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Friday, January 31, 2014

19th Century Protestant Missionaries, democracy and corruption



In this blog posting on corruption and bad governance I begin by highlighting  the exciting and encouraging work of the sociologist Robert Woodberry. Dr. Woodberry has demonstrated, with rigorous and award winning statistical analysis, that economic progress, democracy and civil society in the Third World countries are positively correlated to the past presence and activities of Protestant missionaries. Woodberry is an Associate Professor of Political Science and the Director of the Project on Religion and Economic Change (PREC) at the National University of Singapore (a high prestige and very good university in that part of the world). His work was recently featured in a lengthy article in Christianity Today. The link to it is HERE
Dr. Woodberry’s work may be seen as the latest addition to the “Weber thesis.” To summarize: back in 1905, Dr. Max Weber, published a lengthy article called, “The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism,” one of the most famous pieces of sociological analysis ever produced.  He saw that there was a strong correlation between Protestantism, especially Calvinism and Puritanism, and the rise of modern capitalism (free markets), and in turn, the large scale prosperity that came to Northern Europe. Southern, “Catholic” Europe developed its free market economies much slower and less efficiently. Weber believed the difference was due to the fact that Reformed theology freed the individual from many of the anti-economic attitudes that had accumulated in Catholicism. These included such attitudes as guilt about wealth, or the tendency to give accumulated wealth to the Church (and thus reducing capital accumulation), or to see the monastic life as “holy” and the merchant life as “greedy.” Recall that even St. Augustine, the fount of so much of Western theology, accepted without biblical reflection, the Greco-Roman view that the merchant’s vocation was unethical and spiritually dangerous:

Let traders hear and change their life; and if they have been such, be not such; … let them not approve, not praise [trading]; let them disapprove, condemn, be changed, if trading is a sin. For on this account, O thou trader, because of a certain eagerness for getting, whenever you shall have suffered loss, you will blaspheme; … But whenever for the price of the goods which you are selling, thou not only liest, but even falsely swearest; how in your mouth all the day long is there the praise of God?[1]   
Further research corroborated Weber’s initial findings. A recent study has focused on the fact that Calvinism and Puritan theology freed the middle class to be entrepreneurs with high social status. Being a good businessman in Geneva, Amsterdam, London or Boston meant, for the first time in history, respectability.[2] This attitude did not develop in civilizations such as China which had higher technology than Western Europe, but were bound by anti-merchant cultural and religious assumptions. Thus, in China the free-market and its poverty destroying characteristics was delayed until recent decades when the pretend Communist government finally saw the light.

But back to Dr. Woodberry’s discoveries, he shows us the other facet of the great 19th Protestant missionary effort. It is the long range political benefits of Protestantism and Protestant missionary activity. His seminal article, “The Missionary Roots of Liberal Democracy,” appeared in the flagship journal of American political science, the American Political Science Review, in May 2012. It was a work of masterful data collection and analysis. The article won the American Political Science Association’s 2013 Luebbert Best Article Award given for the best article in the field of comparative politics. It briefly concludes:

Areas where Protestant missionaries had a significant presence in the past are on average more economically developed today, with comparatively better health, lower infant mortality, lower corruption, greater literacy, higher educational attainment (especially for women), and more robust membership in nongovernmental associations.[3]

