Christian Healing?

Today I got to the point in Ian Gawler's book where I am on quite familiar territory: the bit where he explains his theology of healing. It's a theory I know well in various guises, a theory that crops up time and again in various Eastern and/or esoteric philosophies. He says that we have seven bodies, only one of which, the physical body, is accessible to the senses. The other six - the emotional, intellectual, intuitional, spiritual and astral bodies - are of varying degrees of subtlety and while some people can "see" some of them they are invisible to most of us. Illness happens when the energies of two or more of the bodies are conflicted and healing occurs when coherence is restored between them. I'm not sure what I believe about this theory: I'm probably too steeped in my Western world view to embrace it fully but it's  disconcerting  that some practices based on this idea, such as acupuncture,  seem to have real, measurable effectiveness, as does Ian Gawler's method of healing cancer. 

Gawler's method is quite logical given the theoretical framework he is working from. Everything in his programme, including the diet, the meditation,  the positive thinking, the exercise, is done for a reason: it is a method of bringing harmony to the seven layered reality in which we live. And, while it it seems to work it does present me with an interesting issue. I have been ordained in the Anglican church for almost 30 years. I have, many times prayed for healing, and sometimes to my great surprise seen those prayers answered. I have myself experienced and witnessed healings that might be described as miraculous. Yet I, personally, do not have a coherent Christian theology of healing, neither do I know of anyone else who has one. In the Christian church our healing practices involve praying and laying on of hands. We trust God for healings and sometimes God delivers. But we don't quite know why. We anoint with oil and we fast. But again, we don't quite know why. I don't know of a working theology of illness which seems to me to be a necessary precursor to a working theology of healing. Why do we get sick? What is going on, spiritually speaking? Why do we pray for healing, but continue in lifestyles which are unhealthy? Why have we no Christian theology of nutrition, exercise or balance? Why are so many of us unhealthy, unfit, overweight and ill? I remember as a young man being present at the conversion of  a devotee of the Hare Krishna faith. Once he had said the sinner's prayer and given his life to Christ, we took him out to a restaurant and gave him a steak, so that the "bondage" of vegetarianism could be broken. We thought that in Christ we were free to eat or not as we pleased, and that a sign of our spiritual maturity was to stuff ourselves with food that others thought was tainted. How arrogant we were, and how lacking in any sense of the connectedness of body mind and spirit. 

I have no doubt that somewhere there is an adequate Christian theology of healing, one in which I can pray knowledgeably for people, and where I can know what is actually going on when I fast and anoint. In one of those pieces of Providence that continually surprise me, I am going to the Titoki healing centre in Whakatane the day after tomorrow. I'm going to lead a ministry retreat for Maori clergy and to teach on the parables, but I am hoping now for some time with the Titoki staff. Perhaps they will be able to point me in the right direction?  


Katherine said…
I've been thinking for some time about going to Titoki. I'd be interested in what you have to say about this place.
nie said…
Kelvin, God's there again continuing His plan for you as you go to Titoki. I think you said you had this invitation before all that has unfolded since May? More mystery and wonder.

I have been wondering why it is that the healing ministry has not been integrated more into the life of the Anglican Church. When I was younger I heard of the Guild of St Raphael and knew it as an organisation that worked to heal and sustain a relative with a long and terminal illness. Such a tiny group of people in the city of Dunedin. Why?

It seems as though the healing ministry is another facet that people - I was going to say "men" - have tried to put in a box and keep apart for whatever reason - power, selfishness, not acknowledging that it is actually God working here, etc etc.
And yet if we look at what Jesus did regularly, and understand that the physical healings were only the outward signs of how He was extending Himself to those whose minds and souls He really wanted to reach, there is a model.

Maybe this latest outreach of churches to be much more proactive in caring for the environment- the land,the water, the air, the soil- is a way back to what we mean by complete healing. We encourage and teach people how to grow their own stuff; they learn/realise that this is good for their bodies. In doing this they often work together, share, extend themselves to their neighbours and become more aligned with Gods' plan for humanity.

