JP Moreland – Defender of the Faith!

Introducing JP Moreland

JP Moreland

JP Moreland is one of the most refreshing defenders of the Christian position currently taking part in debates with non-Christian intellectuals.

He is himself an intellectual giant, razor sharp, humourous, passionate. In this debate on the existence of God he covers the standard Christian arguments, namely,

1. The Origins of the Universe

2. Inference from Design – The Fine Tuning of the Universe/Information in DNA

3. The Existence of Objective Moral Law

A charismatic intellectual and an intellectual charismatic!
In addition, he argues passionately for the reliability of the New Testament, and, unlike almost every other Christian apologist I’ve heard, he argues that part of the evidence that verifies the Christian position is the current reality of physical healings taking place.

He refers not only to things happening globally but also in his own home church. The impact of this on his opponent, Clancy Martin (Prof and Chair of Philosophy, University of Missouri KC), is striking.

One could argue that JP is presenting a more rounded, balanced and Biblical defence by bringing in contemporary examples of God’s power in the experience of Christians as evidence for God’s existence.

But you be the judge. Have a listen and feel free to leave a comment.

Click here for audio of JP Moreland and Clancy Martin in debate

JP is distinguished Professor of Philosophy at Talbot School of Theology, Biola University, California. For a full list of his extensive academic achievements click here

He is the author of many books including:

  • Scaling the Secular City: A Defense of Christianity (1987)
  • Christianity and the Nature of Science: A Philosophical Examination (1989)
  • The Life and Death Debate: Moral Issues of Our Time (with Norman Geisler, 1990)
  • Does God Exist?: The Debate Between Atheists and Theists (with Kai Nielsen, 1990)
  • The Creation Hypothesis: Scientific Evidence for An Intelligent Designer (1994)
  • Love Your God With All Your Mind: The Role of Reason in the Life of the Soul (1997)
  • Body and Soul: Human Nature and the Crisis of Ethics (with Scott Rae, 2000)
  • Naturalism: A Critical Analysis (co-editor with William Lane Craig, 2000)
  • Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview (with William Lane Craig, 2003)
  • Kingdom Triangle: Recover the Christian Mind, Renovate the Soul, Restore the Spirit’s Power (2007)
  • Consciousness and the Existence of God (2009)
  • The Recalcitrant Imago Dei (2009)
  • The God Question: An Invitation to a Life of Meaning (2009)

© 2012 Lex Loizides / Church History Blog

Suffering, Sickness and Healing

PJ Smyth

Message of the Month – PJ Smyth

How should Christians respond when they are suddenly struck down with an illness? In the midst of suffering, are we to run away from medicine and trust only in prayer, or should we view prayer merely as a means of psychological comfort whilst trusting only in the prognosis of the medical professionals? Or, is there a faith-filled position which embraces both prayer and scientific medicine? And what about the Devil’s role in all this, and the role of vigourous resistance?

This message is by PJ Smyth who leads GodFirst Church in Johannesburg, South Africa. It was preached at the Newfrontiers ‘Together on a Mission’ conference in England in 2011.

It’s not a message on healing as such, but rather covers the broader range of pastoral issues that arise when we face serious sickness – including the source of sickness, and how we handle our approach towards recovery.

But it’s not merely academic. PJ was diagnosed with cancer in 2010, which was successfully treated. He tells the story in the message.

In terms of an overview of the Christian approach to the challenge of sickness and healing I think it is probably the best message I have heard on the subject, and which, in my opinion, reaches the correct conclusions.

But what do you think?

For the Video click here

For the Audio click here

© 2012 Lex Loizides / Church History Blog

A Christmas Miracle – Back from the Brink of Death

Christmastime with John Wesley

In December 1742 John Wesley and trainee leader Thomas Meyrick travelled to the North of England to preach the gospel.

It was a bitterly cold journey and they both became ill. Meyrick’s sickness, however, took a turn for the worse and twice he was feared dead.

Wesley tells the story of this particular Christmas miracle in his journal.

‘Wed 15th Dec. [Each of us had caught] a violent cold by riding the day before. Mine gradually wore off; but Mr Meyrick’s increased, so that on Friday, he took his bed…’

The Physician fears the worst

Mon 20th…they told me the Physician said, he did not expect Mr. Meyrick would live till morning. I went to him but his pulse was gone.

‘He had been speechless and senseless for some time. A few of us immediately joined in prayer: (I relate the naked fact) Before we had done, his sense and his speech returned.

‘Now he that will account for this by natural causes has my free leave: But I choose to say, This is the power of God.’

Keep praying and never give up!

Sat 25th Dec. ‘The Physician told me he could do no more; Mr. Metyrick could not live over the night. I went up and found them all crying about him; his legs being cold, and (as it seemed) dead already.

‘We all kneeled down, and called upon God with strong cries and tears.