The link to his seminal article is HERE.
To elaborate just a bit. Dr. Woodbury demonstrated a strong positive relationship between the presence of 19th Century non-government sponsored Protestant missionaries, which he calls “conversionary Protestants,” and the presence of relatively prosperous countries which have much better chances of having functional democracies and civil societies, with non-authoritarian governments.
The chain of causality is this: the missionaries came to colonial Africa and Asia and were shocked by the poverty and dysfunctional nature of the local societies. Soon, besides preaching the Gospel, which was their main task, they set about making life better. They did this by setting up schools, including schools for girls, and many of these schools later became universities. Missionaries often vigorously fought for the rights of the natives from European exploitation and encroachments. For instant, the present state of Botswana was created by the energies, protests and social activism of Protestant missionaries who stopped White European land seizures.
The contrast with the Roman Catholic missionary effort is important. Until the 1960s, Catholic missionaries were most often sponsored and paid for by the colonial governments. Their main concern was for the spiritual care, i.e. catechism and baptism.  A case in point is the history of the two Congos, French and Belgium. Both colonies terribly abused the natives in slave like conditions in rubber plantations and gold mines. The French permitted only Catholic missionaries into the country. The Belgium government permitted some Protestant missionaries also. It was a Protestant missionary couple which photographed the horrid conditions of the natives in the Belgium Congo, sneaked the pictures out, and lobbied the European and American public to stop the abuses. The Belgium government was forced to reform it practices.
This is the very opposite of the current popular view, that missionaries “ruined” native cultures, as in Hawaii the novel by James Michener. Woodberry readily admits that there is some truth to this popular stereotype. For instance, the first Puritan missionaries to the Native Americans tried to make them into Englishmen as well as Christian, with English dress, farming, etc. But the opposite is more common in missionary work, as in the early Moravian missions in India, or more famously, Hudson Taylor and his China Inland Mission.
The best thing of Woodberry’s work is that his statistical analysis brings the “good missionary” “bad missionary” narrative out of mere anecdotal incidents and shows with numbers that where “conversionary Protestant” missionaries worked there was a flow of long term good fruit in education, formation of civil society and democracy.
This link includes a complete bibliography of Woodberry’s published works HERE

The “De Arteaga Extension”

I would like to affirm and extend the general thrust of the Weber/Woodberry analysis of the “good fruit” of Protestantism in economic prosperity and civil society by focusing on the problem of corruption. My methodology is anecdotal and theological, I leave it to Woodberry or other trained in statistics to carry out a more detailed examination. I have but one piece of statistical information to share: it is the listing of countries by corruption index, from the best to the worst (below).
The well respected organization, Transparency International ranks the Mexican and Argentinian governments as a tie for “most corrupt” in Latin America, but since I have had family and pastoral contacts only with Mexico this posting will concentrate on Mexico.
But merely scanning the daily news one can see that something especially diabolical has happened to Mexico, as corruption has seeped into, and transformed, practically all of its government institutions, but especially the police and judicial system. Trust in the established police and judiciary is so lacking that recently Mexican citizens have begun armed vigilante groups in order to protect themselves from the murderous cartels. American may not understand that in the last several years the cartels have expanded their activities from merely drug and sex trafficking to systematic extortion of businesses and hostage taking. The police do nothing to stop this, as they are paid off.
In fact, the Mexican City police are as likely to kidnap, torture and extort ransom from innocent Mexicans as any cartel group. Police corruption became so bad in Mexico City that the city government called in the retired major of New York Rudy Giuliani, to try to clean up the situation. He did not have much success.
Some in this country and in Mexico like to blame the US for Mexico’s horrendous situation. But that is both unfair and counter-productive, since such an attitude does not face the historical and spiritual roots of the problem.   The obvious historical roots of Mexico’s government sector corruption problem are as old as its foundations. When the Spanish Crown set up the administrative structures of the Latin American colonies (“provinces”) it had no money to pay the administrators. The administrators in turn began to charge for their services in lieu of salary, and of course that system quickly become capricious, and destructive. Further, since “service to the King” was seen as a morally acceptable profession (together with law, medicine and the army) many posts and legal procedures were created to give work to middle class persons and to save them from the “indignity” of work in commerce.
None of that changed when Mexico became independent, nor was the situation remedied with the populist and leftist revolution of 1917, which Mexicans often romanticize. In fact, when the PRI party evolved out of the chaos of the 1917 Revolution, it installed corruption as a well understood pattern of co-existence with its citizenry.
I was raised in New York City, but my family had many business and personal connections with Latin America and especially Mexico. About 1956 my aunt took an executive post in Mexico City for an American drug company which was partnering with a growing Mexican drug and cosmetics company. She later related that she had to go to the Presidential Palace and bribe someone “at the top” to allow the importation of chalk (for toothpaste manufacturing) which was against the law.

