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Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Church of the Redeemer - Healing Workshop.




A brief report on a TERRIFIC healing conference I was privileged to lead. It took place on Sat. Oct. 24, at the Anglican Church of the Redeemer, in Camden, North Carolina.

It was an all day workshop stressing the authority of the Christian to bring healing prayer to the community and use healing as an evangelistic tool. You can see an outline of the course from the excellent webpage the church prepared for this conference HERE. Some marvelous healing took place of allergies, bad backs, and more serious conditions such as paralysis.

A particularly beautiful incident happened during one of the prayer exercises. I had talked about how the Gifts of the Spirit help in the healing ministry, and about how back in 1953, Agnes Sanford, the great pioneer of healing prayer, was exhausted from praying for others. She met with two of here friends, who were also into the healing ministry and also exhausted from constant prayer. They asked for God's guidance and got, "Pray for the Holy Ghost." They did so, two on two, two on two, and two on two. They all received a wonderful fresh infilling of the Spirit and refreshment to their bodies.
(The incident is told in my new book Agnes Sanford and Her Companions: The Assault on Cessationism and the Coming of the Charismatic Renewal. You can get it at a discount HERE I am sorry the price is still high - I did not set it)



 We did a similar exercise. In one of the groups doing the exercise a young woman, Hannah, began singing in tongues very beautifully as she laid hands on a woman who had multiple illnesses. When she finished she sang again in English - interpreting what she had just said in tongues. I talked to the lady with the infirmities afterwards, and she said that as Hannah sang in tongues she received in her mind the interpretation, the very same words that she then repeated in English.

This was thankfully caught on video, you can check it out HERE

We added several new exercise to the workshop. One was to practice long distance healing by calling someone who is ill over the smart phone (a land-line will work as well). In each group a person called was surrounded by four to six persons in support. It was marvelous. The folks at Redeemer said they would continue doing this as they met in various Bible studies, vestry meetings, etc. (Does this give you an idea?)

The next exercise was wonderfully funny. I have been concerned that many persons are too shy to come to a person in a public place, such as a Walmart, and offer healing prayer. For instance, as when we see someone grimacing in pain or sniffling from a cold. The exercise was to do a "skit" with one person in the group demonstrating some illness, and a person who had NEVER done such a public prayer offer healing prayer. Talk about funny! One person feigned having a heart attack and fell on the floor. The shy person immediately went into prayer and raised him from the dead! (I apologize I did not take a picture of this, I was laughing too hard!)

I should not end without mentions something about the Church of the Redeemer. Fr.Craig Stephans has a wonderful congregation and an absolutely fabulous staff of several priests, ministers and deacons.  Check out the webpage. Carolyn and I were hosted by Fr. Graig and Missy, his beautiful wife, in their five star guest room.



My wife, who has a special way with animals, made friends with Marius, their dog, immediately. Later  we prayed for Marius'  inner healing as it is a “rescue dog” who had been abused and prone to nightmares. No nightmares since!


 Carolyn and her new friend

Fr. Craig does a yearly "blessing and healing" of the pets on St. Francis' Sunday. A picture of the last event is below:



If you are in the area, visit this church. They had a great healing ministry before, and I believe that Carolyn and I were able to give them further encouragement and instruction. We will be happy to come to your church. Contact us on Facebook or call 770-704-8703.

Addendum:

A pastor friend asked me to be more precise about this workshop, so I wrote a memo for him. It may be of use and interest to you also:

Memo: “Every Believer a Healing Evangelist”

Objectives:

This workshop aims at motivating and equipping every born-again Believer to appropriate his/her authority in Christ as a healing and evangelical agent for the Kingdom of God. The key scripture is Luke 10:8-9 where it is clear that healing is a doorway to proclaiming the Gospel.

The sad situation is that most churches, including Pentecostal and charismatic congregations, limit the healing ministry to trained intercessors. This is somewhat effective, but it also obscures the authority and healing ability of many lay persons. This workshop aims as demonstrating that every Believer in Jesus Christ has a measure of healing power, and some even extraordinary anointing in this ministry. It is a supplement, not a replacement to trained intercessors who may have advanced training in inner healing and deliverance ministries.

