Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Charismatic Leaders Fellowship Meeting (February 19-22, 2018)

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Image result for alleluia community augusta gaThis year’s CLF took place in Augusta, Georgia, and was hosted by the Alleluia Community of that city. The Alleluia Community is a predominantly Catholic (but ecumenical) covenant community where families live in close proximity to worship together and support each other. Like other covenant communities, the Alleluia Community attempts to follow the pattern of the Jerusalem Christian community described in Acts. 

My friend, Bob Garrett, a Methodist lay person has led the community for years.  He also led the worship team in skilled and wonderful worship music.

Mr Garrett is with the guitar in the dark blue shirt.               

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A better picture of him with his wife                                                     

The sessions took place in the Alleluia Community’s school, a wonderful Christian school for grades k thru 12. Our encounters with the children of the school, were universally positive, even awesome. The kids parade every morning around the school’s perimeter with a cross and prayed for spiritual protection and guidance for that day – a great idea in view of the current school shootings.

The CLF is the descendent of the “Charismatic Concerns Committee” which in the 1980s did great work in discerning the various movements within the Charismatic Renewal. Now the CLF is of less importance, but it still attracts many of the heroes and pioneers of the Charismatic Renewal. Sadly for us, some of these pioneers are now going to their reward with the Lord.  The meetings opened with the announcement that the Rev. Larry Christenson, who was the leader of the Lutheran Charismatic Renewal, and a faithful attendant of the CLF, had passed away a month before.  Thankfully, Sister Nancy Kellar, one of the most important leaders of the Catholic Charismatic renewal (dating back to 1970) attended, and I had the pleasure of renewing my friendship with her. She and my sister had been members of the same charismatic Catholic convent (Sisters of Charity, New York)  for many years.

Sister Nancy Kellar is to my right, and her traveling 
buddy is sister Mary McCormick

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The theme of this year’s meeting was “spiritual warfare” and various speakers presented their experiences and denominational perspectives on the topic. The Rev. Scott Kelso, a Methodist minister and seminary instructor, and moderator for the CLF, opened the sessions with a talk reminding us of our authority and position in Jesus Christ.

The second session was by Mrs. Jane Guenther.  She is an exorcist with the Catholic diocese of St. Louis, and coordinates her ministry with the official priest exorcist of that diocese. She also teaches exorcism to Catholic seminarians. She presented the traditional Catholic understanding of the demonic, including a description of the work done by the desert Fathers in developing the understanding of the seven deadly sins. Many of the attendees found this information fascinating, as they had never been exposed to it.
I was somewhat disappointed in the fact that her presentation covered only the Catholic perspective on exorcism. I wondered if this is how she taught the seminarians.  In the question period, I asked her if she was familiar with the Pentecostal contribution by Frank and Ida Mae Hammond, Pigs in the Parlor, with its revolutionary contribution to ministering to schizophrenics. She acknowledged she was aware of it, but did not indicate it was part of her program for seminarians or that the Pentecostal contributions mattered much.

The next presenter was from the Alleluia Community, Chuck Hornsby, an elder and one of its original founders. He presented “tidbits” or various incidents of prayer and spiritual warfare that the Alleluia Community had done in its corporate life. For instance, when they first settled in Faith Village, their cluster of homes, they had a number of break-ins. This was stopped when the members got together and performed a prayer walk around the perimeter of the community.

The Next presentation was by Fr. Timothy Cremeens, a priest of the Orthodox Church and regular attendee of the CLF. He gave a description of Eastern Orthodox liturgy and worship as spiritual protection and warfare. Most of the attendees found this interesting, as few Americans know much about Eastern Orthodoxy. But I found the presentation lacking specifics about spiritual warfare. When I asked Fr. Cremeens about how the Eastern Orthodox tradition handles ghost hauntings, he described how Orthodox homes are always blessed with holy water – not a very satisfying response. When I pressed further, he responded that on occasion he had used holy water plus a prayer from one of the Fathers to discharge a ghost. I commented on how the false Gospel of Nicodemus had confused “sheol” with hell and muddled the possibility of our understanding of ghosts.[1]  He replied that the Gospel of Nicodemus was loved by many of the Church Fathers - a puzzling reply.

