Hearts Beat Together: A Response to Andrew Wommack

I’ll get around to posting a more Biblically-based response sometime this weekend looking at some specific examples of mourning in Scripture.

Image courtesy of http://www.jesusweptart.blogspot.co.uk/


A commenter on my last post linked me to this article. I have chosen not to approve that comment as I thought it was a disgracefully inappropriate response to a man’s deep grief.

But rather than leave it unremarked, I thought it more appropriate to address some things which I found untrue in the article.

In the article Wommack teaches that we humans feel a sense of loss or grief because we enjoyed how that thing which is now lost made us feel. We loved–not the thing–but the way the thing made us feel.

He notices greed to be one of the many foul fruits of such self-centredness and that much striving and unhappiness is wrought from this greed, from the failure of the desirable things to appear.

He argues that when the individual focuses on themselves and not on God they will open them selves to those grief-feelings, as they pursue their own goals and desires. If it is true that God would provide for the needs of his children (Matthew 6:33), to feel grief or unhappiness over deprivation of things is a demonstration that the individual is not trusting God.

I can agree with him this far, but he loses me in his discussion of grief over death:

Even in the case of the death of a loved one, our grief is rooted in our personal loss. We focus on the situation from our point of view: How can I go on without them? I won’t ever see them again on earth. We convince ourselves that we are mourning over the death of these people, but it’s really over how it will affect us. If that person was born again and is now with Jesus, it should be a time to rejoice. Let’s imagine the atmosphere of a believer’s funeral if we focused on the one who was with Jesus and what that person was experiencing rather than our own self-centered thoughts about what we are losing? Instead of grieving, what an exciting time of thanksgiving and praise it would be!

(Emphasis mine)

Some readers will notice bile rising in their throats after reading that. Others will remember with cold disgust that such sentiments were directed to them in a time of loss.

I do not intend to discuss the insensitivity of these words. I do have a problem with blaming the grieving person for their grief.

It is sick, it is deplorable to tell someone experiencing a massive shift in the very fabric of their life that they themselves are responsible. This is untrue. Death’s cold hand takes a man or a woman and all around are touched by the icy appendage.

God made human beings and he breathed his Spirit into them, granting them life. It was as though a part of God was given to humans to allow them to have movement and breath and joy and to do all the things their hearts would desire to do. Yet God decided that such a relationship with human beings wasn’t best for them.

God created other human beings like the first to create a family, a clan, a community (Genesis 2:18).

To be with another person then becomes how human beings flourish. If God designed humans for communion with one another, loss of that communion offends that design down to its core.

Death, the great divide which separates people from one another, is cruel because it destroys human life as it is meant to be lived. Each death we endure further ruptures the wonderful design and it changes us. For a while the wound is fresh and it is difficult to function. Yet later still it scars over and the rest of our days are spent in a life which is unlike the one we lived before.

And it is right that we should mourn over this.

Death of a loved one DOES affect us, and it is right that our hearts should grieve it.

The Spirit was given in love that humans could have life, and that Spirit is shared between human beings in their love for each other. It’s as though the being of God is communicated between people in their life together. This Spirit gives people life and our lives are sustained by the endless breathing in and out of that same Spirit.

Death is the end of that particular expression of God’s unique image in our lives. It’s as though we lose something essential, or even essentially of God, when the one we love ceases to have a share in the things of this earth.

So when a Christian sings of the love he had for his friend and cries to God, asking ‘why?’, I hear it echoing through the ages like so many before who have stood on the edge and screamed into the yawning crevasse which threatens to eat up all that we might find beautiful about this place.

And you know what? It is right to cry aloud.

Because things are not as they ought to be. Like a woman who shambles along the roadside with an aching back, whimpering her condition, the pain felt in grief is the only right response to the crippling devastation witnessed the world over.

And he said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” Jesus wept. So the Jews said, “See how he loved him!”

John 11:34-36

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37 Comments

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  1. You have taken Andrew’s comments way, way too personally and out of context. Nowhere in the quote does Andrew say that the grieving person is “responsible.”

    If you read the words in context and thought about them for a minute, you would see that Andrew is writing this to ENCOURAGE a grieving person. If the departed loved one was born again, then the fact that they are in heaven is reason to rejoice for them, and while you will miss them on earth and feel sad that they are no longer physically present, if you are born again, you can rejoice that you will be with that person again and this time it will be forever.
    I’m sorry you missed that point, although I’m puzzled at how you did.

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    • It was Irving Greenberg who said that “no statement, theological or otherwise, should be made that would not be credible in the presence of burning children.”

      He writes as one doing the work of a theologian after the Holocaust.

      Human suffering changes everything. So you bet I took the comments personally. Tragically, we are not dealing with some abstract theological nonsense, but with real people’s real loss. So yes, I took the article personally.

      And I think I have read his words in context, and you will notice that I tried to sketch out his basic hypothesis before levying a criticism against part of it. I quoted the whole paragraph he wrote on death.

      In that context, where Andrew has said:

      It’s our self-centeredness that turns a want into a need and then that need into a personal crisis.

      Which is why he thinks it inappropriate for Christians to grieve. They are only grieving, according to Andrew’s theology, because they are focusing too much on themselves.

      Now, allow me to be very clear: I fully understand Andrew’s position, I just think it is a blatant error.

