With the recent passing Oral Roberts, I was once again immersed into those familiar and nostalgic feelings about what has come to be known as the Healing Revival. My mind evokes images of circus tents, black and white television, empty wheelchairs, abandoned crutches, and the testimonies of men and women who escaped the very throes of death – people who, without a miracle, would not lived out the week. I remember the personalities of the movement. In addition to the captivating preaching of brother Roberts, I think of the boldness of Jack Coe, the humble demeanor of William Branham, and the excitability of A.A. Allen. I think of an aging, yet spry F.F. Bosworth, teaching the sermons he compiled to publish the classic, Christ the Healer.

During this period, from the late 1940’s to the early 1950’s, this movement began among American Pentecostals, but crossed all religious barriers as Christians and unbelievers alike came to experience the healing power of God. From the firsthand accounts I have heard, and from what I have read and seen on film, this period was marked by dramatic healings and miracles that demonstrated the power of a living Christ. I once heard a minister, who was featured in Gordon Lindsay’s The Voice of Healing periodical, say that during the healing revival, “The air was pregnant with the healing power of God” and that, “It was the easiest thing in the world to get people healed.”

But no sooner than my mind begins to feast on thoughts of how God’s goodness was manifest to so many, my thoughts turn to His severity. I think of the doctrinal excesses, the egotism, the outright (dare I say) sin that, in my opinion, provoked the judgment of God. I think of a disgraced minister found dead of liver failure in a hotel room because of alcohol abuse. I think of a man with an Elijah-complex bleeding on a Texas highway after a collision with a drunk driver; his injuries would eventually prove fatal, but even afterward some of his followers held out hope that he might rise from the dead.

We should not seek to relive the glory of these days without recalling their aftermath – not so we can add insult to injury, but that we may learn the valuable lessons history is trying to teach us. We must remember that when God provided us an historical record of the lives of the patriarchs, he left nothing to bear. What was naked and open to the eyes of the Creator remains known to this very day. God provided us an accurate record of the humanness of these people for our admonition. Despite the many exploits of the mighty men of valor, we see them in their true light – not as mythical gods – but as flesh and blood people whose lives, though marked by supernatural feats, were still hauntingly human. If we have romanticized the memory of the men and women we read about in the Holy Scriptures, we can be sure that God did not. He did not hide their faults, nor did He make excuses for them. He was merciful to them just as He is to us, and that was enough.

While we may assume it was easy for the Just Judge to expose the iniquities of those he honored, it is not so easy with us. To do so, in our minds, means dishonor. And to a certain extent, I believe we are right. We [Pentecostals] are like the sons of Noah who, when they learned of their father being drunk and naked in a tent, walked backward to cover him. We are not like that son who shamelessly published his father’s sins. But here a distinction must be made. We are not dealing with private matters, but very public ones. We cannot simply cover them up as if the world knew nothing of them. If we fail to acknowledge – not only the past sins of our movement, but the recurrent ones as well - we enable the same sins to be committed by successive generations. We know there will always be those whose intention it is to discredit the move of God, and who will be motivated by a spirit of divisiveness. They will use every opportunity to criticize and even ridicule the very ones God has appointed for His work. But this does not mean we ignore their criticism; even if comes in the wrong spirit, it may be at least partially valid. We should not allow negative criticism to dictate the course of our ministries, but neither should we be dismissive because we are not comfortable with facing what may be a reality. The challenge for us is to objectively look at our movement in view of the opportunities for revision, listen to criticism to determine whether it is valid, and be mature enough to rise above petty attacks, while maintaining the ministry of the Holy Spirit in power and purity.

With respect to Pentecostal history, the Healing Revival is important for a number of reasons. It popularized the use of television as a means of outreach; it exposed the greater Evangelical community to the message of healing, and it was instrumental in laying a foundation for the Charismatic Renewal that took place among both Catholics and mainline Protestants beginning in the 1960’s. What was once considered a fringe religious movement is now the fastest growing branch within Christendom worldwide. Jack Hayford, President of the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel, recently said, “If God had not, in His sovereign will, raised up the ministry of Oral Roberts, the entire charismatic movement might not have occurred.” While this statement speaks particularly to the legacy of Oral Roberts, I think it speaks even greater volumes about the movement that Roberts headed up.

