Here Jim Thompson investigates not only modern day healings but modern day healers – those who claim to have the same gift as that possessed by Christ and his apostles.
The first question is this: What are the NT standards for healing? Thompson lists four. They were immediate, without natural means, complete and 100% successful. Additionally, ‘no condition was too hard to heal’. The conditions were truly organic (like a chopped-off ear), not merely ‘functional’ or psychological.
In the light of these standards, have we just been through a ‘century of healing’ (chapter 2)? No. The vast majority of the ‘healings’ of the likes of Benny Hinn simply do not live up to the NT standards of Jesus and his apostles. Are many healings today little more than hypnotically induced psychosomatics, often with positive effects that are only very temporary? This is the author’s contention, examined through various medical studies.
Biblically, it cannot be shown that all sickness is from the devil and it can be shown that sickness may be the will of God for a believer – positively promoting holiness, sympathy for others and dependence on God.
The writer deals with passages that might seem to challenge his view. For example, the ending of Mark 16 he takes to be descriptive of first generation Christianity, not prescriptive for every generation. The ‘greater works’ of John 14.12 are surely works of conversion on a global scale, otherwise what could they be? Hebrews 13.8 cannot be used in support of ongoing miracles, as in Jesus’s day, because God does not work the same way in every period of history.
Ultimately, the author emphasises the power of God’s Word in the church – the greatest changes in individuals and the church have happened through this means, as revival histories clearly demonstrate.
I found this a helpful book. The question of healing comes up again and again in church life. It needs to be re-addressed with every new generation and the dynamic gospel of God re-asserted, or we can be dangerously diverted.
pastor, Bow Baptist Church, East London