      Wishful thinking of a hereafter with the beloved does not mitigate the grief felt at the death of a loved one. Nor should it. Jesus wept at the death of his good friend Lazarus, despite being aware of his saving mission in the world.

      Jesus, in weeping as he does, affirms that grieving over the departure of those we love is not an act of disloyalty to his kingdom. Rather, Jesus tells us that human feeling, in all it’s snotty, teary and angry and confused mess, is not to be gotten over or around. It is to be felt in full force, in his presence and with his tears and angry protests.

      The fact of the raising of Lazarus does not make his death any less sad.

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  2. I agree with you Ian – though I’m sure you’re not surprised by that, given my job! I spend so much time with grieving people (believers and non-believers) and no matter what truths there might be in AW’s article, I would not dream of giving the article to someone who was in the early stages of mourning. Grief is a process which we move through – there is “a time to mourn” and a need for us to respond to grief with empathy and compassion. I found Larry Crabb’s book “Shattered Dreams” really helpful when looking at the subject of loss. He takes the book of Ruth and considers how Naomi moves from a position of pain and bitterness after the loss of her husband and sons, through to eventual restoration and rejoicing. He tackles some of the same issues as AW (i.e. the need to surrender our dreams and to take God’s perspective) but he writes in a compassionate and very human way that is not at all condemning. I found Pete Greig’s “God on Mute” to be similarly compassionate.
    I recently came across the Happy Church (Florida) who had a statement of faith that really made me feel uneasy – well downright angry actually. I couldn’t find it just now so I’m wondering if they took it down! Anyway, they basically said Christians should be happy all the time (reflecting our “Happy God”) – although they admitted that perhaps we might feel a “holy disappointment” about wars, injustice, infanticide etc. I feel a lot more than disappointment about these things!!
    Thank you for posting about this important subject.

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    • The quote from the “Happy Church” – is in fact biblical. New Testament theology – not Old Testament theology. We are commanded to REJOICE ALWAYS. We are commanded to GIVE THANKS ON ALL OCCASIONS. We are told that we are full of LOVE JOY PEACE etc. We are told that we need never be out of a state of PERFECT PEACE and can find PEACE in every situation.

      Ian I am intrigued that you are willing to accept what AW is saying up unto the point of personal grief. Can you explain why personal grief is any different in terms of “why we grieve” than any other situation.

      to feel grief or unhappiness over deprivation of things is a demonstration that the individual is not trusting God……..

      why is grief over a lost one any different. If we are perfectly trusting God – we do not have to grieve surely? Because we perfect trust a perfect God to perfectly deal with the situation. We are indeed grieving because of our loss. We can grieve if we know that person didn’t know the Lord – but not grieve for OUR LOSS – but grieve that they will not be spending eternity with Him. BUT there is nothing more WE can do about that particular person – and spending time in grief won’t solve the situation. All we can do is trust that God will act justly with that particular person – and determine not to let that happen to another friend as far as we are able – to tell others about the love of Jesus so that they don’t have to spend eternity without him.

      I don’t speak from a purely theological point of view – I have lost more close family than I care to count (and a very dear friend) – I have every reason to feel agrieved. (which is of course the same as the word grief). BUT I trust God more than my feelings and if I allow myself to become focused on “me” and “my need” I become of little use to others.

      Think about what AW is saying from a biblical point of view and not because your feelings have been hurt or injured or it offends your thoughts. They do say the definition of a heretic is someone who goes further than you are willing to go? Maybe this is a challenge to you to look further into what God is saying?

      (Just thinking of several incidents in God’s word. David – grieved and prayed until his son died – the point his son died – he got up, got washed and got on with his life – he realised there was little point in grieving over a dead person.)

      How many times did Jesus tell people off for grieving, or remove all the “waillers” from the room? This wasn’t showing due regard for grief was it?

      And the apostles also removed “wailers” from the room so that they could concentrate on the important spiritual job of bringing joy and hope. Paul tells us not to grieve like those who have no hope.

      Jesus interrupted a funeral service!! How afronted would you be Ian if whilst you were conducting a funeral service someone interrupted, walked up the front and says DO NOT WEEP.

      I think we need to examine what scripture actually tells us – not what we THINK it tells us, or what we WANT it to tell us because we WANT it to agree with our sense of rightness.

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      • There r steps to grief and they need to ALL be taken…if you get stuck in one then get someone PROFESSIONAL NOT AW to help you work through it…

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  3. Jesus didn’t grieve because his friend was dead. It clearly says that’s what the people around thought. It doesn’t say that’s why Jesus was grieving. Why on earth would Jesus be grieving when he knew he was about to bring him back to life again? Would you grieve if you knew you could solve the problem? In fact Jesus deliberately delayed going to Lazarus until he was dead – is this the action of someone full of grief over the loss/potential loss of a friend? Would you deliberately delay rushing to the bedside of a dying friend just so you could weep at his grave? I don’t think so.

