Problems for the "Miracle Healers"
Roland Worth, Jr.
Those who claim the power to perform miracles today are open to challenge on several grounds. For them to dismiss the objections in arrogant unconcern is always possible. The "True Believer" is blind to all things he dislikes; those not obsessed with their belief will be of a more open mind.
(1) "Miraculous Healers" seldom if ever meet the Biblical pre-requisite for the healing powers they claim to exercise. The pre-requisite for possession of the healing ability was belief (Mark 16:17) but the preceding verse indicates that belief must be expressed in baptism in order to be of spiritual value. Hence baptism must precede the healing power. The significance of this is two-fold. The text (Verse 16) indicates that the baptism is to be for rather than because of the remission of sins. Any other purpose for being baptized would not result in securing healing powers. Furthermore, the word "baptize" means immersion, as even the non-Greek student can see in such passages as Colossians 2:12 and Acts 8:38. Any other act than immersion could not qualify a man for the gift of healing power. Since both the right motive and the right act (immersion) are required, a fatal stumbling block is thrown in the path of "healing" advocates.
(2) Healers emphasize the healing rather than the preaching. What is advertised in the paper and what message is spread by word of mouth when a "healer" comes to town? "A faith healing meeting." That preaching will go with it is little mentioned; it is almost an irrelevancy. Yet in the first century the emphasis was considerably different. Miracles were used to vindicate the message being taught (John -4:48; 11:39-44). Indeed, John wrote his gospel out of the conviction that even a written account of Christ's miracles could convert (John 20:30-3 1). But in today's society, the healings have seemingly become an end in themselves.
(3) Healers emphasize monetary contributions rather than the service they are providing. It may not be true of all of them, but haven't you noticed a tremendous "push" to have their listeners contribute? If passing the plate once doesn't yield a satisfactory amount, they'll pass it a few more times. Then there are the "healing" pens, handkerchiefs, and such like-all of which (let us be honest) are little more than gimmicks.
In their preoccupation with money, they seem more like the corrupt elements of the medieval Catholic clergy than like the apostles of Christ.
To support a man who is providing you the service of preaching is approved (I Corinthians 9:3-12) as is supporting destitute Christians (Romans 15:25, 31). But giving support for men to travel "healing" is something unknown to the New Testament. Peter's first post-resurrection healing found him without a cent to his name (Acts 3:6) and there is no evidence that his healings ever earned him a penny.
(4) Healers often fail. In the New Testament we find only two cases where healings were anything but spontaneous. In one case the apostles could not heal an epileptic. Christ promptly pointed out that it was their lack of faith, not that of the epileptic, that made the healing impossible (Matthew 17:20). Modern "healers" are the opposite: they place the blame for their failure on the person they are trying to help.
In the other instance (Mark 8:22-26) a blind man's eye-sight was restored. Although he could now see, he still could not focus his eyes right; Christ touched the man's eyes again and the problem immediately corrected itself. The delay was a mere matter of seconds. Even if the eyes had never been able to focus rightly the healing was such that no modern healer could imitate it.
Contrast these two "difficult" healings (both of which resulted in a complete recovery) with the ignoble record of modern "healers." When we compare the thousands who come for healing with the few who are "healed," we can only conclude that the successful "healing" is the exception not the norm. Medical doctors have a far better "track record."
TRUTH MAGAZINE, XVI: 19, pp. 11-12