Why Won’t Faith Healers Heal Amputees?

I wanted to respond to this post,

Christian Debunkers

It’s aimed at a tweet by Dan Phillips that was critical of charismatic claims of modern-day miracles.  I hold both men in high regards, but in this instance, I believe Steve is misdirecting his fire.

Let me ponder his points against Dan.

i) When he demands documentation, what has he actually read on modern miracles?

Knowing Dan like I do, I would imagine he has read much. He has to have had, or his tweet is pointless. I too have read many accounts of modern miracles. I find them to be mostly hearsay and apocryphal. More to the point, however: if modern day faith healers are genuinely healing people like they claim, then documentation would be easy to confirm. We would know someone with a serious spinal cord injury and atrophied limbs who would be completely restored. Individuals like that would be identifiable and people would testify as to their testimony. None ever come forth.

ii) We don’t have 5 recorded resurrections per year in the book of Acts. In fact, we don’t have 5 recorded resurrections in the entire the book of Acts–roughly 30 years.

That’s exactly the point. Miracles on that level done by men who were supernaturally gifted to perform them, were rare. That is unlike the claim of modern charismatics who insist they are happening all the time all over the world.

iii) Restoring someone to life is attributed to only two apostles: Peter (Acts 9:37-40) and Paul (Acts 20:9-10). And I don’t know if they’d count was “resurrections” rather than miraculous. resuscitations. Dorcus was only dead for a few hours, and Eutychus was only dead for a few minutes. That’s not like Lazarus, who was dead for four days (Jn 11:39).

Not sure what Steve means here. Certainly he isn’t suggesting those individuals were NOT dead. Or maybe mostly dead?

iv) Miracles are attributed to Stephen (6:8), yet there’s no record of his raising someone from the dead. Yet if he had, we’d expect Luke to record that, inasmuch as Luke recorded the cases involving Peter and Paul. Same thing with the other apostles. So if Dan is suggesting that resurrecting someone is a litmus test for continuationism, hasn’t he disqualified most of the apostles?

But Stephen did miracles. Raising the dead was only one of many abilities that Christ invested into His apostles, and by extension, those Christians associated by the apostles after the apostles laid hands on them. Their ability to do any miracle, particularly heal the lame and incurably sick, is suggested by the NT documents, especially when Christ sent the 12 out among the people in Matthew 10.

v) How does Dan think Peter and Paul healed people? Does he think God delegated healing powers to them, so that they could heal anyone at will? Or did God retain sovereign discretion over the outcome?

I can’t speak for Dan, but I figure we are pretty like-minded in this area, so I’ll go ahead and answer for him. Peter and Paul healed people because Jesus delegated to His apostles such abilities. See again Matthew 10. So yes, they could heal anyone at will, and did so on a number of occasions in Acts.

vi) How is Dan’s taunt different than asking, “Why won’t God heal amputees”? Pentecostalism is a target-rich environment. However, it concerns me when Dan seems to adopt the same debunking mentality as knee-jerk skeptics like Paul Kurtz, James Randi, and Martin Gardner. 

Seriously? Dan’s “taunt” is different in that Dan believes in the God of Scripture and the holy testimony of written Scripture. He is not attempting to disprove God’s existence, nor His ability to perform miracles ala’ Randi and other anti-theist in their war against God.

Dan is merely challenging the assertion of modern continuationists who insist the spiritual gifts of the NT era, especially miraculous healing by the hands of gifted individuals, continue today in the 21st century at the same level of quantity and quality that were performed by Jesus and His immediate followers.

The reality, however, is that they are not.  I don’t have to read Craig Keener’s book on the subject or any of the others listed in the comments under Steve’s original post. IF a person with the gift of healing laid hands on an amputee, that amputee should have his or her missing limbs fully restored. Family and friends who knew the person before his or her healing could easily document with pictures and personal testimony that person had no right arm for 10 years after an automobile accident and such-and-such Christian with the gift of healing laid hands on the person and the arm was fully restored and usable without physical therapy.

Rather than asking “why won’t God heal amputees?” a better question should be asked, “Why won’t people with the gift of healing heal amputees?” Both Dan and I believe God can heal amputees if He so chose to do so. The point of contention is with individuals who claim they can if they chose to do so and say they do in spite of the overwhelming evidence against them.

7 thoughts on “Why Won’t Faith Healers Heal Amputees?

  1. It would be helpful if you posted the tweet. I’d settle for any resurrection. In fact, I’d settle for far less. But charismatics can’t show anything related to healing other than somebody prays for healing and some small percentage of the time, people are healed.

  2. I pray that more clear and Biblical thinking in responding to Charismatics like this post would help bring many more Charismatics to a right view of things

  3. It sure seems to me that Steve really missed the whole thrust of the challenge. My memory is not what it normally is right now, but I believe that Hank Hannegraaf has a standing cash reward for any sort of documented resurrection or healing that is verified with photos/medical records and performed by a person claiming to have the spiritual gift of healing. I believe the reward has been standing quite some time.

    As for the “modern miracles” books, I have glanced at some of them and they are a defense of miracles in general, not the specific claims of faith healers. I am aware of at least 1 miraculous healing, complete with time-stamped x-ray verification performed at a hospital. That kind of stuff isn’t THAT hard to find, but the difference was that it was an unmediated healing in response to prayer. Those sorts of things are not normal, but that was God answering prayer in rather “pyrotechnic” ways.

    I don’t have a single problem with the supernatural, including miraculous healings. I do have a problem with people thinking that they have the same ability to heal, directly imparted from Christ, that the 12 and the 70 had. That simply is not the case. Reinhard Bonnke claims to have resurrected at least a thousand people…and yet not one of them can be found, let alone verified.

  4. Pingback: Articles on Cessationism and Contiuationism | hipandthigh

  5. Pingback: Articles on Cessationism, Continuationism, and Spiritual Gifts | hipandthigh

  6. This is a great conversation with atheist/humanist chaplain Bart Campolo (Tony Campolo’s son) and Warren Cole Smith (Oct. 9 podcast). Bart says he would have believed Christianity true if someone could grow back the limb of an amputee in front of him. Bart left the Christian faith over something that is not a core doctrine of the Christian faith (as I’m sure many others are).


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