Won't happen overnight, but if individuals start moving out, aware that God's plan is for complete wholeness ... who can foresee...?

I just looked up one of the Anglican healing ministries to see what they said. Here are a couple of the "rules" that illustrate that the health of the total person is being prayed for:

From the Rule of the Order of St Luke the Physician:
Members of the Order are called to make the Ministry of Healing a regular part of their Christian vocation and affirm:

2. That God's intention for His creation is perfect

8. That the wholeness of spirit, soul and body, rather than physical healing alone is the goal of the order.

9. That this wholeness usually involves co-operation between members of the Church and members of the medical and paramedical professions

Why do you think the church we belong to has only occasional healing services?

Finally, may you be led to more discoveries about total healing at Totoki this week.
Anonymous said…
Your Satellite Parishioner in Lancashire, England, has finally got completely sick of all those interminable altar-calls and stern Romans-based lectures from the pulpit of her local Anglican church - and has thrown off the misogynistic chains of oppression -and skipped joyfully round the corner to make friends with the local Methodists.
The minister there, Revd Janet Clasper has got your SP involved over the last few weeks, in some training events at The Well, in Leamington Spa, which runs a very active healing ministry. Be assured you are in her prayers this week as you explore Titoki and all it has to offer you.
Anonymous said…
Kelvin, there is a book in the church library that I found by chance and donated because I found it so helpful as a guide to the possiblities of Christian healing.
It is titled - 'The Forgotten Talent'. I still feel excited by what I read there, Craig.
Kathryn said…
What you say makes so much sense. It's not enough to pray for healing, if our diet, our mind, our way of life is unhealthy.
But when we pray for others, we leave it all in God's hands. We assume that the other parts of the healing, the medication, the nutrition, the exercise, the spiritual life, are being taken care of by the person we are praying for, (or by the family of the person needing prayer.)
When I pray for healing for someone, I place it ALL in God's care. I pray that the doctors will have God's help to make the right decisions and do the right thing by the patient. I pray that the patient and his/her family concerned will be at peace and know that God is with them, guiding them, loving them, healing them.
I believe that the Holy Spirit of God is all-enveloping and when we pray for healing, He takes care of it all. Once again, my simplistic faith is showing :-)
Anonymous said…
Marie says; I believe many Christians think that parts of the Bible do not apply today, that certain sections were for long ago especially in regard to divine healing. But the Word says that The Eternal is the same yesterday, today and forever. Why would we consider the Word apart from Him? He is the Word. It is a covenant promise. By His stripes He has knit us back or mended or joined us again to Him who is divine health. Grace bridges the gap when we abuse our earthly vessel.
Ben said…
There is certainly a Biblical theology for healing, Kelvin. Problem is, few believers hear it on a consistent basis. Few pastors preach healing and fewer practice it. That is the main reason for the modern church being almost helpless in the face of sickness. I blog on this at:
VenDr said…
Thank you Ben. I've had a look at your blog, and fundamentally there's not much in it I disagree with, and nothing on it I didn't know already. My own sense is that God is calling me to something different.
Ronald Hansen said…
Jesus Christ is the focus of Christian healing ministries that are freeing people from the pain associated with unhealthy lifestyles. There is no limit on the healing power of Jesus Christ. Negative emotions are damaging to the body. Modern life is often characterized by a mounting sea of daily pressures and stressful events which are coming at us from every direction. However, the real culprit behind stress and stress related illnesses is not the situations and daily pressures that are bombarding us. The real culprit behind stress is the emotional reactions that we are experiencing on the inside of us. These emotions can generate sickness within our body. Negative emotions release chemical reactions in the body and the brain. These reactions affect organs on every level including the stomach, heart, large muscles, and the cells throughout the entire body. The most dangerous emotions include: un-forgiveness, depression, rage, anger, worry, fear, grief, guilt and frustration.