Very significant was what transpired the next day, when time was given for mutual prayer and ministry. Fr. Cremeens came to the podium and shared his sorrow (and despair) over the state of Orthodoxy today. He lamented that after the fall of Communism in Eastern Europe (1989) the various Orthodox Churches had fallen into a form of “demonic nationalism.” This has resulted in rivalry and non-cooperation among the various Orthodox churches. For instance, Russian bishops and priests bless the men, weapons and bullets of Russian volunteers sent to fight in the Ukraine against Ukrainian Orthodox soldiers.  The Russian Orthodox Church boycotted last year’s Orthodox Ecumenical meeting when it appeared it could not get its way. In America the various Orthodox churches (Greek, Russian, Ukrainian, etc.) are all loosing members and most priests only welcome into their parishes members who are of their own ethnic origins. In other words, there is no serious evangelism in the American Orthodox churches. Naturally, Orthodox churches are mostly graying and decaying.

As he went on with this, Bob Garrett went to his side and started to pray for him and the Orthodox churches, and invited all of us to do the same. It was a touching sight, but also a negation of his presentation. Splendid liturgy, incense, vestments, and classical theology are not enough in themselves to prevent serious demonic confusion and destruction in the churches.

The sub-text to all of this is equally tragic.  The Orthodox Churches in this country and abroad are contemptuous of the Western churches and their wreckage in liberal theologies of various sorts, as in acceptance of homosexuality. They will not listen to anything that comes out of American or Western Christendom, as in the splendid literature on spiritual warfare and territorial spirits that has developed in recent decades, and could be so helpful to their present situation.

But now to return to the presentations at the CLF.  Session #5, the evening of the second day, was given to Dr. Richard Roberts, M.D.  His theme was not spiritual warfare, but a description of a new denomination in the UK called simply “The New Church.” This was a great presentation and held everyone’s attention. The New Church is a Charismatic fellowship, with minimum hierarchy, and practically no distinction between ministers and lay persons. They do not ordain their leaders. They claim their roots are in the Pentecostal theology of Smith Wigglesworth, with some influence from the American “Fort Lauderdale Five” (Derek Prince, Bob Mumford, and the others).  They are growing rapidly as they minister in “signs and wonders.”  It was wonderful to hear that the UK, where the Church of England is in such sad decline due to its own fall into liberal theology (a special sorrow to me) has an area of church growth that is flourishing. 

Perhaps the highlight of the CLF conference this year was the presentation by Deacon Johannes Fichtenbauer, an Austrian Catholic, who is coordinator of Jewish - Christian reconciliation for the Pope. He led the 50th anniversary (penitential) walk of the “death march” of Hungarian Jews to concentration camps in Germany.[2]

His life id a great witness to God’s grace and mercy. His grandfather was a dedicated Nazi, even after Germany’s catastrophic defeat in WWII. He convinced the boy Johannes of the righteousness of the Nazi view, including blaming the Jews for Europe’s woes. Johannes did not repent of that view until he came to Christ at age 17, and began to love the Jews. 

His talk was called. “The Mystery of the Olive Tree” based on Paul’s use of that image in Romans 11.  It laid out “ten hypotheses” about the Messianic Jewish churches, and their importance in fulfilling the task of the Church Universal and in ushering in the Second Coming. We have space to mention only several.
-          The historic splits among Christian denominations and groups began after the establishment of “replacement theology” which discarded the importance of the Jewish churches.
-          The Body of Christ will not be complete until its Jewish component is restored.
-          There needs to be a miraculous (not man planned) resurrection of the Jewish component of the Body of Christ.
In the discussion period Deacon Fitchtenbaur related that the work of reconciliation has much distance to go. Presently the Jews of the world mostly disdain the Messianic churches and consider them to be Christian churches with Jewish window dressing. Thus the last point mentioned, the need for God’s sovereign intervention in this reconciliation.
Another highpoint of the CLF this year was the presence and ministry of Mrs. La Donna Taylor. She was raised in a Pentecostal church and very dedicated to the Lord from an early age. As a young girl she discovered she had a gift of healing, which included people being healed while she played the violin. She did that at the conference several times with especially good results during our ministry time.

 This is an unusual form of the healing ministry, but it is biblical. Recall that David playing the harp soothed and bound the demons resident in King Saul.  About 30 years ago I recall seeing Dr. Francis MacNutt, one of the greats of the Charismatic Renewal stand in front of an audience and sing in tongues for their healing. I do not believe he did that consistently, as Mrs. Taylor does in her healing ministry.

