Healing;  an introduction to books

The purpose of this article is firstly, to recommend books that deal with the subject of physical healing and secondly, given that there are different approaches, to help distinguish between these.

Everything to do with ‘salvation’ has, broadly speaking, to do with healing; the Greek word for save, sozo, quite equally means heal. Healing and prayer for healing have always been present in the Church, but over the last 150 years or so have returned to the degree of prominence they clearly had in the ministry of Jesus; this has occurred particularly within the Pentecostal movement and more latterly with the charismatic renewal, both centred within the USA; most of the material available is drawn from there; it is hard to know what is being taught, for example, in China where the gospel has been having such a huge impact, and the healing component is well known..

Particular recommendations here are for books by Kenneth E Hagin, TL Osborn, Charles and Frances Hunter, and by two Australian evangelists, Stuart Gramenz and John Mellor. The tendency is for writers like Hagin and Osborn to teach healing, which is to say teaching faith for healing; but there is another whole trend of healing which gives much less place to teaching and this is represented in the books by John Mellor and his ministry; Stuart Gramenz provides a very clear resolution of the two trends.

My bookshelf is stocked with books on healing. Before turning to the particular recommendations, there follows a run through of some of these, with brief comments. Anything to do primarily with emotional healing is not included here.

First of all, some older books; the first two are available to download free. These are AJ Gordon,The Ministry of Healing and AB Simpson,The Gospel of Healing. The former is substantially a defence of healing as a legitimate practice at a time when this was a far from universally held view; a lot of the approach is historical. The book by Simpson is very worthwhile, an early statement of healing by Christ through our faith; Simpson himself was marvellously healed of severe heart problems solely by faith, acting contrary to his feelings on the basis of believing the Bible. In similar vein is Healing Secrets by Andrew Murray. It is hoped to have a full post on Murray, a voluminous and profound teacher of a spiritual walk; much of what he says about faith for healing in its many aspects could be seen as a template for later teachers of faith such as Hagin; every topic he covers is taken up by the later teachers and he says it all very well. These three men were not Pentecostal in the sense of speaking in tongues, so there are some things they are less knowledgeable about, but they make up for this with great clarity of expression. All wrote towards the end of the 19th century

We turn next to another group of three writers, all just a little later, Maria Woodworth-Etter, Lilian B Yeomans, and FF Bosworth. The Woodworth-Etter  book is A Diary of Signs and Wonders; it is more an autobiographical record of her evangelistic and healing ministry across the US than a teaching  volume, but there is material there that lets us know what she preached. This was an amazing woman. Her ministry is marked by remarkable healings and a multitude of spiritual gifts and visions. Her memorable phrase to describe some healings is that “the blood struck in”; the book is inspirational and a must read. One of her close associates and an important figure in the early Pentecostal movement was FF Bosworth; his book is Christ the Healer; again this is essential reading. The style is not modern; the book is seminal. There are only so many things you can say about faith and healing; Bosworth, like Simpson, covers most of them. His influence on TL Osborn, the most important world Christian leader of the 20th century, was enormous, and TL covers much of the same ground in Healing the Sick. Christ the Healer is a prescribed text book in Pentecostal type Bible schools everywhere. I open at random and read this:-

Jesus said to the man with the withered hand, “Stretch forth thy hand.” Christ first gives faith, then calls it to its wondrous exercise. The man stretched forth his hand in reliance upon Divine strength, and it was made whole. As we put forth effort in reliance upon God, to do what without Him is impossible, God meets us with Divine power, and the thing is done independent of nature.

The third person here is Lilian Yeomans. She has four books, but they are gathered together by Harrison House in one volume, Healing Treasury. Yeomans was a doctor who became addicted to drugs.  Christ delivered her and she devoted the rest of her life to divine healing. The books treat of healing from many different angles; Kenneth Hagin said they are the best books on healing.

Chronologically, we should also mention another book as well as an important person from the same period. The book is Bodily Healing and the Atonement by TJ McCrossan; it was re-issued by Harrison House at Kenneth Hagin’s behest; it is a learned but accessible demonstration of the healing power of the atonement. The person is Smith Wigglesworth, for whom triple size capital letters are required. There is no one who breathes love of God and faith like this man – but he was not an author; however the collections of recorded excerpts from his ministry into books and the accounts of his life are beyond parallel inspiring. Please see the article.

We then come to a third triumvirate, all from the same Texas/Oklahama area and the same period, coming to prominence in the ’50s and continuing on for the next 40 years or more. There are several articles on Kenneth Hagin and TL Osborn to be viewed elsewhere, so a brief look at them here, and then Oral Roberts. I have just one book by Roberts, A Daily Guide to Miracles, though I believe there are many others. I heard him preach and he struck me as Billy Graham plus; a great evangelistic strength but with the Pentecostal element and strong emphasis on healing. There is an interesting biography, which to my mind shows a man going off track; he thought that God wanted him to build a university; the biography does not suggest to me that that was the case, though I hope I am wrong. We will return to the theme of ‘going off track’ in a moment.  The two books on healing to read are Healing the Sick by TL Osborn and Bible Healing Study Course by Kenneth E Hagin. The latter covers most of what Hagin teaches directly concerned with healing; healing is a constant throughout his books, but there is not much need to go outside this one to know what he says. Healing the Sick was written early in Osborn’s ministry in ‘World Evangelism’ and is almost a statement of faith. Where Hagin teaches, Osborn proclaims. Some of TL’s later books are variations on the theme of healing, in particular Receive Miracle Healing. It might be nice for women to read Daisy Osborn’s books; these assume the reader to be a woman, which is ‘nice’; they are equally strong. All over the world there are thousands and thousands of miracle babies named Daisy; some of them don’t know why they are called that. I met one such in Costa Rica, so I said, ‘you were born in 195_’; she asked how I knew this so I explained that that was the year TL and Daisy were in San José.

