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Yet another example of why theology matters

Unsplash/Elia Pellegrini
Unsplash/Elia Pellegrini

I swear if I come across another one of these, I’m going to scream in a way that will make the T-Rex roar in "Jurassic Park" seem like a leaf hitting the ground.

A young pregnant girl in our community suffering from mental illness was recently taken by the Christian family caring for her not to a doctor for proper diagnosis, but instead to a person who claimed they had the gift of healing. After a single session of prayer and deliverance, the “healer” declared the girl completely cured and sent her on her way.

Flash forward to today. The young woman has given birth to her child and is rapidly declining from a mental health standpoint, acting in the bizarrest of ways, putting both herself and her baby at risk.   

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Here, once again, we have a tragic example of what happens when Christians are grossly illiterate in theology and, one might argue, lack common sense in matters of illness in general and mental affliction in particular.

The queen of the sciences

What is theology? Theology: ol·o·gylogos, reason; a subject of study; a branch of knowledge. theo-: relating to God or deity.

If you’re a Christian, it is your responsibility — your personal responsibility — to vigorously pursue theology for as long as God gives you breath. God’s Word is unambiguous in commanding us to do this.   

We’re told to “be absorbed” (1 Tim. 4:15) in Scripture and teaching; “like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation” (1 Pet. 2:2). We’re instructed to “not be children in your thinking; yet in evil be infants, but in your thinking be mature” (1 Cor. 14:20) and to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Pet. 3:18).

The Bible tells us that “he who is spiritual appraises all things” (1 Cor. 2:15) and directs us to “examine everything carefully” (1 Thess. 5:21). The Christian continually does this so that we “may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment so that you may approve the things that are excellent (Phil. 1:9, 10) and “because of practice have [our] senses trained to discern good and evil” (Heb 5:14).

Theology was historically referred to as the queen of the sciences, with philosophy being her handmaiden, however, such a high pedestal placement has been done away with by our modern culture. It goes without saying that it should not be that way with us.

We need a deep theological foundation to both live well before God and avoid error. In the case above, a proper understanding on the subject of the miraculous “sign gifts” found in the Bible would have prevented the awful situation that has unfolded with the family that we know.

No, you don’t have the gift of healing

The topic of miracles and, specifically, the sign gifts have been discussed and debated for a long time. That said, I think the truth on the subject becomes clear when we study the Scriptures, apply reason and employ what Thomas Aquinas said was a key practice of any truth-seeking philosopher, which is the ability to make distinctions.

The two distinctions in the Bible that pertain to this case deal with the critical differences between what is prescriptive vs. what is descriptive in the Bible and the fact of miracles vs. the gift of miracles.  

The Bible describes many historical and miraculous events that happened in the Old Testament and early Church, but that doesn’t mean they are prescribed for today.

Moreover, while the fact of miracles runs throughout the whole Bible, the gift of miracles is confined to three very specific and incredibly brief periods of human history. You see it with Moses, Elijah/Elisha, and with Christ and the early apostolic era. That’s it.[1]

Further, the gift of miracles is teleological, meaning it has design and purpose behind it.

With Moses, God used it to glorify Himself, secure the release of His chosen people and put down the challenge of Egypt’s false god, Pharaoh. The same is true with Elijah/Elisha and the false god Baal.

The gift of miracles with Jesus and the apostles were proof points of Christ’s Person, mission, and the Gospel truth He and His disciples proclaimed to a world of countless false deities.   

What these theological facts mean is this: if you (or someone you know) think you possess the gift of healing, you don’t. While God can indeed heal someone if He chooses, the ability for a particular person to heal at will as Jesus and the early Church did is not active today and the concept does not fit the overall design of miracle gifts as outlined in Scripture.

In addition, let’s also apply reason and common sense to the subject. How many times do you have to witness your or someone else’s supposed gift of healing fail before you admit it isn’t real? How many more stark and heartbreaking scenes of grief and personal tragedy have to occur before the truth is admitted?

And please, when the attempt at healing fails, don’t trot out the standard fallback reply of, “well, they just didn’t have enough faith.” As I’ve offered several times in the past, since there’s no greater faith than that which exists in the heart of a gravely sick child, I’ll fly you first-class to St. Jude where we can walk the halls and let your gift of healing rip.  

I’ll say it again: God hasn’t changed, and He can do miracles whenever He chooses. Testimonies of His modern-day miracles abound and are oftentimes accompanied by incontrovertible proof.

If you want to pray for someone’s or your own personal healing from physical or emotional hurt, then please do so. If liberation occurs, praise God!

But if it’s clear that the request to Him for healing or a similar miracle isn’t going to happen, then it’s time to either accept His will as things stand or pursue other avenues of freedom from the issue, some of which may seem mundane (like counseling, medication, lifestyle modifications) but are every bit as much a gift from Him as a supernatural miracle.  

That being true, how about you join me in working hard to understand our Bible better so we can enjoy the life God intends and dodge the sometimes heartbreaking consequences of being wrong about what Scripture says? 

[1] The book of Revelation describes how the gift of miracles will be given a fourth time to the two witnesses described in chapter 11.  

Robin Schumacher is an accomplished software executive and Christian apologist who has written many articles, authored and contributed to several Christian books, appeared on nationally syndicated radio programs, and presented at apologetic events. He holds a BS in Business, Master's in Christian apologetics and a Ph.D. in New Testament. His latest book is, A Confident Faith: Winning people to Christ with the apologetics of the Apostle Paul.

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