Wednesday, February 22, 2017

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Is it wrong to seek evidence?

One contention that occurs within the body of Messiah is the degree of “signs and wonders” we should expect to see as believers in Yeshua. On one extreme are the “cessationists” who believe there are no miraculous signs for today. On the other extreme are the “full-blown charismatics” who believe that miraculous signs should be occurring daily. And there are some positions at different levels in between these two extremes. What is a Messianic believer to do?

For now, let me take up only the issue of physical healing– certainly other signs and wonders are possible – but in my experience no other “Acts today” issue (save tongues) is as debated as this one. It is our position at Ben David that G-d can and does heal – but at His discretion, not ours.

But how do I respond when some claim a divine miracle, in this case healing? My position is that before I believe someone that a healing occurred, I require evidence. I need to know specifics. I have adopted this position not just because I am a scientist who is trained to employ evidence-based thinking, but also because I am an Elder in a Congregation who is charged with guarding Yeshua’s flock. Thus I require some sort of evidence that a miracle took place.

And you should too. Here’s why.

Realize that signs and wonders can be fabricated. Yeshua Himself warned that many will come and perform “false signs” to lead some astray (Matthew 24:24). Deuteronomy 13:1-3 warns of similar things. Thus, the miraculous by itself is not always evidence that God is in the mix.

I have heard from numerous people over the years that “some missionary” or “some prophet” healed “someone in Africa.” What missionary? What prophet? What person? Give me a name. “Oh but I heard it in a sermon.” Not good enough – I want names and places. If that is true and the preacher doesn’t know the facts, then he needs to get his facts straight before sharing. To quote unconfirmed sources is careless, and any preacher of the Gospel should know better than to follow rumors and speculation.

Let me relate one of my (many) experiences in this regard. I was attending a church service years ago where a guest speaker prayed for someone next to me and then exclaimed “you are healed” in reference to a (benign) tumor (names withheld to protect the guilty). Of course, this would be a pretty amazing miracle, and I have every confidence that G-d could do this. I mentioned to the guest speaker that it would be great to go get an MRI to confirm the healing. But the guest speaker basically called me a skeptic, a doubter. I was not “trusting in the Lord.” How convenient.

Let’s set the record straight: anyone who claims to have worked a divine miracle and is unwilling to stand the test of scrutiny, in my view, is a false prophet at worst or a charlatan at best. We are expected to hold teachers of Scripture accountable. We are expected to hold Elders accountable. We are expected to test the spirits too. Why not workers of miracles? Are they somehow above scrutiny?

This is why also I am skeptical of “miracle cures” touted by many believers in Yeshua – such as eating rose petals will cure cancer and similar stuff. They quote blogs or occasionally even a scientist and these quotes may sound authoritative (that is, until you really examine the evidence … but that is for another time). But these views just do not stand the test of serious scrutiny - or the advocates are unwilling to test them in a scientific forum . Now who knows, perhaps rose petals do have anti-cancer properties. But until this “cure” is tested in a validated clinical study, until it passes objective tests that validate the claims, I will not be buying rose petals in massive quantities any time soon.

When Yeshua healed people, these were what I like to call “no doubters.” In other words, people knew there a miracle occurred. Guy can’t walk for 40 years … now he can. Guy is blind for his whole life … now he can see. There were no MRI’s to be sure, but the community knew that G-d had acted. And yet some of my brothers and sisters think my desire to verify a miracle is “doubting,” “hyper-intellectual” or “quenching the spirit.” It is none of that – I am merely doing my job, and I venture to say that those who take a negative view on validating miracles are misinformed.

You see, I love the the Body of Messiah. I don’t want her to be embarrassed by someone running around claiming healings and then we find out later it was a mistake or a scam. That will hurt the body and taint the Gospel. And if you thought I was showing a lack of faith by challenging you to properly document a miracle, imagine what G-d is going to require of you if you are spreading rumors and "ear tickling" myths instead of truth.

The moral of this story is that if you tell me that someone was divinely healed, I hope you understand I am not doubting G-d or calling your character into question. I just want proof of the claim; I want specifics. Because if G-d healed me say of brain cancer – my before versus after MRI becomes a badge of honor for all to see and glorify G-d.

Wouldn’t we want the world to see the goodness of our G-d?

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