Jesus Creed

Jesus Creed

Friday is for Friends: “T”

posted by Scot McKnight

This Friday is for Friends post is from our long-time blog friend, “T,” the one who once won a contest on this blog in which we gave away a pair of crocs. T, you still wearing them? By the way, we are always looking for more submissions for our Friday is for Friends slot. I get lots of notes from folks who appreciate this open forum for our readers.

People familiar
with John Wimber and/or the Vineyard will know what
“Doin’ the stuff” refers to
.  And if you want a
good intro to ‘missional’ thinking, go here or here
But what does “missional” have to do with “doin’ the stuff”
that Jesus was known for?  Towards that question I want to throw a few
ideas for folks in both camps to think about, because I think that the
missional movement and doin’ the stuff could be a match made in heaven–and
earth. It’s also why I have Wimber’s Prayer Model as a tab on this blog,
because I think routinely praying for people who are sick, both with the
compassion of Jesus and the power and insight of the Spirit, is a pretty
missional habit to pick up.

T asks this question of us: Is being “missional” much easier to say than to do? And what do we really mean when we say we are being “missional” like Jesus? 

Some specific thoughts:

  • Much is made in missional circles
    about incarnating Christ, about being Christ, imitating him, right
    where we are.  Amen to that!  It is difficult to talk honestly,
    though, absent some thick protective theological/western glasses
    on, about incarnating the Jesus of the NT, about being sent by Jesus as
    Jesus was sent by the Father, without talking–a lot–about healing the
    sick, casting out demons and having prophetic insights as we announce his
    reign–wherever we are.  As Wimber’s doin-the-stuff story makes
    painfully clear, only someone with theological training and/or church
    experience would read the NT and think Jesus’ disciples don’t do
    that kind of stuff as they embody and announce him to others.

  • Do we
    in the missional movement really want to try to embody Christ to
    the broken people of the world, say we’re his apprentices, and
    announce that he is Lord above all powers without the kind of actions that pretty much defined Jesus’
    own ministry and signaled the power and character of his reign?

  • As much as the Vineyard become
    famous/infamous for some amazing ‘stuff’ that God would do through
    seemingly anyone in their meetings, the meetings weren’t Wimber’s focus. 
    He was disappointed that the Vineyard Movement, in his words, ‘never
    became the evangelistic movement that [he] hoped’ for.  Ironically,
    those in the missional movement now are motivated by the same desire
    Wimber had to bring Jesus to ‘the streets’, to everyday life and
    relationships, not just ‘the meetings.’

  • Many folks have rightly pointed out
    the similarities the missional movement has with Anabaptists.  Well, if it makes anyone feel any
    better, Anabaptists
    were doin’ this stuff in spades at their inception
    , but eventually
    stopped, which is a surprisingly common tale for western denominations as
    the Enlightenment and natural human tendencies took hold.

  • Another valuable and obvious strand
    within the ‘missional’ movement is the conviction that the Church in
    the West needs to take the stance or mentality of missionaries
    within a post-Christian/pagan/secular culture.  Again, amen to
    that.  If we analyze, though, not only Jesus’ own actions as he
    pursued God’s mission, but also the initial missionaries that he sent out,
    we are again confronted with the role that healing, demonic expulsion and
    the prophetic gifts have in that work.  Indeed, even in today’s
    world, such activity is more common in missionary work than in established

  • Another mark of the missional
    movement is the shift in thinking about the gospel toward the proclamation
    of Jesus’ reign or lordship, over all other powers, about the dawning of
    the new age amidst the old through the cross and resurrection.  Dave Fitch has
    with many others that in response to this gospel that
    missional orders must take on practices of resistance (to the judged but
    operating powers) and practices of engagement that reveal and
    embody the purposes of the reign of God.  Again, can we faithfully
    talk about either–as Jesus’ disciples–without talking about
    healing and demonic expulsion?

