By Paul G. Hiebert

by Sandy Simpson
Deception in The Church

This chapter is taken from an out of print book called "Wonders And The Word - An Examination Of Issues Raised By John Wimber And The Vineyard Movement" by James R. Coggins and Paul G. Hiebert.

As of the publishing of this book in 1989, Paul G. Hiebert was professor of mission anthropology in South Asian Studies at Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, CA.  He is currently Associate Dean of Academic Doctoral Programs, Chairman of the Department of Mission and Evangelism, and Professor of Mission and Anthropology at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.  He holds a BA from Tabor College, an MA from Mennonite Brethren Biblical Seminary, and an MA & PhD from University of Minnesota.

Before coming to Trinity, Dr. Hiebert served as a missionary in India for six years as the principal of Bethany Bible School and College. He has also taught at Kansas State University, the University of Washington, Osmania University (Hyderabad, India), and Fuller Theological Seminary. He has been published widely in both the field of anthropology and the field of missiology. His articles have appeared in many leading journals, including American Anthropologist, Journal of Anthropological Research, Folklore, Missiology, and Mission Focus. He has published two anthropological books, Konduru and Cultural Anthropology.

Dr. Hiebert was at Fuller when John Wimber was there and the Vineyard movement was well underway.  This book was an apologetic against what Wimber and others were experimenting around with at Fuller and what had taken shape in the Vineyard, later to blossom into a full blown case of Toronto "Blessing".  The issues they were dealing with at the time laid the groundwork for what we see now in the "New Apostolic Reformation" or "third wave", as C. Peter Wagner has coined it.  The problems are the same. What were then the birth pangs of renewed gnosticm and eastern mysticism in the Vineyard and other Penetecostal churches are now the key issues facing the entire church and the few true believers who are left with discernment.  Dr. Hiebert articulates the issues so very well in this chapter of the book.

I wish to thank Dr. Hiebert for giving me permission to reprint this chapter from his book on the Internet and place it on the Deception In The Church web site.  This article cannot be reprinted or distributed in any form, except for personal use.  It may be linked to from other web sites on the Internet.

By Paul G. Hiebert

In recent years there has been a renewed interest in miraculous experiences in the church.  The Pentecostals emphasize tongues and prophecies as proofs of God's presence among his people.  The charismatics look for such evidences in ecstatic experiences.  Now, in many churches, on television and in conferences, the focus has shifted to healing, exorcisms and words of knowledge.  One exam-ple is John Wimber and the Vineyard movement.

What should our response be to this renewed interest in miracles?  As Norman Cohn points out, the issues involved are not new.1 Periodically in the life of the church there have been leaders calling for miraculous demonstrations of God's power as signs of his presence among his people.  St. Gregory, living in the sixth century, describes in detail a preacher from Bourges who healed the sick who were brought to him and gathered a large following.  A century and a half later, St. Boniface described another itinerant preacher, Aldebert, who claimed to perform miraculous cures and attracted large audiences.  Others followed.  Many claimed that the kingdom of God had come in its fullness for those who believe.  The results of their ministries were mixed: sometimes the church experienced renewal, but often it was led astray and left in disarray and divided.  The same is true of revival movements in which the focus on present problems and miraculous solutions became central.

Today we again hear many prophets claiming new revelations and special relationships with God.  We need to understand the times, and we need to heed john's exhortation and test their messages against scripture as it is interpreted within the community of believers.


The renewed interest in miracles in the Western church today is due in large measure to changes taking place in the foundations of our ways of thinking-in our "worldviews." Underlying every culture are basic assumptions about the nature of things.  These are simply taken for granted.  If someone questions them, he is seen not as wrong, but as foolish.  For example, in the West if we were to argue that freedom is not inherently good for a society, people would not take us seriously.  These assumptions are the lenses through which we view the world.

Currently the Western world is undergoing a radical change in its worldview.  The old foundations that provided the basis for Western thought for some two or more centuries are crumbling, and no one set of new foundations has replaced them.  In such times of uncertainty and fear, prophets often emerge, proclaiming new worldviews which, they promise, will guide people to a better life.  This is true today, both in science and religion.  It is within this flux that we must understand the movements of our day.

The modern worldview that has served the West for the past two centuries was deeply influenced by both the Reformation and the Renaissance.  During the Middle Ages, the church regarded this world as essentially evil, a place in which Christians suffered on their way to heaven.  Consequently, little emphasis was placed on the study of this world or on improving the conditions of life.  The truly religious were expected to spend their time in worship, meditation and prayer.  Most common folk, however, were not primarily interested in salvation.  They were concerned with the problems of their everyday lives: sickness, plagues, famine, wars and uncertainty.  To deal with these, many turned to Mary and the saints as intermediaries, and to diviners, witch doctors, medicine men and other practitioners of their pre-Christian past.  Others, particularly those without social roots in stable communities, flocked to faith healers who promised them health and success.2

The Reformers rejected this wedding of animism and Christianity and stressed the active presence of God in the lives of people here and now.3 They preached a strong theology of providence of God as Lord not only of cosmic history, but also of human history and of personal biography.

However, the Renaissance which followed distorted the Reformation worldview by reintroducing a neoplatonic dualism into Western thought.  Instead of the biblical worldview, in which the central distinction is between God the Creator and his creation, the neoplatonic worldview drew a sharp line between spirit and matter (Figure One).  God, angels and demons were put together in the world of spiritual beings.  Humans, animals, plants and matter were seen as "nature."

Modern Dualism

This shift at the worldview level led to our modern Western worldview that draws a sharp line between the "supernatural" and the "natural." The former has to do with otherworldly concerns, such as God, Satan, heaven, hell, sin, salvation, prayer and miracles.  Nature-the world of matter, space and time-was increasingly seen as an autonomous realm operating according to natural laws that could be understood by scientists and used to solve human problems on this earth.

At first, scientists, working within a Christian worldview, saw God as the ultimate source and sustainer of the universe, but as science explained more and more in terms of "natural laws," many scientists believed they had no need for God to account for what they observed.  The two worlds became divorced from each other and met only at creation, when God made matter and set the laws of nature in motion; and in miracles, when God "intervened" in nature and overrode natural laws.  This had a powerful secularizing effect on Western thought.

By the twentieth century, there was little room for God in the Western worldview.  The origins of the universe had been pushed back to a remote time, and scientists could now explain much that had been thought miraculous.  God was needed only to account for what was unknown, and there was a deep faith that, given time, science would be able to explain even that.

Modern Dualism and Christianity

The modern neoplatonic dualism has left many western Christians with a spiritual schizophrenia.  On the one hand, they believe in God and the cosmic history of creation-fall-redemption-final judgment.  This provides them with ultimate meaning and purpose in life.  On the other hand, they live in an ordinary world explained in naturalistic terms in which there is little room for God.  They drive cars, use electricity and take medicines, all of which are the products of scientific understandings and reinforce a scientific way of thinking.

This internal tension is accentuated when Christians read the Bible.  There they find God at work in human history with no sharp distinction made between natural and supernatural phenomena.  The biblical worldview does not fit with modern secular explanations that deny spiritual realities, particularly in everyday experiences.

The consequences of this modern dualism in the church have been destructive.  Liberal theologians sought to reduce the tension by explaining the miracles of the Bible totally in naturalistic terms.  Conservative theologians affirmed the reality of miracles but often accepted a naturalistic view of the world.  Many of them drew a line between "evangelism" and the "social gospel," thereby reinforcing the dualism that had led to the secularization of the West.  For them, evangelism had to do with the supernatural salvation of the soul.  The social gospel involved ministry to human bodily needs, such as food, medicine and education.  This they dismissed as of secondary importance.

The Deification of the Self

A second consequence of the modern worldview was to place humans at the top of nature.  With God out of the picture, humans became the gods of the earth.  During the Renaissance, Machiavelli took the next logical step and called people to forget about salvation, which by his day had lost much of its clarity and urgency.  Rather, he said, they should focus on enjoying life here on earth, which is real and immediate.  Personal health, comfort and prosperity became the central goals of Western culture, and science the means to achieve them.

Left alone, however, modern humans faced a crisis of meaning.  Now they were gods, but what kind of gods were they?  Mechanistic science enabled humans to control nature, but it also gave them the power to destroy nature through violence, nuclear holocausts, chemical pollution and deforestation.  The same science, applied to humans themselves, saw them as animals ruled by needs and irrational drives (Freudian psychology), as stimulus-response machines (behavioral psychology), or as robots programmed by their societies and cultures (sociology and anthropology).  God was gone, but so was the human soul.  There was no real meaning left in human life.

To recover a sense of meaning, western philosophers coined the term "self" to replace the concept of the "soul." It was assumed that people are autonomous selves and that, because they are now the gods, their individual well-being is the highest good.4 This view of humans as independent, self-reliant selves was a radical shift from the biblical and medieval view of them as created in the image of God and dependent upon God at every moment for their existence and meaning.

Replacing "soul" with "self," however, did not solve the problem.  The question now arose, what is this "self"?  Some, such as Locke and Descartes, believed that it is reason.  Humans are different from animals because they think, and using reason, they can create a happy, peaceful and meaningful world.  Others, such as Rousseau and Nietzsche, disagreed.  They believed that what makes humans different from animals and their lives meaningful is their ability to feel, to envision better worlds and to create them.  Humans are culture builders.  They are moral beings who find meaning in realizing their dreams about themselves.  Both groups, however, agreed on one thing: meaning is to be found in self-fulfillment, in the good life here and now.  The existential present, not eternity, is of primary importance.

