I had a distressing experience this week when a well intended man, dropped off a book for me. The opening quote made me sick to my stomach. (sicker than the chemo made me feel)I believed that the theology was off...way off. I wrote my father-in-law for his thoughts on the matter, since he is a gifted, renowned, and published theologian. The opening quote was this, "God's perfect will is not to heal you...His perfect will is that you don't get sick!"- Henry W. Wright I won't read any further at that point. My gut reaction was to burn the book, or at the very least give it back to him, or just get rid of it.
The following is the written response of my Father-in-law, Dr. Paul D Janz. He was able to articulate very eloquently and intelligently, what I was thinking and feeling and knew to be right.
Dr Paul D Janz
Dept of Theology and Religious Studies
King's College London
My goodness, Feather, I can see how this would have been distressing! I'm very glad you didn't read any further, and God bless you for it! These kinds of things are always a 'false gospel', and a false gospel of the most insipid and devious and contemptible kind. You're probably right that the person who gave you the book was well intentioned, but the original perpetrators of this kind of thing not only pervert and destroy the very heart of the gospel but invariably also do it for selfish gain.
They are false and perverted to the core because they effectively deny the agony of Gethsemane and the Cross, from which Jesus himself asked to be spared but was not. They deny Christ's suffering without which there is no redemption for us (Heb. 2). They deny the example of the apostle Paul, who was throughout his whole ministry plagued with an illness so
severe that it was a 'trial' to those around him, an illness which he pleaded with God three times to be delivered from, only to be given the answer: 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness' (2 Cor. 12.9). In fact Paul says explicitly to the Galatians: 'You know that it was because of a bodily illness that I preached the gospel to you the first time; and that which was a trial to you in my bodily condition you did not despise or loathe, but you received me as an angel of God, as Christ Jesus Himself' (Gal 4.12-14). St Paul talks in fact about 'rejoicing in our sufferings because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope' (Rom 5.3). Hebrews 2:10 talks about Jesus himself 'being made perfect through suffering' and only through suffering becoming 'the author of our salvation'. All the Pauline epistles are full of this kind of language, and so are the gospels. Many of the most loving and selfless missionaries, such as David Livingstone, suffered deep and long from very severe and agonizing illness and were a blessing from God to the world for it! Or
think of people like Vern Heidebrecht who shine out the love and righteousness of God in new and more powerful ways because of illness, and in illness.
The people who perpetrate this kind of thing (not the person who gave you the book, poor soul) are just like the 'name it and claim it' lot, whose god is their wallets and their stomach. If you really want to know what I think of these kinds of people, who prey on poor souls with less life experience and wisdom than you have, read Jude 11-13. Their website confirms even more strongly their status as purveyors of those kinds of perversions. You can see that this kind of thing really hits a nerve with me, because it goes to the heart of everything that the Christian life is not, and denies everything I believe about the life and power of Jesus Christ.
God bless you Feather! And thank you for writing to me about this. You are a shining light for people around you, even, and maybe especially, when you are most downtrodden. And in bearing your own suffering with the forbearance and hope that you do, you yourself are a 'participant in the sufferings of Christ' himself (1 Peter 4.13) and a 'reflection of his glory' to the rest of us!
You're in our prayers every day many times. God bless you again!