Healing Line

Healing Line

Our Journey to Scotland

by Francis MacNutt
Jan/Feb 2004

There is so much news to report about our trip to Edinburgh. It will be easy to start but hard to finish. We can tell you remarkable, dramatic stories about the healings (and deliverances, too) that took place, but the most significant thing of all was simply that we were invited there by the leadership of the Presbyterian Church ("The Church of Scotland," as it is known there). This invitation was seen as so important that a friend, Rev. Bob Whitaker, one of the pioneers in the Presbyterian charismatic renewal way back in the '60s, thought the event was so remarkable that he phoned from California to see if it was really true. When he found that it was, he mobilized about 100 friends to pray for the conference's success.

One of the unusual features of the invitation comes from the fact that John Calvin was a "Cessationist," who believed that the charisms of the Spirit were for the early Church but were unnecessary in later centuries. He wrote that healing was a papist superstition, and he had some justification for this, since what was still flourishing in his day were shrines filled with relics that attracted large numbers of pilgrims — and to the Protestants, the whole practice of relic veneration seemed like a big money–making scheme.

The topic the Presbyterians chose was "Spiritual Healing" and the conference (held at Heriot–Watt University) was addressed to clergy. Rooms were limited to 150 participants and when those filled up, another 60 participants were added on a daytime basis. For two days (November 16–17) we spoke and prayed and the receptiveness of the ministers and other leaders was extraordinary. We gave a talk on the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, and when we prayed on the first evening for anyone who desired to receive the empowering of the Spirit, nearly everyone who had not received it before came forward, and there were many extraordinary manifestations of the Spirit. On the second night we prayed for healing and deliverance and several dramatic examples — even of deliverance — occurred on the platform. One distinguished looking elderly woman was propelled right across the platform, going backwards on feet moving faster than any human being could seemingly propel them. Judith describes it as if she were attached to a bungee cord that propelled her across the platform upon rapidly moving feet.

Such spectacular incidents, of course, are not what the conference was really all about. Our real hope was that people's lives would be transformed through God's love and power!

An evening later we held a healing service in St. Cuthbert's Presbyterian Church in the heart of Edinburgh. About 400 came and, again, all kinds of healings and deliverances took place, some going on until 2:30 a.m.

From our perspective, one of the happiest outcomes of the Scotland trip was that members of our Board of Directors (Thad and Virginia McNulty, Taylor and Kathi Smith, and Lee Ann Rummell) not only came with us (but joined with the ministry teams from Scotland) and were actively involved in praying with all the people who came forward. This was fairly new to them, and the trip home was filled with the same happy excitement that the disciples displayed after they found out that healing and deliverance were real and actually can transform peoples' lives (Luke 10: 17–24).

The last thing we did in Edinburgh was to meet with the Panel on Deliverance appointed by the Church of Scotland to investigate the entire issue of exorcism. We found that the Presbyterians had been meeting and discussing healing for many years and had even published an excellent booklet in 1995, Health and Healing (St. Andrew Press).

The twelve–person panel, represented all points of view, including those who do not believe that demons exist. The topic of deliverance, therefore, is a controversial topic which is made harder to discuss because of scoffing articles, such as one in the Sunday Times which read: "The Church of Scotland plans a move into the exorcism racket to comfort frothing loons whose maladies cannot be diagnosed by medical science" (9/3/03). Taking their work seriously, the Panel sent out a survey to 1,159 clergy and some 426 responded. It is encouraging to know that, to the question, "Do you believe that supernatural forces of evil exist today?" more than two–thirds answered yes, while only 15.6% said no, and another 12.8% were unsure.

As to whether they had ever been approached by someone who believed that they were affected by a demonic entity, 64.5% said yes. Much of this had to do with places where strange manifestations seemed to take place, and most of the clergy indicated that they would appreciate learning how to deal with people or places that had been affected. Most of the clergy had a minimum of experience in these matters, but showed an interest in learning more about what to do when confronted by these problems. Only a minority shut out the possibility of a real personal, demonic evil but they were strong in their opposition to approving a rite of exorcism.

Our hope is that we might be invited to do a longer follow–up: for instance a five–day "Emerging Leaders Workshop" to build on the short two–day conference we had Francis and Judith in November. Already three of the Church of Scotland's panel on deliverance are planning to come to Jacksonville in early 2004 to join us in one of our Emerging Leaders workshops.

At any rate we are encouraged by what has already happened. Just this morning I received a letter from a panel member who wrote that the conference was "not only the best conference which we have yet held, but has also reached more priests, ministers and members of Christian denominations stretching from Geneva to the USA and from Shetland to the south coast of England."

Francis MacNutt Francis MacNutt is a Founding Director and Executive Committee member of CHM. Jan?Feb 2004 Issue