Wednesday, December 31, 2008

And Now for Something Totally Different

UPDATE 12-31-08: I've discovered and I'm listing below still more sites for listening to music on the Internet. Now, some of the sites I've listed below are not new (such as AOL, Live365 or Yahoo Music), but they seem improved.

But many of the newer sites blend listening to music on the web with social networking (i.e., sharing music with others). It seems there's a lot of companies jumping on the bandwagon as they vie for market share and the consumer dollar.

Anyway, all the competition equals more and better choices for you and me (always a good thing).

Also, there's many different types of sites these days, as you can discover in this article, Online Music: 90+ Essential Music and Audio Websites. This well-researched and comprehensive resource lists music sites under the following categories: Internet Radio, Music Discovery Tools, Social Networks, Music Sharing Applications and Widgets, Music Marketplaces, Karaoke, Jamming, Remixing, Mobile Music Services, Music Charts, Artists Databases, Lyric Databases, Audio Conversion Tools and Miscellaneous Music and Audio Tools.

So, what's your favorite site?

Happy listening and have a Happy and Blessed New Year!

AOL Music (Check out especially AOL Sessions and AOL Radio)
Wolfgang's Vault ("Live" music- classic and contemporary concert recordings)
Jango (internet radio and social site)
Spinner (subset of AOL music)
Yahoo music

Just sending out a quick note to readers of this blog that I am still alive and well and continuing work on the next article in my series on healing that critiques the popular charismatic view. I hope to post it very soon.

In the meantime, here's some tips for those of you who enjoy listening to music on the Internet or while sitting at your computer. There are some great sites out there for this purpose, besides YouTube.

One site I've recently been using is, which is well-organized and makes finding music very easy. You can create an account, then add artists or individual tracks to your on-line library/station, or create playlists of songs. You can even share your playlists and/or your station with friends. It's a terrific site and, best of all, it's FREE! UPDATE 12-19-08: Oops, it ain't free! But a subscription isn't too expensive either].. There's also a cool extension for Firefox users- that gives "direct access to the extensive music library on"

Another site with a similar concept is, also known as Project Playlist. Like Lastfm, one creates an account, searches for music by artist or track and then you can create playlists of tracks. A very nice feature is the widget you can create to share your playlist on your website, Facebook, Myspace or blog. My widget playlist can be found right here on Jordan's View-- just scroll down to the bottom of the blog.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Blips on the Blogosphere 17

(image at right from MSNBC News)

Obama and Rick Warren, Together Again
President-elect Obama picked Rick Warren to say the prayer for his invocation as President, a controversial choice that has upset liberals as well as his gay constituents.

La Shawn Barber offers her take on this, in
Obama Picks Socially Conservative Rick Warren for Invocation

Al Mohler, as always, offers a perceptive analysis, noting in his article "The High Cost of Being (and Staying) Cool -- Rick Warren in a Whirlwind" that the day has already arrived when any evangelical who publicly states opposition to homosexuality or gay marriage is immediately rejected as "uncool" in the popular marketplace, "no matter how much good work you do nor how much love and compassion you seek to express."

Mohler says that he would not have accepted an invitation to give the prayer invocation at Obama's inauguration ceremony (though he notes he wasn't invited), given Obama's pledge to sign the Freedom of Choice Act as President and also to reverse Bush administration policies regarding embryonic stem cell research.

Mohler writes,

Knowing the intentions of this President-elect, I could not in good conscience offer a formal prayer at his inauguration. Even in the short term, I could not live in good conscience with what will come within hours. I could not accept a public role in the event of his inauguration nor offer there a public prayer, but I will certainly be praying for this new President and for the nation under his leadership.

Christless Christianity
The Washington Post ViewPoint section recently interviewed Michael Horton about his new book, "Christless Christianity: The Alternative Gospel of the American Church". Though I haven't yet read the volume, I did read an excerpt (Chapter 1) and also a review by Tim Challies. Horton has provided what appears to be an timely, incisive and insightful critique of the state of Christianity in America, sounding a call to reformation of evangelicalism according to the biblical gospel.

Horton has also done a fine job promoting the book. There's a website-- Christless Christianity-- that provides excerpts and related resources, including this article that appears in Modern Reformation journal, the magazine for which Horton is the Editor:

Christless Christianity: Getting in Christ's Way by Michael S. Horton

Grunge Christianity?
Though the article featured in Pulpit Magazine is already two years old, "Grunge Christianity? Counterculture’s Death-Spiral and the Vulgarization of the Gospel" by John MacArthur still seems like a timely and relevant topic-- how to engage our culture without compromise. In the article MacArthur challenges the idea that Christians must adopt culturally hip, but often crass and superficial attitudes/language to communicate effectively to postmoderns. He points to Paul, as an example for us today:

We could learn from the example of Paul, who engaged the philosophers on Mars Hill. But far from embracing their culture, he was repulsed by it. Acts 17:16 says, “while Paul waited for [Silas and Timothy] at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him when he saw that the city was given over to idols.”

When Paul spoke to that culture, he didn’t adopt Greek scatology to show off how hip he could be. He simply declared the truth of God’s Word to them in plain language. And not all of his pagan listeners were happy with that (v. 18). That’s to be expected. Jesus said, “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you” (John 15:18-19).

In other, less controversial news, I've continued to tweak and add new resources to my Netvibes site, Check out the new look.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Going to Carolina (and Back)

Dear Friends and Followers of Jordan's View:

I attended a couple of conferences these past weeks, and I am currently in Clayton, North Carolina, visiting with my wife's family. We plan to hit the road today as we head back to New York, hopefully feeling well enough to get together for Thanksgiving with my family.

Both conferences were really helpful and have challenged me to get serious in my walk. They both featured excellent teaching and well-prepared messages. The first was my church's annual retreat, which was held at Harvey Cedars Bible Conference in Harvey Cedars, NJ the weekend of November 9th. I had the privilege of being on the song leading and worship team for this conference. The energetic speaker, Dennis Newell, exhibited passion and dead earnestness yet, at the same time, very pointed humor, as he gave a hard-hitting 5-part series of messages on discipleship. You can listen to these messages and also view some photos from the retreat, via this link.

The second conference I attended (last Friday-Saturday) was titled "The Truth War- Contending Earnestly for the Faith". It was the 2nd annual Fall Pastor's Conference, of Reformation Truth Ministries (a ministry branch of Springs of Life Church in Durham, NC). The conference was held within the Springs of Life church, which is a little more than an hour's drive from where my wife and I were staying in Clayton (however, I attended the conference solo).

It was a great treat to hear in person two reformed teachers I have been following for some time, have learned from and admire greatly. "Pyromaniac" Phil Johnson, one of my favorite bloggers, gave several messages about defending the faith handed down to us by the apostles in the context of today's postmodern society. James White, the sharp reformed apologist and debater of Alpha and Omega Ministries, was fresh from a debate the night before with an Islamic apologist. He spoke on the challenges of Islam, as well as the reliability of the New Testament documents, an issue which he emphasizes is already a central object of attack in "truth war".

I wasn't familiar with the third speaker, pastor Andy Davis of First Baptist Church in Durham, but found his messages equally impressive in quality and gravity. It was reported, by pastor and master of ceremonies Stan Geyer, that Mr. Davis has memorized the entire New Testament; Andy's command of Scripture was clearly evident during his presentations. Mr. Davis also generously provided a free, small volume on Scripture memorization technique afterward. All the talks, as well as a question and answer session, were recorded, and will be available for purchase as a set.

