Monday, June 28, 2010

McLaren, on Signs and Wonders.

Brian has a question and section answer on his blog, which at time can be quite insightful. A Vineyard Church planter who is currently studying asked the question::

With the emerging churches emphases on the life and ministry of Jesus (which I wholeheartedly agree with), do they pray for the sick and see folks healed? Cast out demons? Or receive words of knowledge? (Words of knowledge being defined as knowing something about someone that is humanly impossible – similar to how Jesus knew that the Samaritan Women had five husbands in John 4)....
McLaren's response is quite insightful and for me a bit of a pointer especially in regards to my own reading!

1. Of course Christians of all types - including those in emerging churches - pray for the sick and exercise spiritual gifts. Do they see folks healed? I'm sure there are many positive testimonies to this effect. But in my experience in emerging churches, the ratio of prayers made to dramatic healings received is not high. This is equally true in the charismatic, Pentecostal, Vineyard, and related churches I've been involved with. I've never seen a church where the "batting average" on healings is high, although I've seen churches that claimed it was high. In "emerging churches" (a category I don't like to use), I think people would try to be honest about the unanswered prayers for healing and I think they'd be careful not to exaggerate the frequency of dramatic answers to prayers for healing.
2. On the demonic, I think there would be a variety of belief and practice, just as there is across the Christian community at large. Speaking personally, the writer who has stimulated my thinking most on this subject is Walter Wink. I highly recommend his book "The Powers that Be."
3. One of the shifts that I think is widely seen in emerging churches is the shift from the modernist natural-supernatural dichotomy. I've written about this in a few of my books, especially The Story We Find Ourselves In. I think a lot of 20th century Pentecostalism was an attempt to redress an imbalance within this dualistic paradigm, while remaining within it. The challenge many of us face is to practice a life in the Spirit beyond that dualism, where the Spirit is inherent to what we used to call "natural," and not simply relegated to a separate supernatural category. (I think of the Spirit of God hovering over the primal waters in Genesis 1 ... ) In other words, in God's universe, everything is supernatural, upheld by God's grace.
 A couple of things resonate.
::I would agree with the "Average batting", statement. I'd also add I've also seen the healing with Non-Christians!
::I liked his last line "In other words, in God's universe, everything is supernatural, upheld by God's grace."
::I think the whole "expectation" of healing with a crowd is not quite right. Its been shown many times that like minded people who have an exception for the 'supernatural' to happen it will happen. Even if it didn't. Just look at the Clairvoyant television shows.  I have a greater conviction of these things outside of the church for been genuine.