The course is based on the pioneer work of Charles and Francis Hunter, a Pentecostal couple who in the 1980s made popular the biblical fact that in the New Testament there are no petition prayers for healing. All healing prayer is done in the command mode.
Sequence of teachings and exercises:

The first segment:  We go over the biblical basis for command healing and also discusses the “energies of God” for healing that are transmitted via the laying on of hands. The participants ae divided into prayer groups of three or four for the workshop exercises.

Exercise # 1: 
The prayer groups practice and experience the distinction of praying in petition for healing and then praying in command by each one praying for a sickness or medical condition of the others in the group, or a proxy person.

The second segment:  This teaches about the energies of God as transmitted via the believer’s hands, and modeled on Luke 5:12-14, where touch and command are employed at the same time. This section shows that healing prayer must often be repeated as in Mark 8: 23-25.  Also 1 Cor 12: 9 defines the gifts (plural) of healing and different persons have different anointing for various illness or situations. Thus repeated prayers over one person expose that person to various levels of anointing and persevering prayer which is the key to battling serious disease.

Exercise #2:
Prayer group practices laying on of hands while saying words of command for healing. Repeating prayers and laying on of hands is encouraged. This accustoms the participant to the idea of repeatedly praying for a medical situation until it is much improved or completely healed.

The third segment:  This teaches the Hunter method as applied to adjusting the backbone. This is really chiropractic theory in a Christian setting, and using the energies of God via the laying on of hands. It is not specifically biblical (you don’t see Jesus extending legs and arms for healing in the NT, but it has been used in Pentecostal healers since the 1920s).  This mode of healing prayer falls under the rubric of “Testing all things,” 1 Thess 5:21. It not only works quickly and effectively for all sort of back problems, but for imparting the energies of God into diseased organs.

Exercise # 3
            This is a series of exercises in which the prayer groups practice and prays using the arm extension, leg extensions, etc. that make up the Hunter method.  This takes an hour or so. Incorporated into this segment is information on using the various extensions for specific diseases other than back healing.

The fourth segment: This deals with the relationship of the gifts of the Spirit and healing prayer. Although healing and deliverance are pre-{Pentecostal gifts, they are enhanced by the gifts of the Spirit.

Exercise # 4:
This exercise is modeled after the experience the Mrs. Agnes Sanford had in receiving the gifts of the Spirit. She and two companions were exhausted, and asked for the “holy Ghost’ to strengthen them. Wow! They unexpectedly received the gifts of the Spirit.  In this exercise each prayer group prays two on one, two on one, two on one, for the reception, renewal and strengthening of the gifts of the Holy Spirit for their ministry to others.

The fifth segment:  This deals with praying for a person long-distance. I discuss the Pharisaic attack by Dave Hunt (Seduction of Christianly) and others who claimed that use of the imagination in prayer was purely occultist and New Age. I cite the masterful article Alexander, Brooks, “Mind Power and the Mind’s Eye.” (SCP Journal 9/3 (1999) 8–20) to show that God does not create an organ or facility that can only be used in evil and witchcraft. Exactly to the contrary, a facility, such as imagination (or the sex organ) is created for a godly intention, but is often demonized and used wrongly. The wrong use does not negate its proper use.

Praying with the imagination helps the person while praying in the command mode not to be “double minded.” That is the supplicant is seen in the mind’s eye as well while we speak words of authority for healing.

Exercise # 5 The groups pray for someone “in accord” who is not present
.
Exercise # 6 The groups contact someone via smart phone who is ill, and pray for that person with all they have learned thus far. (They learn that this can be done in every home group and Bible study group they are in).

The sixth segment: This discusses taking healing prayer to the marketplace. I explain the “prayer station,” and its variants in evangelistic use.