I had the chance to introduce myself to Phil Johnson and his wife, but unfortunately, didn't avail myself of the opportunity to introduce myself to the other speakers, James White and Andy Davis, being that I was engaged in getting to know other attendees. Those participating included many pastors and elders, as well as some, like myself, who are in training for further leadership. I also briefly spoke with the event's worship leader, Geof Kimber, who intrigued me, especially because he combines in his edifying ministry some of the same talents I hope to also combine in future ministry (musician/songwriter, author, teacher). I intend on staying in touch with him, as well as some of the other men I met there.

Our hosts, David and Linette Price, were very hospitable and accommodating, even as we brought our little terrorist cat Pooky along. David is also a wonderful cook! Our six month old kitten Pooky (also known more formally as Priscilla) set out to dominate the other cats in the Price home from the moment we stepped in, and was successful with her intimidating tactics of growls and hissing. Faith and I joked that our "only child" was really embarrassing her parents by her rude behavior in front of company. I had momentary fantasies of leaving her out here in NC, but she's too darn cute and anyway, they've already got 5 cats to contend with.

Ellen and Emily are sure growing up fast and are sharp as nails (I found this out especially when they strategically whooped me when we played a game of "Life"). We also saw briefly Nicole, (my wife Faith's half-sister), Nicole's two year old, Blaise and significant other, Sanden. Nice folks all. Unfortunately we'll miss Carol Jean, my wife's aunt, who is visiting here for Thanksgiving but doesn't arrive till tomorrow.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Reactions from the Christian Blogosphere to Obama Election

[UPDATE 11-9-08: La Shawn Barber also has a great take on the Obama win. I agree with her assessment. In my opinion there's a "black and white" conclusion to the matter of whether Obama was/is the right choice for President-- he's not. But, we've got him anyway. Read Barack Obama’s Post-Racial Delusion.]

After Obama won Tuesday I had intended to post an immediate blog response titled, "The Morning After: A Bitter Pill to Swallow." But now that a couple of days have passed, I'll forgo writing a response with that clever but perhaps too reactive title. I think I need to reflect more before I say anything else about Obama's election.

In the meantime I have been reading various Christian responses to the election from around the blogosphere. I think there have been some helpful, edifying and sometimes eloquent thoughts expressed.

One of the most powerful words comes from an African-American believer Eric Redmond, who chose to vote according to Christian principles, despite having reservations about John McCain and feeling the temptation as an African-American to join with many others in his community to support Obama. In casting his vote Redmond chose to be, as he says, "Christocentric" rather than "Afrocentric".

He writes:
I made two very difficult choices: First, I chose to vote rather than stay home. Second, I voted for lives of the unborn rather than for approval from the vast majority of my own ethnic community. The latter choice took the risk of being reproached for the name of Christ, for I only voted for life because of the fear of my Lord

Read the rest, Eric Redmond: "Living Soli Deo Gloria Under Obama"

Below, some other articles I think are challenging and raise good questions about how Christian evangelicals ought to proceed with an Obama administration soon to be in place. Notice different opinions about strategy being expressed; for example, between Scott Klusendorf and Phil Johnson.

Thoughts on the Day After an Historic Election by James White

America Has Chosen a President by Al Mohler

A Familiar Can of Worms-Why not both/and? A short diatribe in thirteen fourteen points
by Phil Johnson

President-Elect Obama by Kim Riddlebarger

Here is the King Whom You Have Asked For

Yes We Can...not really by Steve Camp

Stayin Alive: Pro-Life Advocacy in the Obama Era. An Interview with Scott Klusendorf

Monday, November 03, 2008

Countdown to Election 2008- Vote McCain

There is a "statistical dead-heat among born again Christians, with 45 per cent planning to vote for McCain and 43 per cent, for Obama" according to a Barna survey released last Wednesday.

This is truly shocking when one considers Obama's radically pro-abortion views and his liberal stance on so many issues. Obama's fervor to protect a woman's choice or right to abortion extends to voting against measures that would protect babies born alive after a failed abortion. If elected, he also plans on using the White House as a "bully pulpit" on behalf of homosexual causes.

As David Wheaton exclaims in his Final and Fervent Appeal to Christians, "have Christians lost their minds?!"

Apparently many evangelical Christians have bought into the idea that they ought not to be "single-issue" voters (translate: they should not stand firm on abortion). Instead, the spirit of being a true Christian means practicing a kinder, gentler form of Christianity. But what many overlook is that "kinder" and "gentler" are euphemisms for "tolerant", which in turn, means, one may not take a principled stand on biblical truth, because that means we're no longer being "loving". Well, in that case Jesus Christ Himself must have been a big hater, since He stood upon the truth of the Word of God and denounced those who were not teaching in line with the truth of Scripture with such phrases as "whitewashed tombs" and "You are of your father the devil!"

Christian "values voters" have proven themselves to be a formidable force in previous elections. Now, as much as ever, those who believe in America's Judeo-Christian heritage and who understand that it is the principles deriving from this heritage that made America the most free and prosperous nation the world has ever known, must vote wisely. And though McCain is not a perfect candidate, he is an infinitely better choice for those who believe in Judeo-Christian values than Barack Obama.

Do we value our freedoms, including liberty to worship and speak freely as Christians? On national security, is our greater need to be liked in the court of world opinion, or to be respected as a power that will repel our enemies from daring to attack us? There's a good reason our Islamic enemies want Obama to win-- they regard him as Muslim!

For the sake of the unborn, and for the sake of the Christian values we hold dear, read the resources below and recognize that Obama is not one to trust or place our hopes in. We trust in God alone, but a vote for McCain is wise because his positions on the sanctity of life and on marriage are in line with traditional Christian values, while Obama's positions on these issues are not.

Please, read these resources below if you're not yet convinced!

The Closing Argument By John Perazzo

The Choice (McCain) by the Editors of National Review Online

Sorry, But Obama Scares Me by Jonah Goldberg

Will Americans Really Vote to Fundamentally Transform America? by Dennis Prager

The Christian Case Against Barack Obama by Frank Pastore

The Christian Case Against Barack Obama, Part 1
The Christian Case Against Barack Obama, Part 2
The Christian Case Against Barack Obama, Part 3

Top Ten Reasons To Vote For John McCain by Daniel Jordan
Foolish Evangelicals by Daniel Jordan

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Don't Be Fooled by Obama

Update 11-2-08: More articles on election 2008:

Tuesday’s Choice More freedom and prosperity, or less?
By Deroy Murdock

Ego and Mouth by Thomas Sowell

Born Gay or a Gay Basher? No Excuse by Frank Turek

It's just days away from the election. And its outcome is far from certain, despite the impression one might get from media with its constant references to Obama's lead in the polls. Interestingly, although Obama has hugely outspent McCain on television advertising, as much as 20-1 in some states, the latest poll results show the race has tightened. For example, as of Friday, October 31, 2008, the Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll had Barack Obama with 51% of the vote and John McCain with 47%. An average of national polls also on Friday showed Obama with 48.8% and McCain with 41.6% of the vote.

Those who read this blog regularly know that it deals primarily with theological and cultural commentary, rather than politics. Nevertheless in these past few weeks I have felt compelled to bring attention to the presidential race, because I believe the stakes are high for America and for liberty.

Obama is clearly articulate and intelligent, but his views are far more liberal than that of most Americans. His vision of "change" is to turn America into a socialistic system like many in Europe. Abortion "rights" and gay "rights" will be high on his presidential agenda. He has pledged that his first act as President would be to sign the Freedom of Choice Act (to protect abortion rights), and that he will use the "bully pulpit" of the White House to promote homosexual causes.

For months Obama and his campaign have been treated with kid gloves by the media, which (except for Fox News) is clearly biased towards an Obama-Biden presidential win. Victor Davis Hanson of NRO brilliantly exposes this liberal media bias in "The End of Journalism".