Over all, this year’s CLF was a wonderful event, in spite of  a few weak presentations. The fellowship was terrific, learning and seeing something of the workings of a covenant community was a great experience. If you are in a leadership position of a Pentecostal or charismatic church consider coming to the next one. We will be meeting at the Alleluia Community again.

[1] See my article “More Mercy,” Pneuma Review. Posted March 5, 2017.
[2] The Hungarian Government during WWII was allied with Germany against Stalin’s Soviet Union, but it tried to shield and protect its Jewish population until finally forced to turn them over to the Nazis in 1944.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

UFO and conspiracy theories: A Christian historian’s reflections

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The recent revelation of Pentagon UFO monitoring program gives me hope that the U.S. Government is relenting in its suppression of UFO information. Yes, I believe in UFOs and their extra-terrestrial origins, as does a large section of the American public.[1] I also believe there is a U.S. Government conspiracy to hide these UFO visitations.

In this article I wish to clarify my case against conspiracy theories, and to affirm that occasionally there are indeed conspiracies to hide the truth. To be clear, I am not a dedicated UFO student, following every report, etc. However, like many Americans, I listened regularly to the Art Bell’s late night talk shows in the 1980s where he often featured witnesses to reported UFO incidents, “area 51” accounts, and UFO abduction reports. I do not claim to bring to the public new evidence on this issue, but rather apply the reasoning of historical scholarship and its tradition of witness evaluation, plus a certain amount of theological reasoning. Certainly the latter must be held especially lightly until further evidence is forthcoming.

Readers may remember me as an opponent of conspiracy theories, through my article, “The Sinfulness and Destructiveness of Conspiracy Theories.[2] There I made the case that that conspiracy theories are usually sinful and destructive to spiritual maturity, often leading to a sense of, “I am better, and THEY are wicked.” For instance, the theory that President Roosevelt knew of the Pearl Harbor attack in advance, or that Princess Diana was murdered at the orders of Queen Elizabeth, or that the American landings on the Moon were bogus. This latter conspiracy theory has been particularly destructive by debasing a love of science, especially among some minority children.[3]
Most governments do in fact keep secrets, many of them are necessary for various security or economic reasons. It seems that the U.S. Government has for 75 years suppressed much information and physical evidence on UFOs, perhaps for good reasons, such as attempting to reverse engineer a UFO and gain a technological edge during the Cold War. Hopefully it is now ready to relent, and come forth with the truth.

It just seems natural that the truth in this matter is better than a falsehood which spreads general distrust of government. On the other hand, supposing the Government knows that the wave of UFO sightings in the 1950s was a preliminary reconnaissance of our planet, and that in a few decades a fleet of UFOs will come to attack us, as in the picture “Independence Day” (1996).  Hiding that information would be a prudent and responsible act. Recall that Jimmy Carter as presidential candidate promised to release all information on UFOs held by the government. But as President not a word on the issue followed.  What did he hear in his UFO briefing?

Image result for UFO graysLike many, I have believed in reality of extra-terrestrial UFOs most of my life, and that such belief is not contrary to the Bible or Christianity. There have been many mature and educated Christian leaders who have agreed in this. C.S Lewis put his conviction about this into a novel trilogy which included a planet in which “original sin” had not yet occurred, and another in which the hold of the Demonic was even worse than ours.[4] 

Of course, other Christians, including some highly educated ones, have resisted the idea that there may be other self- conscious, spiritual/material beings in the universe.[5] Among those who believe we are the only spiritual/material beings in the universe are Christians who affirm that UFO sightings are real, but demonic apparitions designed to confuse Christians in the End-Times.[6] This is a far-fetched theory that cannot be disproved until we have public access to an extra-terrestrial body, such as rumored to exist in certain Government vaults, or of a UFO vehicle of unearthly construction.  That is, Satan can truly produce metal delusions, as in a person believing it sees something, but he cannot create a physical being or vehicle, etc.

On the subject of demonic counterfeits and confusion of the UFO phenomenon, let me personally affirm that indeed there is much Satanic input into this topic. The internet is full of sites where persons claim they are being channeled by “space brothers” to give saving advice to humanity, etc. This is nothing but opportunistic demonic mediumship. The demons are quintessentially opportunistic, working and distorting whatever is in the public domain of knowledge.

