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Belfast's healing revival

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William Crawley | 20:29 UK time, Sunday, 22 June 2008

On today's Sunday Sequence we reported from the Elim Christian Centre, a Pentecostal Church in north Belfast that is claiming to have witnessed some remarkable examples of faith healing in the past six weeks -- from chronic fatigue syndrome and depression to serious orthopaedic injuries, brain tumours and other cancers. Even more dramatically, one Belfast teenager, Andrew Duffin, says he was dead for 16 minutes in a hospital operating theatre but was revived after his father made an international appeal for prayer. The Elim Christian Centre has cancelled all its regular services and is now holding healing meetings every night of the week at half past seven -- and those services are being streamed live on the internet. Tonight is the 50th day in a row that those healing services have been held with scores of people coming each night for prayer.

The church's pastor, Brian Madden says the church is part of an international outpouring of miraculous healing that is connected to the Florida-based revivalist Todd Bentley. Sceptics will say the reported healings can be explained naturalistically: placebo effects, psychosomatic effects, super-positive thinking, the use of music and repetitive speech to create near-hypnotic effects on a group, and, more simply, by examples of a inexplicable spontaneous remission that is already well-known in many medical conditions. Pastor Brian Madden is not persuaded by those accounts, and it is clear that the scores of people who believe they have been healed are equally unpersuaded. Instead, Brian Madden is so convinced that God passionately wants to heal people today that he was prepared to visit the Belfast City Mortuary and pray for the resurrection of a dead body. One can only imagine the look on the faces of the staff at the City Mortuary when Pastor Madden arrived to pray for one of the bodies in their facility.

Comments

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  • Comment number 1.

    Oh my FSM. It's bad enough when people want to risk their own health. But worse, as so often with religious parents, the beliefs of the parents automatically become part of the childs life. Or the childs death:

    http://www.i-am-bored.com/bored_link.cfm?link_id=31100

    http://ffrf.org/news/2008/faithexemption.php

    A fine example where the best thing to say is 'Screw religious freedom, the childs health/life comes first'. If some want to naturally select themselves into extinction, that's their right I guess. But keep that dangerous, sometimes lethal nonsense to yourself.

    Peter

  • Comment number 2.

    I listened to the programme with great interest. I found myself agreeing for the most part with Professor Nevin and with the others who raised serious questions about the whole phenomenon. The guy actually went to a morgue to raise the dead! He didn't say whether he was successful. Can you imagine the headlines the next day if he had?

    I believe that God can heal in dramatic ways, but we have no right to expect this to happen.

    Another very important point about Jesus' healings (apart from what Professor Nevin and some of the others made in the programme) is that the healing "per se" was not definitive for the person who was healed, and nor was it the most important thing that God was doing in that person's life. The pastor who holds these meetings, by contrast, seemed to be making the mistake of saying that the physical "healing" was tantamount to salvation in the fullest sense. There were cases of people healed by Jesus but who nevertheless were not transformed by a life-giving encounter with Jesus. On one occasion, for example, he healed a group of lepers, but only one of them came back to come face-to-face with their Healer to thank him. Even if these "healings" are authentic, that is no guarantee, per se, of a relationship with God. I imagine that this phenomenon, even if the healings are verified, will give rise to a lot of "band-wagoning", and also to a lot of cynical dismissal of the Christian faith when the "healing" turns out not to have been anything of the kind.

    By the way, can I ask if there have been any cases of amputees getting their limb(s) back? If that could be shown to have happened it would be pretty convincing. But I have never heard of this happening.

  • Comment number 3.

    I find the naturalistic rather than super natural explanations a lot more convincing.
    I'm not going to say that these preachers are on the same level as those exposed by James Randi in the US over the last 30 years - http://www.amazon.co.uk/Faith-Healers-James-Randi/dp/0879755350
    but it would be interesting to follow up some of these miraculous claims at a later date and see if the miracles are permanent.

    dp

  • Comment number 4.

    Galdalf: You ask about the outcome of the visit to the city mortuary. The body was not revived; but you are right to say there would be front page headlines around the world if it had been!

  • Comment number 5.

    Hmmm.

    Going to a city mortuary and praying to raise the dead to life sounds like an extremely distasteful publicity stunt.

    I'm reminded of when Jesus was tempted to test his powers for the sake of it and refused.

    Perhaps this "Pastor" should ask himself WWJD?

  • Comment number 6.

    With reference to the related blog, surely one would have reservations about the mental state of a pastor who set off for the city morgue with the express purpose of resurrecting a corpse. Did he take a change of clothes with him or was the poor guy? going to have to come out in his hospital pyjamas. You can’t doubt Brian’s self-confidence though – after all no-one has had a successful outcome for circa 2000 years and he thought he was going to achieve it in good old Belfast!

  • Comment number 7.

    Sounds like what could be termed as a Pentecostal mass “prayers for the dead”

  • Comment number 8.

    We have seen and heard it all before. Wimber, Toronto, Pensacola, Florida, and now Belfast. There was no lasting outcoming of the previous 'outpourings' and i doubt there will be this time. if you watch Bently he borders on heresy and crosses the line on many occasions. 'God if you dont come down here we are going to go up there and get you' - sounds like Babel all over again. It would appear that there is a serious lack of biblical knowledge and assurance in the Word of God in these churches and certainly a serious lack of assurance of salvation.

    could i suggest some people read 'In the Face of God' by Dr Michael Horton and an old book but one worth looking at for the history of such movements - Enthusiasm by R A Knox.

    for what it is worth here is my 'prophetic utterance' - this will appear at summer madness this summer (as did the toronto phenomena) and be accepted wholeheartedly and the local ministers will be left to pick up the pieces in the lives of their young people as always.

  • Comment number 9.

    Had a chuckle at the Benny Hill gospel tent crusades. In fairness, Benny Hill probably did a lot more for people than any of these charlatans and performance artistes.

    Will, you don't *really* think Norman made a slip of the tongue there, do you?

  • Comment number 10.

    Perhaps Iris can send along her psychologist to help with the Healing
    It just shows the depths of the fundamentalist problems in Northern Ireland when this sort of naive side show quackery is alive and well,
    God help our impressionable youth

  • Comment number 11.

    remarkableSJR - define 'fundamentalist.' There are 'fundamentals' of the Christian faith but i would not say that they mean the same as 'fundamentalist.' What we have in Floriday etc is the extreme end of the 'pentecostal/charismatic' wing of christendom. unfortunately the ignorant will lump them in with 'evangelicals' per se. Whilst i beleive God can, and does, heal people today and have seen such remarkable healings i would not give Bentley or this phenomena house room. Their arrogance is unbelievable and it would appear that 'God is at their beck and call' and far from the 'sovereign God of the universe' as depicted in Scripture.

    What is sad is that people, who should know their bible better, chase after an 'experience' that is spurious to say the least. the 'experience' will pass and what will they be left with? They will spend their lives chasing experiences because they have believed the lie that 'feelings/emotions' are a measure of 'spiritual life and authenticity.' The result will be many disillusioned people who will leave the faith and a subsequent generation who will believe anything and everything but the 'faith once delivered to the saints.'