  • One of the ‘powers’ that the
    missional movement has rightfully identified for resistance is the
    Gnosticism that continues to try to drive a wedge between the Church’s
    work and ministry and the good of the physical world.  Another amen!
    (and I really mean it!) Nowhere is the western Church more Gnostic,
    though, than its discomfort with the practice of divine healing of
    the body.  In common western theology, the human body gets thrown in
    the same disdainful category as the rest of creation–good for
    nothing but the fire that’s a ‘comin.  Is that what we believe God’s
    posture is to the physical body and the rest of the physical creation?  No. God wants to heal both.

  • Many folks in the missional camp are
    extremely offended by the ‘big-show/big-star-religion’ that seems to
    plague the only (modern) ‘healing ministries’ they’ve ever
    seen.  Ditto.  But as Todd Hunter has said, the answer to
    wrong-use isn’t no-use, it’s right-use.  Missional churches have
    recognized, as have many in the Christian tradition, that power of any
    kind can be corruptive to one’s soul.  Unfortunately, being used as a vehicle of God’s power
    to heal or expel demons, for instance, is no different

    Missional churches, while just as human as any, because of their awareness
    of and intentional practices against being corrupted by various
    kinds of power that we must use in our lives and mission, are in a
    position to minimize corruption as they still actively seek God’s
    power to help others, rather than take a practical ‘vow’ against it in
    false piety.

Now, I’m not
saying that healing and expelling demons is all there is or should be to a
missional church, regardless of how much it marked Jesus’ life.  On the
contrary, I wholeheartedly believe that we still must pursue love as our
highest goal, and that other practices towards those ends must be
primary.  We must become different as a matter of character, for the sake
of God and others, first and foremost.  But just as we in the missional
movement are seeking to reclaim those aspects of Jesus’ teachings that have
been too often avoided in the West, especially regarding money, community and
discipleship, we must also ask if we are doing the same regarding his example
and teachings to heal the sick, raise the dead and cast out demons, that
was so central to Jesus’ own missionary work and that of his
initial missionaries as they declared that his reign was at hand. 

I’ll post
some practical, non-hypey resources about actually doing this
kind of stuff soon, within a larger missional priority structure and
posture.  As always, your feedback is welcome, including
the “you’re crazy and a heretic!” variety.  If you want
another blog from me on this issue, but from a different angle, go here.

Comments read comments(24)
post a comment
Michelle Van Loon

posted July 10, 2009 at 7:49 am

I’m standing up and cheering! What a great post!
Here’s hoping it starts a long-overdue conversation between missional and doin’ the stuff folks.

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posted July 10, 2009 at 8:19 am

That Jesus wore a sarong and never used toilet paper???

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Travis Greene

posted July 10, 2009 at 9:12 am

You’re crazy and a heretic!
Nah, not really. This is a really challenging post, thanks. These are the passages in the NT we most like to avoid. It’s tough, because some of the exorcism stories seem to me Jesus healing a physical illness (epilepsy or something, say) and the gospel writers interpreting it as demonic activity according to their culture. Other times, however, there are clearly spiritual forces of darkness at work.
I agree, we shouldn’t shun this central part of Jesus’ activity. My only caveat is that any theology that ends up blaming people for their illnesses or suffering is bogus.

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posted July 10, 2009 at 9:32 am

Great post! Yes, I agree, participating in God’s mission involves our participation in His victory over the “powers.” And I agree that the “powers” are personal as well as structural. But here’s a few places where I’m uncomfortable:
— as Travis (#3) notes, there’s a bit of hermeneutical naivetee in directly translating the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ confrontations with demons into “spiritual warfare” today. I don’t see “Missional” as discarding the insights of modern Biblical and historical scholarship. I see it as engaging critically with those insights. One place in which a critical view is appropriate, I think, is in always de-spiritualizing Jesus’ encounters with the demonic. At the same time, I think it’s right to be aware of the cultural embededness of those accounts.
— I’m very concerned about the problem of abuse and manipulation in spritual warfare movements. I know people with mental illnesses such as schizophrenia and multiple personality disorder who, I believe, have been deceived and abused by spiritual warfare charlatans. The same can be said sometimes of healing ministries. I know of children who are being taught, directly or indirectly, that their chronic illnesses are not being healed because of a lack of faith.
I’m not sure what the right balance is here, but these are my concerns.