This focus on the self became the dominant theme in western society during the last decade of the nineteenth century.  The traditional Protestant values of salvation, the moral life, a life of work, saving and sacrifice, civic responsibility and self-denial for the good of others were replaced by a new set of values: personal realization, health, material comfort, immediate gratification and periodic leisure.5 These, it was believed, could be achieved through buying material goods (largely on credit) and accumulating wealth.  The gospel of self-indulgence was preached by a host of advertisers.  Marlborough cigarettes free us from the drudgery of city life and put us out in Wyoming, with its clean air, stars and the thrill of the range.  Coke, we are told, is the real thing.

This focus on the self was reinforced by Abraham Maslow, Fritz Perls, Carl Rogers and other key figures in the fledgling field of humanistic psychology.  While they sought to restore human dignity, they did so by offering a psychology that glorified the self.

The result of this shift in the modern worldview is an almost obsessive concern with psychic and physical health.  Life owes us comfort, health, happiness, success, prosperity and intense, ecstatic experiences.  Failure, loss of self-worth and boredom, rather than sin, have become the implacable enemies, and therapy, consumption and miraculous cures the means of salvation.  A new Western religion has emerged that offers us meaning based on self-realization, not forgiveness of personal sins and reconciliation with God and others.6 Self has become god and self-fulfillment the ultimate goal.  Personal biography has replaced cosmic history as the framework in which human significance is to be found.  The only story most North Americans feel a part of is their own.7

The new gospel had a strong influence on Protestant Christianity, particularly the liberal wing.  G. Stanley Hall asserted that the kingdom of God exalted "man here and now." Harry Emerson Fosdick and Norman Vincent Peale provided religious sanctions for the emerging value system.  The starting point of Christianity, Fosdick claimed, was not an otherworldly faith, but a faith in human personality: "Not an outward temple, but the inward shrine of man's personality, with all its possibilities and powers, is ... infinitely sacred."8

Bruce Barton reinterpreted Jesus in terms of the ideals of abundant vitality and intense experience.  Barton's Jesus personified personal magnetism, vibrant health and outdoor living.  He was no weak Lamb of God.  Women adored him, and he was the most popular dinner guest in Jerusalem.  "He did not come to establish a theology but to lead a life," Barton wrote.  "Living more healthfully than any of his contemporaries, he spread health wherever he went . . . ." He offered righteousness as the path to "a happier, more satisfying way of living."9 Health was no longer seen, along with sickness and suffering, as part of the human condition within God's greater plan of salvation or as a means by which God works out his purposes.  It had become an end in itself, cloaked with religious value, something humans could and should strive to achieve.

This emphasis on self and the present has led to the North American individualism and pragmatism that emphasize short term personal problem-solving rather than ultimate meaning and truth.  Self-realization, in one form or another, has become the dominant religion of the West.

Individualism and the Church

The effects of individualism on the Western church have been profound.  Salvation increasingly has become a personal matter between the self and God, and has little to do with the formation of a new community in Christ.  Many churches have become little more than religious clubs, organized on the basis of voluntary association and common interests.  The relationship between members is no longer seen as sacrament (ordained of God) or covenant (commitment to a group) but contract (based on personal convenience).  It should not surprise us, therefore, that Christians often do not find a congregation to be a true community or that they drift from church to church.

The deification of self is also beginning to make inroads into the church.  More and more we hear the good news that we can have health, wealth and prosperity here and salvation in the life to come, and that without suffering, persecution, a cross or a sense of sin.  An example of this comes from Rev. Ewing, in the introduction to his book, If You Want Money, A Home in Heaven, Health and Happiness, Based on the Holy Bible, Do These Things .... Ewing writes,

This book is designed to teach you about the power that you have within you which can lift you up from the midst of sickness, feeling down, failure, poverty and frustration, and set you on the exciting road to health, happiness, abundance and security.  I have seen miraculous transformations take place in men and women from all walks of life when they begin releasing the power of faith that is within them and sow-ing faith seeds10 (emphasis in the original).

The titles of the first four chapters are "You can have the desires of your heart," "God wants you to have plenty of money," "God wants to heal you everywhere you hurt" and "God will get you that good job you desire." This, of course, is an extreme case of the health and prosperity gospel, but it illustrates the fundamental assumptions of this theology, which is increasingly heard to some degree or another in the media and in churches.


Despite the physical well-being made possible by science, there is a growing doubt that this alone makes sense out of life or that science is the savior people once believed it would be.  Even in the scientific world, many are beginning to reject the neoplatonic dualism that divorces spiritual realities from material ones and ultimate concerns from those of this life.11 Increasingly there are calls for a post-modern worldview characterized by some type of holism that sees humans and the world as integrated and takes spiritual needs seriously.  But what shape should it take?  There are a number of worldviews competing for the post-modern mind.

The Return of Animism

Some leaders are promoting a return to the animistic beliefs that characterized much of the world before the rise of science-a world in which most things that happen are brought about, whimsically and arbitrarily, by spirits, ancestors, ghosts, magic, witchcraft and the stars.  It is a world in which God is distant and in which humans are at the mercy of good and evil powers and must defend themselves by means of prayers and chants, charms, medicines and incantations.  Power, not truth, is the central human concern in this worldview.

Such beliefs, suppressed during the reign of science, had never fully left the western mind.  Below the level of orthodox Christianity, an assortment of folk religious beliefs have persisted, handed down by word of mouth, despite the opposition of church leaders and the ridicule of scientists.  Samples of it can be seen in the tabloids sold in supermarkets and in stories of ghosts, witchcraft, evil eye and prophecies passed along as gossip.

Recently in mainstream North America there has been a resurgence of interest in the animistic worldview.  The Saturday morning children's cartoons are full of supermen, witches, little people of various sorts, magic, curses and transformations.  In movies and TV sitcoms exorcisms, black magic, spirits and resurrections are now commonplace.  Similar themes appear in games such as "Dungeons and Dragons" and in rock music.  These ideas may be presented as fiction, satire, humor or horror, but to those without a clear conceptual framework with which to test reality, the very presence of these ideas opens the door of doubt and later may lead to the acceptance of their reality.

More disturbing is the resurgence of serious pagan and occult practices in the West.  As the Christian belief that humans are created in the image of God fades in Western thought, there has been a revival of pre-Christian paganism that puts humans in the same category with all other natural phenomena.  All of these are at the mercy of capricious, invisible spirits and forces.  The only human defense is to gain power over these spirits and forces by means of rituals and magic.  Fertility rites, white witchcraft, divination, palmistry, fortune-telling and astrology are gaining credibility and acceptance in cities.  Many bookshops now have sections set aside for the occult.

At the center of animism is the shaman, the religious practitioner who is a master of ecstasy, healing, prophecy and dealing with the spirit world.12 The shaman seeks power through a personal encounter with a spirit.  By means of trances in which the shaman visualizes hidden realities, and by means of guided imagery, he or she transforms these realities using invisible, personalized energy, performing miraculous cures and predicting future events.13

This resurgence of animistic thinking has influenced some in the church.  The earlier denial of Satan and demons by some Christians is replaced by teachings that evil spirits and spirit possesions are common and account for much of what happens to Christians and non-Christians alike.  The indirect source of many of these teachings is Kabala, the syncretistic Jewish folk religion that arose during the exile in Babylonia.

There is a two-fold danger in this return to an animistic worldview.  First, it assigns too much power and authority to unseen spirits and forces in this world and implicitly denies the power and presence of God in everyday affairs, particularly in the lives of Christians.  Humans must live in constant fear of capricious beings.  The fact is that, when compared to pagan mythologies such as the Babylonian creation myths, the scriptures are remarkably secular.  They speak of a divinely ordained and maintained natural order.  They do affirm the realities of angels and demons, but humans are not the puppets of their capricious whims.  The real focus of the Bible is the story of humans and their response to God.  Moreover, in the end, it was normal human beings and their religious systems that crucified Christ, not those who were demon possessed.  The universal testimony of animists who have responded to the gospel is that Christ has delivered them from their fear of demons.

Secondly, the animistic worldview rejects the insights of science.  While modern scientists often reject God, science itself emerged within the context of a Christian worldview.14 Many early scientists were Christians seeking to understand the order God placed in his creation (Genesis 1-2:4).  To deny this order is to deny that the world and its history have meaning.

Birth of the New Age Movement

A second response to the collapse of Greek dualism in Western thought is the rise of the New Age movement.  This is a collection of cults and teachings such as ESP, transcendental meditation, Church of Religious Science, Hari Krishna and other neo-Hindu religions, the new physics, New Age politics and New Age versions of Christianity.15 Among its prophets are Shirley MacLaine, John Denver, Teilhard de Chardin, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, Fritjof Capra and Carlos Castaneda.

As diverse as these are, underlying them is a convergence of teachings rooted in Eastern mysticism.16 First, they affirm that "all is one." Ultimately there is no difference between spirit and matter, God and creation, good and evil, and one person and another.  All belong to one interrelated, interdependent and interpenetrating reality that has no boundaries and no ultimate divisions.  This is radically at odds with a Christian view of reality that affirms the difference between God and his creation, between sin and righteousness, and between facts and figments of human imagination.

A second premise of New Age is that all is God.  This is a short step from declaring that all is one.  But if all is God, then God is no longer a person in relationship to other beings and things.  God is an impersonal energy, force or consciousness-an "it." This, of course, denies the personal nature of God as Creator and Lord.

A third teaching is that we are, in fact, gods.  If God is all and all is God, then we too are part of divinity.  We are not sinners in need of salvation; we are ignorant of our true selves and need enlightenment.  We must discover that we ourselves are God by experiencing a new consciousness of cosmic reality.  Self and self-realization become the measure and goal of religious experience; and self-realization can be achieved by exercising the hidden powers within us, the same powers that underlie the universe.  Gone are the biblical teachings of sin and salvation, of love, reconciliation, fellowship and self-sacrifice, and of worship and submission to God.