    Toronto did nothing but split churches and many of its adherents and leaders within the CofI went off the rails completely. It had no lasting impact on the church of God - this too will pass and fade into the mists of time and some new 'move of God' will attract attention and the media.

    come on William with your theological training give us the benefit of your wisdom on this.

  • Comment number 12.

    Thanks to Norman Nevin, we have Benny Hill, the fastest miracle-man in the west. I heard the whole nonsensical thing, and actually Benny Hill could have done quite a good sketch on it, with the man in the morgue rising from the dead played by Belfast's own Jack Wright, who was the little bald guy that Benny kept patting on the head.

  • Comment number 13.

    "By the way, can I ask if there have been any cases of amputees getting their limb(s) back? If that could be shown to have happened it would be pretty convincing. But I have never heard of this happening."

    No there hasn't. Funny that...

  • Comment number 14.

    Things get stranger and stranger. have just seen tonites belfast telly about the "dead" guy in france who came round as they were about to break him up for spare parts. maybe he got hit by a stray prayer from Todd and co. Americans are more renowned for killing non-combatants by so called "friendly fire" Maybe they ae trying now to redress the balance!

  • Comment number 15.


    Whether God can or cannot heal people is neither here nor there.

    Once you get over the believing in God bit, it seems ludicrous to go on to discuss whether or not this supreme supernatural being can heal.

    However what bothers me about the whole thing is that in all these 'revival' experiences God appears to need the help of:

    (1) the Americans
    (2) some kind of six piece christian band
    (3) a series of 'special' meetings
    (4) a healer to import the phenomenon from somewhere out of town
    (5) merchandise, marketing, requests for money and
    (6) some pithy name or other, usually with the word 'fire' in it.

    Sorry guys, been there, done that, got the t-shirt and didn't see anyone healed.

    So here's the second 'prophecy' of the day. The next revival will be based in Kansas, it will be lead by a pig-tailed worship leader in a blue gingham dress and some guy without a brain.

    If it wasn't so serious, it would be funny.

  • Comment number 16.

    Wasn't going to come on again tonite but seeing as the ODCs(ordinary decent christians ) and the fundies seem to be keeping their heads below the parapets here goes.
    #15Whether God can or cannot heal people is neither here nor there.
    I would have thought it is very much here or there. If he could that would be really something. If he can't then we have the problem of distinguishing between someone who is invisible and dosn't do a wild lot and someone who dosn't exist at all!
    As to why the americans have to be involved - of course they have to be.
    Having interfered in the internal affairs of every single country in the world, and having relocated hell to Iraq, heaven is the only place left for them to sort out. At this very moment colonel ollie north (or his modern CIA equivalent) is organising the smuggling of the bumper opium crop out of afghanistan to finance an arms consignment to be smuggled into heaven. you didn't think the american govn'mt gave nasa all that money just to get to the moon!

  • Comment number 17.

    The only thing that's inexplicable is how some of these "ministers" miraculously manage to stay out of prison. Quite a few don't.

  • Comment number 18.

    Just listened to the podcast this morning and still didn't hear anything to convince me that this was anything more than the adrenalin pumped power of positive thought.
    As Carl Sagan said - "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof"
    I certainly don't think we've had that here.

  • Comment number 19.

    Now now, you hard-nosed sceptics - what about all those people who were suffering from chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, irritable bowel etc - conditions for which modern medicine has NO answer - who were touched by the power of the Lord, and made whole again?

    What's that? Psychosomatic? Burn the heretic!

    It would be nice if Norman Nevin and some of the others turned their laudable scepticism of these wackaloons on their own similarly-unsubstantiatable notions of god. At the end of the day, the reasons *anyone* believes in the "power of god" comes down to the same factors that make these poor saps in Belfast believe that they are "cured".

  • Comment number 20.

    Hi Peter:

    Don raises an interesting point. Presumably, you believe that Jesus (aka God) performed miracles like raising Lazarus from the dead, but has downed tools ever since. Is that right?

  • Comment number 21.

    "CESSATIONISM"

  • Comment number 22.

    Hi Puritan:

    Is that concentric, classical, consistent or full cessationism?


  • Comment number 23.


    Hi Brian and don

    Interesting points indeed but...

    Please read my post 15 again, I took care with what I said. The first two sentences set the scene for the rest of my comments and suggest that the issue is not whether or not God can heal; rather the question is, what is going on in these 'revivals'. You will note that I said that belief in a supreme supernatural being would sort of imply that this being could do supernatural things. Theists, remember, don't just believe in a creator, but in a sustainer of the universe, so I doubt that the odd miracle or two is going to be problematic. (technically 'atheist' doesn't mean a lack of belief in God). don you say, "if he could (heal) that would really be something". The way I look at it is, that if there is a God at all, that really would be something.

    In that sense then, whether or not God can heal really is neither here nor there and on the issue of God 'downing tools' that concept would bring an end to more than miracles.

    The critique I gave was specifically related to this particular healing event, and other similar events that have been associated with this particular section of the church. I have seen this all before, at first hand I might add, and unfortunately all the indicators point to this event simply being a repeat.

    I'm not saying these guys aren't christians, I'm not saying God can't or doesn't heal people, I'm just saying that in so much of the christian sub-culture there is often more hype than substance and the church ought to be more critical of itself. It doesn't have to be healing; it could be music, money, buildings, ecclesiastical costumes or any number of the endless list of 'must do' events which form part of the contemporary christian calendar; the point is we should always be asking ourselves what the church is for and how are we called to live. The conclusion then that I have reached after many years of contact with the christian sub-culture is that God is more concerned with our characters, with social justice, with compassion and so on. That, in my understanding is that main thrust of what the bible means when it speaks of redemption. As I have said before 'salvation' has to do with the remaking of people and the world.

    Put simply, if christians can't love their neighbours and speak to them like normal human beings then there is no point in organising meetings. Unfortunately Christians are forever communicating the idea that the only way for people to 'find God' is to wade through all of the paraphernalia we call church. But that is called trusting in church, and it is not necessarily the same thing as trusting in God.

    And Helio BTW, those comments post 19 really were quite funny, got a laugh from me anyway.



  • Comment number 24.

    Peter:

    You say: "The issue is not whether or not God can heal; rather the question is, what is going on in these 'revivals'". But you cannot dictate the terms of the debate.

    Let's forget the revivals for a moment and get back to this general question of God healing.

    You have said that god is a supernatural being and a sustainer (should that not be 'the' sustainer?) of the universe. In other words, our life is a kind of miracle. Here you are taking the word in a loose sense to mean an amazing event.

    But what about the other, more specific, meaning where it describes an event that overrules or suspends the laws of nature, e.g. rising from the dead?
    Do these miracles ever happen nowadays, or do you agree with the Puritan in some form of cessationism?

    And would it be a 'miracle' if 'born again' Christians in NI fully embraced homosexuality? Or would that be, in your view, a departure from Scripture?

    Or to take example, from a letter in the Sunday Times, to interpret the Bible's endorsement of slavery as 'a voluntary social security net'? (sounds familiar, eh?). Now, that's a real modern miracle, reinventing the meaning of an old text to render it palatable today.


  • Comment number 25.


    Hi Brian

    "But you cannot dictate the terms of the debate."

    Maybe not, but I can be clear about what I did, and what I did not respond to; and my concern about these 'revival' events is, I think, pretty clear.

