Thursday, April 7, 2016

Another Kind of Healing

Julius, the carpenter, and the custom chair for a child with cerebral palsy
Tenwek Hospital, Kenya

He left there and returned to his hometown. His disciples came along. On the Sabbath, he gave a lecture in the meeting place. He made a real hit, impressing everyone. “We had no idea he was this good!” they said. “How did he get so wise all of a sudden, get such ability?”  But in the next breath they were cutting him down: 
“He’s just a carpenter—Mary’s boy. 
We’ve known him since he was a kid."    
Mark 6:1-3a (MSG)

I just finished a book by Kate Bowler, Blessed, A History of American Prosperity Gospel, that provided a deeper and wider look at healing as seen and understood in American religious culture.  It is a comprehensive history.

I have professionally and personally avoided this history.  Kate Bowler helped me understand two important issues: (1) Healing has been an important part of American culture and (2) religious healing has been seen mostly as rapid “cures”.  This book helped me to appreciate the importance of a bigger definition of healing that is not limited to a culture or cure.  

I read this book after spending a month in Kenya (Tenwek Hospital) where healing is embraced as central to their mission.  It’s meaning there is not about performance or a method of aggrandizement. It is God at work through the hands and feet of very dedicated and committed physicians, nurses, therapists and missionaries.  It is the body of Christ.  It even happens with healing hands of a carpenter!


Bowler, K. (2013). Blessed: A History of the American Prosperity Gospel (1 ed.). Oxford University Press. 

Shuman, J., & Volck, B. M. D. (2006). Reclaiming the Body: Christians and the Faithful Use of Modern Medicine (The Christian Practice of Everyday Life) (1 ed.). Brazos Press.

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