    Look at what it actually says about what Jesus said and thought and thus we can see why he wept.
    V 4 – This sickness is NOT unto death ……… (Jesus knew the result before he died)
    V6 – BECAUSE he loved them – he deliberately delayed – SO THAT they would see know and understand the truth of the situation
    v11 Our FRIEND sleeps but I’m going to wake him up (surely if there was a place for tears – it would have been here – as Jesus knew he was dead)
    V14/15 Lazarus is DEAD and I’m GLAD for your sakes I wasn’t there – hardly the words of a man grieving over the death of a loved one
    V23 – Did Jesus comfort Martha in her grief – did he say there there it’s all ok Martha – it’s going to be ok. NO he just said – He’s coming back to life. Jesus saw and spoke the truth. Jesus had no reason to grieve over the death – because he believed in Life.
    V33 – Now we begin to see why Jesus wept – he groaned and was troubled – why – because of verse 31,32 – because these people (Mary especially) had been following him for 3 years and yet they still didn’t understand or believe what he had said.
    V34 – where have you laid him – do you think Jesus was hoping they hadn’t actually buried him – because he was still hoping they had left him in bed because they believed Jesus could raise him again (like they had seen and heard Jesus do to others). But sadly they had already put him in the tomb and sealed it up – they had already accepted defeat. THUS
    v35 JESUS WEPT
    V36 – Jews mistook the reason Jesus wept
    V37/38. and once again we see confirmation that these people still didn’t believe Jesus – and once again he groaned and was troubled in his spirit.
    V39 – STILL they didn’t believe and argued with Jesus when he told them to remove the stone
    V40 – Jesus (I can imagine him quite angry by now ) said DIDN’T I TELL YOU THAT IF YOU BELIEVE YOU WOULD SEE THE GLORY OF GOD.

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  4. Hi Beverly – I am sure we are repeating an earlier exchange here – it’s a topic that resurfaces on the blog from time to time in different guises.

    Anyway, I want to ask – no matter what you might think theologically, how would you respond to an actual grieving person? The thing is, I go to a church where some people understand Scripture in the way you do – especially the leadership team; yet I know that if someone was actually grieving, my pastor’s wife (for example) would not come out with the AW line of reasoning but would respond with compassion and humility, drawing on her own understanding/experiences of loss, meeting the person where they are; “weeping with those who weep”. I believe that to do this effectively, it’s helpful if we have experienced and acknowledged our own pain from past losses. For example, I am now far more equipped to help people pastorally having gone through a very painful loss myself. Recovering from that loss was not a quick, easy process, it took several years of wrestling with God, but I learned so much about Him in that time and it has given me a much deeper compassion for those who are struggling with loss. So I actually think that personal experiences of pain and grief can be instructive and informative especially if we are wanting to minister to others. In other words, our feelings can be helpful and should not necessarily be immediately swept away by an artillery attack of Bible verses.

    In any case, there may well be some theological truths in your discussions above – but I am interested in HOW you would communicate those to a suffering person. I’m hoping that you would not respond in the way you have done above! 🙂

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    • Hi Sally – when dealing with a grieving person I always rely completely on the Holy Spirit’s guidance. I ask Him to show me and tell me and guide me into saying the right thing at the right time. I also seek to do what Jesus did in these situations – speak the truth IN LOVE. I have had many people say to me that they really appreciate my words and my comfort – because they say I am not like all the rest – they say I actually speak the truth to them and allow them to see the reality of the situation – stopping them getting self absorbed in the situation. They come back to me time and time again – because they say they want to hear the truth because it speaks to their heart and helps them. So whatever I am doing – and I am true to my belief – and I do believe all grief is self centredness – it seems to work with those who I meet with who are experiencing grief.

      However – my discussion on this blog isn’t mainly about how to deal with a situation which is already bad (if people are already grieving and having a problem with God – it is always a bad situation).

      I seek to show how and what we should be teaching and discipling Christians BEFORE they get to a situation which they have the potential to act in the wrong way about.

      If we are able to teach Christians that all grief is self centredness – BEFORE they find themselves in a situation where grief is an option. Then hopefully they will already be strong enough in the Lord and in knowing who they are in Christ so that they don’t react the wrong way and can deal with the situation biblically and in the Spirit instead of in the Flesh.

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  5. Thank you Beverly – that is really helpful and I appreciate your response. Relying on the Holy Spirit and speaking the truth in love is a pretty good rule to operate on!
    I am not so much involved in discipling – much more in an after-care/picking up the pieces sort of way, and the people I meet have often lost sight of God or had their faith severely challenged, so it’s not so easy for them to turn to Him/the Word. I do believe that once we get a grasp of our identity in Him and of His sovereignty and love, everything becomes easier to accept; though for some it’s a longer journey than for others. Also, for some, no matter what discipling they’ve had, no matter how strong they feel in Christ, the actual reality of a test can turn it all upside down and it can feel like starting again. Anyway, it’s really helpful to hear your viewpoint and to know that you have been a genuine support and comfort to those who are struggling.

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  6. What imperfect beasts we are to be made with a full spectrum of emotions and then told that you are bad for feeling some of them…

    To do a bit of Kantian reasoning (just a bit), imagine the words of Wommack and the smarmy-faced purple cog in universal practise. A world in which there is a genuine magical-monopoly over everyone’s emotions, and the only permissible emotion is the electric yellow, blinding, obnoxious light of joy channeled through shit-eating grins and happy clappy fun time, no matter what the situation. From a more pragmatic, real world perspective, such a world sounds unconscionably creepy. A world which loves death and disease. We would call people mad for giggling with joy in the face of a massacre, not wrong or bad for being “self-centred” (urk…) and introspective on human suffering. And this is just because of empathy. Empathy is a powerful thing, the bridge across the gap between other minds, the mind’s device for understanding and making sense of tragedy as well as happiness. Dismissing the broad and deep running sense of grief we feel in appropriate situations as foolish will only inevitably make others harder to understand and drift away.