    On the issue of cessationism, no I am not a cessationist in terms of christian theology. But, and this is an important but, I do not believe in showmanship miracles either and it's hard to escape the thought that this is what these events are, however sincere the leaders. Therefore it is perfectly reasonable to critique what is happening in Belfast or for that matter in Florida or wherever it is.

    Lastly, in terms of 'suspending the laws of nature', I say again, as I believe in God in the first place, you should not be particularly surprised that I believe that this God is able to control his creation.

    Remember I'm a theist, not a deist.

    Let me put it another way. Sometimes those of us who believe in God have a tendency to act as if by our faith or our prayers or whatever, we can conform God to our will. However, Christian faith is more about me being remade/conformed to his.


  • Comment number 26.

    Is Puritan a Young Earth Cessationist or an Old Earth Cessationist?

  • Comment number 27.

    "Instead, Brian Madden is so convinced that God passionately wants to heal people today that he was prepared to visit the Belfast City Mortuary and pray for the resurrection of a dead body."

    This must be some kind of rediculous joke...surely, raising the dead and so very wrong. These kind of people are ones that would believe that Jonah swallowed the whale rather than the other way round if the Bible or some 'preacher' said so!

  • Comment number 28.

    VinceBelfast
    the book of Jonah never mentions a whale - read the text - it is a common misunderstanding and probably more to do with a picture from your sunday school days than the text - many equate 'large fish' with 'whale' but the text never says 'whale.'

    Maybe some of these guys need to read their bibles a little more closely also.

    Cessationism - common in the conservative evangelical wings of most churches, even those who say they dont believe it are in practice cessassionist. Personally find it difficult to see how you can be a cessassionist and then beleive in the continuing work of the Holy Spirit in regeneration or pray for healing if the gift of healing has ceased?????

  • Comment number 29.

    VinceBelfast
    the book of Jonah never mentions a whale - read the text - it is a common misunderstanding and probably more to do with a picture from your sunday school days than the text - many equate 'large fish' with 'whale' but the text never says 'whale.'

    Maybe some of these guys need to read their bibles a little more closely also.

    Cessationism - common in the conservative evangelical wings of most churches, even those who say they dont believe it are in practice cessassionist. Personally find it difficult to see how you can be a cessassionist and then beleive in the continuing work of the Holy Spirit in regeneration or pray for healing if the gift of healing has ceased?????

    i should add that i am not ad advocate of Florida/Belfast and it is certainly no revival as there seems to be little or no gospel preached - merely anecdotal stories of 'healings' etc.

  • Comment number 30.

    Dear Skeptics
    Just out of curiosty if nothing else...

    1) You pray "God, if you are real heal Ms.X.
    2) Ms. X. against all odds, heals.
    3) In a more rational moment, you think her healing was probably a coincidence, and had nothing to do with your prayer.
    4) So you remain a skeptic.
    5) You die.
    6) You are at the pearly gates, and you are asked why you didn't believe in God
    7) Is your answer "there wasn't enough evidence!"?

    Graham Veale
    Armagh

  • Comment number 31.

    Graham,

    Which god are you talking about? after all there are 1000's. Did you know that Hindus after praying to Vishnu have been "miraculously" healed and likewise with Buddhists, Muslims, etc even atheists(not with praying of course) etc have all "beat the odds".

    What are you going to do if you pick the wrong god? Would it not be better praising the hard working medical staff who have worked so hard to try and save you?

    Why not conduct an experiment?

    Pick a devout Christian who is an amputee and make it really simple-say they have lost the tip of their little finger. Get 100's of millions of Christians to pray for the tiny tip to return. Now if cancers, tumours are getting "cured" then you would immagine that this would be very simple. This would be pretty convincing!

    regards

    DD

  • Comment number 32.


    Hi Graham

    As you have probably gathered, I am a christian. However in post 31 DylanDog has a point.

    'Answered prayers' aren't really a basis for believing. We would sort of need to know who we were praying to and what kind of a god we were praying to.

    I say this because sometimes I get the impression that religious people believe in 'having faith' rather than believing/trusting/putting faith in a god.

    There is a difference.




  • Comment number 33.

    Pick a devout Christian who is an amputee and make it really simple-say they have lost the tip of their little finger. Get 100's of millions of Christians to pray for the tiny tip to return. Now if cancers, tumours are getting "cured" then you would immagine that this would be very simple. This would be pretty convincing!

    This always reminds me of the experience my father had once. He (my father) has one leg about an inch shorter than the other and walks with a pemanent limp. While out walking one day, a stranger (who was obviously a Christian, like my father) aproached him and confidently proclaimed "you can be healed". My father looked him in the eye and stated "I don't think so" and walked on.

    However, while I do believe there are many testimonies by people that have had experiences that have baffled medical science this has not been my own. I have several chronic medical conditions (thankfully none fatal). Not one has been cured, despite extensive prayer.Some Christians would claim that this is due to a lack of faith on my part (though I would beg to differ) and I've even had one supposed Christian friend make the suggestion that my ailments are the result of sins committed by my ancestors (nonsense)

    Still, on the evening Benny Hinn visited Belfast (June 2005), I was several days post-op from surgery. Since I was in a place with quite a lot of very ill people around me I remember thinking that if Hinn was what he claimed to be then he should have been in the RVH (or any of the other hospitals in and around Belfast). For this reason I'm extremely skeptical of the claims of Hinn (and indeed Bonnke for that matter)

  • Comment number 34.

    DD and Peter
    One answered prayer would not, by itself, prove Christianity true. However, the world in which we live is, at the very least, open to interpretation, and one interpretation would be that there is a person at the foundation of it all.
    An answered prayer would lend weight to that interpretation. The critical question for the skeptic is, how much evidence do you require? And if you are searching for a Person, the evidence may not come in the form of experimental verification.

    Graham Veale
    Armagh

  • Comment number 35.

    Graham

    "An answered prayer would lend weight to that interpretation."

    It's funny...(and this is true)the other day I was thinking that I had not heard 'Blue Monday' by New Order for ages and ages-got into the car,turned it on and guess what song was playing-yep! 'Blue Monday'! Therefore Bernard Sumner is God? This is of course nonsense since any sensible person knows that Ian Curtis is God!

    Another question would be what about all the unanswered prayers? maybe you are committing the fallacy of remembering the hits and discarding all the many misses.

    "The critical question for the skeptic is, how much evidence do you require?"

    I laid out some very simple criteria in m31.

    "And if you are searching for a Person, the evidence may not come in the form of experimental verification."

    Though it would be jolly helpful!

  • Comment number 36.

    Hi Graham.

    I'm not saying that just because a prayer for healing is not answered that it's evidence God doesn't exist (I am a Christian as well by the way). My lack of healing hasn't made me angry with God (or depressed).

    Indeed, experiences such as this can teach us more about life than if everything in the garden was rosy (I often think of the book of Job)and I still enjoy life, despite everything.

    However, I've seen a couple of TV programmes on both Hinn and Bonnke. Neither came out well at all. I've also read some very usavoury allegations about Hinn as well.

    Still, I've watched a bit of the Tod Bently crusade on the Ged channel. Leaving the healing thing aside, he's actually quite a good musician/singer.

  • Comment number 37.

    BTW I should have added...good to hear from you Peter!

