Or maybe: A Bone to Pick With Faith-Healers.
So we left off with me about to give these faith healers an honest second look, a sort of cliffhanger, right? But let’s cut to the chase and keep this post short and sweet. Not long into this research, a grim theme began to emerge. Consider the following:
“During the early 1970s, Minnesota surgeon William Nolen, M.D., attended a service conducted by Katherine Kuhlman, the leading evangelical healer of that period. After noting the names of 25 people who had been “miraculously healed,” he was able to perform follow-up interviews and examinations. Among other things, he discovered that one woman who had been announced as cured of “lung cancer” actually had Hodgkin’s disease — which was unaffected by the experience. Another woman with cancer of the spine had discarded her brace and followed Ms. Kuhlman’s enthusiastic command to run across the stage. The following day her backbone collapsed, and four months later she died.”
~ Nolen W. Healing: A Doctor in Search of a Miracle. New York, 1974, Random House Inc.
Not long after this, I read about Kenya, where a Benny Hinn conference also left four dead, including two young children. Police told a local newspaper, the Kenya Times, that “the four had been released from a hospital to be cured at Benny Hinn’s ‘Miracle Crusade.’ ” They’d left against medical advice in really bad shape because Benny Hinn, they were sure, was a much better bet than their doctors.
It seemed like every faith healer who had been around any length of time eventually shared this trait; it was inevitable that something bad happened. What’s worse, while many of these fake healers have been taken down a notch when they face their lack of healing powers, a handful of them seem to have weathered the storm just fine.
For instance (once again), Benny Hinn. He’s still at it today, even though more people have been medically verified ‘dead’ after one of his crusades than healed.
In my mind, then, these Faith Healers generally fall into two categories. The Frauds, and Well-Meaning Idiots.
Maybe there was someone in the back of the room feeding information to the healer-man (or woman) through a radio-ear-piece gadget. Or maybe they would use cold-reading mind tricks, like a street magician or mentalist, and dupe people into a false sense of trust and through that get the info they need to cast out those evil spirits of, well, whatever the person was dealing with. The miracle-seeker would usually be so astounded by the insight that they would truly believe they were being healed (until, of course, their next doctor’s visit).
Or, as with Benny Hinn (is the horse dead yet?), they resorted to visual gags. His ushers would insist every person who looked old sit in a wheelchair and be taken down front. He’s not doing this so much anymore, mostly because it became public knowledge, but back in the day he would rent hundreds of wheelchairs for his events and instruct ushers to grab all the Q-tips, stick them in a chair and roll them down to the front of the arena.
Then, when all the old people started getting out of ‘their’ wheelchairs during worship, well, wowee, what a sight! Look at all those empty wheelchairs! The faithful were seeing God move and they believed all the more and threw all their hard earned dollars into the offering plate. Cause God’s gifts aren’t free… duh.
The Well-Meaning Idiots:
These are a little simpler to explain, but a little more complicated to actually understand. Like Katherine Kuhlman, many of these people really believe they wield healing powers, right up until someone dies. At that point, many face their own inability with a certain dignity and go quietly into the night, but sadly, some go on believing in their own powers the rest of their lives in spite of the empirical evidence of their ineffectiveness.
It’s no wonder our more recent faith healers no longer tell people to take off their neck braces, chuck the meds and stop wasting time at the doctor. As people get smarter, these healings must become more and more subtle. None (or at least, none that I found) of these large, more recent, healing seminars claim to restore limbs, purify lepers or raise the dead; like I had learned to expect as quite commonplace when I was young. That would be so obvious, you’d literally have to have a real healing, wouldn’t you?
(Notice, however, that with these instances, I take issue not with God, but with the so-called healers. They’re the charlatans.)
A Small Rant:
Why does Benny Hinn have bouncers outside his crusades whose only apparent job is to ward off media who are there to interview attendees as they wait to get inside? What harm could that cause? To me, this alone would prove he knows exactly what he’s up to when he dupes the masses.
And why doesn’t a guy like Hinn just show up to a hospital and clear out its children’s cancer ward. There, they would have the technology to verify the healings, right away, and then release the kids with good conscience to go and lead normal, long, enjoyable lives. Could it be simply because they won’t let him pass around the offering plate in the waiting room?
Obviously the answer because there’s nothing to him whatsoever. I’ve already demonstrated that, medically speaking, he has passively killed more than he’s actively healed.
Alright, the horse is officially dead. I can move on.
And I know, I’m beginning to sound cynical. Strike that. I am cynical. But can you blame me? My upbringing tells me that healing is a fact of Christian life, but my inability to find real evidence of healing is distressing. Once again, healing is one of the few aspects of Christian life that should be provable without argument or logic.
Here’s a picture of John Doe after the lawn mower chopped off his foot, and here is John Doe, foot intact with not a scar to be seen. And here’s the picture of John with the baffled doctor. Miracle. Done.
Well, at one point I sort of let this one go. Around the time I started attending Bible college in 2001, actually. For some reason, the fire died out and I decided to move on. It wasn’t until early 2007 that I would once again pick up this quest to understand healing in a modern context.
That will be the jumping off point for my final post in this series, and I will take a look at not only what Bible says about healing, but what the modern church has done to rectify the problems that a (literal) Biblical stance creates.