Healing Line

Healing Line

Should We Be Shocked?

by Francis MacNutt
Sep/Oct 2003

Over and over it happens. Christian leaders with a great healing ministry are exposed as having very human weaknesses. They fall.

Should that tempt us to be disillusioned? Would God gift such a sinner with a great ministry? Were the healings real in the first place?

It should reassure you to know that these problems - and their answers - go back to the very earliest days of Christianity. Jesus himself said that there are followers who will call upon his name and cast out evil spirits but ultimately are lost. How can this be?

The answer is simple. Traditionally, there are two kinds of spiritual gifts or charisms. One entire group of gifts are given to us, not necessarily for our own spiritual growth, but in order to help others. These are the gifts listed by Paul in 1 Corinthians 11, which includes the gift of healing. Our dear friend, Tommy Tyson, used to say that God even gave Balaam's ass the ability to prophesy, on at least one occasion!

Jesus was not surprised that some of his gifted followers were also failures in their personal lives:

"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,'will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles? ' Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'" (Mt. 7: 21-2 3)

On the other hand, there is a second category of gifts which only indirectly help others, but are given to help us personally grow as Christians and to become holy.1 These are the "fruits of the Holy Spirit," some of which are listed by Paul in Galatians (5:22-23a).

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

The ideal, of course, is that we become blessed by both - the gifting we need for our own interior growth, but we also hope to be used by Jesus to help others. It's not an either/or, but a both/and situation. It's more important, of course, that we ourselves become loving, joyful, long-suffering - that we demonstrate all the fruits of the Spirit. This growth in Christian character takes time, as well as God's help. In fact, without Christian character we may be tempted to use the other spiritual gifts for our own selfish purposes. Jesus specifically tells his disciples, when he commissions them to heal, that they shouldn't try to make money off their healing gift: "You received without charge, give without charge. Provide yourselves with no gold or silver ... " (Mt. 10:9). He balances this by saying that the laborer is worthy of his hire (Mt. 10: 1 Ob), but he clearly recognizes the dangers and temptations the healer may face. The desire to achieve fame as well as fortune may also allure anyone who has a great gift of healing.

And yet, by God's mercy, many are healed even though the minister of healing may display moral gaps in his/her personality. This should not surprise or shock us - although we are saddened, because these failures cause the healing ministry to be criticized by skeptics. In my library I have a book totally given over to showing that Christian healers are nothing but frauds. In the 13th century Thomas Aquinas directly asks the question, "Can evil people work miracles?" and his answer is "Yes."2

So we can hope that the Lord gifts us with his power to help others - even to ask for more of the gift of healing - but we need to be ready to face the temptations that come along with it. Are you up to it? In any case, you can't go wrong in praying for the gifts of love and humility, the fruits of the Spirit.

"Do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you; rejoice rather that your names are written in heaven" (Lk. 10:20).

(Footnotes)
1 Traditionally, in scholastic theology, the first class of gifts were called "gratiae gratis datae" - these were the gifts that flow through us to others - and "gratiae gratis dantis" - gifts to help us become more like Christ.
2 Summa Theologica, II-llae, q. 178, art. 2.


Francis MacNutt Francis MacNutt is a Founding Director and Executive Committee member of CHM. Sep/Oct 2003 Issue


Praise Reports

Sep/Oct 2003

• Thank you, ... for your beautiful thoughts about when to pray for a loved one's death. For the past ten years I have worked as a hospital chaplain and I have finally let God decide when the time is right. Even when the family decides to remove all life supports, I tell them that God still has the last word on it.

• I appreciated your article in the Jan/Feb, 2003 issue entitled, "When to Pray for a Peaceful Death." It was wonderful and answered many questions on my mind.

• I have read the "Praise Reports from Prisons," and they impressed me immensely. Those individuals have turned to God, their Creator, a God who loves them very much. They ought all to be reassured that there is someone they can turn to, no matter what their circumstances are, and at any time.

I wish I could say to each one of them, "Never give up on the Lord, but pursue him as if your whole life depended upon it; then you will begin to experience his Holy Spirit and the abundant life that goes with it."

• Our son whom you prayed for when he was in prison last February, experienced a spiritual healing. The Lord even spoke to him. He has had a 180 degree turn around in his faith.

• CHM has been a refuge for me; a place of peace where I feel the presence of our Lord. As an Oncology Registered Nurse, I tell my patients about CHM and urge them to go there. You are definitely in touch with the greatest Physician-Jehovah Raphe.

• Many years ago at St. Leo's, Francis touched C. and he was freed from stuttering.

• SHP I-a beautiful, edifying, and Holy Spirit-filled experience.

• Although my troubles are not solved, I was able to connect through your web site with our precious Lord in a wonderful way. Thank you so much.

• I want to tell you about the blessing I received when I attended the day for generational healing in June.
Nothing happened in the morning session. I still ran into that wall I couldn't get through. I was feeling tearful, sad, defeated, and hopeless-feelings that left me primed for failure.

Then, that afternoon, during the period of soaking prayer, the wall change into an image of beauty and happiness. I saw a garden filled with many beautiful flowers and happy, laughing people. Originally, I had thought that, to get rid of that wall, I would have to understand everything that had happened, face it, and then forgive-that I could only find peace in knowing and understanding. Maybe that was the devil's lie. Anyway, those old feelings are gone and mourning has turned into joy.

One of the sweetest parts of this experience is the tender connection I now have with my mother. (She died in '95.) I was the one she depended on for help but I never felt that she loved me. I do now. In the prayer I could see her smiling at me with love and tenderness. It was so healing.

I still have all the troubling relationships I had before, but now I can interact with these individuals without my old fear of their hurting me. I am free! May they be blessed in the same way!

I had planned to come back for the three-day prayer ministry another time. However, after the one day of prayer, when I began filling out the forms, I found I no longer related to these people and painful experiences as I did before. That they are simply no longer part of my history. I feel I would be dredging up something God has buried, so I think it should remain buried.

Thank you so much for your prayer ministry. Now, instead of looking for someone to affirm me, and make me feel loved, I am asking that Jesus will love others through me. What a Savior!

• Praise God! Bonnie, whom I sent down to your ministry, is healed of cancer!

• I was down for the prayer ministry in May and my heart is lighter from the prayer I received for healing from childhood wounds.

• I'd like to share two journal entries with you as my testimony. I know you can always use encouragement. Thank you for your hard work in prayer for myself and others.

January 16, 2003

I have been relaxing for two days and I feel so good. It's been three days since the Day of Healing Prayer at CHM. I find myself to be much less anxious and I'm worrying very little about anything. The biggest improvement is in feeling at ease with people in general, but especially with men. (I suffered sexual abuse as a child.) I was on a fishing boat yesterday, and I was the only female aboard and yet I was totally relaxed around them - even though I got seasick.

Regarding men-in the past few days, I have been able to see that they can have a softer, more protective side. Never before have I been aware that they desire to be chivalrous, if I will just give them a chance. What I perceived as harshness and meanness in the past simply came from a difference in the sexes. I think I will feel less anxious around men from now on.

January 20, 2003

At the Day of Healing Prayer, I cried a lot. I realized that my self-worth cannot be based on someone else's behavior. Their behavior is their own problem. Being hurt in any relationship is inevitable, because we are all human. I can't control another's behavior. When I am thin-skinned and too scared of getting hurt, relationships won't last long. The key is to value myself, despite the other person's actions.

(These praise reports may have been edited for readability.)


May/Jun 2003 Issue