  • Comment number 38.

    Thanks DD.

    I did think those thoughts at the time of Hinn's visit though.

    On the tV programme that I watched about Hinn and Bonnke, the presenter followed up many of those that were supposedly healed.He uncovered many sad outcomes (some of the people hadn't been healed at all). Hinn and Bonnke were both made out to be frauds.

    The programme also claimed that the phenominen of being "slain in the spirit" (which Hinn greatly plays on) was appparently akin to a form of hypnotism.

    As a Christian I don't quite know what to make of the whole thing. I have no doubt that people are healed as a result of prayer. Those interviewed on good morning Ulster a couple of weeks ago also seemed genuine enough as well. However, neither Hinn or Bonnke do anything for me and I'm extremely skeptical of their claims, and that's despite Rev. Jim Rea (East Belfast mission) endorsing Bonnke on talkback a few years ago.

  • Comment number 39.


    Hi Graham

    On the point of answered prayers my concern is that many are not answered. What then are we to do? Does this did-prove God? For some people this is exactly what happens. And aswell as that, in my experience some christians berate themselves or others for not having enough faith, but, I think, this misses the point about faith in the first place.

    Let's take a simple example. Some christians I know pray for safety in travel. If they come home in one piece God is given the glory, if someone dies, no mention is made if the prayer. Now I know this is a simplistic stating of the facts, but in the context of healing revivals it pretty much seems to be what is going on.

    On occasion I have asked the leaders of some of these events why it is, for example, that the same people go for prayer over and over, and the answers have not been very satisfactory. One reason for this could be that many look to answered prayers as evidence of or proof of God, or worse evidence of adequate faith. This I think reduces faith and prayer to an incantation. Sometimes people seem to be looking for a validation of their ability to believe. What happens then when tragedy strikes?

    In terms of evidence for a person, the God of the Bible, we are told what that evidence is. The evidence of a universe we didn't put there, the evidence of Jesus and evidence by way of the written record of his life. I do not deny the possibility of healing in any way, I do however object to 'leaders' presenting irrational hope.

    We are it seems called to trust God. (full stop) That goes to the heart of who we believe him to be and not what prayers he will answer. For me the clearest example of this in the biblical record is the story of Hananiah, Azariah and Mishael who faced with incineration in Nebuchadnezzar’s furnace said, "If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O King. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O King, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up."

    That kind of faith takes a long time to learn, and I am not there, nor am I anywhere close. Neither however is it this kind of faith encouraged by revival events. I've been to too many to know!



  • Comment number 40.

    Hi Peter Henderson,

    Thought you might be interested in this-I was looking through the God channels on sky the other week and saw Peter Popoff flogging "miracle" water.

    This is the same Peter Popoff as here...

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q7BQKu0YP8Y

    regards

    DD

  • Comment number 41.

    the other week I saw Peter Popoff flogging "miricle" water.

    The same as Don Stewart's prayer handkerchief's DD. The handkerchiefs are apparently free but in order for them to work you must donate financially to Stewart's minstry. I think

    Rod Parsley has a similar scheme going (although in this case it's a prayer mat I think). Why Christians still fall for these scams is beyond me.

  • Comment number 42.

    Dylan
    Gosh! Coincidences happen! I never knew! But when a highly improbable event also meets a highly desired state of affairs, I think it might be reasonable to ask if there is more than coincidence at work.

    Christianity is a system of thought, and you are entitled to ask for reasons to accept that system. I'll provide you with dozens. Some have come to faith through evidence. If there is good evidence that God raised someone from the dead, I don't see how Christians performing magic tricks would help. Which is what you are (ludicrously) asking for.

    But it is also a way of life, a vital trust in a living Person. If God is real, he is met through experience. Before you accuse me of having an imaginary friend, I'll immediately point out that many atheists have had moral and aesthetic experiences, that have convinced them of the reality of Evil, Good, or Beauty.

    I think experience and evidence are both important in coming to Faith. You seem to have closed yourself off to the former, and trivialise the latter.

    Graham Veale
    Armagh

  • Comment number 43.

    Peter Morrow/Peter Henderson

    I should make it clear that I am more than skeptical about healing crusades. They strike me as media events, and unbiblical. Hinn, in particular, makes me very angry.
    I wouldn't use answered prayers as evidence for the Christian worldview. They don't seem to have much weight "on paper".But I still have to respond to the world as an individual. I have to examine my life experiences, and make sense of those. They may include Religious Experiences (like answered prayer) that make me examine life from a different perspective.
    I'll try to post later on the topic if unanswered prayer.

    Graham Veale

  • Comment number 44.

    Graham

    "But when a highly improbable event also meets a highly desired state of affairs, I think it might be reasonable to ask if there is more than coincidence at work."

    I see your point, my thoughts on New Order and the song show quite incontrovertibly that I have supernatural powers on what John Wright in the afternoon plays!-hallelujah!

    "Which is what you are (ludicrously) asking for."

    Errr no actually-you asked me what evidence would convince me(a skeptic) you said..."The critical question for the skeptic is, how much evidence do you require?"-which I provided and I made the criteria very, very simple. However the prevarication is noted.Your god Graham must really, really hate amputees-I mean if your god can cure cancers/tumours/beat the odds etc you would think that the tip of a little finger would be easy-but evidently not.

    "I think experience and evidence are both important in coming to Faith. You seem to have closed yourself off to the former, and trivialise the latter."

    I had to roll this around in my mind several times to see what you were driving at. Again you asked what evidence would convince a skeptic-I gave you simple criteria! You started this subject Graham but have now trivialised it into a form of special pleading.

    Again I believe that you are commiting the fallacy of remembering the hits and forgetting the many misses. Also don't forget that people of all faiths and none have beaten the odds.

    Perhaps you should read what Peter Morrow and Peter Henderson have to say-they do seem like two chaps with their heads screwed on.

    Regards

    DD




  • Comment number 45.


    Hi Graham

    Post 43

    That is a perfectly reasonable position to hold.


  • Comment number 46.

    Goodness Peter M you are busy this morning!

  • Comment number 47.

    :)

  • Comment number 48.

    And quick!

    :-)

  • Comment number 49.

    DD
    I just want to make sure I haven't misread you
    1) Hearing a New Order song is just as desirable, and as improbable, as an advanced cancer going into remission?
    2) The only evidence that you will accept for the existence of God is a regenerated finger tip?


    Graham Veale
    Armagh

  • Comment number 50.

    Hi Graham,

    1) So when it happens to someone else it's 'coincidence' when it happens to you it's a 'miracle'? What about most of the advanced cancers that do not go into remission? I am sure some of the unfortunate people afflicted must have been(for the sake of argument) Christian-with people praying for them-what does that say?Did god not like them? Taking into considering people of all faiths and none have went into remission.

    2) Whoa Nelly! I did not believe that this discussion was about the existence of god/s!thats a way big topic! you asked skeptics for the evidence that would convince them of 'miraculous healing'-I gave you (as a skeptic)some very simple criteria-you may not like it but there you go!

    Check out

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Efficacy_of_prayer

    and this

    http://www.mattbors.com/strips/faithhealing.gif

    Regards

    DD

  • Comment number 51.