As the above article shows, Obama flat-out lied to America when he reneged on his pledge to accept public financing for his presidential campaign if the Republican candidate also would do so. But the press left him alone for this, or applauded his act of political shrewdness.

Obama also attended a church for twenty years that was preaching "liberation theology" and the evils of white supremacy, and until recently, named the pastor of that church, Jeremiah Wright, as his spiritual mentor. But when it became no longer politically expedient to maintain his connection with Wright, Obama unceremoniously dumped him.

Similarly, Obama makes light of his relationship with unrepentant former terrorist Bill Ayers. However as the above article points out, up until 2005 Obama "was in communication with Bill Ayers by e-mail and phone, despite Ayers reprehensible braggadocio in 2001 that he remained an unrepentant terrorist." In 1997, Obama even wrote a positive review of an Ayer's book, "A Kind and Just Parent: Children of Juvenile Court," and the blurb of the review appears on the book's jacket.

We must be grateful then that the web allows many to research for themselves Obama's record, and to see documentation of his prevarication, political maneuvering and ever-evolving stand on various issues.

It is hard to fathom that so many Americans, just seven years after 9/11, are willing to entrust the Presidency to a man of such little executive experience, questionable associations and liberal an agenda as Mr. Obama. It seems that for many, a vote for Obama is an expression of deep dissatisfaction and frustration with the Bush administration. With so many listing the economy as their predominant concern, it seems there is not much of a stomach to continue the expensive war in Iraq. Yet such a view is shortsighted, as Charles Krauthammer reminds us in his endorsement of McCain:

The case for McCain is straightforward. The financial crisis has made us forget, or just blindly deny, how dangerous the world out there is. We have a generations-long struggle with Islamic jihadism. An apocalyptic soon-to-be-nuclear Iran. A nuclear-armed Pakistan in danger of fragmentation. A rising Russia pushing the limits of revanchism. Plus the sure-to-come Falklands-like surprise popping out of nowhere.

Who do you want answering that phone at 3 a.m.? A man who's been cramming on these issues for the past year, who's never had to make an executive decision affecting so much as a city, let alone the world? A foreign policy novice instinctively inclined to the flabbiest, most vaporous multilateralism (e.g., the Berlin Wall came down because of "a world that stands as one"), and who refers to the most deliberate act of war since Pearl Harbor as "the tragedy of 9/11," a term more appropriate for a bus accident?

Or do you want a man who is the most prepared, most knowledgeable, most serious foreign policy thinker in the United States Senate? A man who not only has the best instincts but has the honor and the courage to, yes, put country first, as when he carried the lonely fight for the surge that turned Iraq from catastrophic defeat into achievable strategic victory?

There's just no comparison. Obama's own running mate warned this week that Obama's youth and inexperience will invite a crisis -- indeed a crisis "generated" precisely to test him. Can you be serious about national security and vote on Nov. 4 to invite that test?

So again I point you to more election 2008 resources below, to help you to make a wise decision come November 4th.

Joe the Vet Endorses McCain in YouTube's Most Popular Election Video

Don't Let the Polls Affect Your Vote
By Karl Rove

Top Ten Reasons Not to Vote for Obama
By Daniel Jordan

Sensibility: The Christian Pastor in the Age of Obama-mania and Why Evangelicals Love Him
by Bob Bixby

Can you be pro-life and vote for Obama?

The Tyranny of the Minority- How the Forced Recognition of Same-Sex “Marriage” Undermines a Free Society
By S. T. Karnick

Taxing Times- The economy is not a zero-sum game where someone gains what others lose
By Thomas Sowell

The True Meaning of 'Historic Vote'
By Daniel Henninger

Life of the New Party- A redistributionist success story
By Stanley Kurtz

Obama and the Politics of Crowds- The masses greeting the candidate on the trail are a sign of great unease
By Fouad Ajami

Why 'born-again' Christians are backing Obama
By Jim Brown

Obama's Leftism- The Democratic nominee is nowhere near as moderate as he sounds
By Joshua Muravchik

McCain for President, Part I
McCain for President, Part II
By Charles Krauthammer

The Silencing of Bill Ayers and Jeremiah Wright
By Paul Kengor

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Don't Rock the Vote?

One keeps hearing/seeing all the ads by celebrities (especially from advising people, particularly youth, to get out and vote. But in "A Duty Not To Vote?", John Stossel raises a politically incorrect position when he says, "when people don't know anything, maybe it's their civic duty not to vote." Stossel isn't against voting, he just doesn't think that uninformed voters who haven't educated themselves on why they are voting for whomever they choose to vote for should necessarily be encouraged. I agree.

A more on-target message to young voters would be "Get informed, then vote!" Any idiot can pull the lever in a ballot box; it demonstrates no great, admirable civic virtue merely to cast a vote, not knowing whom or what you are supporting by your vote.

Don't get me wrong, I do hope many young people will vote, but only after they have informed themselves about the issues and the positions of the candidates they will vote for. Along these lines, a resource for young voters that is an alternative to is, a group which aims to "register people of faith regardless of party affiliation, or personal political beliefs, but as a matter of Christian principle, that people of faith must be engaged in the political debate and vote as a matter of moral imperative... It also "reach[es] out to both parties to find the best in both, and find solutions to the debate, not trump or destroy one person or party."

Also, please see my previous three posts, for many links to resources on Election 2008.

Resources for Christian Voters- Election 2008

More Resources for Election 2008: The Issues

A Critical Election 2008 Issue: Supreme Court Justices

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

More Resources for Election 2008: The Issues

Updated 10-28-08 with new articles from Randy Alcorn and John Piper (see links below).

My friends (as some like to say),

There are very important issues that will be strongly impacted by the outcome of the Presidential election just a week away. The two candidates before us in this election-- John McCain and Barack Obama-- offer starkly different ideas and solutions in response to critical issues facing our country and the world. Both refer to themselves as Christians. But from the perspective of issues of traditional importance to Christians, I think that McCain is clearly a better choice.

Some issues on which the differences are clearly seen include:
  • The issue of whether or abortion will continue to viewed as a "fundamental right" and therefore, one that must be protected from abrogation;
  • The issue of whether marriage will be redefined as gender-neutral and as a "right"for same-sex couples.
These are two fundamental issues that Christians rightly see as vital to a Christian worldview. Abortion deals with the value we place on human life-- whether we recognize God alone as the Creator of life, or whether human beings are merely cells and life is whatever humans define it as. Gay-marriage touches on how much respect we hold for God's design of mankind as man and woman--whether or not we accept His institution of marriage as the fundamental relationship upon which human societies must be built.

Other important issues:
Iraq/Afghanistan Wars and the War on Terror
I do have some unresolved questions about the US wars in Iran/Afghanistan. However I also believe that we need a President who understands that our nation is under continuous, serious threat by the existence of terrorists, especially Islamic terrorists, who are harbored and abetted by certain nations. Many who hate America and want to see America destroyed do so on the basis of their religious ideology. These sworn enemies of America will not be won over by diplomacy, but must be kept in check by understanding that America's leadership will not be intimidated by threats and will respond with overwhelming, powerful force if attacked. It is very telling that the Islamic world wants Obama to be our next President.

Freedom of Speech
The issue of whether those who advocate Christianity in the marketplace of ideas, whether in the pulpit or in the media, will be able to continue to do so openly and freely, or whether their ideas can be labeled "hate speech" and thus silenced.

Education and Parental rights
The issue of whether it is parents or the government that has ultimate responsibility over the education and welfare of children.