In 1958, the son of one of my aunt’s Mexican business friends came to say with us to further his education. Among our conversations he mentioned in joking manner, corruption of the Mexican penal system.  Mexican gangsters could pay off guards for luxurious private cells with TVs, etc. The point is, well before the BIG money of drug trafficking, the Mexican judiciary and penal system was corrupted.
I stayed with my aunt for two summers, 1963 and 1964, in Mexico City in very beautiful and pleasant circumstances. Police corruption was by then endemic, but the drug cartels had not arisen yet, so life in Mexico seemed good. Middle class Mexicans “worked around” police and court corruption by such things as having an extra 100 peso note in the car in case of a traffic stop.  I remember watching a famous Mexican TV comedian impersonating a new policeman. When asked if he liked his job he said “I sure do. I built my house in just one year.”  That is, he took enough bribes to build a nice house in a year.
In 1985, when my aunt retired and moved to Miami, she was divested of her most valuable household possessions at the border crossing by the Mexican police.  Even with her excellent social and government connections she could do nothing about it.
At that time few imagined that that habit of corruption would lead to the present murderous, “failed state” situation of the Mexican border states. Notice that the present President of Mexico, Enrique Pena Nieto, was elected on the (unspoken) promise of going easy on the cartels. The previous president, Felipe Calderon, had fought the cartels, but achieved only a bloody stand-off.
My last visit to Mexico was in 1971, but I pastored a predominantly Mexican congregation in Smyrna, Georgia, where I was kept abreast of the deteriorating situation.  One of my parishioners, a businessman who had come with his family legally, returned to Mexico every year to visit relatives (something my other “undocumented” folks could not do).  He made a habit of taking in a U-Haul full of used appliances to his home town which he would re-sell at a good profit. He paid a “transit tax” to the cartel guards at the border, not to the Mexican government. He told me that once he paid that “tax” he was confident no one would attempt to rob him, as any such thief would face torture and execution by the cartel enforcers. In a certain sense, the cartel goons could provide a better standard of justice and safety than the Mexican government – at least in this instance.
Tracing the Spiritual Root:
Many of the parishioners at “San Lazaro” were middle class and relatively well educated, and almost all brought up as Catholics. They had been baptized, catechized, did their first holy communions (a big thing in Mexican Catholic culture), etc. They generally had a fine moral sense, and were appreciative of the biblically based teaching I offered, and the sacramental ministry of Anglicanism that so closely resembled what they were used to.  One Sunday I laid out the biblical case from Old Testament scriptures against corruption as abhorrence to the Lord. Among the scriptures I quoted was:
Deut. 16:18-19
Appoint judges and officials for each of your tribes in every town the Lord your God is giving you, and they shall judge the people fairly. Do not pervert justice or show partiality. Do not accept a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and twists the words of the innocent.
I also cited several of the prophets, who were equally fierce against the sin of bribery.
My congregation was astounded at this. They had never heard these scripture, or noticed them. They believed that corruption was part of the sin of stealing, but never saw it specifically mentioned in the Bible. I asked them if any of the catechism questions they memorized for Holy Communion and Confirmation had ever dealt with corruption. Not one, they said. And there is the crux of the issue.  Before modern times the Catholic Church discouraged the individual reading of the scriptures, lest one fall into heresy. What was read at mass in the course of the lectionary year was considered sufficient.[4]
Most importantly, traditional Catholic theology and instruction downplayed the significance of the Old Testament. This was due to specific historical circumstances and was not a conscious theological teaching. It came from the battle with the heretic Marcion (c. 85-160). He had a valid insight that there was a New Testament for Christians, (the Gospel of Luke and Paul’s Epistles) but also affirmed that the Old Testament was inspired by a “lesser God,” not the Father of Jesus. He reasoned that only a lesser god could demand the genocide of the Canaanite people, and other Old Testament atrocities.  The Church accepted his valid insight about a New Testament and eventually formed the New Testament canon, but also affirmed the inspiration of the Old Testament. However, in the debate the Church largely adopted an “allegorical” interpretation of the Old Testament which literal meanings meant something “more spiritual” and thus could skirt the issue of the wrath of God and other unpleasantries.  It came to generally ignoring the Old Testament as a guide to daily life under the rubric that the New Covenant trumped the Old. When I entered the Catholic charismatic renewal back in the 1970s, my spiritual director was surprised that I had spent a lot of money on a cassette version of the Old Testament. "Why not concentrate on the New?"
What I am suggesting is that the catechism focused Christianity of traditional Roman Catholicism, and its poor understanding of the Old Testament, not specific Catholic doctrines, were the factors  what made the differences between Catholic economic and political culture (and lack of the same) and the Protestant improvements. What Max Weber called the “Protestant Ethic” is really a “closer-to-the-Bible ethic” that is the natural product of Christians directly reading the Bible instead of deriving their faith from the  catechism.
Now for a hint of statistical evidence.  The following is the ranking from Transparency International of the top twelve least corrupt counties in the world. The numerical value after the country indicated numerical values for lack of corruption with 100 being the ideal, absolutely no corruption state that does not exist.[5]
1
Denmark
91
7
1
New Zealand
91
7
3
Finland
89
7
3
Sweden
89
7
5
Norway
86
7
5
Singapore
86
9
7
Switzerland
85
6
8
Netherlands
83
7
9
Australia
81
8
9
Canada
81
7
1
Luxembourg
80
6
1
Germany
78
8

