Friday, January 22, 2016

On teeth and miraculous fillings

First, prayers please.

Need a miracle! I mean really, like an “ol ’timie,” tent-revival, Pentecostal miracle. Carolyn and I both have serious dental problems. We have not been able to afford a dentist for years. In recent months two of my teeth have disintegrated and I suppose need to be pulled out. No money for that. (God does not charge a fee, only wants prayer and faith.)

Old time Pentecostal evangelists used to go round and lay hands on folks, and behold… new gold fillings. Dr. Francis MacNutt, in his book Healing, cited miraculous teeth fillings in the draft of his book.[1]  The editor thought this was too radical for the charismatic audience of the 1970s who were barely accepting the idea of healing prayer, and suggested it be cut. MacNutt insisted, and the section was placed in the back of the book, allowing the reader some time to get used to the idea that serious miracles do happen.[2]

Teeth fillings still happen today in some prayer meetings and revivals in this country, and a lot more often in Latin America and Africa. I believe the disparity has something to do with the nature of “desperate faith” – if you are a poor person in Honduras or Angola you do not have the option of going to a dentist.

In any case, now Carolyn and I both need God’s power and hand on our teeth. We could go to the dentist, but at the cost of serious credit card debt. Miraculous gold fillings would be better. Some reports have it that sometimes miraculous rubies are implanted – that would be nice too. If you have tooth filling as a special ministry gift, come visit us in Canton, Georgia. We have a guest room. If not, pray for our miracle.

Some ask, why in these cases does not God restore and re-enamel the teeth? Sometimes that happens, but very rarely. But I believe there is a reason why more often miraculous fillings occur. It is that our tooth decay is the product of an improper and intemperate diet (i.e. lots of sugar). For instance, the skeletons of many ancient peoples, like the ancient Romans, have practically perfect teeth – refined sugar had not been invented.  Re-enameling a tooth may be God saying, “It’s OK the way you ate.”  But a gold filling God says, “In my mercy, I will do for you what a good dentists would do,” and not affirm our eating dysfunctions. (This is not a direct quote from God, I have not had a specific revelation on this, nor can I quote the Bible on this, since I find no reference to tooth decay in the Bible –  no sugar in Bible times.) This is my sense on the spiritual dynamics of this issue – if you have a better take on this please add a comment.

Now, many of you who follow my blog postings will wonder why, if Carolyn and I have an effective healing ministry (which we do by the grace of God) why we don’t we just lay hands on our jaws and voila! gold fillings. In my previous blog posting I described how Carolyn and I have prayed effectively for each other for various ailments and conditions. I avoided a knee replacement surgery that my orthopedist assured was necessary, and my knee is now better than it was 20 years ago . (On this, see my former posting, “Aging Gracefully with the Graces of Healing Prayer, HERE.) To announce the latest, Carolyn’s dangerously thin optic nerve has been healed and is now normal.

So why am I bothering my brothers and sisters on our teeth?  It brings to the fore a larger issue. Christians in the healing ministry often need the prayers and help (and medical attention) of others. The gift of healing, like that of the other gifts of the Spirit, such as prophecy, is for others.  Thus normally, a prophet prophesies for others, not himself. Now praying healing prayer for oneself is more normal, and I am sure many readers of this posting have done that many times. But it is often necessary to have others pray for the situation. For instance, I generally don’t post a Facebook prayer request if I catch a cold – Carolyn and I pray through those ourselves. But if we were diagnosed with cancer I would ask (and pester) all my Christian friends to continuously pray for us. I am reminded of the Bakkers, the great healing evangelists of Mozambique, who had a period of serious illness that needed both the prayers of other Christians and medical attention.  Similarly, Agnes Sanford, the great healing apostle of the 20th Century had two bouts with Cancer which were healed by the prayers of others and medical procedures.

Lastly let me say that the ministry of teeth healing is perhaps more in the nature of the gift of miracles than the gift of healing, though both intersect with a “fuzzy” boundary. For instance, healing has normally to do with a grace acceleration of the body’s God given ability to resist disease and heal itself. Healing has a natural dimension to it, as even the meanest atheist often recover from serious disease by getting rest and medical attention.

But if a person lost an arm or a leg, there is no natural bodily process to restore that limb. If it was restored in prayer, it would not, properly speaking, be a healing, but a miraculous event.  I am reminded of one of the great  miracles in Agnes Sanford’s life. She was serving as a Red Cross volunteer in an Army hospital in WWII when she encountered an infantry officer who had his stomach blown out. He was slowly dying of starvation. She laid hands on him and got her telephone network of prayers groups to pray for him. He was miraculously given a new stomach and walked out of the hospital as a born-again Believer. This incident is recorded in her autobiography Sealed Orders, which may be purchased HERE

Teeth restoration and fillings seem to me to be more in the order of the gift of miracles than the gift of healing proper. Teeth do not have the natural ability to mend themselves. That is my opinion, and I would love to hear other voices and opinions in the comment section of this blog.

The story of Carolyn's and my healing adventures is told in her book, Watching God Work: The Stuff of Miracles, which can be ordered HERE.

 My new book on Agnes Sanford was graciously reviewed by the Pentecostal scholar Jon Ruthven and his review can be accessed HERE

One can order the book from Amazon as a kindle for $10,  or at a discount directly form the publisher HERE

[1] Francis MacNutt, Healing,  Notre Dame: Ave Maria, 1974.
[2] Conversation with Francic MacNutt circa 2006.