Exercise  #7  The last exercise is the most fun: It is called “loosing shyness.” We ask for a person in each group who has never prayed for a stranger to be the “shyee” and the other member role play someone in Walmart struggling in obvious pain or discomfort. The shyee must ask the person “Can I pray for you?” and then do so. I encourage drama and over-acting. It is great fun!

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

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]












Saturday, October 17, 2015

Christian Just War Theology

My review of this important work first appeared in Pneuma Review. Pastors and lay leaders who have  veterans and armed services personnel in their congregations should be aware, and or buy this work.


Biggar, Nigel. In Defense of War. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013. $30




Dr. Biggar is Regis Professor of moral and pastoral theology at Oxford University.  Although too young to remember WWII, his childhood memories were filled with stories from relatives and neighbors of the “good war” that England fought to prevent the unspeakable evils of Nazi world domination. His approach to the moral issues of war is that of the Christian Augustine “just war” tradition.
(Full disclosure: I have been solidly behind the Augustine “just war” theory since childhood, before I knew the term. Like Dr. Biggar, I grew up in the 1950s, in awe of our veterans, and with the assurance that the war against Nazism was indeed honorable and justified. I also accepted that the wars against Communisms were “just wars.” I joined the Army during the Vietnam war and served in the 101st  Airmobile Div. in a civil affairs unite.  Although the Vietnam War ended in defeat, I have always considered it an honorable part of the war against communism. In this regard I am in kingship with Dr. Bigger assault on “Christian pacifism,” including the many critics of the Vietnam War.)


Author on civil affairs duty just south of Hue (1969)

Dr. Biggar’s book consists of an introduction, seven chapters and a brief concluding section. The chapters originated from various articles and lectures the author has given over the past decades. The introduction is subtitled “Against wishful thinking,” and together with chapter one, “Against Christian pacifism” counters the opinion, widely popular in university settings, that pacifism is the default setting for the “Christian.” Biggar deals with various Christian authors who are pacifists and systematically counters their argumentations. Among Christian pacifist theologian examined are Richard Hays, John Howard Yoder and Stanley Hauerwas.  Hauerwas is given particularly severe criticism, as his views on war are short on scriptural analysis and heavy with his left wing political assumptions.

Biggar concludes;
“Each of the pacifists under consideration assumes that violence is all of one piece. They do not distinguish violence that is well motivated, rightly intentioned, and proportionate from that which is not.. Nor do they distinguish anger from vengeance and hatred….
When our conceptionaly indiscriminate Christian pacifists turn to the New Testament and reads that Jesus repudiated some kinds of anger and violence, they assume that he must have repudiated all kinds… Such an understanding of Jesus’ social ethics stand prima facie in contradiction of Paul’s affirmation of the divine authorization of sword bearing in the 13th Chapter of his Epistle to the Romans." (p. 59)
Chapter two is entitled, “Love in War.” It records stories of soldiers acting with righteousness and kindness in war situation.  A moral soldier can “...regard their enemies with respect, solidarity, and even compassion – all of which are forms of love.”  (P. 91) Chapter three is entitled “The principal of double effect.”  In it the author argues (here in contradiction to St. Augustine) that it is possible for the just war soldier not to primarily desire the death and destruction of his enemies, although that is often necessary. That is. the taking of prisoners and disarming of the aggressive nation can be a primary goal. We can think of WWII, were indeed many German soldiers were killed. However, especially in the last weeks of the war, it became a case of mostly rounding up and disarming  prisoners – who gladly surrendered to American forces rather than be taken by the Soviet Army.
Chapter 4 is entitled “Proportionality,” and is subtitled “Lessons from the Somme and the First World War.”  Bigger goes against the consensus view that World War I was a useless war, stumbled into by incompetent diplomacy and economic rivalry. Using the latest and voluminous research available, Bigger shows that indeed Germany was the prime culprit in initiating the war. For the German High Command, beginning a war soon was a priority, as Imperial Russia was rapidly industrializing, and in alliance with France, would be a serious threat to Germany’s plans for the domination of Europe.  Further, German nationalism, the cult of Bismarck, and racial contempt for the Slavic peoples of the East was already a major factor in German thinking.