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    • Eloquently put! If we were to behave uniformly as AW suggests, with believers and non-believers alike, we would push people far far away from us; we would look more like prozac-fuelled machines than people. That’s why I asked Beverly how she would respond to a real person suffering actual grief because everything was sounding so mechanical and robotic. I would not want to go through life without being able to feel and show empathy and compassion. After yesterday’s exchange here, I was with a woman whose baby died under very painful circumstances. I imagined telling her that she was being self-centred – it was unthinkable! I also imagined how I would have felt if someone said I was being self-centred when grieving. I think I would have felt filled with rage and I would have yelled “yeah – so what!” and then had nothing more to do with them.

      It seems that some people are helped by an AW kind of message so my prayer (after the above posts) is: “Father, if there are people who need to hear an AW kind of message, please send them to Beverly and let the other ones come to me!”

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      • Any chance we can get back to what the bible tells us to do – and not people’s opinions. Kyle I do not know whether you are a Christian or not? Are you led by biblical instruction or are you just stating your own point of view?

        I feel no one is actually considering what God says. If you would care to listen to what AW is actually saying you will see it is totally biblical. http://www.awmi.net/tv/2012 start listening from 4th June and keep going – he’s still talking about it this week. Maybe when you have listened to all he is saying you will see where he is coming from and why he is saying it. I guarantee you won’t like what he’s saying – it certainly challenged me the first time I heard it – it rubbed against the grain because I didn’t want to DO IT! (that’s pride). But I continued to listen – I continued to allow the Holy Spirit to minister to me through it and now I totally see that this is God’s plan. Go on – give it a try.

        As far as I am concerned I just want to act in accordance with God’s Will – and God’s Will is singular – so I can’t imagine it would be helpful to pray either or!

        As a Christian Sally – did it occur to you to offer to pray for that lady’s baby and bring it back to life? That’s what Jesus would have done – and that’s what he told US to do? Again – why is the question never What would Jesus DO. Jesus did indeed as I have already said – interrupt a funeral and tell the chief mourner not to weep – why – because he could offer her something. We can offer people something they will never find through grief. Why aren’t we?

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      • “what the bible tells us to do”

        The trouble is, the Bible tells us to do an awful lot of things which we don’t do. From separating our fabrics to sacrificing sheep, we don’t do rather a lot of what is commanded by sacred scripture.

        As far as I am concerned, scripture has far more to say about the character and purpose of God than the intricacies of what is required of us at any given moment. It is this God, the Father of Jesus Christ to whom we are to yield our obedience.

        And God always shows compassion to the broken, not refusing the ‘sacrifice of a broken spirit’, never breaking the bruised reed, gathering Israel under her wings.

        If this is God’s disposition, demonstrated in Scipture, then I for one would rather get on board that mission.

        What Wommack offers is a quick fix and an easy solution which promises to provide all the goodies of Jesus by moving the goal posts. Are you feeling resentment? Sadness? Pain? If you just repent and have more faith, all will be well!

        This is not the Gospel. It is a cure-all pill to swallow. Most other people who have interacted with this kind of teaching have, at one point or another, realised that thematic cure-all is a lie, and someone has ran off with all the profits.

        It is far more satisfying to say that if I have enough faith, I could have the Perfect Life. That is no challenge to God and means I can have my utopian dream without anyone interrupting.

        But no one lives as an island. There is far more to life than my personal, private religious infatuation. I think God is interested in far more than that anyway.

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      • Try listening before you judge. AW is not a “health and wealth” “prosperity” “word of faith” “name it and claim it” “grab it and blap it” type of preacher.

        I too am against this type of preaching and teaching – a quick fix is not the answer to the problem.

        Ian – you know I have been a Christian for many many years – you know I have trusted and believed and talked the talk and walked the walk. You knows my integrity, yo know I put myself on the line for my faith in my job, you know I was never afraid to speak the truth in love, you know my life and my trust in God has always been paramount to me. You know I hear from God and try to obey. Do you really think I am into a quick fix type of false gospel?

        Yes God always shows compassion for people – but he never shows sympathy. Compassion takes the situation and changes it. God never enters a situation and leaves it unchanged. Sympathy doesn’t change situations – it allows people to wallow in them.

        Why aren’t you answering my direct examples from scripture of what Jesus did when faced with dead people?

        Countering your quote on having enough faith and you could have a perfect life – I would ask why are you sitting back and expecting God to do it all for you? Hasn’t he done his bit – hasn’t he given you GRACE – all the grace you will ever need – doesn’t he now require something of you – that you walk in that grace – and use that power to appropriate the new creational changes in your life?

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  7. Hi again Beverley
    Re the question about the lady and the baby I could not pray with her about the baby being brought back to life
    a) because the baby died 5 years ago
    b) because the context of the meeting was in my NHS role as a psychologist, where, as you may know, I am not able to even admit to being a Christian with patients, let alone offering to pray with her!
    I pray for her though…
    Nevertheless, I would pray for the dead to be raised if I was there at the time. I served for several years with Iris Ministries in Mozambique where they have seen various miracles of that sort – and where that level of faith was a normal part of our lives. Nowadays the sorts of grieving people I mainly see are a) grieving for a loss which is not recent and b) often not Christians. It is a challenge for me as I do actually believe that my role as a psychologist/counsellor is to point people towards God not towards themselves or towards me – yet in the NHS it is not possible to do this overtly. Often the best I can do is to listen to people with love and compassion and to secretly pray for them before and after the session (and often during!).
    As for grieving Christians, as I said earlier, I do think that knowing God’s sovereignty and love in a situation is crucial – but some people can’t just “get there” quickly. So although ultimately they will need to get to a place where they can see things from God’s perspective, those of us ministering to them need to show patience and compassion while they find their way there. In these situations, it can be really helpful if we have struggled with loss ourselves.