Yet we must acknowledge that the innovation of televangelism, though it may have contributed the openness of non-Pentecostals to the Pentecostal experience, is not without consequences. We have a tendency to view things in black and white. When we weigh a matter and the balance favors good rather than bad, we look at it as good. Is it a good thing that the Gospel is going over the airwaves in many different nations of the world? Certainly it is, but the fact that the influence of television is such a prevalent means of communication is all the more reason for us to identify those areas where we may be sending the wrong message. We should be careful that we do not represent God in such a way as to entertain people. We should be mindful of the temptation to make merchandise of the people of God, and the materialistic tendencies of the broader culture that have become so common in many quarters of the Church. We ought to be on guard against the cult of personality, and any attitude in leaders that is contrary to the character of Christ.

As I ponder the condition of “Spirit-filled” ministers today – we Americans in particular - I must admit I am skeptical as to whether many of us are prepared to handle another cascade of that healing flow. I do not know whether we have adequately considered responsibility or the danger that comes with great moves of the Spirit. Powerful moves of the Holy Ghost seem to up the ante. With great demonstrations of God’s goodness come fierce exhibitions of His severity. I am not sure whether we fully comprehend the danger of exceptional spiritual endowments and the temptation of human pride to usurp the divine prerogative.

Now as we await what many have predicted will be the greatest outpouring of the Spirit’s power, and as time quickly evaporates,inching us closer to the return of the King, it is important that we know the terror of the Lord. We must with “fear and trembling” ponder our paths and the import of our actions. Though we may yet experience the greatest manifest presence of God in the earth the Church has ever known, with the Lord confirming His Word in ways many of us have only read about, let us consult the lessons of yesteryear. Otherwise we may learn that the feet of them who carried out our predecessors are still at the door.

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Comment by Christopher R. Dockrey on March 6, 2010 at 12:44pm
Brother Alonzoe', I have a lot of questions about God's forthcoming dealings with the Jews that I have not been able to answer yet. Therefore, I don't really have many opinions, mostly just questions. For instance, to what extent can the prophecies about Israel be fulfilled in the two identifiable tribes that remain? We know a little about Judah and Benjamin, but what about the others? We they assimilated into the other tribes? I don't know of any credible evidence to suggest that they definitely did, although I am aware of that as a theory. To what extent do the prophecies relate to the modern Jewish state? Are any of the prophecies, as some seem to suggest, related to those who practice Judaism only? And if so, why?

I am a complete novice here, but I hope to one day be able to satisfy these questions. I'd like to hear more about your and anyone else's ideas about these questions. I try not to formulate opinions on things I'm not too keen on, but I have serious questions.
Comment by Alonzo E Thornton, D.Min. on March 6, 2010 at 7:55am
My Dear Brother Dockrey,

A wonderfully thought out submission on the multi-generational seasons of Healing Revival.Your passion, concerns and thoughts concerning this past history rang out boldly and apologetically. For these reasons, I delighted in reading this post.

Yet, theologically we may not every see these Healing Revival as such again. The reason Biblically is that the next greatest outpouring will not be with the Christian community, or as some has stated: The Gentile Church. The next fullness of God in respect to His Covenants is directed at the Jewish Nation! Look at this end of this current age future scripture: Romans 11:11-12. Complete Jewish Bible

"In that case, I say, isn't it that they [the Jews] have stumbled with the result that they have permanently fallen away?" Heaven forbid! Quite the contrary, it is by means of their stumbling that the deliverance has come to the Gentiles [thus the Gentile Church or Christendom as it exisit today], in order to provoke them [the Jewish Nation] to jealousy. Moreover, if their stumbling is bringing riches to the world [as in your post about the Revivals, or the 1st and 2nd Great Awakenings in America]-that is, if Isra'el's being placed TEMPORARILY in a condition less favored than that of the Gentiles is bringing riches to the latter-how much GREATER riches will Isra'el in its FULLNESS bring them!

The next great move of God is the removal of blindness from the eyes of the Jewish Nation and the fullfillment of Ezekiel 36:22-32.The Jewish Nation will spiritually regenerated as has those non-Jews who now in this current age, populate the Gentile Church.

Some Jewish Messianic theologians study God's gradual unfolding revelations not in dispensations as do many Christian theologians as they consider History in terms of the Church. They biblically interpret the Hebrew Scriptures via God's Covenants that consider the Kingdom of God [which does include the Church].This movement isn't a distant reality, it is happening now, internationally. The Messianic Movement and the Open Church Movement is two of the fastest movements besides the non-traditional [or cults movements]. Yet the Christian Church is facing innumerable problems that I pray that She will be honest and permit the Love and Grace of the Father to heal Her and reconnect Her to the foundations of Her origin: Messiah and not man.
Brother Alonzoe'
Comment by Christopher R. Dockrey on March 5, 2010 at 1:40pm
We definitely don't know everything about healing. We hardly know everything about anything. And I think if we chart the doctrine of healing in recent history starting with Dowie, we will find a number of extremes. We have the anti-doctor extreme, the "You didn't get healed because you didn't have enough faith" extreme, the whole "I'm Elijah" thing, and then there are numerous extremes that came with the emphasis of the charismatic teaching ministry and Word of Faith theology that was present in some form during the Healing Revival.