 The countries on the top twelve list were deeply impacted by the Reformation and the Protestant view of life (and Bible reading). The exception is Singapore. When it was founded as a commercial colony of Brittan the founders realized they had few natural resources, and needed to attract business people from all over the globe. Part of that strategy was to create an absolutely fair court and police system so that a foreign person could come, and if he had a law suit, would feel his case was being judged on the merits, and not on the local whims or bribes of the political elites.
The rest of the nations were predominantly Protestant, at least until the great Post War decline in European Christianity. In the Early Modern period (1600 on), as the Northern European (Protestant) states were being formed, the people in this region read and took the Bible (Old and New Testament) with upmost seriousness. The Prussian state, which in many ways was the model bureaucracy for all of Northern Europe, was solidly Protestant. Thus the civil service formed, established its traditions and procedures, which included no bribery, in a Protestant spiritual environment. This them became a set of expectations and institutional traditions that fed personal self-esteem, so that by the 20th Century a self-perpetuating, bribery free, civil service was a given - even as the Biblical roots were being eroded and disdained.
In an interview section in Christianity Today cited above, Dr. Woodbury jokes that the best way to make an impoverished and corrupt Third World country more prosperous, less corrupt, and more democratic would be to invent a time machine, go back to the Nineteenth Century and send a boatload of Protestant missionaries to that country. I would amend that to say, that to get out of corruption, it is not necessary to convert from Catholicism to Protestantism as such. Rather, it is necessary to convert to a Bible reading Christianity, a charismatic Catholicism would do OK.

 Addendum:  A recent NPR program on the incredible levels of corruption found in Kenya. A tragic story indeed. HERE

Announcements:

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.












[1] St. Augustine, Exposition of the Psalms, Psalm 71, v14-15, available online at multiple sites.
[2] Lauren F. Winner, “The Most Satisfying Trade,” Books and Culture, posted 10/28/10.  

[3] Andrea Palpant Dilley, “The Surprising Discovery About Those Colonialist, Proselytizing Missionaries,” Christianity Today, posted 1/8/2014 12:07PM

[4] This seems unduly harsh, especially in view of modern Catholic spiritually and especially the Catholic charismatic movement that grew from the 1970s, but for those of us raised in pre-Vatican II Catholicism, we remember that the normal Catholic household had no Bible.
[5] The whole table can be viewed HERE http://cpi.transparency.org/cpi2013/results/