  • Judicial Activism (Selection of Supreme Court Justices)
  • Cloning
  • Energy and Environmental Stewardship
  • The Poor and the Persecuted globally
  • The Right to Bear Arms

It may not necessarily be immediately clear what the proper Christian response is on all of the above issues. But because of the pervasive and continuous inundation with the secularist views of media and culture, thinking on these issues is clouded and confused. I point you to the following resources then, as an aid to educating oneself about these issues from a Christian moral perspective and making an informed choice for President.

Voter Guides and Other Election Resources/Information:

Christian Coalition of Washington

Wallbuilders Voter Guide

Election Resources and Information


I'm not Voting for a Man, I'm Voting for Generations of Children and their Right to Live by Randy Alcorn

One-Issue Politics, One-Issue Marriage, and the Humane Society by John Piper

Obama's Abortion Extremism by Robert George

Obama and Infanticide by Robert George

Pro-Life Politicians Have Made a Difference, Pro-Life Laws Work by Michael J. New

American Voters and the Abortion Issue by David Barton

The Abortion Question and the Future by Albert Mohler

Senator Barack Obama and The Born Alive Infant Protection Act

The End of the Nation? Russia Chooses Death Over Life by Albert Mohler

Rights Talk Right to Death -- Euthanasia and "Religious Primitivism" by Albert Mohler

Gay Marriage

What's Really at Stake in the Gay Marriage Debate? Part One by Albert Mohler

What's Really at Stake in the Gay Marriage Debate? Part Two by Albert Mohler

What's Really at Stake in the Gay Marriage Debate? Part Three by Albert Mohler

What's Really at Stake in the Gay Marriage Debate? Part Four by Albert Mohler

Defense and Miscellaneous Issues

The Islamic World Looks at Obama by Robert Spencer

Muslim world's view of Obama

Obama's Pentagon

Where McCain, Obama stand on the issues by Calvin Woodward

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Resources for Christian Voters- Election 2008

I have come across the following articles and web resources for helping those who hold Judeo-Christian values determine who to vote for in this next election. Although neither McCain nor Obama are the ideal Christian candidate, I believe that the McCain-Palin ticket would be much more favorable to upholding core Christian values, such as the sanctity of life and marriage between a man and a woman.

There are Christians supporting Obama who argue that an Obama/Biden administration would bring more unity and cooperation to government. They seem to believe that Obama's economic strategies will help reduce abortions because they will direct more aid to the poor. In addition many Christian Obama supporters claim that Christianity should embrace homosexuality and homosexuals as our brothers and sisters in Christ, because of the call of Jesus to love and not judge. Still another argument is that to maintain a consistently pro-life policy necessitates bringing an end to the war in Iraq, which is causing the loss of many lives.

I think that all of the above arguments are inconsistent with a traditional, orthodox understanding of Christian faith. The Bible teaches that God creates life in the womb and that we are not to snuff out lives that God alone has created. In Scripture, war is a sometimes necessary evil. Homosexuality is unnatural because it goes against God's design of man and woman and how the sexes are to relate to one another. One cannot practice a lifestyle that is considered immoral by the law of God and yet at the same time claim to be obedient to God as a Christ-follower.

It is naive to think that either an Obama or a McCain administration would somehow engender more unity and cooperation in the current government. There is an ideological divide in America, reflected in Congress, and the divide is widening. An Obama presidency certainly will steer this nation in the liberal trajectory it already seems to be on; his stands on issues such as abortion or gay marriage are in alignment with liberal Hollywood and media values, but not with traditional Christian beliefs.

Only by re-defining the meaning of Christian is it possible to advocate Barack Obama as one whose stance on the issues is in harmony with traditional Judeo-Christian family values. On issues of fundamental importance to traditional Christians-- the protection of life and the defense of marriage-- Mr. Obama's views and his record are the opposite of what most Christians have supported in these areas, as the resources below demonstrate.

Now if "Christian" is re-defined to mean someone who is an unrelenting advocate for a woman's so-called "right" to choose to kill her baby, and/or to be one who promises to pursue the aggressive agenda of pro-homosexual special interests, then yes, Obama is a solid Christian. I know that some say that Obama's stated concerns for improving the economic fortunes of those who are struggling demonstrates a Christian priority. I agree that the poor are properly the concern of all Christians, whose God is full of compassion towards all and especially the poor, the orphan and the widow. But I disagree with Obama's basic approach to fixing their economic plight via social programs and redistribution of wealth. I admit I am no expert on economics, but like many, I have a great skepticism and fear about a plan that seems to depend upon socialistic principles for its success.

Finally I think that Christians must make sure to vote in this coming election, even if one is not happy with the candidates in terms of how well they align with one's Christian values. Again, a very critical issue to our future is the lifelong Supreme Court justices that will be chosen by the next President-- I think that a McCain-Palin administration is much more likely to nominate conservative candidates in this regard. We will be feeling the impact of the decisions of these justices for years and years to come.

I fear that we are going to see a time in the not-too-distant future when Christians, who for so long have enjoyed freedom of worship in this country and whose values helped shaped the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, which in turn produced the great freedoms and prosperity this nation has experienced, are going to be persecuted as intolerant and hateful for simply remaining true to their faith.

I think an Obama-Biden administration will create a climate wherein all forms of religious expression will be acceptable--except Christian speech. Hate crime laws may be passed that will prevent pastors from preaching according to the truth of the Bible or face jail for doing so. I pray the Lord would give believers wisdom to the significance of what is happening and the importance of our choices right now, and to not be deceived by the smooth promises of peace and prosperity being offered by Mr. Obama and his campaign.

Now to be fair, all of the candidates for President/Vice-President state that faith profoundly influences their decision making. There are several articles below examining the faith of the candidates. I think the important thing is to read their statements, and examine how their track record aligns with issues of traditional importance and value to Christians.

Now matter who wins in November, we know that our God is in control. May we have a government in which there will be continued freedom to worship-- for Christians as well as those of other faiths-- freedom to state one's religious convictions without fear of reprisal or being thrown in jail. If one speaks critically about the Muslim faith they are often met with violence, but may it not be true here-- the American way is to protect the freedom of speech of even enemies or those with whom we bitterly disagree. May we continue to be able to speak our minds, our hearts and our consciences in this manner, as we protect the right of all to liberty of speech.

May we all cast our votes wisely, with God's help.

Should Christians Support Obama?

Saddleback Civil Forum on the Presidency (Side by Side Comparison of Answers)

Saddleback Civil Forum: Rick Warren Questions Obama and McCain (Videos)

Obama-McCain Comparison on Issues

Download the FRCA Congressional Voter Guide (PDF file)

2008 Presidential and Vice Presidential Debates

John McCain: keeping faith, on his own terms

How religion guides Palin

Obama: I have a deep faith

Joseph Biden: a frank and abiding faith

King Wilberforce

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

A Critical Election Issue: Supreme Court Justices

The video below is produced by the Judicial Confirmation Network and reminds Americans that a most critical issue in the Presidential election is that whoever becomes President will choose those who are nominated and eventually will be the next Supreme Court Justices. The decisions made by this small body (appointed for life) certainly will impact the lives of Americans for years to come.

As an article by Matt Lewis on states:

Whether you are worried about the so-called “Fairness Doctrine” or the abortion issue, the next president will select Supreme Court Justices that will dramatically impact your life. But are voters paying attention? With any luck, the Judicial Confirmation Network will succeed in their quest to bring judges back to the forefront of the political debate. The economy may be scary right now, but the idea of referring to “Justice Clinton” for the next two decades could be even scarier.

