Not far from where I am writing there is an up-to-date Presbyterian hospital. In the adjoining parking-lot is a long line of doctors’ cars each with a caduceus—the common emblem of the physician. Atop the tower of a not-distant Presbyterian church is a cross, the recognized emblem of Christianity. The cross and caduceus are seen in open alliance.
Within a mile of my residence stands a church of another major Protestant body which supports no local hospital but maintains a tepid and innocuous interest in the ministry of healing by sharing in the support of a hospital chaplain.
Within a wider radius one of the newer denominations has a church. It teaches that the prayer of faith is all that is required for complete healing and definitely opposes the employment of doctors and drugs.
The three examples indicate that evangelical Christianity presents no unified and consistent answer to the problems of healing.
RECONCILIATION AND HEALING
Does Christianity need to reappraise and to restate the relationship between the gospel of reconciliation and the gospel of healing? Without softening the Gospel’s “joyful sound which conquers sinners and comforts saints,” should we not be able to suggest a message of healing to augment the church’s spiritual witness?
When Jesus commissioned the twelve, the record says, “he sent them to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick” (Luke 9:2). There are those, of course, who claim that this was a special commission to preach and heal in order to meet an emergency. If so, when was the commission revoked? Could the commission be half revoked and half retained?
To be sure, when given, the commission meant something different from what it means today. In Jesus’ day there were no hospitals, no medical specialists, ...1
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