The most surprising element of Biggar’s analysis is his judgement that the 1916 Battle of the Somme, which was enormously costly to the British, but was also costly to the Germans, but saved the French Army form collapse during their Battle of Verdun. Thus, the Battle of the Somme ultimately blocked the domination of Europe by a proto-Nazi Germany. I found this chapter the most fascinating of the book, and Biggar’s mastery of the materials pertaining to the War particularly impressive.

To the contrary, Biggar’s next chapter, “Against legal positivism and liberal individualism” is important but far less engrossing.  Biggar makes the technical point that just war status should not be granted automatically to a nation defending its borders, as a certain nation states can be horrendously tyrannical and indeed are worthy to be invaded.  An example of this was the Pol-Pak regime of Cambodian which was mercifully put to an end by the invading Vietnamese Army.

The next chapter is “On not always giving the devil benefit of law: legality, morality and Kosovo.” Biggar concludes that the NATO armed intervention to save the Muslims from genocide in Kosovo was a form of a just war. However, according to current international law, it was an illegal intrusion into a nation’s internal affairs. For Biggar, “natural law” (a concept still active among Roman Catholic theologians) trumps current international law, and morality trumps legality.

Chapter 7, “Constructing Judgments,” will be for many the most problematic in Biggar’s book. It is a careful and logical analysis of the Gulf War and Invasion of Iraq in 2003. Using the multiple criteria of just war theory Biggar concludes that the invasion was justified. This is counter intuitive to the prevailing opinion, and I will not even attempt to recapitulate Biggar’s argumentation here, and only say that it is sound. I am in sympathy with Biggar in his disentangling the highly charged rhetoric about the war, and how it went wrong, with the ultimate moral issues. My evaluation of the Vietnam War is similar, it was a just war ineptly waged and ended

In his concluding section Bigger’s words themselves do a masterful work in summarizing his case for  a just war, and against  pacifism.
               "What reason might we have, then, to choose just war over not-war [pacifism]? One reason is this: that human experience teaches that wickedness, unpunished, tends to wax. Sometimes, of course, wrongdoers are so shamed by defenseless innocence that they renounce their wrongdoing. But history suggests at most this is rare, and at least cannot be relied on. It is highly doubtful, it seems to me, that Ghandi would have embarrassed and softened Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, the Interahamwe, [Rwanda genocide] Ratko Mladic, or Saddam Hussein. Violent domination can be a powerful addiction, and judging not only by SS fanatics but also by civilian policeman who committed mass murder in Poland and the USSR as members of the Einsatzgruppen, human beings are quite capable of hardening themselves against compassion. Their wickedness is excited, not sickened, by impunity. …That is why effective retribution [war] is so important." (pp. 330-331).
I will offer one general criticism to this masterful exposition of Christian just war theory. It is that some of the chapters are overly academic and should have been re-written with less cross argumentation to other scholar’s opinions. Stanly Jackie, the late and celebrated Jesuit theologian, Gifford lectures and winner of the Templeton Award, is a model for this. His principal life work was elucidating the relationship between Christianity and the rise science. He multiple works showed that the a philosophical assumptions of the Bible: the world created by one God and man’s mind a reflection of God’s, allowed science to be birthed in Western Europe in the late Middle Ages. True science as a system of acquiring and testing knowledge did not arise in Ancient Greece nor in China in spite of their superior math and technology. Jaki presented his findings in some works that were philosophically and technically demanding, and other works that were simplified and accessible to the layperson. You can access some of Fr. Jaki's books HERE

I would love to see a rewriting of In Defense of War work on a layman friendly level. 
As is, In Defense of War is a work I commend to pastors, especially those who labor in university settings and to those Christians who serve in the military, and who are often unaware of the rich heritage of the Christian just war theology.

You may purchase the Bigger work 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.