Although history has shown that having a conservative President selecting justices is no guarantee that the justices ultimately appointed will prove conservative in their decision-making, the selection of justices is just too important an issue to be ignored. Obama is charming and articulate, but his agenda for this country is radically socialistic and liberal.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Blips on the Blogosphere 16

I am continuing work and research on the next article to be posted in my healing series (this next post has been challenging as it tackles the subject of cessationism vs continuationism). As I don't want to continue to neglect readers I offer the following random links, as of possible interest to you:

Four Movements - by Don Matzat
This article provides some good historical background to 4 recent theological movements (Evangelical Revivalism, Neo-Evangelicalism, Latter Rain Movement and Postmodernism) and points readers to further resources for study on these movements.

I'm a newbie on this topic-- this list offers a good resource for understanding dispensationalism.

What to Say to the Depressed, Doubting, Skeptical, Confused, Angry by John Piper
More wise advice from John Piper.

Against Heresies: Podcast spirituality
A brief post raising the interesting question of how new technologies seem to facilitate more individualism, and how this affects Christian spirituality.

Ayers and Obama crossed paths on boards, records show
CNN shows there was more of a connection between Ayers and Obama than he and his campaign have implied in public statements.

The End of Evolution? by Al Mohler Why evolution seems to be a dead-end, according to one evolutionist.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Sickness, Healing and the Christian, Pt 2 (Biblical Analysis)

In part 1 of this series, I presented an overview of the healing message touted by many of today's "faith healers" (e.g., Benny Hinn, Todd Bentley, Reinhard Bonnke and numerous others), a message that claims support from Scripture and asserts that extraordinary healing miracles, equal to or more amazing than those of Jesus and the apostles, are being restored today in these ministries through the power of God. It also teaches that because of God's unchanging nature as Healer and the finished work of Jesus on the cross, that physical healing is included in salvation and is the birthright of the Christian who has faith to lay hold of it. In this continuing series, our aim is to weigh this healing message against Scripture. There are a number of related issues we will also explore, such as the purpose of suffering in the Christian life, and whether spiritual gifts are meant to be a sign that validates the message today, in the same way that signs and wonders authenticated the message of Jesus and the apostles. But in this article we will primarily focus on a biblical critique of the "healing in the atonement" teaching as popularly understood.

We also explored in the previous article how the Word-Faith and Signs and Wonders Movement (a.k.a. Vineyard, Third Wave, Apostolic-Prophetic) have in common the idea that healing miracles and other supernatural signs give evidence to the reality of God-- by showing He still works wonders among us, so long as we exercise our faith to tap into His available power. We examined Todd Bentley (formerly associated with Fresh Fire Ministries, as he has now been relieved of his duties in the wake of his separation from his wife), as an example of how strains of Word-Faith and Signs and Wonders teachings overlap. Finally, I sounded various cautions against this healing doctrine that is common to both movements.

The following statements summarize my conclusions thus far:
  • The presence of miracles or signs and wonders in a ministry does not, in and of itself, validate the truth of that ministry's teachings, for such signs may be false, that is, they may be produced by means other than the power of God (Matthew 24:24).
  • Healings claimed by those who teach this message, though supposedly large in number, have not been verified by presentation of medical evidence. Such proof is needed because the kinds of "miracles" witnessed during the "revival" meetings are not actual healings as they take place, but rather people provide testimonies of having been healed. In light of the fact that healing miracles claims are often extravagant (e.g., Bentley has claimed 33 people have been raised from the dead) it ought not to be so difficult to corroborate at least one of these cases medically.  
  • The miracles of Jesus and the apostles, in contrast to those of contemporary faith healers, were so extraordinary that corroboration was hardly necessary; anyone present could verify they had really happened. Even the enemies of Jesus could not refute His miracles, for they were so clear and obvious.
  • Those who proclaim healing for today almost always also espouse other incorrect doctrines (prosperity, receiving new revelations and doctrine directly from Jesus or angels, commanding miracles, deification of man, etc.). This is quite revealing, for it indicates that the healing for today message is part of a pattern of error.
  • Taken together, this pattern of incorrect teachings among certain charismatics constitutes an approach to spirituality and to pursuing relationship with God that dangerously emphasizes experience over Scripture (I recognize this is a generalization I won't have time to expound upon in this article, but will try to address in a future post).
  • The teaching on healing in these ministries seems at first plausible, because it is speaks of certain biblical truths-- God is unchanging in His essence; He is our Healer (Jehovah Rapha); redemption is for the body as well as the soul.  However the teaching ultimately misinterprets and misapplies Scripture, because it does not take into account the full biblical picture on the subject of sickness, suffering and healing in the life of the Christian.  Healing for the body in this life is simply not guaranteed, and it seems that God may use sickness just as much as other circumstances in life to fashion His children in Christ-likeness.  There is no biblical reason to place physical sickness in a special category of suffering that God may not use to discipline believers (Job, for example).
  • Though some may be healed as they attend a healing campaign or apply these teachings, there are just as many who are not healed.  These exceptions must be explained, and it is neither satisfying biblically nor compassionate to sufferers to explain the non-healings as a lack of faith or lack of persevering in faith.  
  • Because the teaching is so rigid in claiming that everyone can be healed since healing provision has already been made-- guilt and shame is added to the physical suffering of those not healed.  Deep disappointment, hurt and confusion may ensue for those relying on promises of healing held out by the faith healers. If not healed as expected, these poor folks can't understand why, and are compelled to blame themselves, since the teaching states that God has already healed them. Certainly, God can and often does heal in answer to prayer, but He does not guarantee healing in the way that is implied by this teaching.
Background of the Faith Healing Message
This message of healing is by no means new, having been proclaimed since the nineteenth century.  However, such dating marks the teaching as relatively new in terms of church history. This view on healing apparently was not shared by the apostles or the early church. Some believe that the faith healing formulation derives from "New Thought" ideas, such as those of Phineas Parkhurst Quimby. The writings of E.W. Kenyon, known to have had a strong influence on Kenneth Hagin (who in turn is called the "granddaddy" of the Word-Faith movement and has been highly influential within it) is said to bear similarity to these New Thought concepts. Determining whether the teaching has these influences, and what is its exact origin, are certainly relevant to our study. But the key question we will consider right now is whether or not the doctrine, as taught by contemporary proponents, is supported by Scripture. Perhaps in a future article we will investigate the origin question more thoroughly. I do want however to briefly show the continuity between the message of faith healers of the recent past and those who preach faith healing today.

Prominent figures who developed and practiced an essentially identical message on healing, from the late 19th through the 20th century, included John Alexander Dowie, John G. Lake, Maria Woodworth-Etter, Smith Wigglesworth, F.F. Bosworth, A.B. Simpson, A.J. Gordon, A.A. Allen, Aimee Semple McPherson, Jack Coe, William Branham, Kathryn Kuhlman, T.L. Osborn and Oral Roberts. Among these teachers, there are some differences in details over how the believer should act upon their faith to receive God's healing. For example, many in this movement have taught that going to doctors or taking medicines negates reliant faith on God, while others advise that medicine and doctors are fine, so long as we look past them to God as our true Healer. Some really stress the positive "confession" of healing, while others underline building faith for healing from reading certain Scriptures. Yet the theological foundation of the healing message-- the doctrine that "healing in the atonement" makes divine health and physical healing in this lifetime the believer's birthright-- is the core teaching that all these "faith healers", past and present, advocate.

To demonstrate the correspondence between the teaching of "healing in the atonement" between previous generations of faith healers and contemporary ones, I present the following sampling of quotes:

Quotes of the Faith Healers
John Alexander Dowie
Question: Then, if that is so, the atonement which He made on the Cross must have been for our sicknesses as well as our sins. Can you prove that is the fact from the Scriptures?

