As the “Healing Jesus Crusade” ended (see last post), the news of its success was all over town. Many in town confirmed the pastor’s account of the many healings. As we entered restaurants and listened to people on the street, the news was about the dumb woman healed and the hunchback man restored. In fact, the market place was packed with people going to see for themselves those who had been healed.
What are we to make of this? My students were impressed with the healings that took place. Like the pastor, they could not articulate the actual gospel that they heard at the crusade. It was their turn to question me, asking, “Are you denying the healings?
The question is not whether I accept or deny the healings. Let us accept the fact that they took place. The critical thing is what is missing in this development of events. The omission of the word of the cross that saves is troubling. What is remembered from the crusade is the signs performed and not the message preached; the emphasis is on the greatness of the preacher and not the great Lord who saves. What is missing is that healings are a testimony to the gospel message, not a testimony to the great success of the preacher. People came not to hear the good news of the gospel but to see and experience signs and wonders.
Additionally, this whole experience raised many critical questions in my mind. What is the place of crusades in the advancement of the gospel in Africa? Why are most crusades promoted on the theme of healing and not on the theme of deliverance from the power of sin through the power of the cross? I can just imagine banners saying, “Jesus Saves from Sin Crusade.” How many would show up to hear? Should the supposed evangelists invite people to come for healing? Would that not be putting God, Jesus and the Spirit to the test? Is there not a danger of leading people to believe that God and the Holy Spirit and Jesus jump and act at our command? Do we have a biblical mandate to do that? What is the testimony of those healed? It appears hidden. In the above case, those healed were there to be watched but they themselves were not testifying to what God has done or to the gospel that has saved from sin. All they can show is the absence of their sickness. All they can say is that the preacher healed them. What is the place of signs and wonders (healings) in the preaching of the gospel? How has the African church grown as a result of this event? Is the Church in Africa healthier as a result?
The church does not need more healings in order to be prepared for the return of Christ. When he returns, he will not be looking for healings but for faith.
My response to this? More questions and a commitment to theological training, which will provide pastors with the tools they need to respond to the growing climate of health and wealth gospel in their setting, and to the growing infatuation with healings at the expense of the gospel message.