Friday, January 10, 2014

Dr. Dale Coulter: An ecumenical Pentecostal scholar





This week’s  brief blog posting highlights the Pentecostal scholar and theologian, Dr. Dale Coulter, associate professor at Regent University in Virginia Beach. Regent is the premier charismatic university in America (and the world). I ran into Dr. Coulter’s work while monitoring the journal First Things where his excellent article on the relationship between Pentecostalism and Anglicanism appeared.  A further search showed that he had been a blogger at  First Things, with other excellent postings on such varied topics as exorcism in Africa to medieval theology. 
Dr. Coulter began his theological education at Lee university (Pentecostal), and then received an MA from Reformed Theological Seminary (Calvinist). He earned a doctorate form Oxford University (supposedly Anglican, but really secular) where he did a dissertation on medieval theology. At Oxford he visited a local Anglican church that was heavily impacted by the Charismatic Renewal, and especially the ministry model of the Vineyard movement. There he came to appreciate the peculiar Pentecostal and sacramental blend of charismatic Anglicanism.
Dr. Coulter dissertation on Medieval spirituality was reworked into a book called Trinity and Creation: Exegesis, Theology and Spirituality from the Abbey of St. Victor .The Amazon link to it is HERE
An example of Dr. Coulter's fine ecumenical appreciation is  his article "Baptism, conversion and grace: reflections on the underlying realities between Pentecostals, Methodists and Catholics," published in Pneuma, the scholarly journal for Pentecostals and charismatics. The link for it is HERE. Dr. Coulter is associated editor of that fine journal.
Several of his First Things postings are especially important for those of us in the Anglican charismatic tradition:
The first is the one that caught my attention, and it studies the interaction between Pentecostalism and Anglicanism, "A Charismatic Invasion of Anglicanism?" the link to that article is HERE.
On his experience with a Vineyard influenced Anglican Church near Oxford, England, see "A Liturgy, a Legacy, and an Anglican Band."  The link is HERE  This one is also quite interesting, "Surprised by the Sacraments." Its link is HERE.
The link to Dr. Coulter books on Amazon is HERE.

It is really nice to have an "outsider" look at the Anglican charismatic movement ad declare it "good"

Announcement:

The noted Pentecostal scholar Dr. Jon Ruthven wrote a very positive review of my latest 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. You can purchase the print version at a discount from the publisher HERE.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Healing prayer for animals




Proverbs 12:10
A righteous man has regard for the life of his animal,
But even the compassion of the wicked is cruel.


The feast of St. Francis is celebrated in October, and often churches use the occasion to bless the pets and other animals of the congregation. That is a fine custom, and here are some hints on how to go further, and effectively pray for the healing of animals, either physical or inner healing.  Here are several of Carolyn's and my own experiences with the healing of animals.

The first is an article on the inner healing of our Boston Terrier that appeared in the Journal of Christian Healing (Summer 1991). Besides illustrating the inner healing of animals, it also shows that inner healing is a grace, not just suggestion or psychological manipulation.  It has been retyped for your benefit, as the scan on the text pages did not work well. The notes on animal behavior and intelligence need to be updated, and please feel free to make suggestions in the blog comments.


An Indicator of Inner Healing

As Grace; the Fido Factor

By William De Arteaga, and Carolyn De Arteaga

Journal of Christian Healing, Vol. 13, No. 2, (Summer, 1991)

Does inner-healing prayer truly mediate a grace from the Lord, or is it no different from imagery conditioning practiced by humanistic psychologists? Those involved in the inner-healing ministry have felt the frustration of trying to explain that positive results from their prayers are not just the product of suggestion. Thankfully, there is some unusual evidence to repudiate the suggestion theory: the inner healing of animals through prayer.

Dave Hunt and others have raised the question of inner-healing as a form of psychological manipulation.[1] But even before their criticisms were made, the evidence of inner healing as a grace was difficult to discern. In the typical counseling situation there are multiple factors in play, such as the counselor’s loving attitude and counselee’s expectancy and openness to suggestion. Even when inner healing is ministered by lay facilitators, it would be possible to claim that the healing and behavioral changes experienced by the seeker were the product of suggestion working with his or her expectations.