A fourth belief shared by New Age movements is that reality is governed not by God nor by natural forces he has created, but by spiritual forces we can control once we are enlightened.  It is we who control our own destiny.  By imaging, mind control and faith we can make things happen.  But we must experience the consciousness that enables us to see things as they really are.  This altered state of consciousness can be reached through transcendental meditation, chanting, dancing, yoga, self-hypnotism, internal visualization, biofeedback or even sexual intercourse.  Only then will we be freed from the tyranny of Western rationalism and materialism.

The final affirmation of New Age is that all religions are one and all lead to the truth.  Jesus, Buddha, Lao-Tse, Krishna, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and others are enlightened gurus that can lead us to experience our oneness with each other and with the universe. Christ is not the only way, and there is no place for evangelism.  Salvation lies within each of us.

Central to New Age is its promise of holistic health.  If the mind can control reality, there is no need for anyone to be sick, poor or unsuccessful.  The solution to our problems lies within us, in our mindset, in our faith.  New Age claims to treat not only the sickness, but the whole person-body, mind and spirit-by meditation, visualization, biofeedback, psychic healing, transpersonal psychology, guidance by a "spirit guide" and often folk healers.17 Death itself is viewed as a transition to another state of consciousness.

This new view of the world, which has its roots in Hinduism, is spreading rapidly in Europe and North America because it promises to fulfill the western search for personal well-being and success.  It promises a "New Age" of hope and human fulfillment.  Its approach to Christianity is one of subversion.  Its promise of spiritual power and ecstasy attracts many Christians unaware of its theological foundations.18


What alternative do we as Christians have to the worldviews offered by consumerism, animism and New Age, all of which deify the self?  What criteria do we use to test new movements such as the current emphasis on healing and exorcisms so as not to become captive to the spirit of our times as has happened to Christians so often in the past?  It is important that Christianity stands in prophetic critique of the times in which we live, that we not allow it to become just another version of the West's preoccupation with success, health and the present.  To guard against this, we must formulate clear theological guidelines rooted in scripture.  To chart a course through the turbulent seas of our times, we need a theology of healing, exorcism, provision and guidance.  Such a theology, dealing with God's work in our daily lives, must be part of our broader theological understandings of God, creation, sin, cross, judgment and redemption.  Furthermore, in such a theology we must reject the old dualism that confines God's work to other-worldly concerns and leaves him out of our everyday lives except for an occasional miracle.

What are some of the theological guidelines that can help us discover again how God wants to work in our personal lives?

A Trinitarian Theology

A theology of God's work in human affairs must begin with an understanding of God himself-as Father, Son and Holy Spirit (see Figure Two).  Often new movements in the church focus their attention on one person in the Godhead and so lose sight of the work of the others.

The Providence of the Father.  Throughout the scriptures, it is clear that God is sovereign over the ebb and flow of history.  From creation to final judgment, God is in control.  This does not deny humans their freedom to make choices.  It does, however, mean that in the end God directs the overall course of history according to his purposes.  Moreover, the scriptures are clear that God is concerned about the life of each person, including the smallest of details.
For the early Christians, the ongoing involvement of God in world history and in personal biography was a living reality.  This awareness guided their lives and sustained them in times of persecution and martyrdom.  In fact, more often than not, following Christ meant suffering, sickness and death, rather than health, prosperity and long life.  This awareness also gave them answers to the problems of daily living.

Following Constantine, Christianity became identified with government, and God was seen as a distant ruler associated with the religious and political elite.  By the Middle Ages, the common folk no longer saw God as involved in their daily lives, so they took their troubles to the saints: to St. Anthony when something was lost, to St. Peregrinus Laziosi for cancer and to St. Luke for other diseases.  They also used magical chants, charms and potions to guard themselves against sickness and danger.

The Reformation not only recovered the biblical understanding of salvation, but also restored the doctrine of providence.  Calvin, Luther, Zwingli and the other Reformers declared that God is in-deed the God of history, both individual and collective.  He does not leave his people to fend for themselves in a world of chance and happenstance, nor does he delegate ordinary human affairs to angels and saints.  He himself as Father cares for their everyday lives.  It was this profound faith that God is the God of human and personal as well as cosmic history that gave the Reformation much of its power.  Over time, however, this living awareness of God's superintending presence faded, and the doctrine of providence became largely a theological postulate.

The most significant defect in John Wimber's teaching, according to Wallace Benn and Mark Burkill, is his failure to appreciate the sovereignty of God and its implications.19 There is little recognition that it may be God's will for a Christian to be sick or suffer or that God can use these for their good.  There is little recognition of the fact that illnesses are often the body's warning that people are living unhealthy lifestyles.  There is little acknowledgement that in many areas of life Christians and non-Christians share equally in the common lot of fallen humanity.  Together they suffer because of earthquakes, famines, plagues and ordinary human sickness.  This does not mean that God is uninterested in the lot of Christians.  It does mean that he loves both the saved and the lost and that he is working out his purposes within a fallen world and will one day deliver his people from it.

Today we need to recover the doctrine of providence as a living reality in our everyday lives, for it is the encompassing frame within which we must understand all human experiences.  God is the God of history: of Russia, China and India as well as of North America and Europe.  And God is the God of our lives: of sickness, pain, failure, oppression and death as well as of healing, joy and success.  He uses all these for our ultimate good (Romans 8:28).  In times of difficulty, we may doubt God's providence.  We do not always feel his hand in ours.  But later, in retrospect, we realize that God was closest to us in our times of trial.

The Presence of the Son. Within this bigger frame, we need to experience the presence of the living Christ with us.  As humans, we live in a world suffering the consequences of the fall.  Plagues, famines, wars, suffering and death are part of our human experience (Rom. 8:19-23).  As Christians living in a fallen world, we can expect hardships, poverty and persecution (I Cor. 4:10-13; 11 Tim. 3:12; I Peter 4:12-18).  Moreover, we are called to take up our cross and follow Christ (Matt. 10:38-39; 16:24-26).  The good news is that in all of these experiences Christ is with us (Matt. 28:7).

This presence manifests itself first in our salvation.  It was Christ whose death and resurrection made salvation possible.  That salvation is also at work in us today.  Christ saved us and is saving us from the power and judgment of sin.

This presence is found in the fact that the Master who once walked the lanes of Galilee is the same Master who is invisibly present with us (Matt. 28:20).  There is nothing that can separate us from his love and care (Rom. 8:35-39).  The Father answers our prayers because Christ pleads for us John 14-15).  And Christ provides us with the grace and strength to live with "weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions and calamities" (II Cor. 12:10).

This presence is seen in the reality of the church, which is Christ's body.  As John Bright points out, "It is a pitiful and helpless minority composed, for the most part, of people of no account (cf.  I Cor. 1:26-28), the offscouring and disinherited.' 20Nevertheless, it has turned the world upside down.

Finally, this presence is found in the hope of our future resurrections hope founded on the resurrection of Christ himself and promised to us who believe (I Cor. 15).

This was the message of the sixteenth-century Anabaptists, with their emphasis on living moment by moment in fellowship and obedience to Christ.  Later, when the Reformation doctrine of providence was reduced to scholastic debates, it became the message of the Pietists.  Today it is the message of the East African revival, whose emphasis on "living in the light" has sustained the church in Uganda in some of the most terrible persecutions in history.  It is a message we must recover.

The Power of the Spirit. The Pentecostals and charismatics remind us that within the care of the Father and the presence of Christ we need to experience the power of the Holy Spirit.  This power was demonstrated in the life of Christ and in the early church in signs and wonders.  But, as Paul, Peter, John and the other writers of the New Testament point out in their theological reflections, such demonstrations are secondary to the power of the Holy Spirit within humans, leading them to salvation and to a victorious life in Christ.

The power of the Holy Spirit is at work first in convicting people of their sins and wooing them to faith in Christ.  Without the Spirit, there can be no faith.21  On the other hand, we receive the Spirit when we respond in faith to the gospel.  To be more specific than this only leads to endless quibbling about the order of Christian experience.  Denny notes,

The faith which abandons itself to Christ is at the same time a receiving of the Spirit of Christ .... There are not two things here but one, though it can be represented in the two relations which the words faith and Spirit suggest.  Where human responsibility is to be emphasized, it is naturally faith which is put to the front (Gal. 3:2); where the gracious help of God is the main point, prominence is given to the Spirit.22

Not only does the Holy Spirit play an important role in bringing us to salvation, but he also gives us the assurance of that salvation (Rom. 8:14; I John 3:24).

Secondly, the Holy Spirit leads us into the truth (John 14:17).  Without his ongoing work in us, we cannot comprehend the mysteries of the gospel.  Before his departure, Jesus promised to send to his followers the Spirit of Truth (John 16:1-3; see also I John 5:7).  He also referred to the Spirit as the Counselor who would convince the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment (John 14:25; 16:8).

Thirdly, the Spirit transforms our lives (II Cor. 3:18).  He enables us to have victory over sin (Eph. 6:17).  He helps us in our weaknesses (Rom. 8:26).  He sensitizes our consciences (Rom. 9:1).  He sanctifies us and makes us holy (I Cor. 6:11; 1 Peter 1:2).  He strengthens us and comes to our aid in moments of crisis (Eph. 3:16; Mark 13:11; Luke 12:12).  And the Spirit will resurrect our mortal bodies from death just as he raised Christ from the dead (Rom 8: 1 1).
Fourthly, the power of the Holy Spirit is manifest in the preaching and persuasion of the gospel.  Christ himself was anointed by the Spirit to preach the Good News (Luke 4:18-19).  Paul repeatedly connects pneuma (Spirit) and dunamis (power) in contexts which deal with the missionary preaching of the apostles.  He writes, "For our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction .... For you received the word in much affliction, with joy inspired by the Holy Spirit" (I Thess. 1:5-6).