Answer: Yes, I can, and the passages are very numerous. I need quote two only. In Isaiah 53:4,5 it is written of Him, "Surely He hath borne our griefs (Hebrew sicknesses), and carried our sorrows:…. And with his stripes we are healed.” Then in the Gospel according to Matthew, this passage is quoted and directly applied to the work of bodily healing, in chapter 8, 17th verse, “That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying, Himself took our infirmities, and bare our diseases."

John G. Lake
The Lord Jesus Christ is still the healer. He can not change, for "He is the same yesterday, today, and forever," and He is still with us, for He said, "Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world." (Hebrews 13:8 and Matthew 28:20.) Because He is unchangeable, and because He is present, in Spirit, just as when in the flesh. He is the healer of His people.

Divine Healing rests on Christ's Atonement. It was prophesied of Him, "Surely He hath borne our grief, (Hebrew, sicknesses) and carried our sorrows, and with His stripes we are healed," and it is expressly declared that this was fulfilled in His ministry of Healing, which still continues. (Isaiah 53:4-5 Matt. 8:17)

Diseases can never be God's will. It is the Devil's work consequent on sin, and it is impossible for the work of the Devil ever to be the will of God. Christ came to destroy the works of the Devil and when He was on earth He, "healed every sickness and every disease," and all these diseases are expressly declared to have been the "oppression of the Devil." (1 John 3:8 Matt. 4:23 and Acts 10:38.)

Smith Wigglesworth
In the world they are always having new diseases and the doctors cannot locate them. A doctor said to me, "The science of medicine is in its infancy, and really we doctors have no confidence in our medicine. We are always experimenting." But the man of God does not experiment. He knows, or ought to know, redemption in its fullness. He knows, or ought to know, the mightiness of the Lord Jesus Christ. He is not, or should not be, moved by outward observation, but should get divine revelation of the mightiness of the name of Jesus and the power of His blood. If we exercise our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ He will come forth and get glory over all the powers of darkness.

At eventide they brought unto Him many that were possessed with devils; and He cast out the spirits with His word and healed all that were sick: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, "Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses." The work is done if you only believe it. It is done. Himself took our infirmities and bare our sicknesses.

A.B. Simpson
Jesus Christ has SURELY BORNE AWAY and CARRIED OFF our sicknesses; yes, and even our PAINS, so that abiding in Him, we may be fully delivered from both sickness and pain. Thus "by His stripes we are healed." Blessed and glorious Gospel! Blessed and glorious Burden Bearer.

Benny Hinn Ministries Faith Statement
Deliverance from sickness is provided for in the atonement and is the privilege of all believers (Isaiah 53:4-5; Matthew 8:16-17).

In this video Benny Hinn declares, I have come to remind you that he was wounded for transgressions, bruised for iniquities, chastised for peace-- that's the front of the cross, but I have come to remind you-- there's the backside of the cross-- with His stripes we are healed! That's definite, that's the Bible!

Todd Bentley
But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.

Surely! If you have ever wanted to know anything about healing, it is a sure thing that He carried away sickness. It is a sure thing that He suffered and died and shed His blood just as much for sickness and disease as He did sin. Surely He has carried away our pain. This passage of Scripture talks about healing more than it does forgiveness of sin.

He suffered for our peace, our prosperity in wholeness of body, soul and spirit. Three times it mentions in Isaiah 53:3-5, about divine healing, only once it says He was bruised for our iniquity. “Surely He has carried away our grief, and by His stripes we are healed.

Do you know what Isaiah is saying? Isaiah was saying, “He was beaten, wounded, suffered, shed His blood, was rejected, in pain, torment. He carried away sickness, He carried away disease, but we saw Him as afflicted. We saw Him as the suffering, wounded Messiah. Yes, He was smitten and stricken. Yes, we see the realities of the suffering of the Cross of Jesus in Isaiah 53. He carried away sickness and disease. He was wounded for transgressions and sin. He was rejected. He was mocked. He was spit on. He suffered. He was tormented. Yet, we cannot esteem Him as stricken. We must see Him as the one who has conquered sin, sickness, disease, death and the grave. We must see Him as the victorious Christ who rose up on the third day with resurrection power, sin, sickness, disease, and death. He took the curse of the law and redeemed us so we could once again come under the blessing of Abraham and be whole in our body, soul, and spirit.

We do not understand all of the mysteries of healing. But I do know one thing; God wants to heal you. And when you do not get healed and die with your sickness, I do not understand it any more than I understand why people died in sin and did not get saved. But He is an all-powerful God. And my job is to preach the gospel, win souls, and put my hands on sick bodies and let God do the rest; let God be God. Regardless of what I feel and see, I must believe the gospel. I must believe the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.

I believe in the doctor. I believe God wants to heal all. And if God wants to use a doctor, God can do that. He gave them the gift. He gave them medicine and science. Some of it is from the pits of hell, but God has blessed it. I am not against doctors and nurses. I am free to go to the doctor. Healing and freedom from sickness and disease is the same as forgiveness of sins. I have come to a place in my life and my relationship with Jesus that I no longer wonder if it is God’s will to heal. I do not even think about that anymore. I can lay hands on a man in a wheelchair with just as much confidence as I can with somebody with a back condition. Because I know that He is the healer. And all I have to do is put my hand on the sick, and God does the rest.

So we observe remarkable continuity in the healing message (particularly the healing in the atonement aspect) that has been preached. This view has been primarily held by charismatic denominations: Pentecostals, Assembly of God, Christian Missionary Alliance, Foursquare Gospel and others, groups that strongly emphasize the active role that man's faith plays in securing the healing God has provided.

Biblical Analysis
Let us now turn to biblical analysis.

Healing in the Atonement?
The teaching on "healing in the atonement" undergirds the contemporary healing message and we have seen that the content of this teaching has been remarkably consistent as preached by faith healers from previous generations until now. The view that healing in the atonement ensures divine health and physical healing for the believer in this life is perhaps the critical theological foundation of the healing movement. But can it be demonstrated biblically that the death of Christ on the cross accomplished not only reconciliation of man to God by forgiveness of sins (through Christ our sin-bearer), but also removal of sickness and disease in this life, through Christ who bears our sicknesses? Does the teaching of the New Testament on sickness/healing support the notion that believers have already been healed of their sicknesses through the cross, and need only have faith that their healing is accomplished for this healing provision to become manifested in their ailing bodies?

Some believe the prophetic words of Isaiah justify this idea:
Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.

But he was wounded for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his stripes we are healed. Isaiah 53:4-5

All have traditionally agreed that this famous passage is a prophetic description of what Jesus Christ accomplished for believers on the cross. We observe Isaiah saying that he (Jesus) has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows (although we will find in Matthew 8:17 that this is said to be fulfilled in the earthly ministry of Jesus and not on the cross).

We observe Isaiah speaking of the physical sufferings and stripes of Jesus as the means by which our transgressions and our iniquities, which stood between us and peace with God, were punished-- Jesus was chastised on our behalf-- and through his chastisement we have been forgiven and healed of our "sin-sickness". This clearly is a reference to Jesus on the cross. Yet there is nothing being said about physical healing here. The fact that Jesus suffered bodily does not mean that our physical sufferings today are being substituted for. Isaiah is saying that because God smote Jesus, placing His wrath for human sin upon Christ Jesus, who suffered in our place, the one who takes refuge in Jesus obtains peace with God and "healing" for their soul.