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  8. Amen Sally – maybe you could move out of the National Health and set up a Christian Practice so you are not restricted – that would be amazing wouldn’t it.

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    • And deprive the NHS of (from what I can tell from these posts) an exemplary professional?
      For shame.

      Hello again. My, my, this IS an interesting fracas developing.
      Wommack… well I recall that name. I have to agree with Ian in that these ‘instant salvation’, quick-fix braggarts are most often simply liars, to themselves, and to others. Obviously I take the latter as standard.
      Shallow automata, happy smiley death cultists, that is what one takes from their ethos and ambitions in the world. But ah, I am not here to sling hooks and nasty nomenclatures.

      No, I come in the spirit of non-antagonistic curiosity. I remember you from school, Mrs Bell. I can’t recall faith coming up between us in conversation much. More often it was library books (quelle surprise). That (religion) was by far the province of rhetorical jousts with my far louder friend and library-denizen, Max. So I am curious, if you do not take it as prying, how you:
      “(You knows my integrity, yo know) I put myself on the line for my faith in my job (…)”
      Since I did not attend crossover, or know you as a fellow believer (such as Ian) did at KLS, I cannot help but wonder if the school imposed guidelines on any of its staff the way Sally’s do with her at the NHS, regarding sharing of her faith. I ask not as a snare or prelude to some sneering indictment on the importance of preventing proselytizing in schools, etc, but, as I say, in curiosity.

      I am enjoying the conversation so far and each individual’s unique contributions.

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      • ??? Library books? I really had nothing to do with the library Ben – are you sure you’ve got the right person.

        I was the person who’s desk, notice board, screen saver, music at my desk and office door was always speaking about God. I was the one who on the first day of term each september spoke to every single sixth former about how Jesus was a personal friend of mine and how I would request that no one used his name as a swear word in front of me because it upset me to hear his name used like that. I was the one who ran Alpha Courses for students, I was the one who prayed with students when they were having a problem with boyfriends/being chucked out of home/anorexic/on drugs. I was the one who encouraged a group of students (who weren’t Christians) to visit Soul Survivor with me, I was the one who engaged on many many occasion in discussions in the common room about whether there is a God, whether the bible was true, whether Jesus was real.

        I stuck my neck out at school and stood up for Jesus with both staff and students – I was not confined by rules saying I couldn’t mention my faith. I took a risk for Jesus – and He protected me.

        Hence I feel totally comfortable with commenting on my integrity. I was not ashamed to proclaim Christ crucified.
        I did not hide my faith – so perhaps you have me mistaken with someone else?

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      • Thanks for replying.
        Beverly, you were definitely in the library for our interactions. I believe I knew you had other duties (though since I did not remain at KLS for my sixth form years, I would not have known you in the other scenarios you mention), but you were emphatically Beverly Bell, known to me by that name, and you were one of several filling in for the person (it’s odd that I can no longer remember her name now) who was librarian throughout most of the five years I attended Kings Langley, specifically 2005.

        “I was the one who engaged on many many occasion in discussions in the common room about whether there is a God, whether the bible was true, whether Jesus was real.”

        This I certainly remember hearing of, second-hand.

        “I stuck my neck out at school and stood up for Jesus with both staff and students – I was not confined by rules saying I couldn’t mention my faith. I took a risk for Jesus – and He protected me. ”

        So your religious freedoms were protected, nay, they were empowered it seems. No seminars? Inset day lectures on faith and such? I am surprised, but not unbelieving. It’s not as though you were a teacher in the strict sense of the word. Still, I’m surprised that in your councilling role (not an official part of your position, I am told) there were no ground rules for the interaction of faith in the same way Sally’s one.

        “I did not hide my faith – so perhaps you have me mistaken with someone else?”

        It was almost definitely you, as your name wasn’t in doubt, but burned into my mind as ‘the really religious library person who Max baits’. Sorry for the crudity of that recollection. I could be mistaken, as the memory can also play tricks, rewrite events, especially after seven years or so (and I was only 15-16 at the time), but I am fairly certain as I corroborated with past students (such as one of those anorexics) on your identity.

        “Hence I feel totally comfortable with commenting on my integrity. I was not ashamed to proclaim Christ crucified.”