There is a danger here of equating "power" with "miracles." For example, John Wimber writes in Power Evangelism, "When first-century Christians came to a new town signs and wonders followed."23 He concludes, "Signs and wonders resulted in dramatic church growth.  They were the catalyst for evangelism."24 The fact is that few who were healed became disciples.  The power of the Holy Spirit is manifest in the gospel itself, which is the power of God unto salvation (Rom. 1:6), and in the cross, which is foolishness to the world (I Cor. 1:18).  Paul reminds us that "faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes by the preaching of Christ" (Rom. 10:17).

The Whole Work of God. The activities of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are not three separate works.  They are the work of one God.  We are often most aware of the Holy Spirit in our lives here and now, for it is his task to lead us day by day.  The task of the Holy Spirit (who is also called the Spirit of Christ in Romans 8:9) is to point us to Jesus Christ and not to himself (John 14:26; 16:13-15).  He is God at work within us, leading us to glorify and obey Christ as Lord. 

Christ's work, on the other hand, is to reveal to us the Father and to glorify him on earth (John 17).  It is in Christ that we humans see the definitive revelation of the nature and being of God the Father (John 14:9-1 1).
The Father's work is to send the Spirit and to exalt Christ, so that at his name every knee shall one day bow, in heaven, on earth and under the earth (Phil. 2:10-11).

If we overlook the whole work of God on earth and focus on only a part, or if we ignore the central thrust of God's purposes, we are in danger of distorting the truth.

A Theology of Creation and Redemption

In developing a theology of God's work in our everyday lives, we must reject the modern dualism that restricts God to otherworldly matters and leaves the natural world to science.  We must begin with a theology of creation, God's first act, in order to understand what were God's original and ultimate purposes.  It is within that framework that we must locate our theology of redemption, in which God restores his creation ruined by sin.  In eternity, God's perfect creation, redeemed through Christ, will continue, but God's redemptive acts will then be in the past.

In developing a theology of creation and redemption, we must see God at work in cosmic history (in creation, fall, redemption and eternity), in human history (in the affairs of nations and individuals to bring about his cosmic purposes) and in natural history (in the material order he created, which also awaits redemption) (Rom. 8:22; II Peter 3:11-13; see Figure Three).  We are taught the first of these in our churches, but often we explain human and natural history in secular terms and thereby reinforce the neoplatonic dualism that underlies modern thought.  Only as we bring God back into the very center of history and science will we root out the secularism that has plagued our age.

It is not easy for us, however, to return to such a holistic theology.  Many of our words in English contain an implicit neoplatonic dualistic worldview.  For example, we speak of "supernatural" in contrast to "natural" and "miracle" in contrast to "ordinary" or "normal." But these reflect a nonbiblical worldview.  The term "nature," which implies an autonomous, self-sustained universe, is not found in Hebrew thought.  Rather, the word used for this world and its order is bara, "what is created." The term, in fact, is a verb and implies an origin in and continued dependence on God.  To us, some events may seem ordinary and others extraordinary.  In fact, all are due to the active, sustaining hand of God.  In the biblical sense, no birth of a child is "natural," nor any divine healing "unnatural" in the sense of being contrary to the divinely created order.

Therefore we first need to see all healing as God's work.  If we place too much emphasis on "miraculous" healing, we are in danger, in the long run, of reinforcing secularism.  To overstress the miraculous implies that what is not miraculous is "natural" and can be explained without God.  It puts what the church does through prayer in opposition to what humans can do by modern scientific medicine in hospitals.  To non-Christians, the latter far outweighs what the church can show.  Christians often turn to medicine when their prayers fail.  The dichotomy is false to begin with.  God works in both ordinary and extraordinary ways.

Secondly, a focus on miracles as the key evidence of God at work in our lives leaves us essentially with a God-of-the-gaps.  We use him to account for what science cannot.  But as science makes new discoveries, it often explains in "ordinary" terms what we once reserved for the miraculous.  For instance, Christians once prayed for protection from lightning; now they put up lightning rods and no longer pray.  The error here is to see God chiefly at work in the miraculous.  We must see his hand as much in what we think we understand as in what we do not.
Thirdly, as we will see later, miracles are reported in all religions.  Scripture itself warns us that Satan will perform them (II Thess. 2:9).  In other words, miracles are not self-authenticating; they themselves must be tested to determine their source.

When we are new in faith, it is natural for us to look for visible evidences of God's existence, such as hearings and material blessings.  As we grow in faith, we root our faith in God's revelation of himself through the scriptures and in our personal walk with him.  We also begin to see his hand as much in the miracle of a child or a tree as in a vision, in the "ordinary" recovery of the body tended by a doctor as in a dramatic "extraordinary" healing.

A Theology of the Kingdom of God

Within a theology of creation, we need a theology of the kingdom of God, particularly as this has to do with God's work in the world after the fall.  Sickness, suffering, starvation and death-these are the consequences of sin.  Christ's response was to come as a human in order to establish and proclaim his kingdom as the new work of God on earth.  This is what he preached (Matt. 4:23; Mark 1: 14).  It is the message of salvation that includes good news to the poor, release to the captives, sight to the blind and liberty to the op-pressed (Luke 4:18-19).  But how does the kingdom of God relate to our experiences as we continue to live in the kingdoms of this world: to famines, oppression, poverty, suffering, disease and death?

Down through history there have been prophets who claimed that the kingdom of God has already come in its fullness for God's people.25 Christians, they said, need not be sick or poor or failures or sinners-or even die.  This, in fact, was a heresy in Paul's day, when some claimed that the resurrection had already come for God's people (11 Tim. 2:18).  In recent years we see a resurgence of this message, which fits well with our western cultural emphasis on ourselves and our health, wealth and success, and our denial of death.26 Despite such preaching, sincere, devout, praying Christians remain poor and broken.  They become sick and die.

The kingdom of God has come to us in the person of Christ.  It is found wherever God's people are obedient to the King.  But the kingdom will come in its fullness only with Christ's return (Rev. 12: 1 0).  Until then, we live, as it were, between two worlds.  We are people of this sinful world: we are tempted and sin; we are weak and we fall; and the processes of degeneration and death are at work in us from the moment of our birth.  But we are also people of the kingdom: though we sin, in God's sight we are sinless; we face death, but we have eternal life; we see a decaying world around us, but we also see the signs of a heavenly kingdom in the transformed lives of God's people.

"Signs and wonders" is the phrase used in scripture for self-authenticating demonstrations of supernatural power.  The phrase, however, is ambiguous.  At times it points to the acts of God (Acts 2:22,43).  At other times it refers to the works of false prophets.  Bright notes,

In the language of the Synoptic Gospels, at least, the miracles of Christ are never spoken of as "signs and wonders" (se-meia kai terata), i.e., self-authenticating exhibitions of divine power designed to prove the claims of Jesus in the eyes of the people.  Indeed, such "signs" (i.e., marvels) were precisely the sort of thing Christ refused to perform (e.g., Mark 8:11-12; Matt. 12:38-40).  False messiahs are the ones who show off with I 'signs and wonders" (Mark 13:22; Matt. 24:24), and for Jesus to have done likewise would have been, from that point of view at least, the flat disproof of his claim to be the true Messiah.  On the contrary, his miracles are "mighty works" ("powers," dunameis) of the kingdom of God.27

There are a number of misunderstandings regarding these terms against which we must guard.  First, signs and wonders should not be simply equated with miracles.  The terms refer to anything that reminds us that God is with us, "miraculous" or not.  The rainbow is the sign of God's covenant with Noah (Gen. 9:12), circumcision the sign of his covenant with Israel (Gen. 17: 1 1), Moses' mighty works signs of God's deliverance of his oppressed people (Ex. 4:17) and the Sabbath a sign of God's covenant with his people.  Isaiah walked barefoot as a sign of God's judgment on Egypt and Ethiopia (Is. 20:3), and the sun went back ten "steps" as a sign of God's healing of Hezekiah (II Kings 20:9-1 1).  Similarly, in the New Testament, the fact that Christ was wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger was a sign to the shepherds that this was the Messiah (Luke 2:12), and Judas' kiss a sign that this man was Jesus (Matt. 26:48).

Nor should signs and wonders be associated only with God.  Pharaoh's magicians did signs (Ex. 7:10-22), and so do Satan (II Thess. 2:9) and false prophets (Matt. 24:24).  They are not proofs of God's presence-they themselves need to be tested for their source.  A sign is anything that reminds us of something else, an event that points beyond itself .
Secondly, signs and wonders that come from God should not be equated with the coming of the kingdom in its fullness.  Rather, they are promises, reassuring us that the kingdom indeed will come (Rom. 8:22-25; 11 Cor. 5:1-5).  They themselves are not that kingdom-they point to it and show us something of its nature.  From time to time God does heal our physical diseases to enable us to do his work and to show us the nature of the kingdom, but the fullness of health will come only with our new bodies beyond death.  To claim that Christians should never be ill or that when they are sick God will always heal them is to declare that the kingdom of God has come to them in its fullness.  But this denies that death is still at work within them, and it settles for much too little.  In the kingdom yet to come we will not just have our present bodies, healthy and strong-we will have new bodies that transcend anything we can imagine.
Thirdly, signs and wonders are not ends in themselves.  Their purpose is to convey God's message to us.  As David Hubbard notes, "The primary motive for divine miracle is not compassion but revelation"-or, one might say, God's mighty works are a revelation of divine compassion (cf.  Ps. 107).  Throughout scripture God performs miracles at critical junctures in history and in the lives of his people.  He delivered Israel from Egypt, he defeated their enemies when they were outnumbered, and he spoke to them when they had forgotten him by messages and miracles through Elijah and Elisha.  He announced by signs that Jesus was indeed the Messiah, the Christ.  Today some turn to God because of a special work he has performed in their lives at their moment of decision.  Others experience his presence in particular ways in moments of crisis and despair.