But the "healing for today" teachers claim that this passage in Isaiah was quoted by New Testament writers (Matthew 8:16-17, 1 Peter 2:24) to prove Christ died not only for sins, but also, that we might always obtain physical healing during our lives on earth.  Let us examine these two New Testament passages more closely, to see if this is the correct interpretation. We'll begin with the Matthew passage, starting at verse 14:
And when Jesus entered Peter's house, he saw his mother-in-law lying sick with a fever. He touched her hand, and the fever left her, and she rose and began to serve him. That evening they brought to him many who were oppressed by demons, and he cast out the spirits with a word and healed all who were sick. This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah: “He took our illnesses and bore our diseases.” Matthew 8:14-17
On first reading, this passage seems to lend credence to the healing in the atonement argument, for it shows (so it may seem) a connection between Jesus' work on the cross and supernatural, physical healing.  Matthew points us to Isaiah 53, a passage which looked forward to the coming of the Messiah, and pictured Jesus dying on the cross, and then declares that Jesus' works of physical healing were done in to fulfill Isaiah's prophetic words. 

It is important to remember however that Isaiah 53 is not only about Jesus' suffering on the cross, but makes references to various aspects and times of Jesus' ministry. For example, verses 1-3 speak of Jesus in relation to humanity during His earthly life prior to the cross. Therefore Matthew quoting from Isaiah 53 in regard to the healing ministry of Jesus does not in and of itself draw a connection between the work of the cross and Jesus' healing people.

Looking carefully, we see that Matthew 8:14-17 is not referring to Jesus' work on the cross, but rather, to the healing ministry Jesus had among people. And it is these works of Jesus, Matthew tells us, that fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah, and not Jesus' death on the cross.  Matthew 8:17 then, does not link Christ's death on the cross (the atonement) with physical healing in a direct way.  It might be said from this verse that Jesus took illnesses and bore diseases through His miraculous healing ministry among people, thereby proving that He was/is the Messiah Isaiah prophesied about.

Some will object, however, that since Jesus' healing ministry on earth included both spiritual (forgiving sins) and physical (healing the body) aspects, these must have as their basis Jesus' atoning work on the cross.  For Jesus is the "the Lamb who was slain before the foundation of the world" (Rev 13:8), this argument continues, and so the healing authority issuing from His death does not depend upon a fixed point in time (i.e., the moment in which Jesus the God-Man actually died for sin on the cross).  In other words, Jesus' earthly ministry anticipated His atonement and drew authority from His future work on the cross.

This argument is not without merit since the atonement does seem to be the means by which ultimate healing from sin and all its attending consequences (which include physical disease and death) is provided.  Also, it is true that the atonement has timeless application, for God is not bound by time and had the plan of salvation in mind even before mankind fell.  However, this argument fails to convince that healing for the body for this life is therefore something we may claim from the atonement, because scriptural teaching concerning the meaning and significance of the cross does not corroborate this.

Let's look at 1 Peter 2:24, for example, in its context.  The verse is often used to argue for an atonement-based right to healing.
Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust. For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls (1 Peter 2:18-25)
In these verses Peter speaks on the calling of the Christian, which may include, if it is God's will, to suffer unjustly.  He emphasizes that Jesus set an example for us of how to act under such circumstances-- we are not to return evil for evil, nor threaten our oppressors, but instead, entrust ourselves to God.  Peter goes on to explain the purpose of Jesus' death on the cross was that "we might die to sin and live to righteousness." He explains that we believers were straying like sheep (a reference to Isaiah 53:6) but "have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls" (Jesus Christ).

We find in this passage Peter speaking of the Christian life as one in which sometimes believers suffer unjustly, but that if called to do so, we have our Savior's example to follow.  We see that when Peter says "by his wounds you have been healed" (a reference to Isaiah 53:5), he refers to the healing of sin by the cross of Christ which returns us to the "Shepherd of our souls". He is not speaking here of physical healing, but of the spiritual healing of the soul. This passage then, rather than confirming the concept that Christ suffered sickness so that we don't have to, in fact mentions nothing at all about physical healing.  It does tell us that Christ suffered as our example of how to suffer in a godly way.   But, it may be asked, why does Peter use the language of healing ("by his wounds you are healed") when talking about sin?

In this, Peter echoes Isaiah, who uses this same figurative language when talking about the "sin-sickness" that Israel was afflicted with and needed healing for:

Ah, sinful nation,
a people laden with iniquity,
offspring of evildoers,
children who deal corruptly!
They have forsaken the Lord,
they have despised the Holy One of Israel,
they are utterly estranged.

Why will you still be struck down?
Why will you continue to rebel?
The whole head is sick,
and the whole heart faint.
From the sole of the foot even to the head,
there is no soundness in it,
but bruises and sores
and raw wounds;
they are not pressed out or bound up
or softened with oil (Isaiah 1:4-6)

The language of Isaiah shows that sin biblically may be described as "sickness" of the human soul. Isaiah and Peter both say that Christ's death on the cross atoned for the sin that causes this soul-sickness. It brings healing to those who place their faith in Him and what He has done for them. Healing for the soul and the body are indeed joined in the ministry of Christ (as we see in His earthly healing miracles), with complete healing for body and soul found through what Christ accomplished for us by His death and resurrection.

Yet healing is ours only in part at this present time. Just as we find sin still present within us as Christians (Romans 7:15-25, 1 John 1:8), causing us always to wrestle with the flesh even as we pursue God by the Spirit He has placed in us, so also we find that our bodies are not yet fully redeemed, and that we may suffer with sickness in this life. All believers in this life, despite looking forward to the promise of the new, imperishable body (1 Corinthians 15:42), will die (Heb 9:27) as the body wears down physically (2 Cor 4:16).

Paul's teaching on redemption of the body
Referring in part to the redemption (God's complete healing) of the body, Paul writes,

For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience (Romans 8:22-25); and also,

But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you.

Since we have the same spirit of faith according to what has been written, "I believed, and so I spoke," we also believe, and so we also speak, knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence. For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal (2 Corinthians 4:7-16)

These Pauline passages refer to the bodies of believers as "jars of clay", "mortal flesh", "wasting away", and states that we believers are waiting for something we do not yet have-- the redemption of our bodies. In harmony with this teaching, we find that Paul (though extraordinary healing miracles had been accomplished through him) did not himself always walk in perfect health, nor was he always able to heal others. We know that Paul suffered with an ailment at some point in his ministry (Galatians 4:13-14). We know that at least on occasion, he did not heal either Timothy or Trophimus, partners in his ministry. But despite his physical weaknesses and that of others, Paul reminds believers that we have been "sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory (Ephesians 3:13-14)." He understood and taught that afflictions in this life are but temporary, and that we have a glorious future ahead that includes new bodies that won't suffer with infirmities nor grow old and die. He counsels us to place hope is in this future promise and does not tell anyone to claim immediate healing based on a supposed redemption right to do so.

Paul's Thorn in the Flesh and Sick Servants
Many that argue both for and against the popular healing teaching have thought that the famous "thorn in the flesh" Paul speaks about in 2 Corinthians 12:7-10, most likely refers to a physical ailment. It is possible that this is referring to a physical ailment. However, when one compares the same expression as used in various Old Testament passages (Numbers 33:55, Judges 2:3, Joshua 23:13, Ezekiel 2:6), it seems that "thorns in your sides" or "thorns in your eyes" signifies the enemies of God attacking His people from without. This seems consistent with Paul describing his "thorn in the flesh" as "a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited." Therefore, though the term "flesh" is used, we see from these OT cross references that this phrase is possibly not referring to a physical ailment, but to attacks coming from without, from enemies. So I don't think one can definitively argue from this passage that Paul's thorn was necessarily a physical illness. One does not need to make this argument, for as we noted, we see elsewhere in Scripture that Paul did indeed suffer from a physical ailment during his ministry.