For example, in the history of American Spiritism (mediumship) the demonic spirits who channeled thought the mediums of the 1880s to 1900s typically claimed to be wise philosophers from ancient Greece or China, categories approved by Victorians, but not so fashionable today. These spirits universally informed the public there was no such thing as reincarnation. Things began to shift in the 1930s with the rise of Theosophy as a popular occult system. Perhaps the demonic entities decided that there was more spiritual mayhem to be made with reincarnation than not, and the doctrine of reincarnation remains to this day normative to spiritualism.[7]

I personally saw an incidence of “extra-terrestrial” channeling in my sojourn into the occult. In 1976 I attended a séance at the Atlanta “Foundation of Truth,” where the medium, a young woman, channeled a “space brother.” That demon gave the usual Gnostic/demonic advice, be nice, love, don’t eat animals, and meditate (i.e., don’t pray or worship, or worry about your sins, etc.). It was all very banal but of course gave no real information about any real extra-terrestrials. (No emails please, I long ago repented of that stuff, and the Lord has turned my sin and error of those years to good use.) Many such channeled accounts can be found on the web.

Another objection to the reality of extra-terrestrial life that I heard came from a Christian brother I met several decades ago. He was more studied in UFO reports than I was, and believed in a form of “demonic counterfeit” theory. He asserted that none of the accounts of communications with the extra-terrestrials made mention of Jesus Christ, and therefore they were demonic. I assumed he was smart enough to discount mediumistic reports, and was referring to telepathic and other communication between extra-terrestrials and humans that have been reported on several occasions.

That assertion was a theological fallacy, and C. S Lewis would surely have caught it immediately. In a planet that had not fallen into an original sin as deeply as ours God would not have had to send the Logos as an incarnate being to bring salvation. Those on the planet could proceed to spiritual maturity and worship through some form of God the Father centered worship similar to the Old Testament pattern. Also, note that in the Old Testament “Lady Wisdom” of proverbs is a form of pre-existent Logos, and encourages the Jewish believer to be wise and collect information (Proverbs 9). Thus extra-terrestrial beings may be responding to a cosmic spiritual imperative to acquire knowledge as part of honoring and appreciating God’s creation. This might explain the extra-terrestrial’s’ carefully designed and crafted vehicles and time consuming treks to visit earth. All of which is to say that, not knowing that the Logos incarnated on our plant as Jesus does not mean the extra-terrestrials are demonic. They may have revelation of the Logos as “Lady’ or “Gentleman” Wisdom.

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On the UFOs, unlike most readers, I am old enough to remember the first sustained wave of multiple UFO sightings that sprang up after the famous Roswell, New Mexico, account of a crashed UFO in 1947. I recall my father reading to the family a long article on UFO sightings and supposed encounters from a major magazine (cir. 1952). A few years later my brother George, ten years older than me, had a job as a camp counselor in upper New York State, and one night, in company with other counselors chatting at a fire pit, saw a UFO. It was oval in shape, glowed throughout, made no noise.

His account, like almost all UFO reports, have the disadvantage of not being caught in a lab and repeatable in public, peer reviewed, etc. so it must remain the realm of what I term “half-knowing” –  just like mystical experiences. But my brother had absolutely no reason to invent such a story, and had no gain in reporting it, just like the majority of UFO witnesses.

Let me share another story along that line. (The UFO literature if full of similar ones.) In 1993, just before I accepted a post as Hispanic pastor, I was working as a security guard with a man who had come out of a tour in the US Coast guard. Four of us were at the office during shift change, drinking coffee, the conversation turned to UFOs.  We were all Christians (this was in Georgia).

USCG photo of USCGC Hamilton (WHEC-715)The ex-Coastguardsman shared a hair-raising incident that occurred when he was on duty on a Coast Guard cutter. He and others in the crew saw a saucer like UFO come from the horizon and trail the ship, passing close by, as if it were inspecting the ship, then diving into the water, and coming out the other side and off into the horizon. The craft had window ports, but he could not see the creatures inside. When the cutter made port, a high ranking officer was at dock side and the crew that this UFO incident was to be kept secret, and any break would result in serious charges and court martial.