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John W Frye

posted July 10, 2009 at 9:48 am

When “doin’ the stuff” is rooted firmly in the aim to extend the Lordship of Jesus over all of life (ie, advance the kingdom of God) and not to be cool or “third wave” or make a name for ourselves, I believe we are on firm biblical ground to comprehensively be like Jesus. So many who burned out in the ’80s-’90s on the almost idolatry of ‘stuff doin” and who now call themselves post-charismatic might come back chastened and much more ‘missional.’ I am eager to see where this conversation goes.

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posted July 10, 2009 at 10:38 am

Well, these comments are more positive than I expected (but the day is young)! And Travis and dopderbeck raise the important issue of specifics, both in theology and practice. Let me start by saying a few general things:
– I have a working theology of these things; I’m definitely still learning as I study and try to practice. But I’m convinced that I must enter the practice with the faith I have, seeking further understanding as I go.
– I totally agree on the issue of blame, which tends to be tied to the more traditionally pentacostal theology of healing, whereby faith is (always?) the controlling issue. I don’t believe that, though faith obviously plays a role. If it was just a matter of faith or willpower, why would Paul tell Timothy to drink wine for his stomach? If Timothy needed more faith, I think Paul would have said so. That’s why I like the Vineyard’s theology on this.
– On abuses, again, the answer to wrong use isn’t no use, it’s right use. (Like teaching, preaching, counseling, etc.–they have all been abusive, so what should we do?)
It’s our job to pray and look for what the Father is doing. We can’t make it happen. It’s God’s job to heal (and save when we preach, for that matter). But it happens a lot more when we pray and practice than when we don’t.

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posted July 10, 2009 at 10:57 am

Yes, exactly. It’s amazing how much fear there can be as we get started with doing this kind of stuff, and then how much pride can kick in when God actually does something miraculous through us. That’s precisely why the monastic/anabaptist strand of missional could be helpful–grounding this work (and the workers) in the things you mention.
And Scot,
Of course I still use the crocs!–they’re my shoes for when I come home from work or go out on the kayak. I’ll post a long over due pic of the crocs in action soon!

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posted July 10, 2009 at 11:21 am

Funny how the gut reaction to anyone mentioning a literal interpretation of “demonic” is automatically assumed to be describing these:
1) Spiritual warfare (from a specific point of view)
2) Blaming the victim
3) Being Naive
4) Not believing in true mental illness
5) ALWAYS assuming that the problem is spiritual, not physical (i.e. mental illness).
None of these concepts were introduced in the post, yet critics consistently argue this is T’s point.

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Ben Sternke

posted July 10, 2009 at 11:32 am

Great post, T! I come from a Vineyard background and have often thought that the missional movement and a humble, simple expression of healing, etc. compliment and complete one another very nicely.
re: dopderbeck’s comment…
I agree we ought to be aware of the “cultural embededness” of the first century, and the Gospel writers. But shouldn’t we also be aware of our own cultural embededness, which tells us that belief in the supernatural in silly and backward? Isn’t that just as much an assumption as believing all sickness is caused by demons?
Because of that, I think we should not be so quick to assume that the “cultural embededness” of the first century is any more naive than 21st century cultural embededness. If we are “always de-spiritualizing Jesus’ encounters with the demonic” aren’t we succumbing to what C.S. Lewis called “chronological snobbery,” where we assume people who lived long ago were ignorant and we know better now?
Most cultures for most of history have believed firmly in supernatural forces that have real influence in the world. Western Enlightenment culture is a bit of an anomaly in that regard. I think we ought to exercise a bit more hermeneutical humility before painting the Gospel writers’ belief in the demonic a naive superstition. Maybe we’re the ones with unfounded assumptions about the nature of reality?!?

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Travis Greene

posted July 10, 2009 at 11:59 am

Jon @ 8,
Nobody here has said any of those things are what T is saying. In fact, I don’t think there have been any critical (in the sense of being negative) comments at all yet. Do you not agree that those are potential dangers as we embark on this issue/conversation, as everyone has so far agreed we should do?