        Here, I must be harsh. You believe your unabashed proclaiming of Christ gives you a form of integrity. In whichever way this does so it can only do so for those who share your belief.
        You’d say to students:
        “(…)about how Jesus was a personal friend of mine and how I would request that no one used his name as a swear word in front of me because it upset me to hear his name used like that.”
        This would have proclaimed something other than ‘integrity’ to me. But enough of me. It, objectively to the non-christian, may have smacked of a kind of devotion which presumed not only of the consequences of your beliefs affecting yourself and your conduct, but also affecting others’ conduct…
        Now, one could make a case that someone may not like to hear a certain swear word aloud, and one might acquiesce depending both upon whether you valued that person’s feelings or if there was social pressure to, or some other party’s feelings were involved that you DID value (yadda-yadda-yadda). One could ask ‘don’t speak about him/her like that. I don’t like to hear about them that way. One could even bring up the old fire-escape model of ferr-speech misuse or the attendant taboo on swearing and the like, but I’d like to boil it to one point of distinction:

        Unless you believe in god, there’s no harm in blasphemy. As some wit once said; it’s a victimless crime. What that entreaty of yours to every sixth-former says to me is (and yes, it’s back to me again):
        ‘You have to hold the same standards about this thing I believe in (and you don’t) as I do.’
        That’s -ahem- taking a lot on faith. I suppose you could say that if they even just respected your feelings regarding your beliefs enough to refrain on your account that it might be nice. But that’s not the way (you say) you phrased it. You imposed on them a reality you took for granted (once again: it seems) they would accept as their own: that in some sense he (Jesus) was real.
        Did you think of this perspective, ever? I venture to say that it would have been coursing through my mind before making such a request. It suggests… it could be perceived as arrogance, or fragility of conviction if you need others to affirm who do not themselves believe.

        Your thoughts?

        PS Chesterton, am I going round the bend here? Don’t want to derail the thread, but tell me true: did Beverly ever work even for any brief length of time in the library that you recall?

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      • I can answer that for you Ben – and as a Christian I don’t lie! No I didn’t. I only every worked in the Sixth Form Office!

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      • Hmmm Ben – having read more of your comments – I definitely think you are completely confusing me with someone else – maybe you are thinking of Mrs Barbara Turner who was the librarian and a Christian? And as you were never in the Sixth Form – I would not have had occasion or necessity to talk to you on a one to one (unless of course to tell you off for infringing school rules which any member of staff had the right and was expected to do.) By the way – not sure who told you counselling wasn’t part of my role! It was a bit part of my role – and the school obviously thought so or else they wouldn’t have sent me on several councelling courses!!

        And in terms of blasphemy – I wasn’t in any way infringing on non-Christian’s rights to blaspheme – just asking for common courtesy not to do it in front of me – as Jesus is a personal friend of mine in fact he’s my brother, and God is my father. I am sure you wouldn’t like people to run down your personal friends and family in front of you.

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    • I would really like that. I do voluntary work with a mission agency (in member care) so once a week I work with Christians, but ultimately it would be good to not have my hands tied the rest of the week! For now though, it is where God has put me and even though I can’t talk about Him, there are lots of opportunities to talk about love, and that’s a start.

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  9. The dead have been raised in Mozambique? Amazing!! Can you link me to an article or something similar? I’d not heard of this before, but I’d love to know more!

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    • Time to enact Operation Appleby, if they are…

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    • The best advice I can give would be to do some research into Rolland and Heidi Baker who oversee Iris Ministries. Their book “There is always enough” describes many of the miracles they have witnessed; also their head pastor in Southern Africa, Surpresa Sithole, has witnessed and preached about similar miracles. I just “googled Iris ministries raised from dead” and got this article from one of their newsletters: http://www.irismin.org/news/newsletters/view/back-from-the-dead
      so that’s a start. I’m sure that the cynical would easily find ways of pooh-poohing these stories, but personally I have no reason to doubt, having met the people concerned and being convinced of their integrity and faith.

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      • Since writing the above post, I was reflecting on my Mum (a staunch atheist)’s visit to Mozambique. We were sitting in our garden: me, a teenage Mozambican boy and my Mum. He was desperately trying to persuade her of the existence of God but of course was getting nowhere. I say of course, because my Mum has heard it all before and is fairly unshakeable. “But what if you saw God heal someone?” he said. “I would assume it was a coincidence”, She replied…and so it went on. He was genuinely amazed that someone could doubt if confronted with a healing miracle. I was not at all surprised. Psychologists are used to seeing things from all different angles and so even when writing the above information about Iris Ministries, I can see immediately that people will be able to find a hundred reasons to discount the miracles. I would have done the same ten years ago – I was an arch cynic when it came to this sort of thing. Of course, I would love to see an actual resurrection with my own eyes rather than quote someone else, but I haven’t. (Though as someone pointed out to me, I have seen metaphorical resurrections in many people i.e. emotional healing, people being brought back from a different sort of death). All I can say (to the doubters) is that Rolland and Heidi “walk the walk” – they live out their faith to an extent that few people achieve and God seems to use them in a very powerful way.
        Meanwhile, I continue to pray for emotional healing for the people I work with, knowing that it will not happen quickly, that grief takes time to heal and that interventions (whether therapeutic techniques, strategies or Bible verses) will mean nothing if not delivered with love, empathy and patience.

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      • Hello. 🙂
        Excuse my interjection, but I would not only say that it is that there are plenty of reasons to doubt, but that there are also NOT many reasons to believe.
        Positive evidence.
        I rather like your mother (from the sound of it) The boy believed that God had brought someone back to life. If your mother was there (or a scientist), she would only have seen someone come back to life. There are many possibilities which must be ruled out before the supernatural could come into play. That doesn’t mean it’s impossible (it isn’t), but that the odds, given how every supernatural explanation for events (weather, cosmology, the tides, formation of geology, disease, etc) which used to have a supernatural explanation has been replaced in time with a natural one. I would say that might allow one to be confidant (provisionally, of course). Like you say about your mother: we’ve heard it all before.

