For most people, the arrival of a faith healer in their city, or one near them, isn’t much of an occasion. To those with a permanent disability or serious ailment however, this seems like a golden opportunity to be rid of the burdensome illness.
As I blogged last year, people such as myself wouldn’t be brought up onto the stage for healing. Faith healers know that they can’t give new eyes to somebody whose vision has been destroyed. Neither can these hucksters re-grow amputated limbs or any other obvious malady.
Instead, they choose folks with psychosomatic complaints. The Fifth Estate, a Canadian investigative journalism TV show, exposed just how the faith healers pick and choose who will be on the stage for healing.
One of the most famous disabled persons to suffer the neglect of faith healers is Joni Ericksen Tada. She spoke at the Strange Fire conference about how she was taken to a Katherine Coolman rally. Instead of being welcomed warmly, she and other wheelchair users were shunted off to one side of the auditorium. Before the show ended, she and the others were moved out of the way so that people could leave the building easier. This sent Joni into a deep depression.
Though my disability is poor eyesight, I’ve fallen into a deep funk each time my eyes weren’t healed. Worse yet, elders at the church I attended accused me of lacking faith, having hidden sin, lusting for sight, and having ancestral sin which blocked God from healing me. This bothered me so much that I turned my back on God for nine long years. I’ve recovered from much of the pain but I still feel angry at times about what those cruel people said.
Thanks to excellent Bible scholars, I know that what I had been taught was a lie. Miracles aren’t normative today because God used them in three crucial periods of history to verify the words of his messengers. Moses and Joshua performed miracles as they ushered in the law. Elijah and Elisha did the same as they ushered in the prophets. Jesus and his disciples likewise ushered in the new covenant of grace with miracles confirming it. Between the two Old Testament times of miracles, supernatural events wielded by men were rare. As any reader of The Acts of the Apostles can note, the frequency of miracles drops off by the end of Luke’s apostolic account.
Though God isn’t limited in what he can do, he works far more often through providence. Many people claim to have performed miracles but these are either unverified or unverifiable.
Another point that a casual Bible reader can take note of is that first-century Christians suffered persecution. Even today, being a Christian is dangerous in most countries. Christ never promised his followers prosperity in this evil age, unlike the false prophets who claim to be his messengers.