Healing Line

Healing Line

Healing News

by Francis MacNutt
Mar/Apr 2002

The months of December and January were extraordinary for us at CHM in many ways — not so much because of what we planned but because of the people that God sent here to bless us and give us direction. For example, on just one day we had lunch with a couple in the leadership of "Focus on the Family" (from Colorado), and then had a two hour meeting with the administrator of a large Catholic hospital here in Jacksonville that is brainstorming on building a spiritual center for staff and patients as part of their expansion plans.

What seems clearest is that God is pushing us to work with an amazing variety of Christian groups. For example, in January (7–10), I was part of the annual meeting of the Charismatic Concerns Committee (CCC). This group of about 40 has been quietly meeting since 1971 when Dennis Bennett invited a group of diverse leaders (including myself) from the newly begun charismatic renewal to help these national leaders get to know each other. Among those leaders (for those of you who remember back that far) were David DuPlessis, the "Fort Lauderdale Five" (such as Derek Prince, Don Basham, Bob Mumford, and Charles Simpson). The group was small enough that we really got to know and esteem each other. Also, the talks were not recorded, so everyone could be really honest about the difficulties we aired about one another's ministries. The meeting was also meant to sort out the disagreements between these strong leaders who came from differing religious backgrounds.

For example, we held a discussion on baptism: were people who had only undergone infant baptism by sprinkling (rather than by immersion) really saved? Some controversies actually resulted in modifications in how various ministries were exercised; for instance, Lutherans, Episcopalians and Catholics had major problems with independent Pentecostals who took everybody who had only been baptized as an infant down to the hotel swimming pool to re–baptize them. Many of these difficulties were worked out and the relationships that were built up in those days lasted. More important, we learned from each other. For example, I learned a great amount about the deliverance ministry from the experiences of Don Basham and Derek Prince.

Out of this group developed another larger group, NARSC (North American Renewal Service Committee) representing all the major denominations that had charismatic renewal growing in their churches. In turn, NARSC sponsored the famous gathering of 40,000 in Arrowhead Football Stadium in Kansas City in 1977 — which was the high–water mark in charismatic renewal in the U.S. That Kansas City conference was followed by half–a–dozen other large conferences, the last one being in St. Louis in June 2001.

Well, at this year's annual CCC meeting, January 7–10, I was elected chairman, with Rev. Scott Kelso, a United Methodist pastor from Columbus, Ohio, being elected administrator.

The significance of this for CHM is simply that I was elected largely because we at CHM have been involved with such a wide variety of Christian groups involved in renewal. The ministry of CHM is more than just a ministry of physical and inner healing; increasingly, we — with many others — are being used to heal the divisions among the various churches and denominations — a ministry of reconciliation and healing the broken body of Christ.

Then, out of this January meeting of the CCC came an invitation to attend the first meeting of "Together 2002," gathering a group of prominent Pentecostal leaders, to be held April 29–May 2, 2002, in Washington, D. C. This meeting will be much like the CCC meeting, except that it will be for "Classical Pentecostal" leaders who typically have been separate from the so–called "Charismatics." These are all people that "charismatics" seldom have a chance to meet.

For those of you who don't know much about the history of Pentecostalism, the "Pentecostals" are those who belong to churches founded in the early 1900's, like the Assemblies of God and the black Pentecostal church, the Church of God in Christ. These churches all emphasize the Baptism of the Spirit and originated in revivals, such as Cane Ridge, Kentucky, and Azusa Street. Typically, they were forced to leave their Protestant churches and felt that Protestant churches were filled with lost people; their prejudice against the Catholic Church, the "Whore of Babylon," was stronger yet.

Then, when members of the mainline churches experienced the Baptism of the Spirit, the so–called classical Pentecostals didn't trust this second wave, the "Charismatic Renewal." These charismatics featured leaders in all the main churches, such as Dennis Bennett (Episcopalian), Tommy Tyson (Methodist), Brick Bradford and Bob Whiteacre (Presbyterian), and Kevin Ranaghan, Ralph Martin and Steve Clark (Roman Catholic). The Pentecostals, by and large, stayed away from us and those who crossed the line, such as David DuPlessis, were ostracized.

So the CCC is composed mainly of "Charismatics," who have been meeting for 30 years, while this new group, "Together 2002," are mainly Pentecostal, which includes people like Rev. Jack Hayford (Foursquare Gospel Church), Ken and Gloria Copeland, and Rev. Torn Trask (head of the Assemblies of God).

I give you this brief explanation because it is one of the many important and emotional Christian divisions that most people don't know about, but the effects touch millions of lives.

The good news to share with you is that God seems to be breaking down this major division among Christians and we rejoice to be a small part of it all.

The convenor of "Together 2002," Dr. Robert Fisher, in his invitation writes that these leaders "believe this time together could well be a moment of unity–building for the Pentecostal/charismatic movement. A problem with relationships is that most leaders know one another by name, position and gifting, but not on a personal basis. . .. Without doubt this will be a historic gathering. It will be the first time that such a diverse group of the highest–level leaders have come together on an intentional basis with no other agenda than to spend time getting to know one another better. . .. "

Judith and I feel honored to be invited to this small inaugural meeting. Putting this invitation together with the CCC, plus our invitation to take part in the November meeting in Rome convoked by the Vatican, we see a new quickening, in which the Holy Spirit seems to be bringing Christians together in a very real way — bringing those together who have been separated for decades ("Pentecostals" and "charismatics") and for centuries (Catholics and Protestants). We are excited to be a small part in all of this!

Francis MacNutt Francis MacNutt is a Founding Director and Executive Committee member of CHM. Mar/Apr 2002 Issue