Thursday, August 12, 2010

History of Healing in Christianity

Healing in the History of Christianity
by Amanda Porterfield

“Amanda Porterfield offers a survey of ideas, rituals, and experiences of healing in Christian history. Jesus himself performed many miracles of healing, and Christians down the ages have seen this as a prominent feature of their faith. Indeed, healing is one of the most constant themes in the long and sprawling history of Christianity. Changes in healing beliefs and practices offer a window into changes in religious authority, church structure, and ideas about sanctity, history, resurrection, and the kingdom of God. Porterfield chronicles these changes, at the same time shedding important new light on the universality of religious healing. Finally, she looks at recent scientific findings about religion's biological effects, and considers the relation of these findings to ages-old traditions about belief and healing.”

“In an era newly attentive to the relationship between religion and health, this striking analysis of Christianity as a religion of healing offers insights deeply informed by imaginative research, breadth of scope, and clarity of argument. Beginning with the texts of the New Testament and concluding with the healers and hospital builders of the late twentieth century, Amanda Porterfield provides a skillful description of the manifold ways that Christians have engaged in practices of healing for the past two thousand years. The book is an eye-opener.” — E. Brooks Holifield, author of Theology in America: Christian Thought from the Age of the Puritans to the Civil War

“This book represents a singularly important contribution to the study of the history of Christianity. With sparkling prose, Porterfield shows that Christianity, from the beginning to the present, and in all parts of the world, has concerned itself with the healing of broken bodies. The scope of the story Porterfield tells, and the richness of the documents she consults, establish a standard of excellence for all future studies of the subject.” — Grant A. Wacker, author of Heaven Below: Early Pentecostals and American Culture

“In these days of medical miracles and double-blind tests of intercessory prayer, Amanda Porterfield provides a welcome introduction to the 2,000-year-old history of Christianity and healing. Ranging from Galilee to Lourdes (and beyond), she investigates the intriguing world of angels and demons and boldly explores the biological bases of spiritual healing.” — Ronald L. Numbers, Hilldale and William Coleman Professor of the History of Science and Medicine, Department of Medical History and Bioethics, University of Wisconsin

“This wide-ranging survey is unusually even-handed in its treatment of a difficult and controversial subject. In particular, Porterfield is entirely persuasive in arguing that healing—as a multi-faceted response to suffering and evil — has been at the heart of Christian practice from the time of Jesus to the present. Her sensitive treatments of the large place of healing in Christian missions and in the recent world expansion of Christianity are especially welcome.” — Mark A. Noll, author of America's God: From Jonathan Edwards to Abraham Lincoln

“Porterfield proves that healing is a central theme in Christian history, and is a fascinating lens through which to examine the Christian faith. Indeed, she has produced not just a history of healing in Christianity, but a history of Christianity itself.” — Publishers Weekly

“A complicated, sometimes chaotic, but consistently captivating configuration of Christian history — a vibrant and compelling picture that offers a distinctive perspective on how and why Christianity has flourished in diverse cultural, social, and historical settings.” — Books & Culture

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

A Publishing House Founded on a Dream and a Vision

Related to the previous post, Healing and a Man Called Peter, I came across this item regarding the founding of Chosen Books, a publishing house featuring Charismatic titles about the miracles of God and the manifestations of the Holy Spirit. John Sherrill, one of the four founders (along with his wife, Elizabeth, Catherine Marshall and here second husband, Leonard LeSourd), explains about the surprising dream he had one night in 1971:
I was awake. There had been no transition between sleep and being fully, startlingly awake. Quietly, so as not to disturb Tib [Elizabeth], I propped my pillow against the headboard of the bed and sat up. In the pre-dawn light I could just make out the bureau in the corner of the room.

The picture was in black and white. It was of a group of people — Len LeSourd was there, and Len's wife, Catherine Marshall, Tib and I and some others I could not identify. We were all studying a pile of books spread out on a conference table. A block of copy said that this group of people had worked together for years, writing and editing Christian articles. Now they had banded together to do the same with books.

The vision was over. I could not get back to sleep so I went downstairs and made coffee ... I was excited but was also stunned, full of fear and misgivings. I knew nothing at all about business, still less about book publishing; what did all this mean?

When Tib began to stir, I took coffee up and told her about the vision and asked her what she thought of starting a publishing house. To my astonishment Tib, who knew, if possible, less about business than I, said, “Why not! It would be an adventure.”

So I took the plunge and spoke to Len LeSourd. I told him about the vision and asked if he and Catherine would consider joining us.

The next day Len called me at home with the news that he and Catherine were definitely interested. (Read the rest of the story here.)
God has always spoken to His people in dreams and visions — and still does!

Healing and a Man Called Peter

Yesterday, I watched A Man Called Peter, the story of famed preacher, Peter Marshall, who pastored New York Avenue Presbyterian Church in Washington, DC and served for two years as chaplain of the US Senate. The movie is based on the book, A Man Called Peter, written by his wife, Catherine Marshall. In the book and the movie, she tells how she was miraculously healed from tuberculosis through faith in the goodness of God.

Peter Marshall died of a heart attack in 1949 at the age of 47. In 1959, Catherine married Leonard LeSourd, editor of Guideposts, an inspirational magazine. In 1971,Catherine and Leonard, along with John and Elizabeth Sherrill, formed a new publishing house, Chosen Books, which has featured many books about the miracles and manifestations of the Holy Spirit in the Church today.

Catherine Marshall is also the author of Christy, the best selling story base on the life of her mother, a woman of strong faith and a missionary spirit.