The issue of inner healing as grace or technique is similar to that of how to discern the grace of prayer for physical problems. Most often, illness is treated by both prayer and medical interventions; and an attempt to attribute the precise degree of effectiveness to prayer, as against surgery, medication, and so on, is at best problematic.

These complications can be short-circuited when we examine what happens as we pray with animals for inner healing. Animals can be injured emotionally; these injuries can cause them to behave and react badly. But animals are not able to accept suggestions that would change their behavior immediately.[2]

Agnes Sanford, a pioneer of inner healing in the 1950s, practiced both healing prayer for physical ills and inner-healing prayer for animals. Naturally, the overwhelming bulk of her efforts were dedicated to human needs, and the times she ministered to animals were few. These healings were mentioned mostly in her talks at church missions and Camps Farthest Out (a nationwide network of summer retreat programs). Mrs. Sanford believed that animals are easier to heal than many humans because their minds offer no theological or philosophical objections to the possibility. They are not capable of belief or unbelief, as far as we know.

The first account of Mrs. Sanford’s ministry with animals is found in one of her juvenile novels, A Pasture for Peterkin.[3] Mrs. Sanford called her novels “teaching parables,” and, like others she wrote, this one was loosely based on events in her life. In this case, the setting was her summer cottage in rural Massachusetts.

In the novel, Amanda, age 9, prays for her sick and dying calf, Peterkin, with the laying on of hands and by visualizing the animal as happy and well. Amanda realizes that the calf cannot help in the healing prayer: “I know you haven’t the sense enough to believe it, and God knows it too, so I am going to believe it for you.” After the prayer, the calf recovers and grows to be a happy bull with its own pasture.

A factual written description of the inner healing of an animal came only in Mrs. Sanford’s last major theological work, Creation Waits (1979).[4]  Here, Mrs. Sanford described an inner healing ministered by her friend, secretary, and traveling companion, Edith Drury. Mrs. Sanford was in Devon, England speaking on healing. A local farmer asked for prayers for “Sheila,” who lately had been “nervous and upset.” Mrs. Sanford, assuming the Sheila was his wife or sister, sent Edith to minister. When Edith arrived at the farm, however, she discovered that Sheila was the farmer’s cow.

Edith honored the farmer’s request anyway, praying “…that the love and light of God would go all the way back through Shelia’s heifer-hood, healing all traumatic experiences, remembered or not, in her subconscious, and make her a happy, cream-filled Christian cow, certainly with no more tendencies to kick and be nervous.”[5] The prayer worked, and the cow was healed of her emotional and behavioral problems.

In the course of our own ministry, we have had occasions to pray for animals. A dramatic inner healing came about several years ago for our Boston terrier, Tuppance. Once, just before a thunderstorm, Carolyn let Tuppance out in the back yard. As she neared her favorite spot by a large oak, the tree was struck by lightning. Carolyn, standing at the back door and twenty feet away, felt the shock and was thrown backwards. Tuppance was less than five feet from the tree. The concussion threw Tuppance to the ground, and she ran, terrified, into the house.

Tuppance’s hurt was not physical, but emotional. Thereafter, any explosive sound would send her into panic. Well before we could hear an approaching thunderstorm, she would begin pacing, breathing rapidly, and drooling. If the storm took place at night, she would jump on our bed and continue her panicky behavior.  Fourth of July was a nightmare for the dog, as the neighborhood children exploded fireworks; Tuppance anxiety continued for several years.

In 1981, while researching the history of inner healing, I suggested to Carolyn that we pray for the dog. I led the prayer, but there was no appreciable change in Tuppance’s response to thunder. We tried again later, and this time Carolyn, who has always had a special compassion and love for animals, led the prayer. She held the dog and prayed simply: “Lord Jesus, please fine that little dog that was so frightened by the storm and comfort and heal her.”

After Carolyn’s prayer, there was a dramatic change in Tuppance’s behavior. Thunderstorms no longer put the dog in panic. She would come to one of us for “company,” but there was no more rapid breathing, drooling, and pacing. We could peacefully sleep through a summer thunderstorm, with Tuppance under our bed, not on top of us. She died several years later of old age and a weak heart, but never again showed exaggerated behavior to loud noises.

