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HEALING ON THE STREETS - PSEUDO-EVANGELISM
Healing on the Streets as a model of healing evangelism began in 2005 and was pioneered and developed in the UK by Mark Marx from the Causeway Coast Vineyard Church in Coleraine, Ireland. Healing on the Streets is a franchise which is currently being used as an evangelistic technique in many parts of the United Kingdom and also abroad. In Leicester Healing on the Streets is being jointly undertaken by All Nations Church and Holy Trinity Church. Below in bold is an excerpt from healingonthestreets.com
Healing on the Streets is a simple, but beautiful way, to reach out to the lost and hurting on the streets of your town or city. It enables you to connect with your community every week, powerfully expressing God’s love in the market place, whatever the weather. We simply invite people to sit on chairs so we can pray for them.
This gentle ministry works within a loving and compassionate environment, full of the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. It is marked by a true sense of peace. Amongst the hustle and bustle of busy shoppers, walks the Prince of Peace. Stillness falls; passers-by begin to slow and stop, as the presence of God draws their hearts…
The above model appears to be a really good idea on the surface, but we need to consider more closely how the Bible defines evangelism. The dictionary meaning of evangelism is: Zealous preaching (promulgation dissemination) of the gospel; spreading the word, spreading the gospel, telling the gospel message. Evangelism is a vital part of Christ’s commission to His church, it is the single priority which can never be ignored. Both Jesus Christ and Paul gave priority to the gospel message:
But he said to them, "I must proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God to the other cities also; for I was sent for this purpose." (Luke 4/43)
If I proclaim the gospel, this gives me no ground for boasting, for an obligation is laid on me, and woe to me if I do not proclaim the gospel! (1 Corinthians 9/16)
It is very concerning therefore that the preaching of the gospel is deliberately prohibited from Healing on the Streets. This is also very irregular since biblically preaching the gospel always precedes healing:
Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and curing every disease and every sickness among the people. (Matthew 4/23)
And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people. (Matthew 9:35)
As you go, proclaim the good news, "The kingdom of heaven has come near. 'Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers,cast out demons. You received without payment; give without payment. (Matthew 10/7-8)
"Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation.The one who believes and is baptized will be saved; but the one who does not believe will be condemned.And these signs will accompany those who believe: by using my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues;they will pick up snakes in their hands,and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover." (Mark 16/15-18)
And they went out and proclaimed the good news everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by the signs that accompanied it. (Mark 16/20).
…..and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal.(Luke 9/2),
They departed and went through the villages, bringing the good news and curing diseases everywhere. (Luke 9/6)
But when they believed Philip as he preached good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. Even Simon himself believed, and after being baptized he continued with Philip. And seeing signs and great miracles performed, he was amazed. (Acts 8)
You know the message he sent to the people of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ—he is Lord of all.That message spread throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John announced:how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power; how he went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. (Acts 10/36-38)
And he said to them, "Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation. (Mark 16/15) The primary mission of the church is to preach the gospel.
And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. ( James 5/15) In this instance James is speaking to believers.
There are instances of people coming to Jesus for healing e.g. the leper Matthew 8/2); the centurion (for his servant) (Matthew 8/5; Luke 7/2) Jairus (for his daughter) (Mark 5/22; Luke 8/41); the ten lepers Luke 17/11-19) These people had all clearly heard of Jesus’ teachings and healings and they recognised his authority, they came to Jesus –he did not go them (Peter’s mother in law being the exception). Jesus did not promote his healings or miracles, in fact he sometimes told those he healed not to tell anyone. (Matthew 8/4; Mark 1/44; 5/43;7/36) Jesus’ ministry was hindered by the leper's disobedience in telling about his healing (Mark 1/45).
In the instance of the demoniacs - it was the demons not the men themselves who recognised Jesus – this was not a physical healing but an exorcism:
When he came to the other side, to the country of the Gadarenes,two demoniacs coming out of the tombs met him. They were so fierce that no one could pass that way.Suddenly they shouted, "What have you to do with us, Son of God? Have you come here to torment us before the time?" (Matthew 8/28-29) Jesus told the healed demoniac to go home and declare how much God has done for you. (Luke 8/39; Matthew 8/28)
So they remained for a long time, speaking boldly for the Lord, who testified to the word of his grace by granting signs and wonders to be done through them. (Acts 14/3)
I have hopefully managed to demonstrate that preaching Jesus Christ takes pre-eminence and that these signs follow (Mark 16/17). I was involved with Healing on the Streets in Leicester for a very short period of time and preaching the gospel was definitely a no-no. It seemed to me that it was like trying to follow a recipe without the most vital ingredient.
