In Sickness and in Health: A Theological-Exegetical Reading of Healings in the Gospels and Acts as the Basis for the Development of a Pentecostal Theology of Healing
AuthorsAger, Rachel M.
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AbstractThere is, and always has been, a dark side to Pentecostal theologies of healing. This is because Pentecostal theologies and practices of healing have not adequately dealt with the reality that for many Pentecostals the promise of divine healing is not borne out by experience. This contradiction between promise and experience exacerbates the suffering of people who are not healed after prayer and alienates them from the very faith community that should be supporting them. The key argument of this thesis, and the original contribution to knowledge it will provide, is that a theological-exegetical reading of the Gospels and Acts can be utilised to inform and ground a renewed theology of healing which, rather than alienating those affected by illness, injury, or disability, empowers them. A literature review confirms that there is not already a biblically based and sufficiently developed pentecostal theology and practice of healing, which is consistent with the experience of the many Pentecostals who are not healed after prayer, which is, or could be, followed by Pentecostals in Britain today (Chapter 3). The Pentecostal hermeneutic of Spirit, Community and Word is utilised to ground the renewed theology of healing. The lived testimonies of Christians whose prayers for divine healing remain unanswered bears witness to the fact that not all faithful Spirit-filled Christians are healed today (Chapter 4). A theological-exegetical reading of the healing narratives in the Gospels and Acts reveals that the presuppositions held by many Pentecostals in relation to healing were not upheld (Chapter 5). This demonstrated that the Evangelists did not expect their readers to assume that Jesus healed all who came to him, or that faith was a prerequisite to healing. The outcomes of the reading of the Gospels and Acts, as well as the examination of the lived testimonies of current Pentecostal believers are utilised to ground a renewed Pentecostal theology of healing (Chapter 6). This theology is shaped by a theology of the cross and the message of Johann Blumhardt, which set healing within a cosmic-eschatological perspective. Significantly, this renewed theology is one which does not alienate those who suffer. Rather, it acknowledges the sustaining power of the Holy Spirit in the lives of those who are suffering, and it recognises their continuing faithfulness to God in the midst of suffering as lives that are victorious. It is theology which calls the church to fight the causes of suffering, but also to be present with those who suffer. The church can then respond consistently and compassionately to those who suffer both before and after prayers for healing, regardless of the outcome of those prayers.
CitationAger, R. M. (2021). In sickness and in health: A theological-exegetical reading of healings in the gospels and Acts as the basis for the development of a pentecostal theology of healing [Unpublished doctoral thesis]. University of Chester.
PublisherUniversity of Chester
TypeThesis or dissertation
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