This little canine case history (and the other accounts of animal inner healing) have some profound implications.[6] The mind of an animal cannot take complex symbolic suggestions.[7] Behavior modification might have worked on Tuppance with a skilled and patient trainer: for instance, the setting off firecrackers followed by rewards. But this was not the case. Major and permanent behavioral changes took place immediately after Carolyn’s prayer.

Many pet owners longingly and compassionately hold their pets without reported behavioral-healing results, as we did with our dog. Therapeutic touch is beneficial, but of small effect in comparison to the healing Tuppance experienced. Thus, the important factor in this case seemed to be the inner-healing prayer itself, and Carolyn’s special compassion, which focused the prayer.

We understand that these cases are little more than “anecdotal evidence” – almost a dirty word in behavioral disciplines. However, it would be quite possible to design a veterinary protocol for emotionally injured animals to test this type of healing prayer quantitatively. The results of a well-defined and well-administered test might be a substantial addition to the mounting experimental evidence on the reality and effectiveness of inner-healing prayer. Certainly it would be a significant aid to the ministry of the Christian therapist.


[1] For instance: Dave hunt and T.A McMahon, The Seduction of Christianity (Eugene: Harvest House, 1985); Don Matzat, Inner Healing Deliverance or Deception? (Eugene: Harvest House, 1987).
[2]Just how much animals can understand is the subject of ongoing research. Dolphins certainly can respond to simple symbolic commands, as in: “Place Frisbee in basket<” However, no evidence exists for the capability of animals to respond to suggestions of a healing nature. The complexity involved in associating mental imagery with behavioral outcomes is far too great. See: Susan Chollar, “ Our Cognitive Cousins: Conversations with the Dolphins,” Psychology Today (April 1989), 52-57.
[3] Agnes Sanford, A Pasture for Peterkin (St. Paul: MacAlester Park, 1956), 36-37.
[4] Agnes Sanford, Creation Waits (Plainfield:  Logos International, 1979).
[5] Ibid., 113
[6] Collar, “Our cognitive Cousins.”
[7] H.F. Harlow, “The Formation of Learning Sets,” Psychology Review 56 (1949), 51-65, and “Mice, Monkeys, Men and Motives,” Psychology Review 60 (1953), 23-32.





The next is an incident taken from my wife's forthcoming book, "Watching God Work: the Stuff of miracles" Bridge-Logos: 2014). It should be out by April.

Sweet Pea:
Sweet Pea was just a gray cat, not even a remarkable gray cat.  I don’t remember how she arrived at our house.  Perhaps she just appeared.  The only animals permitted to join our family, after our daughter Margie chose dog grooming as a career, were the abandoned or unwanted.  Sweet Pea must have fit into one of those categories. The problem for the cat was that the next-door neighbor’s house sat less than a stone’s throw away.  Sweet Pea received lots of petting from the teenage daughter but cars, in all degrees of repair and disrepair, zoomed in and out of their driveway.
One afternoon as I got out of my car after work, out of the corner of my eye I saw Sweet Pea sitting on top of the woodpile on the side of the house.  She often perched there keeping an eye on the chipmunks that lived underneath, so I didn’t really think much about it.  After dinner, I put down her dish by the refrigerator and called Sweet Pea. She didn’t appear which was unusual when food was involved.  I went looking around the yard.
  