My brother’s account, and especially the one of the Coastguardsman, point to an important element of historical investigation (as well as police work). That is the reality of a reliable witness. That is, someone who has no interest or gain by telling a lie, but merely shares information because it its true and relevant.[8] A person who lies has a purpose to do so, self-glorification, covering up a fault, etc. But neither my brother nor the Coastguardsman had any such motives.  A reading of the UFO literature shows countless other testimonies that gained nothing but suspicion or ridicule from others. As a historian I must conclude that what many of these witness saw was true and most probably extra-terrestrial, although such reports must reside in the realm of “half-knowing” until we have some sort of public physical evidence. I must also conclude that there is a government cover-up about these. 

Image result for yeti animalThere is at least one other Government cover-up and conspiracy that I will briefly mention: it deals with the Abdominal Snowman (the Yeti, in its Himalayan manifestation). In 1977 I had a room-mate who had worked as Government contracted psychologist at an Indian tribe in large reservation in New Mexico. We were talking about UFOs and the conversation turned to the Yeti type creatures.

He said, “Oh yeah, they are out there. On the reservation when the Indians find a body they bury them reverently. Oops. I should not have said that. It is a Government secret and I can get in trouble.” Why I asked would the Yeti be kept secret. He said that the Government does not want public storming in and disturbing them. It seemed to me that is a thin bit of reasoning, more likely bureaucratic rationalization, but he was reluctant to argue or discuss further.

Again, the issue of a reliable witness.  He was a sincere Christian, I respected him for his wisdom and education, and he respected me for the work I was doing on spiritual phenomenon at the time. We had no motive to fool, impress or deceive one another.

To summarize what I have written about conspiracy theories in this and my earlier posting: most conspiracy theories, especially those that give simplistic understandings of historical situations we don’t like, are destructive and false. They harm the formation of a person’s spiritual and emotional maturity. The Bible is a great guide on this as the Old Testament is a long history of how things did not turn out right.  That is, the Temple was destroyed and the Jewish people scattered. But the biblical account places the blame of that evil squarely on the spiritual disobedience and hard-heartiness’ of the Jews themselves, not on some devious conspiratorial group.

However, in some cases there are indeed conspiratorial groups or governments. The Nazis conspired to conquer the World, and for decades the Communist International directed its followers to ferment communist resolutions. But such plots are at the edge of true conspiracy theories, and might be classed secret state-sponsored activities. 

But in this essay I have described a set of secrets that are held together by Government, “secrets” laws, and memorandum, and enforced by the government police and Armed forces. The rumored “men in black” probably do exist, in spite of the fact that the popular picture about the group, ran to farcical exaggerations.  

I hope it is time for the Government to come clean on this issue. We need a dose of truth form our Government, even if it hurts.

[1]Lee Speigel, “48 Percent Of Americans Believe UFOs Could Be ET Visitations,” Huffington Post.09/11/2013 08:32 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

[2] Pneuma Review. Posted June 29, 2015.

[3] Ibid.
[4] The Lewis novels are: Out of the Silent Planet (1938), Perelandra (1943) and The Hideous Strength (1945).

[5]Fr. Stanley Jaki, a great Christian historian and physicist, with a specialty on the relationship of Christianity to the rise of science, insisted all his life that the earth would prove to be the only planet in the universe capable of sustain intelligent, spiritual/material beings.  He died in 2009 before the newer generation of telescopes were able to prove that the universe indeed had many planets similar to the earth, and some even orbiting at a “sweet spot” where liquid water (and life) are possible.
[6]Jessilyn Justice, “End-Time Deception: People Seeing UFOs Everywhere,” Charisma.  Posted 4/27/2017.
[7] See my Past Life Visions: A Christian Exploration (New York: Seabury, 1983). 86-87

[8] The principal is coved in readable form by the classic work about historical investigation, R. G. Collingwood, The Idea of History. (1993) in the section/parable of the detective doing a murder investigation. 

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Healing Workshop at Fordham

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Thanks all for your prayers. Looks like the “Fordham miracle” is on its way. I am on the calendar for the 2018 Fordham Jubilee (June 1-3) to present an hour workshop to the alumni on “Ageing Gracefully with Healing Prayer.” It will be instruction and prayer exercises. PTL! 

The coordinator of the Jubilee and I had a wonderful conversation. She said, “Nothing like this had happened at Fordham before.’ That is, YOUR prayers opened a shut door. Let this be only the beginning. I am believing for an invitation to teach incoming freshmen healing prayer, and then regular courses in the theology dept. on the charismatic renewal and healing prayer. Agree with me in prayer.