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      • Ben – when you quote things like nature is explaining away the supernatural – I think you may find it interesting to do a lot more checking with current scientifitic thinking and reasoning. There are more and more athiest scientists coming to think otherwise. Have you come across this guy?

        Andrew Parker is an Australian zoologist at Oxford university. He comes from an atheist background, but has recently started to change his mind.

        He’s written a book titled “The Genesis Enigma: Why The Bible Is Scientifically Accurate”, and claims that whilst writing it he’s become more and more convinced that the bible does in fact describe the origins of the universe quite accurately. Given that no-one had a clue about the Big Bang or evolution when the bible was written, it does raise certain questions.

        The best quote in the interview was this one: Are science and religion irreconcilable?

        The atheist movement argues that with science there’s no more room for religion. So you either have faith in religion with no rational backing whatsoever or you follow science – and science dictates there’s no room for God, which isn’t true. There are things beyond our realm we can’t solve with science.

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  10. Hi Ben! I’m sure you would like my Mum – she’s an amazing person and not at all typical of her generation: very bohemian, keen to help me grow up to think freely etc. I was the only child in my class who hadn’t been Christened (infant baptism being the norm if you were born in the 60s as I was) – and the only person in my friendship group whose mother did NOT have a dream of seeing her daughter walk up the aisle in a frothy white dress. Thus I was a disappointment not only for getting married (far too traditional) but getting married in a church – and then later on becoming a Christian! Never mind, our relationship has survived and she loved coming to Mozambique to visit us despite the overtly Christian ethos of the place where we worked.

    Anyway, I do really get where you’re coming from with what you said about reasons to doubt/believe; my own journey to faith involved a degree of reasoning and thought but also what I can only describe as an encounter with God…and as a result I don’t expect people to find Him through reason alone. I’d say more on the subject but I’m not very good at apologetics and having seen the dazzling displays of intellect between you and Ian in the past, I think I’ll leave it to the experts!

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    • Sally: Aw, I’m sure you flatter both Ian and I far too much. -blushes-
      I suppose to make my position clear (in a way you’ve probably heard before too) I could say that when a believer says something akin to “I don’t expect people to find Him through reason alone” I guess they’re referring to faith. In that case, I’m not interested, since not easy tell the differences between true faith (if you have the right religion) and wrong faith (if you have the incorrect. Thisd is a distinction I have more or less come to believe is an illusion, and that faith is an over-egged ‘virtue’.

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  11. Beverly: In that case, I must have conflated both you, and this other woman together. Memory, eh? Apparently every time one reviews one some part of it, it is re-written in our brains, on the physical level. Data corruption, if you will. My apologies. Makes one wonder, though… about the verifiability of miracles or religious experiences. Makes me wonder, at any rate. Hmm.

    “And in terms of blasphemy – I wasn’t in any way infringing on non-Christian’s rights to blaspheme – just asking for common courtesy not to do it in front of me – as Jesus is a personal friend of mine in fact he’s my brother, and God is my father. I am sure you wouldn’t like people to run down your personal friends and family in front of you.”

    -clap-clap-clap-

    And the reward to the most reliably missing the point goes to… well, I’ll not be over-callous. I get it. The courtesy bit, and I tried to leave room for that precise motive.
    But.
    What I meant in my (rather drawn-out, but I thought comprehensive) argument was that if Jesus really was your brother/personal friend in the same way that non-believers understand the term, then of course I’d understand, but unless you would return the compliment and respect their requests to be polite when mentioning their invisible friend Tibbles the Space Llama – then you shouldn’t ask it of them as though they share that reality.
    I repeat: you did not specify that this was your BELIEF that Jesus was your personal friend etc that they could respect but the fait accompli of it. This is, in my view, an unreasonable thing to ask of the world (to accede to your worldview) when you cannot adequately demonstrate the reality of it to others in the same way we do for most material facets of reality.
    People who ask this of those who don’t share their beliefs are often those who would argue for blasphemy laws.

    I’ve heard of Andrew Parker. He tries to make the claim in that book that the evolution of life on Earth follows a track which, if you squint and employ some creative interpretations of biblical language MIGHT look a bit like the Genesis account. As long as you ignore all the cosmology, and the bits which clearly indicate wholesale creation rather than gradual descent through modification, or that birds are in the wrong place for when they evolved, being lumped in with fish, etc.
    So basically all of the bits that matter.
    I skim-read this book when it turned up in my local library and was amused to discover that despite the title, Parker despises creationism, and rejects ‘intelligent design’. It almost seemed, as reviewers have since commented, that he had written a perfectly good book on natural history but needed some inflammatory ‘hook’ to attract readers.
    I can’t imagine why you bring it up.
    You end with a quote from more recently by Parker where he frames the current new atheist movement… inaccurately. There’s loads of room for god in science, if you’re a deist. Most of them would lambast the god of (as Ian calls it) classical theism as unnecessary and defunct, and I think Parker’s position came across that way to me. So what other examples of:
    “(…)more and more athiest (sp) scientists coming to think otherwise.”
    …do you have for me? Apparently my research is behind. 😉

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  12. Ben: No, I don’t remember Beverly ever working in the Library, though there have been staff members who were Christians working in there.

