The Theology of Coins on the Wall

This week I was volunteering at the Partners in Harvest conference in Hemel Hempstead. It is a fellowship of churches and ministries in the Charismatic tradition. There is an emphasis on the person of the Holy Spirit and the availability of that personal God in the life of all people, and especially Christians.

Accordingly, there is an expectation of miracles to be a regular part of the Christian life. Healing ought to be commonplace. Lives ought to be miraculously transformed. Society ought to be totally transformed by the Spirit-enabled Church.

In order to demonstrate the power and presence of God’s Spirit, conference delegates were invited to pray and place a coin on the wall. God’s Spirit was going to hold it there.

So naturally I went to have a go with rather dubious faith. To my great surprise, I did actually get a coin to stick. And I wasn’t the only one.

Coins were all over the wall. I even saw a £10 note and a coke can stuck to wall simply because someone prayed that it would stay there.

Now, after a quick look on the internet I realised that it was a feature of waxy, sticky paint. The spoon had me for a moment though.

Took this at the conference as people were praying.

So, anyway, I don’t want to have an argument over this.

I am more interested in the theology which is manifesting in what I believe is self-deception.

The preacher explained that this supposed miracle demonstrates that God is powerful enough to do anything. So, if God can hold a penny to a wall, he can heal my cancer or depression. Indeed after we had all done the coin trick, the preacher led the congregation in prayers for one another for all manner of things.

The penny trick caused the faith to increase.


I’ll just leave this here.

So I was in a room full of Christians who were not prepared to receive from Scripture, that is, the collection of documents from the early church paid for with their lives, the faith given by Christ himself that his disciples would do things like he had done.

And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” And he called to him his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every affliction.

– Matthew 9:35-10:1

It is sad to me that it took a deceptive magic trick to convince a room full of pastors and missionaries that the faith tradition handed down to them by martyrs, prophets, pastors and scholars was in any way true for them.

In truth, this demonstrates that the epistemology of many Christians is no different to anyone else. They want to be just an impressed by something they can see and touch, rather than trust Christ’s own words of promise.

Perhaps the renewal of our minds needs to go deeper, giving us an appreciation for knowledge and ideas we have not conjured up ourselves, rather diving into the great well of Scripture and the Christians who have gone before us.

I propose that this kind of deeply Christian though, spirituality and practice will have a far greater effect on ourselves and on society than the sporadic reports of miracles we have now.

This would be half the way toward actually fulfilling Jesus’ command, to make disciples of all nations.

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7 Comments

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  1. Thanks Ian, I agree with your conclusions and wonder if you have had a chance to listen to Pete Rollins on “Pyro-Theology” or “Being Human”. The second is still available from the Mars Hill Podcast and the former I can supply if you missed it. There are some similar veins of thought in there that I think would resonate with you.
    God bless, keep up the good work.
    Grace & Peace
    A

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  2. I get what you ate saying here. I really do.
    And yet, it was the miracles and miraculous things that he did in the first few years of my faith that increased… my faith.
    Several years ago, after listening to a church sermon on prayer, I was walking my dog and talking to God. “Father, I tend to look for signs and wonders from you, rather than speaking more with you. Starting today, I will begin speaking with you more and not just look for signs from you…”. Immediately, a dove falls from the sky and lands beside me. Another woman walking her dog saw this and gasped. She took my dog as I scooped up the dove. It had a broken wing. I cared for the dove for 2 more days. It flew in the 3rd day. Father spoke greatly to me through this sign and wonder… With perfect timing.
    Last year, my (proclaimed) atheist, teen soon nearly died from an accidental drug overdose. Several months later followed with many doctor visits, fear, praying, etc., etc…I walked into my son’s room to wake him one morning and was startled to find one lone penny stuck to his wall approximately one foot above his sleeping head. It honestly scared me. I woke him quickly and asked him why he did that; stuck the penny to the wall. He looked up with sleepy eyes, brushed at it with his hand, it easily feel to the bed, and he mumbled half asleep; “I have no idea how that got there, mom”.
    I told several of my Christ following friends about this and several of them told me about “pennies from heaven”. I believe the Lord was letting me know He is over my son’s life. Reassuring my fears.

    What I learned from the dove incident is that He does and will give us signs and work miracles… increasing our faith (often that is why Jesus and his disciples did so) but that we are not to make these or idle. That we do not make games or “practices of such things”. I’ve read and prayed a great deal but I truly am a simple, christ following woman. This is what I believe though.

    God bless and thank you so much for sharing your story.

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  3. I used to think It might be the sticky paint as well… but I’ve managed to use concrete statues, the underside of a table, playing cards on a mirror….not sure of all of them actually because I’ve tried so many. I’ve been skeptical as well, but I think if there was a scientific explanation, it could be related to electromagnetic energy fields. I don’t believe science has fully investigated this or the full potentials of every aspect of the light spectrum. Probably just as well though.

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  4. A friend introduced me to this phenomena before the holidays. I researched it and found it is really just a surface tension temporary bond between the penny and the painted surface. Regardless of whether it hangs over the corner or not, it has more to do with the paint finish than the penny. I stuck a quarter to a high gloss painted cinder block, and that was an act of non-religious, non-spiritual scientific experimentation. I also have a couple of pennies that have been up for 25 days now on eggshell and satin finished painted walls. Other pennies stuck for seconds, minutes, and a few hours. What does that say about my faith or the Holy Spirit’s presence… nothing at all. Jesus said he would not leave His followers as orphans and that He prayed to the Father to send the Holy Spirit to be with us and in us (John 14). This teaching, that the sticking penny has to do with faith or is evidence of the HS’s presence, bothers me, because it opens the door for more erroneous teaching. And it could discourage younger believers if they don’t get their pennies to stick on a wall for whatever reason. New Age people also claim this “sign” as they do it, too. They say it is the positive energy that causes it to stick. Rubbish. God created scientific laws, and in this case, the coin and paint work together following the surface tension temporary adhesion physics, which works better on some paint finishes than others. Also, if you get the penny slightly warm in your hand, it tends to stick better. The same is true for forks and spoons that have the right combination of surface area touching the wall and that are light enough not to break the temporary bond. So if your penny doesn’t stick, don’t feel like you have little faith or that the Holy Spirit is not with you. Just try a wall that has a higher gloss paint

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  5. Mellissa EL Chaar February 2, 2015 — 1:18 pm

    As all Darwinist, you have made an attempt to scientifically explain away the mysteries of God. Faith requires no proof, but Jesus performed miracles on this earth to strengthen faith and bring people and glory to his Father. Yes all Christians are called to be disciples and make disciples and that means….”The truth is, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father. You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, because the work of the Son brings glory to the Father. Yes, ask anything in my name, and I will do it! (John 14:12-14). I have personally seen my children ask and receive this gift from Jesus of placing a coin on the wall and the wall had no waxy paint, but that one simple miracle strengthened my children’s faith that God is always present and always keeps His promises. A wise person once said “A miracle is anything that brings people closer to God”

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    • No need to name calls. I’m saved by the blood, and have seen my share of miracles as well as deliverance from demons. But coin sticking is not a miracle. Call it one if you like, but it makes no sense. So if the penny falls, should one doubt their faith or God’s continued love and care? This seems like a dangerous consequence that those weak in faith might conclude. Why is it that anybody can stick a penny to the wall, with or without praying? I just don’t like seeing people deceived, claiming this is a miracle when it is very explainable through God-established science.

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  6. Scientific explanation: http://www.thenakedscientists.com/forum/index.php?topic=22610.0

    This is a perfectly normal kitchen trick, doesn’t have anything to do with paint (or the supernatural) but with air pressure.

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