I will remind you about this as the dates come closer. (Yes, I “pester for prayers.” I don’t believe that just saying “Let God’s will be done” is a complete prayer. That is a beginning prayer, and follow up prayer must include, “Satan, get your hands off this project!”).

 I usually fly for such a trip, as it is a 14-hour car journey and no fun driving alone. However, if your church is anywhere near I-81 or I-85 and may wish to host me mid-week, I would be happy to drive the trip and breakup the drive time, to stop at your church for a healing workshop, or a teaching series. For instance, on how the knowledge of science and history are keys to the maturity of a Christian community (and their absence destructive) or other topics. Message me if your church would like to have me, either going up, the last week of May, or going back, after June 3rd.

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 For a quick look at some of the things I have taught and written about check out my author page in Pneuma Review, following:

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Dr. Francis MacNutt: In the footsteps of Agnes Sanford

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Christian Healing Ministries (CHM) in Jacksonville, Florida, founded by Dr. Francis MacNutt and his wife, Judith, is one of the premier Christian healing centers in North America. The CMI staff haave instructed thousands of ministers and lay leaders on healing, inner healing, and deliverance prayer. It is effectively continuing the work of the Schools of Pastoral Care that were started by Agnes Sanford. The books the MacNutts have authored are among the most influential and effective in the contemporary Christian healing movement. In fact, when I teach a workshop on healing prayer, I tell the audience that the best general introduction to healing prayer is Francis MacNutt’s Healing, and that the best introduction to exorcism and deliverance is his Deliverance from Evil Spirits.[1] Several of their works have also branched out into other areas of Christian spirituality. For instance, Judith produced a fine work on angels and Francis did a book on the phenomenon of being slain in the spirit, which is now a standard on the topic.[2]  
Francis MacNutt was born in 1925 to a well-to-do Catholic family. His father was especially devout and passed his spirituality on to his children. Francis went to Catholic prep school and then attended Harvard as a pre-med student. This was interrupted by World War II. Drafted in 1944, he served as a Navy medic and surgeon’s assistant. He later returned to Harvard, where he graduated with honors, but changed career goals to speech therapy and got a master’s in speech from the Catholic University of America.
While there he read Thomas Merton’s The Seven Storey Mountain, a book on modern monasticism that was deeply influential among Catholics in the postwar era.[3] MacNutt decided to become a Dominican monk, who famed for their preaching, and entered that order in 1950. He was ordained as a priest six years later. His speech training served him well, and he developed as an excellent and anointed preacher. The Dominicans sent MacNutt to the Aquinas Institute, where he earned a PhD. He then taught homiletics at the Dominican seminary and wrote a homiletics textbook for Catholic priests.[4] During this period he founded the Catholic Homiletic Society. He was a rising star among Dominican priests.

The 1960s was the decade when Pope John XXIII opened up Catholic scholarship to outside influences and allowed priests to attend conferences and services of other denominations. In 1960, at the Presbyterian Seminary in Dubuque, MacNutt heard a presentation on the Christian healing ministry by Dr. Alfred Price, then the OSL national director.[5]   But it was not until he met a CFO workshop leader, and a person gifted in healing prayer, Mrs. Jo Kimmel, that his curiosity about Christian healing was really kindled. After a lengthy conversation, Mrs. Kimmel not only invited Francis to attend a CFO but even paid his expenses there.[6]
It was the 1967 CFO in Maryville, Tennessee, led by Agnes Sanford, Derek Prince, and Tommy Tyson. Agnes later recounted her meeting with this handsome, white-robed Dominican priest. He immediately told her that he wanted the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Agnes directed him to go to a group that was doing that type of prayer at the end of the day. MacNutt did so, but was disappointed. Agnes recalled his response:
 “Oh, I spoke in tongues, that was no trouble. But nothing really happened inside.”
Well, then, I had better pray for you,” said I. We went with two others into my room, and there with the laying on of hands, I prayed for the real entering of the Spirit of God—into the heart, into the soul, into the unconscious. And it happened! He was so overwhelmed with holy joy that he laughed aloud, not in any hysterical fashion, but in a deep outpouring from his heart.
“Oh, this is the way I thought it would be!” he cried again and again. . . . He has since led countless others into this experience.[7] 
Agnes also prophesied over Fr. MacNutt that he would be used by the Lord to bring healing prayer back to the Catholic Church.[8]  The next year he attended a School of Pastoral Care in Wadesville, Massachusetts, for further instructions in healing ministry. This was led by Agnes and the Rev. Tommy Tyson. Agnes recognized MacNutt’s theological learning as well as his anointing in healing, and from then on had him assist in her SPCs and missions. Francis learned all he could from Agnes and has repeatedly declared his indebtedness to her teaching and writings.[9]     