    DD
    Post 30 was clearly about the existence of a Deity - but I didn't make that clear in subsequent posts, so I apologise for the misunderstanding.
    I'm not using healing or answered prayer as a way of proving to others that God exists. But I have to make sense of my own life, my own set of experiences. Those experiences include unanswered prayers. A lot of people (me, for instance) can't make sense of their life or the world in the absence of a Personal God.
    I'm all for a little skepticism. But we can be so skeptical we can close ourselves off from the oppotunity to learn new and important things.

    Graham Veale

  • Comment number 52.

    Graham,

    Fair enough-yep post 30 was about the existence of a deity however it was linked exclusively to healing-personally I think that you are running yourself into a cul-de-sac.

    "A lot of people (me, for instance) can't make sense of their life or the world in the absence of a Personal God. "

    fair enough.

    "I'm all for a little skepticism. But we can be so skeptical we can close ourselves off from the oppotunity to learn new and important things."

    I would say the opposite- that being skeptical has given me the opportunity to learn new and important things-to not be satisfied with authority-but then again Graham, I would say that wouldn't I!

    Regards

    DD



  • Comment number 53.

    DD
    What cul-de-sac exactly?
    Graham Veale

  • Comment number 54.

    Graham

    Have a look at what Peter Morrow has to say in this thread.

    DD

  • Comment number 55.

    DD
    He said my position was reasonable.
    GV

  • Comment number 56.

    To your post 43, however I was talking about post 39.

    Regards

    DD

  • Comment number 57.

    DD
    Post 43 clarifies post 39
    GV

  • Comment number 58.

    DD
    I don't disagree with anything Peter says
    GV

  • Comment number 59.

    Excellent! then you would agree with Peter that answered prayer is poor proof?

  • Comment number 60.

    DD
    Read post 43 again. It is one thing to establish one system of thought as more rational than another. One answered prayer would be scant evidence indeed in the face of the Problem of Evil.
    However an individual can have experiences, personal to them, that can change their perspective on life. Answered prayer could change a persons worldview, and I think that is entirely reasonable.

    Graham Veale

  • Comment number 61.

    Hi Graham,

    I am glad that you now accept that "answered" prayer is poor evidence.

    Perhaps I am onto something with the whole New Order Thing.

    Regards

    DD

  • Comment number 62.

    DD
    Try to keep up.
    Think of an ethics student studying infanticide. She examines the philosophical arguments - Peter Singer, Helga Kuhse, Johnathan Glover all present a good case for permitting infanticide. She weighs up the costs and benefits. She examines the science, researching the brain of the neo-nate. She reaches her conclusion based on the evidence she has studied.
    Then she she gives birth to a child with severe disabilities. Her personal experience may have a profound impact on her judgments about infanticide. A new kind of evidence has been encountered.
    If she lives in a society where infanticide is tolerated - and such societies may not be too far away - she then has a choice to make. Her personal experience may outweigh all the philosophy and science she has studied. Maybe it should. It will count for nothing in an ethics journal. But it could make all the difference when deciding on her future and the fate of her child.
    An answered prayer can be a profound experience. This can change a persons perspective on God. As can an unanswered prayer.

    Low probability events are not enough - at the end of the day they occur all the time, like your New Order thing. But when an event that has a low probability also meets specified criteria we may want to stop and ask questions. If you won the National Lottery, I'd say well done. If you won it three weeks in a row, I might suspect that something more than a coincidence explains your good fortune.

    To go back to my original question, I think you are saying that if someone prayed for you, and something approaching the miraculous occurred to benefit you, you would not see this as any reason for changing your mind about the existence of God. That seems odd.

    Graham Veale

  • Comment number 63.

    Graham,

    I wish you would keep up with your own argument. Your special pleading is indeed noted.

    There is no need to be so condescending about New Order-they are a great band-and the experience that I had has profundly affected me. I don't know why you can't accept that I obviously have "supernatural" powers.

    Your original question was what evidence would a skeptic like myself accept for "miracoulous" healing-I gave you some simple criteria which you did not like-I apologise but there you go.

    As I said "amazing" healing occurs all over the world-you can watch Hindu's being healed by mystics-etc. I would guess then the god you are talking about is Vishnu.

    Graham-I guess why Peter Morrow was trying to steer you away from this form or argument is the evidence can be tested, it has been and found wanting. Again I belive that you are remembering the hits and forgetting the misses.

    This debate seems to be going in circles!

    DD

  • Comment number 64.

    So you are saying that God could directly interevene in your life, and it would make not one jot of difference to your beliefs - unless he gave you a new thumb?
    There are academic arguments that support faith. There are personal experiences that bring about faith. They are two different things, but both can make faith rational. That's all I'm saying.

    GV

  • Comment number 65.

    No Graham!

    Again you asked what criteria a skeptic would accept for "miraculous" healing and I gave you my simple criteria!

    I wonder which god you are talking about-in my experience it tends to change from continent to continent and from era to era.

    I did not think that this was a debate about "faith" more about your claims about "miraculous" healing. All studies into the power of prayer have been inconclusive to say the least-indeed some have shown it to be damaging(see the link by Peter Klaver in post 1). If you have actual evidence to the contrary please show it-preferably to The Lancet or the New England Review of Medicine.

    DD

  • Comment number 66.

    Read post 30
    I never asked about criteria for believing a miracle. The answer to the prayer was simply against the odds. The prayer was not to any God in particular. The prayer asked God to show he is real.

    I asked the question - should a skeptic change their mind about God in such circumstances? I did not ask if they should sign up to a particular religion.

    Post 34 also made it clear that they would have to consider the totality of their life experience when deciding if they should change their mind.

    Finally, post 30 made it clear I was just curious. I wasn't advancing an argument for the existence of God. I wanted to know just how closed minded skeptics were.

    Graham Veale

  • Comment number 67.

    Graham

    Here we go going round and round again!

    I know you did not like the very simple criteria I laid out and it is evidently obvious that you do not have any actual evidence to back up your position except for special pleading and fallacious arguments.

    Close-minded skeptics!?:-) now that is a contradiction in terms! Indeed Graham the only person who has shown themselves to be close-minded on this thread has been you. I remind you again that is was you who would not accept my incontrovertible evidence re: New Order.

    I just wanted to know how gullible/close-minded some theists are.

    Kind Regards

    DD

  • Comment number 68.

