After 12/7/2011, this blog will no longer be updated, although content will remain. Please visit my new blog at Hidden Latitudes.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Can a person without faith be healed?

   This question came up in a weekly reading group I attend. (I call it that, although the only book we read is the Bible. But that's all we do—read a chapter and then comment on it. Sounds like a recipe for disaster, but although we have a diverse group of young and old Christians, Orthodox and Messianic Jews, and the occasional seeker or unbeliever, the comments are uniformly rich, encouraging and challenging. Must be God or something.)
   The general consensus was that yes, a person without faith can be healed. Among the reasons cited:
  • God is God. He can do whatever he pleases. He is not a God of formula.
  • Often it is only the faith of others, not the ill person, which precedes healing.
  • People have been healed who were comatose or dead. (See Luke 8)
   The same question was revived in real-time this week when Christopher Hitchens, my favorite atheist, was interviewed by Jeffrey Goldberg of the Atlantic. Hitchens, the author of God Is Not Great, was recently diagnosed with esophageal cancer. When Goldberg asked him if he were insulted by people praying for him, Hitchens, in typical wry humor, replied:
"No, no, I take it kindly, on the assumption that they are praying for my recovery."
   Hitchens makes it clear that such a result will not sway his unbelief. If gratitude were a requirement for healing, Hitchens might have a point. Yet in Luke 17, when ten lepers were healed, only one came back to say thanks. And we know that, every day, hundreds of things come into our lives which should make us grateful, but we fail to even see them.
   But I will be praying for him. He sees it as late in his story. But perhaps it is finally just beginning.

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