As Mrs. Sanford prophesied, MacNutt became one of the key leaders of the new Catholic Charismatic Renewal, and a teacher of healing prayer to that movement. He was a frequent speaker at its early conventions and meetings, and a keynote speaker at the famous Kansas City conference of 1977, which gathered together classical Pentecostals and the new charismatics for the first time. MacNutt’s keynote address, delivered in his flowing Dominican robes, made a profound impression on those attending. Two years later, Fr. MacNutt was the lead figure in spreading the Catholic Charismatic Renewal to Latin America in a series of missions to Central and South America.  Sadly, after the 1980s the Catholic Charismatic Renewal fizzled in the United States. However it has flowered in Latin American and especially in Africa, where it is a major component of Catholicism’s growth.

When not on the road, his home base was the Dominican Merton House in St. Louis, which was the center of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal for the area. Francis was also the founder of the Association of Christian Therapists, which aimed at integrating healing prayer into the medical profession. The group continues its work to this day and produces the excellent Journal of Christian Healing.[10]  

The year 1974 saw the publication of Francis’ first work on healing prayer, Healing. It became a bestseller, as it explains in simple terms the varied aspects of healing prayer, as in physical healing, inner healing, and deliverance. It supplemented Mrs. Sanford’s The Healing Light as the preferred book to introduce new charismatics to healing prayer. Healing includes a very wise chapter on why some persons are not healed, a problem that has bedeviled the healing ministry since its beginnings.[11] 

In those years Francis labored constantly to interpret Pentecostalism and its understanding of the Holy Spirit to his Catholic audience. For instance, he tackled the thorny problem that some Catholics were asking about being rebaptized. Pentecostal brethren often suggested rebaptism to newly Spirit-filled Catholics, but ancient doctrine and tradition forbade repeated baptisms. Fr. MacNutt cut the Gordian knot on this issue by suggesting that infant baptism is good, as it often results in unexpected healing and protection from demonic influences, but every Christian needs to make an adult recommitment to Jesus. Francis rebaptized those Catholics who requested it with the words, “I renew your baptism in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.”[12]     
It is difficult to overestimate the positive influence that Fr. MacNutt had on the healing ministry of the Catholic Church. He was not the only Catholic priest of the early Catholic Charismatic Movement, nor the only one who promoted the new inner healing ministry. But he was undoubtedly the most prominent among them. It is safe to say that, through his writings and ministry, the “Galatian Bewitchment,” the idea that only very holy persons, as in the saints of old, can do healing ministry, was largely weakened in the Catholic Church. It lingers in the more traditional sectors of the Church.
This achievement has not been adequately noted since the Galatian Bewitchment was never an official doctrine backed by encyclicals or catechism statements, etc., but only a strong tradition. Thus its passing was not fought against once it began to dissolve. I know of no Catholic clerical Pharisee who made an argument that healing prayer must be restricted to monks or designated holy persons. The obvious biblical basis for the laying on of hands and the immediate effectiveness that this ministry brought to countless Catholic charismatic prayer groups simply made the Galatian Bewitchment a ghost of a doctrine. This is in contrast to what has happened in Protestantism, where Calvin’s elaborated doctrine of cessationism continues to be defended by many evangelicals.
Perhaps only persons old enough to remember the healing practices of 1950s Catholicism can appreciate the sea change that has occurred. When I was a boy, healing prayer practiced in our parish in New York City ranged from lighting a votive candle to Mary or some saint to saying a rosary for a healing intention. No one laid hands on the sick with the intention and expectancy of real healing to be accomplished. Priests ministered the sacrament of extreme unction for those dying with no expectancy that they would experience physical healing.[13] Thankfully that changed with Vatican II in the 1960s.
Image result for francis and judith macnuttFr. MacNutt’s Catholic ministry came to an end when he married Miss Judith Sewell in February of 1980. He was not given the usual dispensation of vows from his superiors, and this closed his ministry to Catholic churches and conferences. This saddened the MacNutts, but it unexpectedly opened new doors of ministry for them with Protestant and Pentecostal churches. Many conservative Protestants and Pentecostals would not invite “Father” MacNutt to speak at their functions, but would certainly welcome “Dr.” MacNutt.