    I would have loved to see Max in full swing. Hah!

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    • Ach, it seems I conflated the two. I know Max mentioned Beverly by name to me, and must have confused his baiting and general Max-ness directed at another Christian while we were at school with later tales actually involving Beverly.

      Imagine it – more than one Christian woman in the KLS staff? (Sarcasm, naturally.)
      My bad.

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  13. I seem to hear a common theme amongst the Wommackians. It appears to be akin to the Stoics. (not a Christian offshoot, by the way) In a bible study one night at our church a student of Wommack ripped on my wife’s faith and the faith of my mother-in-law because (as this particular Wommackian believes) it is my mother-in-law’s fault that she has had severe rheumatoid arthritis for the last 27 years of her life. He posited also that my wife didn’t have enough faith either and that may be why her mother wasn’t healed. To which, my wife burst into tears and left the room. When confronted by another believer about what he had said and how he had gone about it, he said, “well, I’m sorry that my words upset her… I just tell it like it is and some people can’t handle that.” All this condemnation comes from a man who has suffered his whole life with juvenile diabetes (checks his blood sugar 7 to 8 times a day) and deals with violent mood swings. If you ask him how he is doing, he tries to change the subject by saying that he is healed and says that if he could get his act together enough then he wouldn’t have to deal with it. This whole incident reminds me of a bible story in which the disciples question Jesus about a child who was ill. They asked who was to blame? Who had sinned? Jesus’ response was that no one’s particular sin had cause this malady. This moment was to show his glory. I just wonder if during that particular bible study the Wommackian could have revealed just a bit of God’s glory through an act of standing in faith or prayer or concern or compassion or (fill-in-the-blank with any Christ-like virtue) on behalf of a grieving daughter and her suffering mother.

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    • It is so sad to read of the thoughtlessness of humans – but please don’t judge Andrew Wommack’s message – or indeed the truth of God’s word by man’s inhumanity to man. This guy’s position of understanding may well be right even if his delivery was wrong. The bottom line is that we are clearly told in God’s word that healing comes through faith – and lack of healing in the bible always seemed to be linked by Jesus – to someone not having faith – be it the disciples, or the surrounding people etc.

      Can I ask who you personally would blame for your mother-in-law’s illness and why in your opinion she has not been healed? And could you provide biblical support for this?

      You seem to use the biblical quote regarding God’s glory to imply that God made the child ill – so that his glory could be seen in healing him? Do you really believe this? If so – why would it not be equally glorifying to God for your mother in law to be healed? If you don’t believe this – why are you using it in this instance – it doesn’t really seem to support your position?

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  14. Beverly, I have appreciated your comments here. My husband is prayfully considering going to CBC and I have been doing research in general about the ministry and the school. I have found so many negative articles and comments about AW. But I must say, that I believe in the entire Word of God, and from what I can see and prove, AW has a clear understanding on the basic truths of the scripture.

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  15. Beverly, where is the love……………………………………………..?? I guess DARING to grieve is a big NO NO with Word of Faith people. It is not selfishness to grieve when our loved ones are separated from us through death. We can experience joy for our loved one if they are in Heaven – while missing them terribly at the same time. We do not grieve as those with no hope, but we still grieve! The Holy Spirit will comfort us when we ask, but it is still very hard to say goodbye – temporary though it is. But I can tell you first hand that the teachings of AW feel condemning when we in faith expected healing to come on this earth. You have no way of knowing my faith or the faith of my daughter, so please do not attempt to tell me I had unbelief or little faith. In fact, Andrew Wommack prayed over my daughter. Surely his faith should have been enough. Grief came even though I know I will see her again. I will not debate this with you. You brag about receiving thanks from grieving people for sharing truth. Well, I’m glad I did not encounter you and your truth because I for one would not have received it as you described.

    The truth is that we live in a fallen world where accidents, disease and natural disasters take lives regardless of our faith or acts of authority through the Blood of Jesus or the Name of Jesus. Is our Father the author of such tragedy? No, but these things still happen and will until Jesus comes again.

    Here is my question. We are citizens of Heaven, we have loved ones there, we have a mansion there and our Father lives there. Why do Word of Faith teachers make you feel like you have missed the mark if a loved one is called home before they turn 80 years of age? If our race is done, then it is a reward to be called home. It is victory, not failure!! For every healing there will still be death unless Jesus comes first. Of course it was the desire of my heart that my daughter be healed on this earth, but now that she is with Jesus, I do not believe it was because we lacked faith. I will miss her with every part of my being until I see her again. As I said, I can feel joy for my daughter AND I can feel a deep sorrow for myself and our family – including her baby that was only 11 months old.

    As far as Andrew Wommack is concerned, I believe he is authentic, but I do not believe he has everything right – and I have heard him acknowledge this fact. There is one thing though that bothers me. He speaks of calling his son back from the dead (after 4 or 5 hours of death). The Bible says that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord (for believers). So where is his son’s testimony of what he experienced for four or five hours? If AW is going to share something of this magnitude – which testifies to his success in using his authority as a believer, then he should share the entire story. There are other missing pieces in this account as well. I’m not saying I don’t believe him ………….but the missing pieces cause a certain feeling that I’m not sure I can explain.

    Anyway, Beverly, please take great care when you speak to grieving people. People are very vulnerable during times like this. Condemnation on top of grief is a lot to bear.

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