I found her in the same spot on top of the woodpile.  But something just didn’t seem right about her.  Not something I could pinpoint, but something.  Sweet Pea didn’t respond, other than to look at me, even when I called, “Dinner,” a word she understood perfectly.  I walked back inside and called Bill.  “There’s something wrong with Sweet Pea,” I said.  When Bill looked at her, he said, “I think she’s sick.  Let’s pray for her.” Bill’s answer for everything was, “Let’s pray,” so I put my hand on her back and we prayed.  We talked to God about any rotten rodent she may have eaten, any infection, or any kind of infirmity.  As an afterthought, I said, “I come against any pain for this little cat.”
Sweet Pea didn’t resist or complain when I lifted her up and took her in the house.  She didn’t move, but just sat on the sofa where I put her and showed no interest even in her favorite shredded turkey dinner.  Before bed I put my hand on her again and prayed against infirmity and pain.  Bill joined me. In the morning Sweet Pea still sat in the same place, not paying attention to food nor wanting to go outside.  “I’m going to take her to the vet,” I said.”
Bill drove and I held Sweet Pea on my lap, praying all the way.  She didn’t seem in any discomfort, but didn’t seem right either. Certainly Sweet Pea was sick. The doctor said after examining her, “I think she may have an injury. Let’s get some x-rays.” An assistant took my cat to x-ray.  Within a minute or two she was back with a stricken look on her face.  “I’m so sorry,” she said, “but your cat died on the x-ray table.” “I need to see her,” I said, heading for the door.  In the x-ray room I held Sweet Pea and cried.  “I’m so sorry,” I said to my cat as I took her in my arms.
The doctor disappeared and returned with the x-rays.  “I can’t believe this,” he said.  “Almost every bone in her body was broken.  She must have been run over.  She must have been in excruciating pain, but I didn’t see any signs that she was in discomfort.”
I had prayed for my mother in the hospital when the pain was unbearable and the pain left.  God didn’t heal Sweet Pea, but did He take away the pain? I think so.
Thank you, Lord, that you answer prayers for little pets we love.

  Healing of Sasha:
Sasha is our current dog. Carolyn and I agree strongly that "A house without a dog is not a home." Sasha is a beautiful black lab, about seven years old now. She came to us as a one year old, and had been malnourished as a puppy. She ravenously ate everything that was edible (and some things that were not).  We had to be careful how we stored food and closed cabinets, etc. I asked my friend Doug, a dog expert, if Sasha would grow out of this, as we fed her regularly and plentifully. He said, “No, the dog is imprinted in the starvation mode, and will be like that till the day she dies.” We were OK with that, as Sasha was a very loving and intelligent dog.
Early on Sasha and I developed a routine for my “off from work” days. In the morning Sasha would come to my “prayer closet” (actually, a swivel chair in my study) and nuzzle my arm to get my attention. I patted her, gave her a treat, and did a quick prayer for her. Usually it was something like this, “Lord, give Sasha every doggie blessing she can contain.” I lay hands on her head, and went on with my other prayers as she went off to munch on her treat.
About three years ago we noticed a real change in Sasha’s behavior. She did not seem as perpetually hungry, and at time left her bowl of food unfinished. We usually give her table scraps, but now we noticed she was picky as to what she ate. For instance, she no longer wolfed down leftover Salmon skin or carrots. All of this points to a major healing, even though I did not specifically pray for it. It seems that God freed her of her starvation neurosis as part of the “doggie blessing” I prayed for.
Actually, I should have prayed for her in a more focused manner, the way Carolyn and I did for “Tuppance,” a Boston Terrier we had when we were first married. Why it did not occur to either Carolyn or myself to pray a specific inner healing prayer for Sasha  the way we did for Tuppance I cannot explain. Perhaps the Lord wanted to show us the healing benefit of blessings our animals, as they cannot speak for themselves and explain exactly what ails them.

Links and helps:


Below is a link to an excellent article on CS Lewis' beliefs about animals, by Andrew Linzey, Anglican Theological Review, 80 #1 (Winter 1998, 6-8,1), In short, Lewis believed that when we name and love animals we enter into a covenant relationship with them, which will carry on into heaven.  This is an interesting theory that cannot be proven scripturally, but makes good sense. This is the link HERE

This is a Christian website on healing prayer for animals:
http://www.notonesparrow.com/


 Susan Bubber is a fellow Anglican priest and animal lover. Her book on specific prayers makes for a wonderful gifts to other animal lovers. It can be bought HERE


Announcement:

The noted Pentecostal scholar Dr. Jon Ruthven wrote a very positive review of my latest 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 You can purchase the print version at a discount from the publisher HERE

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.

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