One common temptation is to focus on the signs themselves rather than on the message they bear (cf.  John 6:26; Luke 23:8-9).  Many people want healing, but they are not willing to give up all to follow Christ.  Like the rich young ruler, they want the blessings of living with Christ, but they do not want to hear him say, "Sell what you have and give it to the poor, and follow me" or "Whoever loses his life for my sake will find it." Nor are they happy when Paul reminds them that Christians are often called to bear persecution, including beatings, mutilations and other physical wounds, and that this suffering is an honor (Phil. 1:29).  These are not words they want to hear in an age of self-fulfillment.  The kingdom of God comes in signs, but one of these signs is suffering for the sake of Christ.

Another temptation is to confuse the sign with the reality.  Those who do this are like the man on his way to San Francisco who saw a sign pointing the way and camped under it, thinking he had arrived.

A Theology of Power

Today in the church we hear calls for demonstrations of power.  This should not surprise us, for power is the central concern of our day.  Nor should it surprise us that some see divine power as the key to prosperity, to health, to overcoming opposition and, above all, to controlling their own lives.

The scriptures have much to say about power.  God is the God Almighty (El Shaddai, Gen. 17:1), who created and sustains all things by his power (Gen. 1), who defeated Satan and his hosts (John 16:33) and who will bring all things into subjection to himself (Eph. 1:22).  Moreover, by his might he saved us and gave us the power to become like him in our lives and bear witness of his greatness.  All this we must affirm.

Scripture also has much to say about the ways in which power is to be used.  Unfortunately, many Christians think of power as the world around them does.  They see it as active-it manifests itself by demonstrations of might that overcome the resistance of the op-position.  Consequently, they seek to show the world God's superiority by means of power encounters that demonstrate his ability to heal and cast out demons, confident that when non-Christians see these, they will believe.

This, however, is not the picture we find in scripture or in history.  There are demonstrations of God's power in preliminary confrontations of evil.  Elijah called down fire from heaven, Jesus healed the sick and cast out demons, Peter and John healed the lame man at the temple gate, and Stephen, full of grace and power, did many signs and wonders among the people.  These demonstrations, however, were not followed by mass conversions.  Some believed, but then the opposition arose.  Elijah fled to the desert and wrestled with depression as Jezebel appointed new prophets for Baal.  Jesus and Stephen were arrested and killed.  Peter and John were thrown into jail.

The history of such "power encounters" is that after the preliminary confrontation, "the powers" mobilize in opposition.  These powers are Satan and his hosts.  They are also human organizations-institutions, governments and societies-such as those that crucified Christ and persecuted the early church.  Ever since Babel, the center of the opposition to the kingdom of God has been the organized systems of sane people in corporate rebellion against God.  Our first sin as humans was self-deification.  We wanted neither God nor Satan to lord it over us; we wanted to be our own gods.  And the same is still true today.

God's supreme victory over Satan took place at the cross and the resurrection.  Satan used his full might seeking to destroy Christ or to provoke him to use his divine might in response.  Either would have meant defeat for Christ, the first because Satan would have overcome him and the second because it would have destroyed God's plan of salvation.  Godly power is always rooted in love, not pride; redemption, not conquest; and concern for the other, not the self.  It is humble, not proud, and inviting, not rejecting.  Its symbol is the cross, not the sword.  This is why to the world it is seen as weakness (I Cor. 1:23-27).

As Christians and as churches, we are in desperate need of showing God's power in transformed lives and in a Christlike confrontation of evil wherever we find it, whether demonic or systemic.  We need also to guard against distortions of a biblical view of power.  We must not look at power in worldly terms.  Furthermore, we must not divorce power from truth.  What we need, some say, is demonstrations of power, not theological reflection.  But power is not self-authenticating-it must be tested for its source.  Moreover, demonstrations of power seldom lead people to truth and salvation.  Jesus healed many, but few of them became his disciples.  Of the ten lepers he healed, one returned, and then only to give thanks.

Finally, we must guard against temptations to control power ourselves and so to make ourselves gods.  The power God gives is never our own.  We are simply stewards called to be faithful in using that power to the glory of God, not our own honor or advancement.

A Theology of Discernment

In dealing with divine healing and provision, we need a theology of discernment.  Signs and wonders are not confined to Christianity.  Miraculous hearings, speaking in tongues, prophecies, resurrections and other extraordinary experiences are reported in all major religions.  For example, Baba Farid, a Pakistani Muslim saint, is said to have cured incurable diseases, raised a dying man to life, converted dried dates into gold nuggets and covered vast distances in a moment.28 Hundreds of thousands flock each year to the Hindu temple to Venkateswara at Tirupathi, south India, many of them fulfilling vows because they claim the god healed them when they prayed to him during their illnesses.  Similar reports come from Buddhist temples in southeast Asia and spiritist shrines in Latin America.  Yogis claim that they can rise from the dead and shamans report trips into heaven.  Upwards of 15,000 people claim healing each year at Lourdes, and many more at the Virgin of Guadelupe near Mexico City.  Healing is also central to Christian Science, and testimonies of miraculous healing are reported in every issue of the Christian Science Sentinel.  One man wrote that he was healed from astigmatism after applying the principles taught by Mary Baker Eddy in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. Another wrote,

I had two hearings after I had attended the Sunday school for some time.  One was a large birthmark on my forehead.  The other was a severe skin condition .... Some later hearings came quickly; others took longer and involved more study on my part, sometimes with help from a Christian Science practitioner.  But I was always healed.29

In short, there is no phenomenon that in itself is proof of God's presence.

How are we to respond to all this?  Scripture itself is clear that Satan performs signs and wonders, counterfeiting God's work.  It warns us to guard against being led astray (Matt. 7:15-16; 1 Tim. 4:1,7; II Tim. 3:1-4:5; II Thess. 2:9-10).  Nowhere are we encouraged to let our minds go blank in order to let the Holy Spirit come in.  That is a technique commonly found in cults.  Rather, we are to seek the wisdom that enables us to test the spirits to see whether or not they come from God (I Cor. 12:3; I Thess. 5:20-21; 1 John 4:1-6).  In this, our attitude should not be one of skepticism but of openness to hearing the voice of God when he truly speaks to us.

What are the signs that enable us to discern the work of God and differentiate it from the work of self or Satan?  It is too simple to say that what God's people do is of God (cf.  Matt. 7:21-23) or that what non-Christians do is of Satan (cf.  Num. 22-24).

Nor are physical phenomena the test of the work of the Holy Spirit.  Many today, including Wimber, appeal to warm sensations, fluttering eyelids, involuntary muscle movements and feelings of I energy" coming into the body as proof that God is at work.  Lloyd-Jones warns us that such experiences are common also in other religions.  He writes,

You will find in the case of spiritist healing that there is always emphasis on the physical element.  People will testify to a feeling of heat as the hand of the healer came upon them, or of a sensation like an electric shock, or something like that-the physical is always very prominent .... There is nothing corresponding to that in the New Testament .... They do not talk much about their physical sensations but about the Lord and his love for them, and their love for him.30

Our experiences must themselves be tested, for they are not self-authenticating.  We need to avoid reading our experiences into scripture and focusing on them rather than on the scripture itself.

Similarly, the "words of knowledge" widely used in many healing services need themselves to be tested.  God warned Israel not to take prophesying lightly, for those who speak claim to speak for God (Deut. 13).  Those whose prophecies did not come true were to be stoned.  Those whose prophecies did come true but who led the people away from God were also condemned.  Paul issues the same warning (I Cor. 12:3; I Thess. 5:20-21).  Luke commends the church in Berea for testing Paul's teachings (Acts 17: 1 1).

The Bible provides us with other tests.  First, does the teaching, practice or movement give glory to God rather than to humans (John 7:18; 8:50; 12:27-28; 17:4)?  Unfortunately, in extremely individualistic, culturally diverse societies such as we have in North America, people tend to follow strong personalities.  Little other social cohesion brings them together into groups.  We must be aware, therefore, of the particular temptation in our society to deify strong leaders.

Secondly, does it recognize the lordship of Christ (I John 2:3-5; 5:3; James 2:14-19)?  The test here is not primarily one of orthodoxy, but of obedience.  The question is not whether the leader and movement affirm the truth that Jesus is Lord or even that they feel a great love for him.  The question is one of submission to Christ.  In other words, there must be an attitude of humility, learning and willingness to obey.

Thirdly, does a teaching, practice or movement conform to scriptural teaching?  Are those involved willing to submit their lives and teachings to the instruction of the scriptures and the leading of the Holy Spirit?  This must be an ongoing process, for the scriptures provide the norm against which we must examine all doctrine.

Fourthly, are the leaders of a movement accountable to others in the church?  The interpretation of scripture is, ultimately, not a personal matter but a concern of the church as a hermenutical community.31 We must test our understandings with others in leadership (Gal. 2:1-2) and with the teachings of the saints down through history.  In an age of extreme individualism and a focus on great personalities, this test is of particular importance.