Mark Denver has written a very interesting article in Christianity Today in which he defines what evangelism is not. He says it is not imposition, personal testimony, social action or public involvement or apologetics, even though all these things are all in themselves good things to do. “We need to stop mistaking other Christian activities for the spreading of the gospel.” www.christianitytoday.com
Jacob Prasch writes: I always say Jesus never had a “miracle crusade”. He had miracles, but never a miracle crusade. Jesus never had a “healing crusade”. He had healings, but never a healing crusade. He had repentance crusades. http://www.moriel.org
In fact Healing on the Streets has done more harm than good to the cause of Christianity since its claims were quite legitimately challenged by law:
Adjudication on Healing on the Streets- Bath:
the ads were irresponsible, because they provided false hope to those suffering from the named conditions…………..However, we noted we had not seen evidence that people had been healed through the prayer of HOTS volunteers, and concluded that the ads could encourage false hope in those suffering from the named conditions and therefore were irresponsible. http://asa.org.uk
What precedes the unbiblical model of Healing on the Streets is a prayer meeting involving ‘treasure hunting’ which is supposedly a form of prophetic evangelism:
…..the methodology is quite simple. You meet for prayer and praise for one hour before going out, then you claim the ground through prayer on the street before you set up your banner and chairs and then hand out invitational healing leaflets telling of our belief that Jesus healed 2000 years ago and that He still heals today.http://www.ccr.org.uk
I have explained elsewhere that claiming the ground, like prayer walking, is a non-biblical form of spiritual warfare. http://eliora.hubpages.com/hub/PRAYER-WALKING-IS-UNBIBLICAL
I have defined evangelism above, but what does the Bible say about prophecy?
A prophet is a spokesperson for God. Prophecy is challenging, A prophet who omits to mention sin and repentance is a false prophet. A soothsayer will say pleasant things and will be popular because they are speaking in the flesh. It is my contention that Treasure Hunting is nothing more than psychic and/or occultic phenomena. I attended the training session for Treasure Hunting in Leicester during 2011. For me the experience left me feeling uncomfortable and uneasy. We were given a certain amount of time to receive ‘prophetic words’ from God about each other, if we failed to receive anything we were told to say whatever came into our minds. This approach is absolutely condemned in the Bible:
Thus says the Lord of hosts: Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you; they are deluding you. They speak visions of their own minds, not from the mouth of the Lord. (Jeremiah 23/16)
As for you, mortal, set your face against the daughters of your people, who prophesy out of their own imagination; prophesy against them (Ezekiel 13/17)
Prophecy was a black and white issue in the days of the prophets of the Old Testament. There were either true prophets or false prophets and the true prophets were very specific in what they said following the pattern of warning, repentance and judgement. There is no biblical evidence to suggest that this should be any different today.
Seeking signs for their own sake is evil:
"An evil and adulterous generation asks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah." Then he left them and went away. (Matthew 16/4)
Even when the so called prophecies take place, successful witchcraft is not a sign from God – in order to discern a word from God there should be warnings about wickedness and repentance and Healing on the Streets lacks this completely.
If prophets or those who divine by dreams appear among you and promise you omens or portents, and the omens or the portents declared by them take place, and they say, "Let us follow other gods" (whom you have not known) "and let us serve them,"you must not heed the words of those prophets or those who divine by dreams; for the Lord your God is testing you, to know whether you indeed love the Lord your God with all your heart and soul. (Deuteronomy 13/1-3)
Mortal, prophesy against the prophets of Israel who are prophesying; say to those who prophesy out of their own imagination: "Hear the word of the Lord!"Thus says the Lord God, Alas for the senseless prophets who follow their own spirit, and have seen nothing!
My hand will be against the prophets who see false visions and utter lying divinations;
Because you have disheartened the righteous falsely, although I have not disheartened them, and you have encouraged the wicked not to turn from their wicked way and save their lives; (Ezekiel13/2-3, 9, 22)
Prophecy must be tested biblically (1 Corinthians 14/29; 1 John 4/1). If God has a word for an unbeliever then it must be accurate, otherwise the Christian witness is destroyed. God is specific, He does not use a hit and miss or guessing game approach leaving people fishing around for a ‘word’:
Your prophets have seen for you false and deceptive visions; they have not exposed your iniquity to restore your fortunes, but have seen oracles for you that are false and misleading. (Lamentations 2/14)
It has been said that Healing on the Streets and Treasure Hunting is a gentle, non- confrontational approach. www.causewaycoastvineyard.com While hopefully no one wants to be deliberately confrontational, the inescapable truth is that the gospel is an offence to many people. Even so, if there is no mention of the cross, sin, repentance, judgment, hell and righteousness how will anyone ever be saved? To give healing greater emphasis than preaching the gospel is an unacceptable compromise.
