Sunday, June 8, 2008

Hagee on suffering

Recently a couple of things happened. First, Senator John McCain rejected the endorsement from John Hagee on the grounds that he's a religious nutcase and only morons and a particular rare species of Austrailian seaweed would consider an endorsement from Mr. Hagee to be a good thing. Second, a friend of mine had a direct experience with the bizarre claims and activities of Mr. Hagee.

So I took a wander over to Hagee's website to find out what all the hub-bub was about. It didn't take long. This was found in the FAQ section. As with all commentaries here, the original article is in bold. My commentary is not.

Q. Are suffering and sickness a sign that a Christian lacks faith or has sin in their life? Why are some people healed and not others?
Could it be that some people send thousands of dollars to tele-ministries and some people don’t? Nah, that’s not it!

A. It is certainly possible that a Christian may go through problems or become ill because of sin or disobedience.
Those evil sickos!

Sickness can also result from not taking care of our bodies, or it can be a response to stress or worry. But sometimes illnesses, or various trials and difficulties, strike precisely because we are in the center of God's will and Satan wants to derail us.
There will be a test on this, so pay attention. All good things come from God. All evil things come from Satan. I realize that this is a hard concept, so it will be repeated. Constantly.

Please pay no attention to God’s omniscience and omnipotence.

Overcoming struggles is at the heart of the Christian life.
And we here provide for that by giving your wallets a further struggle to overcome! Hallelujah!

The Bible teaches that we should not be surprised by suffering. "Dear friends," Peter wrote the church, "do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed" (1 Peter 4:12 NIV).
Correct! No surprise that the omniscient and omnipotent God allows suffering

In spite of that clear teaching, some preachers give the impression that if you're truly living by faith, you won't experience suffering or sickness, or that if you do, God is obligated to deliver you and heal you. That's not a reasonable position to take.
True! I mean God can’t be everywhere for everyone at all times! What were we thinking?!?

There are two extremes to the faith message.
Yes. Yes, there really are.

Some preach that God never heals, which is dead wrong. Others preach that God heals every time, which is also wrong. God responds to our faith, but there is no "magic formula" that insures God will answer our prayers exactly as we want.
So how do we tell this from pure, unadulterated random chance?

God is not a cosmic bellhop that we can command to do our will. The purpose of prayer is to change us so that we want to do His will.
Either that or give us something to do when it’s already all hit the fan.

At Cornerstone Church we always pray in faith for the sick, believing it is God's general will that we live in divine health.
What’s your evidence for this assumption?

However, we do not always know His specific will for a person at a particular time.
Shouldn’t that be “we never know His will for any person at any time”? Otherwise that would be presumption of the highest order, right?

So sometimes God does not heal a person, even when that person prays in genuine faith.
He killed Kenny!!!

God is sovereign, and He acts according to His purposes-which we do not always know in advance.
So does a random number generator, strangely enough.

What we do know is that God works everything together for good in the life of a believer (Rom. 8:28), that He has ordained a divine purpose for us, and that he works everything out according to His eternal plan (Eph. 1:11).
What a guy!

Sometimes it is the people with great faith who face the most suffering. Smith Wigglesworth witnessed mighty miracles of God's power in his healing crusades. Yet he would go home and roll on the floor in pain from kidney stones. The apostle Paul worked many miracles and successfully prayed for multitudes of people to be healed. Yet Paul himself was never healed of a physical malady he referred to as his "thorn in the flesh" (2. Cor. 12:7-10). The apostle prayed earnestly, but God did not remove this sickness from him. Instead, God's greatness was made all the more manifest in Paul's weakness.
This really makes me wonder what kind of suffering would someone have to go through or not go through to disprove this belief in supernatural healing:

Devout believer doesn’t get healed = God’s greatness made all the more manifest

Devout believer gets healed = God mercifully answering his prayers

Non-devout person doesn’t get healed = person didn’t have faith in God and thus didn’t get healed

Non-devout person gets healed = God has a plan that we don’t understand.

It looks like every result leads to the same conclusion. Odd!

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