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Travis Greene

posted July 10, 2009 at 12:12 pm

On the issue of blame, you raise the important point of Paul’s advice to Timothy. Also instructive is Paul’s “thorn” (whatever it is), which despite fervent prayer God does not remove.
I think it is always appropriate to pray (remembering that prayer is asking, not magic), even to expect, for Jesus to heal; to know that that healing is his nature and ultimate goal; and to trust that all will be healed, whether now or when the kingdom comes fully. What God does with our prayer is God’s business. Without making excuses for God, life is mysterious, and our job is to appeal to our Father, who gives good gifts, although they are sometimes not what we expected.
That’s my working theology, anyway. I’m interested to hear more of yours.

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posted July 10, 2009 at 12:56 pm

Right, I’m “cautious” here, not “critical”. I think Jesus really cast out demons. I think the “powers” are personal as well as societal. But the practice of “power encounters” — one of John Wimber’s hallmarks — seems very problematic to me. At the theological level, I worry that the emphasis on power encounters too often leads to almost a dualistic view of the universe — a “good vs. evil” thing in which “evil” isn’t really already decisively defeated by the cross. At the personal level, as I’ve mentioned, I’m very concerned about sensationalism and abuse. I also worry about the anti-intellectual thread in much of this tradition (though folks such as Amos Yong are adding intellectual weight to it). But having said that, I agree with the basic idea that “missional” entails involvement in God’s entire mission, which scripture, tradition, and experience clearly show involves confronting the “powers.”

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posted July 10, 2009 at 1:17 pm

Yes. I have very similar thoughts in my head.
Additionally, I think Wimber (and Jesus, for that matter) kept one ear and eye open to the Father for this kind of work (or for prophetic insights) as a way of life, , and not just for speaking engagements, because they were gripped by the story and agendas of the kingdom wherever they went. This was huge for Wimber, but not necessarily for those of us who learned to do these things from him at church. I’d love to wed (in my mind and in others’) the missional church emphasis of incarnating Christ wherever we are (incarnating Jesus as a way of life, giving our whole selves to its story) with this habit of listening and looking for what God is willing to do in these ways. Wow.
If God informed us, during a seemingly random conversation outside of a church service, that he wanted to heal the person we were talking to, would we be willing to act upon it? Seriously. Think about this. Or are we, in our conversations at work, at the store, etc. more gripped by the exegencies of our kingdoms, our names & reputations to even hear or be willing to be used by God in such ways in such venues? Or do we see people who act on such things as weird, anti-rational, or otherwise not what we want to be. These are formational/character issues that are stopping the mission of God. I know because I have these issues (especially as a self-employed lawyer!). Meanwhile, the NT is full of these very occurances (about half–half!–of the synoptic gospels), and they are a picture of missional living in my mind. Where, exaclty, do we want the kingdom to come (and where would we prefer it not come)? How do we prefer to see it come (and how do we not prefer it to come)?

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craig v.

posted July 10, 2009 at 1:18 pm

In the NT when a healing occurred the debate was about what it meant (was it from God or some other source). In our world the debate is about whether or not the healing even happened. This isn’t because the healings in the NT were accepted uncritically. In John 9 the man born blind and his parents are interviewed. We can blame skepticism on Western prejudice or rationalism, but there is another explanation. I believe God answers prayers and does so even today in ways that can baffle naturalistic expectations. I don’t however, see anywhere the kind of authority we see in the NT where healing is commanded to take place in the name of Jesus. If we’re looking to see what God is doing don’t we at some point conclude He’s not doing now what He did then? We may not have a good explanation as to why, but perhaps we should stop there. We can try to force the issue by issuing commands against cancer and such. If the healings don’t take place on command at what point do we acknowledge that we’re not really listening to what God is doing.
I’ve heard accounts of these things taking place on the mission field. This may be because the gospel is new in these areas and comes with a kind of authentication. It may also mean that these reports aren’t very reliable. If the latter is the case then we’re not doing the gospel any favors by believing the reports.