Paul prayed for boldness so that he might be able to proclaim this unpopular message:
Pray also for me, so that when I speak, a message may be given to me to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel,for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it boldly, as I must speak. (Ephesians 6/19-20)
Treasure hunting as a form prophetic evangelism began with Bill Johnson, pastor of Bethel church in Redding California:
Treasure Hunts incorporates the use of words of knowledge (clues) that you write on your Treasure Map to find Treasures (people) who need a supernatural encounter with God through an encouraging prophetic word or healing. This is not about preaching or arguing with people, but rather giving them a practical demonstration of the goodness of God. Treasure hunts are a great tool for those who have felt intimidated by witnessing to family members, friends, co-workers, and those in the community. Through this fun and easy method you become empowered with confidence and competence to bring supernatural encounters to people around you. Through treasure hunts you can become a world changer, transforming your community one encounter at a time! www.ibethel.org/treasure-hunts
It is necessary to clarify the theology of Bill Johnson. Johnson rejects exegesis in favour of subjective religious experiences and he holds the heretical view that Christ was not divine (amongst other very serious errors):
Jesus did everything as a man, laying aside His divinity in order to become a model for us1
..Jesus set aside His divinity, choosing instead to live as a man completely dependent on God.1
…He laid his [sic] divinity aside as He sought to fulfil the assignment given to Him by the Father: to live life as a man without sin…2
…Jesus had no ability to heal the sick. He couldn’t cast out devils, and He had no ability to raise the dead. He said of Himself in John 5:19, ‘the Son can do nothing of Himself.’ He had set aside His divinity. He did miracles as man in right relationship with God because He was setting forth a model for us, something for us to follow….Jesus so emptied Himself that He was incapable of doing what was required of Him by the Father – without the Father’s help…3
This is clearly heresy since the orthodox position has always been that Christ was fully divine and fully human. Christ laid aside or emptied himself of his divine attributes but not of his divinity
…..but He emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form. (Philippians 2/7)
Johnson was one of the ‘leaders’ who endorsed and commissioned homosexual paedophile heretic adulterer Todd Bentley along with C. Peter Wagner, leader of the International Coalition of Apostles, his wife, Doris, Ché Ahn, John Arnott and Rick Joyner. Mark Stibbe, (another ‘visionary’ associated with Todd Bentley) teamed up with Bill Johnson in 2010 for Release 2010 – to bring healing to Bristol. Jesus Christ always healed for free and as far as I know He did not charge to train his disciples. This is yet another example of Stibbe’s lucrative conferences where the sheep were charged £75 to inflict Healing on the Streets onto the people of Bristol. http://www.christiantoday.co.uk
The circus continues at Bethel with gold dust, angel feathers, diamonds, teams that go out on treasure hunts and even a glory cloud from God thrown in for good measure! http://www.scribd.com
CONCLUSION - WHERE IS THE GOSPEL?
To have a prayer meeting which claims ground and involves guesswork about what God is saying to unbelievers, then to set up shop in a town centre to pray for the sick is in itself ridiculous and totally unbiblical. We have already been given the message, why do we need any other message?
To have a banner with the word ‘HEALING’ does not particularly signify Christianity, it could be New Age, Spiritualist or anything else. If I saw this banner, I would be very wary about who was praying without knowing who exactly was doing the ‘healing’ and what their beliefs were. Many members of the general public are uninformed and don’t have the caution they should have concerning spiritual things as is evident from the rise in the occult. Christians have the responsibility of being straightforward, open and honest from the outset rather than hiding behind a banner of healing.
It seems to me that the banner of HEALING is being lifted up in place of the name of JESUS CHRIST in order to attract people, but isn’t the priority always to give primacy to Jesus Christ and His gospel? I would go so far as to say that this is an insult to Christ. Our priority should be to lift up the name of Jesus Christ not to lift up any other kind of banner.
And Moses built an altar and called it, The Lord is my banner. (Exodus 17/15)
And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself." He said this to indicate the kind of death he was to die. (John 12/32-33) A
And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up..... (John 3/14) The pole is a picture of the cross upon which Christ was lifted up for our salvation – and yet many ‘churches’ have dared to replace this by lifting up a banner of healing!
Not for the first time on my Christian journey, I have needed to ask the question: Where is the discernment of church leaders?
I believe that Jeremiah 5 is applicable to the church in our times for those interested enough to read the whole chapter.
An appalling and horrible thing has happened in the land:the prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests rule as the prophets direct; my people love to have it so, but what will you do when the end comes? (Jeremiah 5/31)
19th May 2012
Johnson, Bill Strengthen Yourself in the Lord. 2007, Destiny Image, Shippensburg, PA; p 261
Johnson, Bill, When Heaven Invades Earth: A Practical Guide to a Life of Miracles. 2003, Treasure House/Destiny Image, Shippensburg, PA; p 792
Johnson, Bill, The Supernatural Power of a Transformed Mind: Access to a Life of Miracles. 2005, Destiny Image: “Speaking to the Purposes of God for This Generation and for the Generations to Come”, Shippensburg, PA; p 50. 3