Fifthly, do those involved manifest the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-25)?  Is there love, or self-centeredness? joy, or only excitement?  Peace, or frenzy and tension?  Patience, or short tempers?  Gentleness, or arrogance? Goodness, or intrigue?  Faith in God, or dependence on human planning?  Meekness, or arrogance?  And moderation, or excesses?  Luther pointed out that the difference between Christians and pagan miracle workers is not the kinds of miracles they do, but in the transformations that take place in their lives.  The power of God transforms us into the likeness of Christ; the powers of self and the world do not.

Sixthly, does the teaching and practice lead us toward spiritual maturity (I Cor. 12-14)?  Some things are characteristic of spiritual immaturity, such as a dependence on miracles to reassure us that God indeed is and is with us.  As we grow spiritually mature, we leave these things behind and root our faith in God himself, in his self-revelation to us through scripture and in a personal walk with him.

Seventhly, is the truth kept in balance with other truths (Matt. 23:23-24)?  There are many teachings that are true, but to over or under emphasize them is error.  It is wrong to take secondary truth and make it primary.  For example, we can so emphasize peace or justice or healing or exorcisms or even salvation that in practice they become the whole of our gospel.  It is Christ who is the center of the gospel, and when he is at the center, the many dimensions of the kingdom fall into their proper balance.

Finally, does the teaching lead us to seek the unity of the body of Christ, or is it divisive (John 17:11; I John 2:9-1 1; 5:1-2)?  Love for one another is the hallmark of the church (John 5:12).  This does not mean that divisions will not occur.  It does mean that teachings that lead us to a sense of spiritual superiority have led us astray.  We must work for fellowship and continued relationships with Christians who disagree with us and weep when they reject us or go astray.

A Theology of Suffering and Death

Finally, we need a theology of sickness, injury, suffering and death.  These consequences of sin cannot be divorced from each other.  The processes of aging and death are at work in humans from the moment of their conception.  The side effects of this are sickness and bodily suffering.  While God often does heal us by natural and by extraordinary means, our full delivery is only after death, when we receive our new body.  For Christians, death is the final release, for we would not want to live forever in our present world, even in perfect health.

Here Wimber's teaching is particularly weak.  He claims, "It's God's nature to heal not to teach us through sickness.  Sickness is generally not beneficial."32 To reconcile this position with scrip-tural teaching regarding suffering, Wimber must divorce sickness from bodily injuries suffered in persecution and from death, for the Bible makes clear that the latter are the lot of those who follow Christ (Heb. 11:35-38; Gal. 5:11; II Tim. 3:12).  He says, "There is no indication in Scripture that suffering means or includes sickness.' 33

This denial that God can and does use sickness to teach us is hard to maintain on biblical grounds.  Paul speaks of his "thorn in the flesh." Most Bible scholars agree that this was some normal bodily affliction or disease.  Moreover, Paul refers to colleagues who were not healed (Phil. 2:26-27; I Tim. 4:20). Job too was sick, but God used everything that befell him to bring him to a more mature and deeper faith (Job 42:5-6).

It is also hard to maintain in terms of Christian experience.  Many Christians testify to the fact that it was in times of sickness and suffering that they were drawn closest to Christ and learned important lessons of faith.  Those are times when people realize their own vulnerability and their dependence on God.

Furthermore, it is hard to believe that God is more concerned about the illness of Christians in ordinary life than in the wounds and injuries of those who are suffering for the sake of Christ.  Nowhere does Wimber take seriously the possibility that it may be God's will for a Christian to suffer.

A corollary of this is that for Christians, death is a defeat.  This, in fact, is what Wimber claimed with regard to the death of David Watson, the British charismatic leader, despite repeated prayers for healing.34 There is no place in Wimber's theology for seeing death as positive, as going to meet the Lord, or for godly dying, in which Christians look forward in peace to being with Christ and their departed loved ones.  Certainly the power of the gospel is seen more clearly in our resurrection in a new life beyond than in the preservation of our lives here.  Moreover, godly deaths have been power-ful testimonies to the truth of the gospel and have led many to Christ.

Unfortunately, a theology that rejects sickness and suffering fits well into our age, with its denial of death35 and emphasis on positive thinking.


Like most movements in the church, the current emphasis on healing, prophecy and exorcism has both positive and negative sides to it.  It reminds us of the need to take seriously the work of the Holy Spirit in meeting everyday human needs.  It is in danger, however, of placing primary emphasis on what is of secondary importance in scripture and of bending the gospel to fit the spirit of our times.  Satan often tempts us at the point of our greatest strengths.  His method is not to sell us rank heresy, but to take the good we have and distort it by appealing to our self-interests (cf.  Gen. 3).  What are some of the dangers in the current emphasis On healing and exorcism against which we must guard?

Basing Theology on Experience

Living as we do in a culture based on pragmatism, it is easy for us to base our theology on experience.  The test of truth is success.  The sign of spiritual life and vital worship is feelings of excitement.  The measure of our methods is growth and size.

In his evaluation of the great revivals of which he was a part, Jonathan Edwards cautioned against using experience to validate theology.  Specifically, he gave twelve tests which were not signs of the work of God.  Among them are:

    • "Great religious experiences in themselves are no sign of their validity or that necessarily they are from God."
    • "Religious experiences which have great effect upon the body are not necessarily valid."
    • "Multiplied religious experiences, accompanying one another, are no evidence that the experience is necessarily saving or divine."
    • "Spiritual experiences which stimulate the spending of much time in religious activity and zealous participation in the externals of worship are not necessarily saving experiences."
    • "Religious experiences which cause men and women to praise and glorify God with their mouths are not necessarily saving and divine.36
In worship and in ministry we must test our human experiences against a theology based on biblical revelation, and guard lest we use those experiences to determine our theology.


We live in a modern society that places the self at the center of life.  In such a setting, we need to guard against a theology that mirrors our times by focusing on ourselves and not on God and his agenda.  The danger here is two-fold.
First, it is dangerously easy to institutionalize immaturity.  New believers do indeed generally come to Christ with their own interests in mind-their salvation, their health, their well-being-and God begins with them where they are.  The church must do the same.  But God calls us to spiritual growth, in which our obsession with ourselves gives way to a love for God and others.  Christian maturity is to imitate Christ, the person who lived for others.  While ministering to seekers at their points of need, the primary focus should be on more mature expressions of worship and ministry.
Unfortunately, many Christians have bought into the western cultural emphasis on personal health and prosperity as ultimate ends in themselves.  As a result, we focus on ourselves while millions around the world are dying of poverty, oppression and violence.

Health in scripture is defined, not in terms of personal well-being, but in terms of shalom, or loving relationships.  It begins when we are reconciled to God and our enemies.  It manifests itself in our mutual submission to one another in the church and our self-sacrificing service of others in need.  Its fruit is physical and psychological health.  To focus on personal well-being and prosperity rather than on shalom is to preach a gospel that treats the symptoms but does not cure the illness.

Secondly, it is a small but dangerous step from self-centeredness to self-deification.  Ever since the Garden of Eden, this has been the first and most fundamental of human sins.  Satan did not tempt Adam and Eve to worship him, but to worship themselves-their own freedom, their rights, their potential of becoming gods.  Self-possession, not demon possession, is the greatest danger in our Western societies.

The results of this self-centeredness in the church can be devastating.  It leads to spiritual pride: the feeling among those involved in a movement that they are spiritually superior to those who are not, and a judgmental attitude towards those who disagree with them.  It also leads to competition for power and divisions in the church.  Christ-centeredness, on the other hand, leads to humility, a desire for the unity of the church and a willingness to hear as well as to speak (Rom. 15:1-2; 1 Cor. 10: 12).

Confusing Reports with Reality

Those who emphasize miraculous healing often base their claims on personal testimonies of those who have experienced hearings.  Because such testimonies, and the experiences on which they are based, are powerful and immediate, many people take them to be self-validating.  But feelings of well-being, important as they are, are not by themselves accurate, objective measures of health.  Mansell Pattison found that most of those who claimed miraculous healing returned to medical doctors within a week or two of the experience.  The same was true of a number of hearings reported at Fuller.  The October, 1982 issue of Christian Life had several testimonies of those claiming healing in the Wimber course.  Within two weeks of the testimonies being given and before they appeared in print, my wife and I visited one person who had to be taken to the hospital and talked to another who no longer felt well.
Feelings of well-being are influenced by a great many factors.  People naturally feel better when others gather around them and make them the focus of their attention.  Moreover, God has created in the body processes that work toward health.  Christian honesty requires that claims of miraculous healing be delayed until careful examinations are made over longer periods of time, and others must be permitted to investigate those claims.  The lack of such testing for objective reality is one of my strong concerns for the cur-rent emphasis on healing in the church.

In contrast to many of the hearings claimed today, those performed by Christ were instant, dramatic and durable.  Those crippled for life walked.  Those blind from birth saw and recognized what they saw.  Lazarus, who was dead for three days, was brought back to life.

Christian honesty also requires that we report our failures as well and as loudly as we proclaim our successes.  Smedes notes,

To the extent that we are eager to sustain people's interests, hopes and expectations, we are tempted to exaggerate successes and disguise failures .... Honesty in a crooked world is not as spectacular as healing in a hurting world, but in the long run it is a stronger sign of God's power. 
One requirement of honesty in a public ministry of healing is full and accurate reporting, both to the faithful and to the world-at-large.  The minister who engages in healing should publicize his or her failures as loudly as the successes.37

Finally, we need to test the source of those hearings that do occur.  Scripture warns us that not all miracles come from God (Acts 8:9-24; II Thess. 2:3-12), and the voice we hear within us may be our own desires (James 4:1-2; 11 Pet. 2:15).