The MacNutt’s joint ministry grew to become today’s preeminent charismatic prayer and teaching institution. Ultimately, in 1993, the Catholic hierarchy relented and officially laicized Francis. That is, he and Judith were received as Catholics in good standing (he could say mass in private). Catholic invitations resumed. In 2008 Francis, then eighty-three, handed over the reins of Christian Healing Ministries to Judith, who now does most of the speaking and teaching at CHM, as it continues its work in carrying on the legacy of Mrs. Sanford.

Dr. Francis MacNutt and his wife Judith with the staff of Christian Healing Ministries

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[1] Healing, Notre Dame: Ave Maria Press, 1974. Deliverance From Evil Spirits. (Grand Rapids: Chosen Books, 1995
[2] Judith MacNutt, Angels Are Real (Terrytown: Chosen, 2012) and Francis MacNutt, Overcome by the Spirit (Terrytown: Chosen, 1990).
[3] New York; Hardcourt & Brace, 1948.
[4] S. F. MacNutt, Gauging Sermon Effectiveness (Dubuque: Priory, 1960).
[5]Rusty Rae, “Extraordinary Becomes Ordinary, A Profile on Francis and Judith MacNutt.” Sharing (May, 1988) 23.
[6] Kimmel, Prayer Power (1972). The work could aptly be entitled “Praying the CFO Way,” as it is a synthesis of the works of Glenn Clark, Frank Laubach, Agnes Sanford, and the other leaders of the 1950s CFOs
[7] Agnes Sanford, Sealed Orders (Plainfield: Logos International, 1972) 225–26.
[8] David K. Foster, “Conversation with Francis and Judith MacNutt,” Pneuma Review. Posted, March 20, 2014.
[9] MacNutt, Healing, 12–13, and also, Francis MacNutt, “Sharing God’s Love,” (Ardmore: Lord’s Own Tape ministry, n.d.) audio cassette. 
[10] Their website is at
[11] MacNutt, Healing, chapter 18, “Eleven Reasons Why People Are Not Healed.”
[12]Francis MacNutt, “A Proposed Solution.” “A Proposed Solution to the Re-Baptism Dilemma.” Ministries 3 no. 2 (spring 1975) 58–61. 
[13]I explain the sad shift of the meaning of the sacrament of healing oil (James 5) from a healing sacrament to a “get out of purgatory” rite in my work, Quenching the Spirit (Lake Mary: Creation House, 1996).


The noted Pentecostal scholar Dr. Jon Ruthven wrote a very positive review of my book, Agnes Sanford and Her Companions: The Assault on Cessationism and the Coming of the Charismatic Renewal. You can access it HERE.

The book may be purchased on Amazon, either print or inexpensive Kindle HERE 

Just released is my first book of  plays. Pentecostal (and Anglican) Plays (and Postscripts). It includes two plays and their postscripts.

The play, “One Day at St. John’s” depicts what everyday life can be like in a church that practices the gifts of the Spirit and the healing/exorcism ministry as normal. Among the events that occur in the course of the play are the healing of a waitress who was scalded with hot coffee, an exorcism (led by a layman) and the “laying of a ghost” to rest.

Pentecostal (and Anglican) Plays (and Postscripts) can be purchased HERE at Amazon.

The second play, “Joseph ben Jacob,” explores Joseph, husband of Mary, as the dream interpreter, master carpenter, and father of Mary’s other children. It helps explain why Joseph was able to discern correctly his dream about Mary’s first-born.

The postscripts examine the controversial aspects of the plays and focus on two false early gospels which distorted the meaning of the true Gospels. The “Proto-Gospel of James” claimed that Mary was “every virgin” and never had other children, and the “Gospel of Nicodemus” cancelled the true meaning of Jesus’ “descent into Hell” and his ministry there as described in 1 Peter 3 & 4

Watching God Work: The Stuff of Miracles by [DeArteaga, Carolyn Koontz]

My wife has written a funny and inspiring story of how she transited from a cessionist and Baptist to a Spirit-filled Believer. The book has many stories of our three decades of ministry together.  It may be purchased HERE.

Dr. MacNutt and Judith with the staff of Christian Healing ministries.
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