‘He opened his eyes, and called for me; and from that hour he continued to recover his strength till he was restored to perfect health.

‘I wait to hear who will either disprove this fact, or philosophically account for it.’

(From John Wesley’s Journal, Baker edition, Vol 1, p.405-6)

A life of service to God

You might wonder what happened next – especially as he sank back into sickness after the initial bout of prayer.

Well, he did indeed recover and live a further 28 years, finally dying in 1770 (see here).

Prayer is not automatic. We come to a Person, to God the Father, who knows our need. But we can come with strong encouragements that He hears us according to His purpose and will.

Jesus said, ‘For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.’ (Matt 7:8 – see the verses in their context here)

What are you asking God for?

© 2009 Lex Loizides

Supernaturally Healed Whilst Preaching

You may not agree with all of John Wesley’s theology. Indeed, some of his statements are baffling.

But one thing you can’t deny is that he was a seriously hard worker. His commitment to preaching and teaching and leading was phenomenal.
And sometimes he got sick.

Weakness and Fever
Here’s an incident from May 1741 which is encouraging. Wesley claims (and I have no reason to doubt the claim) that he was supernaturally healed mid-sermon!!

Friday 8th May, 1741
‘I found myself much out of order. However, I made shift to preach in the evening: but on Saturday my bodily strength quite failed, so that for several hours I could scarce lift my head.

‘Sunday 10th. I was obliged to lie down most part of the day, being easy only in that posture.

‘Yet in the evening my weakness was suspended while I was calling sinners to repentance.

‘But at our love-feast which followed, beside the pain in my back and head, and the fever which still continued upon me, just as I began to pray, I was seized with such a cough that I could hardly speak.

Believing and Receiving
‘At the same time came strongly into my mind, ‘These signs shall follow them that believe.’ I called on Jesus aloud, to ‘increase my faith’ and to ‘confirm the word of his grace.’

‘While I was speaking, my pain vanished away; the fever left me; my bodily strength returned; and for many weeks I felt neither weakness nor pain. ‘Unto thee, O Lord, do I give thanks.’
(John Wesley Journal, Baker edition, Vol 1, p.310)

© 2009 Lex Loizides

Why didn’t Wesley become a Reformed Charismatic?

John Wesley and John Calvin - nearly but not quite!

John Wesley and John Calvin - nearly but not quite!

Wesley was miraculously healed while reading Paul on predestination
There are several accounts of physical healings during the Great Awakening.

But one is particularly amazing, seeing as it happened to John Wesley, avowed opponent of the Doctrine of Predestination. Now that statement cries out for explanation, so without any further ado let’s cut to Wesley’s journal entry for the period of 15th to 17th May 1739:

‘Wed 15 – I explained at Greyhound Lane, the latter part of the fourth chapter to the Ephesians. I was so weak in body, that I could hardly stand; but my spirit was much strengthened.

Bed-ridden all day
‘I found myself growing sensibly weaker all Thursday; so that on Friday, 17, I could scarce get out of bed, and almost as soon as I was up, was constrained to lie down again.

‘Nevertheless I made shift to drag myself on, in the evening, to Short’s Gardens.

‘Having, not without difficulty, got up the stairs, I read those words, (though scarce intelligibly, for my voice too was almost gone), ‘Whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate.’ (Romans 8:29)

Instant healing while reading about God’s predestinating grace
‘In a moment both my voice and strength returned: And from that time, for some weeks, I found such bodily strength as I had never done before, since my landing in America.’ (JW Journals, Baker edition, p. 306-7)

It’s amazing that God would heal Wesley, who had so misunderstood the Bible’s teaching on God’s sovereignty in salvation, while he was reading that particular verse.  But it didn’t soften him up or even cause him to pause.

When Wesley decided to preach so vehemently against predestination (and, therefore against Whitefield and Edwards) he asked that God would confirm his position. When the Spirit began to touch people with power, Wesley wrongly interpreted that as a divine confirmation of his rejection of predestination.

Why wasn’t Wesley consistent and view his instant healing as an endorsement of the verse? Because he’d already drawn a lot, to ‘preach and print’ against the Reformed position.

So the healing didn’t turn Wesley from his Arminianism to either a Reformed or a Charismatic position, nor did it cause him to become a forerunner of the modern Reformed Charismatic movement!

Wesley continued in his prejudice against election and probably interpreted the healing as God strengthening him to contradict the doctrine.

Shame that! Because of Wesley’s somewhat flawed (and inconsistent) means of gaining guidance, his continued determination to publicly blast election effectively divided the new converts’ loyalty, created bickering within the new movement, and caused energy to be directed away from the mission and onto this important, though secondary issue.

And that, folks, is why Wesley nearly (coulda, shoulda), but didn’t become a Reformed Charismatic!!

