One of the quickest ways to start a theological argument is to start throwing around the words, “Inner Healing,” or “emotional healing.”
Like a group of grizzly bears with fresh meat, heresy hunters, those self-appointed internet guardians of all things
Christian, will rip the term – and the unwary feeder – apart. Name calling, personal and professional attacks systematically seek to destroy the credibility of anyone who might use those terms.
Those attacks deter bystanders – or those who serve hurting people – from entering the fray. The fear of being found “guilty by association,” deters and discourages churches, ministries and individuals from exploring tools to help bring wholeness to hurting people.
Furthermore, there is often considerable confusion surrounding the use of the term “inner healing” or “emotional healing” in traditional denominational circles. Neither term is explicit in scripture, although the concepts are implicit. As a result, those seeking a firm foundation for a Biblical approach to ministry are reluctant to embrace them. They simply do not want to introduce non-Biblical approaches to ministry.
This is even more complicated because there are so many dispensational arguments concerning whether or not God even heals today. While recognizing that God clearly worked miracles in the New Testament Church, some dispensationalists argue that era in Church History is over and that God no longer miraculously heals. Thus, the entire concept of physical healing – let alone inner/emotional healing – is suspect.
Some churches are willing to embrace the idea that God is still in the business of bringing physical healing to people. They do not believe that ministry to help people overcome the areas on life that keep them stuck on the inside are needed. They contend that receiving Jesus makes us whole, so ministry to hurting people unnecessary.
Which “healing” and Which “Biblical”?
The problems multiply further because there is often a difference of opinion as to exactly what “inner/emotional healing” really is. Because the term is not explicit in Scripture, it is hard to establish a clear, contextual definition of these terms from the original texts.
It is important to note, however, that there is a clear mandate in Scripture concerning the call to bring healing to the brokenhearted as well as numerous citations describing elements that bring us freedom. As my friend, Andy Reese makes clear on his Freedom Resource Website (www.thefreedomresource.org).
Scripture contains many references to the concept of bringing healing and freedom to people in pain. These include:
- Healing the brokenhearted is (Luke 4:18).
- Confessing sins to another and prayer for them is (James 5:16).
- Casting out demons is (Mark 16:17).
- Setting up godly defenses (Eph. 6:10).
- Speaking prophetic encouragement is (1 Th. 5:20).
- Taking thoughts captive is (2 Cor. 10:5).
- Releasing the captives is (Luke 4:18).
- Forgiving is (Eph. 4:32).
- Renouncing past sinful practices is (2 Cor. 4:2).
- Being led by the Spirit is (Rom. 8:14).
- Asking God for miraculous input is (Jer. 33:3).
- Bearing one another’s burdens is (Gal. 6:2).
- Wanting freedom is (Gal. 5:1).
- Speaking truth to someone is (Eph. 4:15).
- Setting free the oppressed is (Luke 4:18).
- Knowing and saying God is near to the brokenhearted is (Psalm 34:18).
- Comforting the afflicted with what God has shown us is (2 Cor. 1:4).
Finally, it is important to point out that our culture is full extra-Biblical approaches to helping people heal. “Extra-Biblical” simply refers to something not specifically mentioned in scripture. Some examples of extra-Biblical approaches to healing include things like antibiotics, surgery or other direct medical/treatment interventions.
Things like losing weight to manage high blood pressure or diabetes are helpful, although scripture remains silent on issues of high blood pressure and diabetes. Treatment or interventions for things like alcoholism or other substances of abuse can be included here also. All of these good things are consistent with Biblical principles, and followers of Jesus utilize approaches like these frequently with a clear conscience.
At the same time, it is clear that other approaches to healing are not consistent with scripture. These include the use of “spirit guides” or some forms of “guided imagery” under their leadership, which are clearly not consistent with the teachings of scripture.
By “spirit guides, I am referring to spiritual beings who represent themselves as God or as higher forms of “spiritual consciousness” that promise greater spiritual enlightenment to anyone willing to interact with them. I am not referring to Share Immanuel or other approaches to healing in which participants interact directly with God and are led by Him. New Age influences muddy the waters and in the minds of many heresy hunters, make any approach to healing the brokenhearted unacceptable. The baby is thrown out with the bathwater.
Getting to the Heart of the Matter
To me, we need a clear and fresh definition of healing. This definition should:
- Be broad enough to include all forms physical healing as well as healing for those who are hurting on the inside.
- Use terminology explicitly found in Scripture to end the “is it Biblical or not” controversy.
- Proactively focus on healthy growth and maturity, and avoid a self-limiting emphasis on pain, problems and suffering.
- Be invitational, and help all members of church community recognize the significant role they play in healing and maturity.
In my next post, we will take a look at a new definition of healing!
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