    DD
    1) On the issue of unanswered prayer note the difference between never answering requests, and seldom answering requests. Lets put this in terms you might understand. Lots of children wrote to Jim'll Fix It. Are you old enough to remember Jim'll fix it? I doubt it. Jimmy Saville had a TV show that gave children some exceptional ambition they had outlined in a letter. For example you might want to work in a chocolate factory for a day. Only a small percentage made it on to the programme. Now lets imagine you were a small boy in the early 1980s and you wanted Jim to take you to a special school were people can find out what good music sounds like. You start to write your letter. You are full of hope that you will develop a taste for something that sounds like music. But then your older friend explains you are committing a fallacy. He doesn’t really know what that word means, but he knows it makes him sound very clever and learned. You want to know your mistake. He points out that thousands of letters to Jim go unanswered. Therefore Jim never really fixes it for everyone. Its all a big hoax. So you don’t write the letter. You never do find out what good music sounds like. Shame.
    2) Again in terms you might understand. Let’s imagine Nicola bought me a car last year. The registration plate was SCZ 8180. Wow. The odds against that must have been millions to one. Think of all the different numbers and letters that could have been on that plate. And my grandmother is 81 years old. And my Grandfather is 80. I tell her it must be a miracle. She calls me an idiot and explains in really short sentences why I am an idiot.
    This year she buys me a new car. The plate reads GMVNV 99. Those are my initials and her initials. 1999 was the year of our marriage. I am about to thank her for the personalised registration plate when I remember last years experience. Coincidences happen all the time. Sure, the probability of this coincidence is reduced if someone meant for my car to have that licence plate. But I know what a fallacy is. Or at least I remember reading the word in a very impressive post. So I don’t thank Nicola for her thoughtful gift. I don’t even ask her if it might be more than a coincidence. She now has proof that I am an ungrateful idiot.
    3) Now lets use some academic language. Alister Hardy collected data on 3000 Religious Experiences over 8 years. His findings cohere with many other studies from William James to those listed in Michael Argyles "Psychology and Religion". That’s a book by the way. It is a little bit like wikipedia, but it is written on paper, and takes a bit longer to read, and this one was written by an expert. Sometimes clever people conceal information in books.
    Anyway, all these very clever people have compiled information on what Religious Experiences are like. There are those where cognitive processes occur with feelings of awe, love, timelessness or peace. There are feelings of oneness. They can be persistent or changing. They can be private or communal. Hardy lists four aspects of Religious Experience. 1. Experience of Transcendental Reality. 2. Personalisation. There is often the need to develop an I Thou relationship with what has been experienced. 3. Prayer. There is often a need or desire to communicate with what has been experienced. 4. Finally Experimental Faith. The life of the individual is changed by the experience. These findings are cross cultural and persistent.
    Here is the important part. Frequently there are trigger situations for Religious Experiences. These include the birth of a child, an experience of great beauty or an answered prayer.
    Now some of the people who study these things are quite bright. They realised that different Religions believe conflicting doctrines about God. Imagine. So they thought to themselves, "This data cant prove any one Religion to be true. But maybe it is evidence of something Transcendent and personal." Others thought, "Maybe we should interpret experience through our worldviews. The experiences of life can be interpreted religiously. A longing for joy can point to the means by which it can be obtained. Or particular events can be taken as signs of Providence. As long as our system of belief remains open to rational and moral critique, such interpretations are not acts of blind faith". Aren't these religious academics so closed minded? Imagine researching the experiences of different rilgions than your own, and trying to reach a coherent conclusion!
    4) There is a difference between a miracle (a violation of a law of nature) and a special act of providence (highly improbable, but within the laws of nature). A miracle can be identified when there is a non-repeatable violation of a law of nature, in a significant religio-historical context. New Order's "music" doesn’t exactly fit. If there is a high probability that the evidence for a miracle would be the same if the miracle had NOT occurred, then we can safely conclude that there was no miracle. If there is a very low probability that the evidence would be present UNLESS there had been a miracle, we should be open to the possibility that a miracle has occurred. This is especially so when there are no naturalistic hypotheses that would raise the probability for the evidence being present. If the evidence could be accounted for by a simple and coherent supernatural hypothesis, then you have evidence for a miracle. But you should try getting your idea about regenerated fingers into an academic journal like Religious Studies. I’m sure they would find it much more rigorous than all this talk about probability theory.
    5) It is not a dogma of the Christian Faith that if lots of people tell God what to do, he must obey.
    6) You would not even let an answer to prayer count as evidence for a Religious Worldview. You dismiss the idea of the miraculous with frivolous and flippant arguments. You are close-minded. Or perhaps you have a deep personal anger towards God or Religion for justifiable reasons. I can’t see many other options. Unless you are a student. That would account for it.
    7) If you are going to hurl insults at posters like the Puritan, please have the courage and the courtesy to attach your real name. My apologies for being so blunt, but I felt it was more honest to express myself in writing to you directly, rather than clicking on the complaint option.


    Graham Veale
    Armagh

  • Comment number 69.

    Graham,

    You are taking this rather personally-if you think I have been insulting to you-If I have come across as "flippant"-I aplogise. No offence meant.

    I am sorry but your argument still sounds like special pleading and I know you do not like my New Order example-but is has happened to me twice with the same song!

    If you feel that that religious experience works for you(and for that matter prayer)-fine!I know people have religious experiences and they can positive effects. However I was more interested in your claims about answered prayer in relation to "miraculous" healing. I simply gave you some simple criteria in which to measure "special" healing. This area has been studied and the available evidence collated and the power of prayer was found to have absolutely no effect.

    See MANTRA (Monitoring and Actualisation of Noetic Training)

    And Mantra II

    And most recently the 2006 study by Herbert Benson "Study of Therapeutic Effects of Intercessory Prayer" (STEP)



    As for point 6

    I simply don't see any *actual* evidence for prayer working(see above). My views on "miracles" can be summed up by David Hume. I would say that I am open minded but not so open that my brain falls out. I do not feel any anger towards your god or any of the gods as I believe they are man-made constructs therefore it is waste of time being "angry". I do not have a problem with religion as such, the majority of religious people I have met have been great! and I am proud to count them as being my friends and family-what I do have a problem with is with fundamentalists eg., Biblical Creationists trying to get their crap taught as "science" to our kids. I am afraid that I am no longer a student but do have a "student" sense of humour ie., Monty Python, Peter Cook, Chris Morris(Brass Eye), Bill Hicks, Joan Rivers , Dick Emery/The Carry On films etc

    7) Perhaps Puritan would wind their neck in a bit and not call me "a sodomite living in sin"!?and all the burning in Hell stuff. Perhaps Puritan would be willing to engage in civil/rational discussion? Maybe you could have a word with them? Maybe if they grew up then I would not be so "studenty"?

    I would attach my own name but Dylan Dog is a Nom-de-plume that I have been using for ages. I am glad that you have addressed me directly on what you see as me being insulting-I respect you for it(even though I may not agree)Because if someone uses the complain button then you don't know what the problem is!

    I can assure you Graham that I am not a bad ol' sausage in real life-sometimes one comes across differently in the written word. Indeed some of the posters here have met up for dinner(from whatever persuasion) and we have had a jolly time! maybe if we do it again you may want to come along and maybe bring Nicola?

    DD
    Harvey Wilson(real name)
    Newtownabbey

  • Comment number 70.

    Harvey
    Sorry. I was trying to be jokey in points 1-5, and probably should have made point 7 elsewhere. I've been a bit flippant myself in our debate.
    When I read the whole post again, adding point 7 made it look as if I was grouping your discussion with me on miracles with the comments you made to Puritan.I'll think more carefully when writing late at night. Nothing you said offended me, and I didn't mean you were a flippant person. So don't be afraid to hit my ideas hard, I took everything you said in good fun, and most of my post was written in the same Spirit.

    Puritan should use his own name, and I don't understand him at all. I just felt, as an onlooker, the comments were getting a bit out of control.

    Graham Veale

  • Comment number 71.

    DD
    I've known skeptics who have asked for prayer in moments of crisis, had the prayers "answered", and then quickly slip back into skepticism. There just seems to be something wrong with not even asking yourself questions in these circumstances. Just like Christians ask questions when prayers are not answered.