© 2009 Lex Loizides

John Wesley and so-called ‘Physical Manifestations’

John Wesley Preaching to the Crowds

John Wesley Preaching to the Crowds

Have you ever read John Wesley’s Journals? They are deeply interesting. In a manner similar to Edwards he tries to observe and assess the power of the Holy Spirit in the lives of those who hear the gospel.

‘Signs and Wonders’

Wesley writes that after preaching in one meeting, ‘We then called upon God to confirm his word. Immediately one that stood by (to our no small surprise) cried out aloud, with the utmost vehemence, even as in the agonies of death.

‘But we continued in prayer, till ‘a new song was put in her mouth’…Soon after, two other persons were seized with strong pain, and constrained to ‘roar for the disquietness of their heart.’

‘But it was not long before they likewise burst forth into praise to God their Saviour.’ He adds, ‘signs and wonders are even now wrought by his holy child Jesus.’ (JW Journals, Vol. 1, p.187, Baker Edition)

A few days later a similar thing happened: ‘At Weaver’s Hall, a young man was suddenly seized with a violent trembling all over, and in a few minutes, the sorrows of his heart being enlarged, sunk down to the ground.

‘But we ceased not calling upon God, till he raised him up full of ‘peace and joy in the Holy Ghost.’ (p.187-8)

Increased Power
Again and again as Wesley preached people were overwhelmed by God’s power. At this early stage Wesley and his fellow leaders were alarmed and concerned to help those who are affected. But then it spread…

During the sermon, as he emphasised the generous offer of mercy to all who come to Christ…’Immediately one, and another, and another sunk to the earth. They dropped on every side as thunderstruck.’ (p.188)

He then gives various descriptions of sorrow being turned to joy in those who were affected.

A Doctor’s Story
On April 30th Wesley recorded this incident:

‘We understood that many were offended at the cries of those on whom the power of God came; among whom was a physician, who was much afraid there might be fraud or imposture in the case.

‘Today, one whom he had known many years was the first (while I was preaching in Newgate) who broke out ‘into strong cries and tears.’ He could hardly believe his own eyes and ears.

‘He went and stood close to her, and observed every symptom, till great drops of sweat ran down her face, and all her bones shook. He then knew not what to think, being clearly convinced it was not fraud nor yet any natural disorder.

‘But when both her soul and body were healed in a moment, he acknowledged the finger of God.’ (p.189)

Wesley, as Edwards had done before him, was careful not to ridicule or harshly judge those who responded to the power of God’s Spirit in these overt ways.

And, as with Edwards, we must remember that these things were happening primarily in the evangelistic context. They were not a ‘draw card’ as such, but seemed to be evidence of God’s presence and of conviction of sin, and conversion.

Perhaps we need to take a step back from the highly ordered nature of much modern evangelism and ask God to reveal His holiness and power once again.

© 2009 Lex Loizides

Supernatural Healing and Health in Jonathan Edwards’ Town

Now this may come as a surprise, especially if you are aware of Edwards’ position on the cessation of the gifts of the Holy Spirit as listed in 1 Corinthians 12, at least ‘the extraordinary gifts’ as he puts it.

But good Mr. Edwards faithfully recounts what actually happened in Northampton during the season of an outpouring of the Holy Spirit in 1735.

And one of the tremendous surprises, as we read the Narrative is his testimony of a season of supernatural health that literally affected the whole town.

The passage is tucked away and rarely brought out, but here it is:

‘In the former part of this great work of God amongst us, till it got to His height, we seemed to be wonderfully smiled upon and blessed in all respects.

Satan seemed to be unusually restrained; persons who before had been involved in melancholy, seemed to be as it were waked up out of it;

and those who had been entangled with extraordinary temptations, seemed wonderfully freed.

And not only so, but it was the most remarkable time of health that ever I knew since I have been in the town.

We ordinarily have several bills put up, every Sabbath, for sick persons; but now we had not so much as one for many sabbaths together.’ (From, A Narrative of Surprising Conversions, in Jonathan Edwards on Revival, Banner of Truth, p. 69)

This amazing season of health didn’t last forever. Indeed he declares honestly that ‘after this it seemed to be otherwise.’ But the reality is that Jonathan Edwards did actually witness a season of supernatural health and healing in his own town during his ministry.

Why he didn’t consider this season of health an ‘extraordinary gift’ of healing, though it was truly extraordinary we don’t know. Why this experience of health over a whole community didn’t impact his thinking about the continuance of the gifts of the Spirit listed in 1 Corinthians 12 we don’t know.

What we do know is that God did grant such a season of health, and that God does continue to answer prayer even now, though perhaps not on such a widespread scale as Jonathan Edwards saw.

You can purchase Edwards on Revival here
You can read a review of Edwards on Revival here

© 2009 Lex Loizides