what you ask for is “proof” in the sense of a chain of evidence which points inexorably to one possible conclusion which is forced on all.

    Imagine if I told you that I had lunch on the moon and had dinner here in my home in Indiana. I suppose one can’t rule out that this did, in fact, happen. But it seems to go against what we think of as likely or even possible. You might think that I am delusional as I tell you my “I had lunch on the moon and was back home before dinner” story or you might think I am lying. But then again, if one has watched enough Star Trek, my story might be believable.

    With any given “story,” some people believe it and some people don’t.

    @HeavyWater  Ultimately it’s not the story which we tell ourselves or among ourselves It is the story of Truth which matters.  Either there is Truth, objective beyond our own abilities to comprehend in toto or the truth is that there is no Truth.  If it’s just us we’ll never know, experientially or ultimately.  If Truth is, it will tell our story, individually and collectively.  It doesn’t matter if you believe in God or not to God if He is there.  He will be the One who finishes all stories the way He desires them to end.

     

    As to Star Trek, theater like that isn’t a reliable source for good analogies.  Capt. Kirk  (oddly “Kirk” meaning “church”) was a camera hog. Besides, it was a ripoff of “Forbidden Planet”, 1956, one of the few really good roles Leslie Nielsen had in his career.

     

    And yes, I did watch it faithfully when it came out.  Babylon 5 was far superior…

    • #26
  27. Charles D Chrisman Coolidge
    Charles D Chrisman
    @Charles D Chrisman

    HeavyWater (View Comment):

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    There is no way to prove God exists to everyone. That is because there is no level of evidence that cannot be explained away as not God by a determined mind.

    Fortunately (if I may use the word) we don’t have to prove God.  He will take care of that Himself.

    There’s the story told about a man who thought he was dead.  He went through shrink after shrink, each of whom did their best to talk him out of his belief.  Finally a younger, innovative shrink came up with an idea.  He asked the man, “Do dead men bleed?” The man was insulted.  “Of course not! Everyone knows that dead men don’t bleed!”  Whereupon the shrink whipped out a large pin and stuck the man in his arm.

    Blood started flowing down the arm profusely with the patient dumbstruck at the revelation he had just received. He was absolutely gobsmacked for a couple of minutes.  Then he lifted his eyes to meet those of the Dr. and in a hushed voice said, “What do you know about that!!!  Dead men DO bleed”…

    There is no way to prove anything to a dead mind and heart about God.  Dead men don’t believe.  So how do you get a dead man to want life?  You have to raise him from the dead first. 

    That’s a God thing.  We’re just the tools He uses to do that with some.

    • #27
  28. Charles D Chrisman Coolidge
    Charles D Chrisman
    @Charles D Chrisman

    Skyler (View Comment):

    Bravery. Not even I would attempt to discuss this topic.

    Humility is better than bravery.  When one has nothing to lose because the other is more worthy, incredible things can happen.  That’s what “agape love” is about. That is the love of Christ for His Father AND those the Father has given Him.

    • #28
  29. JoshuaFinch Coolidge
    JoshuaFinch
    @JoshuaFinch

    I am not sure if there are people who are non-believers so much as there are people whose resentment is so profound that they are focused on what is ugly as opposed to what is beautiful.

     

    • #29
  30. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    JoshuaFinch (View Comment):

    I am not sure if there are people who are non-believers so much as there are people whose resentment is so profound that they are focused on what is ugly as opposed to what is beautiful.

     

     Have long said that militant atheists are actually angry at God for not being the God they would like him to be.

    • #30
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