Influenced by the spirit of the times, many today take success as a test of what is good and of God.  For example, some reported that the class on healing at Fuller was the largest and most popular on campus.  The implicit assumption was that this success was evidence of its validity.  Few noted that many in the class were not regular students at Fuller, but members of Wimber's church interested only in this one course.  Similarly, the rapid growth of the Vineyard church is used to confirm the truth of the message of healing being preached.38

Success, however, is a measure of human phenomena, not of theological realities.  Many movements are successful, even though they do not proclaim the truth.  We must test all ideas and movements in the light of scripture. 
Unfortunately, such tests are often seen as evidence of unbelief, rather than obedience to the biblical mandate to "test the spirits."

A New Christian Magic

Another danger is to turn healing, miracles, success and prosperity into a new Christian magic.  This is one of the fundamental tendencies we have as sinful humans, for magic makes us gods.  We feel we are supreme, for we can carry out our will by controlling nature, supernatural powers or even God himself.

Magic is the opposite of religion.  In magic, we are in control; in religion, we are in submission to God and his will.  The difference between the two is not in practice-it is in attitude.  We can pray seeking God's help, or we can pray thinking, often without even admitting it to ourselves, that we can make God do our bidding.  We can read the scripture to learn and grow, or we can carry it in our pocket, confident that it will protect us from harm, like an amulet.  We pray when our child is seriously ill and ask that God's will be done, but soon find ourselves trying to coerce God to do our bid-ding.  We may not even be fully aware when we shift from one to the other.

One sign of magic is a formula approach.  We believe our prayers will be answered if we say the right things and act in certain ways.  Scripture instructs us to pray "in the name of Christ," but if we think that our prayers have power only when we utter these words, worship has become magic.  To pray in Christ's name is to pray for what he wills in the situation (James 4:3).

Similarly, some argue, despite the example of Jesus, that to add 'nevertheless, not my will but thine be done" at the end of a prayer shows lack of faith and weakens the prayer.  The fundamental attitude of worship is subordination.  In worship, it is important that God's will be done, not that our desires be answered.  Faith is not some kind of "power" that controls God.  It is entrusting ourselves completely to God's care.  In magic, on the other hand, our will is supreme.

Unfortunately, Christian magic is very much a part of our times.  One recent tabloid advertisement promises health, money, a job, happiness, success and good fortune to those who pray using the golden cross that will be sent to all enquirers.  Other advertisements in the same paper promise health and prosperity to those who write in for the "miraculous Lourdes cross," the "cross of Antron," water from the river Jordan or the special prayers of Rev.  Dr. John.  One preacher promises those who use the paper "prayer rug" he encloses (on which are written special Bible verses) that they will receive "salvation, joy, love, peace, extra money! new and better homes! new car! putting home back together!-and the desires of their heart!" (exclamation marks in the original).  To reassure the readers, the letter has the testimony of a man who started with nothing but now has two restaurants, two motels, a Dairy Cream store, a service station, thirty employees, four cars and three trucks because he used the prayer rug.  With the prayer rug comes a book that describes which Bible verses should be "claimed" to gain particular ends.

These are blatant cases of Christian magic and easy to detect.  Of greater danger are the subtler forms of magic that creep into our thinking unawares.  For example, one media preacher asks people to "sow money seeds in God's fields" by giving to his ministry.  He promises that God will repay them a thousand-fold.  In so doing, he reduces biblical principles to mechanical formulas.  Another leader advocates the saying of certain phrases in prayers of healing to assure positive results.  The appeal of magic is great, for it makes us gods.

Reinforcing Secularism

Contradictory as it may seem, by overemphasizing miracles, in the long run we reinforce secularism.  To the extent that we focus our attention on the "miraculous" nature of some events and differentiate them from other events viewed as "natural," we rein-force our old Western dualism that consigns God to otherworldly matters and explains natural phenomena purely in scientific terms.  If we take this approach, claims of miracles do initially remind us of God's work in this world.  As these miracles become routine, however, they lose their impact.  They are no longer seen as extraordinary-as real miracles.  Consequently, we must look for new and ever more spectacular miracles to reassure us that God is with us.  In the long run, the net effect of this escalation is the secularization of our thought.  We do not see God at work in ordinary, natural processes.  As miracles become commonplace, they no longer remind us of God.  In the end, the quest for ever new demonstrations of God's presence breaks down, and we are left in a totally secularized world in which there are few ways for God to speak to us.

The answer lies not in seeking miracles, nor in denying them.  It is to reject this dichotomy altogether.  The answer is to see the naturalness of God's extraordinary hearings and the miraculous nature of his ordinary ones.  It is to avoid treating the former as greater signs of God's presence, whether explicitly or implicitly, by making them the center of our church's attention and ministry.


Christian maturity calls for a balanced concern for provision, health, peace, justice and righteousness-a balance that can be maintained only as Christ, not these causes, is at the center.  When we rediscover a forgotten truth, we frequently over-accentuate it.  The problem is not new.  As James Aiken points out, "The church in Corinth overemphasized the miraculous, specifically the gift of tongues.  Paul wrote not to frown on gifts, but to pursue balance in exercising them."39 The same caution against overemphasis needs to be made regarding the current focus on healing.

One danger we must avoid is focusing our attention more on our immediate human needs than on ultimate realities.  The result is a new and more subtle form of the social gospel.  With a renewed emphasis on God's special work in our everyday lives, we must be on guard lest we lose sight of the greater importance of dealing with sin and divine judgment.

This focus on the "now" is accentuated by our modern Western emphasis on personal needs and fulfillment, and on theories of psychology that order these needs along a scale from physical to psychological, then social and finally spiritual.  According to these theories, we can deal with higher level problems only when we have solved those below them.  In the church, this can lead us to spend so much time on present human needs that we have little time to deal with sin and righteousness or to focus our attention on God.  The amount of time we spend on something reflects its importance in our thinking, no matter what we say to the contrary.

The call of the scriptures is clear: We are called to be disciples of Jesus Christ.  Discipleship, not present well-being, is our central message.  Christ healed many, but few became his disciples.

A second danger is to emphasize healing, particularly physical healing, and to forget provision, justice, peace and equality.  All of them belong to the kingdom of God (Luke 4:18-19).  Feeding the hungry and healing the sick were among Jesus' first acts.  In a sense, they were easy to carry out and raised little opposition.  Far more costly was his condemnation of oppression, injustice and violence, for this, in the end, led to his death.

We too need to emphasize the whole gospel, including those parts that demand suffering and sacrifice on our part.  Our temptation is to emphasize the parts that benefit us personally, or to focus our attention on only one aspect, whether this be healing, peace or justice.  When we do so, however, we are in danger of shifting the center from Christ to ourselves or to a cause.  Christ then is on the margin, and we use him mainly to justify the gospel we preach.

Increasing the Burden

We rejoice when God heals in answer to prayer, and we should do so publicly, but what about those whom God, in his will and foreknowledge, chooses not to heal?  What do we say to them, for they are in the greatest need of ministry?  If we teach healing but have no answer for those who remain sick or face death, we generate in them a false sense of guilt and despair.

Here Wimber faces a dilemma.  He admits that people are often not healed after special prayer.  He is not willing, however, to see this as the will of God or to admit that sickness can lead us closer to him.  Benn and Burkill write,

At a ministers' seminar led by one of Wimber's team, one of us asked the question, "Is it ever in the loving will of God to allow His children to suffer for a greater good?" We received no reply.  Wimber's conclusion towards the end of an otherwise helpful chapter is staggering-"There are many reasons why people are not -healed when prayed for.  Most of the reasons involve some form of sin and unbelief (Power Healing, p. 164).  Yet he can still say, "I never blame the sick person for lack of faith if healing does not occur" (Power Healing, p. 186).40

To attribute sickness and death to lack of faith or to Christian defeat (as some claim in the case of David Watson) is too simple an answer (cf. job; John 9:2; II Cor. 12:7-9).  Even more than a theology of healing, we need a theology of suffering and death-one that does not see these as failures but as part of God's greater redemptive work.  We also need the grace of godly dying, in which our passing is marked by a God-given serenity, anticipation and hope.

Exalting the Leader

We have already noted that in highly individualistic, culturally pluralistic societies, such as we have in North America, there is a strong tendency to focus on personalities and to exalt leaders.  There are few strong social groups that hold people together and no dominant set of shared ideas and values that unite people in their thinking.  People are left to fend for themselves, and often they are attracted to a "big man" who claims to know the way.41 This is true in our modern world of business, politics, entertainment and even the church.

This model of leadership creates a number of problems within the church.  It encourages most Christians to be followers prone to trust uncritically what their leaders say.  It gives rise to leaders who are not themselves in submission and accountable to others in the church.

Throughout church history, this exaltation of leaders has been most common in movements centered around healing, exorcism and everyday human concerns.42 Few are tempted to say that the preacher saves the sinner.  Many, however, attribute hearings to the faith of a particular leader.  When others fail, it is to him or her that they take the sick for special prayer.

Healing in the church belongs to the congregation.  Some may have the particular gift of praying for the sick, but they do so as members of the body rather than as leaders.  Moreover, this is a secondary gift that must be subordinate to worship and the ministry of the Word (I Cor. 12:27-31).


What significance does all this have for healing ministries in the church?  Certainly scripture commands us to pray for the sick and to take those prayers seriously James 5:14-15).  This should be part of ordinary church life along with prayer for the destitute, the jobless, the homeless, the oppressed and, above all, the lost.  Moreover, prayer for the sick should be a part of the evangelistic outreach of the church.  What we need is discernment on how to be faithful to scripture and to guard against the fads of our time.  Several principles regarding such ministries are found in scripture.

A Pastoral Ministry

At the heart of the ministry of the church is a pastoral heart-a love of people and a willingness to share in their struggles and to help bear their burdens.  A church must be concerned with the everyday needs of human life and should minister to these needs in both personal and corporate ways.