    Unlike Russell Stannard, I don't think that any statistical evidence can be given that prayer is effective. You can imagine the text "Pray to your Father who is unseen, and the probability that He will hear you will increase by 12.5% in absolute terms."

    And like I've said, there is something unbiblical about using miracles to prove Christianity is true. They were used to teach in Scripture, or to bring about a change in attitude. The very concept of a miracle implies that they should be rare, and not available on demand.

    Once again, I've taken absolutely no offence at anything you have said to me in this thread, and I've been enjoying the exchanges. I hope I didn't say anything that offended you. Maybe I went too far in mocking New Order? If ever there was an example of blind faith, it's your judgment that their music sounds good.

    Graham Veale

  • Comment number 72.

    It was said earlier that if a person had been raised from the dead at the morgue it would be front page news all round the world. Well at the time of writing there has been at least 32 recorded testimonies of people being raised from the dead since April this year.

    Of course it all comes down to what you believe. If someone comes to you to offer to pray for you and you turn it down and say you won't be healed, then you won't. It takes faith to accept healing. There's plenty of people who don't want to be healed.

    Only today was a church BANNED by the ASA from claiming that people can be healed in their meetings. Apparently they were concerned people wouldn't visit their doctor. What about those who have been told their condition is incurable?

    I believe that signs and wonders are increasing and that people in all nations will become increasingly polarised in their views.

  • Comment number 73.

    ive been reading through all the comments and seeing what people have said! i find it most intresting of how we all can sit in judgement of what god is doing. choosing to single out pastor brain todd bentley or anyother people that god chooses to use. the bible says" that there is power in the blood that jesus shead on the cross" power! to heal the sick raise the dead and for great miracles.....when things go wrong in our lives we cry out and ask god why! or if someone dies we blame god so why is it when god heals people we judge what god is doing?????????
    its not man who does the miracles its god through his holy spirit!when we get sick we go to the doctors we put our faith in the doctor to give us the right medication to make us better! consider this.....god give the doctors the ability to do there job to make us bettter therefor is it so hard to belive that if we exercise our faith in god that he can heal us! the bible says "that god is our healer" and in faith through the blood of jesus we can be healed!
    god is pouring out his spirit out in a mighty way on the earth today we will see many more healings and miracles come to pass! i challenge anyone who thinks or feels that this is not god to go along to the elim christian centre see what god is doing for themselves meet pastor brain madden the man who god has chosen to use as he has many others round the world......go with an open mind!
    i belive that we are only seeing a small part of what god is doing and that we are entering a time when god will do greater things all over the earth for his glory and to see his kingdom come!!!!!!
    we can sit and judge what god is doing or we can choose to belive it!consider this if you will the bible says in john 3v16 " for god so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whoever belives on him shall not perish but have everlasting life" wow! could you give up your life or that of your children to save the world? god did for us!
    "god so loved the world" wow! god loves us as we are! he sees our hurt illness all of the things that make us who we are! freely he stands with out strecthed hands saying come onto me! he gives us the choice!
    when jesus walked the earth and we take time to look at his life many times we see him with the sick!
    the man that his friends lowered through the roof of the house jesus commanded him to "take up his bed and walk" he did so with faith in god and was healed the woman who pushed through the crowd and touched the heam of his (jesus) garment jesus stopped and asked "who touched him" again this woman was healed just to name a few. also god used normal people to work through to heal the sick inthe book of acts3v1-10 here we read about peter and john going to the temple to pray.....when they reached the gate which was called"beautiful" they met a lame man form birth.. he asked them for alms (money) peter and john looked at him and peter said to the mane to look at him peter said "silver and gold have i none but such as i have i have i give thee IN THE NAME OF JESUS CHRIST OF NAZARETH RISE UP AND WALK" SO HE DID HE WENT WALKING AND LEAPING AND PRAISING GOD through faith and obeying the spoken word of god this man was healed!!!!
    gods heart is of love mercy compassion faithfulness hope love joy peace forgiveness to the point he gave his son for us! god so much wants to touch heal bless our lives and so much more if we would only give him the chance..........its all up to you!
    go and see what god does! its my prayer today that god would open the hearts of people that they could see just what he has to offer that you would give god a chance to touch heal and bless your lives greatly! who am i? i am someone whos live has been touched and changed and i know god has done many great things for me and that he will for you if you give him that chance! may god richly bless you your family and friends todays and always amen.

  • Comment number 74.

    Are you hanging around Willie, or is this a one-off comment?

  • Comment number 75.

    It's just that the Amen seemed to have a note of finality.

  • Comment number 76.


    williekid

    We can't really complain if the atheists on here make judgments about what God does or does not do, they don't believe in him.

    I am a Christian tho' and to get a summary of my views you should read posts 15, 23, 25 again.

    Ill say one more thing at this point. You cite the lives of Jesus, Peter and John and here's the thing which really gets me, Jesus, Peter and John managed to get along very well without the vaudeville style show, no singing, no band, no lights, no gold dust, no stage show and no monetary collection. Now when we do away with all this stuff I'll start listening again.

  • Comment number 77.


    Williekid,

    The bible says "By their fruits you shall know them." (Only it says it in Greek.) This so-called "revival" did not bear any fruit at all, did it? I see no doctors reports verifying physical healings. I see that the Elim Christian Centre had a split afterwards which lost it most of its original members. I see that half those people are now in other churches and have only negative things to say about the place.

    You have blinders on, friend.


  • Comment number 78.


    (DISCLAIMER: I led worship there from 1999 - 2003. Yes, I didn't leave on good terms. Yes, I know the church intimately, Pastor Brian and all of its characters from that period, many of whom have now left for a wide variety of reasons. No, I won't be going back...)


  • Comment number 79.


    John (post 78)

    I have to say I wasn't expecting that, but it does help me make a bit of sense of the Vineyard worship comment you made on the baptism thread. NI is a pretty small place and while I don't know the church mentioned on this thread I am familiar with the wider 'New Church' scene here having been a member of one once. It's about 15 or so years ago now, but I distinctly remember the worship leader winking at me one morning and then changing key.... it one of the reasons I don't do hype anyone.

    Having said that my other memories are a whole lot better.

  • Comment number 80.

    Have to say, I'm pretty gobsmacked too. In a nice sort of "that makes sense of a lot of things" way.

  • Comment number 81.

    PM
    I'm hoping the winking worship leader wasn't John Wright, or things are gonna get kind of awkward...(:

  • Comment number 82.


    Haha! I've lived my share of NI evangelicalism. (As has Crawley, actually.) Sister at Whitewell, parents and friends at PCI and in the various theological colleges, friends at CFC where I played keys for years. So, I guess I'm as qualified as anyone else on here to criticize it! That said, although my views have changed a lot, I'm still intensely fond of charismatic churches, and I love a good theological Sunday roast.


  • Comment number 83.


    John

    I said, "Having said that my other memories are a whole lot better."

    You said, "I'm still intensely fond of charismatic churches"

    Similar sentiments it would seem, and although we have both shifted in one way or another, a curious thing, don't you think?

