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Thursday, October 15, 2015

Do we define "Divine Healing" too narrowly?

Well, after quite a break, let's return to the Nazarene Articles of Faith.  I have to admit that I'm pretty happy that this one is short and I have so much other material to draw from.  Article 14 outlines what we believe, as a church, regarding divine healing.  I think this works well with the previous guest post discussions regarding anointing from an historical perspective, found here and a practical perspective, found here.  Simply put, here's the article, itself.

XIV. Divine Healing

14. We believe in the Bible doctrine of divine healing and urge our people to offer the prayer of faith for the healing of the sick. We also believe God heals through the means of medical science.

(2 Kings 5:1-19; Psalm 103:1-5; Matthew 4:23-24; 9:18-35; John 4:46-54; Acts 5:12-16; 9:32-42; 14:8-15; 1 Corinthians 12:4-11; 2 Corinthians 12:7-10; James 5:13-16)

I am a little confused about why we use the phrase "Bible doctrine" here.  We don't use this phrase anywhere else in the articles.  What does it even mean?  Could we say, "We believe that divine healing is consistent with examples given in Scripture"?  Surely this must be what this phrase means, right?

I think the rest of this is relatively straightforward.  God has the ability to heal, and God most often works with humanity, both through prayer and through medical science, to do this.  I would say this is consistent with a view of a loving God who chooses to interact with people. 

The most difficult question to answer, and one that is really not dealt with here, is what do we do about those times when God does not heal?  It can be pretty hotly debated whether God chooses not to heal in certain cases or whether God has limits which prevent God from healing.  These same questions can be raised about God's character and attributes in a variety of situations, but divine healing may be one of the touchiest. 

Why would a capable God ever choose not to heal?  There are "answers" that range from the clich√© to the profane.  I have heard everything from, "God must have a greater purpose in this" (somehow I can't figure out how that is ever the appropriate thing to say to a parent who has lost a child to cancer or a tragic accident), to, "There must be some hidden sin in your life that is keeping you from healing" (again, when is this appropriate). 

Perhaps the best perspective is to look at this from an eschatological viewpoint, recognizing that this world, this life, although very important, are not the end.  Divine healing must encompass the redemption, restoration, and transformation of creation.  There is comfort and hope in these words, and yet when faith and death collide, sometimes the best answer is silence.  Sometimes there are no words.  And that's OK.


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