Divine Health our Privilege?
Besides Paul, other New Testament saints suffered with illness:
  • Timothy (1 Tim 5:23)
  • Trophimus (2 Tim 4:20)
  • Epaphroditis (Phil 2:25-30)

What does this mean? If it is the believer's privilege and right to walk in divine health, as the faith healing message argues, why were these saints sick? It would seem these early saints somehow missed out on a blessing that was theirs to have. How can this be? Were they ignorant of their privileges? Were they unfaithful somehow, or sinning?

Examining these passages we note that these men were ministering during a period in church history when healing miracles were not infrequent. Yet in their own sicknesses, in certain instances, no miracle cures were being provided by God.

As far as the character of these servants, we find nothing to indicate these men were anything but faithful, hard workers in ministry. If anything, they probably possessed greater faith and were more mature than the average believer-- after all they were Spirit-filled leaders in ministry and the Scriptures testify to their faithfulness. It's difficult then to argue they would lack faith to believe in healing for themselves, if such a provision was available. To surmise that they were sick due to some sin in their lives is also unwarranted speculation.

Paul was privileged to receive such incredibly great revelations from God that some kind of trouble (satanic opposition to his ministry) was visited on Him by God for the purpose of keeping him humble (2 Cor 12:7). And of course, a good deal of the New Testament was written by Paul through inspiration of the Spirit. Can it be that this Paul, who through the Spirit has provided the Church with the most profound insights we have in Scripture concerning the meaning and significance of the cross of Jesus Christ, somehow missed the revelation that physical healing is ours right now through the atonement?! Would the Holy Spirit neglect to inspire Paul and other New Testament writers to teach the church how to obtain physical healing through the atonement, if such is our right and privilege? Why did Paul not counsel Timothy or Trophimus to simply believe God for their healing?

Paul did not teach that physical healing is immediately available for this life and is to be claimed from Christ's atonement; the Spirit did not lead Him to do so as no such provision exists. And we have seen that Peter also does not, in quoting Isaiah, endorse the notion that the atonement provides immediate physical healing. Echoing Isaiah, he teaches very specifically and clearly that by the stripes of Jesus we are healed of sins and transgressions that had led us astray from God, but mentions nothing at all about physical healing.

So we have seen that in the most critical passages "healing for today" advocates use to justify their teaching (Isaiah 53: 4-5, Matthew 8:16-17, 1 Peter 2:24), it is spiritual not physical healing that is being emphasized. When the Spirit gives His interpretation of the meaning of Isaiah, through Matthew and through Peter, it is twofold. We see Jesus is the promised Messiah who walked among us without beauty or majesty to attract us and who was acquainted with human grief, sickness and suffering, sufferings which He relieved, in part, through His earthly ministry. Then on the cross He bears our sin, and reconciles us to the God from whom we were separated, like sheep who in their sins had gone astray from their Shepherd. The physical healings Christ provided on earth offer a wonderful foretaste of the complete redemption we are promised. His death on the cross which takes away sin is the means by which the curse of sin in our bodies will someday be entirely removed; we'll receive new bodies that have no pain or disease in them and won't "waste away".

I appreciate very much Bob DeWaay's implications and applications from his article on this same subject. In "Physical Healing and the Atonement- Is it Always God's Will to Heal Now?," he writes,

It is clear that Matthew cited Isaiah 53:4 to show that Jesus the Messiah fulfilled this prophecy when He healed sick people during His earthly ministry. This has further implications because of the nature of Isaiah 53 and its reference to Messiah's atoning work. Yet it does not, as far as the Matthew passage itself goes, directly address the modern questions that many are trying to answer. For example, Matthew was not answering the question, "should every believer whose sins have been cleansed by the blood of Christ expect not to become sick?" Neither does he answer the question, "Should all believers who have become sick consider themselves having fallen short of the will of God for their lives through neglect, sin, or unbelief?" There is a relationship between these questions and Matthew 8:16,17 but it is an indirect one.

Because it is clear that there is promised total deliverance from disease and death through the resurrection and because our resurrection is assured because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ (a part of the atoning work of the Cross) it is clear that our healing is in the atonement. It is not clear to what extent that, because of the atonement, we can expect to experience physical healings of the illnesses that afflict, in differing degrees, all human beings. Can God promise healing to His people even in this life, without the converse being true - that those Christians who are not healed from some physical maladies are falling short of the will and plan of God for their lives?

Because the atonement of Christ is applied to sin and not primarily or directly to the various effects of sin, and because the New Testament does not indicate that the absence of sickness and weakness is to be the norm for Christians, and because of the obvious fact that all humans, including faithful Christians, have some degree of "sickness" or departure from perfect health in their bodies, the physical healing in the atonement theory as popularly understood is not true.

Healing is in the atonement in the sense that all the benefits of Christ's substitutionary death apply to all believers and will find their complete fulfillment at the return of Christ and the resurrection. It is because of the atonement that Christians have been healed, are being healed and will be healed. This does not mean that we should expect never to suffer with an illness in this life or that God has guaranteed to remove any illness that might come into one's life.

If a Christian becomes sick, he or she should faithfully and obediently ask God for healing according to the instructions of James 5:14-16. God's promise to "raise up" the sick person does not have to be absolute to be valid. We should teach the saints about this matter and have the elders of the church available to anoint the sick with oil and pray for them, with confession of sins as is appropriate. Calling upon the Lord in faith and in obedience to Scripture is clearly the right thing to do. The presence or absence of an instantaneous miracle of healing does not determine the validity of the prayer and anointing.

Cessationism vs Continuationism
But the instructions given the church DeWaay references in James 5:13-20 or Jesus' commission to the apostles in Mark 16:15-20, are also seen by some as a healing mandate that guarantees physical healing in the name and power of the Lord.

To properly interpret these passages we need to determine if miraculous gifts are for today, or if they were meant primarily to authenticate the message of Jesus and the apostles? Can miracles still happen today? Are there people with the gift of healing, or are "gifts of healings" still available to the body of Christ? These questions reflect a longstanding debate among Christians and theologians: the issue of continuationism vs. cessationism. In other words, are all the spiritual gifts, including healing, prophecy and tongues, still active in the body of Christ today or have they ceased to function because their purpose was fulfilled? Is there some middle ground? The answers to these questions affects one's understanding of these passages and are relevant to our study on healing.

What's your doctrine of suffering?
Another subject of immense relevance to our topic is suffering. The view one takes of sufferings of believers in this life affects how one approaches healing. If one's theology demands that the sign of God's blessing is earthly healing and prosperity, then the suffering produced by sickness will likely be viewed as beneath Christian privilege and/or demonic attack that must be rebuked.

Accordingly, as we continue our critique of popular healing doctrine, we will address these important, related issues. Then I will attempt to sum it all up with practical, Scriptural application. However, I think I will continue pursuing these objectives in the next article in our series.

May the Lord by His Spirit grace believers to understand this vital topic and bring us all to sound, balanced and biblical conclusions.

Below, please find articles I have found helpful as I've studied and thought about sickness, healing and how they relate to believers in Christ. Some of these are written from a cessationistic viewpoint, but not all. One need not be a cessationist to object to the popular teaching on healing.

Further Resources for Study
Physical Healing and the Atonement- Is it Always God's Will to Heal Now? by Bob DeWaay

Sickness by J.C. Ryle

Miraculous Healing by Henry Frost

Is Healing in the Atonement? by David W. Cloud (NOTE: I don't agree with Cloud's view of Calvinism, but think he presents strong evidence against the charismatic healing in the atonement doctrine and also exposes how so many of these healers could not do the healings they claimed, even for themselves).


Does God Still Heal by John MacArthur

Healing in the Atonement by Sam Harper

Does God Always Heal? by Elliot Miller(PDF file)