  • Comment number 84.

    hi people
    its me williekid again! ive been reading through the comments that you all have wrote! peter if you feel that my comments were judging people i am sorry that was never my intention. though i will say that i stand firm in my belief! as for what you have said about jesus peter and john and no bands singing lights or goldust it is not my place to say how when or why god chooses to work. many places through gods word the bible states to make a joyful noise unto the lord,to come before his presence with singing, enter his courts with praise!it aslo says"to praise him with trumpet,harp etc. king david danced in front of the ark of the covenent. its not about any show its about worshiping my lord and saviour. also there are many times to that in the quiet place that god moves too.
    john i have took time to pray and think over all you have said! as a christian and a part of gods family i have been through many things...i understand waht you have said and i feel for you. from my experiences in church life i have found that we are a family! we dont always agree on everything. even sometimes we can get it wrong! (this statement is not realted to any church )we can and do change. i know this john im not perfect by any maens and i do get it wrong at times! i live my life with gods help from day to day as i move towards the mark to be like him!
    you talked about the "revival" and about it not bearing fruit! my anwser to you would be this.....like a pear tree seed i placed in the ground to grow i waited to see it sprout up! a year went by then another and another in fact it took many years for this seed to grow into the pear tree i now have that bears me fresh pears. sometimes when god touches lives it takes time for the fruit to appear. i belive that the fruit will appear! like peter in the bible many times i can get it wrong as peter did. think of it this way one of jesus 12 disciples who was with jesus when he walked the earth and he denied jesus himself. he made mistakes as we can as human beings jesus forgive peter and look at the fruit that god produced there it took time as with any seed. as it grows it will bear fruit. i pray for gods blessings be with you.

  • Comment number 85.


    Williekid

    I didn't think you were judging others at all.

    Maybe I should explain a bit more. It's not particularly dancing, or music, or lights or even the gold dust, well actually it is the gold dust (!) which bothers me, it's the show business which surrounds it all and inspite of what you say there is an awful lot of it. And in a sense it is your place and mine to be clear about how God chooses to work because he has already told us how he works, and it sure ain't gold dust and it doesn't need some travelling 'super apostle' to bring his presence from California or wherever and dispense it from a stage. Sorry, but when people 'feel the presence of God' just because a worship leader changes key on his guitar I start loosing interest.

    Maybe if we (Christians in general) had a reputation for loving our enemies and forgiving people who hate us instead of falling over we'd be in better shape.

  • Comment number 86.

    A bit of understanding of the psychology of mass hysteria wouldn't go amiss either, chaps.

  • Comment number 87.



    Helio

    "A bit of understanding of the psychology of mass hysteria wouldn't go amiss either"

    You're not by any chance Derren Brown are you? :-)

    I do agree though, if Christianity only 'works' when you're bopping about on a Sunday night then it's a bit of a failure.

  • Comment number 88.

    Er, yes, Peter, and it's a failure in many other ways too. Not that I dislike bopping, but you must admit, Graham Kendrick *really* sucks big time. I like my Christianity unsullied by ridiculous superstitions such as "god" and "resurrection" and "miracles".

  • Comment number 89.


    Helio, you're Derren Brown, good grief, who'd have thought!

    It all fits. Used to be a Christian. Now an atheist. Began to question his supposed circular thinking... holy moly!

  • Comment number 90.

    Peter, close - Paul Daniels, actually ;-)

  • Comment number 91.


    Helio, I agree with what you say. (It's been a while since Graham Kendrick was writing the modern version of Kum ba Yah though.)


  • Comment number 92.

    hi peter
    williekid again! i understand what you are saying about how god chooses to work! though the bible says "that god moves in mysterious ways his wonders to preform! again god will work in many different ways sometimes we wont understand how or why god works the way he does.....thats what makes god who he is! look around you from the landscape to houses cars planes etc god over time gave man wisdom to men and women to know how to make all these things and to make them work. not all have that wisdom! though what god does is looks at our hearts and what we need. do we go to church to look to man or to praise our god? for me i go to worship my lord and saviour! how god chooses to move is up to him and only him i have no place to judge how he chooses move. mircales happen! as a christian i thank god for it and keep going on.
    also i agree as christians we should love one another and we should show that love to all! im human as we all are though i try with gods help to show gods love to all.......after all god commands us to love one another! the bible also says" that we may slip and fall and god will uphold us" we are not perfect...as we live our lives to be like our heavenly father the changes will become more evedent in our lives!
    god bless you

  • Comment number 93.

    Willie, "God moves in mysterious ways" is not from the Bible - it's a misquote of a William Cowper hymn. It's remarkable, is it not, that so many people think the Holy Spirit is telling them something (e.g. McConnell & his succession), and it subsequently turns out that it was just their imagination! Startling, indeed. Probably better to base decisions on rational factors, rather than notions that can be so fickle and poorly-provenanced.

  • Comment number 94.


    williekid

    Heliopolitan is right, the line is a corruption of one of Cowper's hymns/poems and relates to his continued faith in God inspite of the circumstances of his life, it bears the title 'Light Shining out of Darkness'. This was a common theme of his writing, unsurprising given his melancholy and attempted suicides.

    Might be worth a read sometime, just search for 'William Cowper Onley Hymns' as a starting point. One of my favourite extracts from 'The Contrite Heart' is:

    "Thy saints are comforted, I know,
    And love thy house of prayer;
    I therefore go where others go,
    But find no comfort there."

    It's a bit more honest than some of the other stuff we sing.

    Helio is right about all this 'God told me' stuff as well. God has already had the final say, his name is Jesus.

    And just so you understand where I'm coming from, I've stood with my hands in the air and the tears rolling down my face just as I've done the bopping about stuff, but the great thing about God is that we can find him in the darkness as much as we can find him in church, maybe more.

  • Comment number 95.

    I have something of a soft spot for Cowper's hymns, I have to say. Peter, you're nearly there - maybe you need to learn to let go of god altogether to really find him?

    [I'm not saying go all PoMo like Pete Rollins or anything "transformative" or "emergent" like that, but I think a lot of Christians would find themselves in a much better place when they finally acknowledge what they probably know to be true deep down.]

  • Comment number 96.

    Helio, you evil atheist! Stop trying to turn petermorrow away from the FSM! Why do you feel the need to destroy what is good about a man like petermorrow? He's a nice bloke. He deserves to be protected against immoral FSMless evil preachers like you.

    Don't listen to him petermorrow, listen to Him instead. Don't lose the warm embrace of His noodly appendages. Who needs intelligence and rational reason when you have faith in the FSM.

  • Comment number 97.


    "maybe you need to learn to let go of god altogether to really find him?"

    Ach Helio, I heard that years ago, in church, it's baloney!

  • Comment number 98.

    Baloney, spaghetti - sheesh!

    Peters, you have much to learn, Grasshoppers! :-)

    [Stay out of cupboards & away from ropes, lads]

  • Comment number 99.


    "Stay out of cupboards & away from ropes, lads"

    How true, you speak wisely, friend of Atum.

    And remember, a wolf in sheep's clothing is no white elephant.

  • Comment number 100.

    Oh noes! - now I don't know whether you got my amusing reference and are replying with something even cleverer and wittier, or if it sailed over your head and you think I'm in Python mode and are following suit. And now I've gone and blown it, and you can claim the former with no conceivable loss of face, and I'll have to slink back into the shadows and.. and... should I click Post Comment or not? What to do?! What to do?!

    Aw heck - Post Comment it is then...

 

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