There needs to be a ministry to the sick.  This is particularly true in urban settings, where people have lost the normal support groups of relatives, neighbors and friends.  Mansell Pattison found that for many who sought prayer for healing, the important thing was not that they were physically healed (many were not), but that they felt the support of others in their times of difficulty.  As humans, we need the spiritual healing that comes from being loved even more than we need physical well-being.

There needs equally to be a ministry to the oppressed-the poor, the battered, the jobless.  They are all around us.  They are in our churches, often unseen.  And there needs to be a ministry to those society tends to consider marginal-the lonely, the single, the aged, the retarded and handicapped, the migrants.  One key measure of the godliness of a society or a church is the way it treats the op-pressed and the marginalized.  It is for its own advantage that the world takes care of the successful, the powerful and the wealthy.  The church, however, is entrusted with the care of the poor, the widows, the orphans, the sick, the oppressed, the wayward, the spiritually immature and the lost.  It exists for others.  It is not a gathering of the spiritually strong, but a community of broken sinners who have experienced the grace of God and who now minister to others who are broken and lost.

These ministries can take many forms.  Special times of prayer can be set aside in certain services for those in need-the sick, the jobless, the sinner seeking forgiveness, the lonely and sad.  In the City Terrace Mennonite Brethren Church, these are invited to come to the front for special prayer once or twice a month.  In other churches, this ministry is given to Sunday school classes or to evening services.

Care must be taken, however, not to promise that all will be healed.  The expectations of the average Christian are frequently too low with regard to what God will do, but to raise them too high can be destructive to those God chooses not to heal at that moment.  Moreover, particular care must be given to those who continue to suffer, for they are in the greatest need of ministry: those whom God chooses not to heal, those who face death, those caught in difficult marriages and the like.  For them, the church needs a ministry of hope, assurance and hospitality.43 It is hard, however, to develop a true ministry of hospitality in our modern churches, for this demands our time-the most precious commodity we have-as well as our resources.

A Teaching Ministry

A second vital ministry in the church, particularly as it has to do with ministries such as healing, is teaching.  The older, more mature Christians should be examples and teachers at heart.  They must begin where young believers are in their faith, but they must not be content with this.  They should instruct, encourage, rebuke and model a godly life, and do so with a firm but gentle spirit.  They should seek to settle disputes and strive for unity and harmony in the congregation, balancing the needs of the members as individuals and the needs of the congregation as a whole.  They are to avoid empty disputes over words and senseless controversies that breed quarrels (II Tim. 2:14,23), teach with kindness and forbearance, correct opponents with gentleness (II Tim. 2:24-25), and endure criticisms and slander patiently (II Tim. 2:3-7).

Paul himself was an example of this.  When a movement of ecstasy swept through the church in Corinth, causing some members to exalt speaking in tongues, healing and other visible manifestations of God's work, Paul took a strong stand, seeking to maintain order and unity in the church.44 He did not reject the spiritually young for their excesses and their pursuit of the spectacular.  Rather, he instructed them in love and firmness to work as one body and to guard lest their behavior bring offense to the gospel in the world around them.  And he showed them the higher way of Christian maturity-of love and mutual submission.

Applying these principles to the current emphasis on healing, we should pray freely for the illnesses and other needs of seekers and new believers, knowing that God often works in special ways in the lives of those at the point of deciding for or against Christ.  Then, however, we must lead them from the elementary to the deeper things of faith-discipleship, holiness, witnessing and suffering for the sake of the gospel.  We must help young believers move from a focus on themselves and their immediate needs to a concern for the lost and suffering world.

We should also seek a balance in our church services.  There are times when prayer for healing is appropriate.  At the same time, there should be prayers ministering to those who remain sick.  In both, we must pray in faith and submit ourselves to the sovereignty of God.  The central expectation, however, must be of meeting an omnipotent God.  In this, confession of sin, worship and response to God's call to ministry and mission are important parts.

A Prophetic Ministry

Finally, the church has a prophetic calling.  It must discern the setting in which God has placed it and speak out against evil.  It must also guard lest the church itself become a servant to the spirit of the culture and time in which it lives.
The criteria for making these judgments are not the values of the world, nor even the majority vote of all those who call themselves Christian.  The standard must be the Word of God understood and applied by communities of committed believers.  Particular responsibility is placed on the leaders (I Tim. 3:9; 6:20; 11 Tim. 1:12-14; Titus 1:9), who lead their congregations in discerning what God is saying to them and guard the church lest it be deceived (II Thess. 2:9; I Tim. 4:1-7; II Tim. 2:19; 3:1-4:5).

With regard to the current emphasis on healing, the church must test the teachings against scripture and the spirit at work in the services.  An uncritical acceptance of either allows the church to be led astray.  The church must also challenge the values of our day: the obsession with the self, with the present and with health, success and personal fulfillment.  It must guard against popular and pragmatic methods that provide immediate solutions but in the end subvert the gospel.  Satan did not challenge God's goal for humans.  He simply offered them an instant, easy means to get there.

We who live in the end times face great opportunities and great dangers.  In the last days the gospel will be preached to the ends of the earth.  There will also be a great falling away as many, including Christians, are deceived.  It is important, therefore, that we listen to God as he speaks to us through his Spirit and that we test the voices we hear to make certain that they are, indeed, from God.  God has given us his Word to keep and proclaim.  May we be found faithful to that trust.


1. Norman Cohn, The Pursuit of the Millenium (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1957).
2. Ibid., pp. 281-6.
3. Max Weber, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, (trans. Talcott Parsons (New York: Scribner, 1958).
4. Allan Bloom, The Closing of the American Mind (New York: Simon and Schuster 1987), p. 173.
5. Jackson Lears, The Culture of Consumption, eds.  R.W. Fox and T.J.J. Lears (New York: Pantheon, 1983), p. 4.
6. Walter Tony, Need the New Religion (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1985).
7. Allan Bloom, The Closing of the American Mind.
8. Harry Emerson Fosdick, Twelve Tests of Character (New York: Association
Press, 1923), p. 47.
9. Bruce Barton, The Man Nobody Knows (Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1925), pp.
143, 149, 151.
10.Gene Ewing, If You Want Money, A Home in Heaven, Health and Happiness,
Based on the Holy Bible, Do These Things latlanta, GA: Rev.  Gene Ewing, 198 1), p. 5.
11. Huston Smith, Beyond the Post-Modem Mind (New York: Crossroad, 1982).
12. Mircea Eliade, Shamanism: Archaic Techniques of Ecstasy (Princeton, NJ:
Princeton University Press, 1964).
13. Cf. Joanna Michaelsen, The Beautiful Side of Evil leugene, OR: Harvest
House, 1982).
14. C.A. Coulson, Science and Christian Belief (London: Collins, 1955).
15. Douglas R. Groothuis, Unmasking the New Age (Downers Grove, IL: Inter-
varsity Press); Karen Hoyt, The New Age Rage 101d Tappan, NJ: Fleming H. Revell, 1987).
16. Ibid.
17. Douglas R. Groothuis, Unmasking the New Age pp. 57-70.
18. David Hunt and T.A. McMahon, The Seduction of Christianity: Spiritual
Discernment in the Last Days (Eugene, OR: Harvest House, 1985).
19. Wallace Benn and Mark Burkill, "A theological and pastoral critique of the teachings of John Wimber," Churchman, CI, no. 2, (1987), pp. 102-3.
20. John Bright, The Kingdom of God (Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 1953), p.
21. David Ewert, The Holy Spirit in the New Testament (Scottdale, PA: Herald Press, 1983), p. 185.
22. J. Denny, "The Theology of the Epistle to the Romans," The Expositor, IV,
p. 426.
23. John Wimber, Power Evangelism (San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1986), p.
24.  Ibid.
25. Norman Cohn, The Pursuit of the Millenium.
26. Robert Bellah et. al., Habits of the Heart: Individualism and Commitment in
American Life (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1985); Allan Bloom, The Closing of the American Mind, pp. 173-84.
27. Bright, The Kingdom of God, p. 218.
28. E. Gilchrist, "Baba Farid," Outreach to Islam III, 32, (1987).
29. Zella M. Williams, "Testimony of Christian Science Healing," Christian
Science Sentinel, LXXXVIII, no. 34, 1952.
30. David Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Prove All Things, London: Kingsway Publishers, 1986), p. 97.
31. C. Norman Kraus, The Authentic Witness: Credibility and Authority (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1979).
32. Benn and Burkill, p. 102
33. Ibid.
34. Cf. David Watson, Fear No Evil: One Man Deals With Terminal Illness (Wheaton, IL: Harold Shaw Publishers, 1985).
35. Ernest Becker, Denial of Death New York : Free Press, 1973).
36. Jonathan Edwards, Religious Affections (New Haven, CT: Yale University
Press, 1959), pp. 127-181.
37. Lewis B. Smedes, ed., Ministry and the Miraculous: A Case Study at Fuller Theological Seminary (Pasadena, CA: Fuller Theological Seminary, 1987), p. 76.
38. John Wimber, Power Healing (San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1986).
39. James Aiken, "Charismatic Mennonites, heresy or hope?" The Christian Leader, L, no. 16 (September 29, 1987), p. 6.
40. Benn and Burkill, p. 103, italics in the original.
41. Mary Douglas, Natural Symbols: Explorations in Cosmology (New York: Vintage Books, 1970).
42. Norman Cohn, The Pursuit of the Millenium.
43. Mortimer Arias, "Centripetal mission or evangelism by hospitality," Missiology, X (1982), pp. 69-81.
44. Ralph Martins, The Spirit and the Congregation: Studies in I Corinthians 12-15 (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1984).