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posted July 10, 2009 at 1:49 pm

Thanks for speaking up for the “this isn’t what God is doing (much) today” crowd. FWIW, I agree that we can’t force this. In my own experience with these kinds of things, though, like most things, there is a mix of grace (what God is willing to do) and human action and willingness. For my part, given the testimonies of our non-western brothers and sisters and my own inward resistance and the things I’ve seen personally, I tend to think that the issue in the West (where these things still happen in very significant numbers) is more about us than God.
But that doesn’t mean that someone not getting healed is someone’s fault. Again, Paul didn’t do this stuff at will (Timothy’s sickness), but he was willing to do it, even outside of church meetings, as God led him to do it. I don’t think we’re as willing on many levels as our ancient or modern non-western brethren are in this activity, so our anticipation of failure becomes self-fulfilling. On a different level, we evangelicals aren’t really listeners when we pray for the hurting or the sick, which is a part of doing these things that can help a great deal.

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craig v.

posted July 10, 2009 at 2:21 pm

T (15)
Thanks for providing an open forum to discuss this issue. It often becomes very divisive with one side arguing the other lacks faith or is disobedient and the other side making accusations of cruelty and gullibility. I guess all I’m arguing for is a place for honest skepticism.
To be clear on praying for healing I have no problem praying for healing. I do so often. The NT example, however, was to command diseased persons to be healed or the dead to rise. I don’t believe I have the authority for that kind of command.

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posted July 10, 2009 at 2:27 pm

I love the way T put this. “Only someone with theological training and/or church experience would read the NT and think Jesus’ disciples don’t do that kind of stuff as they embody and announce him to others.” It has been said that hermeneutics is the art of explaining why things in the Bible don’t apply to us.
But figuring out how these things apply is not so easy. My son seems like the kind of child that Jesus would have simply healed. But I have never heard of anyone with his kinds of problems being healed.

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posted July 10, 2009 at 2:38 pm

This is a hard one for me, partly due to experience in younger days with followers of Ken Copeland, Kenneth Hagin, etc. I must say that most of my interactions with Vineyard people in subsequent years have given me an impression of that movement as almost-as-unhealthy, but maybe that is just due to a small sample.
When thinking about “missional” and “doing the stuff”, an obstacle for me is that the “doing the stuff” churches and people I have encountered have mostly been “me”-oriented, all about God giving the individual prosperity and health and supernatural blessings, and about individual-centered manifestation of “signs and wonders”. When it is all about the super-Christians who exhibit the most signs and wonders, that isn’t at all missional.
But probably I’m myopic, and T and many other of my charismatic brothers and sisters are not like the stereotypes my experiences have saddled me with (perhaps I should add that I am not a cessationist; I believe God can do such things and probably still does). If there can be a move in these churhes for signs and wonders to be less about showy elevation of the “spirit-filled” individual and more about “blessed to be a blessing”, I’m all for it. And people like me in more sedate churches may need to be more open to God working in such ways as we pursue his mission.

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posted July 10, 2009 at 2:49 pm