With respect to the latter, I have observed that some of the extremes about faith teaching pertinent to healing are partly the result of misunderstanding resulting from oversimplification. Many times, in a practical effort to present something that people can latch onto and develop faith for healing, faith is taught in the most emphatic sense without covering other aspects of healing, which I don't see as particularly wrong. I think what has happened over time, though, is that over time faith has been the dominant emphasis. I don't know that any one person may be faulted for that, but I think (for several reasons that I won't take the time to explain here) the emphasis of faith in healing has eclipsed a balanced view on sovereignty, judgment, and even the gifts of the Spirit. The "word people" have become the "favorite word people", and I can say that as a "word person". While this may have not been the intention of the previous generation of faith teachers, the whole thing is laid at their feet - and perhaps they are partly to blame - but they are also the easiest targets.

But then there are several things about Word of Faith theology that, in my opinion, are just plain wrong and were wrong to begin with. I don't so much fault the people whose lack of education might have contributed to these ideas in the first place, though again, they are certainly partly to blame. Most of them are dead anyway. But I think that a great degree of responsibility rests with the people who know better (or should) and yet continue to hold onto and propagate falsehoods. Its a whole lot easier to go on with business as usual than it is to correct something you've been teaching for years. (That's why I prefer for people to let me know if they think I'm going the wrong way. I'm not too proud to receive correction, and in fact, the Holy Ghost has corrected me a number of times.)

I would recommend everyone who is interested to read Derek Vreeland's PDF Reconstructing Word of Faith Theology to get a greater understanding of this subject.
Comment by Dr. Henry, President of the AOCI on March 5, 2010 at 12:12pm
1 more comment....I have prayed for the sick and God has healed cancer and tumors. He has even filled in holes in bodies!! And at the same time, I have prayed for people and they would end up dieing. So my conclusion on healing has always been this: We really don't understand everything about healing. Anyone who has a 3 step process to healing is kidding themselves. We must leave it to the soveriegn will of God. We are commanded to pray for the sick accourding to the book of James but THEN LEAVE THE REASULTS TO GOD. In the meantime, you should also seek medical advise and help. There are too many situations where people have actually died because they felt that it was not having faith for healing if they went to the doctor. Many of Christian believers faith has been "shipwrecked" by surrounding themself with so called "faith preachers" methodology on to "how to receive and keep your healing in 3 easy steps"....Yes, we are to believe and have faith, and at the same time, LET'S LEAVE THE RESULTS TO GOD. Don't you think He knows best?
Comment by Dr. Henry, President of the AOCI on March 5, 2010 at 12:05pm
Well Said Rev. Dockrey. What has historically transpired across all lines within Christianity is that the pengilium would swing from one extreme to the other. When this happens incorrect exegesis occurs and there is violence done to proper sound biblical doctrine being taught and practiced. As an Arminiun Pentecostal Theologian, my primary mission to this movement has always been to bring biblical soundness to our "experiences" and "balance" between the Word and the Spirit. When this happens God will then accompany His word with Signs. Believers are should not "FOLLOW" signs but the bible says that signs WILL FOLLOW THE BELIEVERS!! As you may have already know, when you teach this way, in many pentecostal and spirit filled circles you then become UNPOPULAR...LOL..... That has always been ok with me as long as we are guided by what holy writ says, then let the unbalanced remain angry, confused, and unteachable. I learned a long time not to waste my time on people who simply where stuck in there own presuppositions....lol...again, I am prepared to be the unpopular penecostal pastor....God bless.
Comment by Craig F Alexander on March 5, 2010 at 10:50am
Very good reminders Chris. One of the keys in my opinion is to approach this move of the Spirit in the way Rev. Joe Jordan has said in the past. "I am simply one of God's office assistants." While we must understand our role in the authority that God has given us over sickness and disease, we must also comprehend the fact that this is only possible through Christ. We are purely a vessel of His mercy. We carry the message of hope and know that God will show up to demonstrate His Word with miracles, signs, and wonders. I want to be a vessel only and do not want to profit anything but to see other lives changed in the same way God has changed mine.

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