I feel I should mention in this increasingly lengthy article two men who rather lost the plot. Both are the subjects of biographies by Gordon Lindsay, an associate of the three men just mentioned and founder of Christ for all Nations. He writes about Alexander Dowie and William Branham, both of whom had wonderful healing ministries, but both lost their ministries and lives through an identical severe error. Dowie was an Australian minister who discovered healing during a flu epidemic and then moved to the US. He founded Zion City, Illinois and for a while continued to enjoy a dramatic and hugely influential preaching and healing ministry, before begin to entertain grandiose ideas of himself; this combined with overwork led to something of a breakdown; he began to believe that he was Elijah, and died not long after. Branham had a very remarkable ministry; he has been severely traduced since, but at the outset was a man who demonstrated the ministry of Jesus in the most humble of ways; TL Osborn was influenced by him to start preaching healing; TL says that he saw in Branham the most beautiful and perfect gifts of knowledge and of healings he ever saw. However, Branham wanted to teach, which was simply not his gifting; like Dowie he began to entertain strange ideas and exactly like Dowie proclaimed himself to be Elijah; he died soon after in a car crash. There were a number of men at the same period, the ’50s and ’60s, who had marvellously anointed ministries, who knew nothing  or little about teaching and faith; we will return to this shortly. The point is that healing does not credential anyone!

Before turning to the distinction between faith and anointing, I would like to mention three more important healing ministries, among the many. I am not going discuss the Vineyard movement, or the allied Toronto movement, though they are well worth investigating, and I should mention books by Randy Clarke. Instead two further recommendations are of Norvel Hayes  and Francis MacNutt. Hayes was a close friend of Kenneth Hagin; he writes a lot about spiritual gifts, his book on healing being The Healing Handbook. He is very forthright and direct; his style is most challenging; he is very strong and inspiring. The book I have by MacNutt is called simply Healing; it is well worth looking at, in part as coming from a man with a Roman Catholic background, which I have found tends to suggest a thoughtful and sensitive approach. NacNutt is wide-ranging in his thinking; there are most useful discussions on misunderstandings of the faith teaching of Kenneth Hagin and on inner healing, for example. The healing revival of the previous decade hit all denominations including the more sacramental ones in the ’60s and onwards, and you would have to say that, for people with that kind of background, the more overtly Pentecostal styles might not initially be very easy; there is a whole range of people operating outside that sphere and MacNutt would seem to be a good example. The final American based ministry to mention is that of Charles and Francis Hunter. Here we go back to the more Pentecostal style. The Hunters have a lot of very nice books with a great range of ideas and practices; one title is How to heal the Sick and there is a lot in it from the Bible and their experience. One reason for recommending this book is the excellent translation into Spanish, Como Sanar a los Enfermos. Daughter, Joan also now conducts a nice healing ministry.

Nearly all the above mentioned ministries would have a big focus on the preaching and teaching of healing. One Hagin book is called Hear and be Healed; “faith comes by hearing”. TL would stand and preach, proclaiming the gospel of salvation, which includes healing, and the people would start being healed everywhere. His outlook was that “if I can just get the people to listen long enough, the word will get inside them, and they will hatch off and get well”. But there is a whole other strand to healing, what Hagin calls ‘healing by the anointing’, healing by spiritual gifts, apart from any teaching. This way of ministering is well exemplified by, for example, Australian evangelist John Mellor. His books are very nice: Miracles from the Dust, Releasing Healing, and Keys to Healing. The first two are somewhat autobiographical; we learn how John started lay hands on and to pray for the aboriginal people where he was pastoring and to his surprise they started to get well; he moved to Scotland and there a healing ministry began in earnest, but it was mostly praying for people, with little teaching. The third book does provide some teaching, but, having been in his meetings, I can say that it really isn’t a major element; he urges people to forgive; he prays for people, again and again, and major miracles result.

A very nice resolution of the distinction between healing by faith and by the anointing is found in How to heal the Sick by Stuart Gramenz, another excellent Australian. He suggests a gradient from 100% healing by faith, just through hearing the word and believing, through 50% faith where people can be helped by the laying on of hands and a flow of the Holy Spirit where the faith of healer and sick person combine, to 0% faith in the raising the dead, where obviously the dead person does not contribute. He covers a range of ‘methods’ or, better, ways God works, across this gradient. A very good book; there are so many ways of healing, he says, because God so wants to heal.

There are two more books to mention in closing, partly to show that, yes, there is life outside the US, though before going there we should mention John G Lake, early in the 20th century and the Copelands, Kenneth and Gloria and their associates; Gloria is very clear. The two last books I wished to mention are The Forgotten Talent by Cameron J Peddie, a Scottish minister who began to seek a healing ministry mid-century; this is a lovely story; Peddie prayed and prayed  and began to notice that people around him were getting better and so devoted himself to this ministry; he has something very interesting to say about anointing with oil. Then there is God’s Gift of Healing by Fred Smith, an English policeman who began to find he saw results preaching and praying; the loveliest and humblest of men and a great account. There must be so many wonderful stories and ministries; this has been a short sample, focusing on those who have influenced me.

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