Wednesday, 21 August 2013

We are not drunk, we are Christians

Not long ago, an article appeared on the BBC website that referred to doctors who were worried about some Pentecostal preachers. Apparently, a growing number of cases had emerged where their patients had become convinced not to take their medicine, usually on the advice of their preacher, because they would be healed by faith alone.

Obviously, the alarm bells had started ringing in the heads of these doctors, who tend to be of the belief that stopping your medicine is not a sensible thing to do. They seemed worried that people were putting too much faith in, well, "faith healing," and were failing to trust basic science. Essentially, the Pentecostal preachers were not exactly having a positive effect on their congregations.

After all, medicine is a great answer to prayer for many people, and doctors are frankly geniuses. They do some brilliant stuff, and the vast majority of Christians believe that God gave these doctors talents so that they might be able to do some good in the world. Most people reading the article were shocked, and, if Christian, slightly ashamed that some of their number had been irresponsible. God heals, but he doesn't want us to be stupid.

However, a few days later, an article appeared on the Evangelical Alliance website, calling the original article a biased set of unfounded accusations. Being an organisation that represents a huge number of churches in British, the Alliance had heard from a large number of Pentecostal preachers who were complaining that this practice is something that they have never come across, and is a clear example of the BBC shoving religion into a corner labelled "crazy."

Christians and non-Christians, it turns out, both looked at the article with a sense of disbelief, and, it seems, with good reason. The article was based on anecdotal evidence, from a grand total of ten doctors, meaning that it is not some widespread problem. Nonetheless, it does seem a bit strange to be complaining about the BBC for being biased and attacking religion, since there may have been a few cases of misunderstanding of just bad advice on behalf of some preachers.

The BBC just saw a news story that they thought people would read, and went with it, even if it does not portray Christians in a good light. It was pretty obvious from the article that only a few doctors were consulted, and it was of some use to the public, since it did point out that stopping taking your doctor prescribe medicine is not an inspired thing to do.

However, the story, and the way that it is written, demonstrates a certain opinion of Christianity that makes us Christians feel a little uneasy. Christians were portrayed as "difficult" people, unwilling to accept doctors help. It also described Pentecostals, who are a largely balanced an alright bunch of people, as radical, because they believed that God could heal people. That is a little harsh.

Now, as a Christian, I have to confirm that Christians do believe that God heals, and believe that He works and does some quite extraordinary things. He is a God who likes to make some changes in the lives of the people who follow Him, and can really make things interesting. These might be considered "radical" beliefs, but they are generally what the average, for want of a better word, Christian believes.

Everyone is happy about faith when it is something that happens in the background, and when they think it about teaching people to be happy, if boring. It is not something really to worry about. However, when things start happening, and people started saying that God is changing their lives, or if they even mention that God has done anything, then alarm bells start ringing.

The fact that a story like this reached the BBC website is testament to the fact that people freak out when people start claiming that God has done something. People are constantly worried when a Christian says that God heals, and that worry is seen in the general public wanting to reach this article. It confirms their panic about Christians actually being a bunch of crazies who reject modern science.

Now, in what seems like a very long line of articles about how Christians are not insane, I would like to point out that there is very little to worry about. God heals, whether by some dramatic moment or, more commonly, through using medicine. God changes lives, and we are people whose lives have been changed, but there is no need to freak out. We do not reject medicine, and we shouldn't, since it a valuable gift, and we don't want people to be put in danger any more than non-Christians do.

We pray, things happen, and we might look like a bunch of lunatics sometimes, but, in the slightly modified works of Peter, we are not drunk, we are just Christians.

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