Discussions about health, healing, and exorcisms can quickly get off track if we begin to quote scripture without remembering to assess both the historical and the theological witness it bears. We can easily miss the point if we let our own sensibilities get in the way of understanding the biblical message as it is set in a cultural context that is different from our own. The Ancient Near East (ANE) culture viewed and defined health, illness etc. very differently than we do. Additionally, the Bible is a theological witness- and it is a book that tells a story: of health, then dis-ease and broken relationships (vertical and thusly, horizontal), then healing and repair, then restoration. But the Bible defines these terms and events in God?s terms, which is often in stark contrast to the way we and the other people of the story define terms such as ?health.?
In discussions like these, it?s always good to differentiate “curing? from ?healing?. Let us remember the definition of the Greek work ‘sozo’ is “healing, wholeness, restoration, salvation.” Additionally, the Greek word ?therapeuo? means: ?to serve; to give help; take care of another by extension; to heal, cure.? This is the word used in Matthew 4:23 and Matthew 9:35 in which we see Jesus depicted as going forth ?preaching, teaching, and healing.? I heartily agree with the exhortations to not forget the healing- we do often focus on the preaching and teaching aspects of ministry to the exclusion of the healing portion, thereby creating lopsided and often ineffective ministries, rather that effective, wholistic ones. But, by the same token, I think it equally important to fully grasp the scope of what ?healing? meant in the ANE, and what it means in God?s terms. The kind of healing that Jesus did in Matthew 9:35 and 4:23 was not limited to demonic exorcisms, physical “curings” and resuscitations. His healings had their greatest benefit in the forgiveness of sins and restoration to community that occurred *every time* he did a physical curing (and often when he did not do a physical curing…e.g. the woman at the well, the woman to be stoned, dining with Zaccheus- these people were all healed of something- not cured- then were restored to community).
Healing in the Bible is always set within a ?relational? framework- a relationship is always restored. Jesus never just performed a physical cure and said, ?Go, run along now.? He always had an instruction or exhortation that addressed either their relationship to God (Your sins have been forgiven.) or their relationship to others (e.g. ?Go show yourself to the Priest.? ?Tell no one.? ?Go to the Ten Cities.?) Hence, while being missional with regard to “healing” can certainly involve “doin’ the stuff” as defined above, it is also about ?doing? things like Cancer support groups, clinical pastoral education, celebrate recovery, listening to a divorced friend vent, sitting beside the bed of a dying person and listening to them review their life, teaching a homeless man to read and helping him get a job, and so on. These are all “therapeuo/sozo-activities” because they involve serving-healing and the critically essential piece of restoration to community, as well. Finally, what further differentiates a ?missional? philosophy from a ?justice based? philosophy is that restoration between humans and their Creator is also an incuded focus- otherwise the lopsidedness still exists.
An additional point to remember is that differentiating between a hard and fast distinction between physical vs. spiritual is rooted in the Platonic assumption of dualism…and this line of thinking is not necessarily scripturally validated.
Interesting Question to Ponder: Were the Geresene demoniac’s problems physical, mental, spiritual or relational? Was his cure in the physical, spiritual, emotional or relational realm?
Answer: YES

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posted July 10, 2009 at 3:15 pm

You’re very welcome. Hang on to that honest skepticism; just apply it to everything, including the typical western theology and practice about this stuff (like Ben mentioned @9). Part of doing this is knowing and admitting what we know and what we don’t know, and what is just our best informed understanding to date. I certainly don’t believe every report of healing either. Again, I’m a lawyer by training and practice.
And on the authority issue, you should know that I often don’t feel like God would/should choose me to do any of these things, even though God has already done some of these things before through me! Which is to say, I rarely feel “authorized.” But that’s partly a theological issue and partly a matter of practice. I love that the 70 were shocked that what Jesus told them to do actually worked! And that they, simultaneously, started to put too much pride in what God had done through them. All the disciples underestimated what God would or could do through them and then overestimated their importance after he did do something. Other times, they lacked the faith to do be instruments in this way at all. That’s my experience.
Plus, healing by command or pronouncement is a common way Jesus and the apostles healed, but it isn’t the only way. There are various instances of the apostles asking God to heal (I think Peter even laid on top of someone, if I recall), and Jesus even healed one blind guy partially, asked what the man could see, which turned out to be very blurry, then interceeded some more. I think these are things that we can grow into, and be led to do different things on different occasions. There’s certainly more variety in the NT than we might imagine on how a person is used by God to heal. But again, only folks who study this with an intent to practice it and grow in it tend to even pick up on the variety.

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Michael W. Kruse

posted July 10, 2009 at 4:40 pm

John 14:12:
“I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do the stuff I’ve been doing. He will do even greater stuff than this because I am going to the father.” (Okay, some slight editorial changes.)
Jesus seems to imply the stuff he did sets limited model for what is to come. What is the “greater stuff?
Is it possibly that Jesus heals a lame man. We wipe out polio.
Jesus visits the outcasts. We create communities where outcasts become a part of community.
Jesus gives bread and water to the hungry. We create economies that feed millions.
I’m not discounting the “stuff” you are talking about T, but it does seems to me that it is possible that it is ancillary to the “greater stuff,” not the pinnacle.

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Tim McCarthy

posted July 10, 2009 at 5:56 pm

J.P. Moreland’s book, Kingdom Triangle, is very thoughtful in its exploration of Christian witness. The triangle includes a well-reasoned explanation of the Christian story as the best way to make sense of history, an intentional approach to spiritual formation, and kingdom manifestations like you’ve mentioned in your post. The three of these things together form a compelling revelation of God’s kingdom in the world, according to Moreland’s argument. Again, easier argued than lived. It takes courage to say, “Can I pray for your sickness,” when you are afraid that God might not come through in the way you or the one being prayed for wants, and thus to ‘embarrass’ God. So instead we ‘protect’ God from embarrassment and dull the compelling witness that characterized Jesus and the early church.

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Steve S

posted July 11, 2009 at 12:05 am

…as an insider I thought I might add:
The Vineyard is not a homogenous movement when it comes to the way this gets played out. There are still those who bark like dogs (or wish those meetings would return), but there are also many who have a firm commitment to pray for the sick, and yet don’t twitch while they do so…
This could look very different from one local Vineyard to another.

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posted July 11, 2009 at 2:25 am

@TB #19 – good breadth of remarks, thanks!
And, thank you, all for a great discussion.
In re “power encounters” I witnessed them while ministering in Africa, and I’ve witnessed them here in conflict resolution ministry – frankly, I’ve seen some pastors be in the midst of power encounters and not recognize what’s going on because of their rational/ psychological basis of viewing reality and persons.
I’d add another observation to TB’s comments: sickness and alienation to community go hand in hand, but also sickness and alienation from self go hand in hand. As p/t pastor and p/t chaplain in my recent work, I’ve noted that pastors often don’t go as deeply as I do in spiritual care for the sick. There are frequently strong elements of psychic wounding in illnesses, and ISTM that it’s not so simple as believing God’s Word about our identity instead of believing the abusive words or experiences in the past. It’s not enough to tell an abused child, “it’s not your fault”; there must be holistic healing or the wounds never even get to the scar formation stage. Also, fwiw, in hospitals other chaplains, medical personnel, and I have noted that the illnesses not infrequently correspond to painful life transitions or inadequate healing from past pain (abuse, harmful coping mechanisms, divorces, loss, deaths, etc.). Arthur Frank’s book, At the Will of the Body: Reflections on Illness, presents some observations of these correlations from a sociological POV, and from Frank’s personal POV as one having suffered major illnesses in mid-life. (
Although most Americans would be uncomfortable if a chaplain were to “cast out demons” in a hospital, they’re usually comfortable when we pray specifically and holistically for the healing of body, soul, emotions and spirit.

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posted 11:15:58am Aug. 16, 2012 | read full post »

Our Common Prayerbook 30 - 3
Psalm 30 thanks God (vv. 1-3, 11-12) and exhorts others to thank God (vv. 4-5). Both emerge from the concrete reality of David's own experience. Here is what that experience looks like:Step one: David was set on high and was flourishing at the hand of God's bounty (v. 7a).Step two: David became too

posted 12:15:30pm Aug. 31, 2010 | read full post »

Theology After Darwin 1 (RJS)
One of the more important and more difficult pieces of the puzzle as we feel our way forward at the interface of science and faith is the theological implications of discoveries in modern science. A comment on my post Evolution in the Key of D: Deity or Deism noted: ...this reminds me of why I get a

posted 6:01:52am Aug. 31, 2010 | read full post »

Almost Christian 4
Who does well when it comes to passing on the faith to the youth? Studies show two groups do really well: conservative Protestants and Mormons; two groups that don't do well are mainline Protestants and Roman Catholics. Kenda Dean's new book is called Almost Christian: What the Faith of Ou

posted 12:01:53am Aug. 31, 2010 | read full post »

Let's Get Neanderthal!
The Cave Man Diet, or Paleo Diet, is getting attention. (Nothing is said about Culver's at all.) The big omission, I have to admit, is that those folks were hunters -- using spears or smacking some rabbit upside the conk or grabbing a fish or two with their hands ... but that's what makes this diet

posted 2:05:48pm Aug. 30, 2010 | read full post »

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